Part 38: And so Finally…

        "B-chan, we need to talk," Goten repeated softly, but solemnly, as the looked at Bra.  She was still looking
at the ground, trembling.  She felt like her feet were made of lead and she couldn't move.  She just stood there until he was just a few inches in front of her.
        "B-chan," Goten said again, but softly.  It was almost a whisper.
        Bra abruptly felt control return and she turned around and ran.
        "B-chan!  Wait!" Goten called, chasing her and yelling her name.  Bra pretended she didn't hear and ran faster.  She didn't want to see or talk to him.  She gasped in surprise when he finally caught her and grabbed her by the arm.
        "B-chan, I just—"
        Bra jerked away from him and was about to run away again with Goten grabbed both her shoulders and twisted her to face him.  He looked straight in her eyes.
        "Why are you avoiding me?" he asked.
        Bra bit her lower lip and looked away.
        "B-chan," he pleaded. "Answer me."
        She didn't respond.
        Goten closed his eyes and sighed, giving up.  He looked at the young girl in front of him and saw she didn't dare look at him.  He realized he was still holding her.  Slowly, gently, he rubbed her shoulder.  He frowned as he realized he'd held her too hard, but he still held her firmly.  She was looking down at the ground, demure and beautiful.
        Bra felt herself begin to blush as she realized Goten hadn't looked away yet.  When he'd rubbed her shoulder, she'd felt something that resembled an electric shock run through her.  At that moment, she realized how much she wanted him to hold her.  How she ached for his embrace.  How she wanted his warmed to comfort her freezing body.  How she wanted his strong arms to wrap around her.  How she wanted him to stay with her, like this, forever.  She felt the unfamiliar sensations course through her body and couldn't stop herself from trembling.
        Goten slowly released her when he was sure she wouldn't run off.  Bra backed up a couple of feet, but she didn't leave.  They stood in silence, not knowing what to say and who should start.  She was nervous and he was speechless.  Neither of them looked at each other.
        Goten took a deep breath. "B-chan," he finally started.
        Bra waved her hand. "Look, if this is about yesterday, just forget it," she cut in. "It was
stupid, childish…I didn't even know what I was talking about." She tried to force a laugh.
        "Oh." He looked down in disappointment. "So it wasn't true."
        "That's funny." Goten smiled bitterly. "I could have sworn that yesterday I heard someone tell me she had a major crush on me."
        Bra frowned when Goten began chuckling.  Is he making fun of me? she wondered.  She snorted and began walking away.  But Goten quickly followed, still talking and smiling.
        "It was really something!" he exclaimed. "I mean, out of all the girls I've dated, none of them have just come up to me and said that.  I knew when they said they loved me, they didn't mean it." He laughed, still tracking Bra.
        Bra stopped.
        "But this girl…she's so—"
        She knew it had to happen.  Goten had to make fun of her just as she expected him to.  Clenching her fist, her anger overcame her nervousness and she glared at him. "Are you having fun, Goten-ONIICHAN?" she demanded.
        Goten raised his eyebrows.  He can't remember the last time Bra called him "oniichan."
        "And what are you doing now?  Just go tell all your friends, 'Hey, guess what!  A TEENAGE GIRL just told
me she LIKED me?'"
        "B-chan, I—"
        " 'And not only that, but she's my BEST FRIEND'S SISTER!'" she yelled.  She stared at him for a moment, then softly said, "Goten-kun, you are so heartless."
        She walked away, leaving him alone.
        "B-chan, no!  I didn't mean that!" He chased her down and held her shoulder. "What I was trying to say was—"
        "JUST STAY AWAY FROM ME!" she shouted and smacked his hand away.  Goten looked at her, startled. "Just—just, please, leave me alone."
        "We have to talk," Goten said firmly. "What is your problem, B-chan?"
        What is my problem? WHAT IS MY PROBLEM? WHAT A STUPID QUESTION! Bra glared at him and snorted. "Goten, I don't have time for this."
        "B-chan, listen to me." He walked closer to her. "I just want to help you.  That's all!"
        "There's nothing you can do," she said under her breath.  She wasn't feeling nervous anymore, only angry and disappointed.  Everything was ruined.  "I just want to go home.  I'm tired." She turned and walked away.
        Goten watched her leave.  He was more confused than ever.  Why was he so upset that she was leaving?  What am I supposed to do? he wondered.  He thought it over and knew he had to ask something.  He had to find out what he really wanted to know from Bra herself.  She was the only one who could tell him.
        He let it out.
        "B-chan…I—do you still like me?"
        She stopped.
        Goten flushed as he realized he said it out loud.  How embarrassing, but it had been said, so no they just had to deal with it.  It was several seconds before Bra turned around and looked at him.
        Bra sighed, then slowly, softly, spoke. "It would be the biggest mistake of my life if I do."
        Goten stared at her.  She didn't say she didn't like him!  But he had to reassure her that it wouldn't be a mistake. "B-chan, you're wrong." He ran towards her but stopped as she looked up at him.  Her eyes were large and luminous with tears shining.
        "No, Goten, THIS is wrong.  A teenage girl falling for a guy eleven years older than her is what's wrong!" she cried.
        Goten froze.
        "All this time," Bra continued. "All this time I've been keeping th—this…" She covered her mouth and squeezed her eyes shut, trying to stop herself from crying, but the warm tears spilled out anyway.  Goten didn't know what to do. But he really hated to see her cry.
        "Marron—Marron-chan said that I should let it out," she said softly. "And I tried really hard to do it…" She wiped her tears away. "A—and when I did…" A replay of yesterday flashed through her mind. "And when I did, YOU TOOK IT AS A JOKE!"
        Goten blinked. "No!  It's not what you think!"
        "Just tell me this Goten!" She stuck a finger in his chest. "Just tell me WHO I AM to you!"
        For a few moments, he didn't say anything.  He was too startled by her question.  Who is she…to me?  His eyes wandered aimlessly on the ground. "You were always like a little sister to me," he said quietly.
"A little sister I never had and I always cared about you.  Really."
        She looked him straight in the eyes. "Fine." She nodded. "A sister.  I'll be your sister and you be my brother."
        "But yesterday…"
        "FORGET ABOUT YESTERDAY!  FORGET ABOUT WHAT I SAID!  Just—just forget about everything!" she cried. "I don't know what I was thinking."
        "But I don't want to forget about yesterday." He forced her head up. "Now tell me the truth, B-chan."
        "The truth?  I'll TELL you the truth!  The TRUTH is that I HATE YOU!"
        "B-chan, you know you're lying," he said. "Look at you…you're shaking!"
        He was right.  She was shaking all over and could hardly stand up.  She shook her head awkwardly and stepped back. "I can't do this anymore, Goten." She turned around and ran away.
        Goten sighed and followed her.  How many more times would he have to chase her tonight?  "B-chan!"
        Bra kept running as fast as she could.  She couldn't see where she was going because of the tears that blurred her eyes.  She suddenly lost her balance and fell as the heel of her shoe broke.  She gasped in pain.
        "B-chan!" Goten saw her on the ground and went to help her up.
        "DON'T TOUCH ME!"
        He ignored her and settled her on her feet.  He held both her arms as tightly as he had before.  He wasn't going to let her go.
        Bra struggled to get away. "LET…ME…GO!" she yelled.
        "No!  You haven't answered me yet!"
        "Goten, you're hurting me!"
        "Just answer me, then I'll let you—"
        "Let go of me!" she screamed, then raised her hand and slapped him hard across the face.
        Suddenly, everything was quiet.
        Bra gasped and covered her mouth with her hands as she realized what she'd done.  Goten was still holding her shoulders.  His eyes were closed.
        He slowly turned to face her.  He watched her as she trembled in front of him.  He was unperturbed.  It seemed like he already knew what was bothering her.  And he understood what Bra wanted to tell him.  He knew how she felt and could almost feel her fear.  He said he was going to help her.  And he really meant it.  So he's going to help her say it. "Get it over with, B-chan," he said softly. "Let's just get it over with."
        Bra stared at him.
        Goten nodded. "Go on…"
        "Just…say it."
        Bra stared at him in confusion until she finally understood what he was saying. ""No, Goten." Bra shook her head. "I—"
        "B-chan, come on."
        "NO!" She pushed him away and hit him weakly on the chest. "I don't know what you're talking about!" she lied.

        Goten grabbed her hand and held it firmly. "Say it, Bra.  Say you love me."

        Bra paused.  She looked at him. "Say…what?"
        "Say you love me," he whispered. "Say—say you HATE me, if you want.  But just be honest, Bra, and just get it over with!"
        Bra was completely taken by surprise.  She couldn't understand what he was trying to do.  Why was he forcing the issue?  Her mouth hung open but no words came out. Marron said to tell him…Marron's advice echoed in her mind.  She squeezed her eyes shut.
        Goten shook her.  He was getting impatient. "Just say it!"
        "I…I can't!" She tried to push away.
        She clenched her fist.  There was no other way.

        If you love somebody, Bra-chan…tell them. 

"I—I love you, Goten!" she finally cried out. She was stammering, sobbing, but saying it. "I…love you, with all my heart."

        So it was finished.  She'd finally said it.  The burden she'd carried for so long was gone.  She opened her eyes, stunned.  She felt as if a huge weight was gone. She'd never felt so light and relieved before.  And it was because, she realized, she had nothing to hide anymore.
        Bra blinked when she noticed Goten was still standing in front of her, holding her.  She wasn't sure if she wanted to do this, but she slowly raised her eyes to meet his.
        To her surprise, Goten looked at her with a warm smile on his mouth and in his eyes.  He took a real good look at the woman in front of her.  He memorized every detail in the dim light and finally saw her.  The real her.  She wasn't just a girl, his best friend's sister.  She was someone beautiful and perfect and special.  And he knew.
        In one quick move, he bent and kissed her tenderly on the lips.  Bra felt totally paralyzed.  She couldn't move, she couldn't breathe; all she could do was enjoy the moment while it lasted. She closed her eyes, kissing him back.

        It was a while before they drifted apart.
        Goten looked down at her.  Her eyes were still closed and her lips parted.  He smiled and pulled her close to him and hugged her.  Bra's eyes opened slowly as she heard him breathing beside her.  He bent and leaned over, his chin on her shoulder.  She felt the shivers run through her at that simple move.
        "B-chan, you silly," he whispered.
        "You've changed my life so much in just these few days…you've changed it entirely.  How could I be so ---?  The girl who is perfect for me, the one who is my other half, is just right before my eyes!"
        Bra's lips twitched.  She felt like she was in a movie…this was all so unreal. "But Goten-kun," she said softly, "what will people think when they see us? I'm too young for you…"
        "No.  It's fate," he said.
        "Fate is cruel, then."
        "No, B-chan." He took a deep breath. "You and me, that is fate."
        Bra looked up at him.
        "And I don't care who you are, or how old you are.  Because when you love someone, you just love someone.  Age doesn't matter." He held her hands firmly. "I've been thinking about this since yesterday.  I'd made my choice, and I wouldn't miss it for the world."
        Bra stared at him as he leaned forward.
        "And I love you, too, B-chan," he told her.
        She smiled, a smile of pure happiness.  She had found the one thing she'd never dreamed of finding.  For she had found love.  True love in it's purest form…love as true as the falling cherry blossoms on that fateful night…love as beautiful as the colors of the blue sea reflecting the sun…love that time could never, ever separate.
        Goten smiled down at her, the kind of smile that made all her efforts worthwhile.  He was irresistibly drawn to her.  He inched his face towards hers and she made no effort to avoid him.  When their lips met, hers felt so soft and tender against his that he picked her up and held her closer.  Bra wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer to her.  She wished it would never end.
        And so finally, the two soulmates found each other.  Their destinies had finally come together and they were finally one.  The blossoms kept floating across the city, telling the merry news about the two lonely people who lounged for true love and finally found it.
 The trees sang their song in the cool midnight breeze.

Bra and Goten were finally where they belong.

        "Um, Goten-kun?" Bra said between their kisses.
        "What are we supposed to tell my otousan?"
        Goten stopped.  He looked at her with worried eyes, sweat drops all over his face. "That—" He laughed weakly. "That is something I will worry about later."
        Bra giggled.
        Goten chuckled and looked at his watch. "Whoa, we'd better get going! I don't want Vegeta-ojisan to hunt us down again!"  He took her hand in his and held it firmly as they went back to meet their families.
        They were on their way back when they heard Trunks and Marron calling their names. "Goten!  Bra!" Trunks exclaimed. "Where have you been?  We've been looking all over—" Trunks stopped as he saw their joined hands. "Oh, no.  I think I'm going to be sick!" Trunks said and looked away.  Marron gaped, then smiled.  Her eyes brightened.
        "Get out of here!" she said playfully.
        Bra sheepishly nodded then pecked Goten's cheek.  Both girls shrieked in excitement while Goten stood there blushing.  Then he remembered that Trunks was RIGHT THERE and that it was HER BROTHER he was looking at.  His pal.  He was sweating all over as if it was the first time he met Trunks.  Bra noticed this so she looked sweetly at her brother. "Oh, come on, Niichan!"
        "Yeah!" Goten agreed. "It's not THAT bad…Niichan!"
        "Now I really think I'm gonna be sick.  Marron, will you please help me?"
        Bra and Marron laughed, then Bra remembered something. "Oh no!  Those earrings Trunks gave you!"
        "Um, no, no, that's all right," Marron said hastily.  She winked at Goten. "That was part of the plan, anyway!"
        Bra raised an eyebrow. "Plan?" 
        "Okay, okay!" Trunks cut in. "Happy endings for all.  Can we all just go home?" He looked at Goten seriously. "And you."
        "Yes, Oniichan?" Goten said innocently. "What is it?"
        Trunks stared at him for a while.  He looked at his sister, then back at Goten. "No touching, hugging, or kissing when I'm around.  Pay your own bills and if you take her out, have her back before nine," he said sternly.
        Marron gave him a strange look.
        "And if you hurt my sister in any way, I'll kill you."
        Goten turned pale and shuddered.  He'd never seen Trunks act like this before.  Bra looked at her
brother warningly. "Don't worry, Oniichan!"
        Goten grinned at his best friend. "I'll take good care of her." He put his arm around her and pulled her close.
        "Ugh, I can't take anymore of this," Trunks mumbled as he walked away, taking Marron beside him.
        "Can I call you oniichan?" Goten asked excitedly.
        "But ONII-CHAN!"
        "Goten, please just shut up."
        "Oniichan, Oniichan, Oniichan," Goten chanted.
        "You're asking for it!" Trunks grit his teeth.
        "Asking for what, Oniichan?"
        "Oh, that's it!" Trunks started chasing Goten and before long they were doing a remarkable imitation of their fathers, chasing each other around like little boys.  Over and around the trees, shouting playfully at each other.  The girls began laughing as they watched them.
        "Help me!" Goten cried, hiding behind Bra.  She couldn't help laughing harder.  Trunks stopped at
that.  He hadn't seen his sister laugh in so long, and now she was laughing with raw joy.  Trunks smiled to himself.  He couldn't be mad when she was this happy. 

        As the four of them stood side-by-side, they realized the O-Hanami festival wasn't over yet.  So they began
watching the falling pink petals for the last time that night.  The whole scene was perfect.

        Bra looked at Marron beside her and mouthed, "Thank you."

        Marron just smiled, winked, and gave her the peace sign, telling her that everything is fine.  After that, she wrapped her arms around Trunks and leaned closer to him.  Trunks looked down and smiled at her.  They continued to watch the blossoms.
        Bra smiled to herself.  Looks like her best friend found happiness, too.  But Marron was lucky; she got her guy without all the troubles Bra'd had.  But Bra was glad Marron had found someone for her, too.
        Because everyone deserved love.
        Goten looked at Bra and smiled.  He reached out for her hand and linked their fingers.  His large hand squeezed Bra's tightly. He held her hand so tight…he wanted to hold on forever.

        And he knew that he would never, ever have to.

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