Hook It Up - A Sidestory, written by Val Shrum -AKA- KiyoneKatz

(Commentary:  This fanfic is based off the events of a previous fanfic titled Helmet (Which was based off another fic of mine, named Hiatus), also written by me.  The events of this story may not make sense if you hadn't read either fic, as they take place in the pretty far future.  However, it really isn't NEEDED to read Helmet, you just may be slightly confused as to why certain things are happening.  I'm just hoping to stop you before you're really confused.  However, I digress.  All three fics are loosely based off of Tenchi Universe/Tenchi TV.  All Characters from Tenchi Muyo are property of Pioneer, AIC, etc.  This is a work of fiction based off of the characters, but in no way do I claim to own any of them.  If you have any comments to email, you can reach me at mihokiyo@galaxypolice.com.  Thanks for reading.  This fic takes place about 7 or 8 years after the end of Tenchi Universe.)

-- Chapter One:  Every time I give a little bit...--

  Mihoshi yawned.  She twirled her pen in with her fingers out of boredom.  It had been a few days since her and Kiyone's last big case.  She looked down at the pile of police reports she had to turn in.  Mihoshi whined, "Kiyone!  This is so boring!"

   "Oh be quiet."  Kiyone piped in, "I have a pile to do too.  This is what happens when you forget to turn in your paper work after every shift.  I regret the moment I handed that responsibility over to you... these wouldn't have to be DONE if they were done the day we finished those cases."  She sighed, "If you want, you can order some food, okay?  It looks like we'll be here a while."

   "Yay!"  Mihoshi got up from her seat to go to the phone.

   "Oh, and can you call Ken's sitter and have them bring him here?  No use having her get paid when we can watch him."  Kiyone took a pen and went back to work.

  Mihoshi smiled, "Okay!" She rushed over to the telephone and picked it up, dialing out to order some food.  She then redialed to relay the message for Kiyone.

   "I can't believe we're three months behind."  Kiyone stressed a little.  Her left hand ran through her hair to emphasis her frustration.

   "Oh, well, we always get them done so fast... I didn't think that they piled up so much."  Mihoshi stuck her tongue out, taking a seat back at her own desk.

   "Well thank you very much for the overtime." She commented lightly, "So... seen any good movies lately?"  Kiyone spoke up, attempting to bring the conversation into motion.

   "There was this one on TV the other night.  I missed the beginning, but I think it had your favorite actor.  You know, the guy with the dark hair."  Mihoshi worked on a few of the reports, putting them in the 'done' bin.

   "I think I know which movie you're talking about."  Kiyone continued to work efficiently, "It had to do with a boathouse on an abandoned planet right?"

   "I can't remember.  I fell asleep."

   "You would.  It wasn't his best work anyway."  She heard a knock at the office door, "Come in!"  Kiyone yelled.

  The door opened and a woman entered.  A very young boy of about five years old ran over to Kiyone.

   "Hey there kiddo."  She smiled, "Thanks for bringing him by.  We're going to be here for most of the night.  I didn't want to keep you."  Kiyone spoke to the woman.

   "It's fine.  He was a good boy today, like usual."

   "Of course he was.  Ken is always a good boy."  Mihoshi smiled.

   "I'd better get going.  Goodbye."  Ken's babysitter left the office.

  Ken walked over to a small area where he had some toys set up, "How long are we gonna be, Mom?"

   "Ah, maybe a few hours.  We ordered some food."

   "You're always workin'."

   "This time you have to blame Aunt Mihoshi."  She glared at her partner.

  Ken giggled and went back to playing.  A buzzing noise erupted from the desk communicator.

  Kiyone pressed the button, "Detective Makibi here."

   "Yes, just the woman I wanted to speak to.  Is Detective Kuramitsu there as well?"

   "Unfortunately, yes.  We're on another late-nighter.  What can we do for you, Chief?"

   "I'll come down to your office.  I've been contacted about you two and... well, I think I need to talk to you in person."

  Kiyone blinked, "Alright, sir.  We'll be down here."

  The speaker beeped off.  Mihoshi looked over at Kiyone, "I wonder what they need us for?"

   "It sounded urgent.  Contacted about us?  Why does that make me nervous?"  Kiyone frowned.

   "Oh Kiyone, you worry too much."  Mihoshi continued with her work.

  Kiyone stuck her tongue out at Mihoshi, then walked out from behind the desk to sit next to Ken, "Want anything to drink?"

   "I'm fine, thanks."

   "You sure?"

   "Yah Mom, I'm fine.  Go finish working.  I wanna go home before it's too late."

   "Alright.  I'll try to hurry it up.  If it gets too late I can take some of this home."  She smiled and went back to her desk.  This was her ideal life, though.  Kiyone was very happy with how things had worked out for her.  Ken was a blessing in disguise.  She originally thought she had been cursed.  She and Tenchi had used two forms of protection, but she still managed to become pregnant from that one weekend they had spent together.  She thought about the prospect of giving up her son when he was first born.  She was a career woman.  She had no time for a family.  It then dawned on her that perhaps she needed something to pace herself.  Ken was that opportunity.  From the day he was born she realized how very lucky she was.  In all reality, she knew her life was complete the day he entered it.

  Mihoshi glanced over at Kiyone, "Are you daydreaming?  Get back to work!"  She said in a very exaggerated and playful tone.

  Kiyone threw a foam stress ball with the GP symbol on it at Mihoshi.  Mihoshi blocked and went back to her paperwork with a light laugh.  They were closer partners than before.  It was a good change of pace from eight years ago when they were first stationed on Earth together.

  The Chief entered the room with another man in tow.  Obviously the other man was not a police officer, but was dressed in rather proper clothing for the Juraian royal guard.  Mihoshi and Kiyone stood up as the Chief entered.

   "At ease." He waved to the two officers, "This is Ajimu.  He's with the Juraian Royal Guard.  He was asked by Queen Aeka to approach the Galaxy Police for this mission.  She specifically requested you two."

   "Queen Aeka?"  Kiyone spoke up, "Yes, well... we all have our pasts.  What kind of mission did she contact you about?"

   "Well," The Juraian guard started, "There was an exhibition on Planet Inderotia that was showcasing a very important Juraian artifact.  It is said to hold mythological powers and grant people clarity.  Although most feel it's not true, it's a very sought after item.  People would visit the exhibition daily... twice, three times even, claiming to have visions.  Whether or not the artifact actually holds these properties, it has now been the target of thieves and pirates alike ever since it left Jurai.  It was kept a secret in the Juraian royal family for years, but recently was taken to that planet for the museum exhibition.  It was a kind gesture on the Queen's behalf.  It's truly a priceless treasure.  Soon it will be coming home to us on Jurai."

   "Okay.  So what do we have to do with this?"  Mihoshi asked.

   "Yes, I was getting to that.  Queen Aeka would like you two to accompany the artifact back to Jurai."

   "I'm not picking up something.  I know in cases like these the Juraian Royal Guard would travel with the artifact.  Why involve the Galaxy Police?  Pardon my ignorance on the matter.  I can understand why *us*, but why was this brought to the Chief as a Galaxy Police issue?"  Kiyone inquired.

   "We'd recently added a few recruits to our ranks in the Royal Guard.  The problem is... well, we've been hearing rumors of a few who had joined the guard to try to steal the item while it was being transported.  We recruited so many recently, and to turn them away would cause suspicion.  Queen Aeka felt the best way to approach the situation would be... well... for you two to go under cover as caretakers of the item.  One of you will be a Priestess and the other their servant."

   "I'll be the Priestess!  Me!  Me!"  Mihoshi jumped up and down.

  Kiyone twitched at Mihoshi's outburst. "Undercover, huh?  I guess we are considered trusted friends of the family."  Kiyone crossed her arms "Well, Chief?  What do you think?"

   "It's really up to you two.  It would be a police matter if the item did get stolen.  It is easily something you both can handle.  Preventing a crime before it happens is always the best solution in a delicate situation such as this."

   "Let's do it, Kiyone!  It'll be fun!"  Mihoshi smiled.

   "That's because you've already called being the Priestess.  I guess I can live with that."  Kiyone looked up at Ajimu. "I guess it's settled.  When do we leave?"

   "As soon as possible."  Smiled the man.

  There was a knock at the office door, "Delivery!" called behind it.

  Mihoshi ran over to the door, "I've got it!".  She paid the man and brought in the food.

   "Dinner!  Alright!"  Ken ran over to flank Mihoshi's side.

   "Err... right.  We may have to make a quick stop.  My son..."  Kiyone glanced at Ken, "We'll meet up with you in the office in about a half hour.  I have to make arrangements for a place for my son to stay while we're on the mission."

   "That's fine.  We'll meet you back up there in thirty minutes, then."  The guard nodded and went to exit the office, the chief following behind.

  Kiyone went over to pick up her food and said, "Ken, do you know what's going on?"

   "It sounded important.  You going somewhere?"  Ken munched on a sandwich.

   "Yes.  That's exactly it.  Mihoshi and I are doing a favor for an old friend.  I'm going to have to find a place for you to stay the next few days."

   "..."  Ken glared at Kiyone.  "... okay, I guess."

   "You can't get moody on me, you're five!  You'll be fine.  It'll be like a small vacation away from me and Mihoshi."

   "You work so much it ALREADY feels like a vacation." he snapped.

   "Quiet, you."  Kiyone took a deep breath and calmed down, "... you know I hate leaving you alone.  You understand how this job is.  Sometimes you can come along... but yes, sometimes you can't.  This time is one of those cases.  Do you have any preference of who you want to stay with or do I get to pick a name at random?"

   "Mmn..."  He looked a little guilty, then said, "Washuu!"

  Kiyone half-smiled, "... why Washuu?"  She thought to herself 'Not that I don't worry about you being in her hands or anything... no wait, I do.'

   "She's always so nice!  It's fun there!  She has lots of toys."  Ken named off the reasons.

   "He does have some good points, Kiyone.  Do we really have many other options?"  Asked Mihoshi, diving into her own food.

   "Not really.  Let me call her up quickly and see if she's busy."  Kiyone walked over and ruffled Ken's hair, then went over to the desk and brought up a communicator window.  She pushed a few buttons and then Washuu's face appeared onscreen.

   "Aaaaaaaaaah, Kiyone!  What do I owe the pleasure?  Usually it's me calling you."  Washuu adjusted her glasses.

   "Hello Professor Washuu."  Kiyone took a deep breath, "I know this is short notice, but... we're being pulled for an under cover mission.  We're also unfortunately leaving very soon.  Is there any way you can take care of Ken for the next few days?  We can drop him off on the way to the first check in point."

   "I'm the greatest scientist in the entire universe and you contact me for babysitting!?"  Washuu raised an eyebrow at the screen.

  Kiyone sighed, "Yes, that's exactly what I'm doing."

   "Great!  You know, I always love it when Ken visits."  Washuu smiled.

   "Don't scare me like that.  We'll be by in an hour or two, depending on how fast we get out of here.  Thanks again."

   "You owe me."  Washuu grinned.

   "I know I do."  Kiyone turned off the communicator.  "I can't believe I'm letting you stay with Washuu.  Don't let her do any experiments on you, got it?"

   "Yes Mom."  Ken continued to eat.

  Kiyone sat down and put the paperwork away, then got her meal and ate quickly.

  Mihoshi finished her food first, getting a few items together in a small bag.  She glanced at back over at Kiyone, "Should I pack your things with mine?"

   "Sure, go ahead.  I don't pack much anyway.  We just need the standard guns and anything extra you want to bring."  She noted, finishing off her food.  Kiyone stood back up and walked over to Ken, "Are you sure you're okay with this?"

   "Do I really have a choice?"  He asked.

   "Not really, I just want to know how you feel."

   "Well... uh..."  Ken looked down nervously.

   "Ken, what is it?" She asked in a soft, gentle tone.

   "... I'll miss you.  Please don't take long."

  Kiyone kneeled down next to Ken and pulled him into a hug. "I'll miss you too.  I miss you ever moment we're apart.  I'll take this picture with me, okay?"  She reached over to her desk and slid out a picture of her and Ken together. "It'll remind me to hurry home as fast as possible."  He smiled and hugged her back.

   "I love you Mom."

   "I love you too, Ken.  Be sure to be a good boy for Washuu, okay?"

  Mihoshi walked over and hugged them both, "I LOVE YOU BOTH!  WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

   "Ack!  Mihoshi!"

  Ken whined about being suffocated.  Mihoshi laughed lightheartedly and let go of the two.  She finished packing the single small bag and finished the final touches before trip.

  Kiyone, too, completed some final tasks and got Ken packed up before leaving Headquarters for the start of their journey.

  *   *   *

 - Rendezvous at Planet Inderotia.  -

  Mihoshi, Kiyone, and the Juraian soldier had a smooth flight to Jurai.  Ajimu made sure both girls were dressed appropriately for the trip, transferring their packed items to a less conspicuous bag than something that says "Galaxy Police" across it.

  Kiyone straightened her outfit.  Servants of the Priestesses aren't dressed as elegantly as the priestess.  Her outfit was a mixture of whites, greys and dark blues.  Her long hair was pulled back into a pony tail and tied neatly.  The outfit almost seemed masculine, dark slacks, a tunic of white and blue accompanied by a slim belt.

  Mihoshi was dressed very differently.  Her outfit was elegant and proper.  Quite the opposite of her partners'.  The complicated design of a traditional Juraian outfit accompanied with the colors of light blue, pink, and golds.  Mihoshi wore it very well, doing a small spin in front of a mirror.

   "It looks good on you."  Kiyone complimented.

   "You look great too, Kiyone!"  Mihoshi giggled lightly. "Do we get to keep these when we're done?"

  Kiyone smiled a little lopsidedly, "Only if they let us."

  The Juraian fellow let out a *ahem* noise.  The two officers turned to look over at the man.  "Are you two ready?  We'll have to put on a lovely show for the soldiers in less than three hours.  You have been briefed on your stories, it's just a matter of looking good for the crew."

   "I don't think that will be a problem, sir."  Kiyone smiled and did a half hearted salute.  "We will do our best."

  The Juraian man smiled back, "I know you will.  I trust Queen Aeka's judgment."

   "It'll be a piece of cake."  Mihoshi smirked confidently.  "Isn't that right, Kiyone?"

   "Eh... right, Mihoshi."  Kiyone smiled nervously.  She looked back at Ajimu. "It should be no problem, sir.  I just hope it isn't too much of a burden to have us aboard.  These undercover missions are always a touchy subject."

   "I'm not worried."  Ajimu laughed, "I'm just hoping you won't get bored.  The Queen may be taking this precaution, but in all seriousness - it wasn't really necessary."

  Kiyone nodded to the man, "Don't worry.  We can usually entertain ourselves pretty well."

       *                   *                      *

   "Kiyoneeeeeeeee I'm so bored!" whined Mihoshi.

  Seven hours later in Mihoshi and Kiyone's quarters.  The artifact was now in their possession and they were heading back to Jurai.  Kiyone laid out on the small couch while Mihoshi whined from her throne like place.

  Kiyone sat up, rubbing her eyes. "Mihoshi!  I was trying to rest!  Those royal soldiers have been badgering us all day about seeing the artifact.  It was nice to have a bit of quiet time."  She yawned lightly, "I haven't slept in what feels like days.  Aren't you tired yet!?"

   "Actually, now that mention it."  Mihoshi touched her chin in thought, "Nope, not at all!  I slept on the way to pick up the artifact, remember?  I'm really hungry now though."

   "... I'm pretty hungry, too."  Kiyone glanced back over at her partner.  "Well, I'm the 'priestesses servant'... I suppose I can find the kitchen and get us something to eat and bring it back while you stay here and keep watch of the item.  That is our mission."

   "Yes sir!"  Mihoshi joked, sticking her tongue out at Kiyone.

  Kiyone waved a hand and stumbled out of the room.  She straightened her outfit carefully and took in a deep breath, 'Kitchen... right.  Can't be that hard to find.'  Kiyone thought to herself.  She went down the hall and around corner, looking inconspicuously for any sort of clue.

   'Ah, there.' She thought to herself, noticing a clearly labeled door.  She knocked lightly, "Anyone here?  Excuse me..." she opened it.  "... Oh.  No one home.  I suppose I get to fend for myself."

  Kiyone went straight to the refrigeration unit, pulling out several articles of food onto the smooth metal counter.  She turned on the burner and pulled down a few utensils to cook with.  Kiyone idly puts on a stew mixture of the foods she chose.  She set the stew on a low boil as she leaned against the counter, closing her eyes tiredly.

  The door to the kitchen opened and closed a few times.  Kiyone dozed restfully as the meal cooked.  A gentle hand touched her shoulder. "... miss?"  spoke a soft male voice.

  Kiyone stirred at the touch.  She pushed the hand away without thought, "...Mihoshi, I'm trying to..." she murmured.  Her eyes opened tiredly, mid-sentance to notice the young man in front of her.

   "Oh!  I'm so sorry, sir!  I thought you were someone else."

   "It's okay.  Your meal looks done."  He gestured to the stew.

   "You're right, it does.  I must have dozed off longer than I thought.  Thank you for waking me... Mister..."

   "Ryuzo."  He paused, "Do you need help taking this back to your quarters?" The youthful voice implied more.  His age was rather easy to determine, putting him in his early twenties.  He wore a dark colored casual outfit that contrasted his light skin and long jet black hair.  His crystal eyes examined Kiyone thoughtfully, and a smile appeared on his lips as he pointed back to the pot.

  Kiyone smiled weakly, 'Oh no.  This kid is going to get the wrong idea.'  She shook her head awake, "I can take it back myself.  Thank you for the offer, Mister Ryuzo."  She turned back to the meal, putting together two bowls of stew for her and her partner.  She added a piece of bread on each plate and poured drinks for them both.

   "It looks good."  Ryuzo commented. "You still have some stew left, may I have the rest?"

   "Oh, please help yourself.  I'm not much of a cook, but I get by." Kiyone commented, placing the meals on a large tray and balancing them out.

  Ryuzo looked over Kiyone, "You know, that looks rather heavy.  If you wait a moment, I really should help you with that."

  Kiyone thought to herself, '... he could be one of them.  I have to be on alert at all times.'  She looked the young man over, "No, I'm fine, really.  I can handle this."

   "Well, it'd be ungentlemanly for me not to help you with your food items.  It's my duty and all."  Ryuzo urged.  He placed his bowl at the edge of the tray, picking it up.

  Kiyone sighed to herself.  "I'm fine, really.  However, if you insist I suppose you can help me carry them back to the room."

   "Oh, so kind of you."  He remarked.

   "You're the one who took it from me!  I really don't need your help."

   "How rude.  Are you always this nice to people you meet?"

   "Sometimes I'm nicer."

   "I see.  So where are your quarters?"  He held onto the tray confidently.

  Kiyone shook her head, "Down the hall."  She walked alongside him. "You sure are persistent."

   "It's it my nature."  He smiled back, a little full of himself.  "Shouldn't you and the Priestess be sleeping right now?"

   "...yes.  She wasn't sleeping well and was very hungry.  I, being her servant," Kiyone inwardly groaned at that, "came to the kitchen to fix her meal."

  Ryuzo nodded, "Ah.  Did you want to know why I was awake?"

   "... it's not necessary.  I'm sure you have your own responsibilities."  Kiyone started to walk faster.

  Ryuzo kept up with the pace, "Well... uh... tonight was my watch for your room.  I saw you leave and followed."

   "Great, my own personal stalker."

   "I'm not a stalker!  I'm on watch!  It's my duty."  He seemed annoyed.  "I would never do such a thing."

   "Sure you wouldn't."  Kiyone teased, now seeing the once cool soldier not so composed.

   "Women."  He commented.

   "Hmm?  What about us?"  She approached the door, "More trouble then we're worth.  I'll tell you that."  She straightened up and opened the door, "Oh, Miss Mihoshi, this fine Juraian guard accompanied me back with our meals.  Wasn't that kind of him?"

  Ryuzo looked rather annoyed at Kiyone's sarcastic cheeriness.  He turned to look at Mihoshi and smiled, "My pleasure to make your stay aboard this vessel as smooth as possible."

  Kiyone made a face and rolled her eyes, out of the soldiers view.

  Mihoshi giggled at both of them, "My, you two are amusing.  What did you make for us, Kiyone?"

  Kiyone winced.  'Great, now he knows my name.'  "Miss Mihoshi... I made us stew.  There wasn't much available."  She nudged Ryuzo, in what looked like more of a punch.  She pointed over to the table to imply he should place the tray down.

  Ryuzo glared back at Kiyone, then turned and smiled to Mihoshi, "Yes, your servant was kind enough to allow me to have some as well.  Do you mind if I eat here with you both?"

   "Oh please stay!  I always like to have visitors.  It's not often we get visitors, right Kiyone?"  Mihoshi smiled, taking her bowl and drink.

  Ryuzo bowed politely, "It's an honor to be here."  He took a seat in the chair across from  Mihoshi.

  Kiyone seemed annoyed, but shrugged and grabbed her bowl and cup, taking her seat beside Ryuzo.  She took in a deep breath and ate her meal in silence.  Kiyone closed her eyes in thought, 'This shouldn't bother me at all.  He's just a kid.  It was my fault for going out to the kitchen at this late hour.  It's just his duty.  He's just being polite.'

   "This is really good!"  Mihoshi wolfed down her meal, "You're such a great cook, Kiyone."

   "Yes, this is very good.  You didn't have much to work with.  I'm impressed."

   "It's... my duty to serve the Priestess.  I don't have to impress anyone."

   "It was a compliment.  Can you at least take a compliment?"  Ryuzo asked.

   "I don't need your compliments."  Kiyone snapped back.

   "... Kiyone, are you okay?"  Mihoshi asked, "You seem a little upset."

  Kiyone shook her head, "... I'm fine.  I'm sorry, Ryuzo, sir.  I apologize for my behavior.  I haven't slept in nearly 30 hours.  I... suppose that's no excuse for my rudeness."  She turned to look at Ryuzo who was smiling at her once again.  She turned away from his gaze nervously. "Perhaps it's time for both the me and the Priestess to turn in for the night."

   "... have you taken anything for it?  Your insomnia, I mean."  Ryuzo inquired, "I have a trick that works every time."

   "I'm not an insomniac.  I've just got a few things on my mind..."

   "Of course."  Ryuzo commented, "You're on a very important journey back to Jurai.  It's good to return home, isn't it?"

  Kiyone paused, almost forgetting her mission, "Jurai isn't..."  She looked back at Mihoshi in a plea for help, "... yes.  I've been away so long, I've almost forgotten how beautiful it is."

  Mihoshi faked a yawn and stretched her arms, "Oh, look at the time!  I should go lay down.  Kiyone, you should take whatever this man gives you.   You really look exhausted!"  She giggled and nudged Kiyone in the back.  Mihoshi headed over to the bedchamber, closing the curtains and leaving Kiyone and Ryuzo alone.

   "Miho-- Miss!  Wait...!"  Kiyone cursed her luck once again, looking back at Ryuzo who was patiently cleaning up the table. "Oh.  Please, you don't have to do that."

   "I imposed on you both tonight.  Please let me clean up."

   "You're very polite."  She observed as the youth clear off the table and set the items next to the door.

  Ryuzo turned back around to face Kiyone.  "I was rated most polite in my class."  He grinned.  "I call it charm."

   "Does modesty run in your blood too?"

  He winced, "I'm just trying to be friendly."

   "You don't need to prove yourself to me.  This is a short journey back to the planet.  My duties lie with the Priestess."  She assured herself, but spoke to him in a calm voice.

   "I understand."  He held his hands up, "You don't need to explain it to me.  You win."

  Kiyone looked at him sternly, "Good.  Now we have an understanding."  She glanced back over to her makeshift bed.  "Speaking of duties, you should really get back to your post."

   "My post is here."  He commented, "And I haven't done what the Priestess asked of me yet.  Really, I insist."

   "There's no use talking you out of it, right?  So what's this remedy?"  She stood and walked over to stand a few feet from Ryuzo, crossing her arms in front of her chest.

   "Well, first off, do you sleep in those clothes?"  He gestured.  "It's probably not very comfortable."

  Kiyone sighed, "No.  I don't."

  Ryuzo smiled, "Well then, I'll go put together my home remedy and when I get back here you need to be ready for bed.  It's very powerful."

   "Are you sure it's safe?"  She looked him over, "Perhaps you should just not come back.  The Priestess won't have to know.  I really can get to sleep on my own..."

   "Kiyone, I'm a soldier in the Juraian Royal Guard.  I mean you absolutely no harm.  I'd like to be as helpful as possible."

  Kiyone looked annoyed, "Please don't you ever speak a persons name so formally when you barely know them!"  She glared, "If I do as you say, will you leave me alone?"

   "..."  He looked stunned, "... I'm sorry, Miss.  That was rude of me.  I'll leave you alone afterwards.  I never meant any disrespect."  He inwardly cursed at himself.  His enthusiastic blue eyes looked away from the older womans gaze.

  Kiyone couldn't help but feel somewhat guilty for snapping at the young man, "Okay.  Come back here in five minutes.  I'll be ready then."

  Ryuzo walked over to the door, picking up the tray with the empty bowls on it and exited quietly.

  Kiyone waited until he left, then rushed over to the bedchamber. "Mihoshi!  Are you still awake?!"

   "What is it, Kiyone?  Oh, he left?"  She looked around, "What happened to his remedy?"

   "He's off making it.  I need you to make sure he leaves after he administers this thing.  I'm not sure if I trust him.  Me being 'put to sleep' by a home remedy sounds suspicious."

   "You know, Kiyone.  I've always been a pretty good judge of people.  I think he's harmless."

   "You WOULD."  She looked annoyed, "Please, Mihoshi.  Focus on the mission.  People trying to steal the artifact, remember?  Juraian soldiers in particular."

   "I know!"  She patted Kiyone on the shoulder, "Have a little faith.  I have it locked up in this room.  Just get some rest.  I'll take a peek out of I hear anything funny.  I'll make sure that you and me are the only people left before I go to bed."

   "That's all I wanted.  Thank you."  Kiyone left Mihoshi's bedchamber and quickly undressed.

  She slipped into some casual night clothes.  She pulled her hair out of the complicated braid and let it flow down her shoulders.  Her thick black hair seemed wavy from being constrained under the ties for such a long time.  She looked over to the door of their quarters as a light rapping came from behind it.  Kiyone hesitantly opened the door to see Ryuzo there.  She moved back, opening the door further for him to come in once again.

  Ryuzo stepped inside, holding a small cup in his left hand.  He turned to watch Kiyone close the door.  He gulped, observing the fit woman in an outfit more suited to her figure.  He rubbed the back of his neck nervously, "Ah uh..."  He blushed. "Here it is."

  Kiyone frowned, "What is it now?"  She headed over to sit beside her bedding, somewhat self conscious. "You told me to get ready for bed."

   "Well uh... I mean... well, you look great!"  He coughed, "That other outfit... made you look very different."

   "You're making me nervous.  Just give me the remedy."  She held out her hand.

  Ryuzo rushed over to sit next to Kiyone, handing her the warm cup of liquid.

  She held the cup under her nose, taking a light sniff before downing the liquid.  "Mn, not bad."

   "Turn around."  He suggested.

  Kiyone side glanced at Ryuzo.  Her eyes locked in his gaze for a very long moment.  Her face flushed with warmth, her body ached faintly with vulnerability.  She broke the gaze, turning around as he told her. "You're not going to do anything funny, are you?"

   "The thought never crossed my mind."  He gently touched Kiyone's shoulders.  Ryuzo reached over with his right hand to faintly move down along behind her left ear, gathering her hair in his hand and moved it forward and over her right shoulder.

  Kiyone shivered under his touch.  His hand pressed firmly into her neck, searching for tension.  She closed her eyes, whispering, "...ow.."

   "Ow?  Am I pressing too hard?"  He moved his hands down to her shoulders, leaning close to speak quietly into her ear. "I can ease up."

   "... no, it was a good ow."  She turned to to look at him again. 'Oooh, this isn't right.  I shouldn't let anyone get this close.'  Kiyone thought to herself.

  Ryuzo gently massaged her neck and shoulders, looking at her as she turned to look him over once again.  He whispered, "... Relaxed yet?"

   "Oh... very.  This stuff is really good.  I'll come after you later if it does anything weird to me."  She threatened, though the tone in her voice was warm and gentle.

   "I told you,"  Ryuzo murmured nervously, "It's safe."  He ran a thumb down Kiyone's spine, resting his right hand in the small of her back.  He looked back into her deep blue eyes.  Ryuzo whispered, "What is it?" attempting to keep his cool.

   "I didn't say anything."  Kiyone stammered. 'Why am I nervous?  How did he get so close, all of the sudden!?  I'm not scared, I'm not even sure what's going on here...'  She pondered to herself.

  Ryuzo touched her cheek with his left hand.  His head swam in the moment, 'Her skin is so soft... I'm so close.  This is my chance!'  He tilted his head, moving forward a little awkwardly.  His thin lips pressed into Kiyone's with a gentle push.  His heart jumped as she returned the kiss to him, if only for a moment.

  The alarm sounded off inside Kiyone's head.  She was kissed before her delayed senses could react.  She turned toward him, placing a hand against his shoulder.  Kiyone then pulled back with a jerk, pushing him away forcefully, "...what? ...stop!"  Her voice sounded nervous, and vaguely frightened.

   "...but ...but I thought..."  He blushed, moving toward her again to gain his balance.

  Kiyone raised her hand and slapped him across his cheek. "... get out!"  She grabbed him by the arm, "I don't know what kind of game your playing, but you are no longer welcome here."  She stood uneasily, pulling Ryuzo off the ground with her.

  Ryuzo, humiliated, was easily dragged off the ground.  He stumbled forward away from her grip to face her.  He bowed, "I'm so sorry... I'm sorry... you're just so beauti--"

   "I don't care!  Get out!  Now!"  She turned him around and pushed him to the door forcefully.  She growled, "You're not welcome!"

  Ryuzo stumbled forward to the door.  He took the handle nervously, looking back to the angry Kiyone.  Her cheeks were red from embarrassment.  He whispered, "...I uh... would suggest laying down as soon as possible."

   "Of course you would!  Out!"  Kiyone fumed.  She waited until he exited the room.  She locked the door behind him, stumbling back over to her bedding on the floor.

  Kiyone curled up under the covers, covering her eyes with her hand. 'What just happened?'

  Mihoshi rushed over to Kiyone's side, "What's wrong?  Are you okay?"  Mihoshi pushed Kiyone's hair back. "Your flushed."

   "I-I'm fine, Mihoshi."  Kiyone attempted to reassure her partner, "Please don't worry."

  Mihoshi frowned, "What'd he do?  Did he hurt you?"

   "No!  I'm just embarrassed and tired."  She looked up into her partners worried eyes, "Everything's fine, he didn't do anything wrong.  I was just sick of his conversation."

   "You really need to get some rest of you're yelling at the top of your lungs for someone to 'get out' when all you're sick of is their conversation."  Mihoshi commented.  She leaned down and hugged her partner. "It's not healthy for you to run yourself out like this.  Is it because of Ken?  Because he's not here?"

  Kiyone sighed, exasperated, "Now you're over analyzing."

   "You -haven't- slept,"  Mihoshi counted one finger, "You barely ate from the first meal we had earlier today,"  She counted a second finger, "You've called Washuu twice already to see if he's okay," The third finger was counted, "And now you're yelling at people who want to help you."  She held four fingers in front of her partners face.  "If it's not one thing, it's another!"

   "Mihoshi!  Really..."  Kiyone sighed. "I'm tired enough already."

  Mihoshi sniffled, "I'm worried about you, Kiyone!  Come lay down in the big bed.  It's big enough for us both."

   "I'm already laying down here."  Kiyone commented.

  Mihoshi helped Kiyone up after some fussing.

  Kiyone settled in the larger bed, curling up on her side tiredly.

  Mihoshi laid down beside Kiyone.  She stretched her arms up and yawned, looking down to view her partner dozing off to sleep.  Mihoshi smiled, placing an arm around Kiyone in a gentle hug before falling asleep herself.

*    *   *

-- Chapter Two:  I'm just wishin' I'd get through to you --

  The comfort of the warm covers kept Kiyone asleep longer than normal.  The sound of visitors echoed through the thin walls of the two bedroomed quarters.  Kiyone turned over to view the clock.  Her eyes had difficulty opening under the half-lit room lights.  "Mid-day."  She murmured, attempting to sit up in bed.

   "You're up!"  Mihoshi smiled, "You slept in later than you usually do."

   "I noticed."  She pulled the covers up over her arms, "... are there people here?"

   "Well, there were... but I told them all to leave.  It's just us again."  Mihoshi smiled.

  Kiyone reached up and touched the back of her neck.  She blinked, remembering that the kink had been worked out.  "So... anything to report?"

   "Nothing to report on.  The question is... are you okay?"

   "I'm *fine*... I even feel pretty well rested."  Kiyone stretched.  "Whatever it was worked."  She looked annoyed for a moment, 'Even though he took advantage of the situation.'

  Mihoshi nodded, "Well, Ryuzo stopped by earlier to see how you were doing, but I told him that you were still sleeping!  He's really cute."

   "He's not cute AT ALL!"  Kiyone growled, "He's an overconfident hot-shot soldier."

   "Well, he seems to have a bit of a crush on you."  Mihoshi nudged Kiyone, settling down on the bed beside her.

   "Whoop dee do.  Good for me.  Hurrah.  I can hardly contain my excitement."  Kiyone spoke monotonously, in a rather sarcastic voice, "It's not really an option.  After this it's back to HQ, then more missions around the universe.  I don't need a boy with a crush who's in the equivalent of the Juraian military."

   "Don't get mad at me, Kiyone.  I'm just letting you know what *I* picked up on."  Mihoshi leaned back, "There's no harm in a little flirtation.  That must be a foreign subject for you."

   "Hey!  Cheap shot!  I'm the one with a kid."  She leaned over and noogied Mihoshi, messing up her hair.

  Mihoshi laughed and attempted to retaliate with tickling her partner. "Hey hey!"

  Kiyone grabbed a pillow and moved back to smack Mihoshi with it.  Mihoshi came back up with another pillow.  The girls laughed, enjoying a moment of pillow warfare.

   "Ahem."  A voice came from the door.  They both paused, mid-attack.  Ajimu stood at the doorway to the bedroom, "I heard that you took a break from the artifact viewings and I decided to come by to see what's going on.  Is... this what they train the Galaxy Police to do?"

  Kiyone smiled nervously, "I apologize we were... I have no good excuse as to what was just going on."

   "I do!"  Mihoshi piped up, "First I was teasing her about--"  She was quickly quieted by Kiyone who covered her partners mouth. "Mrfhfgh!"

   "It really doesn't need to be explained."  Kiyone nervously laughed, "So uh... did you come to see us for anything, sir?"

  Ajimu shrugged, "Actually, I was off my shift and wanted to check on you two.  Has everything been good for you?  No one has suspected anything, have they?"

  "No sir.  They've been rather kind to us."  Kiyone let go of Mihoshi.

  "Yes, they're all so very nice.  It's really hard to tell who could possibly be the soldiers that are planning the heist."  Mihoshi commented.

  "It could be one, it could be several.  I'll be the first one to admit that with this new group of soldiers, it's hard to tell.  The newest class was exceptional on many levels.  I'm glad you stopped the 'viewings' for today.  It eliminates the group from getting inside information.  The less access they have to the artifact, the better."

  Kiyone nodded. "I agree with that.  We should refuse any other inquiries toward it.  Saves us trouble of upping security and paranoia."

  Ajimu turned to look over at the artifact, "It's a beautiful item.  However... Queen Aeka took a chance with allowing it to travel to other planets."  He paused, lost in thought.  "Does it really do what they say?"

   "I don't know.  The soldiers that have come to pay respect haven't had any of those 'visions' people speak of."  Kiyone stated. "Have you had any today, Mihoshi?"

   "None at all.  Believe me, they've tried.  That is, unless they haven't told me about it.  You'd think since I'm the Priestess they would have said something to me."

   "Don't get too into your role!"  Kiyone snapped.

  Mihoshi laughed.  "I know, I know.  You're too serious, Kiyone."

   "We've got to keep up the 'Good Cop; Bad Cop' image, you know."  Kiyone joked.

  Ajimu laughed, "Well, I see everything is in order here.  I'll send someone over with todays meal.  It's probably safer to stay in the room for now.  You can wander around early morning and evenings, but mid-day is so hectic - they prefer that visitors stay in their quarters."

   "Understood."  Kiyone nodded.  "We'll be looking forward to what's on todays menu."

  Ajimu left their quarters.  The day moved quickly after that encounter.  Mihoshi and Kiyone worked idly on Galaxy Police reports in between meals and visiting guards.  Before too long, the day had mixed into night time (although, it was really hard to tell since they were in outer space) and the officers found themselves starved for entertainment once more.

  Kiyone laid outstretched on the front couch, the television playing idly in the background as she worked on reports.  Mihoshi, however, has resorted to wandering around the two bedrooms pacing.  "Will you cut that out?"  Kiyone raised her voice, "I'm trying to finish off these reports."

   "I'm sick of doing reports."  She slumped into a chair.

   "Well, what do you want to do then?  Think of this as kind of like a vacation - except we're not really anywhere exciting and it's technically considered work, but we're not really working."  Kiyone sorted the papers and packed them away in her bag.

   "Let's explore!"  Mihoshi smiled.

   "Uh... not a good idea.  How about you explore and I stay here?  Someone has to keep watch of the artifact."

   "Oh... right."  Mihoshi sighed.

   "You can go explore.  I'll stay here.  There's a movie on later I've been wanting to watch."

   "But... but... it's no FUN without you with me."  Mihoshi whined.

   "... are you going to complain or are you going to do something to cure your boredom?"  Kiyone teased. "Go have fun.  For my sake...  PLEASE... GO have fun."

  Mihoshi stood, "Well, if you insist then!  I'll be back in a bit!"  The door opened and closed to the quarters.

  Kiyone sorted her papers and leaned back, staring at the television.  She closed her eyes and thought about the night before.  'What an ass.  I can't believe he did that.'  Anger welled up in her once again.  'I have to calm down.  This isn't helping me one bit.'  She opened her eyes, looking over at her portable organizer and communicator.  'Maybe I should drop a line to Washuu...'  She picked it up and opened the cover.  Kiyone clicked through the list of contact numbers, moving down to Washuu's.  'This is crazy.  I've already called twice.  I'm such a worrisome parent - Well, he is ONLY five years old.  He can't get into that much trouble.  Washuu already yelled at me the second time I called in.  Dammit.  Dammit dammit dammit!'  She slammed the lid closed to the communicator.  She curled up on the couch and flipped through the different channels. 'I'll just try to relax.  I wonder what Mihoshi is up to now?'  Kiyone zoned out, lost in thought.

  In another part of the ship Mihoshi was wandering around.  She had already visited the kitchen and training rooms and now found herself checking out the social floor.  A drink area with a few chairs and couches along with various game boards and entertainment outlets.  Mihoshi has found herself playing a game or two with a few other crew members.  Hours had gone by without even a thought.

  Mihoshi turned away from her latest game to notice the changing of the guard.  Late night people wandered into the bar like atmosphere while the swing shifters headed out to bed.  Among that crowd was the young man she had met the night before, Ryuzo.  Mihoshi smiled and approached him. "Hello Mr. Ryuzo!"  She smiled, "I don't know if you remember me, but I remember you from last night."

   "How could I forget that humiliating little experience?  It's good to see you're enjoying the ship."  Ryuzo commented, "Where is your servant?  Isn't she supposed to be by your side at all times?"  A faint form of bitterness oozed through his voice.  He didn't seem angry, but had a hint of asking for more trouble.

   "Kiyone?  Well, I left her back at the room."  She pointed to the seat near Ryuzo, "May I sit?"

   "Oh!  Forgive me... where are my manners!"  He stood up and went to pull out the chair for Mihoshi.

  Mihoshi laughed, "Oh, you're so cute.  Please don't make a fuss over me."  She settled into the chair. "Even with the title 'Priestess', I'm still just a plain person like you or anyone else!  Please don't treat me any differently than you would, say... him."  She pointed to a random person.

   "Right... sorry."  He bowed his head, a little embarrassed. "So uh.. checking out the ship?  Glad you like it.  This is a really great cruiser.  It's only my second time on it.  First time was for a training mission.  I'm glad to be a full fledged member of the Juraian Royal Guard now.  It's such an honor."

   "As it should be!  I heard that it even rivals some exams for the Galaxy Police.  Though, there's a clear definition between Juraian Royal Guard and Galaxy Police cadet - you have to be Juraian to be part of the royal guard."  She commented.

   "So true, so true.  I'm not sure if my parents would have appreciated me going into the Galaxy Police.  Not as honorable as the Royal Guard."

   "What?"  She blinked, "Where did you get *that* impression? We- I mean ..The Galaxy Police have a lot of honor - and they deal with more situations than the Royal Guard would have to put up with.  Why, even years ago some members of the Galaxy Police helped out Queen Aeka to help her regain her position back on the throne of Jurai.  I'll have you know that the Galaxy Police take all their work VERY seriously!"

   "Man, I barely remember when that stuff happened back home.  I was pretty young back then."  He shrugged, "You have your points.  In recent years though, the GP have not impressed me in the honor department.  Maybe it was because of that incident that my parents didn't like them as much.  I really couldn't tell you."  He took a sip of his drink.  "I hope I didn't offend you.  You seem like you owe a lot to the Galaxy Police.  You spoke so highly of them."

  Mihoshi rubbed the back of her head and laughed nervously, "Well... one or two times they've helped me out in my life.  I can honestly say I wouldn't be where I am today without the Galaxy Police."  She smiled.

   "Did uh..."  Ryuzo gulped, "Nevermind."  He shook his head, "I've got to get going.  I'm going through some training over in the training facility.  It's almost my time to head in."

   "Training facility?  I saw it.  What's it like?"  Mihoshi inquired with an 'oooh' like look on her face, "Please tell me!"

   "Well, it's pretty basic.  Because of such varied levels of the different members... they've created like a 'virtual reality' like area for those who want to practice their training.  The room houses several pods.  Others can even go head to head, because all the pods are linked - or they can train on their own.  It works the muscles and the mind.  I'm very impressed with the technology they have aboard."

   "Oh!  I know exactly what you're talking about, TrainerMax5000s."

   ".... You've seen them?"  He raised an eyebrow, a little shocked, "I thought a Priestess wouldn't get out to see something like that much, let alone know the machine by name."  The disbelief in his voice was enough to concern even Mihoshi.

   "Hmmm?"  She blinked absentmindedly, "Silly me!  I just read about them!"  She laughed. "Well, you should get back to your training.  I'm going to head back to the room to sleep.  Nice to see you again!"  She stood and bowed, quickly leaving the area.

  Ryuzo sat at the table to watch her wander off.  He finished his cup and headed out for the training center.

  *   *   *

  Meanwhile, back in Mihoshi and Kiyone's sleeping quarters.  A beeping noise erupted from Kiyone's personal communicator.  She sat up, half awake, pulling open the notebook like object and clicking the receive button.

   "Sergeant Dete--"  She murmured off her title, looking at the screen, "... Ken, sweetie.  What a surprise."

   "Hi Mom."  He sat in front of the monitor nervously. "Uh.. I think I did something bad."

   "You didn't do anything bad!"  Came a voice from the side which resembled Washuu's.

   "This already doesn't sound good.  Is everything fine over there?  Ken?  Washuu?"

  Ken frowned. "You're gonna be angry.  I jus' wanted to call you before I went to bed."

   "... that's fine, Ken. I always love to hear your voice every day.  You know that."  She smiled, calming down a bit. "Anything that has to be said really can be said when I'm done here.  Are you being a good boy for Washuu?"

   "Yes."  He nodded.

   "Then nothing should be wrong."  She smiled again.  "Go to bed.  I'll talk to you later.  I love you."

   "Yes Mom."  He moved out from the communications window and away.

  Washuu moved to the front of the screen, "Kiyone."  She sounded very serious.

   "... what is it, Professor Washuu?"  She straightened out her hair.

   "After this mission of yours..."  Washuu shook her head, "It's okay.  Nothing bad.  Just I'd like to talk to you about Ken."

   "If this is about his education again, I swear..."

   "No, Kiyone.  I'll explain later.  Talk to you when you get back."  Washuu clicked the communicator off.

   "Washuu-!  Damn."  She folded up the communicator.  "Now I'm really worried."

  The door to the main quarters opened with Mihoshi wandering in.  "Uwah!"  She expressed, stretching tiredly, "What a large ship.  I'm wiped!"  She sat down on the couch next to Kiyone.  "Hey, Kiyone... is something wrong?"

   "Well, Washuu and Ken just called.  Something Washuu said is bothering me, but I know if I call back she'll get angry."  Kiyone sighed, setting the communicator down.

   "Cheer up, Kiyone.  I'm sure it's nothing."  She patted her partner on the shoulder. "Oh, I found out they have TrainMaster5000's here.  Since I'm heading to bed, maybe you should go check them out?  I know you like to use those back at HQ."

   "Wow, they have something like that on this ship?  How neat."  She hummed to herself.

  Mihoshi nodded, "I thought you'd like that.  I'm off to bed.  See you in the morning.  Only one more day till we're done with this mission."

   "The sooner, the better.  I'll have to talk to Aeka about calling us in on these favors."

   "Night Kiyone!"  Mihoshi wandered off to the backroom.

  Kiyone turned off the noise from the television.  She sighed, 'I should be tired, but I slept in so late that it still feels like the middle of the day.  Argh.'

  She sat up from her position on the couch.  'Well, sitting around here won't make me sleepy.  Maybe I should work some of this energy off.  I'll just end up worrying myself to insanity.  For once I may actually take Mihoshi's suggestion.'

  Kiyone stayed dressed in her servants outfit.  No need to rise any suspicion.  She headed out of the main quarters down the hall to a directory.  'Training... training... ah, there we go.  Not far from here.'  She took a left turn at the end of the hall and headed over to a door with the "Training Hall" label above the door.  She opened it up and stepped through.

  The room was very spacious.  On the left side there were four large pods.  On the right was your basic stretch out space and exercise equipment.  Kiyone stretched out on the mats.  She noticed idly that one of the pods had an 'occupied' light while the other three were empty. 'Hrm, maybe I could join in on a mission.  I might be able to help out.'  Kiyone stood up and went to the pod next to the occupied one.  She entered and suited up for the experience.

    The pods are about ten feet by ten feet in diameter.  Once a person enters, they are to put on gloves, a vest, two shin guards, and a pair of goggles that project the pre-set training environment to the wearer.  The items tell the program exactly what the participant is doing to best help accurately portray their skill and position.  Participants can do group sessions if the pods are linked together, or they can go on solitary missions.  Virtual reality to the next level.  It's not exactly real 'looking' still, quite yet.  But enough to have your own mind and say in the situation.  Usually the participants are viewed by the other pods as wearing a solid 'team' color, but no distinguishing features.  The participants can communicate with each other with a communications system located in each pod.

  Kiyone suited up.  Her hair pulled back again.  She slipped on her goggles and clicked a few buttons on the main screen.  She idly chose her weapon, a rifle.  She grabbed the 'rifle' and clicked on the communications unit.  "Hello there.  Would you mind if I joined in on your mission?"  She asked.

   "A woman?"  The voice spoke back, "Sure, if you can handle the heat."

   "What kind of question is that?!  I can take on anything these things throw at me."  Kiyone pushed the confirmation button.  The environment swirled around to focus.  These fake environments were always interesting.  Her vision refocused to be in a small room.  She powered up her rifle and asked, "So, where are you?"

   "I'm at corner 5-A.  Check the map.  I just took down the first sub-boss."

   "Ehh?  That far, huh?  I'll be there in a minute."

   "I rushed through that area, so there may be a few straggling enemies."

   "Roger."  Kiyone confirmed.  She had done this mission several times before.  'It has a trick ending.' She recalled.  'I'll worry about that when I get there.'  Kiyone opened the door and rushed into the area.  Most of the grounds were littered with 'dead' enemies.  She let out a little hum,  "Not bad." she commented.

   "You like my work?"

   "Very clean."  She commented, "You use a sword or a hand blaster?"

   "Sword.  I'm terrible at weapons that fire, but I'm damn good at wielding a sword."

   "Good to know."  She took down an oncoming enemy, entering area 4-A.  "Are you waiting for me or am I going to have to continue playing catch up?"  She fired another shot at an enemy soldier.

  The man laughed, "I'm waiting, I'm waiting.  What's the point of playing with a partner if you don't work together?"

   "Wise words.  You'd be surprised on how many people go ahead of the team."  She commented, moving into section 5-A and spotting the other team member.

   "A rifle?  Interesting gear."  He turned away from Kiyone to focus on next section.

   "It helps with the next section, I've learned."  She followed him, "We should go in along the western wall, then head for the main base.  You can lead and I'll cover your back."

  The man nodded, "Let's roll."

  They moved through the area swiftly.  The enemies really didn't have a chance with the skill put forth by these two individuals together.  Kiyone blasted through those on the rear while the man sliced through oncoming enemies.  Finally they were at the door leading into the enemy base.

   "I'll get us in."  Kiyone commented, sliding over next to the door and clicking in a few codes.  She slipped up a panel and re-wired the entrance.  The door whined open, "We're in!"

  Kiyone went in first, taking down a few targeting droids.  The man came in from behind, "Our goal is ahead."  He commented.

   "Wait."  She held an arm in front of him to stop, "I'll go."

   "What are you talking about?  I'm in the lead, you're backup."  He changed the grip of his sword.  The man pointed to the next room, "I'm going ahead, you back me up."

   "You're the team leader, right?"  She asked, "Well, newsflash.  In that room is a no-win scenario.  As the team leader, it's your duty to wait for the signal and capture the flag in *this* room, while you send the secondary part of the team - which would be me - into the room to trigger the option.  There's no way around it."

   "What?  That's a lie."  He sounded dissatisfied with that answer. "There has to be a better way."

   "There isn't.  That's the point.  I'm going ahead."  She grabbed her rifle and headed forward.

  The man cried out, "Wait!  That's an order...!"

  Kiyone rushed into the secondary room, the door slamming closed behind her.

   "Why'd you go and do that anyway?"  He seemed annoyed.

   "This puzzle is complicated.  You do your part, I'll do mine."

   "I'd rather not lose *anyone* on this mission.  Fine.  Waiting on your signal."

  Kiyone idly played with the puzzle in closed room.  'One wrong move and I'm toast.'  She thought to herself.  The room brightened with a green glow. "The box is unlocked.  You should be able to get the flag."

  "What about you?"  He asked.

  "What about me?  Deliver the flag.  That's the mission."  Kiyone leaned back against the wall.

  "Screw that."  Loud banging came from the other side of the door. "I'm going to get you out of there."

  Kiyone sounded annoyed, "Cut that out!  There's no way out of this.  GO DELIVER the flag!"

   "I don't believe that for a minute."  He growled, snapping the mechanism on the door.  It slid open partially with the man rushing in.  The door quickly snapped shut behind him before he could react.

   "What is WRONG with you!  I told you to go ahead!  Now we've lost the mission!"  Kiyone yelled.

  The room changed from that light green glow to a red.  Alarms sounded out and a bright statement across the viewscreen announced, "You are dead.  Game Over."  The room went completely black and the simulator shut off.

  Kiyone pulled the goggles off and quickly undressed from her gear.  She exited her pod quickly to go over to the second occupied pod, knocking on the door. "Hey!  Get out here."

  The pod door opened up.  "Get out here?!  You're rather demanding!"

  Kiyone stepped back and waited for him to come out, "I told you how to complete the mission and you still messed it up.  You're skills are good, but you're not happy with no win scenarios,  are you?"

   "I don't believe it is a no-win scenario.  I still say there was a way for both of us to get out of there."  The man stepped out of the pod.  He turned to face Kiyone - only for Kiyone to discover that the man behind the voice was Ryuzo.

   "... oh of all the luck..."  Kiyone growled, "I can't believe this."  She turned to head out of the training area.

  Ryuzo caught up with her, grabbing her arm, "Don't you run from me!  I'm not done making my point!"

   "Let go of me!"  She snapped around, now facing him.  His hand still secured around her wrist.

   "No."  He paused, looking at her. "... do you hate me that much?  Look, I understand... about the other night... that was *my* fault."

  Kiyone pulled her arm away from his grip, "I don't want to discuss that.  I'd prefer to go back to my room and rest."

   "Dammit..."  He whined, "What is it?  What can I do to have you understand that I didn't mean any disrespect."

   "All you soldiers are the same.  This *isn't* about the other night, it's about how you handled that mission.  Disrespect is the least of your worries."  She strutted down the hall back to her quarters.

  Ryuzo followed behind. "Will you at least talk to me?  Please... I've never been sorrier in my entire life."

   "You should be.  I thought we had an understanding."  She stopped, turning to face Ryuzo.  Kiyone poked him in the chest, "You are a soldier.  I am a servant to a priestess.  Self control.  It's not hard."

   "I got that... really."  He looked at Kiyone, "Where did you learn to fight?"

   "Don't change the subject.  That's none of your business."  She turned the corner and froze.  Ryuzo ran into her.

   "Why'd you stop?"  He asked.  Kiyone turned quickly and covered his mouth with her hand.  She pointed around the corner at three soldiers outside of her and Mihoshi's quarters.

  Kiyone watched the trio.  She whispered to Ryuzo, "This doesn't look good.  You're coming with me.  Be quiet and play along.  We have to get into that room and look unsuspicious."

  Ryuzo blinked and nodded.   Kiyone let go of him and grabbed his arm.  They walked arm and arm quietly down the hall.

  Ahead, the group noticed them turn the corner and moved away from the door quickly.  Kiyone laughed light heartedly and nudged Ryuzo, "Oh, you're so nice escorting me back to my quarters.  Please come inside for a minute for me to get my things."

  Kiyone quickly opened the door and pushed Ryuzo in.  She frantically locked the door and looked around. "Find something and prop the door locked."  She commanded.

  Ryuzo grabbed a chair and placed it in front of the door. "I... don't understand.  What's going on?'

   "Be quiet. I have to wake Mihoshi."  She headed into the other room.  She sat next to Mihoshi in the bed, shaking her a bit, "Mihoshi!  Wake up!  We've got trouble."

  Mihoshi rubbed her eyes, "What do you mean?  What's going on, Kiyone?"

   "Them!  They're outside the door.  We've got to act fast, or this mission is a bust."

  Mihoshi yawned and nodded, "Ooh, right."

   "I've got an idea.  I'll grab the artifact and smuggle it passed.  They saw me come in with  that Ryuzo guy.  You distract them and make them think that it's in here until... I'll give you a signal - hopefully I'll be far enough away by then."

   "Are you sure?"  Mihoshi asked.

   "We can't leave it here.  We have to get it as far away from these people as possible.  I already have a good excuse.  You're supposed to be sleeping."

  Mihoshi nodded, "Okay."

  Ryuzo peaked into the room, "Can someone tell me what's going on here?"

  Kiyone unlocked the case, taking the artifact out.  She slipped it into a small bag, shouldering it. "No time to explain."  She points at Ryuzo, "How well do you know this ship?"

   "Well enough."  He raised an eyebrow, "Are you stealing the artifact?"

   "... NO!  We're trying to make sure that someone DOESN'T steal it!  Those guys outside of the room are planning on taking this."

   "Are you sure about that?  They're good guys... I don't think they'd--"  Ryuzo was cut off by Kiyone grabbing his arm and pulling him out of the bedroom.

   "Then we won't have to worry about them following us.  This is just a precaution."  Kiyone walked over to the door and took a deep breath.

  Mihoshi headed out of the room and did a thumbs up.  "Ready!  Give me your signal when you're safe."

  Kiyone nodded.  She looked at Ryuzo with a sigh, "I swear, if you mess this up..."  She shook her head, "Just play along."  She opened the door to head out of the room.

  Ryuzo blushed as Kiyone wrapped her arm around his once again.  They continued to walk down the hall.  She made idle chatter with the soldier, keeping the pace even until they turned the corner.

  Kiyone let go of Ryuzo and pointed down the hall, "We need to go into hiding.  Where should we go?"  She whispered.  She turned to look around the corner.  Two of the soldiers were toying with the door mechanism while one soldier was walking toward the direction they went.  "Damn!  They've got one following us.  Let's run!"  She grabbed Ryuzo's hand and ran down the hall.  They turned yet another corner.  She looked around for any entrances.  Nothing much.

   "What is in this area anyway!?"  Kiyone asked, exasperated.  She kept an eye down the hall to see if the man followed behind them.

   "Uh... there's a laundry chute over there.  It leads to the laundry room, which takes us into the cargo bay.  We can hide out there for a bit."  Ryuzo opened the chute.

  Kiyone nodded, "Perfect.  Let's go."  She grabbed the railing and lifted herself into the chute to slide downwards.   Ryuzo climbed in afterwards, closing the hatch and locking it from the inside, sliding down to follow Kiyone.

  The angle was sharp.  Kiyone carefully held the bag that contained the artifact tightly in her arms.  The end opened up as Kiyone landed on the floor at an awkward position.  She tumbled forward in a crouch, left hand going down to brace her ankle that now throbbed in pain.

  Ryuzo landed a few feet from Kiyone.  He rushed over to her side, "What's wrong?"

   "Of all the times for this to happen."  She winced, "I think I landed on it funny.  I don't think I can stand."

  Ryuzo rolled his eyes and kneeled down in front of her, back to her.  "Here.  I'll carry you.  The cargo bay is just around the corner.  We can find a hiding place there."

  Kiyone sighed, "Looks like I don't have much of a choice."  She pulled the bag to hang behind her, wrapping her arms around his neck.  He stood, picking up her legs to carry her piggyback.  He heard shouts above him from the laundry chute.  "Looks like the found us."  She commented.

   "It's okay.  We'll be gone before they make it here."  He ran down the hall to the cargo bay.  The area was filled with with boxes and supply jugs.  He made a turn to go down between the objects.  He got to the end of the path and kneeled down to slide a panel open.  "Get in."  He pointed at the small space.

   "What?!  That's crazy..."  She seemed annoyed.

   "They won't find us in there.  Now, get in."  He urged.

  Kiyone did as asked, letting go of Ryuzo and climbing into the wall area.  The space was about five feet tall by five feet wide.  "It's an extra compartment for when the floor space is full.  Trust me, no one would think of this."  He helped her settle in, then climbed in himself.  He closed the metal panel and locking it from the inside.

   "Great... my ideal situation.  Stuck in a confined space with a hotshot kid."  She played with her wrist communicator, pressing a button. "Now all we have to do is wait.  Mihoshi, theoretically, should be able to do the rest."

   "I'm not a kid.  I'm twenty one years old."  He looked annoyed, "What exactly IS going on here?!"

   "I'm a Detective for the Galaxy Police.  My partner and I are under-cover to make sure this doesn't fall into enemy hands."  She set the artifact still wrapped in the bag beside her.

   "Whoa... what?  Run that by me again... enemy hands?  Those guys are part of the Juraian Royal Guard.  They're not the enemy."

   "No, they shouldn't be.  We were given a tip that a few guards in the newest training class actually planned on taking the artifact and selling it on the black market.  I don't have the patience to explain it."  Kiyone winced as she massaged her left ankle.

  Ryuzo nodded.  The sat in silence for a long moment, "... does it hurt much?"

   "It hurts a lot, yes."  Kiyone hissed.  She turned away from Ryuzo to open the bag and make sure the artifact was fine.  She set it upright and placed it in the corner.  The mystical item glowed a faint yellow light.  Kiyone closed her eyes and leaned against the metal wall.

   "Here."  His hands went to her ankle, "I'll help you."

  Kiyone winced, "Ow!  Watch what you're doing!"

   "Shhh... don't yell.  Metal echoes."  He straightened out the ankle, "I never... I mean... I didn't apologize for my behavior.  We didn't exactly get off on the best foot."

   "That's putting it mildly."  She looked at Ryuzo, "And you are a kid.  You're ten years younger than me.  My son is one-quarter your age."

   "You.. your son?!"  He stammered, "I'm so sorry.  I didn't realize you were married."

   "I'm not."  She winced. "It's a complicated situation."

  Ryuzo looked confused, "...oh."  He touched the edge of the ankle, "I'll try to relieve the pressure.  Please don't think of me as a kid."

   "Yeah, sure."  Kiyone watched Ryuzo work at her ankle.  She whispers, "I hope Mihoshi gets back to us soon.  I don't want to be stuck here for too long."

   "Thanks.  That makes me feel so much better."  Ryuzo chuckled.  He smiled slightly, "I think you're warming up to me."

   "Oh, you wish."  She laughed lightly, "But... thank you.  You didn't have to help us."

  Ryuzo moved away from the injured ankle to sit beside Kiyone.  He picked up the artifact, leaning back against the wall and commenting, "What does this thing do?"

   "I don't know.  So far I've noticed it does a whole lot of nothing.  Aeka is going to get a sharp talking to when I get to Jurai."

   "You know Queen Aeka?"  Ryuzo asked, somewhat surprised.

   "The Galaxy Police doesn't normally deal with political situations like this.  Queen Aeka knows us from years ago when we were stationed in a remote solar system."  Kiyone shook her head, "I agreed to go on the mission because it seemed like a good idea.  I'm regretting it."

   "Oh?  Why?"  Ryuzo asked.

   "Other than the obvious circumstance."  She glared, "My son contacted me earlier.  His sitter didn't seem too happy.  I'm just... I'm concerned."

   "Where's his father?  I mean... if you don't mind me asking."

   "That's a rather personal question!"  Kiyone snapped, "He was an old friend.  He doesn't know of my son's existence and I'm going to keep it that way."

   "Well that's not very nice.  A man has a right to know he has a son."

   "I know how to raise my son.  I don't need someone who hasn't been in the same position telling me otherwise."  Kiyone turned to glare at Ryuzo.

  Ryuzo looked back at her.  "You're right.  I don't have any right.  But... I think if I had a son with a beautiful woman, such as yourself, I think I'd like to know."

   "You're just full of come on lines, aren't you?"  Kiyone teased.

   "I just speak the truth.  You're beautiful."  He smiled back, feeling a bit more comfortable. "And you fire a mean gun."

   "Well, you're not too bad yourself."  She nudged with a slight laugh. "Too bad it would never work."

   "Why not?"  He asked, turning around to face Kiyone. "We're adults... we both have similar interests and uh... you travel around a lot being in the police force, right?"

  Kiyone looked nervous, "I'm not one for relationships.  Look, you're a nice guy.  Just because you're a nice guy and there's a bit of attraction... it's not enough for a solid relationship."

  A light hum started from the center of the room.  "What's that noise?"  Kiyone blinked.  Both of them looked over at the artifact.  The entire room lit up brightly as the hum mellowed out to a faint hiss.  Ryuzo looked over to Kiyone as the light intensely washed over the room.  Kiyone's eyes locked with his.  The noise subsided and suddenly...

 //  Kiyone looked into the mirror.  She was dressed in a white robe, pulled around her lightly.  'I can't believe I'm here.'  Kiyone thought to herself.  She stood in her bedroom of the Yagami, looking a little lost and anxious.  She closed her eyes, taking in a deep breath.

  A familiar feeling washed over her.  "You seem nervous."  spoke a male voice.  Kiyone turned around to see Ryuzo there.  He wrapped his arms around her in a gentle hug.  She returned the hug, resting her head on his shoulder.

  "Shouldn't I be?"  Kiyone asked, "This is, quite honestly, a first for me."

  "Me too."  He smiled.  Ryuzo tilted her chin slightly to face him, kissing Kiyone on the lips warmly.  "Our first night as husband and wife."

  Kiyone blushed.  Ryuzo smiled and picked up Kiyone in his arms.  She let out an 'eep' sound, placing her arms around his neck as he carried her over to the bed and she was laid down.  Ryuzo laid next to her, cupping her cheek lovingly before placing another kiss on her lips - lost in the moment. //

  Back to the confined area.  Ryuzo tilted his head looking Kiyone over.  He reached over and touched her cheek, whispering softly, "... my wife?"

   "..w-what?"  Kiyone stuttered.  "Ryu, I..."

  Ryuzo looked confused.  He shook his head, "Us?"

  Kiyone murmured, "...hold on..."  She grabbed onto the front of his shirt, pulling him closer to her.  Kiyone closed her eyes and touched her lips to his.  Her grip loosened, letting go as the kiss deepened.  The two kept close, kissing warmly and affectionately for what felt like an eternity.

   "Kiyone... come in... Kiyone!"  A voice announced.

  The kiss was broken.  Kiyone's cheeks were bright red with embarrassment.  She clicked the communicator on. "... Mihoshi, what's the status?"

  Ryuzo leaned back against the wall across from Kiyone.  He watched her silently with crossed arms - deep in thought.

   "We've captured all three guards.  Where are you?"  Mihoshi's voice asked.

   "We're.. uh... in the cargo bay.  I'm injured.  I don't think I could make it up on my own."  Kiyone commented, looking back over at Ryuzo. "...if you can send some help, it'd be nice."

   "Turn on your signal.  I'll send a medical team down to you."  Mihoshi suggested.

   "It's on.  I'll be here."  Kiyone pushed a button on her communicator, letting out a sigh.  She erm, "Can you unlock the door...?  They'll be here soon."

  Ryuzo nodded, "Sure."  He unhooked the latch.  He moved back over to sit near Kiyone. "... so this is it?"

   ".. looks like it."  She looked him over.  "What... just happened?"

   "I don't know, but I think I love you."

*   *   *
-- Chapter 3: 'Cause I can't go on like this no more ---

   "What?  You're not thinking straight..."  Kiyone looked around the small room, away from Ryuzo's gaze.  She picked up the artifact and placed it back in her bag. "Sure, something just happened.  I can't even begin to sort out what just happened...  but you are not in love with me.  Love is a powerful word that shouldn't be used with people you've just met.  People you have a crush on."

   "You believe that it's a crush?"  He looked annoyed, "We were married!"

   "We're *not* married.  We're not even *dating*.  We're barely even acquaintances."  Kiyone looked at him, "I'm sorry... I don't know what this means.  We can talk about...  *this* later."

   "Why can't we talk about it now?"  He moved over close, "I'm not afraid of rejection.  I just want to know what you feel."

   "This isn't the time.  Ryuzo..."  Kiyone sighed.

  The metal panel slid open with a few people outside, "Detective, we're here."

  Ryuzo looked at Kiyone with a hurt expression.  He shrugged and climbed out of hiding place.  A medical worker moved in to help Kiyone out to be put on a cot and carried her back to the medical facility on the ship.

  *   *   *

  Kiyone sat on the couch of her and Mihoshi's quarters once more.  Her ankle bandaged as she stared at the television zoning out once again.  Mihoshi sat next to her, flipping the channels idly.  It was their last day on the ship.

   "Kiyone, you okay?"  Mihoshi looked over at her partner.

   "What?"  Kiyone blinked, "What'd you just ask, Mihoshi?"

   "Well, that just answered my question."  Mihoshi frowned. "You're really distracted.  Is the pain that bad?"

   "Oh... well, I'm not in any pain.  I'm just out of it.  I think that Juraian Artifact messed with my head.  I hope they lock it away for good after this."

   "You're such a joker!"  Mihoshi laughed, "You're just all hot and bothered by that Ryuzo kid still."

   "I AM not!  If there's one thing I'm certain of... it's *that*."  Kiyone denied, but her cheeks blushed a little at Mihoshi's teasing.

   "You do like him though, right?"  Mihoshi asked, half serious.

   "I... don't know, Mihoshi.  That doesn't really matter after today now, does it?  We'll be on a ship back to HQ before another day passes.  He'll get over it."

   "He's stopped by twice, today.  While you were resting."  Mihoshi paused,  "You should at least talk to him before we leave."

  Kiyone nodded, "Okay... I get the picture.  I'll try to be nice.  I'll go see him later."

   "Promise?"  Mihoshi grinned.

   "I promise!  Sheesh."  Kiyone rolled her eyes.

  *   *   *

  The elevator lifted Kiyone to the second level of the ship.  Here were the guards quarters and additional social areas.  She was dressed more appropriately than a servants uniform.  Kiyone used a crutch for her left side to brace her mediocre injury.  'Some officer I am.' she commented to herself out of annoyance.  She looked down at a piece of paper, 'Room 42X'.  Kiyone let out a sigh and headed down a corridor and searched for that number.  She stood in front of the door for a very long time.  Inwardly debating with herself.  Whether she should ring the doorbell.  If she should walk away.  She placed her palm against the smooth door - hesitation crept through her body.

  A voice spoke up behind her, "You know... they let you in when you actually knock.  I guess I can help you out.  You are injured, after all."  The man leaned forward to open the door and step in.  It was Ryuzo.  He turned to look at Kiyone, door still open, "Please come in.  It must be hell standing with that crutch."

   "Witty and charming.  I can hardly contain myself."  She stepped into the room and hobbling over to a nearby couch and settling down.

  Ryuzo smiled, closing the door.  "So... I heard we're landing in a few hours.  Won't you be happy to be rid of me?"

   "It's not that simple.  Both you and I know that.  Downplaying your feelings won't cut it in this conversation.  I heard what you had said to me."

   "And it was a mistake."  He laughed, sitting down, "I am a boy.  I am everything you said I was."

  Kiyone looked sad, leaning back, "Ryuzo..."

   "And you can't say anything to it!  That's the best part.  You were right."

   "... I wasn't right."  She shrugged. "I have no idea where to go from here."  Kiyone took a deep breath and looked him over, "You're so young.  You have so much to do with your life.  Me?  I'm an officer of the Galaxy Police.  I have a son.  I have my own life.  You have your own life.  You're a very handsome... good man, you can do whatever you want."

   "You keep saying this to me, but all I see are excuses.  I'm also a Juraian man.  What we saw back there wasn't a joke - it was a higher force telling us something.  I'm willing to take the jump... but I won't bother you any longer if you don't want to jump with me."

   "I think I need some time."  Kiyone buckled under his words, "I don't know you.  You don't know me.  I don't think we see eye to eye yet even now."

   "But we can take all the time in the universe to get to know each other!  That's the beauty of it."  He looked over at her, "Okay, listen... I want you to take your time.  Take all the time you want.  I won't bother you anymore.  Not about this.  You're a stronger woman than I ever expected to fall for.  I... just I want to keep in contact with you.  Please allow me that courtesy."

   "...I'm speechless.  Okay.  Deal.  I want you to go out and find a nice girl though, okay?  Date, romance, everything.  Someone a little closer to your age."

   "I'll try my best."  He shrugged.

  Kiyone gave him her contact information.  "We'll have to do another run through the simulators... you know, when I'm able to walk again."

   "I look forward to that day."

  Kiyone nodded and went to stand, "I have to pack."

   "Let me help you..."  He bent over, pulling you Kiyone to a standing position.  His arms settled around her easily, sliding into a very soothing hug.  She closed her eyes and hugged him back.  He kissed her on the forehead, whispering, "Have a safe trip.  I'll talk to you in a few days letting you know how mine went."

  She blushed at the close contact the two shared.  She picked up her crutch and nodded, "Yes.  Please do that.  Until another time."  Kiyone headed out of the room and back to her quarters.

*   *   *

  They returned the item back to the Juraian government.  Queen Aeka was pleased that the events went well, and congratulated Kiyone and Mihoshi on their work once again.  Their meeting was short and sweet.  They said their goodbyes and the convoy from Jurai took them back to GP headquarters.  It was then that they took back the Yagami and headed to meet up with Washuu and retrieve Ken.

  Kiyone got her crutch and left the spaceship to go to Washuu's door.  She rang the doorbell as Mihoshi stood at her side with a smile.

  The metal door slid open with Washuu standing.  She pulled some goggles from over her eyes to rest on the top of her head, "Aaaah, Kiyone, Mihoshi.  Come in, come in."  Washuu wandered back down the hall, "Ken!  Time to go..!"  She announced.

  At the end of the hall, she turned and looked Kiyone over, "Oh, I almost forgot.  Mihoshi, can you go help Ken pack up his things?  I have to talk to Kiyone alone in my lab.  Just come and knock when everything is ready, okay?"

  Mihoshi nodded happily, "Oh, glad to be of service.  Where is he?"

  Washuu pointed down the hall, "Last door on the left.  Can't miss it."   Mihoshi nodded and headed down the hall.  Washuu turned, "To the lab, my dear Kiyone."

   "..."  Kiyone nodded, "Sure thing."  She limped after Washuu.

   "Take a seat over there, next to the main computer console.  I have something I'd like to show you."  Washuu pointed to a chair.

  Kiyone did as she said, "I'm sorry about the mission.  It took a day longer than expected.  You know how Aeka is... always wanting to catch up on old times."  She smiled then said, "Ken was good, right?  He seemed a bit upset when he called.  What's going on?"

  Washuu clicked a few keys on her front console. "Well, you gave me a sick child to take care of.  Something he ate did not sit well with him.  I thought I would have to take him to a doctor, but was able to figure out what was wrong."

   "Oh... that's a relief.  I'm so sorry, Professor Washuu."

   "However..."  She paused, "I discovered something... peculiar when I was trying to find the best way to cure him."

  Kiyone blinked, "... oh?"  She gulped.

   "Kiyone."  Washuu looked up at her, "I hate to pry into your life, but Ken's genetic code isn't exactly normal."

  A tense position was taken by Kiyone.  She nodded, "Well... I expected as much.  Is there something wrong with him?"  'I don't want to say too much.'  "Did you discover something that I should know about?  His health, perhaps?"

   "Oh no, he's pretty healthy.  I think he had food poisoning."  Washuu commented, "There's only one other person I'd ever seen with this sort of match.  I stumbled across the information by accident.  Antidotes with what is most compatible for the system presented."  She paused, and then said, "My, he could almost be related to them, the match was so close!"

  Kiyone shook her head, "I guess I'm not really following this, Professor."  She stood up, "Thank you for taking care of him, once again.  It's time to get back to work though, so if you'll excuse me..."

   "He's almost an exact match for Masaki Tenchi."  Washuu spoke.  Kiyone froze in her place, back turned to Washuu.

   "Really?  How lucky is that?"  She let out a nervous laugh.

  Washuu frowned, "Kiyone.  I talked to Ken.  I don't know who you're trying to fool now.  How long were you going to keep up the act?"  She sighed, "I did some cross-research after I discovered the match.  It was a hunch.  Ken is--"

   "Tenchi's son.  Yes."  Kiyone turned to look at Washuu, "So... you know.  It was only a matter of time."  She shrugged, "Can't hide anything from you."

   "I'm stunned.  I just can't believe it!"

   "Oh, and Washuu?  He doesn't know.  I'd like to keep it that way."

   "And who's going to stop me?  I think Lord Tenchi should know that he has a son."

   "Washuu!"  She frowned, "Tenchi... he's married, he has a wife.  To Ryoko, for crying out loud!  We'd only hurt them both if we let them know so late in life... so early in their marriage.  I'm not going to do that.  Tenchi, my son, has a right to his life.  Tenchi, my friend, has a right to his own life as well.  Does that make any sense?"

   "And what about Ken?  What about what he wants in his life?  Shouldn't he know his own father?"  Washuu asked, "This isn't about his education anymore.  It's about his life."

   "Professor.  I've already thought this through.  When he's old enough, he will make his own choices.  He knows how I feel about this.  He knows more than you give him credit for."  Kiyone sighed, "Please, he's my son as much as he's Tenchi's.  Leave it alone."

  A noise echoed from behind Kiyone.  She turned to notice Mihoshi drop Ken's bag.  Kiyone's eyes widened, "M.. Mihoshi."

   "Ken is what!?"  Mihoshi picked up the bag, "Don't make jokes like that, Kiyone."

   "It's not a joke!"  Kiyone snapped at Mihoshi.  She turned to Washuu. "Are you happy?  Tell everyone you know.  I'm sure it'll benefit the entire galaxy to know.  And while my son is being put up on display, tearing friends apart, and being forced into a life he may not want - please consider the fact that I never planned on this happening.  I'm doing what I think is best.  It may not be exactly rational.  I've even tried to tell him.  So don't you even jump in saying I'm not thinking right.   Believe me when I say that Ken coming into my life had to be one of the best damn things to ever happen to me."  Kiyone turned and headed toward the door with a sigh, "Do what you want, you know how I feel.  Mihoshi, let's go."

  Washuu said softly, "I won't tell him.  Just be careful, okay?  I never would want anything to hurt you or anyone of our family.  Tenchi, Ryoko, Aeka... no one.  The son of Tenchi... it surprises me, but seems so appropriate.  I trust your decisions, Kiyone."

   "Thank you."  She nodded to Washuu, "I'll talk to you later.  Contact me if you need anything.  After I'm healed, of course."

   *   *   *

  Kiyone and Mihoshi sat in their respective chairs in the spaceship Yagami.  The sound of machines whirred and rumbled softly on their way back to headquarters after visiting Washuu's lab.

   "Kiyone..."  Mihoshi broke the silence, "You weren't kidding, were you?"

   "Hmm?"  Kiyone blinked, leaning back in her chair, "About what, Mihoshi?"

  Mihoshi looked back over to Ken who was sleeping, "Ken's father."

   "You can say it, you know.  His name is Tenchi."  Kiyone commented, "Ken is just a nickname I gave him, to keep suspicious people out of my life.  He was born Makibi Tenchi."

   "How?  When?  I just can't believe this, especially with Ryoko..."

  Kiyone raised her voice,  "Hey!  I'm not like that at all!  You know that perfectly well."  She defended.  Her voice toned down as she spoke quietly, "Hard to explain when things happened the way they did.  I never expected to run into him.  I never even expected to stay over that night... but I did.  I'm not going to justify my actions.  Ryoko wasn't around.  They had broken up.  I didn't even understand the full details, but suddenly.. we just hit it off.  I'll always remember the times when you and I were stationed on Earth.  When all us were together as a family.  That memory will never change.  The weekend I shared with him will always remain something I treasure, but it's an isolated event.  I mean, he's Tenchi, you know?"

  Mihoshi nodded then asked, "Do you.. love him?"

   "... Tenchi?  Me... love Tenchi?"  Kiyone seemed to blush a little, then commented, "I only care for him as a close friend.  I do love Tenchi, but not in that way."

   "You're blushing."  Mihoshi noted, "What does Ken know?"

   "He knows who his father is.  I'm completely honest with him about those things."  Kiyone took in a deep breath and then sighed, "I never wanted to have this conversation with you."

   "..."  Mihoshi stood up, "I see."

   "Where are you going?"  Kiyone asked.

  Mihoshi stood in silence.  She rubbed her eyes, "It's nothing.  I'm going to go use the bathroom..."

  Kiyone reached over and grabbed Mihoshi's arm around the wrist. "Wait."  She looked up into her partners eyes, "You're not crying, are you?  Please don't be that way.  I didn't mean..."

   "I thought I was someone important to you in your life."  Mihoshi sniffled. "We've been together so long... I didn't think you'd want to hide anything from me... Kiyoooooooneee!"

   "Mihoshi, it was never about that... it's just..."  She looked back over to where Ken was sleeping, "It's not just me who's on the line.  It's Tenchi as well.  I wanted to keep him to myself.  My little secret.  My own family."  She let go of Mihoshi's hand.  "I'm sorry for keeping it from you.  I'd just like you to promise me never to talk about Ken's origins to anyone.  Tenchi will know when the time is right.  Promise?"

  Kiyone's partner sniffled and then hugged her tightly, "I'm sorry Kiyone!!  I promise I won't tell anyone about Ken.  You have my word."

  Kiyone sighed in relief and hugged Mihoshi back, "Thank you."

   *   *   *

  It had been almost a year since Kiyone and Ryuzo had met on that ship.  Since then, they had idly kept in contact with each other through belated communications and the occasional letter.  By this point, they had grown closer as just friends.

  Kiyone leaned back in her chair, idly typing up a letter to him.  She clicked at the keys, forming her words together in a streaming thought process.

   'How are you doing?  I'm just here at work, you know... doing the usual.  I was thinking about my upcoming vacation time and was thinking maybe of heading up to Jurai to visit you.  Don't worry, you won't have to worry about my son - he's back at home visiting my parents for a bit.  I was wondering if the offer was still open for me to visit.  We've been writing more letters than actual /talking/, I'm almost forgetting what your voice sounds like.  Imagine that... I actually miss hearing your voice.  I guess you've grown on me.  Don't get too confident, I miss Mihoshi if she's gone for more than a week, too.  I hate to be the one to admit this... but lately it's just... I'm just so lonely.'

  Kiyone looked at the last sentence.  Admitting a weakness was never easy for her.  She backspaced and cleared out the sentence.  She typed in it's place, 'At any rate, I guess I'll see you in a few weeks.  Hope this letter finds you fine.  I'll give you a more solid date in a day or two if you wanted to clear some days off at the same time.  Don't put yourself out for me, I'd just like to see you one of the days.  Talk to you later.'

  She sent the letter and looked up at the ceiling. She sighed, "I hate being alone."  She climbed out of the chair and headed off to bed.

  Over the next few days, Kiyone set up her vacation with work and organized the trip to Jurai.  One week on Jurai, one week back home.  'Is this a good idea?'  she thought to herself. 'I never go on vacation... I could certainly need it.'

  She confirmed everything for the trip.  'But do I really want to spend it on Jurai?  It is nice there... I have a few friends there...'  she ruffled her own hair out of frustration, 'I hate indecision.'

  Kiyone glanced back at the last message from Ryuzo, reading over it while lost in thought:  'Hey Kiyone!  Great to hear from you again.  I'm busy working things out with my superior officers, but it should be fine by the time you arrive.  Just give me a beep when you get in and I'll meet you for dinner.  I already set up the spare bed.  I'm glad you're coming by.  It'll be nice to finally sit down and talk like we do here in person.  Until then.'

  *  *  *

  The bar was bustling with activity for this mid-evening.  Kiyone lifted her glass and drank.  She glanced at her watch, '.... he's late.  Where is that idiot?  I should have never asked to stay at his place.  I hate relying on others.'  Another forty minutes pass.  She crossed her arms, 'Dammit... I'm stuck here until the convoy picks me up in a few days.  What on earth could he possibly be doing?!  He knows I'm here!  I never should have planned this trip.'  She stood and went to a phone and booked the closest hotel to that location for her.  She turned the corner to view Ryuzo as he finally walked through the door.  He turned around to look at the person beside him - a woman - and kissed her faintly.  Kiyone froze in her tracks.  Her heart jumped at the sight, then quickly filled her with anger.  She turned and went back to her seat and waited for the couple to arrive officially.

  Ryuzo approached the table Kiyone sat at with the girl on his arm, smiling broadly, "Hello!  Sorry I'm late... I had some things I needed to do after I got out.  This is Arina.  Arina, this is my... friend, Kiyone.  We met on my first mission."

   "Nice to meet you..."  Kiyone mumbled, "So, does it take two hours to not contact me or was I supposed to read your mind?"

   "I told you, I had things to do.  I'm here, aren't I?"  Ryuzo pulled out a seat for Arina, then sat down in his own chair, "Have you eaten yet?"

   "I would have starved to death if I had waited for you."  Kiyone snapped.

  Ryuzo winced, "Okay, then we'll order our food to go."

  Kiyone shrugged, "Don't bother.  Thank you for showing up finally, Ryuzo.  Goodnight."  She stood up and headed for the door.

   "Whoa... wait up."  Ryuzo walked over and put a hand on Kiyone's shoulder.

  Kiyone turned and glared up at him, "What."

   "..."  Ryuzo moved back a step. "...are you okay?"

  Kiyone glared silently.  She couldn't even stare him in the eyes.  She said, "I'm going to the hotel."

   "Hotel?  You're staying at my place though.."

   "I don't think that'd be appropriate.  You have better things to do.  Sorry to have inconvenienced you.  Goodnight Ryuzo."  Kiyone started to walk again, going into the hotel next door to the bar that they were to meet.

  Ryuzo leaned back against the wall with a sigh, 'What'd I do now?'  He ran a hand through his now short hair, ruffling it gently.  He turned and went back inside the bar.

 *  *  *

  Kiyone showered in her hotel room.  Her bag was thrown to the side of the bed, opened with some clothes placed out for changing.  She punched the wall out of frustration for the situation.  She finished her shower and pulled on a robe, laying down on the single bed the hotel provided.  The lights were off, except the bright light from the hotel television.  The sound was just low enough to be heard, but not high enough to be bothersome.

  *Knock Knock* came the sound from behind the door.  Kiyone opened the door, "Yes..?"

  Ryuzo stood before her, one hand in his pocket, the other about to knock again.  He looked at her, "...hey."

   "What the hell do you want?"  Kiyone leaned against the doorframe.

   "I uh... can we start over?  I don't know what I did today, but I'm pretty sure whatever it was was bad."

   "If you don't even know, then I really don't want to be talking to you."  She went to close the door.  Ryuzo stuck his body between the door.

   "Come on!"  He held it open just barely. "At least let me come in and talk with you."

  Kiyone let go of the door, "Fine, fine.  Come in, relax.  Whatever."  She walked inside, grabbing a towel from the bed and to dry her hair.

  Ryuzo closed the door behind him.  He said, "You're not happy with me."

   "Obviously."  She sat down at the corner of the bed.  He leaned against the wall to face her.

   "If it's because I was late.. I told you, I had some business to attend to before I met you at the bar."

   "Business... being a girl?"  Kiyone commented, "Look, everything was pretty clear at the bar."

   "A girl?  What are you talking about, now?  Are you talking about Arina?"  He shrugged, "She met me on the way to the bar.  I really was running late due to other things."

   "I see."  She mumbled, "Look, just... I don't need to see that, okay?"

   "See what?"  Ryuzo asked.

   "You and... that girl.  I don't care much for seeing people together."

   "Are you jealous?"

   "No, do you want me to be?"  She glared, "I'm angry.  I'm tired.  I'm fed up.  I'm going to call in tomorrow to get picked up - this trip was a mistake."

   "Kiyone... but you haven't even been here a day?  Please don't leave.  You told me to find someone.  I found someone.  I didn't realize I wasn't supposed to bring her to dinner..."

   "Are you insensitive?  Dense?!  Just shoot me in the head, why don't you."

  Ryuzo lifted his hands up, "Hey, hey... you're the one overreacting here."

  Kiyone shrugged, "Get out.  Go home, Ryuzo.  This isn't working."

   "WHAT isn't working?!  Kiyone, please... you're leaving out important details.  I have no idea why you're mad at me still.  I was late?  Yeah... I explained it.  I have a girlfriend?  What, am I supposed to tell you everything?"

   "... if she's an important part of your life, or part of your life at all, it would have been nice to KNOW that you had one?  Am I just that insignificant to your life that you'll tell me all the other details about your life but personal relations?  I'm not asking for you to go in depth, just a comment like 'Hey, I've this person I've been seeing a while.' would have been nice to know."  Kiyone glared at Ryuzo, almost tiredly.  She went back to drying her hair with the towel.  "It's a really awful surprise to wait for nearly two hours then see you making out with her before meeting me for dinner.  It was insensitive.  And it hurt me."  Kiyone looked away.

  Ryuzo sighed, "... I don't know.  She's this person that's been sort of on and off in my life.  I don't know, to be honest.  I'm just really lonely."

   "Oh, a convenient relationship.  I didn't need it shoved in my face.  I didn't need this when I came to visit you, and only you."

   "I was showing you that I'm doing exactly what you asked of me.  What the hell do you want from me, Kiyone?"  He shrugged his shoulders tiredly.

   "I... don't want anything, Ryuzo."  She whispered, "Maybe I'm just a little lonely too.  I don't need that kind of reminder when I'm here to visit someone... anyone.  Friend or otherwise."

   "Kiyone.  I just want you to be happy and have a good trip here on Jurai."  He sighed again, "I messed up, didn't I?"

  Kiyone stood and went to the door to open it, "Maybe I'll feel better in the morning.  You should just go."

  Ryuzo shook his head, "No... I don't want to leave.  Look, order some room service.  I'll pay for it.  It's the least I could do after messing up tonights dinner.  I haven't eaten either... it'll be good for both of us."

   "If you think so.  Be my guest."  She headed back over to the bed, grabbing her brush and straightening out her long thick hair.  She said softly, "... You cut your hair."

  Ryuzo settled down at the head of the bed, looking for a menu in the drawer next to it. "Yes.  I uh... needed a change."

   "It looks good on you.  It's different.  You still look like a kid though."  She teased, as she slowly gained her humor back.

   "Har har.  I'm handsome enough."  He picked up the phone and ordered two meals to be delivered to the room.  He hung up the phone and slid over to hug Kiyone from behind. "Don't be mad at me, okay?  I hate it when you're mad."

  Kiyone relaxed under his touch.  She leaned back as tears rolled down her cheeks, "I've had a lousy week or two.  I just want it all to go away."

  Ryuzo moved back to let her head fall softly into his lap.  He touched her cheek, "You're crying?  Don't cry.  You're stronger than that."  He smiled and wiped away Kiyone's tears.  "It'll be fine, you'll see."

  Kiyone sat up and leaned forward.  She wiped the rest of the tears away, "I'll wash my face.  Please make yourself at home."

   "You know, if there's anything wrong - you can tell me.  I'm here for you.  Even if I'm an ass sometimes, okay?"

  The running water filled her cupped hands.  She splashed the cool water over her face once or twice.  Kiyone pulled down a washcloth and dried her face, turning the corner to look directly Ryuzo.  She leaned against the wall, "You don't have to seem so heroic to me.  Sometimes people don't want to hear everything all the time."

   "I'm not just any person."  Ryuzo stood and stepped over to Kiyone.  He placed a hand on her arm and looked her in the eyes, "You know what you mean to me."

  Kiyone had that warm feeling build up in her stomach as he touched her, "Ryuzo, you know... we can't be acting like that.  You've got someone, remember?"

   "No, not really."  He looked aside, "Despite appearances... she really doesn't want a relationship.  It's nothing like what we have."  He turned to look back at Kiyone.  He titled his head and moved in close.

  Kiyone held up a finger to his mouth, stopping him from moving in any closer.  She closed her eyes and shook her head, "Ryu.  We shouldn't.  We're not like this."

  Ryuzo whispered, "Give me a chance."  He pushed passed her hand, pressing his lips to hers softly, affectionately.  His arms moved around her protectively in a hug.

  She let out a slight whimper.  Kiyone weakened under his gentle and persuasive behavior, pressed between his body and the wall.

  Ryuzo broke away from the kiss first.  "I love you.  Oh Kiyone... why must we be like this?" He whispered, kissing her cheek.  His heated breath tickled her skin.  He kissed her lips two or three more times, interrupted only by her voice.

   "Ryuzo..."  She looked up at him and spoke a little shakily, "We're like this because it -has- to be like this."

   "Why?"  He pulled her close once again, "You're not seeing anyone.  Neither am I, really.  I'll end all my relationships for you."

   "All relationships?  What, do you have more than one girl you're stringing along?"  She looked annoyed, breaking away from the passionate moment.

   "NO!  Dammit, I can't even say anything right around you."  He let go, moving away from her.

  A knock came from behind the door.  "Room Service!", announced the voice behind the door.

  Kiyone looked away from Ryuzo as the anger settled in again.  She gestured with her hand to the door for Ryuzo to go answer it and moved over to sit on the bed in silence.

  Ryuzo ran a hand through his short hair, frustrated with himself.  He answered the door and retrieved the two plates from room service.  He placed one down next to Kiyone and then went to the other side of the bed to set down his own plate, lifting the lid and looking under. "Mm... looks good.  Eat up."

   "It does."  She opened hers and started to eat quietly.  She took the remote and turned up the volume on the television, flipping it to a station with a movie and stopped.

  Ryuzo picked at his meal.  He spoke up, "It's really late.  I'm so sorry, Kiyone.  I apologize more than I make you happy."

   "You are who you are.  I can't change that."  She finished her meal.  Kiyone set the plate aside on the nightstand and laid back on the bed to watch the television.  She propped up a pillow underneath herself with a sigh of resignation.

  He winced.  Ryuzo finished his meal too, placing the plate down.  He moved back on the bed to lay back against the headboard next to Kiyone, "Do you hate who I am?  Answer me honestly, please."

   "I don't hate you, Ryuzo.  I never have.  I quite like you, actually."  Kiyone stated, a bit emotionless.

  Ryuzo laughed. "You don't have to lie to me to make me feel better."

   "Dammit!  I'm not lying to you!"  She turned toward Ryuzo, "You ass!  Fine, don't believe me.  I don't care anymore."  She grabbed her pillow and smacked Ryuzo with it.  Her voice filled with the same frustration Ryuzo shared earlier.

  Ryuzo looked dazed, "... just what exactly are you saying?"

   "Aaaaaargh!" She smacked him with the pillow again, then pushed him against the headboard with her hands.

  He grabbed her hands, wide eyed.  "Whoa... wait."

  Kiyone pushed away from him, "Dammit Ryuzo.  Take a hint."

   "Take a hint?!  I've *thrown* myself at you!  You're too wishy washy.  You want one thing one minute and another thing the next minute."  Ryuzo stood up, "I'm sorry, Kiyone.  I know we're good as friends, but I'm not up to dealing with this yo-yo effect on my heart, okay?  It hurts... it just hurts."

   "Sit down, Ryuzo."

   "So you can hit me again?"

   "I want to talk this out.  I'm just..."  She thought to herself, 'Going crazy?  Mid-life crisis?  Confused?'  "...not in the greatest mood."

   "I'll say.  Alright."  He crossed his arms, "What do you suppose we do?  You said it yourself, this isn't possible.  Us."

  Kiyone bit her lip, "What do I... I don't know."  She shrugged, "I hate dating.  I'm horrible at it.  You want this?  You're serious?  Then let's just get married."

   "..."  Ryuzo blinked, "WHAT?!"  He blushed, turning away. "I can't believe this.  Now I know you're teasing me."

  "If you don't believe me, you're losing out on one hell of an opportunity."  Kiyone sighed, 'Oh well' and leaned back.

  Ryuzo sat back down on the bed.  After a long silence he murmured, "Yes."

   "Yes?"  She looked at him, exhausted from the fight.  Exhausted from her mood.

   "Yes.  I love you.  You know how I feel about you."    Ryuzo stood up and looked Kiyone over. "But I don't believe you're serious."

  Kiyone shrugged once again, "What do you want, Ryuzo?"

   "What do you mean?"

   "I mean exactly that, what -do- you want?  Do you want this as a relationship?  Do you want us to be just friends?  Who knows how long we'll last doing -that- before we want to kill each other."  Kiyone cursed herself.  He already asked her the very same thing earlier, 'This conversation is going in circles!'

   "I want..."  Ryuzo looked thoughtful and smiled, "I want you to dance with me."

   "... dance... with you?"  Kiyone blinked, not expecting that.

   "Yes.  Dance with me?"  He held out a hand to Kiyone and asked in his boyish voice.

  She shook her head and allowed a smile to play across her lips.  "A dance, huh?  Do you think you can really handle dancing with a girl like me?"  Kiyone turned toward Ryuzo, sliding to the edge of the bed and placed her hand in his.

  "Maybe, maybe not?  But I can at least try.  I'd really hate never having that one dance with the love of my life."  Ryuzo smirked confidently.

  Kiyone half smiled with a little bit of a blush on her face,  "Love of your life?  Don't get too cocky, okay?  Maybe 'love of the week', in your case."

   "Kiyone... you wound me."  He pulled her up to stand with him.  Ryuzo carefully set one hand at her side and his other grasped her hand gently.  "You know my feelings are genuine."  The waltz began.  Very slow dance motions to virtually no music.  Ryuzo felt his heartbeat quicken, despite having been close to Kiyone many times before.

  Kiyone allowed herself to relax.  She smiled, "Ryuzo... when we first met... even now.  I see you as a young man with a lot of life to live.  I'll admit, the idea of being involved seriously with a younger man is pretty appealing, on many levels.  It's flattering."  Kiyone stopped talking, mid-dance.  She looked up into his eyes.  His beautiful blue eyes mirrored her own, in a way.  They kept moving, despite her train of thought being lost.

  Ryuzo gazed, somewhat dumbfounded.  He wasn't as slick as he wanted to be, "I'm a more than willing victim."  He continued to dance with her, a little lost in her eyes.  "It feels good to have you so close, like this.  It feels natural."  He murmured, "I'm not that bad of a guy, right?"

   "Don't lose your confidence now, you were doing so well."  They stopped dancing, "You're young.  Of course you're a bad guy."  She grinned, "But you're not as bad as they can get, so I guess I'm not so bad off."  She smoothed her hands over his shirt.

   "Gee, thanks."

  Kiyone wrapped her arms around his neck, "What, am I wounding your ego?"  She played with the back of his hair.

   "I don't have to put up with this."  Ryuzo seemed annoyed.

   "You're right, you don't."  Kiyone felt a tinge of guilt.  Her eyes closed as she pulled away from him and turned around, her back to him.  "I'm horrible at this.  I'm not suited for relationships.  I barely tolerate having a partner... and that's only after MANY years of working with her?"  Kiyone rubbed her temples faintly.  She turned back around, "Ryuzo, I--"

  Ryuzo grabbed Kiyone by the shoulders and pulled her close into a tense embrace.  He pushed her back and down onto the bed and kissed her affectionately.  His body pinned her against the thick comforter.  Ryuzo's weight shifted from being partially atop her and off to her side, hand touched her cheek gently.  He broke the kiss and whispered softly, "We can do this, together."

  Kiyone nodded softly and whispered, "Make me believe it."  She brushed her lips against his again.

  Ryuzo reached over and turned off the television from the remote.  The room succumbed to pitch blackness as he returned to Kiyone's warm embrace.  They endured the long night together, finding comfort and love in each others arms.  The dream-like feeling lingered in their minds as they slept as one.  Warm bodies and soft covers coupled with an exhausting night lulled them together to sleep in the wee hours of the night.  It was fate.

*   *   *

-- Chapter Four:  All I really want is to lay gently down beside you  --

  A knock at the door echoed through the mid-morning room, "Housecleaning!"  Ryuzo opened his eyes tiredly, 'I've never been so tired in my life...'  He sat up partially, only to realize his right arm was trapped.  The morning haze still effected his brain, "Uh... "   He felt relaxed and didn't really want to get up anyway.  The knock at the door echoed again.

   "I'm still resting!  Please don't come in!"  Whined Ryuzo.   A muffled, 'Okay' came from behind the door.  Ryuzo curled back up against the warm body next to him.  He blinked, then thought, '... wha?  You mean...'

  A faint sigh of satisfaction came from the body as she turned over.  Kiyone curled up against him and kissed softly at his neckline in her half awake state.

  His sudden awareness of being completely nude with a very equally bare woman against him.  He gulped and stammered, "K..k..Kiyone?!"

  She sleepily kissed his lips and whispered, "Mm... Goodmorning."

   "What... what're...I mean... why're... you... me..."  Ryuzo mumbled, getting kissed again.

  Kiyone spoke, "I hope you're not this forgetful in your old age, Ryu.  Don't I even get a 'Goodmorning'?  Or maybe a, 'You were fabulous'?"

  Ryuzo blinked, still dazed.  He moved her hair back, as if looking at her for the first time, "This is real... isn't it.  You're really here."

   "Had this dream before?"  She asked lightly.

  Ryuzo blushed and said, "Well... not so much a dream but more like a fantasy.  I never thought I'd say this... but... that was nothing like I expected."

   "It never is."  She closed her eyes and snuggled in closer.

  Ryuzo looked up at the ceiling and said softly, "...I love you.  Now, moreso than ever before.  I am the luckiest guy in the galaxy."

  Kiyone let out a giggle, "You should hear yourself.  You sound like I'm the first woman you've ever been with."

   "..." Ryuzo gulped nervously, "... you are.  Oh sure, I've dated people... but... uh... as for what happened, I wanted that to be with the woman who is to be my wife."

  Kiyone sat up just slightly, "You mean..."  She blushed and looked a bit embarrassed, "Oh Ryuzo."  A flush of guilt went through her.  Her tone of voice dropped from playful to remorseful.  "Why don't you tell me these things?  I feel like... I don't know..."  She shook her head, "I feel that although I am, oh, what's the word--"

   "Don't say it.  Please, just let me live in the moment?  Don't turn this around... don't feel guilty.  Don't regret last night, please?  I'm happy - So VERY happy that I woke up with you next to me.  Kiyone... Kiyone!"

  Ryuzo reached over pulled Kiyone into a hug. "You were serious, right?  About marriage?"  His eyes looked confused, voice shook with concern and insecurity.

   "...stupid."  She murmured.  "I never say anything I don't mean."  She hugged his arms to her. "We'll do it.  It won't be a traditional marriage, if you're okay with that.  I just want something like this.  Someone I care for, someone I love that I can trust and go to.  Someone to hold me... even when I'm feeling inadequate and shy.  I'm worried that you might be bothered that I don't want it to be normal."

   "So what, it'd be like we've been the last year?  I mean, we'd see each other more - of course.  And I get the humble title as your husband?"  He shrugged, "I couldn't be happier.  You're my one.  I've always felt that.  You set the rules then.  I told you I'm a willing victim last night.  I don't plan on changing my mind now."

  Kiyone turned around and snugged Ryuzo softly, "You've always got your mind set on things.  I've always admired that about you, even if it was an annoyance when we first met.  Then it's settled."

  Ryuzo nodded and smiled to her.  A woman he fell for from the instant she opened her mouth to speak.  His heart filled with joy and strength.  His better half.  His partner.  His lover.  It wasn't a hard decision by any means.  It was only that night that he really felt her true emotions.  She showed herself finally to him, and he loved every bit of it.  It was the happiest day of his life.

*   *   *

  The marriage ceremony was practically nonexistent.  At the end of the week long vacation on Jurai, Ryuzo and Kiyone were united - in marriage, anyway.  They said their goodbyes and promised to meet often.  Both of their chosen careers were inconvenient for any sort of constant attention to the relationship.  Still, it left for some pretty exciting weekend getaways for the first year or so.

*   *   *

  Several months later...

  Night time was always a relative thing, in space.  Ken could tell it was pretty late at night, because everyone was asleep.  He wandered from his room to down the hall.  He hated waking up in the middle of the night.  It always caused problems for him the following day.  The rooms were pretty much dark, with the exception of a few dimly lit emergency lights set up strategically down the corridors of the Spaceship Yagami.

  Ken fetched himself a cup and filled it halfway up with water.  He leaned against the counter, half asleep while he sipped.  A loud clatter came from down the hall and startled Ken awake, 'What was that?' He thought.  He put the cup away and headed out the door and toward the noise.

  Ryuzo sat in the chair near the front controls.  He opened a small snack bag and idly fiddled with the display.  He tweaked the knob a few times until it settled on a desired channel.  Ryuzo leaned back with a smile and went to bite into a chip.

   "Hands up in the air where I can see them!" said a very young male voice.

   "Eh?"  Ryuzo turned in his chair.  At the doorway was a young boy of about seven years of age holding a Galaxy Police issue blaster at him.  "Whoa, kid.  Put that thing down before you hurt yourself."

   "I said... hands in the air where I can see them, criminal!  Identify yourself!"  He glared at the older man.

  Ryuzo blinked, 'Is this Kiyone's son?  He looks just like her, in a way...'  He smiled, "Please don't be alarmed.  I'm no criminal."  He went to stand.

   "No sudden movements!  Please identify yourself or I will have to use this!"

   "Whoa, kid.  Calm down.  Just hand me the gun and no one will get hurt..."

   "Are you threatening me?"  Ken narrowed his eyes, "Identify yourself now, this is your final warning."

   "No, you're threatening me."  Ryuzo thought about it, 'He's serious.  This is a dangerous situation.  Hasn't Kiyone told him about us?'  Ryuzo said in a soft voice, "I'm a friend."  He hesitantly took a step forward, toward Ken.

  Ken's eyes opened widely.  He pointed the gun and shot instinctively at Ryuzo.  The blast burned through the shirt sleeve and into his arm.

   "OW!  What are you thinking?!"  Ryuzo yelped.

  Ken rushed passed Ryuzo and pressed a button on the Yagami's front panel.  Alarms sounded through the cockpit and spaceship.

  Ryuzo winced, covering up the wound with his hand.  His left arm ached in terrible pain.  Ken ran past again, out the door and down the hall.  Ryuzo turned the corner and began the chase.  "Come back here!"

  Ken was quick.  He was already several feet ahead of Ryuzo.  Ken turned the corner and slammed into Kiyone and fell backwards with an 'oof'.  "There's a burglar!  He tried to steal the Yagami!"  Ken panicked.

   "Burglar?  What are you doing with my blaster?"  Kiyone took the gun from Ken.

  Ryuzo turned the corner, "There you are."  He paused, "Your son SHOT ME!"

   "He what?"  Kiyone seemed surprised, yet amused. "What'd you do?"

   "Me?!  You're blaming me?  I'm the one who's injured here!"

  Kiyone couldn't help but laugh, "It's a burn... barely something to complain over.  It's on 'stun'."

   "Well it hurts.  And he shot me!"  Ryuzo exaggerated. 'What the hell... she's not even worried that her own son pulled a gun on me.  I could have been killed!'

   "You're such a baby."  Kiyone commented.  She went to help Ken up, "I'm sorry... he came aboard when you were asleep.  I didn't expect this to happen..."  Kiyone seemed embarrassed, "How do I explain this... this is Ryuzo.  He's my... "  She paused, "boyfriend."

  Ryuzo made a face but stayed quiet.  He sighed and asked, "When does the pain go away?"

  Ken looked at Ryuzo, then his mother, "A... boyfriend?"

  Kiyone nodded, "Yes.  Are you okay?"  She ruffled Kens hair.

   "I'm okay.  Just... let me know these things, okay?  I'm goin' to bed."  Ken shrugged and walked down the hall tiredly.

  Ryuzo waited until Ken had walked down the hall and back to his room.  He turned to look at Kiyone, "So that's it?  Just 'Are you okay?' and 'He's my boyfriend.'?  Shouldn't you even scold him?  He did shoot me, you know."

   "Oh come on, admit it... it's funny."

   "It's not funny!"  Ryuzo growled.

  Kiyone smiled, a tad bittered, "I raised my son well.  He wouldn't have done any permanent damage.  Think about it for a moment.  He reacted very well.  Give him some credit."

   "...he SHOT me in my ARM!"

   "You are a big baby.  Come on, let's go get that cleaned up."  Kiyone lead the way to the cockpit, turning off the alarm that had been sounding off all this time.  She then lead Ryuzo to a bathroom area.

  Ryuzo sat down and pulled off his shirt with some difficulty. "It hurts.  When will it stop hurting?"

   "Usually after I arrest you."  She grinned, "Kidding.  The stun abilities tend to wear off after an hour or so.  It *is* supposed to stop you.  He should have hit you in the legs... then you wouldn't have been able to chase after him."

   "I can't believe this.  That's not right at all.  Are you training him to be a Galaxy Policeman?  Is this really necessary?  He's just a kid!"  Ryuzo snapped.

   "Are you telling me how to raise my son?"  Kiyone raised an eyebrow at Ryuzo.  She poured a cleanser along a rag and touched it to the (very small) sore on Ryuzo's arm.

   "Well... no... I mean... maybe."  He sighed, "When I was his age, I may have been learning how to use a sword -- but I'd never hurt anyone either."  Ryuzo seemed serious, "It's unsettling how he reacted.  I suppose that's what's bothering me."

   "Okay, what do you propose?  All I had done was taught him how to take care of himself.  What he had done was in total defense."  Kiyone put away the cleanser.

   "To a defenseless man, thank you very much."  Ryuzo shrugged, "I don't know.  Maybe some good old fashioned Juraian sword training is what he needs.  The discipline alone would help him out."

   "Ah yes, the fallback of Juraian training.  You *know* I can't let him do that."  She placed a bandage over the wound and leaned back against the counter.

   "Why not?"  He asked.

   "I've explained this."  She crossed her arms, "I've learned that mistakes can be made.  I don't want his identity known.  I want his future to be presented to him when he's good and ready, not when he's seven years old and playing with swords just because someone thinks I don't know how to raise my son."

   "I never said you don't know how to raise your son."

   "You implied it."

   "I didn't mean the full out training grounds... I mean... like... just me.  I'll teach him."

  Kiyone laughed lightly, "You'll get sick of that quickly.  You have your duties, too."

   "Yeah?  So?  It'll give us reasons to spend more time together."

   "Ooh, I knew it.  Getting closer to a woman through her children.  I see how you are."  She waved a finger at Ryuzo.

  He pulled his shirt back on, still rubbing his sore left arm. "Well, the offer is there.  I think it'll be good for him.  It can't hurt what he's already learned."

   "I'll ask him tomorrow, then."

   "Ask him?"

   "Yes.  He makes his own decisions.  About what he would like to do, what he would like to eat, where he wants to attend school, etc.  It's an independent household.  I help him along, but he's pretty darn self sufficient."  She smiled, "He takes care of me as much as I take care of him."

  Ryuzo let out a hum, "Oh... I see."  He stood up and placed his hand at Kiyone's side, "I'll say, I like the way he's taken care of you then."  He leaned in close, "I don't think I can go back to sleep after this."

  Kiyone smiled back, "You're so romantic.  Too bad I'm exhausted."   She closed her eyes and set her head on his shoulder.

   "Let me join you then?"  Ryuzo whispered, "I promise, I won't keep you up... too long."

   "I think you're enjoying married life too much, Ryuzo."  She murmured, "Don't keep me up too late, okay?  I've got an early morning."

   "I swear."  He grinned and moved in to kiss Kiyone softly, "Let's go."

  *   *   *

  Another typical day at Galaxy Police headquarters.  Ryuzo had been training Ken for about three months now.  From the occasional lesson on Jurai, on Yagami, or even any spare room available for them.  They had a competitive relationship together and Ken was a quick learner.  Yet another day was done and it was time for Ken to be dropped at Kiyone and Mihoshi's office.  They walked down the hall.

   "I have to go to the bathroom."  Ken complained.

   "But we're almost there."  Ryuzo mentioned.

   "I want to go to the bathroom now!  Look, right there."  He pointed to a public bathroom. "I'll be back in a minute."

   "Fine."  Ryuzo followed up until Ken went into the bathroom.  He leaned against the wall next to the door, watching the area.

  The platform bustled with a general amount of activity.  Ryuzo observed quietly, as he had every time before.  When he's not busy back at Jurai, he's training Ken or spending time with Kiyone.  He smiled to himself and thought of his current life.  His mind drifted a bit, until he spotted Kiyone wandering down the hall toward where he was.  'Oh, I guess she's not in her office yet.'  He went to open his mouth, but noticed another officer with her that was not Mihoshi.  Instead, he watched quietly.

  Kiyone and the other officer walked passed where Ryuzo and that extra bathroom was.  They stopped in front of her office to talk.  He was an older looking officer, maybe in his mid thirties.  His features were chiseled and appealing.  Their conversation, although it could not be heard by Ryuzo, seemed warm and friendly.  The older officer touched Kiyone on the arm, then smiled as he turned to go.  Kiyone went into her office after watching the officer head back down the hall.

  Ryuzo stared intently.  A twinge of jealousy flushed through him.  Someone poked his arm.  He looked down to notice Ken, "Oh... you done?  Let's go then."

   "I was waiting for you."  Ken stuck his tongue out at Ryuzo.

   "C'mon."  He pushed off the wall and walked down the hall to the office, knocking on the door softly, "Hello... Child Delivery."

   "Oooh, my mail order child has come in finally?"  Kiyone answered the door.  She grinned playfully, then kneeled down and ruffled Ken's hair, "How's my boy been?"

   "Oh, as good as he could be."  Ryuzo joked, "You know how boys can be."

   "Good enough."  Kiyone smiled, "I have a sandwich already for you on my desk.  Eat up."

  Ryuzo watched Ken rush over to the desk to get the sandwich.  "Man, I just fed him two hours ago..."

   "Growing kids are like that.  Take a seat, I should wrap up here shortly."

  He felt that twinge of jealousy again and said, "What, no 'Hello's for me?"

   "What type of greeting are you expecting?  I'm on the clock, here."  Kiyone seemed annoyed, "Just go sit down."

  Kiyone went to her desk and started working on some reports.  Ryuzo took a seat as he was told.   He battled with this jealousy bug.  'I've never felt jealous before.  Why now?  He wasn't all that good looking.  Maybe it was the touch... the way he looked at her... argh.  This is not me.  Have faith in her.  Have faith in yourself, Ryuzo.'

  Mihoshi walked into the office, going over to her desk and passing Kiyone another datapad.  "Here you go, Kiyone."

   "What's the meaning of this?  Mihoshi... this doubles my work for tonight!"  She looked over the pad, "This was supposed to be done three days ago.  You're not shoving this off on me."

   "But I already have my own work to do."  Mihoshi whimpered, "You're so much faster at that then I am."

   "Well, then you have to do my reports.  I can't do both and get out of here at a sane hour."  She bargained, "A trade for a trade or you're out of luck.  I'm on to your games."

  Mihoshi sighed, "Yes yes.  Hand them over."  She went over ot her desk and started working on the reports.  Kiyone started work on her new project.

  Ryuzo looked up, "Anything I can do?"

   "Not really... just make yourself comfortable.  We'll be a bit.  You could always head over to the Yagami with Ken, you know."

  Ryuzo thought to himself, 'But I really don't want to go anywhere without you.'  "No, no... it's okay.  I feel weird going there without you anyway.  They always give me strange looks at the docks.  I'm fine."  He had a strange inflection in his voice.  Kiyone raised an eyebrow at him and nodded lightly.

   "Okay, your choice.  It's pretty dull here.  We may be another hour or so."  She noted.

   "I'm okay."  He said confidently.

  A knock at the door echoed through the room, "Come in!" said Mihoshi.

  The door opened.  The officer from earlier stepped into the room, "Ms. Makibi, oh good, you're still here."

  Kiyone sat up, "Yes sir!  I've got a little extra paper work to handle today.  Did you forget something from earlier?"

  He smiled, "Well... nothing too pressing.  I wanted to talk to you about that extra training you were asking about.  I looked over the schedule and there is some extra openings next month in the class.  They're two week courses."  The officer smiled, and then noted, "However, I could do some private lessons if you're interested.  It'll take half the time of the training, but you'll work later for about a week.  Really your choice.  I have the credentials and we can start as soon as tomorrow."

   "I..." She hesitated, "... have to think on that a little, sir.  As much as I'd like to cut down training time, there's something to be said about classroom training."  Kiyone commented.

   "They say the same about one-on-one training."  The older man smiled, "I'm offering.  It's a quicker step into that special forces unit you're so interested in.  Please think about it, please."

   "I wouldn't want you to be bothered with training me.  You have other things to do..."  Kiyone attempted to decline, "I'll think about it though."

   "And I wouldn't have offered if I didn't have the time free.  I know you would be a great student.  You're one of the top officers here.  It'd be an honor to be known as the one who trained you."  He urged.

   "You flatter me, Sir.  I'll talk to you tomorrow about this.  In the meantime, I have to go back to work.  Thank you for stopping by."

   "No problem."  He nodded, "See you later."  He exited the office.

  Kiyone and Mihoshi went back to work quietly.  Ken sat over at his own desk area, working on some schoolwork.

  Ryuzo felt even more heated by the whole interaction that had just happened.  He stayed silent, almost brooding.  He stood up and announced, "I'm going for a walk."

   "A walk?  I'm almost done here..."  Kiyone looked up at him.

   "I'm going for a walk."  He said again.  Ryuzo walked out the office door and closed it loudly behind him.

  Kiyone blinked, "... what the..."  She looked over at Ken, "Did something happen today during training?"

   "No... nothin' exciting."  He went back to his work.

   "Okay.  Mihoshi, watch Ken for a bit.  I'm going to go after Ryuzo.  I'd better catch up before he becomes impossible to find."  She sighed, a little frustrated that she had to chase after him.

  Kiyone ran out the door and down the hall.  She caught the back of Ryuzo moving down the left corridor.  She caught up pretty quickly, tapping on his shoulder, "Where do you think you're going?"

  Ryuzo kept walking, "Don't know, don't care.  I'm just walking."

   "Just walking?  We're going to leave soon.  Come back to the office."  She followed intently.

   "Why?  I don't feel like sitting.  I'll catch a ride back to Jurai..."  Ryuzo snapped, continuing forward.

  Kiyone blinked and grabbed his arm, "What are you talking about?  It's not that big of a deal... we'll take you back to Jurai tonight, if you want."

   "Look, I'm not in the mood."  He shrugged her hand away from him.

  She glared at him and grabbed his hand. "Now I know something is wrong."  Kiyone dragged him over to a small room labeled 'Janitor', closing the door behind them and promptly locking it.

  The room was pretty small, holding a few brooms and extra cleaning utensils.  Ryuzo looked annoyed at Kiyone, "Why can't you just leave me alone?"

  She blinked and leaned against the door, "..."  Kiyone's arms hung at her sides, "Oh... I see.  I thought that being married to you, I was supposed to not leave you alone."

   "Married to me?  Is that right, 'Ms. Makibi'?  What was that, back there?  Huh?"

   "... are you angry that I use my own last name, STILL?  Back there?  What about back there?  It was work related."

   "It didn't seem work related."  He sneered.  "I saw how he talked to you... how he touched you."

  Kiyone blinked, "Whoa... WHOA.  Touched?  Back up there.  He hasn't touched me in any way..."

   "I saw it with my own eyes!"  He almost yelled, "Don't lie to me!"

   "I'm not lying!  Listen to yourself."

  Ryuzo grabbed Kiyone by the shoulders and pushed her back against the door, unintentionally being forceful.  "He touched your arm like this.  He acted very friendly to you."

  She winced, between his yelling and the impact against the door.  She looked up at Ryuzo, "Jealousy isn't an attractive feature on you, Ryuzo."

   "You're my wife!  People around here don't even know you're married!  I have a right to feel jealous that an older... nicer looking... MAN is putting the moves on you."  Ryuzo fumed.

   "No matter how nice they seem, or even their age, my heart belongs to you."  She looked up at him.  The room fell silent.

  Ryuzo let go of her.  He turned away from Kiyones gaze, "...I'm sorry.  I'm just so sorry.  I just never see you.  I don't know how you are at work.  It's hard on me.  Harder than I thought it'd be.  I... I honestly feel threatened."

   "You have no reason to feel threatened."  She stepped over and touched his cheek.  She turned to look at him. "I'm trying my best.  I know you'd want us to have more time together... but you knew what this was before we were married."

  Ryuzo pushed Kiyone back against the door softly.  He tilted his head and touched his lips to hers in a warm kiss.  "Kiyone, I just love you so much.  Don't leave me for a better guy.  I'm trying my best here, too.  I want you to love me as much as I love you."

   "I do."  She looked up at him a little mischievously, "Take me."

   "Wh..what?"  Ryuzo blushed, "Here?"

  She put a hand at his waist, pulling him close to her.  Kiyone kissed him again.  Not forcefully as his, but playfully.  Ryuzo shuddered and lost himself in her gentle urgings.

  An hour later, the two found themselves back at the office.  "Wow, he must have been across the station or something.  You guys took so long!"  Mihoshi commented.  Both blushed and agreed with Mihoshi's comment.

  Despite Ryuzos' complaints, Kiyone took up that offer for the extra training.  Every night she had come back to the ship late, Ryuzo was there to greet her.  They would make love every night.  Sometimes it was to satisfy Ryuzo's jealousy.  Other nights to relax Kiyone.  Her body was aching, stressed and strained.  Not much time for relaxing with literal double-shifts.  They both somehow managed to live through the week.

  *   *   *

  The night had been long and eventful.  Ryuzo and Kiyone had returned back to the Yagami from the Galaxy Policemans charity event that happened every year.  Ryuzo stumbled over to the couch, laying down with his legs propped over the edge.

  Kiyone followed, a bit less awkwardly as Ryuzo.  She pulled off her overjacket and placed it down, "I see someone can't hold his liquor."

   "I didn't realize that was alcoholic."  He commented, staring up at the ceiling.  "I just wish the world would stop spinning."

   "Not even a good enough buzz to make it worthwhile, huh?"  She stepped over to the couch and worked at untying Ryuzo's shoes.  She smiled and idly pulled off his socks, placing the socks and shoes beside the couch.  Kiyone stretched and undid a hair tie, letting it fall gently on her shoulders.

   "Didn't you have anything to drink?"  Ryuzo asked.  His cheeks still pink from the effects.  He eyed Kiyone as she pulled her hair down, somewhat lost in thought and awestruck by her graceful motions.

  Kiyone blinked and noticed Ryuzo watching her intently, "Not a drop.  I've learned my lessons from the past."

   "Wha, you don't trust me?"  He joked.  "I promise I won't get you drunk just to take advantage of you."

   "You, sir, are toasted."  She tossed a blanket on him.  "I'm going to get you some water.  I'd say stay put... but I don't think you can move much anyway."

  Ryuzo made a face, curling up under the blanket, "Now you're just makin' fun of me."

   "Right you are, good sir."  She wandered to the kitchen.  After a minute, she returned with a cup of water.  "Sit up, you need to drink this.  It'll be good for you."

  He sat up after a long moment and held out a hand.  She sat down next to him and offered the glass.  Ryuzo drank half the glass down, then set it on the table.  He place a hand on his head, then went to lay back down.  Ryuzo's head landed onto Kiyone's lap a bit roughly.

   "Oww.  Watch it."  She playfully smacked his forehead with the palm of her hand.

  Ryuzo reached up and rubbed the tender spot where she had smacked.  He closed his eyes and said softly, "Next time I go to one of these things, I'm asking YOU what's safe to drink."

   "No harm done."  She leaned back against the couch.  Her left hand went to Ryuzo's short black hair and started to work her way along the scalp from the side to back with her fingertips.  She looked down at him thoughtful, warmly.  The smile on her face made him feel safe.

   "... Kiyone?"  Ryuzo studied her face thoughtfully.  "Why do you put up with me?"

   "That's a loaded question, don't you think?"  She continued her gentle head massage. "I shouldn't put up with you at all."  She softened her voice.

   "Kiyone..."  Ryuzo sounded sad.  "You're right, you shouldn't."

  She moved her right hand through the other side of his hair, sliding her left hand down the front of his elaborate shirt.  She idly undid the buttons with her fingres, "What would you do?  It's hard to take something so important from our lives and just say... what would you do without that?  Where would you be?"

   "I have absolutely no idea."  He mumbled, still watching Kiyone's face.

   "It wasn't a question that can be answered."  She pulled his shirt open, showing off his now bare chest.  Her fingertips ran softly along his warm skin.  Ryuzo shivered, though not really moving to Kiyone's motions.

  Ryuzo commented, "Why do you put up with me, then?"

   "I look into your eyes and everything feels different.  I love to wake up next to you.  I want to take care of you."  She spoke softly, patiently.

   "I'm not your son, I'm your husband."  Ryuzo looked confused.

   "I know."  She leaned down and kissed him on the lips softly.   She raised her head and smiled, "What I feel is that I love you.  Sometimes I think you'd be a mess without me.  I have to remind myself that... maybe I'd be just as much of a mess without you."

   "I think I'd be a worse mess without you."  He murmured, "You make me whole."

  Kiyone shook her head.  She leaned down and kissed him again. "You make you whole.  We make each other happy, and that's all that matters."

  *   *   *

  The pilot seat of Yagami was occupied by Kiyone.  She maneuvered over the Juraian surface and landed in an open field.  Ryuzo and Ken exited through the side door.  Kiyone lead them out.

   "I've got an escort mission today.  I may be a while.  Ken may need to stay the night... is that okay?  I'll come by as soon as we're finished.  I'll call beforehand."  Kiyone noted.

  Ryuzo nodded and gave Kiyone a goodbye kiss, "Yeah, it's fine.  It's like his second home now."

   "It is not."  Ken commented with a bag slung over his shoulder.  "Come back soon.  I wanna sleep in my room."

   "I trust we'll be fine."  Ryuzo frowned and nudged Ken playfully.  "Yes, call me please."

  Kiyone nodded and boarded the Yagami once again, lifting off and heading back into the sky.  Ryuzo stared into the sky as she left before nudging Ken, "Okay, back to training."

   "Yeah yeah..."

   *   *   *

  There were three ships in formation, protecting one smaller vessel across the void of space.  Kiyone sighed, "Another boring mission."

  Mihoshi sat in the co-pilot seat, "These are the easiest, Kiyone."

   "Miraki should never have recommended us for this."  Kiyone seemed annoyed.

   "But you are fully certified, right?  This is just the type of mission that brings more promotions.  I'm envious.  Soon enough I won't even be able to accompany you."

   "You can take the training too, you know."  Kiyone mentioned.  "I just needed the extra boost.  I hate it when I feel my career isn't going anywhere.  Sometimes you have to take the incentive."

   "Captain Miraki seemed to push you in your training."  Mihoshi paused, "Do you think he may have a thing for you?"

   "Mihoshi!  Don't say things like that.  He's a superior officer.  I think he just wanted what was best for me.  Ryuzo already doesn't like him."  Kiyone checked the sensors.

  Mihoshi let out an "Aah." noise.  "Well, we'll see."

   "Yeah right?"  Kiyone intoned.

  The front sensor erupted with a loud beeping noise.  "What's that?"  Mihoshi checked.

   "Communications open!  What's going on there?"  Kiyone requested.

  An officer from the first ship popped up on the screen.  "Missiles... everywhere!  Prepare yourself and follow the mission at all costs!  This isn't a joke, this is real."

   "Yes sir!"  Kiyone pushed a few buttons on the panel, "Mihoshi, battle stations!"

   "Roger!"  She adjusted her seat and pulled her console in front of her.

   "Fire at all attacking objects.  I'll move Yagami to a defensive position."  She pushed another button on the screen, "Communications open:  What's your status?  We should land as soon as possible!"

  Explosions rocked around Yagami.  Kiyone braced herself, "Mihoshi, you're supposed to shoot those down!"

   "There are too many!  I'm trying to keep the damage at a minimum."

   "Keep working at it.  Try harder, dammit."  She growled, "We'll move to the front position.  You other two fall back and stick with the target."

   "Yes sir!"  Announced the voices on the communications end.

  Kiyone pushed another button. "Opening hailing frequencies:  Please identify yourself!  This is Detective Kiyone Makibi of the Galaxy Police.  What you're doing is an act of treason."

   "An act of treason?  What kind of universe do you live in?"  Said the voice on the other end.

   "I live in the same as yours.  Please, identify yourself and this can be resolved peacefully."  Kiyone noted.

   "Oh, but you're wrong.  The criminal you're escorting killed thousands of my people.  They don't deserve to live another day!  I can't stand to sit by and allow them to go free.  There will be no peace involved today."  Growled the voice.

   "Shinaku."  Kiyone voiced, "That's you, isn't it?  This isn't a game.  You can't just attack the Galaxy Police in the name of your 'Justice' in order to get what you want done.  You'll hurt more innocents than necessary.  We're taking this prisoner back to headquarters, where they will be tried and convicted properly."

   "Shut up!  You lie!"  The voice snapped.

  Mihoshi noted to Kiyone, "They've stopped firing.  Keep them talking."

   "Our system will not fail you.  The Shinaku are a proud people.  You shouldn't resort to violence."  Kiyone urged.

   "The Galaxy Police have done nothing but made this harder than it should be!  Let me kill him now and I will spare your lives."

   "This isn't what you want."  Kiyone spoke softly, "You would know how much we've backed the Shinaku time and time again.  Please, let the authorities handle this and I promise you that justice will be served properly."

  Mihoshi spoke in her communicator, "Alert to other ships, we're approaching the planet Nubira.  We'll make a landing there, outside of Galaxy Police Sub-Station 3986.  Continue to protect the prisoner until we've landed and ensured their safety."

   "Not what I want?"  The voice continued, "You don't even know what I want, lady.  My family... my entire life was RUINED by that scum.  You speak of justice and promises.  I'll tell you that you lie!  Nothing will come of it.  There's no honor in putting a criminal away for life.  There's no honor for my people!  I know how the Galaxy Police do things.  Your promise means nothing!"

   "..."  Kiyone lowered her voice, "Mihoshi, alert the other ships to continue to the surface.  We've got a lock on them.  We'll have to engage with them to keep the mission going."

   "... Roger."

   "Are you still there?  We've got a lock on your vessel.  Surrender immediately and no one will be hurt."  Kiyone announced.

  The convoy already started to retreat to the nearest planet surface.  Only Yagami and the offending ship remained.

   "You're a disgrace to your profession!  I'll never surrender!"

  Kiyone pushed a button.  Missiles fired out of the Yagami, hitting the other ship at multiple angles.  The space sky rocked with explosions.

  The other ship moved and started after the other Galaxy Police ships.  Yagami followed, continuing with the pursuit and firing accordingly.  They returned fire as well, the battle now waging well into the atmosphere of the planet Nubira.

   "I'm warning you!  One more shot and you're done for.  Surrender immediately and no one will get hurt."  Kiyone urged the pursuers.

   "If I'm going down, I'm taking that asshole with me!"

  Kiyone blinked, watching the screen, "They've dropped their weapons and powered their thrusters.  Crap!  Yagami's not gonna like this..."  She grabbed the controls and maneuvered Yagami to intercept the other ship as it blasted toward the prisoner convoy.

  Everything went black for them.

*   *   *

  The Galaxy Police hospital on Nubira was small and ill equipped.  At least fifteen officers were badly injured, some even were killed in the assault.

   "What's going on here!?"  Asked Ryuzo to the young cadet "I want some answers.  Where's Kiyone?  Where's Mihoshi?"

   "Please sir, calm down.  We know as much as you do at this point."  The boy pleaded.  "What is your relation with the Detective?  We'll try our best to help you out.."

   "My relationship?  She's my wife!  We're married!  I've even got the paper to prove it.  Let me see her now!"  Ryuzo pushed forward.

  The cadet held up his hands and said, "I can't.  I'm sorry.  She's in surgery.  We don't know anything other than who is injured.  Please let the professionals handle this and we'll call you over if there are any updates.  I promise."

  Ryuzo looked like he was going to cry.  Surgery?  Professionals?  He didn't like those words.  Ryuzo wandered back over to the lobby area and sat next to where Ken was sitting.

   "What do they know?  What's going on with my Mom?"  He asked.

   "She's... uh... I'm not gonna sugar coat things, kid.  They're working on her and they won't let me know what's going on.  I don't have any information on Mihoshi, either."  Ryuzo sighed.

  Ken looked tired, "They'll let us know soon though, right?  Mom'll be okay, right?  And Mihoshi?"

   "... I'm here for you.  They'll let us know as soon as THEY know.  Just sit back and relax.  It's going to be a very long night."

  Time felt like it went two times slower than usual.  Ken passed out in the lobby chair as Ryuzo kept his mind too occupied for sleep.  A doctor approached Ryuzo several hours into the night. "Hello, are you 'Ryuzo'?"

  He sat up, rubbing his eyes, "Yes... that's me.  Are you Kiyone Makibi's doctor?"

  The man nodded. "Yes.  Please... can we take a walk?"

  Ryuzo looked down at Ken who was passed out, then ermed, "Can you have a nurse sit with the boy?  That's her son.  I shouldn't leave him alone."

   "Certainly."  The doctor called over a nurse and had them sit next to Ken.  Ryuzo got up and followed the doctor down a corridor to a room with a comfortable couch.  Ryuzo took a seat on that couch and the the doctor sat across from him.

   "The anticipation is really getting to me.  Is she okay?"  His voice shook.  It shook with fear and loneliness.

   "Your her husband, correct?  My my... this is a really tender subject..."  The doctor straightened up, "Kiyone Makibi is fine.  She's in a stable, good condition now.  However..."

   "... however?"  He blinked, 'She's fine.   It can't be about Mihoshi?  Oh no... that'd be devastating to her.'

   "I'm sorry, Ryuzo."  The doctor leaned over and touched Ryuzo on the shoulder, "We weren't able to save the baby.  Her body wasn't strong enough after the crash.  We tried our best.  You, being her husband, are the first to know.  You'll have to be strong for her through this time of loss."

   "...hold on...wait a minute... what?  What?"  Ryuzo raised his voice, "Baby?  I'm gonna be a Father?"  He looked at the doctor, whose eyes were filled with sadness. "...I was going to be a Father.  Oh no.."  He covered his mouth, shocked.  His body tensed with the overwhelming urge to cry, but he kept it in.

   "I take it... you didn't know?  What an awkward circumstance."  The doctor stood. "Well, you will be able to visit your wife in a few hours.  Please get something to eat and rest.  You'll have to be strong for her.  For both of you.  I'll prescribe some time off.  She'll need more than a day or two off to recuperate from this.  Again, I'm sorry for your loss."

  Ryuzo moved back down the hall in a daze.  His entire perspective warped around him.  He wasn't sure if he was to be relieved, depressed, or upset.  He relieved the nurse next to Ken and sat back in the chair.  He couldn't help but think about things over and over again until finally the tears came.  He covered his head in that small hospital lobby and cried, alone.

*   *   *

-- Chapter Five:  Now which direction are you gonna walk? --

  The Juraian countryside was beautiful.  Ryuzo had a very quaint house where he, Kiyone, and Ken now were staying.  A comfortable little three bedroom place.  He insisted they stay with him as she took a month off of work.  Mihoshi, who had very minor injuries, was already back on the force.  Ryuzo and Ken had just come back from training.  Kiyone had the dinner ready and set on the table for them.  It felt like a strange, almost picturesque view of a family.  Only on the outside.  Kiyone put Ken to bed and went back to the bedroom.   Ryuzo undressed for bed and curled up under the covers next to Kiyone.

  He protectively wrapped his arms around her and spoke softly.  "Are you okay?  You're quiet tonight."

   "... I can't live like this.  This isn't me."  She pulled away from Ryuzo and sat on the edge of the bed, leaning forward. "Ryuzo... you know I'm fine.  We've talked.  We've talked about it over and over again.  I am perfectly fine.  I think you're the one who's NOT fine."

   "Why do you always have to start the night as an argument?"  Ryuzo asked, sitting and moving over to sit next to Kiyone.

   "I'm going to sleep on the couch."  Kiyone stood up and grabbed a pillow.

  Ryuzo blinked and grabbed her hand, "Please... don't go.  I'll sleep on the couch.  I want to talk it out with you."

   "There's nothing to talk about.  You've got work in the morning.  The couch would make you a wreck for tomorrow."  She sighed, "I'd feel guilty making you lose sleep."  She leaned forward and kissed Ryuzo on the forehead. "It's okay, please go to sleep."

   "Kiyone... I can't sleep alone.  Don't leave me for the couch..."  He almost whined, "Please, just lay back down here.  I won't talk... I won't say anything."

  Kiyone sighed.  "I can't do this every night.  We have to move on.  If we don't move on, we'll never be able to go back to how things were."

   "How things were?  You're just going to forget?!"  He seemed more upset than she ever appeared to be.

   "No!  Not forget... I'm not insensitive."  She rubbed her temples, "I can't do this every night.  Occasional reminder... fine... I can't live every day with it constantly brought up."  She whispered, "We can always try again.  It's not the end of our lives.  Please, for my sanity, Ryuzo.  Stop."

  Ryuzo pulled Kiyone back down on the bed.  He wrapped his arms around her from behind and whispered, "I'm sorry.  Please... just stay here with me.  I'll sleep better knowing you're here with me.  Don't go."

  Kiyone whispered back, "... okay.  Fine.  Alright.  You need to rest more than I do.  Honestly,  I'm fine.  I always survive."

   "I love you so much, Kiyone."

   "I know, Ryuzo.  I love you too."

  *   *   *

  Another rough day of training.  Ryuzo stressed how important these early lessons were.  Kiyone had already given the go ahead to take things to the next level.  Although he didn't agree, Ken adjusted quite well to the different lesson plan.

   "Concentrate!"  Commanded Ryuzo.  He stood before a now eight year old Ken.  "You can't learn anything if you can't focus on your position!"

   "Focus, Concentrate, Strike Harder... Move Faster..." Ken whined, "I'm doing my best!"  He growled, going to strike at Ryuzo.

   "You're not focusing enough!"  He knocked over young Ken quite easily.

  Ken rolled, hopping back into a fighters stance and continued to attack the older man.  The grass in the open field near the Juraian royal palace whipped around due to the cool breeze that flowed through it's reeds.  Ken was quick, probably because of his age, knocking over the other fellow after a few crucial hits.

   "That's it!  You've got the spirit!"  Ryuzo ruffled young Ken's hair after standing back up.  The boy smiled, he knew he was all that.  A few soldiers called over, "Sir!  Sir!  We have some important news for you.."  Ryuzo turned, distracted by the callings, "Okay... what is it?"  Unaware that Ken had ran off.

  They spoke about random happenings at the palace.  The second soldier gave Ryuzo his report for the day.  Ryuzo nodded, then turned to look, "Hey Ken..."

  He froze in his footsteps.  "There was a boy... just here.  About eight years old?  Did you see him?"

   "Sir?  We saw no boy.  You were alone."

   "I was training a boy right here not but two minutes ago!  He's my son, dammit!  Oh man..."  He sprinted toward the palace, leaving those two soldiers behind, "Ken?  Ken?!  Where are you?"

  He backtracked to where the training took place.  Nothing.  The panic seemed to flood his mind further and further.  He lost Ken.  He lost Kiyone's son.  He turned around to see Kiyone approach the training area.  He searched around quickly again with absolutely no success.

   "What are you looking for?"  Kiyone asked.  She had a small basket, "I brought you twos lunch, as promised."  She paused. "... where's Tenchi?"

   "He uh... I mean..."  He rubbed the back of his head, "Funny thing... I turned away for a second and he just disappeared."

   "He WHAT!?  Dammit, Ryuzo!"  She put down the basket and ran toward the hill. "Ken!?  KEN!  Where are you?!"

   "... Mom?  I'm over here!"  Announced a voice in the distance.  Kiyone saw Ken stumble over the hill.  Ken sounded surprised, almost scared.  "Mom!"  He ran over to her and hugged tightly around her waist.

  Kiyone hugged her son an glared at Ryuzo with a deathly grip, "How dare you lose him!?  I don't care what the circumstance was, he's a kid!  He could have gotten hurt!  I should have never trusted you to take care of him."  She snapped.

  Ryuzo froze.  His eyes widened at her tone of voice, "Kiyone... you know it wasn't like that!  You know I care for him as if he were my own son.  Don't get angry, please."

   "... we'll talk about it later."  She said, running a hand through Ken's hair lightly.  "Eat your lunch.  I'm taking him home."


  *   *   *

  Ryuzo arrived late.  He stayed out extra long that night.  Afraid to go to his own house.  He looked around the house, everything was wrapped up for the night.  He grabbed a blanket and went straight to the couch without a second thought.  He curled up with his head at one end, body buried beneath the single layer.  A hand pulled the blanket up.  Ryuzo looked up to see an exhausted Kiyone looking down at him, "Your dinner is cold.  Come eat it."

   "I'm too tired.  Let me sleep."  He turned away.

   "... so you want to leave things like this?"

   "No.  I want you to be happy."

   "Come eat your dinner, I'll be happy if you do that."

  Ryuzo sighed and stood up from the couch.  He went into the kitchen and sat in his chair.  A light meal was left for him, there.  He ate in silence, Kiyone sat across from him and watched with mild interest.

   "Does it taste good?"

   "Yes.  Good, like always.  Thank you."

  He finished his meal quietly, cleaning up the plate and the table.  Kiyone stood up and waited by the doorway for Ryuzo.  He stood in front of her for a long moment.

  Kiyone reached down and touched his hand.  Holding it gingerly between her fingers.  She lifted his hand to her cheek, tilting her head into his touch.  Kiyone closed her eyes, tears streaked down her cheeks and over his warm hand.

  Ryuzo stepped close, wrapping his arms around her in a hug. "Shhh..."  He whispered softly.  She quietly sobbed against him in the embrace.   All he could do is hug her and tell her that everything was going to be okay.  He opened his eyes, carefully picking Kiyone up and carrying her to the bedroom.  Ryuzo laid Kiyone down onto the bed, then laying down beside her.  He wrapped his arms around her and continued to comfort his wife, his one love.

  She turned in his arms and kissed Ryuzo on the lips.  He felt a warm tinge well up in his stomach.  Affection that they hadn't shared in a very long time appeared in a matter of moments.  He kissed back lovingly.  The two stayed together that night.  This was the last time they had made love to each other.

  *   *   *

  Three years later, on a little space station cafe and gas place.  Kiyone sat at a table, sipping her drink.  She looked up to notice a familiar figure enter the cafe.

   "Ryuzo!"  She waved a hand to alert her companion.

  He nodded and sat across the table from her. "Why hello there."  He smiled, "Why'd you call me up here?  I'm just about as busy as you are, nowadays."

  She sipped her coffee, then passed over a small folder to the man.  "There."

  Ryuzo opened the folder.  Divorce papers.  "You're not serious, are you?"

   "We've already been separated for three years.  We're not exactly together anymore."  She reached over and touched his hand, "It's for the best."

  Ryuzo looked over the documents, then closed the folder.  He passed it back to Kiyone across the table. "No."

   "No?"  Kiyone blinked, "I thought you wanted this."  She took a deep breath. "I don't want to string you along.  You should really move on with your life."

   "You're not stringing me along, Kiyone.  I just... I'd prefer staying married, to you."  He leaned back.  "We're good together, you know."

   "We were good together."  She corrected.

  Ryuzo shrugged, "I haven't given up faith.  You have to admit... things have been getting better."

   "I agree..."  She hesitates, "I don't want you to get your hopes up.  Both of our lives are busier than they were years ago when we had met.  Perhaps it just wasn't meant to happen."

   "I'm not giving up on us.  Look... I'll contact you in a few weeks.  Maybe we could get together for a weekend?  Just the two of us?"  He reached over and moved Kiyone's bangs from her eyes.

  Kiyone looked sad, "I can try.  No guarantees."

   "I know."  He stood. "Oh, how is Tenchi?  I hope he hasn't forgotten everything I taught him."

   "He's fine.  I'll let him know you said 'Hi.'  He asks about you every now and again."

  Ryuzo nodded.  "Are you seeing anybody new?"

   "Not really.  I don't have time for it."  She smiled weakly.  "Take care of yourself, Ryuzo."

   "I will."

 *   *   *

  The familiar feeling of dread.  The hospital.  It had been almost five years since the last time he had seen Kiyone Makibi.  A Galaxy Police message arrived to him to inform him that his wife, Kiyone Makibi had passed on in the act of duty.  He contacted GP headquarters several times to find out any status on her son, Ken.  It wasn't until today that he was given a straight answer - he had become somewhat of a hero and saved the Princess Momiji.  A mixture of loss and pride fueled his steps forward.  He wanted to offer his condolences.  He also wanted to touch base, once again.  Although he was never Ken's biological father, he felt he wanted to outreach and let him know that he was there for him.  It had already been a very long day for Ryuzo.  How the conversation went in his head seemed to lose confidence the closer he got to the hospital lobby.

   "Hello.  I'm here to see Makibi, Tenchi?"  He asked the nurse.

   "Ah yes, here we go."  She brought up his room listing, "He's on the 8th floor.  Room 8-G.  Are you family?  Visiting hours have already ended."

  Ryuzo nodded, "I'm his Father."

  The nurse raised an eyebrow. "Well, just let them know before you go into the room.  He was in critical condition earlier today.  They may not be allowing any visitors."

   "Thank you."  Ryuzo walked down the hall and pushed the button on the elevator.  He waited patiently until it opened.

  The elevator binged and the doors opened up wide.  Ryuzo unconsciously stepped into the elevator and bumped into the other person in the elevator. "Oh, sorry."

   "Nothing of it."  Said the other man in the elevator.

  The elevator was very slow.  The man cleared his throat, "So uh... who're you here to see?"

   "Oh.  I'm here to see my kid."  Ryuzo looked at the other fellow. "It's been a while, though.  I don't think he'll recognize me."

   "Has he been in here a while?"  The man asked.

   "Oh, no... it's just been a really long time since he's seen me.  See, his mother and I are separated."

  The man nodded, "I see.  That's got to be tough on a kid."

  Ryuzo shrugged, "I didn't have much of a choice in it.  She made her own decision on the matter."  He laughed, then went quiet. "I've missed her so much."

  The other man smiled, "What floor are you going to?"

   "Eight."  Ryuzo pointed, "It was already pressed."

   "Oh.  That's right."  The other guy laughed, rubbing the back of his head, "What's your name?"

   "Kouda Ryuzo.  And yours?"

   "Masaki Tenchi."  He held out a hand to shake.

  Ryuzo shook the other mans hand and then blinked, "You wouldn't happen to know a Makibi Tenchi, would you?"

   "How do you know that name?"  Tenchi looked at Ryuzo, "Are you with the Galaxy Police?"

   "No, not at all."  He took a deep breath, "I was contacted about him being here.  I'm in the Juraian military.  Considering the circumstances, I'm not surprised you're here."  Ryuzo looked Tenchi over, "You're not at all what I expected."

   "Is... he in trouble?"  Tenchi blinked, "He's not in the best condition.  This is being handled by the Galaxy Police now."

  Ryuzo blinked.  The door opened up at the eighth floor. "Please... sir, don't misunderstand me.  This doesn't have anything to do with Jurai.  This is between me and Ken.  I just want to see him myself."  He stepped out onto the floor.  The door closed before Tenchi could get out went onward to yet another floor.

  Ryuzo traveled down the hall to the room labeled 8-G.  He knocked on the door, opening it just slightly.  "Excuse me..."

  The sixteen year old boy sat up in the bed.  He opened his eyes and asked, "Mmn... is it time for my shot again?"

   "Not exactly."  He stepped in, closing the door behind him and approaching the bed.

  Ken blinked. "I'm sorry..?"  He tilted his head, "You must have the wrong room."

  Ryuzo shook his head.  He walked over to stand beside the bed. "You look... you look great.  I mean... not great because you're in a hospital bed, but you..."  He sighed, "I'm sorry.  I just wanted to stop by and offer my condolences about your mother."  His voice was weak.  The tears just waiting to burst out.

   "My mother?"  Ken blinked, "What are you talking about?"

   "You probably don't remember me, now that I think about it.  You sure grew up well."  Ryuzo seemed broken up, "I'm sorry... maybe I should have prepared myself better.  Your mother had me train you were much younger.  It's me, Ryuzo."

   "Oh... Oh yeah!  I remember... kinda.  You look real different, now."  Ken looked embarrassed, "Whaddya mean, condolences?"

   "Well, the Galaxy Police contacted me about her passing.  When I went to contact you, you had ran away.  I just now made it down here."  Ryuzo seemed upset.

   "My mother isn't dead."  Ken blinked, "She's fine.  I just saw her like an hour ago.  She's probably still in the hospital, sir."

  Ryuzo blinked.  His heart would have stopped, if it could. "She's... alive?"

  The door opened up.  Tenchi and Kiyone stood at the entrance.  The older woman blinked, dumbfounded, "Ryuzo?"

   "Kiyone?!  You don't know how happy I am to see you."  He stumbled over and hugged her tightly.

  She let out a gasp due to the impact.  Kiyone sighed and hugged back, "What, so I have to 'die' for you to visit my son?"

   "Don't you ever... EVER die on me again, do you hear me?"  He shook against her.

   "Ryuzo... I promise, I'll take care of myself from now on."  She sighed, "How do I explain this... Tenchi... Ken... this is my husband, Ryuzo."

   "Hus... band?  You're married?!"  Tenchi gasped, "What is with you and these secrets?"

   "No... well, it's more complicated than that."  She smiled, embarrassed.  "We're separated.  I haven't seen him in well..."

   "Five years."  Ryuzo noted, "And believe me, it's been hell.  I never wanted this."

   "Oh be quiet."  Kiyone shrugged, "You never contacted me about that get away.  We wouldn't be in this situation if you put forth some sort of effort."

   "Effort?!  Please..."  Ryuzo rolled his eyes, "I tried to contact you.  You ignored my letters."

  Kiyone sighed, "Anyway.  What's done is done.   Why are you here?"

   "Here?  I'm here to see Ken, of course.  I was told you had died.  I got worried, so sue me."

   "Wait wait... so let me get this straight."  Tenchi paused, "You two are married.  You were told she had died... so you came here to contact Ken?"

   "Yes."  Ryuzo seemed annoyed, "I do care for him.  I always had."

   "My Mom married you?"  Ken seemed even more surprised.

  Kiyone grabbed Ryuzo's hand. "Excuse us, please... Tenchi, keep Ken company."

   "Oh, sure thing."  Tenchi nodded.

  Ryuzo was dragged out of the room and down the hall. "Wha... wha... stop that!"  She stopped pulling him at a dark corridor.

   "This isn't funny."  She piped in.

   "It wasn't meant to be funny, Kiyone."  He glared, "I've been heart broken for days thinking you had died.  This isn't funny in the least bit."

   "Well, are you happy now?  I'm alive.  Go home."  She crossed her arms.

   "Am I that much of a pest to you?"  He sighed. "Kiyone - I still love you.  I'm willing to start over if you're willing to give me another chance."

  Kiyone turned away from Ryuzo, "It's been too many years.  Do you think we can just jump back into things?  Not likely."

   "... I'm not asking to start up where we left off, but to start over.  For real."  He stepped over to Kiyone.  Ryuzo turned her around to face him.  He touched her chin softly and touched his lips to hers.  She closed her eyes and returned that kiss warmly.

  To start over.  It's all they wanted to do.  For years they longed for it.  She had never stopped loving him, and she expressed it as so in their kiss together.  He hugged gently and didn't want to let go ever again.

They were willing to try, once more.

- The End -

Based on yet another 12 Volt Sex song.  Here are those lyrics:

Hook It Up - 12 Volt Sex

Every time I give a little bit
It seems you wanna take a lot of it
I'm just wishing Id get through to you
But won't you tell me what you wanna do
Cuz I can't go on like this no more
You come walking through my door
Hey you wanna hook it up
You never say enough
And I can't figure out
Just what you're all about
I need to understand
Am I in your future plans
Or just a one night stand
Come on and let me know
Cuz you're giving me more
Every time I get inside of you
It seems it changes your whole attitude
All I really want is just to talk
Now which direction are you gonna walk?
Cuz I can't go on like this no more
You come walking through my door
Hey you wanna hook it up
You never say enough
And I can't figure out
Just what you're all about
Done everything I can
To be your superman
Yeah I'm your biggest fan
Come on and let me know
Cuz you're giving me more
Every time that I want some
Yeah you're giving more
All I really want is to lay gently down beside you
And that's the part I miss the most of all
After she left me
And maybe it's not fair
To touch your hair
And think about her
But I know no other way to ease
The pain of heartache
Forget about it
Hey you wanna hook it up
You never say enough
And I can't figure out
Just what you're all about
I need to understand
Am I in your future plans
Or just a one-night stand
Come on and let me know
You wanna hook it up
You never say enough
And I can't figure out
Just what you're all about
Done everything I can
To be your superman
Yeah I'm your biggest fan
 Come on and let me know
You wanna hook it up
You never say enough
And I can't figure out
Just what you're all about
Done everything I can
To be your superman
Yeah I'm your biggest fan
Come on and let me know

Authors Final Notes:  Although this is a complete fic, it really is just a huge sidestory, based around that universe that I had established in Helmet (Which is a pretty lengthly read as well).  I originally started writing this with an idea in head... then changed direction a few times afterwards, until finally putting forth the steam to finally finish this.  It's just a little backround on Helmet that I never touched upon, until now.  All and all, my third Tenchi fic  If you have any comments, just go ahead and email me at mihokiyo@galaxypolice.com  --  I may add more to the fic, but for now, I think it's complete.  I think.  Thanks again for reading.

- KiyoneKatz

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