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Chapter Thirty-Eight

His kiss was gentle, full of passion and innocence. She couldn't breath. She was certain time stopped. His head was spinning and he pulled her tightly to him, afraid he may crush her but not able to get her close enough. That's how Videl and Gohan found them. Gohan had seen them walk to the other side of the Look Out. He'd called Videl over and, after wresting themselves away from their families, decided to go see if everything was alright.

"Still think there might be something wrong?" Gohan asked as Dende picked Hera up, sitting her in his lap without breaking their kiss.

"Nope. I think everything's just right." She laid her head on her husband's shoulder.

"Should we tell them we're about to leave."

"Nah…we'll wait. Come on. I'm sure Krillin's still singing karaoke."

When they finally broke apart, they had no idea if minutes or hours had gone by. They leaned their heads together, their eyes closed; it took them a few moments to catch their breath.

"Wow." Dende finally said. "So that's what Gohan was talking about."

"What?" Hera backed away so she could see his face. She realized he was holding her, cradling her like a child in his arms. She honestly didn't remember him picking her up.

"When he and Videl first started dating, he told me that kissing her was the most wonderful thing he'd ever experienced. Now I know what he was talking about."

She smiled and pulled him into a hug. "We should probably head back."

"Why?" He was liking this, having her all to himself, no Piccolo around, no one asking him to do something, watch this, no 'o no, here come more aliens to blow up the planet' type of emergencies. "You realize we'll have precious few times like this."

She nodded. "I know."

"It's not that I want my job to come before you."

"Dende, you're not a businessman. You're the Guardian of the Earth. I would say that ranks pretty high up on the list of most important occupations."

He smiled, "You really don't mind."

She shook her head. "I love you. Being Guardian is what you do. It's who you are."

He sighed. Then he remembered. "We need to talk to Mr. Popo."

"Now?"

He picked her up and set her gently on the ground. He kissed her lips and brushed the hair from her eyes. "We'll wait until everyone leaves. Unless, you're going back to Gohan's parents house."

Hera thought a moment. "I think I will. Just to get my things."

"You mean you want to stay here? With me?"

"Yes, silly. Besides, if I'm going to marry you, I'm going to be stuck up here on this floating city for a very long time. I might as well get used to it. And I really like my room."

"Your room?"

"The tower room."

He smiled at her. "I can respect that."

"You better cause that's how it's going to be until we say 'I do'. Call me old fashioned if you want."

He hugged her tight, "I think it's wonderful."

They wandered back into the great hall. Krillin was still singing very bad karaoke. Mariah was laughing at something Yamcha had said and Debbie was talking to Tien and Choutzou. Videl and Gohan saw them come in and rushed over to them.

"Hey guys," Dende said. "I'm glad you haven't left yet."

"We were waiting on you two." Videl grinned.

"Sorry. I didn't mean to be gone so long," Dende said.

"It's ok. We understand."

"You do?"

"Yeah, duh! Bro, I just got married. I know what it's like to need to sneak away and do a little making out."

"We were not 'making out'." Dende said, his face slowly turning purple.

"That's not what I saw. If that wasn't making out, I don't know what is! Man, Den, where did you learn to kiss like that?" Gohan was laughing until he saw Dende's face.

"Uh-oh." And he took off running, Dende hot on his heels.

"Well, at least we know everything is normal," Videl said.

"Did you really see us?" Hera asked.

"Yeah, but we didn't mean to. Gohan saw you two leave and wanted to make sure everything was alright. I take it everything is alright?"

"Alright? Yeah, I'd say it's alright." She looked down at her finger and the ring that now sat on it.

Videl followed her gaze, took a double take, then took her hand in her own, "No way! Is that what I think that is?"

"That depends. If you think it's Sauron's ring of power, then your wrong."

"And if I think it's an engagement ring?"

"Then you'd be right."

Videl grabbed Hera in a hug. "Geez, Videl, you really need to watch your strength," Hera choked out.

"Sorry. It's just…that's so wonderful! Wow. And you've only known each other for a week."

"I know. Crazy, huh?"

"Not really. I knew Gohan was the one the first time I saw him. I was just too stubborn to realize that it was love and that's why I hated him so much."

"I take it back. I'm not the crazy one, you are."

Gohan and Dende came back, laughing, with their arms around each other.

"Glad to see no one died," Videl said.

"I figured I'd let him live. It is his wedding day after all." Dende said.

"Speaking of weddings," Videl said in a low voice, "Have you two set a date."

"A date? What?" Gohan asked.

Videl picked up Hera's hand and dangled the ring in front of her husband's face. "Bet he didn't get a chance to mention he proposed while he was chasing you around the room."

"No, he didn't! Dende that's wonderful! So have you set a date?"
"Not exactly. Geez, Gohan, I just asked her."

"And she said yes."

Dende rolled his eyes, "No, she just took the ring."

"I hope your mom won't be mad that I've decided to move up here."

Gohan's eyes got as big as saucers, "Dang, man, you move fast!"
"No, not like that!" Hera said, "I'll be staying in the tower. Alone. Get your mind our of the gutter."

"Sorry…"

They bid farewell to the happy couple, who flew away in Videl's car to the airport to hop the next flight to the Bahamas. The rest of the family and friends stayed to clean up. Chi-chi wasn't ecstatic about Hera moving up to the Look Out, but after Hera swore a thousand times she was staying in her own bedroom, she finally relented and told her she was free to get her things from their home.

"I will hold you to that," Chi-chi said.

"You won't have to," Piccolo said, glaring down at Hera and Dende. "I'll make sure of it."

"Great. Now I have a chaperone!" Dende whined. Everyone, even Hera, laughed.

After everyone had left, Piccolo was meditating on the side of the Look Out, Hera and Dende went to find Mr. Popo. They found him in the kitchen.

"Mr. Popo?"

"Yes, Dende."

"We need to ask you a question."

"And what might that be?"

Dende cleared his throat at least three times before he asked, "What was it you said you wanted to tell us but wouldn't until we were ready."

"And you think one evening qualifies you as ready?"

Smiling, Dende held Hera's hand up to him. Mr. Popo looked at the ring, went back to chopping carrots, then really looked at the ring. "Why Mr. Dende. Is that what I think that is?"
"Why must everyone ask that?" Hera asked.

"Miss Hera, are you really going to marry him?"

Hera smiled, "Yes, I am, Mr. Popo. Do you think you have room in this kitchen for one more?"

"O Miss Hera, there will always be room for you anywhere at the Look Out."

"She's moving in. To the tower room of course, at least until after the wedding."

"I don't know. I really like it up there." Hera looked over at Dende.

"What?"
"Maybe we should make that our room after we're married."

"Oh, sure. For a minute there I thought you were going to say you wanted separate bedrooms."

"Only if you snore."

"I don't snore."

Mr. Popo gave Dende a very odd look.

"I don't."

"Whatever you say, Mr. Dende."

Dende changed the subject, "Look, is that enough proof? Is that what you wanted before you told us?"

Mr. Popo smiled, "Yes. That is what I was waiting for. Come with me." He hopped down off his stool, took off his apron and walked out into the great hall. He cross the room to the small door Dende knew to be Mr. Popo's room. "Wait here."

They stood outside, waiting for the djinn to return. He did, looking very solemn. "I would not be giving you this unless I knew for a fact you two were meant to be together."

"How are you sure that we are?" Hera asked. "I don't mean that how it sounded. I'm just curious? Were you sure of my mother and father?"

Mr. Popo hung his head, "No. I was not. And that is why I did not tell him about this. It hurt me, but I did not want to hand over such power unless I was absolutely certain it was the real thing." He looked up at Dende and Hera and smiled, "And what the two of you have exhibited over the past week is the real thing."

He held out his hand and Dende took from him a large key.

"A key? What does this go to."

"That door. Right over there."

Hera and Dende turned around. There across from them, amongst all the other doors, was a door neither had seen before. It was the same size and shape of all the other doors, but it wasn't red. It was blue. Slowly they walked towards it.

"Where does it go?" Dende asked.

"Anywhere you want it to. Miss Hera, you said you've always dreamed of traveling. Here is your key. You can go anywhere you want and, as long as you have the key, you have the door with you. You can return whenever you're ready just by taking out the key. No matter where you are in the world, you can always come back home to us."

Dende looked down at the key. He realized he was holding the answer to the only thing that had worried him about asking Hera to give up her life on earth. He handed the key to her.

"No," she said, letting him put it in her hands, "I can't take it. Mr. Popo, this is much to great a gift."

"And it is yours. You are special, Hera. You are the daughter of a Guardian. Now, you will be the wife of a Guardian. And I must say, I believe you are the first in both regards."

She looked down at the djinn and with tears in her eyes she said, "Thank you." Then she bent down and hugged him tight. She kissed him on the cheek, "Thank you so very much."

Mr. Popo put one hand to his cheek and laughed, "Oh, don't mention it."

"Wow. Now at least I can give you a honeymoon. It might not be a week, but an hour might not be so bad."

"What are you talking about?"

"This," he gestured towards the door. "We can go anywhere you want! It can only be for a couple of hours, but at least we can go somewhere."

To his surprise, Hera laughed. "O, Dende, we're not going to use this door for our honeymoon."

"We're not?"
"No. I want more than a few hours with you."

"Hera," he pulled her closer to him, "I told you-"
"I know what you told me, but you are forgetting something, o mighty Guardian."

"What's that?"

"The hyperbolic time chamber? You said a whole day would be a whole year? What would an hour be?"

Dende thought for a moment, "a couple of weeks."

"Don't you think a couple of weeks would be better than a couple of hours?"

"Well, yeah, but there's nothing there? I mean nothing. There's a bedroom, a bathroom and a kitchen. You walk out into nothingness."

Hera looked at him, "I don't think we'll need much more than that."

Dende's eyes went wide and his cheeks flushed deep purple, "O…well…since you put it that way…" he looked down at Mr. Popo and gave him a goofy smile, "We have some wedding plans to make."

Mr. Popo laughed, "Indeed you have, Mr. Dende. Indeed you have."

The End