As it turned out, I decided to do the filler chapter because I realised that I really couldn't cram two chapters into one. There needed to be a distinction between the two. However, this chapter is still a filler so it is nowhere near as long as the previous one. Hopefully, it will hold a few people over until I finish chapter seventeen, which may take a little longer due to its extreme length, and this author's plethora of assignments. Fortunately (for you lot anyway) I'm having dental surgery in September, followed by uni holidays, so hopefully I will get time to work on this then.
For those of you curious as to what's happening with It's My Life I am working on it. I have written over half the fifth chapter, but have kinda got stuck. As it said in the author's note at the end of the fourth chapter, it is quite an angst ridden teary one. It's fun to write but quite demanding, while Pasta? is quite light so it's reasonably easy to write.
Anyway, without further ado, I introduce the next chapter of the story…
Chapter 16: False Alarms
Through gritted teeth, Videl cursed profusely. Knuckles white from gripping the side of the bio-bed she was now laying on, she thrust for one of Gohan's hands. Grabbing it in her own hand, she squeezed. If she was going to feel this pain, he was going to share it.
"God, Videl. Squeeze any harder." Gohan was forced to grit his own teeth. Talk about a strangle hold.
She slammed her spare palm against the bed. "Don't even dare talk to me about pain, you stupid jerk." She squeezed harder for good measure.
"Calm down, you two," Bulma called from between Videl's legs. She raised her head, placing one hand on Videl's bent knee. Videl, who was holding herself up with the palm pressed to the bed, had her legs bent and separated. Bulma was apparently checking the progress of her labour, but for the half hour since the initial contraction absolutely nothing had happened, except the continuing waves of what Videl assumed were more contractions.
Nonetheless, she was in agony, and she didn't care who knew.
"What do you mean, 'calm down'?" Videl snapped angrily. "I'm kinda having a baby here!" Gohan couldn't decide whether she was getting more hysterical by the minute or it was just him.
"I mean," Bulma said patiently, "there's no need to get worked up just yet. This baby isn't coming today."
"What do you mean it isn't coming today? She's having contractions, isn't she?" Now Gohan knew he was the one getting hysterical. Couldn't they just get this thing over and done with?
"She's having a false alarm, Gohan."
"Oh, my god," he muttered, actually letting go of Videl's hand and turning around, running a frustrated hand through his hair.
Videl let herself drop to the bed, head resting on the uncomfortable pillow. She brought a hand to her head. "This can't be happening," she muttered.
"Sorry," Bulma said. "Comes with the territory, I'm afraid."
"Comes with the territory?" Videl asked.
"Both Chi-Chi and I had them too. They're common with human pregnancies, but I think these ones are specifically caused by the mixture of DNA's."
"Does this mean we're getting close?" Gohan asked, turning around to face Bulma once again.
Bulma nodded. "I give it a month at the longest, but I seriously doubt even that. Two, maybe three weeks."
"A month?" Videl had apparently ignored everything after that. "There is no way I wanna put up with this for another month. God, can't we get this thing out of me, already." She squeezed her eyes shut and gripped the bio-bed tightly as she was hit with the agony of another false contraction.
"Sorry, honey. There's no way I'm attempting a caesarean unless I really have to.' Bulma actually looked apologetic.
"I don't mean that," Videl began. "I mean…" she trailed off as she was forced to grit her teeth to bear the pain.
"One more month," Bulma said, "and it's over forever. You never have to worry about it again, if you don't want to."
Videl sighed. "Gohan," she called, reaching a hand out towards him. He moved across the room cautiously. When he was within her reach, she grabbed his hand and pulled. As he stood directly above her, she grabbed the collar of his shirt and pulled him down to within inches of her face. For a moment it looked like she was going to kiss him. Unfortunately for Gohan, her eyes narrowed dangerously. He swallowed nervously.
"If you ever want another baby, you're having it," she said in a hiss.
Then she kissed him.
As it turned out, New Year's Eve happened to be more eventful than anyone could have imagined. By the time everyone had gotten over the whole false alarm fiasco and enough food had been rustled up and subsequently eaten (Chi-Chi had pulled a miracle in the kitchen, even with the addition of food Bulma had ordered in a last minute rush from a catering service.) it was after eleven. Videl slept right through the fireworks and celebrations (which had been pretty tame considering the excitement of earlier in the day) after Bulma had given her a mild baby-safe sedative for the pain. When she finally woke up, she was in bed at home. Apparently Goku had used his Instant Transmission to jettison her and Gohan home.
Tired and sore, she sat up in bed, gazing around the dark room. A glance at the clock told her it was nearly 5am.
Gohan was fast asleep, snuggled into his pillow. He looked absolutely adorable, a few tendrils of dark hair cast across his young face. Watching him then, watching his chest rise and fall, the blankets pulled up over him in the winter cold, it kind of hit her. What they were doing, how young they really were. They were having a baby. A baby. Another person, they were bringing another person into the world. And yet, she could still remember, like yesterday, because it kind of was, that horrible Martial Arts Tournament. How he had fought to save her. She thought she had been kidding herself when she had wondered whether he would die for her.
She hadn't been.
He had died for her. She knew he'd do it in an instance, if he had to. It actually frightened her how real that fact was. She had always known, after everything had unravelled, that there was a very real chance that they could be faced with a situation like that again. And she knew they had the Dragon balls. But even that didn't seem as comforting as it used to. The thought of losing him, of being left alone with their baby, made her ache. She reached out and dusted the tendrils from his face. He was so young, and yet she knew he had seen more than most people would see in two lifetimes.
She pushed herself up from the bed and crossed the room. She grabbed a blanket that was sitting folded on the end of the bed. She draped it around her shoulders and shuffled out of the room and down the hall. The door to the baby's room was half opened and as she pushed it gently, it swung forward, the room lit lightly by the full moon.
They had finished painting and decorating a few weeks ago. The pastel hues and soft furniture. It looked like a nursery should look. Warm and safe and loving. She strolled past the chest of drawers, running her fingers across the polished wood. Reaching the crib her father had given them, she wrapped her fingers around its sides, cool against her palms. She gazed out across the rolling mountainous plains, the shimmering green grass, the moon against the hills.
It wasn't that she wasn't ready to be a mother. She didn't think she'd ever feel as ready as she did now. She didn't quite understand why; she had never been the maternal type. And yet, there was something inside of her that told her this was right. The right time. Just like she had known Gohan was the right person. The one, as Erasa had put it all those weeks ago. Come to think of it, she had never really answered Erasa's question that day. But that was what it was. A feeling, something inside of her that told her in no uncertain terms that what she was doing was the right thing to do. It didn't matter that she was only young. Age had nothing to do with it anymore. There was probably a general belief that she had married too young. But they, the people who thought they had some right to comment on her life, did not understand it like she did.
Tired from standing she dropped into the rocking chair alongside the crib.
Did Gohan feel the same way she did? They'd talked about the baby, about all the changes it would bring. But they had never really discussed whether they were ready for it. She wondered if Gohan felt it too. Did he have that feeling that told him it was the right thing to do, like she did?
She sat in that rocking chair, blanket wrapped around her, hand on her stomach, gazing out across the mountains as the sun rose on that New Year's Day. And only for the briefest moment did she wonder if it would be the last time in her life that there would be this serenity before her life went hurtling into the next great adventure.
Videl had two more false alarms after the initial one. The first was less than a week later, on the fifth of January. Fortunately, she had been at Capsule Corp, as Chi-Chi and Bulma had practically put her under twenty-four hour surveillance. Her reaction was just the same, and the pain was just as shattering. She had actually been reduced to tears, trickling down her cheeks as her body had rocked with agony. She kept hoping that she would be spared some pain when she finally gave birth, as compensation for the false alarms. Somehow, she got the impression that that was not going to be the case.
The second false alarm came a week and a half later. She was at home on her own. She had begged Chi-Chi and Bulma to leave her at least one day to herself before the baby came. She had regretted her decision the instant the contractions had begun. It took every ounce of determination and strength for her to reach the phone and then dial Gohan's work number. When the line had rung engaged, she'd practically screamed. It had taken a further fifteen minutes to get hold of Chi-Chi and Bulma. Nearly an hour after the initial contraction, help arrived. She pleaded with them then; they were to never leave her on her own again, until this baby was born, no matter how much she begged them.
She understood on that second occasion what Erasa had meant about having a perfect life. It wasn't perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it was true that these people that were now her family would drop anything to help her. She had practically sobbed into Chi-Chi's chest as she had been wracked by contractions. No one ever told her that she was overacting, that she was being stupid. They understood and even when they didn't they did everything in their power to make her situation easier. Erasa had been right in that respect. She did have the perfect life. They were exhausting and demanding but they were there.
She knew they would always be there.
I know a little melancholic and retrospective like but I think it was necessary. So, we're down to the home stretch. The next two chapters are kinda one big chapter I've decided to cut in half. I do this for two reasons. Firstly, I should be able to get them out faster (Yay!). Secondly, I think there needs to be a distinction between the two but they are on the same thread, so we will see how it goes. I promised a friend like two years ago that Spongebob Squarepants would get a cameo so watch out for that. And of course, I have to bring everyone back together, so keep your shirts on folks.
As for me…no rest for the wicked!
P.S. I don't think I've spoken of my little friend, Ada, yet. Ada is the main character of an original story I'm writing, as well as being my: imaginary friend, best friend, only friend…! Anyway, this Thursday 18 August was Ada's birthday, so a big happy birthday to her.
And yes, I know I'm celebrating the birthday of someone who doesn't exist.
Get over it.