Homecomings: Masaki - Chapter 3, Complete
Ryua Ryoko sat at the edge of the bed, taking long, deep breaths. She straightened her back, her amber eyes focusing onto the wall before her. Distantly, she thanked Tenchi's grandfather for teaching her those breathing techniques when another wave of nausea smashed into her gut. She gagged, keeping her mouth shut as she tried to breathe through her nose.
During that ill moment, she wondered if she had eaten a bad piece of sushi, perhaps had caught a bug, or was just anxious. She had been worrying about going to Jurai, seeing Ayeka again.
As the feeling passed, she glanced back to Tenchi, who still slept beneath the sheets. Since their relationship started, she had learned that little could wake him, short of maybe a pirate raid. Half of her was glad that he would not see her this way, sick, weak. Ever since she left the Ryoan pirate guilds, she had always been alone, just her and Ryo-Ohki against the universe. Surviving numerous daring heists and vile double-crosses, she had constructed her proud persona of bravado, learning to cheat and deceive to get her way. In the pirate's life, weakness was not an option.
At the same time, the other side of her wanted him to see her, to comfort her, to care for her. The affection that burned bright and hot in the depths of her chest wanted to be close to him, to be happy with him, to be honest with him. She was no longer alone. She did not have to cheat or deceive him. He would stand with her because he loved her, not because of what she could do for him.
Moments like this one brought the conflict to the surface, the young brigand she had been versus the wiser woman she was becoming.
But, she asked herself, who am I becoming?
A chunk of Ryoko's soul would always be the feared space pirate. That title was forever tattooed into her karma, and while she knew it would cause people to question her loyalties, she would never regret it. In every battle, she tapped that part of her spirit, the viciousness and ferocity only learned from a misspent youth and fighting for every coin she took.
Yet, piracy was only half of the legacy laid before her. Her father was the dread pirate Ten Akuno, but her mother was Ryua Ryoshu, a woman of both intelligence and passion. Ryoko had heard rumors of her mother's younger days, helping Akuno to unify the Ryoan pirate guilds, scheming against the Matronic Temple, against her own family. However, the cyan-maned woman never saw that side of her mother, instead only seeing her as the teacher of the guild's children and orphans.
Ryoko smiled to herself. I wonder what Mom would think of me now.
Another wave of nausea suddenly struck her. Covering her mouth, she rushed out of the bedroom and into the nearby bathroom. Automatically, the lights gently brightened around her as she rested her hands on either side of the sink basin, her body convulsing, wanting to purge the empty contents of her stomach.
As the queasy feeling passed, Ryoko calmed her pounding heart with several deep breaths. Staring down at the sink, her feline eyes traced the grain of the Juraian wood used to construct the fixture. Most days, she forgot that her lover was descended from Juraian nobility. In being with him, she could be regarded as his consort, perhaps even a princess.
The Ryoan woman chuckled to herself. God, Ayeka would love that! Me, a princess of Jurai!
Yet, Tenchi did not dress or act like an arrogant, haughty royal prince. Like his grandfather before him, he has long since tossed that responsibility away, preferring to stay the normal and kind person he has always been.
And besides, she admitted, what the hell do I know about being a princess?
Ryoko did love lounging around the Masaki estate, whether napping in the rafters or sleeping spooned with Tenchi. Of all the places she has lived through her travels in the stars, this place felt the most comfortable, the most familiar, the most right. She enjoyed dancing with him, talking with him, even sparring with him. As she thought about the future, she could picture herself nowhere else but at Tenchi's side.
Feeling better, the ex-pirate waved her hands under the faucet, spurring it to pour water into her hands. Splashing the liquid in her face, she woke herself up more and helped push that vile digestive nonsense out of her mind. After rubbing her face with her hands for a few seconds, she took a towel from the counter and dried her face.
Yet, as she looked into the mirror, she saw another person standing in the shadows behind her. There stood her half-sister, Jurai Nagi, wordlessly gazing back at her. Ryoko could see a conflict in her sibling's eyes, but she could not recognize it right away.
“What?” the cyan-maned Ryoan asked. “What's the problem?”
“Sick,” Nagi asked rhetorically, “this early in the morning?”
The former pirate had heard plenty of different tones from the huntress's words in their various exchanges, mostly negative. However, her inflection was new, not completely negative but also not really positive. Likewise, her expression was cryptic, confused, unsure.
Nevertheless, this was the feared bounty hunter, so Ryoko replied nonchalantly as she usually would.
“Yeah. What about it?”
At this, Nagi's brows furrowed into a scowl, her eyes dancing with a volatile blend of emotions, before storming away without a word. Standing there in the washroom, Ryoko blinked as she considering Nagi's reaction. True, the elder sister had snared the younger into this trip to Jurai, but she had been more civil a week ago.
Even then, Ryoko wondered, why would me being sick this morning set… her…?
And, the realization seeped into the cyan-maned woman's thoughts. Her amber eyes widened as Nagi's implication became increasingly more obvious, a fact that if true, would change everything. Stunned into silence, Ryoko's eyes slid toward the floor as she leaned against the nearby wall. The fun joy she had been enjoying slipped away, exchanged by something far different.
She never planned this. She had always avoided it, this greatest responsibility of all. Now, the prospect weighed heavily on her heart.
As a tear rolled down from her eye, her heart also jumped at the possibility. If true, this would be part of Tenchi, and part of her, joining them forever.
Hopes and worries started to fill her head as she wrapped her arms around herself and turned to look into the mirror again. She now could see the expression Nagi wore a few moments ago in her own: fear, worry, uncertainty, but hope as well.
Then, she shook her head.
You don't know anything, she chided herself. Hell, she doesn't know anything. Don't get worked up because of Nagi's suspicions. Besides, she's got plenty of mother issues.
As she walked back to the bedroom and slid back into Tenchi's arms, she consoled her lingering worries as misplaced speculation. However, as she laid their in her beloved's embrace, her mind continued to play with the notion while her mind returned to dreams of what may become of them.