What Might Have Been Epilogue: Bonds of Life

Disclaimer: This fanfiction is not written with the consent of Pioneer/AIC. I do NOT own the characters, with the exception of Kei. Please do not sue me.

Comments, criticism, flames, and death threats may be sent to Platinum_Dragon@usinternet.com.

!!WARNING!! This is NOT mainline Tenchi. It is an alternate universe, and the characters at times will be VERY ooc, compared to those in the series. Please remember that the versions in this story line had very different experiences.

*****

"Alright Tenchi. Shade your eyes. I'm starting to cut away the bandages now," said Washu. Tenchi sighed, and nodded. They'd arrived back in their own time, and had found out they really had succeeded easily enough - according to Ryou-oh's star maps, the Darkspace no longer existed. Washu had checked him over, and said that in all likelihood, his blindness was only temporary, his eyes having shut down to protect themselves from the exceedingly bright light he'd been exposed to. It was a simple defensive mechanism, done in order to avoid damage. That had been three days ago. But over those three days, something extraordinary had happened. It had rained.

At first, he hadn't been sure what it was he was hearing. He'd been sitting on the porch as the first drops fell. He'd heard the pattering as they hit the ground, and wondered what they were. It was almost too soft to hear, but too loud to miss. Then he'd heard a bit of thunder in the distance, and a stray gust of wind had blown some of the droplets onto him. Still, he hadn't been sure what it was, even when he felt the rain. It had started to rain a bit harder; he'd just listened as it fell to the ground.

It hadn't been until Kei had come out and asked him why he was listening so hard to the rain that his mind had put it all together. The thunder, the droplets, the pitter-patter as it hit the ground… He'd never really listened to the rain before. He hadn't needed to - he'd been able to see it. He'd ended up sitting outside through the entire storm, just listening to it.

Slowly, Washu unwound the bandages around his head, and suddenly Tenchi had to laugh. Could it possibly have only been a week before, when it had been him watching as his aunt removed the bandages from Kei's head? That seemed like a lifetime ago, now. He still had to take her back to the carnival so that she could see it! How very much things could change and yet, stay the same in a single week. "Alright. Remember, open your eyes slowly, and close them immediately if they start to hurt," she said. Tenchi grinned in spite of himself.

"I remember, Aunt," he said. He felt her pull away the gauze pads, and started to open his eyelids. For a moment, everything was just a bright blur. Then, slowly, his eyes focused in on Kei, and her shining, beautiful teal eyes. He grinned slightly. "And that," he said, "is a sight for sore eyes. Oddly enough, they're a sight for mine, too." A collective laugh went up, as the tension in the room drained away. He smiled, standing, and crossed the room to Kei.

"I'm glad you're ok, Tenchi," she said, smiling at him. He grinned.

"You know, I don't think I would have been too disappointed if my eyes really had been permanently blinded," he said quietly. "I mean, I wouldn't get to see you any more, but… I dunno." She blinked at him.

"But…"

"I would have been blind, I know. Somehow, that didn't bother me as much as I thought that it would. I kept thinking about you, how you never let it get in the way of who you were. It wasn't a handicap for you. And then, during that rainstorm… You said, just before all of this began, that seeing was like touching everything for the first time, but with your eyes instead of your hands. For me, it was the first time I'd ever really heard a rain storm, instead of just watched it," he said. After a moment, she nodded.

"I understand," she said. He smiled at her.

"Besides, I knew, whether I could see you or not, I'd still love you. That was and is more important to me than anything else could ever be," he said. She smiled at him.

"My eyes changed back," she said, after a moment, and he nodded.

"I thought that they probably had," he told her. "When the miasma came back, and you got knocked out, it was Ryoko that finally defeated him. I finally understood something… All along, from the time of the crash, she must have been protecting you, in return for hiding within you." She nodded, and he grinned. "Anyway, golden or teal, that hardly matters. You're beautiful with either," he said. She blushed slightly, grinning.

"You're laying it on pretty thick, flirt," she muttered. Before he could reply, there was a knock on the door. His mother went over, and opened it.

"Kiyone! And who's this? Where's Mihoshi?" she asked, letting the teal-haired detective and her companion come in. Kiyone smiled sadly.

"Hello Achika. This is Nagi, and old friend of mine. She helped us get Washu's box installed. Mihoshi… didn't make it," she said quietly. Achika started, and gasped softly.

"Oh no… What happened?" she asked. Kiyone sighed.

"A detective caught wind of what we were up to, and managed to track us down in the station. He was some sort of experimental cyborg," she said. Achika frowned.

"Fox-faced, with a cybernetic arm?" she asked. Kiyone nodded.

"How did you know?"

"He went back in time as well, tracking Kain. Kain tore him in half. Literally," she said quietly.

"He came upon us while I was halfway through the timed sequence. I didn't have a choice but to finish connecting it," she said, before faltering. Nagi placed a hand on her shoulder.

"Trakal was programmed to be the 'perfect' officer. When Kiyone moved to finish hooking it up, he fired, which was exactly what he was supposed to do. Mihoshi jumped in the way. She saved Kiyone's life, and gave her the chance to finish hooking it up. We wouldn't be here now, if not for her," she said. "Hello, by the way, as Kiyone said, I am Nagi. I trained both Kiyone and Mihoshi in covert ops," she finished, bowing slightly. Achika smiled sadly.

"Make yourself at home. Kiyone, come with me. You look like you haven't slept in a week," she said, smiling again, as she gently led Kiyone toward the stairs. Tenchi grinned slightly. Nobody could resist his mother's mothering. The grin saddened. Maybe he hadn't gotten the chance to get to know Mihoshi, but Kiyone had lived with her, worked with her for a long, long time. If anybody deserved a little mothering at the moment, it was Kiyone.

"Nagi… Nagi… I seem to recall hearing of a quite well known bounty hunter of the same name some sixteen years ago. Are you she?" asked Ayeka. Nagi nodded.

"I was." She smirked slightly, and shrugged. "Now that my career in the Galaxy Police is over, I might be again," she said. Ayeka nodded.

"Should that be the case, I believe I could probably find a few cases you might wish to look in to," she said, smiling. Nagi smirked at her slightly.

"We'll have to see. You'll have to run it by my partner, too," she replied, and then glanced aside as Achika came back down the steps.

"Kiyone went out before she hit the pillow. I take it that she did more thinking than sleeping on the way back?" she asked. Nagi nodded, her expression softening for a moment.

"Can't say that I blame her. I know what she's going through."

"Would you mind filling us all in on what happened out there, while we were in the past?" asked Ayeka.

"Why not? I first found out when Kiyone woke me up in the middle of the night…"


Ryoko glanced up, as Ayeka came over to join Tenchi and her, the Guardians following along behind her. "Well, I'm glad that's over. Maybe now things can get back to normal," she said, sitting down on Tenchi's other side, and then frowning. "But, something has been bothering me, ever since you got out that filmstrip, Lord Tenchi," she said.

"What's that, Ayeka?" he asked. She glanced at him.

"It was Lady Achika… When I first saw her, I thought that I recognized her," she said. "I don't know how, but for just a moment… Except, I think that she was older. And I swear I remember her telling me something… What was it…" She frowned a moment in deep thought, and then abruptly smiled. "It was, 'No matter who they are born to, all children are special, especially to their mothers,'" she said. Ryoko nodded.

"That sure sounds like something Achika would say…" she agreed.

"Well… she was half Juraian. Maybe you knew somebody that looked like her," he suggested. Ayeka frowned doubtfully.

"Actually, your Highness…" said Azaka suddenly. They turned to the Guardians, curious.

"Yes, Azaka?" she prompted.

"Galactic year 3131. Life form scanned and identified as Princess Ayeka ordered us to conceal certain events that occurred on the same date, until such time as Kain was defeated, and Ryoko recovered," said Azaka. They stared at each other.

"What? But I was a little girl then, only seven years old!" she exclaimed.

"That is correct. It was the first time that you and Ryoko met. Another Ayeka appeared, who was equal in age to you today. The only defining feature that would differentiate the two of you was a large amount of scar tissue, running from her chin to just above her waist line. She was accompanied by who we later identified as Princess Sasami, Nobuyuki, Tenchi, Achika, and one more humanoid, who we never met again - we assume that her name was Kei, from their dialogue," said Kamadake.

"An entity appeared intent on killing both the young forms of Ayeka, and Ryoko. Tenchi, and what appeared to be Ryoko as she is today destroyed it. Afterwards, the elder Ayeka ordered us to conceal those events from you until now," finished Azaka.

"Our doubles - that must have been where the miasma attacked. That explains the alteration to Ryoko's memory," said Tenchi. Ayeka nodded.

"There was one more thing; a message from Achika to the three of you," said Azaka.

"We don't understand what it means - Achika assured us that you would understand and be able to explain it to us," continued Kamadake.

"Achika requested that Ayeka tell Tenchi and Ryoko about a favorite nanny of hers - the one with silver hair," finished Azaka. Ayeka blinked.

"Huh? Why would she want them to know about a nanny I had?" she asked in confusion.

"She seemed certain that you would understand," said Azaka.

"Why not just tell us, little Princess," suggested Ryoko. She looked at them, shrugging.

"There's not much to tell, really. If she means who I'm thinking of, she was a young, very beautiful woman. She had silver hair, and golden eyes. That's all I really remember, except that Father made her leave one day, and mother was very angry over the matter. Oh yes, and just before she was made to leave…" Ayeka trailed off abruptly, her eyes widening and a look of absolute horror spreading across her face, as she stared at Ryoko. Tenchi and Ryoko blinked, looking at each other.

"What is it, Ayeka?" asked Tenchi. For a moment, Ayeka's mouth worked, no sound coming out. "Ayeka?"

"Ryoko… Would you please de… describe your… mother?" she asked very, very softly. Ryoko blinked.

"Well…" she said slowly. "She was very beautiful… had golden eyes like me… silver hair… She died when I was very young so I don't… Wait a moment. Beautiful, golden eyes, silver hair… just like-"

"Just like the nanny Lady Achika wanted me to describe, and… who… my Father… made leave… because… she… was… pregnant," she said, in a very strangled voice. Tenchi started laughing softly. "And Mother never got that angry, unless…" She stared at Ryoko again, more sheer terror in her eyes than Ryoko had ever seen in anybody's eyes.

"Unless?" prompted Tenchi. Ayeka stared at him for a moment.

"Unless she caught him in one of his… extracurricular affairs," she said faintly. Ryoko blinked, and stared at Ayeka for a moment, before laughing.

"Oh, come on Ayeka, that's crazy. That's too much of a coincidence. It'd have to be," she said, before slowing down. "It's gotta be. Otherwise, that'd mean we were…" Slowly, she stopped laughing, and swallowed as her throat suddenly went a little dry. "That'd mean we were… sisters…" They looked at each other a moment, and then laughed nervously.

"Yes, that couldn't be… Lady Achika must have been mistaken."

"Yeah, I mean, as much as we argue?"

They looked at each other for a long, long moment, as Tenchi started laughing harder.

"WASHU!!!"