The Mustache

By Elbereth in April

Chapter 4: Mustache Bonding

Bulma waited until after breakfast to walk up behind Vegeta and sling her arms around him. "Vegeta, darling," she began, trying to make him relaxed and mellow by whispering in his ear.

He smirked and placed his hands over the arms wrapped around his neck. "What, Onna?"

"Today's Pan's sleepover party. She invited Marron and Bra. Remember?" He nodded. She kissed his neck. "And we're supposed to drop her off." Another kiss. "And then. . ." she braced herself for the dreaded explosion, "we're supposed to eat dinner with Krillin, 18, and Hercule Satan." She waited for Vegeta to express loud dissatisfaction and disdain of Hercule Satan.

"OK," Vegeta said.

"Now, I know you don't exactly get along with him, but I'll reward you later--what?"

"It's all right, Onna--I'm looking forward to it."

"What?"

He kissed her, then disentangled himself. "I think maybe I'll start getting ready now!" He bounded away enthusiastically, leaving Bulma staring after him in complete confusion.

_________ __________

Bra and Vegeta, who was carrying Bulma, landed in Hercule's yard next to an ornate marble fountain of Mr. Satan, spraying water from his outstretched fingertips. Vegeta looked at it. 'Hm,' he thought, 'maybe I should have a statue made of me. . .'

They walked up to the front steps, past the topiary bush cut in the shape of Hercule. On the doorstep, they met up with Krillin and family. "Hey all," Krillin said, eyeing Vegeta a bit nervously. Then he blinked.

"Vegeta-san!" Marron exclaimed in wonder. "You have a mustache!"

Vegeta stood up a bit straighter and tilted his head to maximum effect.

"Oh my gosh," blurted 18, then turned abruptly to knock on the door to hide her face.

Krillin just stared, mouth open, eyes wide.

Vegeta observed their reaction. Was that a positive expression of shock and stupidity or a negative one? Well, at least Marron seemed suitably impressed.

18 turned back around. "Glad to see you're still wearing leather," she said, and Marron nodded vigorously.

Bulma's eyes narrowed dangerously as the door opened.

"Hi, everybody, come on in," Pan invited them.

They walked down a wide, high-ceilinged hallway. Krillin hunched his shoulders nervously. "I feel like they're watching me." All the way along, the walls were covered by large framed pictures of Hercule, in various "heroic" poses--or at least what he considered heroic.

She led them into a huge, ornately decorated living room with a white carpet. A grand staircase occupied one wall, and a fireplace another. They all looked around.

"I've always wanted white carpet," Bulma sighed, eyeing this one with envy.

"Why don't you get one then?" Marron asked.

"Oh, the bloodstains show up too much." They all turned to stare at her, and then Vegeta.

Hercule chose that moment to descend the stairs. "Hello!" he boomed. "Welcome!" He was wearing his Champion wrestling belt and his cape. Half- way down, he tripped and fell a few steps on his face. He sprang back up at once, flushed. "I meant to do that!"

18 rolled her eyes. Vegeta snorted. 'Still only human,' he thought.

"Yeah. Well, I'm taking the girls up to my room now," Pan declared, and the three of them ran off.

The adults were left alone. Hercule made it down the last few steps and crossed the room to them. "So. Everybody ready for dinner?"

They nodded. Vegeta heard 18 mutter, "Let's get this over with."

Hercule got a good look at Vegeta then. "Why, Vegeta! You've grown a mustache! I congratulate you! You'll catch everyone's eye now. Ah, I remember when I was but a callow youth, back before I'd reached my current power and greatness. Then one day, I decided to grow a mustache." A tear ran down from his eye. "Overnight, I had achieved popularity--and attracted Videl's mother, ha! And as my mustache grew, my strength grew!" He flexed his biceps. "Yes, I owe a lot to my mustache! It instantly granted me respect and reverence. Why, I would be so bold as to say, I could never have reached my current level without it!"

The others all glanced at each other incredulously, except for Vegeta, who was looking at Hercule with a strange gleam in his eye. If Bulma had caught it, she would have been very worried, indeed.

"The dining room?" 18 prompted.

Hercule cleared his throat. "Right, yes. Onward then." They resumed walking down the hall and reached the dining room. They sat down.

"Where did our host go?" Krillin asked.

Bulma turned from her discussion with 18 on the trials of raising teenage girls. "Where's Vegeta?"

Meanwhile, down a side hallway, which Vegeta had dragged Hercule into when no one was looking. . .

Hercule was cornered against the wall, trying not to cower under Vegeta's intense stare. "So. This mustache business," Vegeta said.

Hercule swallowed. "Yes?"

"Why do some people seem to be immune? How does one--get maximum benefit-- from it? Is there some secret?" He reached out, grabbed Hercule by his collar, and shook him. "What is the way to ultimate power?"

"OK, OK, I'll tell you!"

Vegeta let him go and waited expectantly.

Suddenly Hercule flashed his 100-watt smile, pulled a bottle out of his pocket, and held it up. "The secret is this!" The bottle was in the shape of Hercule himself, fingers pointed in the air. You unscrewed his head to pour out what was in the bottle.

Vegeta scowled. "What is it?"

"The complete line of Hercule Satan hair care products! This is the mustache cream! Plus there's the Hercule shampoo, the Hercule conditioner, and the Hercule chest hair cream! In two varieties, the open-V shirt or the bare chested version! And if you order the complete line today, you get a free CD recording of 'Hercule Sings the 10 Greatest Love Songs of All Time!'"

Vegeta stared. "You will never mention this conversation to anyone."

__________ __________

A short time later, in the dining room. . .

Bulma, 18, and Krillin looked up as Hercule and Vegeta entered the room. Bulma's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Where have you been?"

Hercule paled and rushed to sit down, saying nothing.

Vegeta sat next to Bulma and crossed his arms. "What do you do when you disappear at Chi-Chi's?"

"Try on her clothes," Bulma replied, smiling impishly.

Vegeta scowled. "We looked at his weight lifting equipment," he lied easily.

"Oh."

Amazingly, dinner proceeded with no real problems. Vegeta was actually mostly civil. Bulma could hardly believe it. Hercule had relaxed back into his normal arrogant, jovial self, and was talking to Vegeta as if they were great buddies. "Hey Vegeta," he invited as they were finishing the meal, "want to have a quick workout in my special gym before you leave?"

Vegeta thought a moment. "Fine."

So they all walked down another hall lined with Hercule posters to a huge gym. Painted across the entire floor was a huge head of Hercule. 18 rolled her eyes again. In the gym, various students of Hercule's were training. Some were very young and seemed inexperienced. The older, better fighters all stopped what they were doing, came over, and bowed to Hercule.

"My disciples," Hercule waved at them proudly. "My most successful students. You can tell them apart because they all have mustaches."

The mustached disciples stood up. "Men, these are some friends of mine!" Hercule boomed. "I told Vegeta here he could train in my gym today. He's a strong fighter."

One of the disciples semi-sneered at Vegeta. He was a huge, burly man with bulging muscles and a thick, handle-bar mustache. "Him?"

"Um, that's Adonis, my best pupil," Hercule said, looking a bit nervous at the way Vegeta was staring at the other fighter.

"That's right!" Adonis assumed an exaggerated WWF wrestler challenging-type pose. "I'm the best warrior in this dojo! Notice my large and well-groomed mustache!"

Vegeta's eyes narrowed.

18 decided to get at least a little enjoyment out of her evening. "Yes, Vegeta just grew a mustache."

Adonis sneered again. "You call that a mustache? Why, compared to mine. . ."

Bulma covered her face. Hercule paled. "Um, Adonis. . ."

Vegeta powered up. Mere seconds later, Adonis had been punched through two walls and out onto the lawn.

Still enraged, the Saiyan Prince looked around at the other disciples. "Anyone else want to insult my mustache or my fighting skills? I'll take you all on, you baka losers."

"For Adonis!" one of them cried. Then they all threw themselves on Vegeta at once.

__________ __________

When Bra, Marron, and Pan entered the gym a few minutes later, they found Hercule, Bulma, Krillin, and 18 standing near the door in the only part of the room left standing. A large number of men in gi's were littered around the floor, up against the remains of walls and exercise equipment, and outside on the grass. Some of them were looking in small hand mirrors and weeping over the state of their singed mustaches.

"You had to egg him on, didn't you?" Krillin whispered to 18.

Vegeta was smugly surveying his work from the center of the room. "You may want to give them a few more lessons," he smirked.

"Daddy! What did you do?"

Vegeta walked over to his daughter and the others. "What? Hercule invited me to use his gym."

"Grandpa, what were you thinking?"

"Momentary lapse of sanity?" 18 suggested.

Hercule just shook his head, looking saddened.

One of the students sitting limply nearby reached into a pocket, pulled out one bottle of Hercule's mustache cream and one of hair cream, and began to apply them. Marron noticed and eyed the bottles curiously. "Daddy, isn't that what you use?"

Krillin blushed deep red as everyone stared at him and waved his hands in a desperate motion of denial. "No, no. . ."

All the women started giggling.

__________ __________

After Hercule and Bulma had exchanged insurance information, he walked them back down the entrance hallway. Vegeta, Bulma, 18, and Krillin waved to their children one last time as they left the main door.

"Honestly, Vegeta, I can't take you anywhere," Bra heard her mother scold as they went down the steps. Bra tilted her head curiously to the side. She couldn't imagine what the strange lumps in her father's coat pockets were (A/N: think Hercule shaped bottles).

As Vegeta picked up Bulma and flew away, Krillin took one last look after him and then back at Hercule Satan. 'Huh,' he thought. 'I wonder if there's anything to this mustache business. . .'