"Isn't he supposed to be awake, yet?"
"Any moment now," soothed Bulma, as she pored over some computer readings. Glancing to the side, she saw Tienshinhan still tensely gripping the console in front of him. "Tien, this isn't an exact science. He'll wake up. Just at his own pace."
Bulma turned around to face her husband, who was leaning against the wall next to her. "Don't you have someplace to be, Vegeta?"
Vegeta glanced at his wife, snorted, and returned his gaze to the main screen.
Incensed, Bulma put her hands on her hips. "Listen, mister, if all you're going to do here is--" Bulma's tirade was cut short as Piccolo tapped her shoulder. Bulma angrily glanced back at the Namek, then back to her readings. As she saw the new vital statistics, her brow furrowed. "Hey, according to these, he should be--"
A slight groan was heard over the control room speakers.
"About time," Tien cheerfully muttered.
Bulma smiled, and opened the two-way com-link. "Welcome back to the world of the living, Yamcha!"
The main screen showed a picture of Yamcha, clad in a loose shirt and slacks, lying on a surgical bed. The room around him was mostly bare, and had a very utilitarian feel to it. As the quartet watched, Yamcha stirred a bit more, and slowly sat up.
"...My head," he quietly muttered. Letting out a moan, Yamcha quickly slouched forward and put his hand to his forehead. "What did I do last night. Feels like…" Yamcha trailed off as he regained his bearings. Slowly drawing his hand away from his head, he saw a small, yet all too familiar device attached to the underside of his wrist. "I caught the virus," moaned Yamcha as his shoulders drooped. With a long sigh, Yamcha buried his face in his hands. "I got mind controlled again…" Yamcha started banging his head against his palms in disgust. "Damnit… That's the second time... The second! Damn! Time!" Yamcha punctuated each word with another blow to his head.
In the control room, Piccolo looked on with a hint of concern. "Yamcha, relax."
"Second time?" Quietly asked Tien.
"Yamcha," soothed Bulma, ignoring the other two. "Don't do that! You'll damage the equipment. Besides, you're scaring your roommate…"
Yamcha ceased pounding his head, and slowly raised his eyes. His gaze immediately went to the near wall, which had a large screen displaying the control room. Yamcha took a moment to stare at the monitor and the surrounding setup. "Roommate?" He asked numbly. At Bulma's prompting he turned to the side.
Grinning weakly, an apprehensive Saiyan girl nervously stepped forward. She looked down at Yamcha, though he would be about a head taller than her had he been standing up. "Er, hi," she started. The girl bit her lip for a moment, then uneasily thrust out her hand. "Pelegrino. Saiyan warrior, second class."
Still somewhat dazed, Yamcha eyed the girl for a moment. "Right…" Yamcha shook the girl's hand. "Yamcha. Titan. Short stop and clean-up batter. Nice to meet ya…"
Pelegrino nodded and backed off, while Yamcha dragged his gaze back to the screen. "Bulma, about the new girl… Did you just throw clothes at her, or did you try to explain things first?"
"What's to explain?" Blurted out Pelegrino as she self-consciously looked herself over. "Low cut boots, two-piece bodysuit, two piece flak armor," Pelegrino gestured to her tennis shoes, work-out shorts, bra, and jacket in turn. "What am I missing?"
Yamcha stared at the girl. "Typically, there's a shirt somewhere in there…"
Pelegrino blinked and fingered the collar of her jacket. "Isn't that was this is?"
Yamcha lowered his head and groaned.
"I tried, Yamcha," commented Bulma. "I tried."
"Not very hard," Yamcha muttered to himself.
Pelegrino took a few more steps back and did her best to fade into the background.
"Okay," Yamcha continued after a moment. "What happened?"
"You got sick, you mutated, you generally caused a ruckus." Bulma shrugged casually. "That was about two weeks ago. Since then, Daddy, Dende and I were able to--"
"Dende!" Exclaimed Yamcha, looking frantically around the screen. "Aw, man, I forgot about him. Where is he? He isn't still mad about that whole kicking him when he was down incident, is he?"
Piccolo shook his head dismissively. "No, not really. He's too busy kicking himself to remember that." Piccolo paused at Yamcha's blank stare. "Dende is blaming himself for letting you get sick in the first place. Practically right under his nose. Right now, he's out sweeping the planet for spore pods, just to make sure there's no risk of anyone else catching the virus."
Yamcha exhaled in relief. "Okay. Good, I guess. Damn… Uh, look, most of this is still kind of fuzzy for me. I didn't do anything else while I was sick, did I?"
Piccolo and Tien glanced at each other.
"You mean aside from giving my lab a skylight?" Asked a bemused Bulma. "Nothing really serious. There were a few scrapes all around… Specifically, Seventeen needed his arm rebuilt, and Tien was an interesting shade of purple when he was brought in…" Bulma's expression became more serious. "Well, then there's Eighteen. She's denying it, but I think you bit her."
Yamcha's expression fell. "I'm gunna die…"
"Look she's saying they were claw marks," clarified Bulma, "so she probably won't bring it up. Besides, she set you on fire, so I'd call you both even."
With a groan, Yamcha closed his eyes and began rubbing his temples. "Bulma, you haven't mentioned Puar yet, and she's not with you. Is there something I should know?"
"Yeah, you're down one game against the Pirates."
Yamcha opened one eye.
Smirking, Bulma continued. "According to the press release, Yamcha was with a friend in West City when the firestorm broke out. During one of the firestorm quakes, he twisted his ankle. It's pretty bad, but the he should be back in the line-up in about two months time."
Yamcha smirked. "Pirates. So she's in Port Shaolin. Filling in for me in all the team PR stuff?"
"Yup," Bulma confirmed. "And in the dugout keeping the bench warm. She's pretty busy, but she'll be back to visit once the series is over."
"What a gall," chuckled Yamcha. "So who else has been busy while I was out?"
"Mostly Daddy, Dende, and me," continued Bulma. "After the guys had, eh, secured you and Pelegrino, we've been pretty much locked in the labs. We found a chemical that would block nervous impulses, which was how the viruses communicated with each other. With the chemical in your system, the neural net the virus used to control you was essentially gone. After that, we got you in a type of half-cryo stasis, and went to work on the nanites."
"So those worked after all?"
"Sort of," conceded Bulma. "Once the viruses lost contact with each other, we found out that they were extremely susceptible to bacteria. I mean really susceptible. Without their energy net protecting them, those viruses got eaten up faster than noodles in front of a Saiyan. So we just built some carrier nanites, and gave them each a load of bacteria. We put the nanites in your system, they hunted down the viruses, and the bacteria did the rest."
Yamcha's face had turned a little green. Bulma nodded in understanding.
"The bacteria we used was mostly harmless, and your own immune system should easily be able to take care of them. But, yeah, you might be a little feverish for a few days."
Yamcha grimaced and put his hand over his stomach, but the feeling quickly passed. "So then, that was it? You guys sit around in front of computers while the big bad villain gets eaten by bacteria?" Yamcha shook his head in half-hearted disbelief. "Kind of anticlimactic, isn't it?"
Beneath his turban, Piccolo's brow furrowed. "You wouldn't call it that if you had to spend two weeks standing on guard, waiting for another breakout."
"I actually don't want to face anything that would top what happened when you got infected," Tien added.
Yamcha rolled his eyes. "I know, I know... I'm just saying it doesn't sound like you actually did while I was out."
"Hey, a little respect here!" Demanded Bulma. "In those two weeks I beat a virus that's been reeking havoc for millenniums! I saved your butt, mister! Sick to your stomach or not, I expect to be thanked for this. Profusely."
"Yeah, sure," Yamcha wryly responded. "Look, did we ever figure out how I even got infected in the first place? And why it was just me that did?"
Bulma bit her lip.
"Simple," gruffly stated Vegeta. "You were the only one of us stupid enough to get himself infected."
Yamcha narrowed his eyes and leveled his gaze at Vegeta. "Well, that explains why you were in such a hurry to get off the planet…"
Vegeta bared his teeth. "As far as they can tell, the virus is spread by means of spore packs. An infected specimen shoots spores into the air, where they are inhaled by everybody else. Since Auto Mutation Syndrome is only effective when it infects people with noticeable power levels, it takes ki to activate the virus. Ki burns away the shell of the spore, and lets loose the virus. Too little ki, and the spore is never opened. A rabid burn, however, will destroy the virus before it gets a chance to start the infection. You were the only one exposed to the virus who used enough ki to burn away the shell, but not the virus itself."
"Which would have been when I was in the vat…" Yamcha shifted his gaze back to Bulma. "Oh, yes," he quietly began, "thank you Bulma. Perhaps I shall send you card when I get out of here…"
Bulma grinned, weakly.
"Speaking of 'here,'" Yamcha continued, far less accusatory, "where am I? And why are we talking though a computer screen?"
"You're in quarantine," supplied Bulma, happy to change the subject. "Considering what's gone on, we wanted to keep you two isolated while we worked. Once the Dragonballs get recharged, we'll use the wishes to make sure the virus is gone. But until then…"
"Yeah, I understand. No taking chances. So where am I?" Yamcha looked around at the high domed ceiling and the incomplete partition walls. "This doesn't look like one of your labs."
"It's not," Bulma replied. "Those all got pretty trashed. Sides, you wouldn't have fit in most of them. We had to convert the gravity room to--"
"What?!" Blurted out Vegeta. "My gravity room?"
"Vegeta," Bulma pointed out, "we've had this discussion before…"
"Woman, how could you put those diseased weaklings in my gravity room?! And why," demanded Vegeta, "damnit, why didn't you inform me of that?!"
Bulma gaped at her husband. "Vegeta, where did you think they were?! Of course we've been keeping them in the gravity room! It's the only room big enough. Honestly, what did you think? That I had capsulized the original gravity room and had built an identical new quarantine room in exactly the same place, all in the twelve days you were in orbit?"
Vegeta and his mate stared at each other for a moment.
"Oooooooh!" Bulma stomped her foot in frustration. "Okay, mister, discussion time, outside, now!" Piccolo and Tien quickly stepped aside as Bulma stormed out of the control room, with Vegeta stalking out after her.
"Woman, I demand you immediately remove those inferiors from…" Vegeta's rant quickly trailed off as the door shut behind him.
In the quarantine room, Yamcha was thoughtfully stroking his chin. "So I'm in the gravity room… Say guys, if I put up curtains, do you think he would snap?"
Tien raised an eyebrow. "If they were pink, yes, he would snap."
Yamcha chuckled at the prospect.
"It's your funeral," muttered Piccolo.
"Yamcha, speaking of snapping," said Tien as he leaned towards the screen. "Go out with a 'bang?'"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," muttered Yamcha as his smile faded. "'Gee, Yamcha, you sure do have issues…' Really, I think we all know that by now."
"Does Vegeta know?" Asked Piccolo.
"What, that I can pull off a Mid-Sized Bang attack? Only if you've told him."
Tien snorted. "Going back to having issues, Krillin has offered to pay for any therapy you need. At least until you come to grips with whatever inspired that gargoyle thing…"
"Oh that!" Yamcha's mood instantly lightened. "You mean the wings? That's nothing. That's just a holdover form when I tried shape-shifting."
"Tried shape-shifting?" Repeated Piccolo.
"Yeah," explained Yamcha. "Back a year or so ago, during the off season. I was kind of bored, so I started looking through Puar's old textbooks. Studied up for about a week, then just tried it. Got it right the first time!"
Tien and Piccolo stared blankly at their quarantined comrade.
"So I wings for about three days," Yamcha continued. "I couldn't fly with them, well I could still fly, but, eh, you know. They were cool. Kinda like a cloak, only you could control it. I even got the claws at the main joint to hook together around my neck... Unfortunately, I couldn't un-grow them. So, eventually Puar saw them and I got chewed out. Had to cut 'em off in the end. But still!" Yamcha finished his explanation with a smile on his face.
"…So… The tail, horns, and…"
"I didn't do those the first time. But they were on the picture I used for reference," conceded Yamcha. "So, that's where everything else came from." Tien and Piccolo exchanged nervous glances. "Hey, it was fun. You guys should try it sometime." Yamcha chuckled, but his expression quickly sobered. "So how'd you guys get me back? Y'know, untransformed and all that…"
Tien sighed. "In the fight, after you had gone gargoyle, you were fighting Krillin and Eighteen. Eighteen hit you with a plasma blast, which set you on fire…"
"Yeah, I think I remember that now," mused Yamcha. "Man, that hurt."
"…Yeah. Anyways, you started flailing around, and then you backed into one of Krillin's Destructo Disks. It buried itself in your back, and severed your spinal column."
Piccolo regarded Yamcha's shocked expression. "Freak chance, really. And if you and Pelegrino had some sort of mind-link, you could have also been distracted by Tien pounding on her. Anyways, the shock knocked you out, and the virus was unable to re-grow or bypass the cut. By the time we got you here, you were in a coma. Tien did a few energy drains just in case. Eventually, Bulma and her father got enough of their sedative into you to knock out the virus. After that, Dende reconnected your spine, and went about transforming you back to normal. Took him three or four days, if I recall."
Yamcha self-consciously rubbed his back. "Great. But I'm okay now, right?"
"Good as new," confirmed Tien.
Yamcha sighed. "So about how long am I going to trapped in here? Well, quarantined…"
Tien shook his head wearily. "Don't know for sure. Until we get the Dragonballs, I guess. Should be somewhere in the neighborhood of seven weeks."
Yamcha cast a glance at Pelegrino. "Do we have seven weeks worth of food in here?"
"No," responded Piccolo, "but we can ship more in. You've got most of the essentials. We can send in anything, we're just wary of brining anything out."
"Well, that's a bit of a relief," continued Yamcha. "Um, man, that's a lot to take in one sitting… You two all right after all this?"
"We live," Piccolo simply stated.
Yamcha smirked. "So you do. And Krillin is..."
"Back at his home with Eighteen and Marron," finished Tien. "He's been in periodically, but he's spending most of his time with them."
"Family takes priority," Yamcha observed with a chuckle. "Understandable. He's got his own life to live. And I'll bet you two do as well. But thanks for stopping by…" Yamcha waved them off with a loose salute."We'll check back later, Yamcha," responded Tien with a smirk.
Yamcha snapped his fingers several times. "Ooh! Tien, before you leave… If you and Lunch ever make it official, call me. If I'm not in locked in here, you know I'll be there."
Tien glanced at Piccolo, then back at the screen. "Uh, sure thing. I'll let you know. See you later Yamcha." Tien tapped a few buttons on the control panel, and the screen went black.
"Lunch…" Prompted Piccolo as Tien shut off some other controls. "You're not planning on correcting him?"
"I'm not planning on discussing that with anyone ever again."
Piccolo gave a bemused snort.
"Ah well," continued Tien as he brushed his hand along the control panel. "Yamcha is awake, and he appears to be fully recovered. That's what really matters right now. Still…" Tien and Piccolo began walking towards the door. "…Leaving Yamcha locked in the gravity room with a Saiyan girl for seven weeks… That's just cruel."
"I wouldn't be too concerned," replied Piccolo. "Despite what he was like while mutated, Yamcha is a forgiving person. He won't hold anything against her." Piccolo ducked through the doorframe and mumbled under his breath. "And hopefully, after this I can die in peace…"
Tien stopped in his tracks. "I meant cruel to Yamcha. And why are you worried about dying?"
The gravity room…
Yamcha chuckled as the screen turned off. He hopped off the bed, and glanced at Pelegrino, who was looking at him curiously.
"So if this isn't a shirt," the girl immediately questioned, "what is it?"
Yamcha sighed. "That's a jacket. This," Yamcha tugged at his own shirt, "is a shirt."
Pelegrino blinked. "What's the difference?"
Yamcha did his best to look Pelegrino in the eyes. "One covers your, uh, bodysuit, and the other doesn't."
Pelegrino looked down at herself. "It's supposed to be covered?"
"In public, yes."
"Huh, then why have it separate?" the Saiyan mumbled. "Well, a quarantine room certainly isn't public…"
Yamcha sighed, and forced his gaze away from Pelegrino's neckline. "Look, Pelagrenno--"
"Pelegrino," the Saiyan quickly interjected. "Peh--leh--green--no."
"Right, sorry." Yamcha blinked, loosing his train of thought. Almost instantly, his attention was caught by Pelegrino's tail, which was twitching behind her. "Wait," he stuttered. "Didn't that tail get cut off? About four or five times?"
"No, oh no, no, no!" Startled, Pelegrino hastily scooped up her tail and held it defensively by her side. "I already talked to them about this! They said I could keep it as long as I promised never to go Oozaru again!"
"Uh, look I'm just cur--"
"You've got to believe me," Pelegrino persisted. "I never want to go Oozaru again in my life! I've had enough--"
"Whoa!" Yamcha's yell and rough gesture immediately silenced the panicking Saiyan. "Look, if you've promised them, I'll trust you on that. I'm not going to cut it off." Yamcha paused and held his hands to his side. "I just want to know how you still have it?"
Pelegrino relaxed slightly. "Uh, I had it when I woke up…"
"But didn't it get cut off when Tien, well, knocked you out? Saiyans don't usually just grow new tails without reason."
"Well," Pelegrino stuttered, "I had Auto Mutation Syndrome."
"Yeah, but we cured--" Yamcha cut himself off mid sentence. "You were cured after he cut off the tail… The virus probably made it grow back immediately. That makes sense."
Pelegrino stepped cautiously forward. "It does?"
"As much as anything else has this past two days. Er…" Yamcha trailed off and shook his head. Turning to Pelegrino, he continued. "So you've been talking to the others? How long have been up?"
"Only a day," replied Pelegrino, finally releasing her tail. As her roommate was beginning to sound less threatening, she happily took a seat on a nearby countertop.
"So, what have they been telling you?" Yamcha inquired as his eyes followed Pelegrino's still twitching tail.
Pelegrino slouched her shoulders a bit and began ticking off items on her fingers. "If I try to leave here, they'll kill me. If I'm found with a Dragonball, they'll kill me. If I'm found even looking for a Dragonball, they'll kill me. If I kill anyone, they'll kill me slowly, wish me back, and kill me again. If I cause property damage, they will consider--"
Yamcha snorted. "By 'they,' would you happen to mean Tien and Piccolo?"
"The aliens with antennas and extra eye?" Pelegrino nodded and continued in a quiet tone. "Yeah. I don't think they like me very much…."
"Eh, it's not you," Yamcha reassured. "They just haven't had pleasant experiences with Saiyans in general." Yamcha broke off as he realized what he had just brought up. Hesitantly, he continued. "Uh, speaking of Saiyans, did they tell you about Vegeta-sei?"
Pelegrino nodded. "About how it blew up? Yeah."
Yamcha regarded the girl. "You're taking that rather well."
Pelegrino leaned forward and smiled. "Yamcha, I caught Auto Mutation Syndrome. I've had a virus take control of my mind. I was supposed to be dead from that moment on." Pelegrino almost laughed. "But I'm not. I'm still trying to get over that."
Yamcha shrugged, conceding her point.
"Besides," Pelegrino continued, "everyone I knew would have died a long time before that anyway…"
Yamcha frowned. "Before your planet blew up? How long have you been sick anyway?"
"Vegeta figures I caught the Syndrome about seven hundred years ago."
"Uh, Earth years or Saiyan years?"
"It matters?" Pelegrino smirked. "Whichever way, Vegeta, Captain Tanaka, my parents, and everyone else I knew were long gone by the time the planet blew…"
Yamcha scratched his head in confusion. "Vegeta? The guy I was just insulting?"
Pelegrino shook her head. "No, no, King Vegeta, the one I served under." Pelegrino paused. "Uh, the royal family is always named Vegeta…"
"Ah, yeah, I'd forgotten about that." Yamcha shrugged. "Well, they aren't anymore... So was your Vegeta like the one we have now?"
"Not a bit," responded Pelegrino. "My Vegeta was taller."
A wide grin broke out on Yamcha's face. "Next time you see him, tell that to Piccolo. He'll warm up to you in no time…"
Pelegrino shrugged and grinned weakly, but didn't say anything in response.
Yamcha took the blood sampler off of his wrist as the silence hung in the air. "So…" He began at length. "Uh, wanna spar?"
Pelegrino sat up and balked. "You've got to be kidding…"
"Uh, no," Yamcha eyed Pelegrino warily. "Didn't Saiyans spar back in your time?"
Pelegrino stared back. "Yeah, of course we did. …But with you?"
"Look, Yamcha… No Black Brand has ever been recorded with a power level under ten thousand. And that was a kid who had just gotten it. Considering how long the Syndrome had been working on me, I wouldn't be surprised if I hit ten million."
"Yeah," Yamcha half heartedly responded. "But Tien still beat you. I may not be quite as good as him, but I'm still in his league. Besides, you're cured now! Shouldn't that mean that your power level is back to normal?"
Pelegrino stared at Yamcha with a look of disbelief on her face. "Yes, Yamcha. Right now I'm at the same power level I had back on Vegeta-sei."
"So why don't you--"
"Yamcha!" Pelegrino blurted out. "I'm a second class warrior! Before I got sick, I was pushing to reach four thousand."
Yamcha's expression went blank. "Oh…"
"I've been beaten up since the moment I landed here," Pelegrino continued. "Now that I'm actually myself again, I'd rather not set myself up for another pounding."
"Okay, I guess I can understand that," Yamcha rubbed the back of neck uneasily. "So, uh, something to eat, then?"
Pelegrino's eyes immediately widened. "Ooooh, yeah! This way!" With a quick push of her hands, The Saiyan girl thrust herself upwards and back-flipped onto the top of the partition wall. She did a quick one-eighty and leapt out of sight.
Left standing in the center of the room, Yamcha gazed at the wall Pelegrino had just hopped over. "Hey," he mumbled to himself. "She's still got her tattoos. Hope I didn't get those…" Shrugging, Yamcha walked through the doorway and followed the sounds of the bouncing Saiyan.
"Hey, Pelegrino," he called out as he stepped into the makeshift kitchen moments later. "Did the virus leave any marks on my face?"
"Did you have those scars before?"
"Then no. But they did say you're hair used to be plain black?"
"Yeah..." Yamcha nervously tried to pull a lock of hair into his line of sight.
"Well, apparently the roots are growing brown, now…" Walking forward, Pelegrino handed Yamcha a shallow dish of rice. "Here. They call this--"
"I know what it is," Yamcha responded as he took the dish.
Overexcited at the prospect of eating, Pelegrino grabbed a bowl of her own. "…Right. 'Course. You've lived here. Pretty good stuff, really. A bit dry though." With her hand, Pelegrino began scooping rice out of her bowl and shoveling it into her mouth.
"Dry?" Yamcha looked down at his bowl and was somewhat surprised to find it filled with dry, uncooked rice.
"When I first woke up," continued Pelegrino between mouthfuls, "I went through two bags of this in a minute. I was sooooo hungry…" Pelegrino paused as she poured the last bit of rice directly into her mouth. She immediately picked up an open five-kilo bag and refilled her bowl. "Which makes sense. I hadn't eaten for 'bout seven hundred years. I wasn't awake for most of that, but I still went a while without food. Even with the syndrome powering me, I was beginning to eat muscle. Look…" Pelegrino stopped eating long enough to run her finger along the top of her rib cage, "I still don't have any meat on me…"
Yamcha blinked several times before refocusing his gazed above Pelegrino's chest. "Uh, look, don't you want that cooked?"
Pelegrino paused. "I tried to once, but the rice turned all black and tasted like ash. It's a lot better this way." With a shrug, the Saiyan resumed eating.
Yamcha stared at her. "Did you try adding water, first?"
Pelegrino blinked in surprise. "Water?"
Yamcha sighed, then dejectedly shook his head. Stepping past Pelegrino he snatched the bag of rice. "Gimme that..." He muttered before searching the cupboards for a pan.
Having completely stopped eating, Pelegrino stared wide-eyed at the Human. "You can cook?"
"Yes," Yamcha dryly responded as he found a suitable pan. "I have been cooking for myself for over thirty years now, and as you can see, I'm still quite alive." Yamcha shook his head as set up his supplies along the stove burners. "And for the record, I have not once blown up a roast, set fire to soup, or boiled a salad." Yamcha looked back at Pelegrino's reaction.
"You can cook?" The girl numbly repeated.
Yamcha shook his head and sighed. "Yes."
Before Yamcha knew what had happened, Pelegrino had darted forward had positioned herself between his body and the countertop. Yamcha reflexively jerked back, but found the Siayan's arms already latched around her neck. "Do me," she said coyly.
Pelegrino's grip loosened slightly. "Sorry, still working on the language. Uh," Pelegrino flashed a grin. "Be my mate."
Again, Yamcha balked. "What?"
Pelegrino's grin quickly faded. "Oh c'mon, I know you understand that one..."
Closing his eyes, Yamcha took a deep breath and stepped back. He grabbed Pelegrino firmly by the shoulders, and set her down at arm's length. "Okay," he muttered as he rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Why?"
Pelegrino hopped backwards and perched herself on the countertop. "Look, back on Vegeta-sei, there were two things I was hoping for in a mate. I either wanted him to be a stag above my rank, or to be some ground-pounder I could push into fixing my meals and doing other grunt work for me." Pelegrino leaned forward happily. "Doing you, I get both."
Yamcha arched an eyebrow. "Uh, look, Pelegrino, it doesn't quite work that way around here."
"I heard about the Prince's son," Pelegrino immediately countered. "I'm pretty sure it works that way."
Yamcha opened his mouth to reply, but immediately turned away. Letting out a groan of disgust, he buried his face in his hand. "...I could have lived the rest of my life without thinking about that..." He muttered. With final shake of his head, Yamcha looked back at the bewildered Pelegrino.
"Doesn't it?" She asked.
"Physically, yes." Conceded Yamcha. "However, around here we don't just 'pick a mate.'"
Pelegrino shrugged. "Well, there was more to it back on Vegeta-sei, too. Usually one of the pair got beaten into submission first, but I figure since we've already gone through that..."
Yamcha stared blankly at Pelegrino. "Okay, you're not on Vegeta-sei, anymore. We don't do things like they did."
"'Kay," Pelegrino chirped. "So what do we need to do here?"
"Uh," Yamcha stuttered, not believing what he was being asked to explain. "Well, look, you don't just choose a mate that fast! Choosing a mate--wife--is something that takes a lot of time and thought. It's for a lifetime, so you don't just choose them at random!" Yamcha put his hand to his head in exasperation. "You can't just assume that you and I are going to end up together..."
"Look, Yamcha, I don't have too many options," chimed in Pelegrino. "Until those two aliens say otherwise, I've got to be under someone's supervision. It was a pretty short list of people..." Pelegrino hopped off the counter and laid a hand on Yamcha's shoulder. "You're on the list. You're here. You cook. You'll do!"
"But--" Yamcha sputtered in frustration. "We don't even know each other! You can't pick a mate after being on the planet for two days!"
"Closer to three weeks, actually," corrected Pelegrino.
"During which you've been either possessed, on ice, or drugged. None of that counts."
Pelegrino sighed. "Okay, you've got a point. So how long until we 'know each other' by human standards?"
Yamcha pulled away in exasperation. "I don't know, it all depends."
"On what?" Pelegrino asked as she cocked her head to the side.
"On a lot of things!" Yamcha walked back to the stove and sifted through the supplies he had brought out. "On what you're like. On what I'm like. On how we're like together. It varies!"
Pelegrino regarded Yamcha as he carried a pan over to a nearby sink. "Still, how long are we talking about? Rough ETA? Well, okay, ETM?"
Wondering what Pelegrino was talking about, Yamcha stared at the wall in front of him and raised an eyebrow. "A couple months," he muttered after a moment. "At the very least. Probably more like a year or two..."
"A year?!" Pelegrino grabbed Yamcha's shoulder and roughly spun him around. "What could possibly take that long to learn?!"
Yamcha took a step back. "Look... Stuff. Who we really are."
Pelegrino pointed a thumb at herself then jabbed her finger into Yamcha's chest. "Pelegrino," she articulated. "Yamcha. Saiyan. Human. Female. Male. Warrior. Short step."
Yamcha shrugged as if Pelegrino had proved his point for him. "See?"
"I got what matters..." Pelegrino crossed her arms and stuck out her chin in a pout. "So what about the rest? We're locked in here for, what, seven weeks? I'll get it."
"Yeah," Yamcha sarcastically continued. "You do that. Then as soon as we get out, we can have a big ceremony with cake and ice cream and everyone will be invited! That way, when we realize we hate each other five months later, we can have a big break-up and both be publicly humiliated..." Shaking his head in disgust, Yamcha made his way back to the counter.
Pelegrino perked up. "Really?"
"So then when--"
"Why are we even talking about this?" Asked Yamcha as he turned back around. "Are you really that desperate?"
"Oh, I'm not desperate," Pelegrino quickly reassured. "You could probably take out the entire royal guard if you wanted to. I'm not settling here..."
"So then why so eager to pick a mate?"
Pelegrino sulked against the back of nearby chair. "Because every time I don't jump at the chance, something goes wrong. They get reassigned, Kates makes her move..." Pelegrino bit her lip uneasily. "...I catch Auto Mutation Syndrome..." The Saiyan's eyes dropped for a moment as memories seemed to catch up to her. But the mood passed after only a second. "So! This time its going happen!"
Crossing his arms, Yamcha leaned against the counter and smirked. "Really?"
"Yes! And I am not," Pelegrino stepped forward and ran her finger along the top of Yamcha's forearm. "...Waiting seven weeks. 'Kay?"
"I told you before," Yamcha patiently replied. "You're not waiting seven weeks. You're waiting longer."
With her tail swaying behind her, Pelegrino put her hands on her hips. "Yamcha," she began defiantly. "I'm not giving you a choice in this. 'Kay? It's going to happen, and there's nothing you can do to avoid it."
Yamcha chuckled to himself. "Haven't you been the one saying that I completely outclass you? It's not happening, and there's really nothing you can do to force it happen."
Winking coyly, Pelegrino smirked. "Yeah. When you're awake."
"Huh?" Yamcha's confidence quickly evaporated.
"You've got to sleep sometime, boyo. By the time you wake up," Pelegrino reached up and casually flicked a lock of Yamcha's hair. "It'll all be over but the moaning..."
Yamcha took an apprehensive step backwards and skeptically tilted his head. "You're a Saiyan. You've got too much dignity to do that..."
Pelegrino raised an eyebrow in response. "What does dignity have to do with it? 'Sides, that's how my father did it..."
"So," Pelegrino persisted, backing Yamcha against the countertop. "Are you still going to be difficult, or can we have some fun with this?"
Yamcha slowly lowered his head as he realized that the only dignity being threatened was his own. "All right. You win..."
Pelegrino smiled. "Crustelorum..."
"I don't want to know," Yamcha muttered.
Smirking, Pelegrino tugged at the collar of her jacket. "'Kay. You said Humans make mating official right? Well around the royal court they did everything official, for bloodlines and all that, so they had this archaic Knotting thing..." Pelegrino ceased babbling as Yamcha turned away. "Well, not that archaic. I thought it looked neat, and, well, it's something, right?"
"Whatever..." Dazed, Yamcha took a seat at the nearby table.
Pelegrino hopped onto the table and crouched down beside her newfound mate. "It's not that bad. We just get tangled up in a sheet for a few minutes. I'll find a pink one if you want..." Pelegrino smiled at the slight reaction that brought about. "There are some sheets a few rooms over, so this shouldn't take long. Be back in a jump. And don't worry, boyo. They say it's a blast to ride second class." Pelegrino flashed a sincere grin as Yamcha glanced up at her.
"Are all Saiyans this easy?" He asked.
"Only for someone who can beat up royalty." After playfully ruffling Yamcha's hair, Pelegrino kicked off, and vaulted over the partition wall.
Yamcha stared blankly for a moment. "I have never been able to take Vegeta!" He yelled after her. "And I'm not going to try now!"
"Then what was that crack about curtains?" Pelegrino asked. Yamcha scowled. Before he could respond, however, Pelegrino squealed. "Oooh! This'll work..."Yamcha slowly shook his head. "A blast to ride second class?" He repeated in disbelief. Sighing, he hung his head. "I dated Bulma for ten years, and Pelegrino wants to marry me after ten minutes." He paused for another moment. "In the gravity room..."
Pelegrino hopped back over the partition wall with a bundle of cloth under her arm. "Ready, Boyo?
Yamcha closed his eyes in resignation. "I'm never going to hear the end of this."
Now, if you haven't already checked out the illustrations for this story (remember how I mentioned them in the author's notes?) now is as good a time as any. Just head over to side7 and search for an artist by the alias of 'Crash.' Once there, scroll down until you find a picture by the title of 'Poster.' The drawings will go chronologically from there until the illustration from this chapter called 'Domestic Life.'