Tenchi Muyo! : Forgiven, not Forgotten.

"Why does Lady Ayeka hate you so much, Ryouko?" Tenchi asked her. "And why do you hate her?" Ryouko looked at him as if he were an total idiot.

"What, she hasn't told you about her brother, yet?" Ryouko asked him in a teasing tone, smiling broadly. "I mean, I did lure him away from Jurai, trap him on Earth, and took away his chance at immortality."

He looked back at her steadily, not buying it. "I think there's a lot more to it than that," Tenchi answered her quietly.

She loudly laughs, and turns to walk away. "Keep guessing, Tenchi." she says with a wave over her shoulder. As she moves farther away from him, she softly fades from view. Perched up in a tree, out of his sight, she looks down at him through the leaves, a thoughtful expression on her face. "He's more perceptive than he looks," she murmurs softly. She flops back on the tree branch, laying down and looking up at the Earth's blue, cloudless sky, and remembers another cloudless sky, long, long ago...

She had laid down to rest a moment, in a field in one of the Jurai colony world's fertile valleys, and fell fast asleep. It was a farming district where Washu had set up her lab, a quiet place where she could work on her projects without interruptions, or being discovered by the authorities.

She woke up, finally, and opened her eyes only to find herself staring up into a pair of the most riveting eyes the young Ryouko had ever seen. They belonged to a teenage girl about Ryouko's own age, dressed in slightly worn finery. She was, quite simply, beautiful.

"Hello, I'm Ayeka," the young girl said quietly, a shy smile on her face.

"Ryouko," she answered, quickly sitting up. Ryouko was blushing a bit, she didn't know why. The other girl echoed her movement, rising gracefully to sit beside her.

"I'm sorry if I startled you," Ayeka said quietly. "I just saw you asleep and, I was curious about why." she smiled and shrugged helplessly.

Ryouko laughed, smiling back. "It's O.K., I was just on an errand for..." Ryouko stops, and sweatdropped. "What time is it?" Ryouko asked quietly, looking worried.

Ayeka frowned a bit and told her. Ryouko groaned put her head in her hands. "I am so late!" she said desperately. Ayeka looked at her with a certain amount of amusement. Ryouko looked over at Ayeka a moment, debating. "I usually do the shopping on this day, every week." she said quietly. Not waiting for a answer, Ryouko suddenly broke into a run, leapt, and rose into the air, zooming off at high speed.

"Wow." Ayeka said quietly, watching her fly away. 'I think I'll be here next week,' Ayeka thought as she smiled.

The next week, Ryouko kept her eyes open for the girl as she shopped for Washu, but she was still taken by surprise when, while she was looking at the produce, a soft voice behind her said "Those fruits are very good, you know. Have you tried them?" Ryouko turned to see a shyly smiling Ayeka.

"No, I haven't," Ryouko said quietly. "I'm sorry I took off on you," Ryouko said, blushing faintly.

"It's all right." Ayeka answered. "Would you like to come have lunch with me?" Ayeka asked, looking away.

"I'd love to." Ryouko answered, and Ayeka turned back to her with a relieved smile. She reached out tentatively to Ryouko's hand, and she clasped it firmly.

They settled down into the same field Ryouko had rested in, and together they unpacked a picnic lunch from Ayeka's transport. The driver then left, after Ayeka arranged to be picked up in an hour. "I hope you don't mind hanging around with Jurai nobility." Ayeka said shyly, noticing Ryouko's slightly awed look.

Ryouko shrugged. "You saw me fly, didn't you? If you don't mind a genetically engineered friend, I don't mind a noble, OK?" Ryouko said, suddenly shy. Genetic engineering was so frowned upon on Jurai, that was why Washu ran here to the border worlds...

"Oh, I think I can manage to endure it," Ayeka said with a smile. Ryouko smiled back at her happily. They talked together, shyly at first, then opening up to each other. Ryouko was surprised at how much they had in common, both alone in their own ways.

They met regularly after that, sharing lunches, walking together and talking. Ryouko began to feel something for the young royal, but she was scared. She didn't want to be hurt...

In the forest outside of the Masaki shrine, Ayeka walked, lost in thought. 'Today,' she thought, 'today's the day things went so terribly wrong for us, all those years ago.' She smiled sadly. 'And the day had started out so well, too.'

The young Princess Ayeka woke from a deep sleep, smiling and stretching. A few hours, and she would see Ryouko again. She got up and dressed quickly, smiling fondly.

As a princess, she was always pursued by those who wanted power or influence. Even as a child, she understood that. But Ryouko, she didn't care. Ryouko had power, and was an outsider to Jurai's culture, so she treated Ayeka as a friend and equal.

'I hope one day, she'll be more than a friend,' Ayeka thought. 'Such liaisons are not unknown on Jurai, especially among the royalty.' She smiled wryly. 'I doubt my mother would mind.'

Her musings were interrupted by a knocking on the door. Her aide opened it quickly, and she stepped in. "Princess, I intercepted a communication on the military communication bands that I thought you should know about. The regional commander has ordered a strike against what they're calling a bio-terrorist haven. And the coordinates match Washu and Ryouko's house!"

"Oh god," Ayeka said, slumping against her desk. She pulled herself up and ran out the door and up the hallways. A few minutes later, she staggered to a stop outside the military wing. Taking a moment to catch her breath, she entered. "Take me to the commander," she said, in her best 'I'm a royal, so don't mess with me' tone.

"He's expecting you," the Lt. said, snapping to attention. They quickly reached the office of the commander. The young man saluted again, and left. Ayeka didn't knock, just went right in. The office was decorated with trophy's, and military momentos. The man behind the desk was out of shape, his receding hair slicked back from his face.

"Call off the attack," Ayeka said, taking an instant dislike to him.

He shook his head. "Princess, princess, princess. Do you know how much of a scandal this could be, you associating with a bio-engineered piece of filth? We needed to snip it in the bud." he said in sneering tones.

Ayeka wanted to strike him, her fists were itching to hit him till he bled, but she held herself back. "Call off the attack," she repeated harshly, in tones that brooked no interference.

He hesitated, finally realizing he was in trouble. He looked up at the clock, then smiled slightly. "It started a half an hour ago," he said.

He never saw the blow coming. Sprawled out behind his desk. he watched dazedly as she stomped out of the room. "I want you're fastest transport," Ayeka barked, Having seen what she did to their boss, nobody argued, and in seconds she was speeding to the battleground. 'Please let us make it in time,' Ayeka thought tearfully. As they crested a hill, Ayeka saw the smoke in the distance, and her heart dropped like a stone.

The house was still burning as they descended. It was a gutted ruin, walls shattered, roof sagging, and scattered around it was the strike team. No one was dead, thankfully, but they were all seriously hurt. Crying, Ayeka looked around the ruins, thinking 'Ryouko, where are you? I'm so sorry.'

Ayeka didn't see Ryouko again until the attack on Jurai, and then she barely recognized the furious warrior. Ryouko burned and looted with abandon, wreaking havoc across the capital city. Finding her at last, Ayeka looked up at her, perched up on a building, and Ryouko looked down at her coldly. Energy swirled around Ryouko's hand, she was preparing to fire, then she stopped. Ayeka saw a flicker in those blood red, mad eyes, and Ryouko turned away. She left Jurai then, pursued by Yosho, and Ayeka could only watch in horror.

Walking through the forest, Ayeka looked about, trying to find Ryouko. Finally, she passed beneath a tree, and saw the cat's tail, dangling down. "Ryouko?" Ayeka called, and the tail disappeared from sight. "I know your up there."

A flicker of movement, and Ryouko teleported down in front of Ayeka. "Well, hello, Princess. Looking for Tenchi? He headed off that way." she said, gesturing.

Ayeka shook her head. "I want to talk to you, about what happened back then," she said softly.

"What's there to talk about?" Ryouko asked harshly, her arms crossed in front of her. "You sold me and Washu out to Jurai's military. End of story," she said simply.

"No, I didn't," Ayeka said sadly. "I tried to stop them, Ryouko, but I found out to late." She explained softly what happened that day. Ryouko looked into her eyes searchingly, and Ayeka met her gaze steadily, trying to convey the truth in them.

"I'm sorry," Ryouko finally said softly. "When the army attacked, all I could think of was you. It felt like my heart was torn out," she conceded. "I won the fight, but Washu felt it was too dangerous to stay there. So she called one of her former students."

"Kagato," Ayeka said in dawning horror. "He used that opportunity to enslave Washu and you, didn't he? Oh, Ryouko I'm so sorry!" Ayeka said tearfully.

"It wasn't your fault," Ryouko said, and held the crying girl close to her. Ryouko let her cry a bit, then spoke softly "It's hard to forget the past, Ayeka, but I think we can learn to forgive. Do you want to try?"

Ayeka looked up at her, wiping her tears. "Yes, please," she said, and hugged Ryouko. "I'd like us to be friends again," in a soft whisper.

A throaty laugh, Ryouko said "Just don't tell the others. I have a reputation to protect."

Ayeka's laughter joined with hers, as the walk off together.

One hundred years later, on the planet Jurai:

"That wasn't a bad coronation party," Ryouko said grinning.

Ayeka chuckled. "And how many have you been to, anyway?" she joked, as she struggled with her formal clothes..

"Emperor Tenchi the first. It has a nice ring to it. Is Sasami as happy being a co-wife as Washu is?" Ryouko asked, slipping out of her clothes.

"Maybe more so," Ayeka answered, her eyes following the naked Ryouko out of the room. She followed quickly to the bedroom, disrobing as she went. Ryouko lay on the bed, smiling.

"What are you waiting for?" Ryouko grinned up at her saucily. Ayeka dumped the rest of her clothing and climbed into the bed beside Ryouko. The clasped hands and kissed, as the light caught on the matching rings they both wore.

"Marrying you was the best thing I've ever done," Ayeka sighed happily.

Author's Notes: This is set in the same timeline as the Tenchi Muyo OVA #1-6, as well as having elements from the Tenchi Muyo movie: Daughter of Darkness. As to where the story came from, when I first saw the OVA's I was struck by the fact that Ayeka and Ryouko must have known each other in the past. There was a familiarity between the two that just screamed 'back story'. The sexual teasing of Ayeka was also very telling, as Ryouko didn't do that with any of the other female characters. The 'bio-engineering' prejudice I got from the movie, in which an alien being fell in love with Yosho, but was attacked and driven off by the army for, as far as I could tell, being different.

This is the first story in which I experimented with flashbacks mixed with modern day events. If

it's not clear enough, let me know and I'll try to rewrite.