Choice to be Different
Disclaimer: Characters and premise belong to Akira Toriyama, I'm just borrowing them for some non-profit fun.
Afterwords: Paradigm Shift
Bulma climbed out of a taxi and opened her umbrella to shield herself from the heavy rains. Then she scanned the crowds flocking toward the 23rd Tenkaichi Budoukai, searching for her friends. It had been three years since the battle against the Demon King Piccolo. Three years since Goku had gone off to train with Kami-sama as impossible as that sounded. A scowl marred Bulma's pretty face; three years since her no-good boyfriend had taken off on his own training trip. "That jerk never even called," she complained to herself. Puar winced as she climbed out of taxi after Bulma. Oolong just rolled his eyes, in the last few years he'd heard Bulma's complaints about her absent, on-again, off-again boyfriend way too many times.
A few moments later the young woman spotted several familiar faces.
"Hey you- Long time no see!" Bulma cried as she hurried toward Master Roshi and Lunch.
"It is you Bulma! I though so!" Lunch greeted her enthusiastically.
Master Roshi's greet was a bit too enthusiastic, "My, my, my! Look at you! You've really grown up, haven't you!" he exclaimed as he patted her rear.
"Hands off my butt!!" Bulma snarled. For good measure she elbowed Roshi violently.
"Physically, at least…" Roshi muttered as he rubbed at his nose. He wondered if it was broken.
"Same to you!" Bulma snapped.
"Hey!" an almost familiar voice called.
They glanced around and spotted a tall young man wearing strange clothes and a turban. "A friend of yours?" Roshi asked. Bulma shook her head.
"Old Timer! You are back to life! Man, you all look great!" The stranger greeted them cheerfully. "Where's Kuririn and Yamcha and Tienshinhan and everybody? They in the gymnasium already?"
A stunning realization struck the group. "N-no way! G-Goku? Is it you?" they cried in disbelief. The cute, uber-powerful child they'd know had become a tall, handsome young man.
"Huh?! What are you talking about? Of course it's me!" Then Goku laughed. "Oh yeah, I grew. Everyone kept commenting about that."
"You can say that again!" Oolong exclaimed as he craned his neck back to stare up at Goku. The last time he'd seen Goku they'd been practically the same height.
The rain finally let up. Goku put up his umbrella and unwound the turban around his head. His hair was the same messy bird's nest that it had always been and somehow he just looked more right to the others once that had been revealed.
"Yoo-Hoo!" Kuririn called. They turned to see the rest of their friends approach. "Hey, we just bumped into each other over there!"
"Long time no see, Lord Muten Roshi," Tienshinhan greeted the old Master.
"I expected more of a reaction," Yamcha said.
"Maybe they're too shocked at our transformations!" Kuririn chimed in. "Look at us Lord Muten Roshi! Look how much I grew!" And indeed Kuririn had gained almost four inches.
"You look great Kuririn!" Goku exclaimed. "Now we're all here!"
"G-Goku? Is that you?" Kuririn stammered
"Goku!! You idiot!! I've missed you so much!!" Kuririn cried as he hugged Goku. "I never got to say thank you!!"
"Th-that's Goku?" a stunned Yamcha asked Tienshinhan.
"So it seems..." the equally disbelieving tri-clops replied. (From DB #14)
"Would you stop rushing off?" an irate voice growled. "You act like Goten at an amusement park."
Goku turned around and grinned. "Hey 'Geta! I found them!"
Bulma's eyes widened as she caught sight of Goku's friend. The navy blue gi he wore showed off every line of an utterly perfect physique. His coloration was very similar to Goku's, but his flame-like shock of black hair gave him an entirely different look of wildness from Goku's bird's nest. And his eyes… He looked at them as if she were the only one in the group who mattered at all. Bulma felt an electric shock travel down her spine as their eyes met.
Without taking his eyes off her, he elbowed Goku roughly. "Introduce me," he ordered.
Goku noted 'Geta's fixation on Bulma and grinned mischievously. "Oh yeah! I should introduce you to everyone. 'Geta, this is Muten Roshi, the Turtle Hermit and my first Martial Arts master. Master Roshi, I'd like you to meet my friend Vegeta."
Roshi grinned and shook 'Geta's hand. "Pleased to meet you, Vegeta. Any friend of Goku's…"
"This is Lunch." Goku leaned closer to 'Geta, "Watch out if she sneezes," he whispered. "Lunch, Vegeta."
"It's very nice to meet you," Lunch replied. "Will you be participating in the tournament with Goku and the others?"
"Yes," 'Geta replied shortly.
"We'll be sure to cheer for you," Lunch said and 'Geta looked slightly embarrassed about his abruptness.
Goku turned to Kuririn. "And this is my friend Kuririn. He and I studied together under Master Roshi when I was eleven. Kuririn, Vegeta."
"Nice to meet you," Kuririn said with a grin as he caught on to what Goku was doing.
"This is Yamcha. He was a bandit when I first met him. Then he went to High School with Bulma." Goku debated whether or not to mention that Yamcha and Bulma had been dating on and off for the last seven years. In the end he decided against borrowing trouble. "Yamcha, Vegeta."
Yamcha glared at Vegeta and moved proprietarily closer to Bulma. Bulma gave him a dirty look and took a step away.
"This is Oolong. He changes shape. Oolong, Vegeta."
"Like he cares who I am," Oolong laughed. 'Geta was beginning to look distinctly impatient.
"This is Tien and Chaozu," Goku continued blithely. "They're students of the Crane School. Tien won the 22nd Tournament."
Tien nodded and Chaotzu waved.
'Geta gave Goku a dark look then stepped toward Bulma. "I'm Ouji Vegeta, and you are?"
"Ouji huh?" Bulma asked lightly. She smiled warmly for Goku's hansome and intense friend. "I'm Bulma Briefs, western order on the names." She offered 'Geta her hand.
Yamcha cleared his throat meaningfully when 'Geta raised her hand to his lips and took his sweet time about releasing it.
"Oh shush," Bulma told Yamcha dismissively. "After three years without a word from you it's not as if we're still an item." She looped her arm through 'Geta's. "So tell me about yourself."
As they turned away Puar squeaked "He's got a tail like Goku's!"
Goku laughed and scratched the back of his head. "Oh yeah. I forgot to mention that. 'Geta and I come from the same planet."
For a moment everyone just stared at Goku. "The same planet?" Oolong managed finally. "As in not-Earth?"
"Yep," Goku replied. "We're Saiyan, not Human."
"What sort of nonsense have you been telling him?" Yamcha accused 'Geta.
'Geta glared at the scarred fighter.
"Now hold on a minute there, Yamcha," Roshi interrupted. "I remember my old student Gohan telling me about how he saw a meteor fall out of the sky and when he went to investigate he found a strange round ball in the crater and inside the sphere was a baby." Roshi nodded toward Goku.
"So you're telling us that Goku really is an alien," Oolong said. "Well, that explains a few things."
"So, um, not to be rude or anything, but why was Goku sent here as a baby and why did you come here?" Bulma asked.
'Geta skipped over Bulma's first question. "My planet, Vegeta-sai was destroyed by a monster called Frieza," he explained. His voice thickened with loathing as he spoke. "Frieza took me from my planet; he told me if I obeyed him my planet and my people would be spared. He lied. He forced me to serve him for ten years, but I will see him destroyed." 'Geta took a deep breath and swallowed back his hate. More calmly he continued. "I still need to grow stronger before I can face him. Goku is a good training partner, the Earth seems like a good place to stay until I'm ready to hunt Frieza down."
"Ouji isn't a family name is it?" Bulma realized.
"No," Vegeta said simply.
"So, Goku, how close is he to your level?" Kuririn whispered.
"Oh I've almost caught up to him," Goku replied cheerfully. "Of course 'Geta was sort sick when we first met. I'm probably going to have to work even harder now that he's healthy again."
"So how strong is this Frieza?" Tienshinhan asked solemnly.
"Strong," Goku replied seriously. " 'Geta needs to get a whole lot stronger before he can fight Frieza. We were thinking three or four more years of training."
"Does he improve as quickly as you, Goku?" Roshi asked. He could barely fit his mind around the idea of the sort of power Goku was talking about needing.
"Almost," Goku said. He looked a little embarrassed. He didn't want to sound like he was bragging. "But 'Geta started at a much higher level than I did. Now that I've almost caught up I might not improve as fast anymore." He didn't want to admit that the older Vegeta had said flat out that the reason Goku had always improved so quickly when he encountered a new challenge was because no one he'd encountered before his trip to the future had been able to provide him with the sort of challenge a growing Saiyan needed to truly reach his full potential. 'Geta had suffered from the opposite problem; he'd been pushed too far, too fast until his body simply hadn't been able to tolerate the stress anymore.
In the unperturbed timeline Goku's problem would have eventually righted itself as he went on finding more and more challenging opponents. Vegeta, on the other hand, had irreparable harm done to him by the time he'd reached adulthood, limiting his top potential. In this timeline, created by Trunks and Goten's impulsive wish, Goku had found someone who could provide him with a consistent challenge much sooner and 'Geta had escape Frieza with two decades less accumulative damage to his body and soul.
"Contestants! Please gather in the gym for the semi-final matches!" The loud speaker blared.
Goku and his friend all headed inside to draw lots for the qualifying matches. As they walked in a pretty, dark-haired girl walked up behind Goku and tapped him on the shoulder. "Son Goku?" she asked with a smile.
Goku smiled back, easily recognizing the girl from the woman he'd gotten to know during the years he'd spent in the future as the mother of his children-yet-to-be. "Hey Chichi! Is it time for us to get married?"
There was a soft thud as Kuririn fainted from shock.
Chichi's smile broadened, then she made an effort to look stern. "You were supposed to come ask Daddy for my hand."
"I was?" Goku replied innocently.
"I guess you're just going to have to prove yourself," Chichi declared. "I'm entered in the Tournament too. If you don't place ahead of me I won't marry you."
"Okay," Goku replied agreeably. "I'll come watch your preliminary rounds when I can."
Chichi smiled. "I'll do the same," she said. "See you later."
Once Chichi left Kuririn said "I thought you were training with Kami-sama, not finding a girlfriend!"
Goku scratched the back of his head. "Actually I didn't train with Kami-sama very long. See first-"
Goku broke off when 'Geta elbowed him, a not-so-subtle reminder that they weren't supposed to discuss the future.
"Oops," Goku said. "Well, I trained with some other people for awhile. Then, when I actually got back to Kami-sama he said there wasn't much left that he could teach me."
After a moment of bug-eyed staring, Kuririn shook his head. "And you found a hot girl who wants to marry you. Man Goku, you have all the luck!"
"No, I met Chichi a long time ago," Goku corrected, "Even before I met you."
This time it was Yamcha who's eyes were bugging-out. "Chichi? That was THAT Chichi?"
Goku nodded. "She got a lot taller, just like me," he said.
"She did a hell of a lot more than getting taller!" Yamcha muttered.
When the lots were drawn Chaozu used his telekinetic powers to scatter their group among the blocks at Tien's urging. It just wouldn't be any fun if they ended up facing each other right off the bat.
Goku drew the first match in his block. The rest of the group watched eagerly to see how much he'd improved since his battle against Piccolo. But it quickly became apparent that it would be some time before Son Goku found an opponent good enough to truly give him an opportunity to display his skills.
Like Goku, the other had taken full advantage of the last three years and all showed tremendous improvement as they advanced through the ranks.
"Come on, I think Vegeta's up," Kuririn said. "I haven't gotten to watch him fight yet."
"Where's Goku?" Yamcha asked.
Kuririn grinned and pointed. Goku was raptly watching Chichi's fight. Kuririn walked over. "She's pretty good huh?" he asked.
"Her form's great," Goku replied.
Kuririn snickered. "Oh yeah, I'll bet you think she has a nice form," he said suggestively.
Goku looked confused for a moment. But after nearly five years of traveling with 'Geta he'd become more accustom to statements with double meanings. "She's pretty too, I guess," he agreed in a voice that was a touch too loud.
At first Chichi blushed and smiled. At the 'I guess' she knocked her opponent out of the ring then stomped over and shouted "You guess!?" then stormed off.
"Did I do something wrong?" Goku asked.
Kuririn and Yamcha just shook their heads in disbelief.
"Well, come on," Yamcha said. "I want to see your friend Vegeta fight."
"Oh yeah, he's up," Goku said. The three of them found 'Geta squaring off against a heavy-set, masked fighter who's stance looked vaguely familiar to Goku.
'Geta stood with his arms crossed over his chest. He gave the other fighter a challenging glare. The masked man shouted and charged. 'Geta dropped into a slight crouch and met the other fighter's charge with a forceful blow to the chest. The combined force of 'Geta's punch and the other fighter's own momentum was a devastating blow. The sound of cracking ribs sent winces throughout the audience. 'Geta followed up the attack with a kick that tossed his opponent cleanly out of the ring.
Goku scowled as he went to the masked fighter's aid. Once he'd handed the stout man over to the medical attendants he turned to 'Geta. "Be nice!" he ordered. This is just a tournament; don't do more damage than you have to."
"Fine," 'Geta snapped, "Since they clearly can't take a real battle."
"I don't think I like him," Yamcha said to Kuririn.
"Well he did agree to be less brutal. What he did wasn't any worse than Tien breaking your leg last year. Tien turned out to be a good guy," Kuririn defended 'Geta reluctantly.
There was an angry shout from across the room. "That was Tien," Kuririn said. They rushed across the room to find Tien crouched on the floor cradling Chaozu in his arms and glaring up at a smirking man.
The man wore Chinese style robes and had his hair drawn back into a long que and half of his face was obscured by the heavy goggles he wore. "Heh, Heh, Heh! Don't worry he's alive. Just barely. After all, if I kill him I'll be unjustly disqualified."
"Wh-what!" Tien snarled. Then his eyes widened in shock as he recognized Chaozu's assailant.
"Long time no see Tienshinhan. And… Son Goku… was it?" the man said.
"Taopaipai!" Goku exclaimed as he recognized the assassin he had believed he'd killed years ago. "Is that you!?"
"Heh, heh, heh," Taopaipai laughed wickedly. "You finally noticed, did you?"
Tienshinhan was beginning to sweat. "Master Taopaipai, I thought you died!"
"Oh please! I'd never let myself die so eaily!" Taopaipai sneered. "It's true I was in pretty bad shape, so it took me quite a while to bounce back…"
"Um, could you please move off the ring?" The referee requested. "W-we can't hold the next match, so…"
"Quit yapping-unless you want to die an early death!" Taopaipai snapped.
"Goku, who is that guy?" Kuririn asked.
"Taopaipai, a hired assassin," Goku explained. "And as it turns out, the younger broter of the Crane Master… Which makes him the mentor of Tienshinhan and Chaozu."
"Wh-what!" Yamcha exclaimed.
"I thought I killed him though," Goku continued. 'Geta noted the utter lack of remorse in Goku's tone with satisfaction. Sometimes the other Saiyan's moral beliefs drove him to distraction. At least this showed that Goku could kill an enemy if he had to, it was something 'Geta had occasionally wondered about.
"I had to spend every cent I'd ever earned to have myself brought back to life as a cyborg!" Taopaipai continued. "But thanks to that, I now have several times the power I had before. Son Goku, get past these preliminaries!" Taopaipai commanded. "I want to meet you in the final rounds. Not to win, of course… only to take your life. And then it's you turn, Tienshinhan. It seems you turned your coat to the Kame school, eh? You traitor."
"It's… it's not that I've joined the Muten Roshi…" Tienshinhan protested. "But I did come to wonder if some of what I learned from you may have been wrong..."
"Wash you neck and prepare for the axe!" Taopaipai ordered.
"Very well," Tien replied nervously. Then his resolve hardened. "I will fight you… for Chaozu as well."
"Ha ha ha… As always, you are a vainglorious fool. I am looking forward to it," Taopaipai declared. (DB #14)
The last match of the qualifying round saw 'Geta fighting an unperposing looking man who called himself Shen. "I don't want to reveal myself so early," Shen muttered as he pushed up his glasses and frowned at the dilemma he'd found himself in.
The fight was a strange thing to watch. Shen stumbled and tripped and somehow managed to narrowly elude 'Geta's attacks. And somehow Shen's clumsy moves came close to actually hitting 'Geta.
"Maybe Vegeta isn't so good after all," Yamcha said smugly.
Goku shook his head. "There's something funny about that guy," he said.
Meanwhile 'Geta was rapidly losing patience. "Would you stop screwing around?" he snarled.
"Who me?" Shen asked innocently.
'Geta growled low in his throat. "Gallic Gun!" he shouted.
"Hit the deck!" Goku exclaimed. He grabbed everyone near him and shoved them out of the way.
Shen had a second to blink before 'Geta's blast hit him. Somehow Shen still managed to deflect the better part of the blast away from the crowd and through the roof before he was thrown out of the ring by the force of 'Geta's attack.
" 'Geta!" Goku shouted.
"What? It wasn't even at full power!" 'Geta complained.
Goku sighed and went to help Shen extract himself from the wall.
"I'm fine, I'm fine," Shen insisted. "I was a fool to think I could pursue two objectives at once. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men…"
"Ouji Vegeta advances to the finals!" the referee announced. And with that the preliminary rounds were concluded. Then the matches for the first round of the finals were declared: Taopaipai vs. Tienshinhan, Son Goku vs. Mao Chichi, Demon Jr. vs. Kuririn and lastly Vegeta vs. Yamcha.
With the qualifying matches completed Goku, Kuririn, Yamcha and 'Geta met up with Master Roshi, Bulma and the others again.
To Yamcha's intense dismay Bulma linked her arm with 'Geta's and subtly put some space between the two of them and the rest of the group. "So you've traveled through space. What's it like?" Bulma asked. "How do you deal with interstellar distances, what sort of power do your ships run on?"
'Geta relaxed when he realized Bulma was more interested in grilling him about advanced technology than in his past. Bulma was slightly disappointed when she realized 'Geta was only familiar with the use of technology not the innards of it but he was intelligent and observant. With Bulma's questions to guide him they discovered 'Geta knew more about the subject than he had realized.
'So he's got a ki attack like Goku's Kamehameha wave,' Yamcha thought to himself. 'So do I and I wouldn't have had to break it out against some klutz in the prelims. I'm glad my first fight is against him!"
Rather than leaving after his defeat in the preliminary matches Shen had sought out Piccolo. "I had planned to face you in the Tournament," Shen declared. There was no trace of the clueless, inept martial artist who'd lost to 'Geta left in his manner.
"Then you were fortunate to be eliminated," Piccolo stated.
"You're planning to try for world domination again as soon as you kill Son Goku and get rid of everyone in your way right? My dear Piccolo, what a ridiculous thought, as always. I won't let you have your way!" (DB #15)
Tienshinhan was on his way to the arena after seeing Chaozu comfortably settled in the infirmary when he noticed the disturbance.
He arrived just in time to see a darkly swirling vortex rebound off Piccolo to strike the unpreposing fighter Vegeta had eliminated in the preliminaries. A being that looked very much like Piccolo was drawn out of Shen and trapped in a small bottle. Piccolo picked up the bottle and stalked toward Tien.
While staring intently at the three-eyed fighter, Piccolo swallowed the bottle. "Tell Son Goku what has transpired here," Piccolo ordered. "Tell him Kami is no more and that he will be the next to fall before me."
"Taopaipai eh?" Roshi asked. "That's a bother and he knows Tienshinhan's tricks as well."
"It's not big deal!" Goku declared.
"Huh?!" Yamcha exclaimed.
"That guy's no match for Tienshinhan!" Goku insisted.
"I can not let that statement slide." The group turned to see that the Crane Master had come up behind them. He sneered at them. "Let me give you a piece of advice – you ought to run before you Turtle School bumblers are all cooked in your shells!"
A low, dark chuckle interrupted the Crane Master's taunts.
"What's so funny?" he snapped.
"You," 'Geta replied coolly. "That someone as pathetic as you could consider himself a threat."
"I'll show you pathetic!" the Crane Master snarled.
"Please do," 'Geta replied.
The Crane Master punched 'Geta squarely in the face. He put all his power into the blow.
'Geta smiled at the sound of cracking bones.
The Crane Master shrieked in pain and cradled his broken hand against his chest. "You're next!" he hissed. "After that traitor Teinshinhan and Son Goku, my brother Taopaipai will come for you next!"
'Geta snorted and turned his back contemptuously on the man. "Well?" he asked Goku. "Are you going to yell at me again?"
"Why?" Goku replied with a shrug. "He did it to himself."
"You've been fussing at me like an old woman all day," 'Geta complained.
"Only because you've been stomping around like a bull in a China shop," Goku replied.
As they continued toward the stands Bulma asked 'Geta "Are you sure you and Goku are friends? He doesn't normally snap back at people."
"I spent the last three years watching him get more and more differential, trying not to frighten the weaklings we came across while we traveled." 'Geta shook his head in disgust. Where he came from a person only deferred to someone who was unquestionably stronger than they were. "If he didn't push back when I pushed him I would have gone insane. A warrior ought to act like a warrior," he muttered.
"Oh dear. We aren't going to be able to see anything," Lunch sighed as they reached the arena.
"Might as well be standing behind a wall," Oolong complained glaring at the backs of the people who'd gotten there ahead of him.
"This won't do," Bulma said. She glanced around for something that would induce Lunch to sneeze.
"You want them to move?" 'Geta asked. Bulma nodded. 'Geta wrapped his arm around her waist then summoned a wave of killing intent. The crowd didn't understand what they were feeling but they knew they had to get away. Puar dove into Yamcha's arms. Oolong and Lunch hid behind Roshi, Goku and Kuririn. Bulma felt the wave of killing intent but 'Geta's arm around her was gentle and she felt protected.
"Scary," Puar whispered.
"It's just a show," Yamcha said. He told himself he was saying it for Puar's benefit rather than his own. After all, Vegeta was Goku's friend, he couldn't possibly be as, well, as evil as that aura hinted.
Goku rolled his eyes and shook his head at 'Geta. 'Geta shrugged. He glanced toward Bulma who was nestled tightly against him, and grinned. Goku gave in and smiled back.
"We better get back to the competitor's area," Goku suggested.
As soon as they returned Tienshinhan pulled Goku aside to tell him what had happened between Piccolo and Shen.
"We go on with the tournament," Goku said. "If he's here for me he won't want to be disqualified before the finals. We're in opposite brackets, the only way we'll meet is if we both make it to the finals."
Tien nodded. "So it's a Tournament like any other, only if Piccolo wins the stakes are world domination."
Goku shrugged. "Good luck against Taopaipai… not that you'll need it."
In the first match of the finals Tien quickly proved that he'd surpassed his old mentor; which led to Taopaipai breaking out weapons. Even so Tien defeated him cleanly and easily.
The next match saw Chichi and Goku meeting in the ring.
"Show me what you've got," Chichi invited. She settled into her stance.
Goku grinned, "You first."
"You asked for it," Chichi said. She launched a kick at him. Goku knocked her foot aside.
After several minutes watching them from the sidelines Oolong shouted. "Fight now, flirt with her later!"
Goku flushed as he realized he had been holding back more than he normally would even in a tournament simply because he was enjoying sparring with Chichi. She didn't have his speed or power but there was a clean efficiency to her movements that he found very appealing.
"I hope we can do this more later," Goku said as he reluctantly employed a more forceful attack and knocked Chichi out of the ring.
"Goku advances!" the announcer shouted.
Chichi hopped back up and borrowed the mike from the surprised announcer. "If any of you want to stick around, me and Goku are getting' married right after the Tournament," she declared.
"Guess he didn't have time to flirt later," Oolong commented as Goku and Chichi left the ring arm-in-arm.
Kuririn made a valiant showing against Piccolo but he had no chance against the Demon King's power.
Next 'Geta and Yamcha entered the ring.
"Don't think I haven't noticed the way you look at my girlfriend," Yamcha said darkly.
"Good," 'Geta replied. He stood with his arms cross, staring haughtily at Yamcha. "Then you can see which way the wind is blowing. Make it easy on yourself: Get out of my way."
"Well, it seems romance is certainly in the air at this tournament," the announcer declared. "Just a few matches ago we witnessed a proposal. And these two competitors appear to be romantic rivals."
"Oh Bulma! They're fighting over you!" Lunch said, she sounded distressed.
"Isn't it great?" Bulma replied. "Vegeta is amazingly gorgeous and Yamcha hasn't done anything this romantic in ages."
"You're a fickle wench," Oolong commented.
"Says the guy who used to keep a harem," Bulma retorted. "And it's not as if they wouldn't be fighting anyways."
"You've got a hell of a lot of nerve," Yamcha snarled at 'Geta. "Bulma and I have been together for ages. You can't just waltz in and sweep her off her feet."
"On and off for seven years," Bulma contributed. "And he's welcome to try! It serves you right for taking me for granted!"
"It seems you're badly misinformed about what I can and cannot do," 'Geta said. His low voice had an edge of malicious amusement to it.
Goku watched as Yamcha attacked. 'Geta dodged each blow with such speed that to the untrained eye it would appear that 'Geta had never moved at all. 'Geta kept his arms crossed and his expression bored the whole time.
" 'Geta took off his weighted clothes before the match," Goku said quietly.
"Who doesn't?" Kuririn asked, he sounded puzzled.
"Watch," Goku said unhappily.
Kuririn turned back to the ring. After a few moments he winced in sympathy for Yamcha.
When Goku had held back against Chichi he'd done it to let her show-off her abilities. 'Geta was dragging out his match solely to make the gap between Yamcha's level and his own blatantly obvious. He made Yamcha look like a child flailing at shadows.
Frustrated and angry, Yamcha withdrew to one side of the ring. He grasped his left wrist with his right hand and focused his ki into the palm of his hand. A ball of intensely spinning spirit energy formed. Yamcha directed it at 'Geta with a shout of "Sokidan!"
'Geta watched it coming then dispelled it with a shout. Yamcha's mouth dropped open and he just stared at 'Geta in shock. Seeing the finishing move he'd worked so hard to perfect blown away without effort sapped his will to fight.
'Geta's arms dropped to his sides. He looked away from Yamcha, suddenly ashamed. He'd reduced whole planets to looking at him with that sort of hopelessness. More faces than 'Geta could possibly count flashed past his mind's eye and they all had that empty, broken gaze as they waited for death at his hands.
'Geta knocked Yamcha out of bounds with an almost gentle shove. Before his victory could be announced he turned and walked out of the arena.
Goku took one look at 'Geta's face and refrained from saying anything about the match.
Meanwhile, Yamcha shook off his shock. As he left the arena he muttered, "When Vegeta fights that Demon Jr. guy I'm not sure who I'll be cheering against."
Goku sighed. 'Geta's talent for NOT making friends had struck again. "Give him a chance," he said. It had been easier in the future where everyone had been accustomed to Vegeta's quirks and accepting of them. Although Goku had to admit that he hadn't noticed any love lost between the future versions of Yamcha and Vegeta either.
"Contestant Tienshinhan, Contestant Son Goku, please make your way to the ring," the announcer called.
The following match was an impressive display of skill but to Tien it was apparent that he hadn't come close to pushing Goku's limits. Once he'd exhausted his abilities he gracefully accepted his defeat and wished Goku luck in the finals.
"Contestant Demon Jr, Contestant Ouji Vegeta, please make your way to the ring."
Vegeta and Piccolo exchanged contemptuous glares. Then Vegeta snorted. "This isn't my fight and you're not worth my time," he declared. To everyone's shock he turned around and walked out of the ring.
"Um, Demon Jr. is declared the victor by default," the surprised announcer managed.
" 'Geta, you didn't have to do that," Goku said. "It's a tournament and I don't care who takes care of stopping Piccolo as long as it gets done."
"You wouldn't have liked how I dealt with him," 'Geta stated. "I'm letting you deal with your enemy the way you see fit. I expect you to do the same when it comes to Frieza."
"You still plan to kill him," Goku sighed.
"I want him to die screaming in agony and begging me for mercy," 'Geta stated bluntly. "But I'll settle for just killing him because you're too squeamish to standby if I truly tried to make him pay for all that he's done."
"I'm not gonna quit arguing that everybody deserves a second chance," Goku said. "But you really don't have to worry about me breaking my promise; I won't interfere."
"Not unless I die," Vegeta continued, feeling the need to remind Goku of the whole promise. "And if I do die, you will take full advantage of whatever damage I've managed to inflict to finish the job of killing Frieza."
Goku looked distinctly unhappy, but he nodded. "If it comes to that I'll do my best to kill him," he said.
"Due to this unexpected development we will immediately proceed to the Championship match between Son Goku, last year's runner-up, and Demon Jr., a new comer to the Tenkaichi Budoukai who has shown himself to be a fearsome competitor."
Goku returned to the ring to face Piccolo. And 'Geta turned to the rest of the group. "Scatter through the crowd," he ordered.
"What? Why?" Kuririn asked.
'Geta gave the smaller man a contemptuous look. "The crowd is full of weaklings completely incapable of defending themselves. There will be collateral damage when those two fight. And it won't be long before Piccolo realizes that he can't possibly win. Then he may notice that he's surrounded by potential hostages."
Kuririn gulped and he and the others quickly followed 'Geta's suggestion. 'Geta and Yamcha positioned themselves at Bulma's right and left shoulder respectively and proceeded to glare at each other. Secretly 'Geta realized he was glad that the other man had recovered his spirit so quickly.
Meanwhile in the ring Goku and Piccolo sized each other up.
"We don't have to be enemies," Goku said as he remembered the future-Piccolo. "You don't have to be the bad guy."
Piccolo laughed harshly. "You naive fool, do you know what I am? I'm everything your precious Kami was ashamed of, everything of himself that he wanted to throw away and forget. There is no good in me for you to appeal to. I am pure evil."
"But you're not," Goku protested. "You're a whole person, you have a choice."
"Kami had a choice," Piccolo snarled. "And he chose to cast me out. Now you, and the world, will have to pay for that choice! I'm going to enjoy killing you."
"You won't kill me," Goku said. There was no boast in his tone; he stated it as simple fact. And Piccolo felt his confidence waver.
Their first exchange of blows removed any doubts Piccolo might have harbored about the truth of Goku's words. He could feel that Goku was holding back, trying not to hurt him too badly. Then Piccolo smiled. "Your friend told you what became of your precious Kami, didn't he?"
"Tien told us," Goku confirmed.
"What will you do? Unless you kill me you will never retrieve that jug. But if you kill me… he dies too. What a dilemma, eh?"
"Not really." Goku shook his head. "I wasn't planning on killing you anyway."
"Then you truly are a fool," Piccolo replied.
"Maybe," Goku agreed amiably.
And then Piccolo grew to gigantic proportions.
"Oh man, how can Goku win against that?" Oolong despaired. "The guy's a monster."
"Where's a moon when you need one?" Yamcha asked. "Sure Goku would go berserk but his Oozaru state would level the playing field."
"He has learned to control the Oozaru," 'Geta informed Yamcha scornfully. "And if he wanted to use that form he would. I taught him the False Moon technique myself."
"That big I can handle," Goku declared. Then he proved the truth of that statement by flipping the giant Piccolo onto his back. "If you got much bigger, that would be a problem."
Piccolo laughed. "You think this is my limit?" he asked as he grew even larger. When Piccolo finished his massive feet just barely fit into the ring. Goku had to take care not to lose the match by ring-out simply because there was no-where to stand that wasn't taken up by Piccolo. "Wow, you are big," Goku said.
"I'll squash you like the annoying bug-" Piccolo began only to be cut off as Goku flew into his mouth.
Piccolo's expression contorted in pain. He choked then coughed and spat Goku back out. The mucous-coated Saiyan triumphantly held the bottle Piccolo had sealed Kami in aloft.
"That was insane!" Kuririn exclaimed. "Insane, but brilliant."
Goku tossed the bottle to Tien and turned back to his fight. With Goku's handicap gone the battle turned into a one-sided route. After nearly five years of sparring against 'Geta and over a year of training in the Gravity Room with 'Geta's counterpart as his Sensei Goku's strength and skills had progressed at an unprecedented rate. Goku didn't know it but he'd already surpassed the level his alternate reality counterpart achieved while training on the North Kai's planet, before his first meeting with Vegeta. Goku left Piccolo in a crumpled heap on the floor of the arena.
The announcer stepped forward and began the count. "One… Two… Three…"
"You did it Goku!" Kuririn cheered. "You won the tournament!"
Goku grinned broadly and flashed Kuririn a victory sign. Behind the distracted Saiyan Piccolo pushed himself up onto one elbow. He leveled a killing stare at Goku's unprotected back.
"Goku!" Chichi screamed in warning as the deadly beam erupted from Piccolo's eyes.
Almost negligently Goku turned and batted Piccolo's beam away. Piccolo sank back in defeat upon seeing the casual display of power. In that moment he realized that Goku had been holding back throughout their fight. Humiliated and furious the Namekian slunk away. "You haven't seen the last of me," he hissed as he left the arena.
Once the threat was gone and Goku had duly been declared the champion of the 23rd Tenkaichi Budoukai, a determined Chichi descended on the gathering.
She smiled at Kami. "You're really Kami-sama?" she asked.
He nodded cautiously.
"Do you do wedding?"
If Chichi had been left to her own devices for a few minutes longer she and Goku would have taken their vows then and there, in their fighting gear, but Bulma stepped in and in a short order a proper ceremony was coming together.
"Alright boys, the flowers and decorations are on their way. We're going to go get Chichi properly decked out," Bulma declared as she and Lunch steered Chichi toward Bulma's jet-copter. "I expect you guys to take care of getting Goku presentable. In fact I expect to see each and every one of you in tuxes by the time Lunch and I get back with Chichi-chan, capish?"
Yamcha and Kuririn swallowed nervously and nodded. Bulma's fiery gaze swept over the other males and they quickly agreed as well.
Then Bulma pulled 'Geta aside. "Chichi doesn't have clue that she needs a marriage license," Bulma confided. "Vegeta, can I trust you to take care of it? It might take a little of whatever it was you did to scare the crowd earlier to get one in the next hour."
Bulma stared beseechingly into 'Geta's eyes and his breath caught as he lost himself in their depths. He'd know that his older counter-part had been willing to die for this woman but until that moment he'd never quite realized just how beautiful, how desirable she was. "You can trust me," he heard himself promise.
"Thanks Vegeta," Bulma said. Then she leaned close and kissed him.
'Geta flushed and for several moments he just stood there, stunned. Then he remembered what he was supposed to be doing. He looked around, grabbed one of the monks by the collar of his robe and demanded, "You! What is a marriage license?"
Somehow, in defiance of all probability, within just a few hours it all came together. The front of the temple where the Tenkaichi Budoukai was held was decked out with flowers and ribbons. Everyone had managed to find formal wear and Bulma had even managed to arrange for some music.
Goku tugged at the neck of his tux while he waited for Chichi to make her entrance. "Why are these clothes so uncomfortable," he complained.
"So everyone can tell who's not used to formal dress," 'Geta replied. "Now stop fussing. It makes you look like a rube."
Kuririn flushed and quickly put his hands behind his back so he wouldn't be tempted to fidget any further.
"Why do I have to wear this?" Goku demanded. He was still tugging at the neck, certain that the bow-tie was trying to strangle him.
"Because Bulma said," Kuririn reminded him. "You know how scary…"
He cut himself off abruptly as the music started.
'Geta watched appreciatively as Bulma and Lunch preceded Chichi down the aisle. The girls wore long green dresses; Bulma's hugged her curves tightly and was very low cut. They took their positions across from 'Geta and Kuririn.
The music changed and Chichi made her entrance escorted by Master Roshi. "Wow," Goku exclaimed. Chichi blushed and smiled. 'Geta rolled his eyes.
"I wish we could have gotten your Dad here in time," Roshi whispered to Chichi.
"Daddy'll understand," Chichi replied. "I'm not letting Goku disappear on me again!"
Roshi put Chichi's hand in Goku's. "Remember everything I told you," he said.
"Uh-huh," Goku replied distractedly. His eyes never left Chichi.
"We are gathered here today…" Kami-sama began.
"…You may kiss your bride," he concluded.
Goku looked puzzled. Kuririn groaned. Roshi shook his head, "He forgot." Chichi took matters into her own hands. She caught Goku's shoulders, stretched up on her toes and kissed the startled Saiyan fiercely.
"May I present Son Goku and Chichi."
'Geta offered Bulma his arm and they followed the newly-weds out.
That evening, after Goku and Chichi had departed, as the reception began to wind down, Bulma had a realization. "Vegeta, you were staying with Goku weren't you?" she said. "You don't have a place to stay. I mean no one knew Goku was going to finish the tournament married."
'Geta remembered the wedding picture in the Sons' future living room and smiled to himself.
"I know Goku'll feel just terrible when he remembers," Bulma said. "Why don't you come stay at Capsule Corp? We have tons of rooms."
'Geta grinned. Everything was going according to plan.
Author's Note: A wedding planned in just a matter of hours, that's something that exceeds suspension of doubt if ever there was a thing. I've got six months to plan mine and I'm still not sure that's going to be enough time!
Well that's it for "Choice to be Different", 'Geta has been introduced to the gang and the new timeline has been kicked off. I do have a couple of sequels planned, at least to take this time line through their confrontation with Frieza. However this is a good breaking off point and as you may have guessed from the previous sentence I'm going to have less time for writing for a while.
Thanks to everyone who's reviewed, it's been a blast.