Time Frame: One year after the Buu Saga. Takes place during the beginning of Seer of Life.
Things to know: Goten and Trunks made a trip to an alternate timeline where Vegeta-sei was never destroyed. Bardock and his fifteen year old son Radditz joined them in their quest to find the dragonballs so Goten and Trunks could return to their timeline. At the end of the quest, because of *cough* circumstances (which I will not be explaining - go read WFTP!) both Bardock and Radditz chose to accompany the two demi-Saiyans back to their time. There was a period of time where Bardock and Radditz had to adjust to their new home and family (details of which can be found in Seer of Life), which is when this story takes place.
Not so important to know: Goten and Trunks have tails (for more information, read Tails Times Two) and Goku was not killed by Cell. Maybe someday I'll write up a story explaining that little detail, but for now you'll just have to bear with me.
Last, but not least, the DISCLAIMER! Every story's gotta have one. I don't own DBZ, I'm just playing around in Akira Toriyama's universe. If I owned DBZ, let me tell you, I'd be making a whole lot more money than I am right now, and I would NOT need to take Japanese classes. *grins*
High School? But I'm an Alien!
(Laundry and Love)
It was a beautiful summer morning and the sun was just starting to peak over the horizon. In a forest clearing located somewhere between the Son family home and Satan City (closer to the Son home than the city) birds were chirping cheerfully in an attempt to irritate the inhabitants of a small capsule house to the point where said occupants were sorely tempted to fry the little buggers for breakfast.
One particularly brave (or foolish, depending on your point of view) blue bird swooped down from a tree to perch on a windowsill and burst forth into glorious, loud, shrill, aggravating bird song. That little bird nearly lost its life when a poorly aimed ki blast whizzed through the open window mere inches above the creature's feathered head. Squawking in alarm, the blue bird flapped its wings furiously and took off in search of a safer place to sing.
"Damn birds," Radditz growled sleepily from where he was sprawled out on his bed. Glowering blearily at the window where the morning sun was just beginning to pour through, the groggy teenager rolled onto his stomach and clutched his pillow over his head. "Go 'way! Go 'way an' lemme sleep! Find someone else to annoy!"
The birds, of course, ignored him.
A few minutes passed. Five ki blasts, one slightly singed bird, and several colorful phrases later, Radditz finally came to the realization that getting back to sleep would be impossible. Groaning in protest, the teenage Saiyan attempted to extricate himself from his tangled sheets, falling out of bed in the process and banging his head on the floor.
"Ow!" Radditz rubbed his head and glared at the floor. Well, at least he was awake now. Still feeling sulky about being woken up so early, he grabbed a shirt off the floor and held it to his nose. Inhaling deeply, he nearly gagged at the overpowering scent of stale sweat, mold, and other unidentifiable but equally unpleasant odors. "That one's dirty," he grunted, tossing the garment aside. He quickly grabbed another shirt off the floor - not a hard task considering that his floor was covered with clothes.
"Ugh!" The second shirt joined the first faster than you could say 'Frieza."
"Phew!" A wadded pair of pants was dumped unceremoniously on top of the shirts.
"Oh, that's foul!" Underwear. Very dirty underwear.
And so it went on for a full fifteen minutes in the quest for tolerably clean clothes as Radditz employed the most common method among teenagers. The nose knows and never lies, and Saiyan noses are especially sensitive to such things. Hurling a bloody, torn gi into the pile, the wild maned young man reached for another piece of clothing, only to pull up short when he realized that there wasn't any more clothing on the floor. All of it had gone into the discard pile.
"Damn," he muttered, poking his head under the bed in the idle hope that he had missed something. No such luck.
"Looking for something?" an amused voice called from the other side of the room, startling Radditz so badly that he jerked his head up and banged it on the underside of the bed - on the exact same spot that he'd hit earlier in his fall.
"Ow! DAD!!" Radditz yelled as he got out from under the bed, clutching his sore head. "Don't do that!"
"A warrior should never be caught with his guard down, Radditz," Bardock snickered. "It's your own fault." Radditz glared at him. Bardock ignored it. "What were you looking for?"
"Clean clothes," the younger Saiyan admitted, gesturing at the pile of overly ripe laundry that he'd collected. "Unfortunately, it looks like I don't have any."
Bardock wrinkled his nose in agreement. "Time to do laundry," he remarked wisely. The boy's father frowned then, staring at the dirty clothes bemusedly. "You don't happen to remember how to work that clothes washing machine, do you?" Though he had fewer clothes than his son, provided courtesy of the eleven year old Bulma from their original timeline, he hadn't had to do any laundry of his own yet. Before the two of them had moved into this house they'd been living with Goku, Chi-Chi, Gohan, and Goten, and Son Chi-Chi had cleaned all of his laundry for him. Radditz, on the other hand, had in typical teenage fashion stuffed all his clothes, clean and otherwise, into an empty capsule and declared himself packed.
"Me?" Radditz queried incredulously, arching both eyebrows upwards. "I barely understood a word Bulma said! Besides which, since when did I ever do laundry?" It was true. When he was little, his mother was the one to make sure they had clean clothes to wear, though he never did find out if Sereri had washed them herself or arranged for someone else to do the job. After Sereri had died, the task had fallen to Bardock, who most certainly didn't know a thing about cleaning laundry! Bardock's concept of cleaning his clothes was jumping in a river while wearing them and hoping some of the dirt washed out. So, once a week, Bardock hired someone to come and wash their laundry for them.
Scratching the back of his head, his father shrugged helplessly. "I suppose we could fly over to Kakarot's house and ask him," Bardock said dubiously. Frankly, his son didn't strike him as the type to know anything about clothes washing.
"Maybe we should ask his mate instead," suggested Radditz, apparently thinking along the same lines as his father. Even if Chi-Chi did prefer washing dishes and clothes by hand, she might still know something about operating a washing machine.
A faint grimace crossed Bardock's face at the mention of Chi-Chi. His experience with the woman so far had been... sometimes less than pleasant. His grown son's mate was a stubborn, overbearing, opinionated, dictator with a voice that, when she was particularly angry or distressed, made Bardock's ears ache just to think about it. In short, she was downright intimidating. Unfortunately, the only other option was to go to Bulma, and Bulma lived with Prince Vegeta....
"I suppose," he agreed grudgingly. Then another thought occurred to him which took away most of his scowl. "While we're up there, we can have today's reading lesson." Seeing the irritation that flashed across his son's face at the mention of their daily lessons, Bardock compressed his lips into a thin line. "We've had this discussion before, Radditz. This is our home now, and we will both learn how to read and write the native language. I know you don't like the way Chi-Chi teaches, but-"
"She treats me like a child! Just because we can already speak the language doesn't mean it's any less foreign to us! I'm not ignorant, I'm an alien!"
"You are a child, Radditz," Bardock gently reminded his son.
"I'm fifteen years old, father!" Radditz fumed.
"Which even by human standards is still young," the elder Saiyan said pointedly. "By Saiyan standards you most definitely are a child. You haven't even hit puberty yet, Radditz!" That earned a dark scowl from the boy. Bardock sighed. "Look, we ought to at least be grateful she's willing to teach us, because otherwise we'd have to find someone else to tutor us, and that could lead to a lot of awkward questions we'd rather not answer. Chi-Chi thinks you're progressing quickly, so it shouldn't be long before you won't need her help." Of course, "long" was a relative term, but Bardock didn't mention that.
Though not in the least bit mollified, Radditz closed his mouth and glared at the pile of dirty laundry, for lack of a better object to focus his ire on. Abruptly standing, the teenager stalked out of the room, pausing only long enough to growl over his shoulder. "Let's get this over with."
Upon reaching the Son residence and being invited inside, Radditz quickly slipped away from his father and Chi-Chi, hoping to escape her notice for as long as possible. While Bardock explained their predicament, the moody teen plucked a book off of one of the book shelves and settled down onto the couch. It wasn't that he disliked learning to read another language, it was simply the way Chi-Chi taught. The woman acted as though she had every right to try to control his life!
"She's not my mother," Radditz muttered grumpily while flipping the book open to the page he'd bookmarked. The book might have been interesting if he was more familiar with Earth culture, but as it was he was continually tripping up over such phrases as 'knock on wood', 'Christmas', 'Halloween', 'the real McCoy', and others. Some things he could pick up from context, such as that whole Christmas thing. Halfway through the book and Radditz thought he knew what it was - he hadn't asked Chi-Chi because he didn't want to launch her into another lengthy explanation that probably would have flown over his head. From what he could tell, Christmas involved exchanging gifts, parasitical plants being tied to light fixtures and door frames, then avoiding them for fear of... something (Radditz wasn't too sure on that part, although he thought it might have something to do with being attacked by insane women), and mock battles using snow instead of ki. But as for the other idioms and common vernacular.... Shaking his head, the young Saiyan gave up on trying to understand yet another unfamiliar term ("Kleenex? Is that a misspelled word? Clean-ex? Ex-clean? Maybe it's another word for making a mess...") and continued on to the next sentence.
At Gohan's amiable greeting Radditz pulled his attention away from the book - not a very hard thing to do, actually. "Hi, Gohan," he replied cautiously, eyeing the older teen for any sign of animosity. Gohan's initial reaction when they'd first been introduced had been rather unpleasant for the fifteen year old. Apparently the demi-Saiyan had been kidnapped by Radditz's alternate self when Gohan had been a little kid, an experience that led to the death of his father, Son Goku. Needless to say, the experience had been scarring for Gohan, so when he'd suddenly found himself face to face with his 'evil Uncle Radditz' again, he had reacted badly. Staring into the menacing blue-green eyes of a none-too-happy Super Saiyan was a terrifying experience - not one he ever wanted to repeat! Once matters had been cleared up Gohan had been a lot more polite, but Radditz wasn't about to take any chances, keeping his guard up whenever his nephew was in the room.
"How's the reading coming along?" Gohan asked, sounding genuinely interested.
Radditz hesitated for a moment. Living in the same house as Gohan, in fact sleeping on a cot in the same room, for as long as he had had done a lot towards easing Radditz's fear of the older boy, but he was still extremely wary of him. However, he also knew that Gohan was very intelligent. It was probably a safe bet that he could answer any questions that Radditz had about the book he was reading and Earth culture in general. Asking Chi-Chi was out of the question, at least as far as Radditz was concerned, but Gohan...?
"Fairly well," he began tentatively. "My biggest problem is understanding idioms, slang, religious references, and the like. For instance..." He paused so that he could flip back a few pages to make sure he had the words right. "What's a 'French kiss' and how is it different from a normal kiss?" This particular question had been bothering him since he'd come across the phrase in his book. Sure, he was still prepubescent, so matters concerning love and sex didn't interest him all that much right now, but he figured he'd certainly want to know in a few years!
To his surprise a scarlet flush crept up Gohan's cheeks. "Ah... er... well... French kissing is where you... um... I mean, your tongues... the girl and you... er... that is...." Each word only seemed to make the blush turn an even brighter shade of red, fascinating Radditz to no end. He didn't think he'd ever seen someone blush that badly before.
As Gohan continued to stammer, never really answering Radditz's question, realization slowly dawned on the fifteen year old, making his eyes widen. "You haven't hit puberty yet, either!" he suddenly exclaimed, startling his nephew out of his embarrassment.
"Huh? What are you talking about, Radditz? Of course I've hit puberty! I'm nineteen years old!" A frown creasing his brow, Gohan turned a confused look on his fifteen year old uncle. "What do you mean, 'either'? Are you saying you haven't hit puberty yet?"
"Of course I haven't, baka," stated Radditz matter-of-factly. Wondering if Gohan could actually not know about the their race's maturation process, he elaborated, "Most Saiyans don't hit puberty until they're about seventeen or eighteen years old. We'll usually have a growth spurt around age fifteen, and sometimes we'll have sexual feelings, especially if someone starts petting our tails, but the hormones don't really appear until a couple years later. Didn't you know that?"
Gohan shook his head. "No, I didn't. Humans tend to mature a lot faster than Saiyans, so it happens to them when they're around thirteen." Glancing in the direction of the room where Chi-Chi and Bardock were still talking, he muttered under his breath, "It certainly explains a lot, though." Radditz chose not to ask what he meant.
"So, have you hit puberty yet?" he asked instead, curious. "You are a halfbreed, so maybe it's different for you..."
"Ah... yes, Radditz, yes I have." The blush was back in full force now, his face nearly matching the crimson color of the pants he was wearing.
"How do you know?"
If anything, Gohan's cheeks burned even more brightly. "I... ah... have noticed an increase in my body's... uh... hormonal activity." Radditz arched an eyebrow at the way his nephew had phrased that statement. Seeing the look on Radditz's face, Gohan reluctantly and with great embarrassment added, "You see, there's this girl...."
Radditz quickly raised his hand to stop Gohan from continuing, shaking his head with a grin. "I get the point, Gohan. You don't have to say anything." Allowing the older teen a moment to relax, he placed a bookmark in his book and set it aside. "You never did answer my question," he said, back tracking to their earlier topic of conversation. "So? What's a 'French kiss'?"
Shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other and looking for all the world like a deer caught in headlights, Gohan tugged nervously at the collar of his shirt. "Er... maybe you should ask my mom that question, Radditz."
An expression of distaste crossed Radditz's face at the suggestion, but before he could even open his mouth to protest another voice cut him off.
"Ask me what?" inquired Son Chi-Chi, who had apparently finished talking to Bardock about their laundry problem. Trailing close behind her, the spiky haired warrior was already holding a book, clearly ready to begin the day's reading lesson.
"Never mind," Radditz hastily dismissed the subject, avoiding the petite woman's eyes. This was something he most definitely did not want to bring up in front of Chi-Chi! He had seen the way she reacted whenever Gohan mentioned anything to do with girls, love, or children, constantly pestering her son with suggestions and questions about his love life. Radditz didn't think he could stand it if she started meddling in his love life, too! Even though he didn't have one right now.... "It's not important. So!" he continued with false enthusiasm. "How about we get started on the lesson?"
Chi-Chi cleared her throat, then smiled. "Actually, about that... You've been making great progress, Radditz. Your vocabulary and reading comprehension are quite good - you've hardly had to ask any questions about things you don't understand! I've been thinking - and your father agrees - that it's time to send you to public school."
Ah, another attempt at writing humor. I think I'm getting better at this, but I could be wrong. *wry smile* It's been an interesting challenge to try to write a story from a fifteen year old boy's point of view. I've been intending for quite some time now to devote a story to Radditz (he's greatly under appreciated!) and at last I found the inspiration to do so.
Before anyone thinks I made a mistake, yes, I did mean for Bardock to call Goku "Kakarot," despite the fact that during most of WFTP he referred to chibi Goku as "Goku." There's a reason for this, but I'm not going to explain it here. It'll come up either in Seer of Life or later on in this story.
The theories on Saiyan puberty and life expectancy are based mostly on speculation. Hey, Goku didn't start growing until around age fifteen, and neither he nor his son (Gohan) really started noticing girls until their late teens! And from what I've seen of the anime and the manga, it appears that Saiyans either age very gracefully, or they have a longer life span. I don't think that the conclusions I've drawn are unrealistic.
Be that as it may, I hope you've enjoyed reading! Reviews are appreciated, but completely voluntary.