Thank you all for your support! I really appreciated it! I'm glad you all have enjoyed this story, and I would encourage you to read the sequel (if you aren't already), which I hope you will enjoy just as much, if not more.
I'd also like to thank all the people who helped get me out of my writer's block on this and the other chapters. I couldn't have done it without you!
Disclaimer: Quid pro quo. "Something for something." In this case, nothing for nothing, since I don't own DBZ and I'm not making a single cent off of it. I think that's clear enough.
The clever play on Frozenflower's name is used with her permission. I felt that, as the originator of the Dende-pina colada trend, she fit the role perfectly. ^_^
Tails Times Two
The time that passed seemed like forever, each second ticking away slowly enough to make Bulma think that time itself had stopped, but a glance at the clock proved that it had only been five minutes since Goku had gone to the Lookout. What's taking him so long?! Just how much time does it take to find Dende and teleport back here?! Where are they!!?
As if in answer to her question, the orange clad source of her frustration popped back into the room. He was wearing an expression of such utter defeat and dejection that Bulma immediately forgot the sharp words she had prepared to berate Goku with for his tardiness. "What is it, Goku? What's wrong?" she asked, concerned.
"Dende's not at the Lookout, Bulma." His voice was heavy with frustration, despair, and it seemed it was all the Saiyan could do to keep from pounding his fist against the table where the dying chibis lay. "In fact, he's not even on Earth!" Taking a deep breath in a vain attempt to regain control of his trembling limbs, Goku rubbed his forehead wearily and continued his report. "I couldn't find his ki, so I focused on Piccolo's instead, since the two have been nearly inseparable ever since he started helping Dende learn how to be Kami. When I got there and asked Piccolo where Dende was, Piccolo told me that there had been some sort of Godly Meeting that Dende was required to attend - he left Piccolo to watch over the Earth in his place. There's no way to get a hold of him on short notice, and I couldn't trace his ki to teleport myself to him, either!" A choked sob escaped the mighty warrior's lips as he gazed helplessly at the two young demi-Saiyans, tears streaking down his cheeks in little silver rivers. "What are we going to do, Bulma?"
At first there was no answer, causing Goku to look up at his friend curiously. Bulma was staring at her son's ruined face, watching his chest rise and fall in ragged, shallow gasps that hardly seemed enough to sustain life. Her eyes were puffy and red from crying, her face haggard and careworn, as though the five minutes had instead been fifteen years, making her look old. Even though she was older than Goku by a good four years, she had always seemed young to him, so even the faint wrinkles that could be seen now were a shock to him. When did Bulma get wrinkles? he wondered, blinking like a startled owl. Wrinkles are for old ladies... Bulma's not that old, is she?
Eventually, the blue haired woman responded, but it wasn't in a way Goku expected. Instead of speaking, or coming up with a wild plan of action and demanding Goku's help, or even breaking down in tears, all she did was square her shoulders and turn away from the table and the two children. Without a word, she walked back over to the table where she had been working on her experiment earlier, face grim but determined. Picking up the glass beaker of greenish-brownish fluid, she turned back to face her friend.
"There is... another possibility," she said. There was an almost undetectable quaver in her voice, as though she was trying to speak calmly despite fear and uncertainty. Goku's breath caught in his throat at this statement, a flicker of hope returning to his eyes. Bulma shook her head and continued. "I've been working on recreating the effects of the senzu bean using an artificial substitute - something that could be easily manufactured rather than having to wait for a new crop of beans. I think I have the right solution now, but I haven't finished testing it. It might not work, or it might have side effects that I don't know about. I don't like the thought of using such a highly experimental chemical on my son or Goten, but..."
"But it doesn't look like we have much choice," Goku finished for her. Closing his eyes, he allowed his shoulders to sag as the weight of the decision before him pressed down on him. Yes, there was hope, but that hope was now tinged with the possibility of dire consequences, perhaps even complete failure. "I understand, Bulma." He opened his eyes and looked right into the cerulean orbs of his long-time friend, then nodded his head. Bulma returned the nod. She understood that he had just given her permission to go through with the plan.
Taking a deep breath, the middle-aged scientist stepped forward, beaker in hand, and poured a small portion of the substance into the thin slit that was all that remained of her son's mouth. Knowing that time was short for the two boys and that they couldn't afford to wait however long it took for the artificial senzu to start working, Bulma immediately moved over to Goten's side and poured half of the remaining contents of the beaker into his mouth. Both boys coughed weakly, then swallowed instinctively.
Punch. Punch. Kick. Dodge. Block. Kick. Punch. Even as fast as he was moving, Vegeta maintained the smooth and rhythmic flow of the kata, keeping pace with an opponent that no one could see but him. He envisioned the enemy in his mind, saw every attack the man made, every punch, every kick, every ki blast, and responded accordingly. Sweat slicked the Saiyan warrior's body from head to toe, testament of the intensity of his workout, but Vegeta paid it no mind. Strength and skill were things that could only be obtained by hard work and serious training, and even after they had been earned he must work to maintain them or risking losing them. Kakarot's eldest brat was proof of that. Idiot brat doesn't even train! It's disgusting! He obtains a new level of Super Saiyan and then lets his power go to waste after using it only once!
Anger coursed through his veins, leading the Saiyan Prince to take his training up another notch, aura blazing golden as he broke through the barrier that separated most Saiyans from the legendary transformation of the Super Saiyan. His gravity defying, flame styled hair shifted into a different pattern of spikes, its normal midnight black bleeding away to be replaced by burnished gold to rival the sun. Vegeta savored the incredible power that pulsed and throbbed within his body, suffusing him with so much energy that he almost felt as though he would burst if he did not use it. Allowing the energy to swell even further, the spikes in his hair stiffened further and his body changed to accommodate his ever increasing power until small lightning bolts sparked the air around his body. And yet, it was not enough.
Eyes that had once been black and were now a pupilless sea green narrowed, a low growl rumbling from his chest. He knew there was a third level to this transformation! He had seen it with his own eyes! Both Kakarot and the fused form of Goten and Trunks had surpassed the form that had been strong enough to beat even Cell, and Vegeta would be damned if he allowed a third class and two halfbreed brats, even if one of them was his own son, to surpass him! He would not be satisfied until he, the Prince of all Saiyans, had attained this level as well, and even then he would continue to strive to become stronger. That was just the way he was.
After a few moments of rapid punching and kicking, adjusting to the increase in power, he settled into a familiar routine of shadow boxing and throwing ki blasts that he would guide around the room until they were heading straight for him, deflecting or blocking them as they came. It was exhilarating. Nothing could compare to this, unless it was a full fledged battle with an opponent of equal strength, both of them testing their limits and pushing the other to new extremes, never knowing if you were going to feel the thrill of victory or taste the bitterness of defeat. Hn... I wonder if Kakarot is up for a spar...
Vegeta was suddenly brought back to reality by a sharp sense of foreboding, a feeling that something was wrong. Pausing in mid-punch, the Saiyan prince lifted his head and slowly scanned the gravity room, looking for any sign of whatever it was that had alerted his instincts. When nothing out of the ordinary caught his attention, Vegeta closed his eyes and began searching for energy signatures. There were four kis in the immediate vicinity, all in close proximity to each other. One was immediately identifiable as Kakarot, the second was his mate and wife, Bulma. The other two were even weaker than the woman - probably lab technicians or something. Weakling humans, Vegeta snorted to himself, moving on. They weren't strong enough to be a threat even to his mate and so were not of immediate concern.
As best as he could tell, the source of this troubling feeling was not in Capsule Corporation, so Vegeta broadened his search until it included the entire planet. Determining that there were no powerful energies on the planet other than those he already knew, he withdrew his senses and began a search of a different type. If whatever it was that was bothering him was not an enemy, it had to be a threat of a different kind, a threat to someone he knew. His ki senses quested outward again, touching first Bulma, then Kakarot, the onna's parents, Kakarot's eldest brat.... One by one, Vegeta accounted for each and every person he knew, whether or not he liked them, until he realized what it was that had raised his internal alarms.
There were two people missing.
Spurred on by a growing sense of urgency, Vegeta searched again for the ki signatures of his son and the second brat of Kakarot, Goten. It was possible that they had gotten into trouble and were suppressing their ki to avoid being caught, but the Saiyan father highly doubted that. Their absence at precisely the same time as his sense of foreboding could not be coincidence, not when there was nothing else to explain the feeling of dread in Vegeta's heart.
There was Bulma's energy, still in the same place she had been the last time, but Kakarot was no longer with her. Searching for the other Saiyan's ki, Vegeta was only vaguely surprised to note that Goku was now somewhere in the vicinity of the Lookout. Curse him and that Instant Transmission of his. Popping in and out of my home like a damned rodent, Vegeta grumbled irritably before returning his focus to Capsule Corporation. This time he didn't discount the low kis out of hand, since any one of them might be Goten or Trunks trying not to be noticed... or so drained of energy that their ki was comparable to that of a human. So when he once again came to the two people in his mate's presence, Vegeta took the time to look beyond their level of strength - weak even by human standards - and concentrated instead on the familiarity of their ki. It's them, he silently confirmed. Then, with a sinking feeling in his stomach, Vegeta realized that the feeble energy signatures...
...were getting weaker.
Eyes snapping open, the warrior prince practically flew from the gravity room. He raced into the main building of Capsule Corporation and wove his way through the maze of halls and corridors, heading in as straight a line as possible toward the fading lives buried somewhere in the complex. Somewhere along the way he noticed that Kakarot had returned from his trip to the Lookout and was once again in close proximity to Bulma, Goten, and Trunks. It figured that he would already be aware of the situation and was probably working to solve the problem, but that didn't slow Vegeta one bit. The Prince of all Saiyans wasn't about to leave his son's fate in the hands of that third class idiot, no matter how powerful the man might be!
As he was drawing near to his destination it registered in his mind that he had entered the section of Capsule Corp. where most of the labs were. Another moment passed and Vegeta found himself in front of the door to the chemical lab. Chemical lab? Why would- he cut himself off in mid thought. That is not important. I can ask questions after I find out what is wrong with my son and fix it. Without another thought, he flung the door open and strode into the room.
His eyes darted around the room, coming to rest on the figures of Bulma and Kakarot. The two were standing next to a table where two unrecognizable and misshapen lumps lay. No, not lumps. Vegeta's eyes narrowed, focusing on the two forms on the able. One of the lumps coughed weakly, and that's when he knew. He knew what they were and he now knew what he had been sensing. The children! Feeling as though someone had just punched him in the gut, Vegeta rushed up to join the other two adults. "Kakarot! What the hell hap-?!" he barked, breaking off when he realized that something strange was happening.
When he has first laid eyes on the children, they had resembled wax figures that had been placed too close to a fire, skin dripping away from bones without any sign of hair or clothing. Vegeta was therefore completely taken aback when he noticed that the flesh of both chibis was almost magically regrowing to cover once-bare bones. Exposed organs sank back in place beneath smooth, pink skin, and as he watched with disbelieving eyes the children were soon completely healed. There wasn't a single trace of evidence that any harm had ever befallen either demi-Saiyan, not counting the little puddles of organic ooze still sticking to the table around them... and their smooth, shiny, and very bald heads.
Vegeta blinked. Calmly, oh so calmly, he lifted an eyebrow and asked, "Would somebody mind telling me just WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?!" Well, it started off calmly anyway. Glowering belligerently at his rival and his mate, the Saiyan prince scooped up his son, having grown somewhat protective of him in the aftermath of the fight with Majin Buu. "That was not the work of a senzu bean!" Indeed, a senzu bean works its magic in mere seconds, over almost before it begins. This... whatever this was, it's healing effects were drawn out over the course of ten, maybe fifteen seconds!
"It worked!" Bulma giggled, giddy as a school girl. "Oh Kami, I was afraid for a moment there when it didn't immediately take effect! But it worked!" Laughing happily, the greatly relieved woman did a little jig of victory right there in the middle of the lab.
"What worked?" Vegeta growled impatiently. "Onna, stop prancing around and answer my questions!"
"It was her senzu sludge, Vegeta!" Grinning from ear to ear, Goku picked his own son up, who was already opening his eyes and looking rather startled. "The boys got into an accident in the lab and Bulma used one of her experiments to heal them."
The Prince of all Saiyans scowled suspiciously. "'Senzu sludge'?" he asked. "Woman, I thought I expressly forbid you from using our son as one of your guinea pigs!"
The accusation was enough to pull the blue haired scientist out of the impromptu celebration and ignite a heated glare in her eyes. "You know damn well I wouldn't willingly use any my experiments on our son unless I knew it was safe or unless it was an emergency! Well, listen here, Mr. High and Mighty! It was an emergency! If I hadn't given Goten and Trunks that synthetic serum they would have died! We tried to find another way, but there were no senzu beans, Dende wasn't at the Lookout, and we were running out of time! I did what I thought was best, and I sure as hell wasn't experimenting on either of them, so back off!" Huffing indignantly, Bulma folded her arms across her chest, practically daring her husband to pursue the argument.
Vegeta glared back at her, more than willing to launch off into another one of their famous verbal spars, but the sound of his son's confused voice caused him to change his plans. "Tousan? What's going on?" Trunks asked, blinking his bright cerulean eyes up at his father questioningly. Without his hair, he looked almost like an oversized infant, an effect that was strengthened by his position cradled in Vegeta's arms. Realizing exactly where he was, Trunks's eyes widened in shock. The last time his father had held him had been right before he'd sacrificed himself in the fight against Majin Buu, and that certainly hadn't been the way he was holding him now! "Is... is everything all right?" He's not going to die again, is he?! I mean, why else would he be... hugging me?
Softening the expression on his face somewhat, Vegeta snorted ironically. "Unless you count the loss of your hair as something to be mourned, it appears that nothing is wrong." Slightly embarrassed, he quickly set his son back on the table.
Trunks's eyes widened almost comically. "My hair?!" he yelped, immediately clapping his hands to his bare head. A look of outright horror pasted itself onto his face when his fingers found nothing but smooth, bare skin. "Aaaaahhhhh!!!!!"
"Hahaha, you're bald, Trunks!" Goten laughed, pointing at his hapless friend. Barely even noticing his miraculous health, the younger chibi squirmed out of his father's arms and jumped up onto the table with his friend. "You look like a big baby!"
"Oh yeah?" Trunks snapped back, not enjoying being laughed at. "In case you hadn't noticed, Goten, you're bald too! Haha, I bet you look even more like a baby than I do, 'cause I'm older!" Folding his arms across his chest, he flashed his friend a victorious smirk, lashing his tail behind him in a superior manner. Wait a minute.... tail?!
"Hey, what's that thingy?" Goten peered curiously at the furry brown worm-like thing that was wriggling behind his friend's back, distracted from Trunks's comment about his lack of hair before he could even reply. An inquisitive, curious boy, Goten was drawn to all things furry, scaly, feathery, or in any way related to animals, so he couldn't help but reach out and grab what he perceived to be a cute, fuzzy worm.
"EEYOW!!!" Eyes bugging out in surprise and pain, the unfortunate chibi jumped about a foot into the air before being jerked back down by Goten's grip on his tail. "Ow ow ow ow ow!! Goten, don't do that!!" He didn't know what his friend had just done, but whatever it was, it hurt! Tears prickled his eyes despite his best resolve not to cry. Blinking them away, Trunks reached back and snatched away the thing that Goten had grabbed. "Huh? What's this?"
As soon as he laid eyes on what his son held in his hands, Vegeta's expression quickly turned to one of shocked recognition. "A tail?!" Rounding on his equally surprised mate, the Saiyan prince demanded, "Woman! How and when did this happen?! More importantly, why didn't you tell me?!!"
"Goten has one, too," Goku remarked, reaching out to finger the boy's tail. A look of nostalgia crossed his face, a faint smile of pleasant memories. "I remember when I had a tail. I know why Kami didn't want me to have it now, but I still kind of miss it." One eyebrow lifted in a silent question, which he directed at his friend. "How did they get their tails back? Was it that senzu sludge you gave them? They didn't have tails before..."
"It's not 'senzu sludge', Goku," the blue haired woman responded irritably. "If you're going to call it anything, call it a senzu serum, or something like that." She frowned. "That's the only explanation I can come up with, too, but I can't see why it would have had an effect on their tails. We had them surgically removed when they were born, remember? Senzu beans never had any effect on severed tails before, not yours, not Vegeta's, and not Gohan's, and since I based my formula off the physical and chemical properties of a senzu bean, it shouldn't be any different!"
"Was there any damage done directly to the base of the spine?" Vegeta asked abruptly. When the two other adults looked at him questioningly, he elaborated. "Neither of you has told me exactly what happened. Did the boys sustain injuries to the area where the tail emerges from?"
Scratching the back of his head thoughtfully, the taller Saiyan replied, "Well, yeah. They'd pretty much been doused in acid, so there probably was some pretty bad damage there. Why do you ask, Vegeta?"
"Because that would explain why their tails grew back." Vegeta nodded to himself, pleased with having solved the mystery of the regrown tails. "As you already know, Saiyans in general heal at a rate far greater than normal humans. Saiyan children, however, have a concentration of regenerative tissue located at the base of the spine, which enables children - who have a greater likelihood of losing their tails since they are weaker than adults an haven't learned to guard them yet - to grow their tails back if they are cut off. The regenerative tissue immediately starts a buildup of growth cells that, when there are enough of them, will suddenly burst through the skin into the form of a new tail. However, as the child grows older, this tissue eventually fades, and the loss of a tail will be a permanent thing."
"Hey, that's right! I remember once when Goku grew his tail back during the World Martial Arts Tournament!" Bulma laughed, remembering her reaction to seeing her young friend's tail grow back while fighting with the purple dinosaur, Giran. She'd half expected him to turn into a giant monkey then and there... which actually hadn't been too far from the truth.
"So why didn't our tails ever grow back before?" Trunks asked curiously. Holding his new tail in his hands, he had been looking it over in fascination, keeping himself out of the conversation until it turned to the subject of tails. "I mean, me an' Goten are still kids, so shouldn't we still have that tissue stuff?"
"Yeah!" Goten piped up, dropping his tail into his lap. "Do tails take a really long time to grow back or something? 'Cause I'm seven years old an' my tail never grew back before!"
"That's because your tails were surgically removed, brats. The process left scarring directly on the regenerative tissue, inhibiting it from producing enough growth cells for you to grow your tails back." Grumbling to himself, Vegeta shot Bulma a look of annoyance. He had fought the decision to remove their son's tail quite fiercely, but in the end his mate had won. She wanted her children to grow up as close to "normal" as they possibly could, and on Earth that meant no tails. Eight years later, it was more than obvious that Trunks would never be normal, with or without a tail. This time I will not let her cut his tail off! he silently vowed. Her excuse for "normalcy" is no longer valid, and I will not allow her to remove my son's Saiyan heritage a second time!
"Is that why Gohan's tail never grew back after you pulled it off, Vegeta?" Goku asked. "Scar tissue?"
"Probably," grunted Vegeta. "If you had given him a senzu bean afterwards, I suspect his tail would have regrown. But you had already used them up before we even fought, if I remember correctly." An amused smirk flickered briefly on his lips. "Actually, because I only pulled the tail off, it should have grown back on its own. Any scarring that occurred was probably caused by whatever ignorant human doctor you took him to."
"So there's no chance of either of us or Gohan growing our tails back?" Goku pressed, sounding mildly disappointed. He did miss his tail, and since Piccolo had blown up the moon back when he was training Gohan to fight the Saiyans, there wasn't any danger of him turning into a rampaging oozaru.
"No," came Vegeta's curt response. Even after all these years, it still rankled him that he, the Prince of all Saiyans, was without a tail and had no hope of ever growing it back. The fat human who had cut it off probably knew this, since he avoided Vegeta like the plague. Smart man.
Goku sighed. "Oh well." He was disappointed, but he could live with it. After all, he had lived without a tail for the better part of his life now. Besides, there was no point dwelling on something you couldn't change. Turning his eyes on the two naked boys, the defender of Earth frowned. "You two need to get dressed, and then I think we need to have a talk about sneaking into places you don't belong."
Exchanging looks of dismay, Goten and Trunks groaned. They should have known better than to stick around after getting themselves into trouble!
Meanwhile, on a remote planet designated as the official location of all Godly Meetings, the great cosmic dice were rolling. Literally. "All right! Snake eyes!" Dende chortled, collecting his winnings from his grumbling fellow gods.
"Damn it," a blue skinned kami from the Southern Quadrant cursed. "Some gods have all the luck."
"He can't win all the time!" protested a goddess who reminded Dende of an Earth flower he had once seen. A gleam lit her eyes that could almost be described as evil, and she grabbed a glass from the tray of a passing waiter. "Dende, my friend, have you ever tried one of these? I hear they're made locally on your planet."
"What is it?" Dende asked curiously, carefully sniffing the pale liquid in the glass. It was true that he had only been Kami of the Earth for a few years, and the remote location of the Lookout didn't exactly make it easy to try out the things the world had to offer. Drinking water day after day could get pretty dull, especially considering Dende's all-liquid diet. I could do with a little variety...
"I believe it is called 'pina colada'," the other kami replied, smirking slyly. Come on, you little green bug. Just drink it! You can't possibly keep up your winning streak if you're dead drunk! She wasn't really a bad goddess... she just didn't like losing! "Try it, Dende. I think you'll like it."
"All right, Frozen, if you insist." Shrugging his shoulders lightly, the naive Namek took a careful sip. "Hey, this is pretty good! I'll have to tell Mr. Popo about this. Maybe I can convince him to get some for the Lookout's pantry! Pina colada, did you say?"
The flower-like goddess known as Frozen smiled. "That's right. I'm glad you like it, Dende."
Dende smiled back and took a second, more generous gulp from his cup. "Isn't it great that the gods get to have a holiday every once in a thousand years? I've only been Kami of Earth for a few years, but it feels even longer, what with all the work I have to do to keep that planet in one piece!"
"Surely it isn't much different from any other planet," the nameless blue god commented skeptically.
"You have no idea what you're talking about," Dende replied, shaking his head. "I have two Saiyans, three demi-Saiyans, and a fourth one on the way! And all of them, not counting the unborn baby, can become Super Saiyans!"
Gasps of shock arose from the gathering of gods. "Super Saiyans?! Oh, you poor dear! No wonder you looked so worn out when you got here!" Many of them knew the legend of the insanely powerful Saiyan warriors, so they all had a pretty good idea how taxing it would be to have five of them on your planet.
"It's a wonder you're still alive!"
"I'd heard that the Saiyans died off back when that lizard guy - Freezer, was it? - was terrorizing the universe."
"No, a few of them lived. Hey, Dende, I thought you said all the evil aliens on your planet had been killed off! If that's true, how do you explain the Saiyans?"
"Believe it or not, these Saiyans are all good people. They live peaceful lives on my planet... well, as peaceful as Saiyans ever get." Dende grimaced. Even a peaceful Saiyan could cause a lot of damage, a lot of it by accident or when they were sparring. He had lost count of the times he'd had to divert the course of a stray ki blast, or deal with the aftermath a "friendly spar" that had gotten too close to a city. It was enough to give the poor Namek a migraine headache on a fairly regular basis! He'd hate to think of what would happen if even one of the Saiyans on his planet ever turned to the path of evil! I feel sorry for whoever was Kami of Vegeta-sei. A planet full of violent, evil-prone Saiyans... A delicate shudder ran up the spine of the green god. Some things just didn't bear thinking about.
"Wonders never cease," Frozen murmured. Eyeing the amount of liquid left in Dende's glass, she smiled. With as much as he'd downed, it wouldn't be long before he'd start feeling the effects. "Well, who's up for another round of dice?"
"Haven't you learned your lesson yet, Frozen?" Dende snickered. "But if you're willing, I'm game." Picking up the dice again, Dende had time for one last vague thought before the game began. Gee, I hope no one needs me back home...
Thus it was that Dende was first introduced to the alcoholic beverage known as the pina colada, which would later be blamed as the root of a great deal of trouble in the lives of the Saiyans and their friends on Earth. Trunks and Goten were allowed to keep their tails, and eventually their hair grew back to its former length. They never did learn their lesson, though, playing pranks and getting into trouble left and right. Bulma returned to perfecting her senzu sludge-
"I thought I told you not to call it that!!"
Ahem. Bulma returned to perfecting her "senzu serum."
Unfortunately for her, the term that Goku had coined stuck, and it was forever after called senzu sludge, despite Bulma's many protests. Though the children seemed to have pulled through without suffering any adverse side effects, Bulma didn't want to let anyone else use it until she could be certain that it was completely safe. Other than that, they all pretty much lived happily ever after...
Or did they?
To find out more about the continuing adventures of Trunks and Goten, read Wish For The Past! A misspoken wish lands Goten in the past, traveling alongside Bardock, the grandfather he never knew. Concerned for his friend's safety, Trunks soon joins him, and together they travel from Vegeta-sei to Earth, trying to find a way back home.