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The Harem Saga Sequel

By JefferyHarris

Adventure / Romance

EPISODE 1 Noike

I get a little tongue-twistedEv'ry time I talk to you, when I see youAnd I'm so glad that you just missed itThe way I stared to memorize your faceTo kiss you in my mindLove you all the time

(Chorus)'Cause, when I close my eyesI still can see your smileIt's bright enough to light my lifeOut of my darkest hourPlease believe it's trueWhen I tell you I love you

I've taken too many chancesSearching for the truth in love that's in my heartTell me if I've made the wrong advancesTell me if I've made you feel ashamed'Cause I know I have to do thisWould you hold my hand right through it?

(Chorus)'Cause, when I close my eyesI still can see your smileIt's bright enough to light my lifeOut of my darkest hourPlease believe it's trueWhen I tell you I love you

(Bridge)

I had to let you know just what would happenYes, I had to let you know the truthI know I've got to do thisWould you hold my hand right through it?Would you?

(Chorus:)'Cause, when I close my eyesI still can see your smileIt's bright enough to light my lifeOut of my darkest hour

(Chorus:)'Cause, when I close my eyesI still can see your smileIt's bright enough to light my lifeOut of my darkest hour

I know now this is trueWhen I tell you I love you

Title: "I See Your Smile"Artist: Gloria Estefan

Noike Sakatsu Kamiki entered the room slowly, maintaining her calm and dignity as best as she was able. Her hostess was her plimalshibe, her adopted sister, Misaki Kamiki Masaki, former queen of the Juraian Empire and retired bodyguard to her late husband.

Misaki was an imposing figure, large-boned and muscular, whose single periwinkle-colored ponytail swayed rhythmetically as she walked, and whose persimmon-colored eyes twinkled mischievously in the presence of her family. Her richly-embroidered robes swept around her feet like stately curtains, whispering softly along the floor.

Noike herself was dressed in a conservative business suit, her teal-tinted hair arranged in a style similar to Misaki's. She kept her grass-green eyes focused ahead, her facial expression as neutral as she could render it. She made no sound at all, merely another shadow gliding through the room.

The room was the common area of the residential suite that served the Juraian Royal Family, a comfortable blend of stuffed furniture, bookcases, mementos, lighting and electronics. Noike had been here many times, for informal visits and even minor crises, but this was her first truly formal visit.

Waiting for Noike were the members of the royal serail:

* Ayeka Masaki Jurai was the epitome of refinement and grace: slender of build, artfully clothed, subtly painting the air with her restrained gestures and mannerisms. Her ankle-length ponytails, a shimmering azure in color, were carefully combed and arrayed in the traditional fashion for Juraian matrons. And her eyes were the color of a fine cabernet, at once deep and perceptive.

* Washu Masaki Jurai was lithe and curvaceous, whose elfin face was dominated by emerald eyes that glinted with mirth and wisdom, and whose waist-length scarlet hair sprouted from her scalp like sheaves of grain bending under their own weight. Though dressed in a custom-tailored suit of soft pastels, it seemed an ill-fit, as though she was more at ease in casual clothing.

* Ryoko Masaki Jurai was an athletic figure in a charcoal-gray security officer's uniform. Her cyan-colored mane erupted from her head like a flash-frozen explosion, which matched the predatory gleam of her golden eyes. Her movements were deceptively slow, her posture deceptively soft, hiding the coiled spring ready to lash out if provoked or challenged.

* Mihoshi Masaki Jurai was a tall and willowy figure poured into the uniform of a Galaxy Police officer, with an incredible shock of blonde hair that enveloped her head. Eyes the color of polished turquoise defined an owl-like stare, giving the false impression of vacuous imbecility rather than her true vigilant ingeniousness. She grinned at her former GP partner.

* Sasami Masaki was the 16-year-old fiancée, the cherub-faced sister of Ayeka. The family resemblance was unmistakable — eyes the color of cherry blossoms, twin aquamarine pony-tails tied back in the traditional fashion — without diminishing her own spark of bubbly individualism — her robes were of the same cut and drape as Ayeka's, but more vibrant in color and weave.

Misaki bowed, a graceful gesture that initiated the proceedings. Though technically not the senior wife, Ayeka returned the bow and gestured for her mother to assume a seat placed discreetly along the wall. Ayeka was the formal spokesperson for the Royal Family, the public mouthpiece steeped in protocol and traditions, and Misaki's jisshibe, the oldest daughter. Misaki smiled and retired to her place.

Ayeka indicated a seat for Noike, placed in the center of the room.

Noike bowed and accepted the seat, remaining impassive.

"My hastaba tells me you have a petition to present to us," Ayeka began, her head nodding to include her kardesshibelar. Noike cast a glance at them, noting that their expressions ranged from placidly nondescript to openly suspicious.

Noike had expected nothing less. She steeled herself and accepted the gauntlet. "Yes, Lady Ayeka, I have."

"No need to be so formal, hastabashibe Noike."

"Perhaps it is best if we are, at least until you have heard my request."

"I think we already have a pretty good idea what it is," Washu drawled, her lop-sided grin a clear indicator that she was enjoying the whole exercise.

"Yeah, it's not that hard to figure out," Ryoko added, features drawn into a tight mask.

"Sisters, please, let us maintain our decorum," Ayeka said, firmly squelching any further interruptions. She turned back to Noike, who hadn't moved a muscle. "Please feel free to be as casual or as formal as you like — but allow us the same consideration."

Noike nodded, accepting the terms.

"Would you like some refreshment? Tea, perhaps?"

"No thank you."

Ryoko - I could sure use a stiff drink

Mihoshi - I'll second that

Ayeka - And I'd join you — just not now

There was no outward sign of the mental exchange, but Noike was positive that the women were communicating telepathically...she certainly would, if the circumstances were reversed. Well, she had played to hostile audiences before, she knew how to keep her cool.

Ayeka didn't miss a beat: "Very well, let's get to down to the subject of this meeting. What is your request?"

"I would like to marry the emperor, and to become part of this family." There, she'd said it. She'd rehearsed it often enough, adding and subtracting words, changing the emphasis, looking for the best phrasing. In the end, it had simply escaped her in its simplest and most economical form.

Ayeka glared at Ryoko and Mihoshi when they started to object, and cast a warning eye as Washu chuckled. Only Sasami seemed unmoved and silent. For herself, she cleared her throat after swallowing her own reaction. "I see. What does His Majesty think of your proposal?"

The shift in formality was not lost on Noike. "I have not discussed it with him. He is unaware of my feelings."

"Why haven't you discussed it with him?"

"I would seek your collective approval before broaching the subject to him."

"By tradition, that decision rests with our husband."

"In reality, that decision is approved by the whole family."

"A wise analysis."

"Tenchi is very perceptive," Washu added, "and I think he's probably more aware of your feelings than you know."

Mihoshi - And he didn't discuss that with us?

Washu - What's there to discuss?

Ryoko - Yeah, he's not the one looking to expand the family

Mihoshi - That's true...

Ayeka - Please stay focused, Sisters

"I suppose Grandma Seto put you up to this?" Sasami demanded.

"Why would you think that?" Noike answered.

"She tried that trick once already," Sasami replied frostily. "Seems to me that's how you ended-up on kardestaba Funaho's goon squad."

Ryoko - Ouch

Mihoshi - It wasn't a 'goon squad', Sasami

Sasami - I know what it was

Mihoshi - She replaced Ryoko and I so that —

Sasami - So that you two could have babies. I said I know all that

"That was not the exact sequence of events, nor the complete purpose," Noike said.

"Uh, huh: the attempted engagement was all a pretense, just a ruse to keep an eye on the crown prince and his heavily-armed family." Sasami actually sneered.

"That's a close approximation, yes." Noike inwardly seethed: she didn't like the accusatory tone of her niece. However, she also knew better than to take the bait...and was more than a little surprised by Sasami's open hostility.

"So why pursue the matter?" Washu asked thoughtfully.

"Because..." Noike hesitated.

"Because...what?" Ryoko prompted.

Noike lowered her gaze, at a loss for words. How could she explain her feelings to these women? How could she explain how she felt in his presence...how she took advantage of every opportunity to be near him...how his face appeared in all of her daydreams and nightdreams? In other times and places, she would be risking censure and the consequences of adultery; fortunately, Juraian culture permitted cluster marriages. But such arrangements came with a price: she could never have him all to herself, a condition these women had learned to live with...and now she was asking to join them. "Because I've fallen in love with him."

"Every woman falls in love with him," Ayeka replied. "It's that Power envelope of his. You happen to be a Master Class adept, like we are, and thus more susceptible to it than most."

"No," Noike sighed, "that's not it all. I've been around him on two occasions when he's manifested his Lighthawk Wings. I recognized my physiological responses, and have learned to deal with them accordingly."

"Impressive," Washu said.

"And convenient," Ryoko added.

"Excuse me?" Noike asked.

"We're still trying to build an immunity to that envelope, even after six years," Mihoshi explained.

"Ah, I was...unaware...of the extent of the issue," Noike replied. Though two of these women were kin, they kept their secrets very well: she had no idea an immunity was even possible. She would have to think about that fact, when time permitted.

"At least we know it's not love at first sight," Sasami mocked.

"No, It is not a sudden thing. It has grown and blossomed over time, during quiet moments alone with him, the discussions and solitary meetings. He is such a kind and decent man..."

Ryoko - Family Note: No more private conversations for Tenchi and single women

Mihoshi - Duly noted and logged

Ayeka - Agreed

Washu - Oh, c'mon now...

Misaki cleared her throat, drawing all eyes her direction. "I don't think Mother has anything to do with this."

"What makes you say that?" Sasami asked. "Grandmother's deviousness is legendary."

"This isn't her style, Sasami, dear. Have you ever known the Demon Princess to try the same tactic twice?"

"No, I guess not..."

"Besides, what possible advantage would there be in this for her? House Masaki and House Kamiki are already unified in marriage; marrying Noike off to another clan makes more sense."

"She has already tried that on several occasions," Noike said evenly to her vicshibe.

"Does she even know you're here?" Washu asked, grinning wickedly.

"No."

Washu unleashed a thunderous cackle. "Don't be so sure of that!"

"Very well, I will rephrase the statement: I did not inform Lady Seto of my plans. My personal life is not a subject for her manipulation."

"Someone should tell that to grandmother," Sasami drawled.

"I'm not all that up to speed on political arrangements," Washu continued, "but I seem to recall that affairs of the heart take a back seat to affairs of state."

"I do not choose to comply with that principle. My mother will simply have to accept the realities."

"You do have guts," Ryoko said.

"Such opinions are always easier spoken than applied," Ayeka warned, mindful of her late father's attempts to marry her off for political gain. A sympathetic note echoed within her breast, as she recalled her own defiance in the pursuit of the man she loved. She studied her aunt from beneath knitted eyebrows. "Looked at logically, this situation does accrue some benefits for our family."

"Oh?" Sasami spit the single syllable.

"Not only does it virtually merge two great houses, but our immediate family acquires another Royal Tree." Ayeka was referring to Kyoko, Noike's arboreal Companion, one of the rare subspace-bending sentients who chose to bond with humans.

"Founding a dynasty?" Washu asked, smiling.

"Why not?" Ayeka countered, pointedly not smiling. She turned back to Noike. "You say you love Tenchi, that this is not some political machination or Power-induced rapture. Can you prove any of that?"

"No," Noike answered simply. "Could you prove your feelings for His Majesty six years ago?"

"No, I could not. Either he could see my love, or he couldn't."

Ryoko - What about risking our necks...?

Ayeka - He did the same for us — and how many times did we argue over whether that was due to affection or obligation?

"Love often causes us to do irrational things," Washu mused. "I think defying Lady Seto falls into that category."

"So does trying to sell us on the idea," Ryoko added.

"This was not a hasty decision," Noike replied. "I did not simply decide one day that I would like to marry into the Imperial Family. I have given this decision the full consideration it deserves. Protocols must be observed: I am formally seeking your approval."

"What if you don't get it?"

"That will...complicate...matters."

"Yeah, I'm sure it will."

"But it won't deter you, will it?" Ayeka asked. They exchanged glances, and for one brief instant Noike lowered her guard and allowed Ayeka to gauge the depth of her aunt's feelings: she really was in love with Tenchi, and would accept any conditions to be with him.

"No," Noike said, breaking eye contact, and leaving Ayeka with an impression that mirrored her own mindset — and that of her kardesshibelar.

Washu - You ladies might as well admit what your real objection is

Mihoshi - Our real objection?

Washu - You're afraid of sharing Tenchi, just like you were back on Earth. You were all so sure that he was incapable of loving more than one woman. Hasn't six years of marriage to him dispelled that notion?

Mihoshi - Well...

Washu - Tenchi's love cannot be diluted

Mihoshi - We don't even know his feelings about all of this

Ryoko - I do

Mihoshi - You do?

Ryoko - Yeah. If he was interested in someone else, I'd know it

Mihoshi - Are you so sure of that?

Ryoko - Positive

Ayeka - Sisters, we were discussing Noike's proposal...

Washu - I don't doubt that she'd fit right in here

Sasami - So would a pet dog

Ayeka - Sasami! Must you be so crude?

Sasami - Must you be so blind?

Ryoko - I have to admit, I don't like the idea much

Ayeka - It is unsettling, I agree — but it was likely to happen sooner or later

Ryoko - Care to explain that?

Ayeka - Politics; at some point Tenchi may be required to marry a foreign princess to cement an alliance

Ryoko - Tenchi would never do that!

Ayeka - Yes he would, if it meant keeping the peace and expanding the empire

Ryoko - You can't be serious

Ayeka - I am very serious — and I would encourage him to do it

Washu - Finally! At least one of you sees the realities

Sasami - I can't believe I'm hearing this

Ayeka - You've been hearing this sort of logic since you were in diapers, reishibe

Washu - Look on the bright side: Noike loves Tenchi, and she's no stranger around here

Ryoko - So what?

Ayeka - She can be trusted

Ryoko - Again, so what?

Ayeka - If this was strictly a political arrangement, we could never let her out of our sight — or alone with our children

Ryoko - Oh...

Mihoshi - For the sake of argument, let's say we agree to this. Then what?

Ayeka - Another royal wedding, another honeymoon, another resident in this suite...

Ryoko - I definitely don't like that list

Mihoshi - Me neither

Ryoko - How are we supposed to deal with all that?

Ayeka - We would adapt, Sisters, as we have always adapted

Sasami - Why should we?

Ayeka - Because Tenchi is not willing to give any of us up. Because none of us is willing to give him up. And because...

Ryoko - Because...what?

Ayeka - I don't believe she is willing to give him up, either

Mihoshi - I could tell you stories about her determination

Ryoko - This just gets better and better

Washu - As I see it, the biggest adjustment would be expanding The Schedule

Ryoko - One week in four is already a strain

Sasami - One week in five

Washu, Mihoshi, Ayeka, Ryoko - Excuse me?

Sasami - Ok, ok, so it will be one week in five in a couple of years...

Ryoko - That's what I like about you, Sasami, always looking to the future

It wasn't hard for Noike to guess that the long pause and exchanged glances were signs of another high-speed, closed conversation. She waited patiently, not only out of necessity, but fascinated by the group dynamics occurring: she could almost feel the ebb and flow of emotions surging silently around her.

Sasami - You want to talk about adjustments? Where will she sleep?

Washu - Oh, I'll build something for her

Sasami - Why don't you just give her my room? I won't be needing it...

Ryoko - What's that supposed to mean?

Sasami - Five rooms, five wives — guess I'll just go back to the other side of the Palace with Mother

Ayeka - Is that's what's upsetting you, Sasami? Are you afraid of being replaced?

Sasami - Yes

Mihoshi - Where did you ever get that idea?

Sasami - From Tenchi

Washu, Mihoshi, Ayeka, Ryoko - Huh?

Sasami - Don't you remember his 'Fist of Jurai' speech? Who ever heard of a six-fingered hand?

Washu - Oh, Sasami, that was just an analogy, long since outdated. It was never meant as a policy

Ayeka - No one in this room will ever be replaced, reishibe

Sasami - You can all say that because you're already married to him

Washu - That's not it all

Sasami - Right...

Washu - Sasami, Tenchi loves you, he's not about to discard you for anyone else

Just then one of the side doors irised open, admitting two children. The older, taller child was a five-year-old girl with a spray of flaming red hair that hung well down her back. She marched directly over to her mother, climbing onto Washu's lap with the certainty that she belonged there. The other child, a four-year-old boy with a mop of spiky brown hair, hesitated in the doorway as he became aware of all the adult eyes focused on him. Ayeka gestured and he ran over to stand beside his mother.

"Achika, be a good girl and go sit with Grandma Misaki," Washu whispered. Achika looked over at the inviting smile and waiting arms, and hopped to the floor.

"Could you please sit with Grandma Misaki? Ayeka asked her son. He nodded, started to walk past Noike, and stopped — then grinned at her and climbed onto her lap, snuggling down for an extended stay. "Azusa..." Ayeka sighed.

"I don't mind if he doesn't," Noike grinned, wrapping her arms around her niece's son. He noticed the locket she was wearing and started to examine it.

Ryoko - He's Tenchi's son, alright

Ayeka - So much for formality

Mihoshi - Look at her — no wonder Azusa feels so comfortable

Sasami - Yeah, whatever...

Washu - This decision affects the kids, too, you know

Mihoshi - I hadn't thought about that

Ryoko - Maybe I should wake up Nagisa and see how Noike handles a grumpy infant

Mihoshi - Something tells me she'd do just fine

Ayeka - She was raised in an orphanage, so she works well with children

Washu - Of all ages, I'm thinking

Sasami - What's that supposed to mean?

Washu - It means she wouldn't deliberately hurt your feelings

Ayeka - She's our aunt, Sasami — you've always been real close to her

Sasami - I wasn't competing against her before

Washu - And you wouldn't be now, either

Sasami - Prove it

"There is an issue that needs settled before this discussion goes any further," Washu announced.

"What issue is that?" Noike replied.

Before Washu could respond, Sasami interrupted her: "I've been waiting years for my wedding, and I will NOT have it postponed by a single minute!"

Noike sat in stunned silence, comprehension dawning on her — she had been so busy focusing upon the current wives in all of her plans, that she had overlooked the conviction of the future wife. A complication, but not an insurmountable one. "You are correct, Sasami; it would not be proper to interfere with existing plans. I would be happy to accept a betrothal, and await my turn at the altar."

Everyone turned to observe Sasami, who sat in silent introspection. She was weighing the concession made, and her own happy memories of time spent with Aunt Noike, against the prospect of sharing her future time with Tenchi.

Ayeka - She really is one of us, reishibe

Sasami - Ok...as long as she's willing to wait her turn

Washu - Mihoshi?

Mihoshi - She was pretty bossy, as I recall...

Washu - Does anyone — even Tenchi — tell you how to run your household or raise your daughter?

Mihoshi - No

Washu - So what makes you think that will be tolerated from her?

Mihoshi - Nothing, I guess. And she is a pretty good cook, now that I think about it...

Ryoko - I'm still not convinced

Washu - Well, instead of one week at a time, maybe we should cut back to five days at a time...or even four...

Ryoko - I'm in

"There is one other obstacle," Washu continued.

"What is that?" Noike asked.

"Somebody ought to ask Tenchi if he wants another wife."

"I will ask him that question," Noike said softly, smiling for the first time.

Misaki rose from her seat and moved to the center of the room. "Is there consensus, then? The betrothal is permitted?"

Ayeka looked around before nodding. "Yes, Mother, we are agreed. As long as Tenchi accepts the proposal, we will not object."

"Accept what proposal?" Tenchi asked. He had entered the room quietly, unnoticed, and now stood framed by the doorway. Little Azusa came bounding over, followed by Achika, both demanding to be scooped up. For a moment, the emperor of humanity's largest interstellar empire knocked heads with his giggling children, only gradually becoming aware of the secretive smiles of his serail, the shy inspection by Noike, and the unabashed glee of his mother-in-law. "Uh, oh...now what?"

############ AUTHOR'S NOTES ############

As mentioned elsewhere, the characters of Tenchi Muyo! were created by Masaki Kajashima, and brought to North America by Pioneer LDC. The attached story, while incorporating names and situations held under copyright by others, is copyright 2005 by Jeffery L. Harris. Said story came entirely from my imagination, and is not, nor intended to be, canon. Please do not send the legions of lawyers after me...it's not worth their time, or mine.

Any questions or comments should be directed to:

Jeffery L HarrisSubject: "The Harem Saga Sequel - Noike"

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