.: lies exposed :.
We piled into the family's car and took off, Gohan driving with Chi-Chi in the passenger seat and Mike, Zar and I sandwiched in the back. The car ride was long; I had forgotten how far away from Satan City the Son family lived. Or maybe the car ride was lengthened by Chi-Chi's incessant attempts at conversation. She regaled us with tales from Gohan's childhood, told us about Goten and even went so far as to tell us how she met Goku, although that story was one we all knew quite well.
At one point, Zar even piped up and said, "And after you fought in the Budoukai, you got engaged, right?" Chi-Chi looked at him from where she sat in the passenger seat with a bemused smile on her face and asked how he knew. For once, my brother actually said the right thing when he replied, "Lucky guess," although he shot an evil grin my way when Chi-Chi looked away.
I replied to this with a quick jab of my fingers between his ribcage and his hipbone, digging into his sensitive stomach area painfully. He glared at me and attempted to return the favor but Mike grabbed his hands and held them tight. "Behave, Zed," he growled, letting go of my brother's hands with a squeeze. Then he looked at me and said, "Don't encourage him."
"God, Mi-" I caught myself before I said "Mike," instead saying his pseudonym, "Mitch. Why don't you live a little?"
He returned my roll of my eyes with one of his own. "I don't really think fighting with your little brother is up there on my 'Top Ten Things to Do in My Lifetime' list. So, if that's what you considering living, no, thank you."
We stopped talking at that moment because that's when Satan City came into view. "Wow," I was plastered to the window in an instant. The city was impressive in that way things can only be when you see them for the first time ever. It was no longer just a pretty picture on a TV screen: it was a real, living, breathing organism (you know, in that big city kinda way) and there it was, spread out before me in all its glory, a tangible piece of reality.
Zar of course started whining that he wanted to see and Mike, being the natural peacemaker he is, switched seats with the little guy, an impressive maneuver in that tiny car. "Look there's Gohan's high school," Chi-Chi pointed to Orange Star High School as we passed by it. "He met his fiancée there."
"Fiancée?" I raised an eyebrow at this. "Aren't you a little young for that kind of a commitment?"
I directed this question to Gohan, of course, and he answered with a sigh before saying, "I'm not engaged: my mother just likes to think I am."
"Oh, Gohan's just in denial. They'll be married soon," Chi-Chi said confidently, reaching over to tousle her son's hair. I didn't have to look at Gohan's face to see that he was embarrassed by his mother's blatant display of affection. I knew this would be his reaction from watching the series numerous times and, thus, learning his teenage character like the back of my hand.
"What's the lucky girl's name?" I asked, deciding to play into Chi-Chi's delusions, though I knew that unless our arrival screwed up the timeline, those delusions would become reality soon enough.
"Mom!" Gohan whined, slumping in the driver's seat. Then he perked up as an opportunity came for a change of subject. "Oh, look! We're here!"
I looked back out the window and froze. We were there; at Capsule Corporation. I turned to look at Mike and he returned my wide-eyed expression with a shrug that seemed to say, "What happens, happens."
"C'mon out, guys. Stretch your legs for a bit," Gohan said, unbuckling himself and getting out of the car as his mother entered the nearest building with a small package in hand.
I was about to lie and say that I felt fine but Zar had already gotten out and was bouncing around outside with all the of exuberance nine-year-olds contained. Mike looked at me and grinned. "Damage's already done," was all he said as he followed Zar out onto the grass. I sat in the car and growled a few quiet, colorful curses before I also exited the vehicle.
"So, where do you guys need to get taken?" Gohan asked from where he leaned against the car.
"Uh…" I looked at Mike for help as I had given that particular question no thought yet. I found my hand unconsciously straying to my stomach to scratch nervously at my tail. It was still wrapped around my waist under the shirt and I quickly moved my hand away, stuffing it in my pocket. Don't want to be showing that off just yet, I reminded myself.
"Just drop us off at a nearby mall," Mike told Gohan. "There's a few things I have to pick up. I'll just give my parents a call and then catch a bus the rest of the way home."
"And you?" Gohan looked at me inquisitively.
"My parents should still be out hiking or looking for us out there. So I'll just stay at his place until they get back," I answered, then added, "I don't have a key for our apartment."
"Okay… I feel kinda weird about just dropping you off though," Gohan said. "Are you sure I can't take you just straight there?"
"Yeah," I assured him with a smile, "Thanks though."
"Well, I offered," he said, smiling back.
"So what's your mom doing?" Mike asked Gohan as I idly watched Zar, who was currently doing handstands and cartwheels across the grass lawn. I wondered if Goten or Trunks had taught him how to do those; he didn't used to know how.
Gohan shrugged. "Giving something to Bulma, I don't know what it is."
"Bulma Briefs? The inventor?" Mike feigned astonishment.
The demi-Saiyan grinned, putting his hand behind his head, "Yeah, actually. She's an old family friend."
"Wow, you know some important people."
"Well, stuff tends to happen around my family so we end up knowing a lot of important people."
I couldn't help but pipe up and say, "That must make life exciting."
Gohan looked at me and grinned again. "You have no idea."
"What's that?" Zar asked, pointing at a small building that was nearly hidden behind two larger ones and just barely visible from where we stood. I recognized it after a moment as the gravity chamber that Vegeta used for training.
Gohan thought for a second. "It's a test room. It's used to see how durable new products are. They're subjected to strenuous gravities to see how much pressure they'll withstand before collapsing. It's a very useful tool for developing objects that will be used in airplanes and spacecraft, you know, things that will be put under high gravity on a day-to-day basis."
"If it creates a high gravitational field, then what was that guy doing inside of it?" Zar asked, pointing at a figure emerging from the building. The flame hairstyle was unmistakable, even at a distance and I ducked behind the car, unwilling to get killed just yet.
"Uh… he's a tech guy. He was probably fixing it," Gohan lied.
From where I was crouched behind the car for safety, I could see Vegeta running a towel over his bare chest and I wished I was a little bit closer so I could get a better view. But then again, I do value my life quite highly so I was glad I was far enough away that I would at least have time to run before he killed me.
When he started walking towards us, I quietly panicked, trying to think of a way to get out of there before he recognized us or our ki signatures. "Uh, I've gotta go to the bathroom!" I announced, which got me a strange look from Mike. "Let's go in for a second!"
I jerked my head at Vegeta's approaching figure and when he saw the imminent danger our lives were in, he quickly agreed. "Yeah! Bathroom break, Zed!" He grabbed a hold of Zar's hand and we all quickly hauled ass into the nearest building, leaving a more than a little confused Gohan behind.
Vegeta stepped out of the gravity chamber, his breathing slightly strained from the workout he had just undergone. He grabbed his towel off of a hook and ran it over his body to clean off the droplets of sweat that clung to his heated flesh as he glanced over to where a car was parked a little distance away. He had sensed a nearing high level ki and so had cut his workout a little short, curious to find out why Gohan had come to see Bulma.
"Kakarot's brat!" he called out—the insult was the closest he would ever come to greeting the demi-Saiyan familiarly—as he walked over to meet Gohan where he stood at his car. Vegeta noticed a trio of human rushing into a nearby building but ignored the inferior beings: they weren't worth his attention.
"Hello Vegeta," Gohan said politely. "How are you?"
"Fine," Vegeta's irritation at seeing Gohan there crept into his voice and he asked sharply, "What are you doing here?"
"Mom had to see Bulma about something."
"I see." He crossed his arms, the towel draped over one shoulder, and then the Saiyan Prince gave Gohan a once-over, eyeing the boy critically. "Have you been keeping up on your training?"
"Not that much lately," Gohan admitted. "School's gotten in the way of that. I try to spar with Dad as often as I can but stuff gets in the way…" After a short pause, he added, "Do you know where he is, by the way?"
"He took Goten and Trunks to an amusement park," Vegeta answered, his tone clearly stating that he himself found no amusement from this.
The short Saiyan slowly became aware of something that tickled the back of his mind timidly and so he stood there, a few feet away from Gohan, and tried to pin down exactly what it was. It was a familiar feeling that ghosted over his mind, a ki presence that he could have sworn he had encountered before and was of consequence, but who (or what) it was escaped him. He turned to look at the nearby building, where it was emanating from and concentrated. Not one, not two, but three ki that he knew. The three humans he had seen enter moments before? But who were they? And where did he know them from?
We had run into Bulma and Chi-Chi on our way inside and they quickly ushered us back out the door and I didn't have time to get a word in edgewise as Chi-Chi introduced us to Bulma. Outside, Vegeta was standing next to Gohan, his back to us, but when he heard the door open and the sound of voices, he turned to look at us. I saw disbelief register in his eyes as he stared at us for a moment. Then, rage slowly flowed over his face and he snarled, "What are you doing here?"
"Hey Vegeta. Did you miss me?" was all that I could manage to squeak out before he came barreling at me. A fist to my face sent me flying into the wall of the nearest building and I heard a resounding crack from the impact and I could have sworn I felt two or three bones break when my body became imbedded in the concrete.
"Vegeta!" Bulma's voice shrieked and through the blackness that clouded my vision, I could see Gohan jumping on him, attempting to restrain the enraged Saiyan, while Mike ran over to check on me.
"You okay, Bo?" He pulled me out of the dent my body had created in the wall. "Anything broken?"
"I think so," I groaned, trying to stand up straight and failing miserably as my back protested the abuse.
"Do have any senzu beans?" Mike turned to ask Bulma and Chi-Chi.
"Yes. I keep some in reserve in cases the boys hurt themselves when they train." Chi-Chi pulled a small container out of her pocket and popped the lid, shaking out a senzu bean into her hand. She gave it to Mike who put it in my mouth. I swallowed the small hard object and after a moment, straightened up, realizing that I felt fine.
"Whoa, awesome," I said, stretching out my back until my spine popped. I smiled at Chi-Chi. "Thanks."
Bulma was talking to Vegeta. "Vegeta, calm down!" The Saiyan Prince, realizing that he was going to get out of Gohan's effective embrace no other way, stopped struggling and merely settled for glaring at me and my companions in silence. "How do you know these people?" Bulma asked her husband.
"They are the humans from the other universe," Vegeta growled.
"That's impossible," Chi-Chi assured him. "They're just kids who got lost hiking. Gohan was giving them a ride into the city so they could go home, right Mitch?" Chi-chi looked at Mike with a smile, waiting for him to confirm his story.
He wilted under her gaze, never one to be able to stand up to authoritative figures and blatantly lie when faced with the truth. Mike swallowed nervously and took his glasses off, playing with them for a moment before mumbling, "Actually… he's right, Chi-Chi… I'm actually Mike, that's Bouke, and that's Zar and we are from the other universe."
She stared at him, that silly smile still on her face, and for a moment I thought she was going to take it well. I was wrong, of course. That was only the calm before the storm.
"WHAT?" she screeched and, dear god! There it was! Out of nowhere! The Frying Pan of Doom! And she introduced it right into Mike's face, sending him flying into the wall to make an identical imprint of his body right next to mine.
Before I rush to my friend's aid, I glared at Zar, who was laughing hysterically. He grinned at me, giggling out, "At least he took off his glasses!"