Disclaimer: If I owned DBZ, I'd be shouting it out to the world! Instead, you all get to hear me whine and complain about how I don't own it. Lucky readers. *grins*
Warning: Contains a lot of fluff! ^_^ Next chapter will contain some graphic violence, which is the reason for the PG13 rating.
Tails Times Two
The little boy crept silently through the grass, stalking his prey with the easy and grace of a cat. If he'd had a tail, it probably would have been twitching wildly with anticipation, kept low to the ground to avoid alerting his quarry of his presence. It was difficult to keep his breathing calm, even, and most importantly quiet. He had been working hard every day to hone the skills he was using now while waiting for the perfect opportunity to launch his attack, and now that the moment was finally upon him, he found himself flooded with excitement. The target was asleep, oblivious to the stalker's presence, and the boy had the utmost confidence that his many grueling hours of training would be well worth it. He could almost taste victory. The slight breeze that had been blowing through the trees above stilled, almost as though the world itself was holding its breath in eager anticipation, and the boy knew that now was the time to strike. With all the speed and strength at his disposal, he pounced.
"Gotcha!!" Goten crowed triumphantly, landing on his father's stomach exactly as he'd planned. Before Goku could even have a chance to retaliate, the seven year old demi-Saiyan danced his fingers along his victim's ribs. "Tickle tickle, tousan!!"
Goku's eyes shot wide open as he burst out in helpless laughter. "Hehehehehehe!! S-stop that, Goten! Hehe, it t-tickles!!" he gasped, rolling from side to side in an attempt to dislodge his youngest son. Unfortunately for him, Goten had spent a lot of time practicing this very attack on his older brother, and he would not be bucked off so easily as that.
"No way, daddy," the chibi chortled, clinging tenaciously to the older Saiyan's stomach with his legs while his fingers worked their magic. "You're too hard to sneak up on! I'm not gonna let you go after just a few seconds the first time I catch you!! Hehehe!"
"Hahahahaha!! Y-you're gonna wish you'd hehehehe shown mercy on mehehehe in a second, Goten!" Goku promised laughingly, futilely fending off the little boy's hands as best he could. When had his son's fingers gotten so quick?! They were like lightning, or faster!
"Nuh uh," Goten teased. "I got you right where I want you, an' you won't escape until I stop tickling you! Which will be never!! Ha ha ha ha ha!!" The laugh that emerged from his young lips would almost have been sinister if it hadn't been couple with the innocent joy in his eyes, proof that the boy had been spending a lot of time at his friend's house over the past several weeks. Ever since the World Tournament where he had fought against Trunks and lost, Goten had been using every excuse he could think of to visit Capsule Corporation so he could spar with his fellow half-breed. Apparently he was either dissatisfied with his strength, or he just enjoyed spending time with the older boy, because not a day went by where he didn't ask his parents if he could go over to Trunks's house, and today was no exception. "I'll only stop tickling if you promise to take me to see Trunks!"
It only took another few seconds of the terrible tickle torture for Goku to give in and admit his defeat. "All right, all right! Hehehe! You win, Goten! You win!! Just pleahehehehese stop tickling me!!" Goku collapsed in relief the moment the spiky haired boy stopped wriggling his fingers.
"Yay!!!" Goten immediately cheered, throwing his arms around his father's neck. "Thank you, tousan! You're the best! Can we go now? Pleeeaase? You can use your In-stamp Transition thingy and we could be there in no time!! Come on, daddy, please please please?"
"It's 'Instant Transmission,' Goten," Goku corrected patiently, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Without warning, he snatched his son up off his chest and pinned him to the ground, then started tickling him in earnest. "I warned you you'd be sorry if you didn't show me mercy," he reminded the squirming boy with a smirk. "This is what you get for not minding your father!"
"Tooouuusaaaan!! Hehehee!! No fair!! I won! You're not supposed to hehehehe tickle me after you give up!"
"Ah, but who said I gave up?" the spiky haired man laughed in response. "I only said that you won, and you did! That time, anyway! Now it's my turn to win! Tickle tickle tickle!" The happy shrieks of laughter were like music to the warrior's ears, and it wasn't long before he gave up tickling his son in favor of simply hugging the child warmly. "Okay, Goten, now we can go to see Trunks. We'll have to let your mother know first, though. You know she doesn't like it when we just disappear without telling her."
"Okay, daddy!" Goten chirped happily as he hugged his father, waiting for him to teleport them home.
Heart filled to bursting with love, Goku lifted two fingers to his forehead and concentrated on his wife's ki. In a moment, father and son vanished from the field where they had been playing, leaving the birds and squirrels in the tree to stare in confusion at the empty spot where they had been sitting. Normal creatures didn't just vanish into thin air, did they? After gazing in puzzlement for another few minutes, though, the creatures shook their collective heads and went back to their business. Some things just weren't meant to be understood.
"No! Absolutely not!!" The voice of Son Chi-Chi literally shook the domed house to its foundation, rattling the windows and the dishes in the cupboard from sheer volume. Inside the building, two spiky haired males cowered before the petite yet dominating female of the house. Chi-Chi swished a rolling pin through the air to emphasize her words, temporarily neglecting the cookie dough she'd been rolling out on the counter. "This will be the third time this week that Goten's gone over there, and while I'm glad he's such good friends with Trunks, I won't have him spending all his time over there fighting when he should be at home studying!! He might not be the genius Gohan is, but I'm not about to let him turn into an uneducated, muscle brained hoodlum, either!!"
"Awww... but Chi-Chi..." Goku said at exactly the same time Goten protested, "Awww... but mommy..."
"I SAID NO AND I MEAN NO!!" Chi-Chi cut them both off angrily, bringing the rolling pin crashing down onto the counter with a loud bang! that threatened to break either the counter or the rolling pin. Fortunately, both had been made by skilled hands that understood the necessity for strong and durable materials, so neither so much as cracked. Nonetheless, the sound had the effect that Chi-Chi desired, causing father and son to recoil nervously despite all their strength, and not from fear of bodily harm. Chi-Chi was, after all, the person who ran the house and cooked their food, so getting her angry was just not a smart thing to do.
However, seeing the disappointed look on his son's face, the mighty warrior decided that some things were worth braving the wrath of his fiery tempered wife. "I did promise I would take him, Chi-Chi," he pointed out reasonably, smiling faintly when he noticed his son perk up hopefully. He gave the young boy a look that communicated without words that he shouldn't say anything. If I lay my cards right, you might still get to go see your friend today.
"You shouldn't have made a promise like that without talking to me first, Son Goku!" the black haired woman responded balefully. Picking up a cookie cutter, she began to take her anger out on the hapless cookie dough by punching it repeatedly with the circular piece of metal, leaving row after row of perfectly shaped cookies ready to be baked.
"You're right, Chi," Goku said soothingly. He glanced briefly at the cookies and sent up a silent prayer to Dende that his efforts on his son's behalf would not deprive him of the tasty treats after they were cooked. "But I did promise, and you wouldn't want me to break my word, would you? What kind of an example would that set for him?"
"I... Goku, you... How would..." the fierce Son female started several times to think of some argument to counter Goku's logic, but could find nothing that wouldn't compromise her principles of honesty. Scowling in annoyance, she grumbled, "Oh, very well. You can take Goten over to Capsule Corp. and visit Trunks-"
"Hurray!!!" Goten cheered, leaping up and down excitedly.
"-but only if you promise to have him back by supper!" she shouted over her son's celebrations, picking up the rolling pin and waving it under Goku's nose threateningly. "Or no cookies for either of you!" Her piece said, Chi-Chi turned back to her cookie dough, gathering up the scraps and rolling them into a ball to be rolled out pancake thin for her to cut more cookies from. Waste not, want not, especially in a household with three Saiyans! Smiling to herself, she added, "After all, if you're late for dinner, I can't promise that Gohan won't have eaten them all by the time you get back."
"Yes, ma'am!" the elder Son nodded in all seriousness, the threat of no cookies a dire one indeed. Reaching down, he picked his son up and set him on his shoulders with a grin. "You don't have to worry about us being late! There's no way either of us would miss out on those cookies!"
"Thank you, 'kaasan!" Goten chirped happily. "And I promise to try an' keep from ruining my clothes this time, too!"
Chi-Chi smiled. She knew perfectly well that whenever her son sparred with his friend, his clothes would come home ripped and burned, though usually not beyond repair. This time would be no different, but it was the thought that counted. "You two be good, okay?"
"Hai!" they both responded at once, waving cheerfully.
"See you in a few hours!" Goku called out as he lifted two fingers to his forehead. After a moment's concentration, the two flickered out of sight, instantly teleported across the long distance to Capsule Corporation, the home of Briefs family and headquarters of the world's most successful company.
Trunks was bored. If it was possible to die of boredom, he figured he should have been dead and buried hours ago, but unfortunately he was still alive and still very, very bored. His father was busy training in the gravity room, Goten wasn't around to play with, his grandparents were out shopping for food for their animals, and his mother was working in the lab on some experiment or other. He didn't feel like playing with any of his toys and the computers held no interest for him. So, naturally, he did the thing that all little boys resort to when they can think of nothing better to do. He was going to go pester his mother.
Using his ki senses to guide him, the lavender haired demi-Saiyan quirked an eyebrow as he realized he was heading straight for the chemical lab. That was odd. His mother didn't usually deal with chemicals, preferring the solid reality of wires and chips and the dependable logic of a computer. I wonder what she's working on that would require dealing with chemicals... the nine year old boy mused silently. Spurred on now by both boredom and curiosity, Trunks Briefs quickened his pace a bit until he was jogging down the corridors of Capsule Corporation.
As soon as he reached the laboratory where he sensed his mother's familiar, weak ki signature, he poked his head in the door and looked around curiously. Bulma was the only one in the lab, and she was focused intently on the beaker of greenish-brownish liquid she held in one hand while her free hand used an eyedropper to drip a single droplet of some chemical or other into the strange concoction. Trunks waited patiently for her to come to a stopping point, knowing from past experience that interrupting her in the middle of an experiment could have results ranging from an hour long lecture on practicing safety precautions in a laboratory all the way down to actually blowing the place up. The kinds of chemicals Bulma kept in here were quite dangerous, and even a tiny spark of ki or accidental spill could have dire consequences. The first and last time Trunks had disobeyed his mother's directions to be cautious had resulted in the utter destruction of approximately half of the lab, though, fortunately, no one had been hurt. Bulma had not been pleased, and neither was Trunks after she had determined an appropriate punishment for him. Needless to say, the incident was never repeated.
Plink. The sound of the droplet splashing into the chemical mixture was barely audible, but the young Saiyan's acute hearing picked it up quite easily. He watched the beaker closely to see if anything had happened as a result of the addition, but he couldn't see any difference. Maybe he just didn't know what to look for. Regardless, Bulma's face lit up in a triumphant smile as she set the experiment carefully into a holder specifically designed to keep it upright and stable. "Perfect," she murmured happily.
"What're you working on, mom?" Trunks asked, climbing up into a chair next to the blue haired genius so he could get a better look at the liquid inside the glass tube. It didn't look like anything special, but looks could be deceiving, especially when it concerned one of his mother's projects.
Bulma smirked down at her son, still elated with the possible implications her discovery would have if her tests proved that it worked as she thought it would. "I've been trying to create an artificial substitute for-"
I originally intended this to be a one-shot fic, but after reaching this point I realized that I was only about halfway done with all that I wanted to accomplish. It's a little short, but I decided it would be better if I split it up into two sections to enhance the contrast between the first half and the second. The reason for the title, along with most of the plot (what little there is) will happen in the next chapter.
Hope you all have enjoyed it so far!