PART 1: Four Months

WARNING: There are a few suggestive and dark scenes coming up that some readers might find offensive. So reader discretion is advised.

I adopted this story from The King of Soda a great author who you should check out.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own DBZ or Elfen Lied.

CHAPTER 1: A Chance Encounter

Four months have passed since the defeat of the evil Garlic Jr., who escaped from his Dead Zone prison by the timely arrival of the Makyo Star, a source of power that increased Garlic's strength and that of his henchmen. Using the Black Water Mist, Garlic Jr. planned to turn the Earth's population into an army of mindless zombies. It seemed all was lost for the planet when Garlic Jr.'s plan was ultimately thwarted by the heroic efforts of the Z Warriors. With no obvious threat to the safety of the planet, our heroes can finally take some time off and enjoy a well earned break. But, as always, danger is never too far away, and a chance encounter between a boy with a tail and a girl with horns is soon to take place, an event that will play an important part in the fights to come and change the fate of not only the world, but the entire universe as well. See what happens now, on Dragon Ball: Altered Fates!

Gohan flew above the Earth, a satisfied look on his face.

I'm so glad I got this done! he thought happily, glancing at the unmanly pink bag strapped across his back. He pulled the bag open, revealing many expensive-looking books crammed inside.

Now that I've got my new study materials, maybe Mom won't be so stubborn about letting me play, Gohan thought hopefully.

He closed the bag and flew on. As he soared above the forest, two voices floated up to him on the warm April breeze.

"Yay, push me higher, Daddy!" a young, childish voice cried.

"Okay, son!" another, more adult voice replied.

"Huh?" Gohan said, looking around to find the voices.

He glanced down and saw a log cabin in the middle of the woods. Two people stood in front of it, a man and a toddler. The man was pushing the little boy on a swing, both of them laughing delightedly.

"Yay!" the little boy squealed. "Again! Again, Daddy!"

"Okay, okay," the father laughed. "I swear, you're gonna wear this out soon."

"I don't care!" the little boy shouted. "Higher, Daddy, higher!"

"Okay, you're the boss," the father said.

Gohan sighed and looked away. He glanced upward, staring at the sky above him, and beyond that, past the confines of the Earth's protective atmosphere, into space, where he knew his father was.

Where are you, Dad? he wondered. I know you're up there somewhere. What's taking you so long? You must be training — it's the only reason you'd stay away this long. But why can't you do that on Earth? What's so hard for you to master that you can't come home? Gohan sighed again. I hope you come back soon, Daddy. I miss you.

"Aw, look, I think it's gonna cry," a cruel voice sneered. "Gonna cry, freak?"

"Huh?" Gohan said again.

He came to a complete stop, floating silently in midair.

"That didn't sound very good," he said, looking around. "But where did it come from...?"

Realizing it might be coming from below, Gohan looked down.

Below him was a plain and unremarkable building that might have been a public school, or maybe a very large boarding house, and to Gohan's shock, right outside the building, three boys were holding down a pink-haired girl and mercilessly beating her up.

As Gohan watched, one of the boys punched the girl in the stomach, but aside from the sharp grunt of air that left her, she didn't even flinch.

"What are they doing?" Gohan said, feeling anger boil up inside him. "Those jerks! Why are they attacking her?"

As he looked closer, he saw that the girl wasn't crying, but he could tell that she was suffering.

Gohan growled. I won't let them get away with this! he vowed. They're gonna pay for ganging up on her!

Meanwhile, on the ground below, Kaede's world was pain. The boys currently tormenting her were bigger than her, outnumbered her, and most of all, they hated her, giving them the extra rage-fueled boost to inflict the most damage.

"That looks like it hurts," Azukio taunted after striking a particularly nasty blow to her cheek.

"Yeah, I wouldn't want to be in your shoes, monster," Tasuma snickered.

"You know, this is your own fault for being so ugly. But I'll tell you what — I'm going to make you a deal, freak," Tomoo said slyly. "If you start crying, we'll stop bothering you. How's that? All we want to see is a few tears, just to prove you're really human."

Kaede looked up, struggling as she did so. She was obviously gathering her strength for what she was about to say.

"No, I won't," she told them defiantly. "You want me to. I won't give you what you want."

Tomoo growled and viciously backhanded her, causing her to cry out involuntarily.

"I tried to give you a way out, freak," Tomoo said darkly. "You've brought this on yourself."

Kaede winced and braced herself for the next attack...

"Hey, leave her alone!" an angry male's voice suddenly yelled.

The bullies looked up toward whoever had shouted. Kaede looked up as well, and what she saw shocked her.

Gohan stood there, his face a mask of determination, his muscles tensed in preparation for the inevitable fight. He was radiating pure, absolute confidence.

Who is that? Kaede wondered. Is he here to save me? No, that can't be right. It's impossible! No one ever wants to help me...

"Hey, kid, can't you see we're busy here?" Tomoo said. "Get lost."

Gohan clenched a fist, trying to rein in his steadily rising fury.

"Not a chance," he hissed. He nodded at Kaede. "Why are you hurting that girl? What's she ever done to you?"

Tomoo laughed condescendingly.

"You really wanna know?" he said haughtily. "Here, take a look!"

With that, he yanked her up roughly by her pink hair, ignoring her cry of protest.

"Hey, stop that!" Gohan yelled indignantly.

"Horns!" Tomoo pressed. "See? The freak's got horns!"

To Gohan's surprise, he saw that the bully was correct, and the girl had two small horns protruding from her skull, looking like miniature cat's ears.

Amazing, Gohan thought. I've never seen a girl with horns. Is she an alien? Or is she a hybrid, like me?

"Now do you get it?" Tomoo pressed. "She's a freak, a monster! We're just trying to put her in her place, that's all, like breaking an animal. What's so wrong with that? Ah-ha ha!"

Gohan returned his attention to the bullies.

That's why they're treating her so badly? he thought, feeling his rage growing. Because of her horns?

"The only monster I see here is you," Gohan retorted. "I know your kind. You hurt others to make yourselves feel more powerful. You're pitiful. Well, I'm not gonna let you do it anymore. Let her go, or I'll make you."

The bullies looked momentarily surprised before bursting into laughter, dropping the pink-haired girl to the ground and moving out to encircle him. Gohan narrowed his eyes.

"So you're here to save horns, eh?" Tomoo asked, his mocking gray eyes boring into Gohan, alive with cruel amusement "Aw, how sweet. How adorable. And what are you going to do about it, huh? Listen, kid, why don't you go running back home to mommy. You clearly don't know what you're getting into."

Gohan smirked.

"You're wrong. You see —" He slipped into a well practiced fighting stance — "I know martial arts," he finished impressively.

The bullies laughed again.

"Ooh, martial arts, we're so scared," Tomoo said mockingly. "Please don't hurt us."

Tasuma got a look at Gohan's swishing tail and he gasped in surprise before a look of disgust immediately crossed his face. He dug his elbow into Tomoo's side, pointing at the tail and whispering insistently, "Tomoo!Tomoo!"

"What is it, Tasuma?" Tomoo asked.

"T-Tail," Tasuma moaned, adding more urgency to his tone of voice. "Tail!"

"Speak clearly, you idiot!" Tomoo berated him.

"That kid's got a tail!" Azukio blurted, having noticed it himself.

Kaede, still sprawled on the ground, let out a quiet gasp.

"What?" Tomoo said, taking a closer look at Gohan. Upon catching sight of his furry appendage, he sneered. "So you've got a tail. Like a little monkey. You and horns belong together. You're both freaks. What are you gonna do, swing around the trees? Gonna throw bananas at us, monkey?"

Laughing once more, the bullies started making grunting noises and scratching under their armpits.

Gohan growled. "Enough talk! Either fight me or leave. It's your choice."

Tomoo's face darkened.

"Hey, don't talk back to me, monkey!" he snapped.

He looked back at the other bullies.

"Guys, I think monkey boy here needs to be taught a lesson in manners," he said. "What do you say?"

"Sounds good to us, Tomoo," Azukio said, an eager look on his face.

"Yeah, we'll teach him a lesson he'll never forget," Tasuma said, cracking his knuckles.

"Get him!" Tomoo ordered.

The bullies rushed Gohan, but before they could reach him, the half-Saiyan phased away. They passed through empty air.

"Where'd he go?" Azukio wondered.

"He disappeared!" Tomoo said, swiveling his head around in a futile attempt to locate him.

Gohan reappeared behind Tomoo.

"Here I am," he whispered in his ear.

Before Tomoo could even turn around, Gohan reached out with his arm and punted the bully directly into a tree. The tree snapped in half with a loud crack, leaving Tomoo lying on the ground with Xs in his eyes, mumbling incoherently.

The other bullies reacted.

"No way! Impossible!" Tasuma gasped.

Azukio simply gaped in fright and awe, eyes as wide as saucers, his jaw dropping three feet to the ground.

Gohan grinned.

"See? Isn't it better when we all get along as friends?" he said, pretending he hadn't just knocked Tomoo's lights out.

Tasuma nodded vigorously.

"Yeah!" he said with exaggerated enthusiasm. "Oh boy, there's nothing nicer than being friends with a horned freak."

"What was that?" Gohan growled, a dark look crossing over his face.

Tasuma squeaked in terror and hastily added, "I mean, girl! Yes, yes, I meant girl! What else would I mean other than a normal, human girl?"

"There's no need to keep ganging up on her," Gohan said pointedly. "Is there?"

Tasuma gulped.

"No! Goodness, no! Whatever gave you that idea?" he said in a high-pitched voice. "We like hor — er, um, what's-her-name here."

Azukio slowly nodded, still unable to form coherent words.

"Then go." Gohan nodded toward Tomoo. "You might want to get your friend some help."

The bullies nodded, and with his permission given, raced over to the beaten Tomoo, grabbed him, and beat a hasty retreat into the building, dragging their unconscious leader with them.

Gohan looked after them, satisfied with his work.

Kaede, meanwhile, was watching him intently.

How did he do that? He just knocked Tomoo through a tree, and it didn't look like he was even trying! Who is this boy? A new thought entered her mind. Did he mean those things he said about saving me? No, he's probably here to beat me up. He just didn't want Tomoo to finish the job before he could!

Gohan turned around, and Kaede tensed up, feeling a visible shiver run through her.

She thinks I'm going to attack her, Gohan realized.

"Hey, don't worry," Gohan reassured her, holding up his hands to show he meant no harm. "I'm not going to hurt you."

Kaede gulped. Is he telling me the truth? Even if he isn't, I'm no match for him. It might be better just to play along.

"O-Okay, if you say so," she said uncertainly.

"My name's Gohan," the tailed boy said cheerfully. "What's your name?"

"My name?" Kaede repeated. "Um, I'm Kaede."

"That's a pretty name! Pleased to meet you, Kaede," Gohan said, bowing politely.

Kaede blinked in surprise.

Maybe he isn't here to hurt me, but then... why did he save me? she wondered.

"Hey, are you okay?" Gohan asked randomly.

"Huh?" Kaede said. "What do you mean?"

"Those boys didn't hurt you, did they?" he clarified. "Do you need to go to a hospital?"

Kaede's eyes began quivering dangerously.

"No, I'm fine," the horned girl answered.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Gohan asked.

"Oh, nothing..." Kaede said, her cheeks pink. "Nothing at all."

"Okay, whatever you say," Gohan said, scratching his head with his tail.

Kaede found herself staring at the tail, totally fascinated by it. Gohan noticed her, and she jumped.

Oh no! she thought. He saw me! What if he hates people staring at his tail? Everyone must think he's a freak, just like me.

But to her surprise, the boy actually smiled!

"You like my tail?" he asked.

"Uh... yes," Kaede answered truthfully. "I do."

"Do you want to touch it?" Gohan asked. moving closer.

"What?" Kaede said, not quite getting it.

"Do you want to touch my tail?" Gohan repeated. "Go ahead, I don't mind."

"You really mean that?" Kaede asked hesitantly.

Gohan nodded.

"Hm-hmm," the hybrid said. "Just be careful, all right? It's kind of sensitive."

"O-Okay, if you're really sure," Kaede said. "I promise not to hurt you."

And she reached out and grabbed hold of his tail. Gohan winced a little at the touch, but Kaede softened her grip, and he soon relaxed. She started stroking the tail, enjoying the feeling of the soft brown hair underneath her fingertips.

"Incredible..." Kaede breathed.

Then Gohan said something that instantly brought dread to her stomach and froze her insides with icy, chilly fear.

"Hey, did you know you have horns sticking out of your head?" he asked.

"Um, yes," Kaede said, feeling a wave of nausea hit her. "I do."

She moved her hands over her horns, covering them up rather self-consciously.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Gohan asked, bewildered. "Why are you hiding them?"

"I suppose you think they're disgusting, too," Kaede snorted bitterly.

"What do you mean by that?" Gohan asked, blinking stupidly.

"No one else likes my horns, so why should you?" she whispered.

I'm getting sick and tired of this! Kaede thought angrily. Won't anybody in the world accept me for who I am?

"I like them," Gohan told her.

"What?" Kaede gasped, looking up in shock.

Gohan smiled. "I said I like your horns."

H-He doesn't hate them? Kaede thought in shock. No, it can't be. He must be lying like the other kids.

"You're making fun of me, aren't you?" Kaede asked. "You don't like them, do you? You think they're ugly, just like everyone else."

"No, I really like them!" Gohan insisted. "Honest. They're unique, like my tail. And they're special. They're a part of who you are."

Kaede felt the world spinning around her.

"But why? Why do you like them?" she asked curiously.

"Well, um... uh, I guess... because... I-I think they're cute," Gohan blurted, sounding very embarrassed.

Great! Now she must think I'm a total idiot! Gohan thought, mentally berating himself.

He... he doesn't think they're ugly? He thinks they're cute? Kaede thought, blushing heavily.

"Well, thank you, Gohan," Kaede said. "I think your tail's cute too."

Now it was Gohan's turn to blush.

"Oh, you think so?" Gohan said.

"Yes," Kaede said.

"Oh, um, okay," Gohan said. "Thanks."

And for the first time since meeting him, Kaede smiled.

"Oh, I totally forgot!" Gohan suddenly said. "I've got to get going!"

"You're leaving?" Kaede asked, unable to hide her surprise.

"Yeah," Gohan apologized, sounding very upset. "I'm sorry I can't stay, but I need to get home. Mom's not going to be happy if I'm back late, and she wants me to concentrate on my studies today. No goofing off."

"Oh, I see..." Kaede said, glancing down at her lap.

She looks sad, Gohan thought. She probably doesn't have any friends. Oh, I wish there was some way I could help her... wait, maybe there is!

"Hey, how about I come back and visit you?" Gohan asked.

"What?" Kaede gasped.

"I'd like to see you again," Gohan said sincerely.

"W-Why?" Kaede asked, genuinely surprised.

"You just seem very lonely," Gohan told her truthfully.

"Oh, thanks, but you don't have to worry about me," Kaede said. "It's okay. I'm not lonely..."

"Aw, hey, it's nothing to be ashamed of," Gohan told her. "To tell you the truth, I've been feeling lonely lately too."

"Really?" Kaede said. "You have? But why? You have a family..."

"Yeah, I still have my mom, but my father's been away a while," Gohan explained. "I really miss him. Sometimes it feels like it's been a million years since I've seen him. I guess I need a friend."

Kaede was torn.

Can I trust him? she wondered. He looks like a nice boy, but he could be lying. I've wanted a friend my whole life... this seems too easy. But... maybe he really does want to be my friend. Can I turn him away? No, I have to take this chance. I... I need it.

"If you want to come back, I guess that'd be okay," Kaede said, feigning nonchalance.

"Super!" Gohan said, beaming happily. "All right, I'll see you tomorrow then."

"All right," Kaede said. "Goodbye, Gohan."

"Bye, Kaede!" Gohan said, walking off into the forest and disappearing out of sight.

Once he was away from her, Gohan shot up into the sky, looking at the building as he sped away from it.

I'm looking forward to seeing you again, Kaede, he thought before speeding off into the cerulean sky.

Meanwhile, Kaede got up and looked after the spot where Gohan had been, placing a hand over her heart.

"Can I trust you, Gohan?" she said out loud. "You seem honest, but it's so hard to believe what you say."

She sighed, looking up into the afternoon sky.

"Please come back, Gohan..."

Now that Kaede has met our young hero, will he return to her, or will her heart be broken once again, and if so, what will that mean for her, or the world? Stay tuned for the next exciting update of Dragon Ball: Altered Fates!

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