Disclaimers: The same as in Chapter 1, etc., etc. On with the story. :)
Taking a sip of wine from his glass as he sat at the groom & bride's table, Ron looked around the center courtyard with a grin. Everyone was having a good time, and he was glad the wedding had given a day-off for all from the almost daily training, drilling, and studying of school life. His and Yori's rectangular table was situated in front of an easily makeshift wooden dance floor, assembled by the students. Around the dance floor were dozens of tables, being populated by students and staff, while a buffet was situated off the side. Dozens of Japanese paper lanterns were on top of poles all around the area to provide light when night comes within the hour.
"Thinking happy thoughts, Ron-kun?" Yori's warm, amused voice spoke from his left.
His head turned to look into her face, his eyes taking in her features, her hair still in a bun with ornaments and the tsuno-kakushi hood, and the additional clothing of the very colorful, beautiful uchikaka kimono worn over the white bridal kimono. "Yeah," he grinned as his left hand reached over to clasp her right hand on the table. "I'm glad everyone is having a good time." Her widening grin warmed him before both cast their eyes to the festivities before them.
Nearly two hours ago, Ron and Yori, as 'hosts', greeted everyone as they came for the reception immediately after the wedding ceremony. Both sets of parents also greeted everyone along side the newlyweds. Only after everyone arrived did the married couple, their parents, Hirotaka, and Kagome pose for pictures with Yamanouchi's photographer, a second-year male student, at the nearby school gardens. After the photos were taken Yori and Kagome ventured off to Yori's quarters to add the uchikaka kimono over the shiro-maku gown. The uchikaka was richly designed with fine, colorful, embroidered patterns and scenes, and it was only to be worn by the bride at the wedding reception. After Kagome changed into a simple formal dress, both bride and maid of honor returned to the party, where Yori posed for pictures with her husband again.
As of now, Kagome wasn't the only one who changed clothing. Hirotaka, after Yori and Kagome came back, had changed into a nice, Western formal pants, white shirt, and tie. Many of the younger people also opted to trade their kimonos for simple formal dresses and pants & shirts so they could dance to music provided by four speakers around the courtyard. Only the elder folks kept their kimonos, like Sensei, Nooni, and Donald & Hanna Stoppable.
Ron frowned, and his sulking didn't go unnoticed by his wife, who gave a sympathetic squeeze of his hand. When he turned his head to look at her, Yori gently grinned. "The cake should be out soon."
"I hope so," he whined a bit before a small grin spread across his face. "I want us to change into our Western formal clothes so we can dance."
"Hai," Yori nodded with a grin before she looked down at her exquisite wedding kimono. "As much as I love this kimono, it wasn't designed for dancing."
"It wasn't made for dancing in mind when it was first designed centuries ago," her husband wittily snorted. The young Japanese woman giggled, for it was the truth.
Some cheering at the other end of the courtyard from their table made the newlyweds and many turn to the commotion just in time to see two male students rolling a cart carrying a very large rectangular cake onto the center of dance floor where everyone could see.
The blonde groom quickly rose from his seat. "Booyah! The cake is here!" Many laughed and chuckled at his enthusiasm as they watched him walk around his table to head toward the cake with his highly amused wife not far behind.
Many gathered in a half circle around the front of the cake as Ron and Yori looked down at it from the other side. The icing was white with red icing edges, and on top were the names of the bride and groom, in vertical Japanese lettering, on either side of a familiar emblem. Yet when the married couple looked more closely at it, they softly chuckled.
"I say," Ron grinned as he pointed at the symbol, "maybe we should adopt this as our new family crest, Yori."
"Maybe, Ron-san," Yori replied on his left, her twinkling eyes on the design.
The insignia on the cake was Ron's crest, which was currently on the back of his haori, however, there was one major difference. The Japanese dragon, whose body surrounded the mountain representing Yamanouchi, now had two weapons instead of one. In one clawed palm was a fan, symbolizing Yori's chosen weapon she has mastered, while in the other palm was a katana, standing for Ron's chosen weapon he has mastered, the Lotus Blade. It was obviously meant to characterize both Ron and Yori now that they were married.
Donald Stoppable teasingly grinned with Hanna by his side. "Well, are you two going to cut the cake, or are you eager to stay in your kimonos?" His joke made some laugh, knowing Ron and Yori's desire to get out of their kimonos to change into less restricting clothing so they could dance.
After giggling a bit from her father-in-law's gag, Yori looked around the top of the cart before a frown formed on her face. "Where's the knife?" Her question made a few run off to find a suitable knife.
Ron shook his head and smirked. "No need to find a knife." Yori and many looked at him quizzically. "Who needs a knife, if we can use this." With his right hand, he reached to his left side and with a quick movement unsheathed the Lotus Blade.
Yori, with a sly grin, looked ironically at her husband. "Ron-san… Are you suggesting using the Lotus Blade to cut the cake?" she asked as he moved to stand just behind her with his right hand, holding the blade, extending out.
Giving his trademark goofy grin, he shrugged. "It is a big cake, Yori."
Looking at the large cake, the nimble ninja had to admit that her beloved did have a point. Turning back to him, Yori grinned mischievously before snuggling closer to him and placing her right hand over his right hand, which held the mystical sword. "Then let us do it… together."
With the school's photographer, who loved photography as a hobby, ready on the other side, the newlyweds lowered the blade over the width of the cake and sliced a single line from the bottom to the top as the young cameraman took several shots with his digital camera, and afterward, everyone clapped as the young couple smiled at every person.
"So," Ron began as he let go of his wife and stood in front of the cake with the Lotus Blade in both hands, "how about I slice up the rest of the cake?" His face looked like he was bent on cutting the cake like it was an enemy.
"Ahem," Mrs. Stoppable cleared her throat, and when her son turned his head to her, she pointed to a female student who held up a cake cutter in hand. "You've done the first customary cut, Dear, so let them cut the rest up."
"Aw, man!" Ron mocked whined as many grinned while the cake was carted away to the buffet table. "I always wanted to try using the Lotus Blade this way."
Feeling a nudge on his left side, the Keeper of the Lotus Blade turned to face his Lotus Maiden, whose eyes were twinkling. "Ron-san," she held up a napkin to him, "clean the blade and sheath it."
Ron mock pouted at her as he took the napkin. "You're no fun," he said as he wiped the katana.
Her face showed she was amused as she watched him sheath the sword. "Baka." His response was quickly sticking out his tongue at her, making her gently laugh, and he smiled in return.
Pulling up the skirt of her kimono with both hands so she could walk, Yori headed toward the living quarters. "Come on," she mentioned over her shoulder at her husband. "Let's change so we can have some fun." Kagome, without needing to ask, tailed her, knowing the bride would need help getting out of the kimono and altering her hairstyle.
"Hai," Ron agreed and followed his wife, but not before he briefly talked with Hirotaka. Ron's best man grinned at the conclusion of the conversation and watched the groom leave the reception to change.
The bottom of the sun was just touching the horizon when Ron and Yori returned hand-in-hand with Kagome. The groom was dressed in a black suit with white shirt, tie, and comfortable dance shoes. The bride was in a simple white spring dress with short sleeves, the hem ending above the ankles, and comfy, white, flat, slipper shoes. Her long hair, freed of any hair ornaments, was now up in a French twist style at the back of her head with the front bangs loose over her brow. Both were now ready to party.
Leading her onto the middle of the dance floor, Ron turned to wave at Hirotaka, who was at a table positioned at the far corner of the reception area nearby the start of the buffet line. After the Japanese man waved back, the groom faced to his bride with a broad grin.
"Ready to dance our first dance, Mrs. Stoppable?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Hai," Yori replied, matching his expression. She expected a pleasant slow song, but when fast-paced rock music came out of the speakers, her eyes went wide with astonishment.
Taking her in hands, Ron immediately twirled her around, making her finally break out of her surprise as she matched his dancing with a grin. "Hey," he answered her unspoken question with a devilish face, "I didn't tell Hirotaka our first dance was going to be a slow one." Her laughter was music to his ears as they danced together in enjoyment.
For Ron and Yori, dancing was nothing new to them. He had taken some dance lessons while he was interning at Bueno Nacho HQ, so he could socially grace the dance floor at business social parties and formal events. She had learned to dance from him, when they had occasionally ventured out to nearby towns with restaurants and bars that have a dance floor. Two years ago, they had danced as friends, but a year ago they had started dancing more intimately when they took their relationship to the next level.
Around them, many of the teenage students yelled, whooped, and cheered at the dancing newlyweds, and soon many of them joined the couple on the dance floor. Despite Yamanouchi was a school steeped in traditions; the students still embraced the culture and habits of modern Japan, which they grew up with before attending Yamanouchi. They certainly know how to party, and dancing to rock'n'roll was no exception.
At the far corner, Hirotaka watched most of the students dance with Ron and Yori as he stood in front of the table containing the music system of the reception. It was just a portable boom box with two CD players, and it was wired to the four speakers surrounding the reception area. Next to the boom box were two leather bags full of music CDs, both Japanese and American.
Several students were now next to the table as one flipped through one case of CDs to look at the titles. Ryozo, an alumnus of Hirotaka and Yori's class, was examining the other case, while Taro, another fellow classmate, stood on the other side of Hirotaka, eating a piece of cake as he kept the plate aloft with one hand.
/"Your collection never ceases to amaze me, Hiro,"/ Ryozo mentioned with admiration as he flipped through the CD pages. Each page could hold 12 CDs, 6 disks on each side.
/"That's because he spends most of his money on CDs and hardly anything else,"/ Taro, his long hair in a ponytail, teased with a smirk before taking a bite of cake with his fork. Some of the students giggled on that remark.
Hirotaka shrugged and let the comment slide. /"Least we have a good selection for the reception. Even Ron-sama admitted that what I have was enough to play for many hours."/
/"True,"/ admitted Ryozo as he continued to inspect the music titles while stroking his goatee, which he had since the time Ron first came to Yamanouchi as an exchange student. A chuckle fled his lips as he pointed to a particular disk. /"The Grateful Dead. I like their music, but I don't think Yori-chan will like to hear their music played at her wedding reception."/
Hirotaka's response was to nod his head as he chortled, for he knew Yori's music taste wasn't wide-ranged compared to his.
/"Hey!"/ the third-year male student looking at the other CD case exclaimed. /"We have Elvis Presley music!"/ Four other students – two girls and two boys - crowded over his shoulder to gaze at the Presley music CDs.
One girl, a first-year student, began giggling. /"I've seen pictures of Elvis Presley online before I came to Yamanouchi."/ Her eyes spotlighted Hirotaka. /"Hirotaka-sama looks sort-of like Elvis Presley."/ The other girl giggled at that thought, while the boys chuckled.
Even Ryozo and Taro snickered. /"Hirotaka like Elvis?"/ Ryozo pointed up at his friend. /"Your hair is not even close."/
/"No,"/ a female voice made the group turned to face the newcomer as she walked over to them/"but Hirotaka-kun certainly know how to…"/ Kagome frowned a bit. /"What was that American saying?"/ She grinned. /"Ah, yes. To 'strut his stuff'."/
With the exception of Hirotaka, who merely grinned at his classmate, everyone else in the group snickered and giggled.
Kagome motioned to the boom box. /"While she was dancing, Yori-chan told me to tell you that you better have a nice slow song next."/ Her lips became sly.
Raising both hands up, Hirotaka grinned reassuringly. /"I assure you, Kagome-chan, that the next one will be a nice slow song for Yori-chan to dance close to Ron-sama."/ Ryozo and Taro smirked.
/"It better,"/ Kagome snorted a laugh before gesturing toward the dance floor and one particular student, who was trying to snap photos of the married couple. /"Kisho can't capture good photos of them if they're moving too fast."/
Surely enough, the song ended, and following its instructions programmed by Hirotaka, the boom box switched to a dedicated track on the second CD. Soft, slow dance music filtered out of the speakers. Those on the dance floor soon parted to show Yori leisurely moving with her head nested on Ron's right shoulder while he rested his right cheek on top of her head. Both had their eyes closed as they held each other and gently swayed to the music with the fading light of the sun as it set and the lights of the many paper lanterns in the background.
The two teenage girls and Kagome sighed upon seeing the loving couple dancing intimately close. Kisho was grinning as he snapped perfect photos of Ron and Yori with the beautiful backdrop.
After finishing his cake, Taro placed down the empty plate on the table before turning to Kagome. /"May I have this dance with you, Kagome-chan?"/
Yori's maid of honor blinked in surprise at first before she slowly grinned up at her classmate. "Hai." With her hand held out, she accepted Taro's hand in her before they both ventured onto the dance floor. The two teenage girls soon after was asked to dance by the two boys, leaving only Hirotaka, Ryozo, and the third-year male student at the table, as many other couples joined the groom & bride.
Ryozo gave a warm grin toward Ron and Yori before turning to Hirotaka. /"So,"/ he leered/"when are you going to get married, Hiro?"/ The only response was a small laugh and shrug.
/"Not me,"/ the boy said, causing both young men to look at him. /"I'm not going to get married for a long time."/ With that, the teenager returned to examining the CD collection while Hirotaka and Ryozo looked at him like he was somewhat dense to be thinking of getting married at a young age.
As Ron and Yori and many other couples danced, the sun finally disappeared beyond the horizon, leaving the many colorful paper lanterns of the courtyard and around the school as the only source of illumination. The night sky sparkled with the stars over everyone in Yamanouchi.
A few hours went by as the celebration kept going. People danced, ate, talked, and enjoyed themselves. Most knew this type of festival would not be repeated for a long time, so most took much pleasure as they could take knowing tomorrow students and teachers alike would have to return to work.
Yori and Ron were no exception, yet they took much out of the reception, knowing this was the last time they would be in the company of their Yamanouchi friends and colleagues for a long time.
After the first time they'd slow danced, the couple had gone to the buffet to get some cake. They ate and even followed the Western tradition of feeding each other the first bite. Ron almost wanted to smear Yori with the cake, but her expression gave a clear warning to him not to even attempt it. Yet the Japanese woman had no reservations against smudging some cake over his mouth and nose. It provided some hearty laughs for all. The blonde American took it in stride with good humor although he did mischievously vow revenge.
Since then, the pair had gone around to talk with everyone, posed for more pictures, and even danced with other people as well as each other.
Now the couple was slow dancing, by Western tradition, with their parents alone on the dance floor – Yori with Sensei and Ron with Hanna. The young Japanese woman was glad to have had this wise man as a father figure for the past 14 years of her life, and she showed her appreciation through the smile she gave him. The young American man considered himself fortunate to have this woman for his mother. She gave him life and helped him grow, and despite the few tears she shed, he knew she was happy to have him as her son.
As the song ended, Ron and Yori both smiled at their perspective peers before they were let go to walk a few steps toward each other while Sensei and Hanna left the dance floor. The newly married husband and wife wrapped their arms around each other as a new slow number began to play.
Look into my eyes - you will see
What you mean to me
Search your heart - search your soul
And when you find me there you'll search no more
Both eyed each other and lovingly grinned as they rotated casually around the center of the floor.
Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for
You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for
You know it's true
Everything I do - I do it for you
Sighing with a full heart, Yori, eyes closing, placed her head on her love's right shoulder as he placed his right cheek on her forehead. The lyrics pretty much told how she felt and knew it was the same with him.
Look into my heart - you will find
There's nothin' there to hide
Take me as I am - take my life
I would give it all - I would sacrifice
Ron felt his heart clench. His wife meant the world to him, and he certainly would sacrifice much for her well-being. He knew she would do the same for him, for they were partners now in matrimony and it meant being there for each other no matter what.
Don't tell me it's not worth fightin' for
I can't help it - there's nothin' I want more
Ya know it's true
Everything I do - I do it for you
There's no love - like your love
Both raised their heads to eye each other again upon hearing those words, their love easily visible in their faces.
And no other - could give more love
There's nowhere - unless you're there
All the time - all the way
During the brief musical interlude between the lyrics, Ron placed his forehead down on hers and just gaze into those twin dark pools as she stared straight into his chocolate orbs. Yori felt her lower lip trembling, for she loved this man so much that she was on the verge of crying, and seeing her smiling with eyes glistening with unshed tears, made Ron feel intensely the same for her.
Oh - you can't tell me it's not worth tryin' for
I can't help it - there's nothin' I want more
I would fight for you - I'd lie for you
Walk the wire for you – yeah, I'd die for you
Tightening his arms a bit as he felt hers do the same, Ron mouthed silently along with the final words of the song, not taking his gaze off hers.
Ya know it's true.
Everything I do. Ohhhhhhh, I do it for you.
As the song started to fade out, Ron closed the remaining distance to lock his lips over hers in a gentle kiss, and as they closed their eyes, Yori released two tears down her cheeks as she gripped him with all her soul. Both would not ever forget this moment.
Releasing each other from the lip lock, they softly chuckled, before they realized there was silence around them. They turned their heads to notice everyone was smiling at them with Kisho nearby on the floor, no doubt have taken several snapshots of the special moment.
Facing each other again, they sighed for they knew what was coming next, now that they had danced their final dance.
"Come on," Ron softly spoke, still grinning with adoration for her as he tenderly wiped the tears from her cheeks. "Let's go change."
"Hai," Yori whispered, still smiling with affection for him.
Hand-in-hand, they walked off the dance floor and headed toward the living quarters for one final change of garments, and everyone knew what this meant.
Many minutes later, Ron & Yori Stoppable returned to the reception dressed in everyday, modern, casual attire. She was wearing a nice white, short-sleeved blouse; blue jeans; and sneakers, and her long black mane was loose and free and held back from her face by her favorite red headband. He was wearing a red t-shirt, black jeans, and sneakers.
From Hirotaka, Ron took a cordless microphone, which was wirelessly connected to the boom box and the four speakers, before he and Yori ventured onto the center of the dance floor alone. Taking in the 200-plus faces around him, Ron grinned before speaking into the mic.
"I know it's tradition for the father of the groom to make a speech, but I feel it's appropriate for me and Yori to speak what we have on our minds." The blonde man paused, gathering his thoughts before resuming. "I'm not one to make big speeches or the like." He smirked. "I leave that to politicians, leaders, and the occasional cool wise man," he gestured toward Sensei sitting at a table with Nooni and the elder Stoppables, and everyone chuckled while Yamanouchi's master teacher merely grinned.
Ron's smirk became a small grin. "In the past two years, I've grown to accept this school and everyone here not only as friends but a spiritual family akin to my blood family. I have gone through great and bad times here, and I came through a better person than I was before I arrived. I certainly will not ever forget Yamanouchi." He smiled fully now. "I thank you all for everything you've given me in the past two years. Arigato."
Those sitting stood up to join those standing in applause as Ron handed his wife the microphone with a grin, and when the clapping died down, Yori started to talk.
"I know it is not easy for me to say good-bye," she began with a sad grin, "yet I know this will mark a new beginning in my and Ron-san's life. We will build a new home together and face many challenges that lie ahead." Her face became serious. "We all will continue to help in the fight against evil and wrong, no matter where we go or what we will do with our lives. I know Ron-san and I will be there for Yamanouchi when needed, and we will assist in anyway we can while in America."
Again she gave a sad grin, as her eyes grew moist. "As I said, it is not easy for me to say good-bye." She sniffed, as she looked up at the surrounding age-old buildings, aglow with many lights under the night sky. "Yamanouchi has been my home for 14 years, first as a student then as a teacher." Her dark eyes lowered to look around at the many familiar faces. "I will miss you all, and you will all forever be part of my heart." A lone tear escaped her eye as she smiled fully. "I love you all, for you are my family. Arigato."
Applause once more broke out, but it was more thunderous than it was before, and the cheering and clapping made her release a few more happy/sad tears as her husband warmly placed a supportive arm around her shoulders.
As the cheering was leveling off, Sensei strolled onto the dance floor to face his two students, and after receiving the microphone from Ron when he'd asked for it, the wise, old Master of Yamanouchi looked up at them as he spoke with pride.
"We all are honored and filled with joy to have borne witness of the bonding of your love & souls today. Now you both are venturing forth to start a new life together, yet you should both know that you are always welcome here if you ever return, Yori-san and Ron-sama." The young couple and others were thrown a bit upon hearing Sensei using that honorary on Ron, yet the head teacher continued with twinkling eyes. "And if any of your children desire to train here, they will be welcome to do so." After pausing a bit, he finished his speech. "You are both warriors of Yamanouchi, and you will both forever be part of us and we of you. You do us honor, dignity, and respect."
With that said, Sensei bowed toward Ron and Yori, and immediately the entire school's population, except Ron's 'rents, followed their leader's lead, showing their admiration for the young couple before them.
Yori felt like the dam was going to burst on her as she and Ron looked at their comrades with swelling hearts. Both took one look at each other before they momentarily broke apart to stand together. "We are honored," they mentioned as one before bowing toward Sensei, and after a moment, they all stood straight again before the cheering, clapping, and whistling started up once again.
It was just too much for Yori. She knew her mentor wouldn't like it, but she didn't care. With tears pouring out, the young woman threw her arms around her master and hugged him as she cried. She was surprised yet pleased that her teacher returned the hug and accepted her affections this way.
For Sensei, he didn't mind the hug as one of his favorite pupils cried on his shoulders. Even though he had no children of his own, the old man had come to think all the students he had trained over many decades were his children. Yet there were a few that earned a special place in his heart, for they were close to being his adopted sons and daughters, and Yori was one of them. He knew he would miss his 'daughter', yet he was deeply proud of her, as any father should be.
Releasing her hug, Yori took a step back to look down at this man who provided so much to her. She placed a hand over her mouth as she hiccupped; trying to gain control over her emotions, as she felt her husband once more place his arm around her shoulder to offer comfort and support.
Sensing her predicament, Sensei gave a kind grin. "There's no shame in releasing tears, Yori-chan."
The young ninja woman giggled as she lowered her hand, for she remembered him have spoken those same words many years ago. At least this time, she didn't mind anyone seeing her crying compared to then.
So the newlyweds spent time saying farewell to everyone. Ron shook hands with Sensei, Hirotaka, Ryozo, Taro, and many others. A tearful Yori hugged Kagome, Nooni, and some of the other women she knew well. Both knew it was the last time they would see any of these people for a long time.
Finally, when they had finished saying their good-byes, the pair was on the edge of the reception area and was about to leave it when two familiar faces to the groom came up to them. Ron smiled at his parents as they smiled at him and Yori in return.
"So," Donald Stoppable began, "you're off on your honeymoon now."
"Yeah," Ron confessed as his eyes looked at his lovely bride, who smiled at him, "we'll be spending several days at a nice resort south of here before returning to the States. The next several months will be busy for us since we'll have to find a place and settle down." He shrugged a bit. "Maybe we'll build a house instead."
"Good luck, Son," Mr. Stoppable chuckled. "Finding good available land not far from Bueno Nacho HQ will be a challenge."
Hanna just looked at the young couple before rushing forward and sweeping her son into a hug. A few moments later she embraced her daughter-in-law. "You two take care of each other," she said in Yori's ear.
"We will, Hanna," Yori replied as she hugged her mother-in-law back for a while before the two women broke apart. They smiled at each other as Hanna placed her hands on Yori's arms.
Both Stoppable men looked at the two women admirably before the father turned to his only child. "Just to let you know, Ron, that you and Yori will be back in America before your mother and I will." Both Ron and Yori were confused until Mr. Stoppable clarified things. "As you know, your mother and I have been visiting other countries for our vacations in the past four years. Well, we haven't been to Japan before a week ago."
Mrs. Stoppable took up explaining the situation. "After spending a wonderful week here at Yamanouchi, your father and I decided to spend another two weeks touring Japan. By the time you and Yori arrive in the United States, we'll still be here."
Ron gave a small grin. "No big," he shrugged. "I know you'll have a great time here in Japan."
"By the way, Ron," his mother continued, "Sensei told us where the resort you and Yori would be heading now." Yori and Ron blinked in surprise at this, making Hanna chuckled. "He told us to make sure your father and I will not interrupt you, knowing you two will be…" She trailed off with a smirk, making the younger couple blushe; yet Yori smirked as well while Ron was a tad uncomfortable.
Hanna Stoppable gently laughed at their reactions. "Oh, come on. You both know my husband and I used to be young as well."
"TMI, Mom! TMI!" Ron cried out, making both women laugh this time, while Mr. Stoppable just grinned as he rubbed the back of his neck.
The little minx in Yori couldn't help herself as she impishly looked at her husband. "I'm sure Ron-kun and I will be quite busy in the next few days, Hanna." Her eyes turned to see the devilish gleam in Ron's mother's.
"Yes, I'm sure both of you will be quite busy." Both women turned as one to their spouses, who reacted differently to their wives' words. Donald, as before, merely grinned with a small blush, while Ron closed his eyes and shook his head as he groaned a bit.
Opening his brown eyes, the blonde man looked at his beloved and a small lopsided grin appeared on his face. "Well now, how about we make tracks so we can get to our work once we arrive at the resort?"
"Now you are thinking, my husband," Yori teasingly grinned at him as her right index finger reached up and affectionately touched his nose for a moment. Both softly chuckled.
A throat clearing made all four Stoppables turned toward the source to find Kisho, Yamanouchi's unofficial school photographer standing with what appeared to be a letter-size paper in his hands. "Stoppable-samas," the teen grinned nervously at Ron and Yori, "I do not want to delay you any longer before you depart, but I want to give you something."
The couple grinned encouragement to the youngster. "What is it, Kisho-san?" Yori asked, gesturing for him to come closer.
Still grinning anxiously, the boy shrugged a bit. "I know I will not able to give your wedding photos to you until you find a place in America so I can send them to you, but," he turned the paper around and all four Stoppables gasped in wonder at it, "I want to give you this. Out of all the photos I've taken, this one I consider the best, so while you were changing, I quickly went to the school's computer lab and printed this photo out."
"It is beautiful," Yori smiled in awe, and Ron nodded in agreement.
"Yes, it is," concurred Mrs. Stoppable, and even Mr. Stoppable couldn't disagree.
The letter-size paper was actually photo paper, and on it was a shot of Ron and Yori smiling in their Japanese wedding attire, with her wearing the colorful uchikake kimono over the white one. In the background, several tall buildings of Yamanouchi stood under the clear blue sky with some trees and shrubs visible behind the couple. Still wearing the tsuno-kakushi hood/hat on her head, the bride also had opened her white fan while she and the groom lovingly stood together at a 45-degree angle to the camera with him just behind her. It was indeed a gorgeous wedding picture of them that was worthy to put in an album or hang on a wall.
Yori took the treasured photo from the young man. "Arigato, Kisho-san," she beamed at him.
Kisho grinned proudly back. "You are welcome," he said before bowing slightly. After he stood straight again, Ron shook his hand before Yori gave him a kiss on the cheek, which made him sheepishly flush pink.
After a slightly grinning, still pink-cheeked Kisho left to rejoin his friends at the reception, Yori and Ron faced his parents. With a sigh, Hanna gestured with her head toward back of the school. "Your ride is waiting for you. Donald and I will see you both back in the States."
"Hai," the Japanese woman smiled one last time at her mother-in-law before hugging her one last time. Afterward, Ron hugged her mother as well and shook hands with his father.
With their final good-byes said and done, the newest Mr. & Mrs. Stoppable walked away from the on-going reception party toward the rear of the school and the ride that awaited them.
Behind the school just down the wooded slope was the hanger that houses Yamanouchi's aircraft. It was built inside the mountain under the school, so surveillance satellites would not see it. Since 40 years ago, when the Japanese government's secret service branch realized the school would need transportation quickly for missions, the hanger was built to hold aircraft that would help the school when needed. Several helicopters and two VTOL vehicles were currently part of Yamanouchi's air fleet.
On the landing platform, just outside the hanger's doors, stood a four-door, black helicopter that could hold five people comfortably. It was a slightly larger copter than the one used during the Gorilla Fist mission so many years ago, given the rear couch seat was separated from the two pilots' seats by a partition, providing those in the rear some privacy. It was going to airlift Ron and Yori to an airfield close by the resort, and from the field, a taxi would take them to their final destination to start their honeymoon.
The craft's two pilots, who wore everyday pilot suits instead of ninja gi's, were now warming it up, and the couple knew that once the propellers were spinning at full speed, they were ready to go.
Turning from the sleek helicopter, Ron saw Yori was looking up over the hanger to the lighted buildings visible over the treetops up the slope. Her face clearly showed her sadness, which made him sigh in understanding. This truly was going to be the last time she would see those structures. Most of her personal belongings, as well as some of his, were packed and stored in the school and would be shipped to the States when the couple found a permanent home there. Only a few suitcases of clothing were in the helicopter for the honeymoon.
"You okay, Yori?" Ron asked out of concern.
She gave a feeble grin as her head turned to face him. "I know today is supposed to be a happy day for me, Ron-kun." Her eyes sparkled as she gazed up into his eyes. "We are now married, and I will always be by your side."
Giving a small grin at her, the blonde man could tell she was about to give a contradiction. "But…" he encouraged gently.
Sighing, Yori's eyes once again look up toward the centuries old buildings. "I will miss this place, Ron-kun," she sniffed a bit. "It has been my home for 14 years, and it will not be easy for me to forget it."
Seeing she was on the verge of tears, Ron wrapped his left arm around her waist, and as he expected, she snuggled closer, seeking his reassurance and his warmth. "I don't expect you to forget it, Yori. No one could forget the home he or she grew up in. I certainly have not ever forgotten Middleton." Her watery, dark eyes now were focused on him, and he grinned tenderly at her. "You're leaving the nest for the first time in your life, and it's not easy for anyone to leave it to find his/her own way in the world."
Yori released a tiny snort of a chuckle as she smiled widely while a few tears escaped her eyes. She had forgotten that her husband went through this phase four years ago after he left Middleton for an intern job with Bueno Nacho HQ in California. Since then, he has not returned to Middleton except on few occasions to visit his parents.
A noise made them turn their heads together to the right, and both saw the helicopter's blades were now spinning at full speed, the blades a blur as they rotated very fast. One pilot was already inside, while the other was outside, gesturing to them with a grin to come aboard.
With a grin, Ron swiveled his head to look at his wife. "Come on. Let us face the future together."
"Hai," Yori whispered with love and adoration as her right hand wiped her eyes.
Together, they walked over to the copter and climbed up through the right-side rear door to sit behind the pilot seats. Once they were inside the co-pilot entered the front to sit besides his partner.
As the helicopter lifted up, Yori and Ron stared out one side to catch the wonderful, striking sight of Yamanouchi as they rose higher into the night sky. From the air, the school was indeed breathtakingly beautiful, awash with glowing lights, like a mini-city. Both swore they caught a view of a few people, barely visible, waving from the top of the outer walls.
"Sayonara," she softly voiced as the sight of Yamanouchi became smaller and smaller with the growing distance. Despite being fluent in Japanese, Ron knew Yori was saying good-bye.
The Japanese woman sighed one final time before she turned to face the man who meant so much to her. His handsome features and the kindness in his eyes made her smile, for sitting before her was her future.
Ron smiled at her in return. "Are you okay?"
"I am now," Yori acknowledged, and truly she meant it. "We made a promise to each other, and I am going to keep my promise, my love." Her arms snaked around his back, and she felt his arms do the same to her, making her narrow her eyes at him, her smile turning sly. "So how about we have an early start on our honeymoon?"
"Booyah," he agreed softly before both closed the gap between them to lock their lips together with love and passion, not giving a care for anything around them.
So as Ron and Yori melted together, still kissing, the helicopter journeyed onward into the night sky to carry husband and wife toward their future and whatever awaits them tomorrow.
1) I've done as much research as I could find online regarding the rituals of the traditional Japanese Shinto wedding ceremony, the wedding kimonos, the reception, etc. However, what I found online was mostly vague regarding what one should expect from a Shinto wedding, given conflicting definitions between websites of how the wedding ceremony is performed. So I took whatever information I found and made a ceremony that has some aspects of a Shinto wedding and some Western. I apologize to anyone who recognized that the ceremony was not what one knew of a Shinto wedding, but as I said, I found conflicting information and I did the best I could with what I found.
I've read online that modern day Japanese has mostly adopted Western wedding ceremony traditions, like exchanging rings, vows, etc. So it was not much of stretch that Ron & Yori would add some Western traditions into the ceremony. I can't see Yamanouchi would be totally traditional, given I'm sure the young people of the school grew up with modern thinking and culture (like Hirotaka for example). :)
2) For anyone's information, from what I've read online, many Japanese couples today opt to just have a traditional Western style wedding (with Western gowns, tuxes, etc.) than the traditional Shinto wedding. I was not kidding when I've added in the story that a shiro-maku (bridal) gown costs quite a lot in Japan now-of-these-days. Same with regular kimonos, etc. It's cheaper for many Japanese to just have a Western style wedding than spending thousands of dollars/yens (ranging beyond $50,000) on a Shinto wedding. Yori and Ron was lucky that Yamanouchi, being a traditional ninja school, already have the kimonos in their stock, so it was not hard for them to arrange for a Shinto wedding. Besides, Ron have a lot of money from his naco royalties and Yamanouchi is sponsored by the Japanese government, so money might not have been an issue if the young couple had wanted a Shinto wedding outside of Yamanouchi. Yori just wanted the wedding in Yamanouchi anyway. ;)
3) Despite that I haven't mentioned it in the story, I want everyone to know that Japanese certification of marriage is not the same as in America and I presumed Europe and other countries. In Japan, the couple has to go to an official government office and file for marriage. The day they signed the papers is the day they are married. The ceremony, which they later will perform, is not the official day they are married. In Japan, the ceremony is just a ceremony.
I didn't mention this in the story, because I couldn't find a good place to put it. Plus, I think it would have put a damper a bit on the romantic feeling of the story. The way I see it, Yori and Ron have gotten up very early in the morning to journey to a nearby government office, signed the papers, and return to Yamanouchi in time for the ceremony. Least they can perform the ceremony on the day they are official married, according to Japanese law. :)
4) I want to clarify some of the Japanese wedding traditions:
- The San San Kudo (saké toast) ritual is also known as the 'Three times Three Exchange' ritual. The number three is a sacred number, and the number nine means triple happiness. So when the bride and groom sip each of the three cups three times, it signifies they are happily united. The families of the bride and groom then drink some saké from the cups to indicate the two families are now one.
- The paper umbrella, Ron held as he and Yori led the wedding party toward the reception area, signified the couple are lovers. I've seen pictures of the umbrella used after the wedding ceremony. Normally, the wedding ceremony takes place outside the shrine at another location, and then the wedding party follows the priest toward the shrine to offer sacred twigs at the altar. Along the way, the umbrella is opened over the couple. However, I've read that the ceremony can take place in the shrine, so I've opted for this instead of making too long a story with the walking to the shrine stuff.
- Yori and Ron changing their clothing a few times during the reception celebration is a tradition that shows they are both ready to return to every day life. At the end of the reception, they are both wearing casual wear, showing both are then ready to go on their honeymoon and move on with their lives together.
- The bride opening a fan implies happiness and brings a happy future. Yori has opened her fan while she and Ron were photographed for their wedding photos.
5) I've provided some links, in my author profile page, to websites to show what the Shinto wedding attires look like. I even linked to my cover art for this story at my DeviantArt page, given I've provided two good shots of what the attires of the groom and bride look like. :)
6) The title of Ron and Yori's final dance song is "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" by Bryan Adams, and I felt it fits Ron and Yori. It's a nice slow song that is quite romantic and to the heart. I admit that the song also would fit Kim and Ron as well. :)
BTW, for anyone's information, the song is quite well known as the closing-credits song for the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner.
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You
Look into my eyes - you will see,
What you mean to me.
Search your heart - search your soul,
And when you find me there, you'll search no more.
Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for.
You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for.
You know it's true,
Everything I do - I do it for you.
Look into your heart - you will find,
There's nothin' there to hide.
Take me as I am - take my life,
I would give it all - I would sacrifice.
Don't tell me it's not worth fightin' for.
I can't help it - there's nothin' I want more.
Ya know it's true,
Everything I do - I do it for you.
There's no love - like your love.
And no other - could give more love.
There's nowhere - unless you're there.
All the time - all the way.
Oh - you can't tell me it's not worth tryin' for.
I can't help it - there's nothin' I want more,
Yeah, I would fight for you - I'd lie for you.
Walk the wire for you - yeah, I'd die for you.
Ya know it's true.
Everything I do. Ohhhhhhh, I do it for you.