"Kuririn? Kuririn! Are you awake?"

"Hmm?" Kuririn replied nervously, tearing his gaze away from the window of the hovercar, where he'd been staring transfixed at the scenery speeding past. Bulma's driving could be called "reckless" at best, and today was no exception. "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you. I was busy making up my will. I'm leaving everything to Gohan if I die in the car crash Bulma is definitely gonna' get us into."

#18 looked at him curiously. "First you're scared of heights, now you're afraid of speed, yet you love flying. Would you care to explain this to me?"

Kuririn shrugged. "This is nothing like flying! When I fly, at least I have some control over what happens. This--" he winced as Bulma narrowly missed a stop sign, careering around a sharp corner without letting up on the gas. "My life is in Bulma's hands!"

"And the fear of heights?"

#18 was referring to Kuririn's adamant refusal to come up to the tree. "They're too high," he explained, feeling his face redden. "I don't know why, it's just the way I am."

#18's sarcastic reply was cut off as Bulma slammed on the brakes, flinging everyone forward.

Bulma didn't waste any time. As soon as #18 was out of the car, Bulma grabbed her arm and pulled her into the clothing store. "You can't go to the dance club wearing that," Bulma pointed out, indicating the black vest, white shirt, and jeans #18 had worn since before her absorption by Cell.

"Uh-oh, she's in for it now . . ." Vegeta muttered under his breath. Bulma ignored him.

Much to everyone's surprise, #18 agreed with Bulma. "I know, I know. It's been hard enough just keeping this clean. I've wanted to go shopping for ages, but I don't have any zenni, and some people wouldn't like it if I just blasted in, took what I wanted, and left."

"Don't worry about money," Bulma waved her hand in a magnanimous gesture. "I'll cover whatever you want to buy."

#18 looked at Bulma suspiciously for a second, the same way she looked at Kuririn whenever he tried to do something nice, but then a smile crossed her face. "All right. Thank you," she actually hooked her arm through Bulma's. "Shall we go?" the two women walked into the store together.

Vegeta looked at Kuririn, bugeyed. "The tin can likes to shop?"

Kuririn could only shrug. "Hey, don't look at me, pal. She surprises me all the time!"

"I think it's disgusting," Vegeta snorted. "How two women so completely different are brought together by something as dumb as shopping. They'll probably be sickeningly bonded after this."

Kuririn laughed at the thought of that happening. "I don't think so. I don't think even the Dragonballs could do that! Though it would be interesting to watch."

Vegeta just snorted again.

It didn't take long for Kuririn to get a suit fitted, made, and all ready to go. When he came back into the main foyer, wearing his new white suit and hat, Kuririn found Vegeta waiting impatiently, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. The salespeople had carefully migrated to the far side of the room. "Hey, Vegeta," Kuririn greeted him. "How are the girls coming?"

"Don't ask me," Vegeta grumbled. "They're still in the fitting room. Why do women always take so long at everything?"

"I dunno," Kuririn shrugged, "But I--"

Just then, #18 poked her head out the door of the women's fitting room. "Oh, good, you're here. Blue or green, Kuririn?"

Kuririn blinked. "Uh . . . blue. It matches your eyes."

#18 nodded decisively. "I thought so. Wait here," she disappeared again.

Kuririn waited for a few minutes, staring at the clock, mentally preparing himself for what #18 would look like when she came back. He didn't want to look like an idiot, standing there staring at her with his mouth wide open.

Unfortunately, that was what happened. #18 re-entered the room, wearing a light blue dress the shade of her eyes. Her hair was the same as always, the color of corn silk and falling not quite to her shoulders, but it had been combed differently and the dress' color made it seem to stand out more.

"Hey, baldy, close your mouth!" Vegeta hissed. "You look like a dying fish!"

Kuririn obediently snapped his jaw shut, though he could feel his cheeks getting hot. I'm not bald, he thought indignantly. Someday I'm gonna point that out to him.

#18 turned in a circle, the skirt flaring out with the movement. When she stopped, she frowned. "You don't like it," she observed.

Kuririn blinked in surprise. "Huh? What makes you think that?"

"Your face is turning red."

"That's not why!" Kuririn expostulated, before he realized what he'd said.

Too late. #18 raised her eyebrows. "Really. Why, then?"

Vegeta chuckled nastily to himself. "I can't wait to hear baldy's answer to this one."

#18 whirled on Vegeta angrily. "Listen, you self-proclaimed Prince of Saiyans, I don't recall asking your opinion on the matter. And for your information, Kuririn is not bald. He has hair, or is the rumor that your brains are all in your muscles true?"

Vegeta's mouth dropped open. He'd had plenty of verbal sparrings with Kuririn, and he'd always won. Never--never--had he expected the android to step in!

"Good, you shut up," #18 sent Vegeta one last glare, then turned back to Kuririn. "Don't think I've forgotten my question."

"Uh," Kuririn's blush deepened. "I guess 'cause . . . you look really nice," he winced. That was so lame, he thought.

Apparently #18 found it amusing, for the expression on her face signified she'd never let him forget this one. "You sound surprised," #18 challenged. "Shocked, even."

"No, no, no!" Kuririn shook his head vehemently. "It's just, ah, I've never seen you wearing a dress and, ah, you just look really nice."

#18 nodded slowly. "I see," she said in a voice that said she didn't see at all--or perhaps saw all too well. "So you're saying I shouldn't wear the green one?"

"That's right," Kuririn agreed hastily, jumping at any chance to change the subject. "The blue looks good."

"Which means we can go now," Vegeta interjected.

"No," Bulma corrected, popping out from the fitting room, "I still have five dresses for you to choose from."


Finally, the group left the store, Vegeta loudly expressing his relief, Bulma glaring, and Kuririn trying not to laugh. "I wish we had more time," #18 remarked rather wistfully. "I like this dress and everything, but I really need a few outfits to wear on regular days."

"Stop grousing, woman," Vegeta called from the front seat of the hovercar, where he was tugging at his collar. "You look fine."

#18 raised a blonde eyebrow. "O, so I'm 'woman' now, am I? Not 'tin can' or 'robot'? I think I'm going to have to get a few more dresses."

Vegeta's face actually reddened as he tried to cover up what he'd said. "You know what I mean," he snapped finally. "Good heavens, you're impossible, wom--I mean--aarrggh!" he broke off, sputtering, as the others burst out laughing.

The hovercar screeched to a stop. "Show time," Kuririn took #18 by the hand and helped her out of the car, pretending he didn't notice when #18 snatched her hand away. Bulma and Vegeta were already on their way into the club.

#18 looked at the bright, flashing lights, and paled. "Right . . . I've defeated Vegeta, Piccolo, and Trunks, been absorbed and spit out by Cell . . . I can handle this."

Kuririn chuckled. "I know you can, babe," he held out his arm, and #18 stared at him blankly. Patiently, Kuririn took #18's hand and placed it in the crook of his arm, then rested his hand on top of hers.

"Why are we doing this?" #18 wanted to know as they got in line behind Vegeta and Bulma. She looked as though she wanted to pull away, but didn't.

"Women are supposed to hold hands or something with the guy they're with," Kuririn explained. "That way the other guys at the club know you aren't free game."

#18 looked down at him, an amused look on her face. "Since when do you think I need you to protect me from men?" she countered. "And I didn't know I was 'with' anybody, least of all you!"

Kuririn's cheeks felt warm, and he knew he was blushing again. "Uh, sorry, I just meant that, I mean--"

"Forget it," #18 grinned, squeezing his arm. "That was just my pathetic cyborg attempt at humor."

Kuririn relaxed. "Oh yeah, I knew that the whole time," he lied unconvincingly. #18 just shook her head, a small smile on her face.

The two pairs found a table up on the second storey, overlooking the dance floor. #18 watched all the dancing couples with a puzzled look on her face. "What are they doing?" she asked. "Battling?"

"No," Kuririn hid behind his menu so #18 wouldn't see him laughing. "They're dancing."

#18 did not look convinced. "They look as though they're engaging in close-quarters combat."

"Believe me," this time he could not repress a chuckle. "They aren't fighting."

#18 shrugged. "You're the expert."

During the meal, Vegeta shoveled in the food like it was his last day on Earth, Bulma glared at him, and Kuririn had to stop #18 from killing more than one slightly-tipsy man who wanted to dance with her.

"#18, please," Kuririn pleaded after grabbing #18's hand to stop her from forming an energy blast for the millionth time. "They're drunk. They don't know what they're doing."

"Obviously," #18 huffed. She looked down at her hands, which Kuririn still held in a vice grip. "You can let go now."

"Oops, s-sorry," Kuririn apologized quickly and obeyed. Well, at least she asked politely, he thought. She could've just blasted me. I think she's starting to lighten up.

Bulma glanced at them, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. "Well, I know one sure-fire way to get other guys not to dance with you," she smiled innocently.

"Apart from blasting the place," #18 said dryly, "What?"

"Dance with Vegeta. That usually scares them away."

A smile tweaked at the corners of #18's mouth, then she burst out laughing. Vegeta looked up from his food and glared at her. "Shut up, woman," he growled.

"Come on, Mr. Prince Pain-In-The-Rear," Bulma commanded him, "You're coming to dance with me. Now."

Vegeta started to protest, but Bulma cut him off with the usual "I-mean-it-or-no-gravitational-trainer" threat. Grumbling, Vegeta let Bulma lead him to the dance floor.

Kuririn glanced at #18, who was still chuckling to herself over the thought of dancing with Vegeta. It was the fizrst time Kuririn had seen #18 laugh--really laugh--and the sight elevated his courage. "Hey, you wanna try?"

"Dancing, you mean?" the humor disappeared from #18's eyes, to be replaced by a scathing expression.

Blast it, Kuririn thought, he'd blown it. "Nah, just watching. Who knows, maybe you'll pick up some new fighting moves."

#18 snorted. "Right," she shook her head. "All right, I suppose we can go watch. Perhaps I'll find something to blackmail Vegeta about."

Kuririn grinned, and the two of them headed down to the dance floor. On the way there several men leered at #18, but she just glared at them and defiantly hooked her arm through Kuririn's, and they turned away. Once she'd passed them, though, #18 dropped Kuririn's arm.

They watched the myriad couples cavorting on the dance floor for a few minutes, not saying anything. Kuririn singled out Bulma and Vegeta, noting that despite his earlier arguments, the Saiyan did appear to be enjoying himself. Bulma and Vegeta look good together, Kuririn realized. Anyone could see they're meant for each other. He risked a surreptitious glance up at the woman standing beside him, wondering if anyone at the club had him and #18 pegged as a couple. Aw, come on, man! Snap out of it! #18's the prettiest woman in the building, and you're . . . well, look at you!

"What happened? Did everyone get tired all of a sudden?"

Kuririn shook himself back to the present and saw that the song had changed to a slow dance. "They're not tired. It's a type of dance, that's all."

#18's expression was scornful. "It looks boring."

I wonder, Kuririn thought, trying to muster his courage. Listen up, you wimp! You won't know if you don't try! Kuririn took a deep breath. "It's not boring, actually. Wanna try?"

"Everyone's just walking in circles," #18 pointed out. "I'd get dizzy."

Kuririn's shoulders slumped in defeat. Well, so much for trying. "Yeah, I guess you're right."

#18 heard the dejected quality to Kuririn's voice, and suddenly she felt sorry for him, and not a little angry at herself for being so cruel. Her tone softened. "You'll notice I didn't say no."

Kuririn looked up, hope flaring in his eyes.

#18 managed a smile, and she took Kuririn's hand and walked out to the dance floor. "I guess I should try everything once," she told him.

Those next few minutes seemed, to Kuririn, to last forever. His world consisted solely of himself, #18, and the music. He didn't care that once the song was over things would be back to normal; right now, time seemed to stop. He squeezed #18's hand, and she looked down at him. "Dizzy?" he asked, grinning.

"Actually, no," #18 had a small smile on her face. "Believe it or not, this is kind of relaxing."

The grin on Kuririn's face spread from ear to ear and wrapped around his face three times.

Like all things, however, the song had to end. After a time that seemed unforgivably short to Kuririn, the music changed and a faster song came on. Kuririn was correct in surmising that #18 wouldn't want to dance to what she merely called "that."

"Kuririn, can I ask you a question?" #18 inquired as they returned to their table.

"Yeah, sure. Go ahead."

#18 gave him a pointed glance. "Alone?"

For the first time, Kuririn noticed all the people around their table, and he got the not-so-subtle hint. "Oh, right. I think they have a balcony."

"Good. Let's go there."

There was indeed a balcony, but it was occupied by a pair of starry-eyed lovers in their late teens or early twenties, who paid no attention to the newcomers. "Oh, gross," #18 muttered under her breath, watching the two kissing, "They're in public!"

"Well it wasn't in public until we came here," Kuririn pointed out. #18 just rolled her eyes.

Loudly, #18 announced, "I need this balcony. Get out."

The man glanced at his girlfriend with raised eyebrows and started to say something, but #18 didn't give him a chance to speak. She powered up a small energy ball and fired it at a flowerpot, which shattered into a thousand pieces. Needless to say, the other couple wasted no time in running away.

"You could've been more polite," Kuririn remarked, though he was struggling not to laugh.

"It was effective. I don't need to work on subtleties."

Kuririn snorted. "No, I guess not."

#18 leaned against the balcony and stared out at the stars, and Kuririn perched himself on the top of the railing so he was about eye level with her. "So what's up?" he asked.

#18 blinked a few times, looking as though she'd just come out of a trance. "What? Did you say something?"

"Not really," Kuririn shrugged, "But you said you wanted to ask me something."

#18 winced. "Don't rush me. I'm beginning to think this wasn't such a good idea."

Kuririn's eyes widened, but he said nothing. I wonder what she's thinking, he mused. Probably trying not to blast me for bringing her here . . . or maybe not. Kuririn sneaked a glance at #18's face; she didn't look angry, she seemed . . . confused? Maybe I'm imagining things, Kuririn thought, at the same time desperately hoping he wasn't. She couldn't possibly be thinking about me . . . could she?

In reality, #18 was waging an all-out mental war against herself--or rather, the cyborg and human components to her brain were conflicting.

I can't believe this. What am I doing? I should be avoiding men like Kuririn, not living with them and dancing with them!

Why should you avoid him? the human part reasoned. This guy gave you a place to stay, and he's not asking for anything in return. Why is that so bad?

I don't know! All I know is that I feel threatened when I'm around him, but I don't know why. He's just so . . . so . . .


What are you talking about?

Kuririn, obviously. He's always been there for you, whenever you need him, and whenever you're with him you feel that emotional armor start to break down. That's why you're feeling threatened. Not by Kuririn--by what you think he's doing to you. You're afraid of seeming weak.

Her human side had a point there. I know. There's something about Kuririn that makes me want to cry--I know that sounds stupid, but sometimes my past and all those memories come rushing at me, and all I want to do is cry on his shoulder. Inwardly, #18 laughed hollowly. Isn't that pathetic?

It's not pathetic. It's human.

I'm not human!

Maybe you're afraid.

Of Kuririn??! Why?? He's short and--well, he used to be bald--and he couldn't defeat me in battle if he tried! He--

I didn't say you were afraid of Kuririn. I think you're scared because of what he's made you feel. You care about him, Android #18!

I do not!

Why bother denying it? I know you. I am you, even though you don't pay attention to me much. You care a lot about that "funny little human," and that's why you feel threatened. But think about it--why should you be embarrassed about having feelings for Kuririn? Look, it's obvious that the poor guy is head-over-heels for you. How many times in your life has that happened to you? He's doing everything he can to make you happy, and what does he ask for in return? Nothing. Not even for you to be civil to him.


Secondly, it's just as evident that Kuririn thinks he rates even lower than bugs with you, so he's hiding his feelings as best he can. He knows sentiment makes you uncomfortable, so he's trying to overcome his feelings. Face it, girl, any guy who'd put away how much he cares for you so he won't hurt you, has gotta love you an awful lot.

I don't know what you're trying to psych me into thinking, but you're wrong. Love is a human emotion. I'm a cyborg.

You're part human, too. And more importantly, you're a woman.

What's that got to do with it?

Oh, come on. Do you think Kuririn cares if you have augmented eyesight or increased fighting capabilities? You're more human than you care to admit--

"Shut up. Just shut up!"

Kuririn jumped in surprise. "Uh, #18, who are you talking to?"

#18 grimaced, realizing belatedly that she had spoken this last part aloud. "Just myself," she buried her face in her hands.

A hand on her shoulder made #18 look up. "Hey, you wanna' talk?"

Before she had time to think, #18 found herself collapsed in a chair, with a very concerned Kuririn seated on the arm of the chair, holding one of her hands. #18 paused for a moment to collect herself, then suddenly burst out, "Why did you do it? That's what I wanted to ask you--why did you save me? Why didn't you let Cell absorb me again, or allow Vegeta to kill me?"

"I couldn't do that!" Kuririn protested. "I care about you, and I wasn't gonna just let you die! You deserve to live."

"Some life," #18 shot back. "My entire purpose for living is gone--everything I used to consider important has been taken away from me. My priorities have been flipped around, and even my brother, the only person I ever cared about, is gone!"

Kuririn bit his lip. How could he have been so selfish, wondering if #18 reciprocated his feelings, when her life had been ripped apart? How could #18 even think about love when just living was hard enough?

"I'm sorry," Kuririn apologized, "I bet I haven't made things any easier for you, either."

Kuririn could've sworn #18's eyes glowed red for a second, then she pulled away from him and flew up so she was hovering a few feet above the balcony. "I don't want sympathy," she snapped.

"I'm not giving you sympathy!" Kuririn countered. "I'm just saying I understand."

"How could you understand? You haven't been through what I've gone through!"

"I know I haven't, but if you let me, I can help you," Kuririn pointed out, trying to get #18 to come back. She had been on the verge of opening up . . .

But it was too late. The moment was over, the spell broken, and #18 was back to her old self. "I don't need your help," she informed him coldly.

Kuririn gave up, and he couldn't keep the downcast expression off his face, or the droop from his shoulders. "I know you don't. But sometimes you don't have to do everything yourself," he sighed. "Well anyway, if you ever wanna talk, you know where to find me. I'm gonna go see where Bulma and Vegeta are," he left the balcony, trying not to show how hurt he was.

There you go again! #18's mind yelled at her. Why do you have to be so cruel to him? He's helping you the only way he knows how. Look at him . . . he looks like he's going to cry. Well, I hope you're happy.

"Kuririn!" #18 called out without thinking.

Kuririn stopped, turned around as #18 came up to him. "Yeah?" he wasn't sure what to expect.

#18 stared at him for a second, wondering what to say, then she bent down and kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks for trying," she said softly, then walked back into the club.

Kuririn stared after her, every bit as startled as he would've been if Vegeta had kissed him. Slowly, slowly, a smile crept over Kuririn's face.

* * * * * *

That night, Kuririn once again had trouble sleeping--this time, however, it was because he couldn't stop grinning. She had kissed him again! Albeit it had only been an apology for being rude, but at least it was something.

Kuririn chuckled to himself, then got out of bed and threw on his house robe before going downstairs. If he was going to be up, he might as well have a snack.

#18 stood at the kitchen counter, cutting up a tomato for a sandwich. She hadn't been able to sleep, and had figured that eating something might help. So intent was she on her culinary task that #18 didn't hear Kuririn come into the kitchen behind her.

"Hey, #18, couldn't sleep either, huh?"

"Aahh!" #18 yelped, startled. The knife slipped, gashing her palm rather badly. "Look what you made me do," #18 glared, waving her bleeding hand in Kuririn's face.

Kuririn winced. "I'm sorry. Here, let me see," he reached for her hand, but #18 snatched it away.

"I'm fine."

"I'm sure you are, and I know you've been hurt millions of times worse," Kuririn grinned as #18 rolled her eyes, indicating that that would've been her next argument. He gave her a wry smile. "But you're dripping blood all over my nice, clean floor."

#18 looked at the small, red puddle that was slowly gathering on the tiles, and she sighed. "All right. Here," she held out her hand.

Kuririn was already rooting around a well-stocked medicine cabinet. "Never know when I'll get my hand stuck in a blender or something," Kuririn joked. He took #18's hand carefully and began daubing the cut with an antiseptic. Touching #18's hand, even just to clean the cut, brought all the feelings Kuririn had struggled to keep dormant back to full boil. Kuririn swallowed hard and forced himself to focus.

#18 eyed the pile of bandages and antiseptics with raised eyebrows. "It's not that ba--ouch!! What is that?"

Kuririn shook his head as he applied a different salve to the wound. "Stop being such a baby," he scoffed. "It can't hurt that badly. You're sounding like Vegeta."

"That was just too mean," #18 snorted. "I might have to bleed on you for that one."

"Too late," Kuririn held up his sleeve, which was already wet with #18's blood.

#18 was silent, and she watched with interest as Kuririn began bandaging her hand. It was strange, she thought to herself, how people could have two sides to them. She'd seen Kuririn fight before, against Cell, and the little human had proved he had a very large angry side to him. Yet here he was, bandaging her hand gently, as though afraid of hurting her. It was odd.

Kuririn finished wrapping the bandage, but he was reluctant to let go of #18's hand. "There we go," he announced, "Now you're sure it doesn't hurt?"

"It never hurt in the first place."

Kuririn made a face at her. "O yeah, that's right," blood was still seeping through the bandage, and Kuririn gently traced the cut with one finger.

"Ouch!" #18 exclaimed, and Kuririn's head snapped up in alarm to see her grinning. "Ha, fooled you," she smiled.

Kuririn shook his head. "Got me on that one," he raised #18's hand to his face and kissed her palm. "There you go. All better."

#18 looked quizzical. "There is medicinal value in kisses?"

It was tomato time for Kuririn's face again. "No, it's just an old human thing. I think mothers say it to their kids or something," flustered, Kuririn dropped her hand. "Well, there you go."

#18 felt an odd twinge of disappointment when Kuririn let go of her hand, but she shoved the thought away. "Thank you. I think I'll be fine now."

Kuririn laughed weakly, one hand behind his head. "Yeah . . . I'll finish your sandwich for you," #18 fell silent, and Kuririn took over cutting the tomatoes, after washing the blood off the knife. "Do you want margarine, or mayonnaise?" no answer. Kuririn turned around. "Uh, #18--"

#18 was sitting at the kitchen table, staring at the red stain that was slowly coloring the bandage. "Why did you use that wish on me?" #18 asked suddenly.

By now, Kuririn was used to #18's abrupt questions. Still, it caught him off-guard. "I told you already. I care about you; the self-destruct device was the only thing left from your past, and I wanted you to be able to live a free life," he managed a grin. "Or maybe I'd just gotten used to having you around to insult me."

"But why? What did I do to deserve your compassion? The entire point of my existence is to kill Goku, your best friend!"

Kuririn looked at her, surprised. "That was the point of your existence. You're different now," he pointed out, abandoning the sandwich to come sit beside her. "And it wasn't your compulsion to kill us, anyway--it was your programming."

"Exactly!" #18 yelled, pounding the table and making Kuririn jump. "I'm an android. I'm the creation of a deranged old man! What is the point of living?" her eyes blazed. "Why bother saving me? I'm just a stupid robot who was made as a tool in satisfying an old man's jealous whims, and I followed it! I obeyed my programming like one of Vegeta's mindless training drones."

"But you overcame that," Kuririn argued. "You're more than just scrap metal like Vegeta's target robots; you've changed. You're part human, too . . . you have to be, if you realize your mistakes. That's the first step."

Kuririn's gaze was drawn once again to #18's hand, staring at the crimson-stained bandage. It was like a symbol of #18's own heart--torn, bleeding, and in pain, even if the pain wasn't acknowledged. Even with a bandage--or an emotional barrier--the blood, or pain, still managed to seep through.

"I don't even know who I am anymore," #18 said quietly, bitterly.

Kuririn reached out to touch #18's hand. "I don't pretend to know everything, but I do know you aren't 'just a stupid robot'. I know that if you let me, I can help you get through this. And I know . . ." he paused, mustering his courage. "I know that I love you."

#18's eyes widened. She'd known that, deep down, for a long time--but she'd never expected him to actually say it!

He pressed on hurriedly, knowing that if he allowed himself even a moment's hesitation, his resolve would fail. "I know this is a horrible, awful time to tell you, and I hope you don't think I'm just trying to get you on the rebound, because I'm not. I've tried to hide it and suppress it, but I can't anymore, and I'm so sorry, but--"

#18 leaned forward and kissed him on the lips, which effectively shut him up. After a time #18 broke off, an expression on her face one that Kuririn had never seen on her before. "You talk too much," she smiled at him.

Kuririn knew he was blushing, but this time he didn't care. "I'll have to cure myself of that, huh?"

#18 actually laughed. "No, Kuririn, I don't mind it at all."

Kuririn just laughed, for he knew that relations between him and #18 had changed forever.

Some months later:

"I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."

* * * * * *