All "Tenchi Muyo" references are copyrighted by AIC and Pioneer LD. This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.
These stories were partly inspired by the mighty Hospitaller’s “Iscariot Wept” series, and also from eighteen very happy years of marriage to The Redhead. Write what you know, they say, and so I have…
Tenchi Masaki, Consort Prince of the Empress of Jurai, lay back in his bed and smiled to himself. While it was quite chilly outside by Jurai standards, he had absolutely nothing to fear. He lay in a delightfully huge bed with a perfect mattress, an incredibly insulating blanket and comforter, and best of all, a soft and cuddly Ryoko by his side. What man could possibly ask for more, he asked himself as he stared up at the ceiling.
It had been a wonderful evening, just the two of them walking hand-in-hand through the palace hallways after Sasami’s incredible dinner. Ayeka had winked at her fellow wife and commented that she had some work waiting for her, so why didn’t Ryoko spend this night with Tenchi? Ryoko had readily agreed, adding that she was going to have to make sure the Empress had work waiting every night in that case. They’d all laughed at the joke and bade each other good evening before going their separate ways.
There’d been a comfortable silence between Tenchi and Ryoko as they headed for their bedchamber, one born of trust, faith and companionship…and love, definitely love. Every so often Ryoko blessed him with one of her sidelong glances and shy smiles, filling his heart with so much joy that it was almost too much to bear. He gave her hand a gentle squeeze, then released it so he could open the bedroom door for her.
What came next…never ceased to take Tenchi’s breath away.
And now he lay in bed, just on the edge of drowsiness. He could hear his beautiful wife's soft breathing as she drifted in dreams. Tenchi reached out and slid his fingers against her silken cyan hair. He had no idea just how he'd gotten so lucky to have not only Ryoko but Ayeka as well, and miracle of miracles, things actually seemed to be going well. The women were learning to work together and, now that there was no competition for his affections, the first glimmerings of--dare he say it?--a true friendship were taking form between them. Life was almost perfect, from his perspective.
Still smiling, Tenchi rolled over on his side, closed his eyes, and went to sleep.
The icy winds whistled all around his naked body. Tenchi trembled from the cold and struggled to keep wading through the snowdrifts. Nightfall had robbed him of all available landmarks, but he knew he could not stop. He had to keep moving and hope that somehow he'd stumble onto a haven ahead. So cold...he was so cold....
Tenchi awoke to discover the sheets, the blankets and the comforter were gone. A moment later he amended that statement: the sheets, the blankets and the comforter were all wrapped around Ryoko. And, from all indications, the temperature outside was plunging toward a new record, making their rooms even chillier.
He scooted closer to his wife and tugged on the comforter. "Ryoko....c'mon, Ryoko, I'm freezing." He got neither reply nor comforter, and so tried again. "Ryoko!" A firmer tug resulted in the comforter pulling just slightly free. It also resulted in a definitely ominous-sounding growl drifting over Ryoko's back.
"Come on, Ryoko, it's cold and you've got all the blankets." Her response to his entreaty was to the point; her right hand phased through her cozy, insulated nest, a single finger pointing to the ceiling. Energy crackled from the extended digit.
Sighing, Tenchi got up and rummaged through the dresser for some flannel pajamas and socks. It was going to be one of those nights, he feared.
The heat was relentless, almost merciless in its sheer intensity. Sweat covered every inch of Tenchi’s skin as he crawled through the soft sands of this unknown desert, drops evaporating in mid-air before they had even a prayer of hitting the parched ground. The sun seemed to be all around him, utterly inescapable. His throat was well beyond dry, his mouth utterly unable to produce even the slightest amount of saliva. His body could barely move, so exhausted was he by the heat. It felt as though someone were holding him down, keeping him from making one final attempt at freedom…
He awoke with a gasp. His pajamas were drenched with sweat, as was his pillowcase. The blankets, bedsheets and comforter were piled atop his broiling body, and Tenchi had a sudden insight into how a piece of meat must feel once inside the oven. He attempted to get out of bed, only to discover a slender arm was wrapped securely around his waist and keeping him there with an iron grip.
Ryoko growled in her sleep and pulled him even closer to him. Her breasts pressed against his sweat-soaked back, and her breath was soft and warm against his neck and shoulder. “Tenchi,” she murmured happily, lost in dreams.
Tenchi tried to pry her arm away; she growled again, less sweetly this time, and tightened her hold. “Ryoko,” he hissed. “Ryoko, let go! I’m smothering!”
“My Tenchi,” she sighed.
The object of her affections rolled his eyes and tried to come up with some way to free himself. “Ryoko,” he finally pleaded, “I gotta go to the bathroom.”
“Ayeka, you stupid bitch…”
“No, no. I’m Tenchi. Remember?”
“This is my night, priss. Tenchi’s mine tonight. My Tenchi.”
“That’s right,” he whispered, patting her arm with frantic tenderness. “But Tenchi has to pee, Ryoko. Please let him go to the bathroom. Please?”
“Come right back,” she muttered. “No going to Ayeka.”
“I promise, I promise.”
“Okay.” The arm slid away, and Tenchi all but leaped away from the bed. He made a beeline not for the bathroom, but for the outside terrace, where he stood for a full five minutes until he finally started to feel the cold.
Tenchi woke up freezing once more. The blankets were nowhere to be found. Rolling over, he discovered that Ryoko was no longer in bed either. At the moment, she was sleeping about five feet above the bed, sheets, blanket, comforter and all.
“Aw, jeez,” he sighed in exasperation. It took about twenty minutes to coax her back down to the bed and another five to persuade her to share the bounty.
Tenchi awoke instantly. Many nights of experience had trained him to stir at the sound of that name. He rolled out of bed and glanced up; Ryoko was once again floating above the bed, but this time she was in a combat crouch, staring sightlessly at her former master and gritting her teeth in almost primal fury.
The first time he’d encountered Ryoko’s personal brand of sleepwalking, Tenchi had very foolishly tried to awaken his lover. Three broken ribs, a compound wrist fracture and a concussion later he’d learned that the proper course of action was to get out of the room as quickly as possible and just wait for the inevitable to subside. He crawled on four floors to the closest exit and slipped through, shutting the door behind him just as Ryoko activated her energy sword.
From that point on, Tenchi just sat against the far wall and listened to the war cries, occasional crashes of furniture and the hissing crackles of the sword as it sliced through the air at Ryoko’s imaginary target. Every so often, one of Ryoko’s limbs would phase through the wall, vanishing almost as quickly as it had appeared.
“Hiya, Tenchi.” Sasami grinned. She was wearing one of her silk bathrobes and carrying a big plate of cookies. A bottle of something that he knew damn well wasn’t milk was tucked under her arm. He still hadn’t gotten over her having hit puberty with a vengeance; from the looks of things, Sasami had received more than a little of her grandmother’s genetic heritage, and occasionally she made it very difficult to keep up the ‘little sister’ perception he’d always had of her. The trouble was, she knew all about his discomfort and played up to it whenever she could. Such as now. She leaned over far more than was strictly necessary and smiled down at him. “What’re you doing out here?”
Tenchi nodded toward the bedroom. Sasami shook her head sadly and sighed. “Bad dream again?”
“Wow. Those are the bad ones, huh?” She looked down at him and grinned. “So, you gonna stay out here tonight, or you wanna come sleep with me and my friends? I’m sure we could find somewhere for you,” she added with a saucy wink.
“Okay, okay! I was just kidding…sheesh, Tenchi, you really are becoming a fuddy-duddy.” She waved farewell and resumed her trek back toward her room and her…friends. Tenchi wasn’t sure of the number…or the gender…of said friends, and he wasn’t sure he really wanted to know. His gaze returned to the bedroom door and the battle in progress within. “Wonder how long it’ll take her to kill him tonight?” he asked the empty hallway.
The room fell silent about twenty-five minutes later. Tenchi opened the door and peered inside. Most of the furniture…none of it antiques, Ayeka had insisted on that, thank goodness…was beyond salvation. Ryoko lay atop the still-intact mattresses, curled up in a tight ball and hugging a pillow for dear life. He sighed and slipped into the disaster area; a few minutes of searching found the blankets and comforter, which he tucked over his wife’s sleeping form. He considered his options for a moment or two, then came to the conclusion that this was probably the “better or worse” part of the marriage vows he’d made and lay down beside her.
She was snuggled up against him, blankets and all, within two heartbeats. Tenchi smiled tiredly and closed his eyes, hoping the rest of the night would be peaceful.
The Next Morning
“Good morning, Tenchi…” He opened his weary eyes to find Ryoko floating just above him, eyes bright and mischievous. “Sleep well?” she asked with a naughty grin.
“Actually, I had a rough night,” he mumbled, wanting nothing more than to roll over and get a few more hours of shut-eye in.
“Really? Wow.” Ryoko floated into a seated position. “I slept like a baby, myself. I feel great, ready to take on the universe!” As he groaned and rolled over on his side, her expression grew just a bit more somber. “Tenchi…maybe you should get checked out by Washu, you know? I’ve been pretty worried about you lately. You always seem so tired…”
“Yeah,” came the voice from beneath the blankets. “Imagine that.”