All "Tenchi Muyo" references are copyrighted by AIC and Pioneer/Geneon. 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.
The minute Katsuhito Masaki saw his grandson approaching the shrine, he knew that there had been trouble, most likely with the girls. The droop of Tenchi’s shoulders, the tired, reluctant dragging of his feet, and the expression on the boy’s face were unmistakable clues that once again he’d been caught in the middle of the never-ending catfight for sole possession of his heart. Katsuhito hid his smile and sat down on the steps, waiting.
“Grandpa,” Tenchi said, flopping down beside the old man.
“Tenchi.” Katsuhito nodded politely. “Is everything all right?”
“I wish.” The boy sighed audibly. “Grandpa, why is it, whenever I try to do something nice for those two and be fair about it, it always ends up in a huge mess?”
“Why don’t you tell me what happened?” Katsuhito had a feeling this was going to be one of the better ones.
“Well…” Tenchi began. “You know how hot it’s been. I thought that ice cream sounded really good after working in the fields this afternoon, and so I asked Ayeka and Ryoko if they’d like to go into town with me. I wanted to be fair.” The way he said the last sentence was a pretty desperate plea for consent; Katsuhito nodded sagely and let the boy continue. “Well, they kind of glared at one another, but I guess they figured that it was better than me asking one over the other, so we got into the car and drove into Kurashiki.
“Everything was fine. It was a nice day for a drive, and the girls were being pretty civil for a change. I mean, I’ve told them repeatedly that I don’t appreciate the fighting and arguing, and they’ve both been working hard at it—especially Ryoko. I haven’t had to fix the roof or walls in two weeks, you know?”
“Go on,” Katsuhito said.
“Okay, so we get to the store and go in. Being a gentleman, I let them choose first. Ryoko chose Rocky Road like always, and Ayeka wanted some mint chip, which is pretty standard for her. So then the girl behind the counter asks me what I want, and all of a sudden I feel two pairs of eyes on me.
“I’m looking at the ice cream, trying to decide. Ryoko says, ‘Tenchi, you should pick something exciting and original. Try Rocky Road or Pink Lemonade.’ And then Ayeka jumps in and goes, ‘I’m sure Tenchi would prefer something gentle and pleasing.’ Meanwhile, I’ve pretty much narrowed it down to vanilla or chocolate, and I say something along those lines.”
“So then Ryoko starts bugging me to select chocolate, that it’s dark and mysterious and all that. Ayeka gets mad and growls at Ryoko to back off, that she thinks I should pick vanilla, which is soft and delicate and pale, not harsh and brutish like chocolate. And the next thing I know, they’re squaring off, arguing over which I’d like more, chocolate or vanilla.”
Katsuhito coughed politely, the better to cover an escaping chuckle.
“Ryoko makes this snide comment about vanilla being bland and prissy. Ayeka comes back with something about chocolate being disruptive and unrefined. Ryoko yells that vanilla is stuck-up and fit only for old maids, and Ayeka screams that chocolate is the product of dried up old demon women, and then…”
“Yes?” Katsuhito asked.
Tenchi sighed and rolled his eyes. “And then Ryoko smashed her cone into Ayeka’s forehead. Right smack on the tiara. The next thing I know, Ayeka’s using her guardians to immobilize Ryoko, and before I can stop her Ayeka’s opened Ryoko’s blouse and has smashed her scoop of ice cream right between….uh…” Tenchi blushed furiously and looked away before continuing. “And then she closed the blouse back up and pressed her hand down so that the ice cream would smear…”
“I get the idea.”
“I was so embarrassed I left without getting anything,” Tenchi confessed miserably. “I made them get cleaned up and drove them back home, and then I came up here. Grandpa,” he said, looking up at Katsuhito, “why did they act like that? Over ice cream, of all things?”
God help me, Katsuhito thought. Tenchi is either more innocent or more clueless than I’d ever suspected. “Tenchi,” he said carefully, “perhaps you should consider the subtext of the conversation.”
“Ayeka is very proud of her skin. What words have you heard her use to describe it?”
“Uhh…soft, pale, delicate…oh.”
“Exactly. And Ryoko is rather exotic, exciting and original, you must admit. If nothing else, there’s rarely a dull moment when she’s around.” Katsuhito allowed himself a small smile. “Tenchi, right or wrong, perhaps Ayeka and Ryoko were comparing your selection of ice cream to a decision you must someday make between the two of them. Do you understand?”
“But…but it was just ice cream!” Tenchi protested.
“To you, perhaps. To them it was a symbol of the rivalry between them. Now, what can you do to show them a better way?”
“I could stop taking them for ice cream,” the boy muttered.
Katsuhito cuffed the boy upside the head affectionately. “Think again, Tenchi.” When no answer was immediately forthcoming, the old man sighed and shook his head. “The next time you take them for ice cream…pick chocolate with vanilla ribbon.”
“I don’t like that flavor,” Tenchi said.
“That’s not the point!”
“Geez, Grandpa, you don’t have to yell.”
Katsuhito coughed and regained his composure. “My apologies, Tenchi. What I am saying is, by choosing a combination—a merging—of the two flavors, perhaps the girls will understand that you appreciate each of them in different ways, and that when they work together, the sum is far greater than the parts.”
“You really think so, Grandpa?”
“I’m sure of it, Tenchi.”
“Okay. I’ll remember that. Thanks, Grandpa!” As the boy ran to the stairs leading back to the house, Katsuhito nodded to himself, pleased with the wisdom of his advice. Perhaps Ryoko and especially Ayeka, who was raised with two mothers, would see the wisdom in a symbol such as chocolate with vanilla ribbon…
On the other hand, he thought worriedly, they might just see it as another manifestation of the boy’s indecisiveness.
“Oh well,” Katsuhito said to himself as he rose to his feet. “Time will tell.”
* * * * *
Four days later, Katsuhito spotted Tenchi approaching, again with the despondent, hangdog look that was associated with the Ayeka-Ryoko battles. “Tenchi,” the old man said in greeting. “What’s wrong?”
“Well, I offered to take them for ice cream again, provided they didn’t make a mess like last time,” the boy said miserably. “And everything was going fine, and I was just about ready to order chocolate with vanilla ribbon like you suggested, when I saw something I liked better. So I ordered it instead, and they yelled and screamed at me all the way back home.
“Really? What did you select?”
Tenchi looked down at his feet and sighed. “Blue raspberry.”