Pan fidgeted with the flowers in her hair. "Why, again, do I have to have these things here?"
"Because it's festive," Marron casually answered, moving her own blossoms into place.
"Yeah, I get that flowers are festive," the brunette went on, frowning at her reflection in the mirror, "but these people have met me, right? This is a girly-girl thing, and I do not do girly-girl."
"Yes, we have noticed that," the blonde said with a chuckle. "Now stop playing with those or you'll wreck them."
Slowly, a half-wicked smirk appeared on the younger girl. "I will, huh?"
"Yep," Marron calmly agreed, pulling out her lip gloss. "You just go right ahead and ruin those flowers on purpose because you don't like them, and then I'll go tell you-know-who all about what you did. I'm sure that will totally be worth getting out of keeping a couple of flowers in your hair for an hour."
Color drained quickly from Pan's face as she considered that outcome. "I'll stop playing with them now."
Looking for a distraction, Pan turned to Marron and asked, "Do you need help with anything?"
Marron gave her a knowing smile. "I'm fine."
"You sure?" Pan asked. "I can get you a water or something."
"I will probably take you up on that after this first part is finished," the blonde said, "but I think everyone will be happier if I don't drink anything five minutes before."
Pan did not argue the point as she looked at Marron's well swollen belly. "I still can't believe that they didn't change the date. This is totally unfair to you."
Marron shrugged. "Not really," she countered. "I mean, for one thing, this is kid number three, not kid number one. Trust me, there's a difference. And secondly, as was told to my husband when he announced that we were having another kid, this event was scheduled a year before I got knocked up, and it was our own damn fault if the timing didn't work out well."
"Still seems harsh to me," Pan mumbled.
At that moment Videl poked her head into the dressing room. "It's time."
Both Marron and Pan grabbed their small gathering of flowers and went for the door. As they walked out, Videl adjusted one of the flowers in her daughter's hair. "Remember," she harshly told the young woman, "the ceremony is only fifteen minutes long, and you have been given clearance to take them out then. You'll survive."
"I still have to wear a dress," the girl grumbled.
"Again I say: you'll survive. Now smile," she said, patting her daughter's cheek. "Here comes the bride." She gave her daughter another reassuring squeeze before disappearing to find her husband.
Ten years had passed since that fateful day when Goku had returned to the Earth, and once again the group had gathered around for a celebration. But this time, it was not some casual barbeque or meager fighting tournament. No, it was a far more special occasion than that. It was the day of Goten Son's wedding to Bra Briefs.
The bride rounded the corner, fully decked out in a gorgeous white gown, her veil gliding along behind her. "We can't do this," she said.
Most who stood around her began to sputter. Bra had been planning this wedding before even Trunks had married Marron eight years earlier. And, as she liked to joke, she had a groom picked out since the age of ten. "What's wrong?" Marron asked.
"The guest of honor isn't here yet!" Bra quickly answered. "I am not doing this until she gets here!"
"Wait, she's not here yet?" Bulma asked. "I thought that she had already been picked up!"
"So did I," Marron responded. "Well, I guess we can wait."
Watching the other bridesmaid rub her swollen middle, Pan dashed back into their changing room and grabbed a chair. "Sit down," she gently urged. The blonde did not need to be told twice. The teenager looked at the adults around her. "How long do you think this could take?"
Vegeta, who had been standing at his daughter's side, rolled his eyes. However, one sharp glare from his wife kept his tongue stilled. He had been well warned by his daughter, his wife, and even his mother-in-law that he was to only be on very good behavior on the day of his daughter's wedding. Oddly enough, he had not received such a warning before the boy had gotten hitched.
Bulma sighed. "As much as I love Goku," she said, "he does have a tendency to get distracted." She turned to her daughter. "Do you want to sit, too?"
"In this gown?" Bra gawked. "I am not getting one millimeter of this thing wrinkled before pictures are taken, thank you very much. I'm standing."
"It really could take a while," her mother counseled. "You feet might get tired."
Bra kicked off her shoes. "There," she firmly said. "Now I can stand here for seventy-two hours before I need to sit." Subtly she turned to her father. "I would like to take back every time I whined about you making me train for endurance."
"Apology accepted," her father responded with a smirk.
Just then, the doorway to the main entrance cracked open just enough for Gohan to slip through. "Hey," he quietly said, trying to keep peace in what he anticipated could be an intense moment. "Listen, there's been a bit of a delay, and…"
"Will she be here within seventy-two hours?" Bra cut him off.
That was certainly a far wider window of time than the eldest Son had been expecting from the bride. "Um, yes."
"Then we have nothing to worry about," she arrogantly told him. "We have food and supplies back here, we'll last." Her features got a little softer, though, as she added, "Gohan, you and Goten have nothing to worry about. There is no way in hell I am letting this ceremony to start until your mother gets here."
Gohan grinned and leaned in to hug her. "Thank you for understanding!"
His hug, however, was blocked by Vegeta. "My one job, between now and when she actually makes it down the aisle, is to not let anyone hug her."
Gohan laughed, remembering Hercule having a very similar job for Videl. "Well, I just want you to know how much we appreciate it."
"Don't sweat it," his soon to be sister in law said. "But if she's not here in fifteen minutes, I will need to water the bridesmaids."
Before Gohan could answer, the air around them shifted, and both of his parents appeared.
"MOM!" he cried out, rushing forward. He caught her in a bear hug and spun her around, laughing all the while.
"Whoah!" Chi-Chi grunted as she tried to regain her center. She soon started laughing too. "Gohan, put me down!"
Her firstborn son quickly complied. "I'm sorry, did I hurt you?"
"No, I just want to get a good look at you!" She stood arms distance away, looking over every inch of him. "Oh, Gohan, you've grown up so…"
Her sentence was halted when yet another set of strong arms gathered her up and spun her around. "You're here! You're here! You're really here!"
Trunks burst in behind the commotion. He gave his parents and his sister a sincerely apologetic look. "I tried to keep him at the altar," he explained, "but he threw me through the front wall and took off."
Bra shrugged. "Eh, let's face it, any of us would have hip-checked our best friend into thorny bushes if we were seeing a loved one for the first time in two and a half decades." She took a few steps back, offering the Son family what space she could.
"Mom!" Goten gushed, putting her back down. "I missed you so, so much, but you're here, and I am so happy, and I can't stop smiling, and…"
"Goten?" Gohan interrupted.
"What?" Goten asked.
It was not easy to comply, but Goten did manage to calm down slightly. It was hard, though. He had been so young the last time he had been able to see his mother, to hold her in his arms, to feel her warmth and enjoy her smile.
Standing next to him, Gohan, too, was struggling to contain his excitement. He might have been more demure than his brother by nature, but he was no less thrilled to see his mother.
Between her two sons, Chi-Chi beamed. "Oh, I am so happy to see both of you!" she gushed, hugging them both. "And I am so proud of all that you've done!" The brunette looked around at the others gathered around, and her eyes locked on to the tall brunette standing near her son. "Are you Pan?" she asked.
The girl nodded, having no idea at all how to react. After all, the dead grandmother she had never met before had materialized in front of her. If there was an appropriate response to the situation, no one had ever told her what it was.
Chi-Chi approached the girl with far more restraint than she had used with her sons. "So you're my granddaughter?"
"Um, yes, ma'am."
The grandmother wrapped her arms around the teenager and pulled her into a gentle embrace. "I am so happy to be finally meeting you." She then turned to Marron, and her eyes widened in shock. "My goodness, honey, you look like you're going to pop any second now!"
Marron smiled and waved it off as she got to her feet. "Oh please, I'm not due for two more weeks, and the other two were each a week late."
Trunks groaned from the sidelines. "Great, she just cursed us. Now she's going to go into labor right in the middle of the vows."
Chi-Chi turned around and smirked. "Is that Trunks Briefs' smart mouth I hear behind me?"
"Absolutely, ma'am," the lavender haired prince responded, giving her a genuine smile.
The brunette placed her hands on her hips in a demanding fashion. "Well don't just stand there. Get your ass over here and give me a hug!"
With a laugh, he quickly complied. "I missed you, Auntie Chi-Chi."
Chi-Chi smiled brightly, knowing that the young man in her arms had stood by her sons through everything. "You're a good boy," she whispered to him.
"I'll make sure he gets a biscuit," Marron teased.
Trunks stuck his tongue out at his wife, and Chi-Chi laughed. "It's nice to know some things never change." From there she turned to the girl in the beautiful white gown. "And you must be…" She felt bad hesitating before the bride, but she was still not convinced she could say the girl's name with a straight face.
Bra, well used to that particular issue, glared at her mother. "Would you like to tell me again that it's an adorable name, and there's no way it would ever give me any trouble?"
"I stand by my decision," Bulma defended.
"I stand by the notion that you rigged that coin toss," Vegeta grumbled from the other side of the bride.
Chi-Chi giggled at the little family moment. They were crazy, but they really did work. "Bra," she calmly said, "I am delighted to meet you."
She opened her arms, but hesitated to move in as Bra turned sideways. She felt more than a bit put off until she heard Bra tell her father, "Stand down, she may hug me," before turning to the brunette and lifting her off the ground.
Goten smiled at the scene. "See?" he grinned. "I got me a good little wife there!"
Chi-Chi straightened out immediately. "Goten!" she gasped. "You can't be here! It's bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding!" Before the groom could get another word out, he found himself being dragged out of the room and up the aisle by his mother. "We'll do more bonding time when the ceremony is done, but my being here is no excuse for breaking protocol! Now go get up there!"
The final part of that exchange was caught by those waiting for the ceremony, and a hearty round of laughter ensued. Despite having a fair number of friends between them, Goten and Bra had decided to have a wedding with only the core members of their friends and family invited. Therefore, no one was terribly surprised when Chi-Chi Son, with a halo over her head, came through the beautiful double doors of the venue, dragging Goten back up to the altar.
Once she was satisfied with his position, and had fixed up his tie and hair while fending off Goku and Gohan, she clapped her hands and turned to the group. "Alright, we've got a wedding to do!" A happy wave of laughter sang out as the woman hopped down to the seat marked for the mother of the groom.
The music started, the guests stood, and the bride followed her bridesmaids down the aisle. As the ceremony began, Pan snuck a peek out at the small group of guests sitting out in front of her. She gazed at her family, sitting in the front row. She watched as her grandmother, who was practically squealing in glee, grabbed her grandfather's hand and kept patting it. She watched as her grandfather, smiling brightly, wrapped his arm around her grandmother's shoulders and held her lovingly. In the seat next to them, Pan's mother was grinning joyously, but Pan could see her mother's eyes wander occasionally from the happy couple to the taller of, as Goten had dubbed them, the co-best men. And said co-best man, Gohan, also seemed to be splitting his focus between the happy couple and the family in the front row.
Poor Pan was so busy watching her family that she failed to notice that she had missed a cue to take the ring that the ring bearer was trying to hand her. One sharp elbow to the ribs and an embarrassing grunt later, the brunette refound her focus.
In the front row, Chi-Chi giggled. "Aw, look," she whispered to her husband. "Our granddaughter got your attention span!"
"Hey," Goku defended, careful to keep his voice at a quiet whisper, "I will have you know that her attention span is at least twice as long as mine." He offered his wife an adorable fake pout. "I only passed on the good genes, just like you told me to."
Chi-Chi giggled again and leaned into her husband, nuzzling in slightly as she watched the ceremony go on. It was a quick event, which the couple had made even quicker after Trunks' curse comment, and soon enough the crowd was enjoying the lovely reception. The families celebrated not only the new marriage, but the temporary return of their comrade.
"Okay, I've got to ask," Krillen asked his oldest friend. "How in the hell did you manage to pull this one off?"
Goku, who had not let go of his wife since the start of the ceremony, grinned. "You know, you save the universe ten or twenty times, you end up earning some favors. Besides, it wasn't like Chi-Chi hadn't earned her twenty-four hour pass." He leaned over and kissed the top of her head. "And I know damn well that I never could have gone as far as I did without her covering my ass every step of the way since we were idiot teenagers who ran off and got married."
"I must say, it certainly was flattering," Chi-Chi added with a smile. "I got to float there and listen to Goku stand in front of King Kai and list off every good thing he has ever thought about me."
Gohan laughed. "Did that go on for a while?"
"Actually, that's why we were late," Goku sheepishly admitted. "When I went to go pick her up from the afterlife, I had thought of a few more things, and I had to tell King Kai."
Scratching the back of his head, Goku simply laughed. In truth, he had hoped that if he could make the list long enough, he would be allowed to keep Chi-Chi for more than just twenty-four hours. Hey, it had been worth a shot!
"So," Bra asked, "is it weird to be back in the land of the living?"
"A little. The weirdest part for me is that I didn't get older when I was dead.," the brunette admitted, glancing at her firstborn son. "It's a little odd to be the same age as your first child."
Bulma laughed. "But you look fantastic! I'm an old lady now, but you're as gorgeous as ever!" She glanced at the backs of her hands. "Maybe I should have died when I was thirty-six."
Her husband snorted. "Yes, leaving me as the single parent of a three year old. That would have ended well."
Chi-Chi rolled her eyes at the odd couple. By the end of the evening, she would have pulled them both aside to thank them for taking in her children and making sure they were well provided for. Admittedly, she had thanked Bulma a little more, but both were given thanks for their roles. As the night wore on, the reception died down, but not the celebratory spirit. Everyone changed into casual attire. Coffee flowed freely, no one wanting to sleep until after the twenty-four hour window was completely gone. The Sons, in particular, refused to waste even a single moment. They laughed and they played and they told every story they had.
Goten made good on his childhood promise to tell his mother about every adventure he had been up to since they had last seen each other. Gohan told all about his transition to professorship, focusing his skills into teaching others to continue the work he had started. And Goku, who had made good on his word and stayed on Earth, had his own stories of the family to share. Pan jumped in as often as she could, eager to tell her grandmother about her own work as a female fighter. And Chi-Chi, smiling the whole time, got to enjoy every little moment of it. The final hour had been spent with just Goku, Gohan, and Goten with Chi-Chi.
All too soon, the day had come and gone. While no one was happy to see the day end, it was far easier to say goodbye this time. The boys said their farewells and stepped back, giving their parents one final Earthly moment together.
"I am so happy I was able to come today," she whispered, holding her husband tightly.
"Me too," he softly replied.
She smiled, going up on the tips of her toes to kiss her husband softly on the lips. "Thank you so much for arranging this."
"Hey, you earned this," Goku gently answered, kissing her back.
Behind them, Baba cleared her throat. "I hate to break up the party, but we really must be going."
Goku pouted and held his wife closer. "Nope, mine. I'm not letting go."
"Goku," Chi-Chi softly laughed, cupping his cheek gently, "it's okay." She pulled him in for a long, gentle kiss, barely noticing as the rest of her family and friends came for their final farewells. "You remember your promise?"
The Saiyan nodded. "I remember."
His wife smiled up at him. "Then I can go in peace." She hugged each member of her family one more time. "You boys are going to be fine without me."
"We'll still miss you," Gohan softly said. Videl, standing at his side, nodded while squeezing her husband's hand.
"And we'll think about you all the time!" Goten chirped. He never heard Marron's whispered comment to Bra about making him forget on the honeymoon.
A disgruntled Baba cleared her throat again. "If you do not come voluntarily right now, you're going to end up vanishing mid-sentence. I am hardly an emotional person, but I am pretty sure that will ruin this little family moment."
With one final farewell, Chi-Chi was escorted once again to the afterlife. Many, many years later, after watching over and enjoying many generations of his family, Son Goku passed away, a happy old man who had lived a full life. And when he went before the Gate of Judgement, his wife was there, waiting for him. He told her of the wonderful things their children, grandchildren, and many degrees of great grandchildren had done. Just as promised, he had stayed with his family. He had been there every time Gohan was recognized for his groundbreaking work. He had been there for every award Goten had won in his career. He had played with every child born into their family, been to every birthday party, sat through every graduation.
And Chi-Chi got to hear it all. She got to hear the full story of Gohan and Videl's reconciliation and long, happy marriage. She got to hear about all of Goten's adventures, both as Trunks' best friend and as Bra's husband. Every little story was savored.
Just as it would be forever.