Well it's taken a while. I sort of got side-tracked (for over three years), but it's finally finished. I'm not sure what kept me from finishing it earlier. The thing that had me stumped at the time was how to handle the wedding. I hope I've come up with a satisfactory way of handling that. Read and find out!
Life Is Strange
Chapter 19: Life Is Strange
Gohan smiled as the tournament stadium came back into view. He'd thought that the meeting with the Kais might take hours, but they'd been almost as anxious to get back to their planet as he was to get on with it and get to his wedding. That, he supposed, was actually logical in retrospect. Even though it was as yet unclear whether or not they would take back over from Shin to some extend they had to at least be wondering what had been happening in the galaxy for the last couple of hundred millennia.
As he flew in Gohan was greeted by a storm of applause, as every man, woman and child in the stadium rose to join a standing ovation. He was flying in the lead this time, with Videl slightly behind and beside him. The others were behind them in a loose formation, grouped together based on who they were chatting with and followed at the back of the pack by Bulma, Chi-Chi, Oolong, Puar and Roshi in Bulma's jet-copter.
The jet-copter couldn't land in the stadium of course, but the rest of them could and did. Landing dispersed over the ring, as the announcer approached them.
"Well everybody it looks like the crisis has been averted, so let's hear what our heroes have to say about it"
With a speed that was truly admirable in an untrained human the announcer managed to get the microphone in front off Gohan's mouth.
"Um, yeah..." Gohan's mind was racing as he tried to think of something to say. The truth of the matter was that he hadn't expected that question at all and now had to try to figure out what to say and, more importantly, what not to say, on the spot. "There's nothing much to tell really." Well there was nothing much he wanted to tell at any rate. "As you say the crisis has been averted and that's really pretty much all there is to it"
Fortunately the crowd chose to burst out again at this point, smothering any possible follow-up questions.
With just a hint of suspicion, and gratitude, Gohan looked up, rather symbolically, and whispered 'thank you' at the two old Supreme Kais. There was little doubt in his mind that they had been the ones behind the outburst that had saved him. Basic crowd manipulation had to be easy for a Kai with millions of years of experience after all. Sort of like riding a bicycle.
"Uhm, well, all right." The announcer seemed just a little put out at not getting any more detail, but that, Gohan decided, was his problem. "Then I think it's time for us to move on to the prise giving ceremony, ladies and gentlemen."
Some of the organisation needed for the ceremony had already taken place in advance, while the Z-fighters were away, fighting Buu. But not all of it, which meant there was still a small wait as the ring was transformed. The most important part of that transformation were of course the five podia, arranged in descending order of height, for the prise-winners to stand on. Next was a large red carpet, stretching out in front of the podia and a ring-side space being cleared for the press.
That last provision wasn't as much to Gohan's liking as the others, but it seemed the press were a necessary evil at this type of event, even if they were more dangerous than the monster he'd just faced, in their own special way.
He certainly hadn't forgotten about the episode at school where they'd actually smuggled the camera in, and he wouldn't be surprised if this was going to be even more intense.
Finally, almost as an after thought two more podia were added, equal to each other in height, though it seemed that on one of them the height had been raised through improvisation. Which Gohan realised must be for the junior tournament which had, after all, had two winners, rather than a winner and a runner up.
The ceremony itself passed in a daze for Gohan. He cheered during the ceremony for Goten and Trunks. But his thoughts kept wondering ahead to what would happen later. And he barely noticed as the others made their way to the podiums one by one. Everyone was handed their award once they were there and then remained standing until he was summoned. The cheering was deafening as everyone in the entire stadium rose and Gohan felt himself get a little nervous. All the eyes in the stadium were on him, and while that had been fine while he was fighting it was now more than a little unsettling.
He was finally called to his own podium, and, amid more cheers and more flashes from the reporters the champions belt was handed to him, along with the check for his prise-money. Later he vaguely recalled handing the check to his mom, for save keeping, as he went of to talk to various interviewers.
The interviews were short, and predictable. Mostly questions about fighting Videl, fighting his dad, fighting Mr. Satan and the energy techniques, the latter of which were answered with suitable vagueness.
After they were done Gohan immediately went to find Videl again. They only had a little while left before they would each have to make their own preparations for the wedding, and they talked very little preferring to keep each other company as they dealt with their own thoughts.
Gohan was just about ready when he spotted Shin.
"I hope you aren't offended." He said quickly.
The purple man raised an eyebrow. "Why should I be offended"
"Dende is doing the ceremony." Gohan reminded him. "He's junior to you"
Shin laughed. "Trust me, I prefer it like this. I haven't been to a wedding without being asked to do the ceremony for over a hundred thousand of your years. It's nice to go through one without having to go through all the formalities"
Gohan smiled. "In that case, have fun"
"You too Gohan." Shin replied. "Though I've been told participants are supposed to be too nervous to have fun"
"I'll try to make an exception." Gohan said. "Though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous."
One look at the pavilion that had been set up on Tournament Island made Gohan wonder about the choice of location. It looked wonderful, set in the forest on the island, but part of him wondered if the look out wouldn't have been more private. There was a chance of someone finding out exactly where in these woods they were, even if it was just a slim chance.
I shouldn't be worrying about that. He admonished himself. Then again anything is better than worrying about the wedding itself. Sharpner and Erasa were a good case for why you should never worry about the wedding when it's just about to take place. Nerves on that level are not a good thing. It's out of my hands now anyway.
He felt strangely calm at that acceptance. The wedding was out of his hands now. All he could do was follow Shin's advice and enjoy it.
Videl looked at the pavilion, already filling with guests. Mostly Gohan's friends and family, but Sharpner and Erasa were there as well. It was a very idyllic setting, the light was provided by torches lining the isle and the first green leaves of the surrounding jungle barely in the light. It was also a very private setting, and unlike she'd expected, and feared, for a long time there was no press in any way, shape or form. In fact her entire life had been noticeable less disturbed by the press since she'd gotten to know Gohan. Something about him seemed to block out the press, keeping them at a distance. Or maybe Gohan's defence of his own privacy had just cancelled out her father's nearly instinctive attempts to draw as much attention to himself as possible. And now she was about to marry him. With no press and just their close friends. It almost seemed to good to be true, and Videl had to think very hard to ignore the old statement that if it seemed to good to be true, it couldn't be true.
She was already dressed for the wedding, in fact it was just minutes away and she was hovering among the trees waiting for the signal for her entrance.
A tremendous amount of debate had gone into the ceremony. Spanning everything from otherworld ceremonies, to Namekian bonding rituals, to plain old Earth. In the end only the 'I do's and the 'I now declare you man and wife' had been kept from the traditional earth ceremony, the rest of it had been constructed from all other sources under Dende's supervision.
The signal came after what seemed like an eternity. A huge silver bowl appeared about five feet from the front of the pavilion. As Videl and Gohan floated into the pavilion from opposite sides a pillar of blue fire and energy rose up in it. By the time they'd landed on either side of Dende the fire was nearly as high as the pavilion's roof and its strong blue light had overwhelmed the red glow of the torches along the centre isle.
"The fire burns in each of us." Dende's voice was far more powerful than it had been when Videl had met him before. "But in no two people does it burn the same"
Videl almost flinched as a tendril of blue fire reached out to her, momentarily turning the whole pillar an even deeper blue. Then it reached out to Gohan and the fire turned golden.
"The fire in these two is different, but the same." As Dende spoke the fire went first back to its basic blue, then to partly deep blue and partly golden, finally merging again into the regular blue. "The fire is strength and it is love. It is strength grown from love and love that begins in strength. Because strength is greatest in those who join together willingly, and love is greatest when the mind is strong enough to accept it. So now these two have accepted love and seek to join in strength. Is the fire within you the same"
"One fire burns in both of us." Videl and Gohan responded in unison.
"Does anyone doubt these two share the fire"
Videl felt Gohan looked just a little too threateningly at the assembled guests, but no-one expressed any doubts. It wasn't quite like a state your objections moment anyway since the sacred fire had already accepted them and blended them together. It could be made to do so again, but a second blending was unlikely to fail, or so she'd been told, and if it succeeded the ceremony would have proceeded regardless of any objections.
"Then it is decided, only their own will shall determine their fate. Gohan do you willingly enter into this bond with Videl and accept what the sacred fire shall give you"
"I do." Gohan's voice was enviably steady.
"And Videl, do you willingly enter into this bond with Gohan and accept what the sacred fire shall give you"
"I do." Videl thought she'd managed to sound almost as stable as Gohan had, even though her heart was trying to set a new speed record.
As the fire reached for them again Videl felt Gohan's Ki spike for a few seconds. There was clearly some defensive instinct at work there, and she was relieved to notice it, not because Gohan needed to defend himself, but because it meant he too was nervous. This time the fire enveloped them both fully and burned for a moment that seemed like an eternity all around them. Then it withdrew and Videl noticed a weight around her neck. A glance down showed her the amulet the fire had left her, silver with a blue stone that seemed to sparkle with a light of its own. Gohan too, she noticed, had received an amulet. It was identical to hers, but the stone in his sparkled with a golden yellow light.
"A bit of the fire remains in each of the gems." Dende said quietly. "By the authority given to me as the God of Earth, and with the blessings of the sacred fire I declare you man and wife. You may now kiss each other"
Although it was no longer required by the protocol of the ceremony they floated once again, closing the final few feet between them. Finally Videl gave herself a little nudge up to level her face with Gohan's as his arms slid around her. Their lips met softly, just long enough to be sensuous, but briefly enough to remain decent.
Gohan was glad when the wedding was over. He'd enjoyed the ceremony, in spite of some nervousness, but everything after the kiss he would gladly have skipped. Still it was expected that the bride and groom take at least a little time to talk to their guests and thank everyone for their presence. Now after two hours of doing just that they were ready to leave for their honeymoon.
"Are you coming dear." He asked his wife.
Videl nodded. "Of course. As soon as you tell me where it is we're flying to"
"Piccolo's island. You know, where I first told you all about me"
A momentary shadow passed over her face. He recalled, as she did, that it had also been the scene of their first confrontation with her father. But it was remote and.
"There's a beach there, on another side of the island than where we were, that's quite idyllic. There's a capsule house waiting for us there, all luxuries installed, for our honeymoon"
"Sounds gorgeous." Videl said.
She launched herself into the air and Gohan followed, playfully pulling ahead of her as if to race.
"Chauvinist!" Videl accused him.
"Now, now." He grinned at her. "This is no time to be starting domestic spats. Let's wait until after the honeymoon for that"
"I will if you behave"
He gave a melodramatic sigh, with another grin. "The old ball and chain is making herself felt I see"
That earned him a good natured punch as they started crossing the ocean.
"I wish I could describe just how much I love you." Videl told him quietly.
"It can't be more than I love you." He told her.
Videl looked at him and suddenly grinned. "Could you have predicted we'd ever say something like that back when I was still trying to unmask you"
"Never in a million years." He said. "Things can turn out in ways you'd never expect"
"Life is strange." Videl told him.
"True words indeed. Life is strange."
Well that's it. The end!
It's taken me far too long to finish, but finally it has been finished. The second half of this chapter is probably the best writing in the fic, since I had a few years more experience when I wrote it. Though I doubt it was worth the wait, but well this sort of slipped my mind between other projects (mostly original fiction I hope to get published some day). No next time on Life Is Strange any longer. I hope you've enjoyed reading it, even the story text alone - no responses to reviews, next time ons, closing remarks or explanations of delays included - comes in at well over 100K words, 107K and a bit according to OpenOffice.