Sorry, it's been a while again. I really am trying to get back into writing like I used to be, but it's hard when you're so busy all the freakin' time! Hope this makes everyone feel a little better.
Chapter 01: 4 Years later
Vegeta glared at his surroundings as he made his way purposely through LAX. He was grateful to be back in California and away from the disaster left behind in Pennsylvania, but the dark mood he was in had only seemed to get worse as he stepped off the plane. He turned down a less occupied hallway and spotted his friend waiting for him near the door. She looked a little anxious, and that made him frown more.
"What's wrong?" He demanded as he walked up to her.
The slightly younger woman pushed her black Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses up to hold her long, wavy silver hair back from her face. "I just got off the phone with Bulma," she replied softly in her British accent.
He eyed her warily. "You're point?"
Akira sighed. "You left without telling anyone."
"Did she honestly expect me to stick around with Yamcha back in the picture?"
"I can't answer that, Vegeta, but the rest of us left because you said you were going to stay. She needs someone right now. Her sister and brother-in-law just died."
Vegeta sighed heavily. How was it that Akira, who was the youngest of the group, seemed more put together and mature than the rest of them? "I would have thought you'd understand," was the only response he could come up with.
"I do understand." She linked her arm through his and lead him toward the doorway. "Come on," she urged. "I know just the thing to cheer you up."
He couldn't help but chuckle. "And what's that?"
She grinned. "I got tickets to the Between the Buried and Me show tonight, dinner at Mr. Chow, and a private suite at the Beverly Wilshire."
Vegeta smirked. "You take such good care of me. What would I do without you?"
"Go back to the house and have June rip you a new one for leaving B by herself?"
"Right." He spotted his black Mercedes. "I'll have to get you a really good Christmas gift this year."
"No need, Veg-head. I owed you for that trip to London last spring." She pulled his keys out of her pocket and offered them to him.
He shook his head. "You can drive. I'm not in the mood."
"Just give me a minute. I have to call June and let her know we won't be back tonight. I'm sure she'll be thrilled," she trailed off sarcastically.
June hung up the phone and glared at her brother. "They're not coming home tonight."
Jayson just shrugged. "Are you really that surprised, 18?"
The blond woman sighed and rested her head in her hands. "I should go be with Bulma. She needs one of us."
"Go pack a bag, and I'll make a quick call. You'll be on the next possible flight."
She smiled slightly. "Thanks, 17." She got up and gave him a quick peck on the cheek before bolting upstairs.
The dark-haired man just shook his head. "The things I do for these girls," he mused as he picked up his cell. He scrolled through his contacts and grinned down at the name he landed on. He hit send and put it up to his ear. "Hey, Dev. I have a favor to cash in. I need to get my sister to Pennsylvania ASAP. What do you think?"
Bulma looked up with confusion shinning in her bloodshot eyes. "Lawyer? What lawyer?"
"He's here to read us their will," Ausrin supplied with a frown.
"Why would they even have a will?" Bulma demanded, near hysterical. "They were in their early thirties," she protested.
"Our financial advisor urged him to write one up years ago when we started the construction business," Radditz said, getting to his feet. "Come on. We can't put this off any longer."
Reluctantly, she nodded her head, and the three of them walked back toward the lakeside home of the Briefs. Lillian, Bulma and Chichi's mother, was sitting on the porch-swing hugging a sleeping Goten as she rocked back and forth. The older woman smiled sadly at her daughter.
"Have any of you seen Gohan?" She asked quietly. She didn't want to disturb Goten.
Ausrin shook her head. "Not since an hour ago."
Radditz turned away from the porch. "He's probably in the tree house. I'll go get him."
"No, hunny. You have to go in with Bulma and Mrs. Briefs," Ausrin said. "I'll go get Gohan."
"Thanks, Aus," Bulma said before going inside. She wanted to get this whole lawyer thing over with so she could go back to California. She needed to be far away from this place right now. There were too many memories here.
An aging man, with thick-framed glasses stood up from the couch and shook her hand. "Bulma Briefs?"
"Correct," she told him.
Radditz stepped forward and shook the older man's hand as well. "Radditz Son," he introduced himself.
"Mr. Son, Ms. Briefs, I'm Mr. Kietsu," he told them as they all sat down around the coffee table. "I'm very sorry for your lose, and I know that you have a million things on your mind right now," he stated sincerely. "But there is a very important situation here," he said, opening his briefcase and pulling out several sheets of paper. He handed a copy of Chichi and Goku's will to Radditz, Bulma, and Lillian, who had just walked in and sat down. "Fortunately, Mr. Son had a large life insurance policy through his business that will cover all their debt."
"Will there be anything left for the boys?" Radditz interrupted. "Besides the college funds they had started," he added.
"There will be some, but no official amount until all the final statements have come in. The main issue is custody," Mr. Kietsu announced, pulling out yet another paper and handed it to a startled Bulma. "These are for you to sign, Ms. Briefs. Your sister and brother-in-law wanted you to take them in if anything ever happened," he spoke softly.
Bulma reached out with shaking hands to take the pen and paper. Her sister was entrusting her two boys to her. She stared at the document in front of her and then looked back up at Radditz and her mother. Could she do this? She was only 25 years old. Bulma didn't feel as though she were responsible enough to take on two children right now, not with her lifestyle!
"Bulma, are you alright, dear?" Her mother asked, placing a comforting hand on her daughter's shoulder.
"I, um," she paused.
Taking a deep breath, she gazed up at her mother. The older woman smiled back, supportively and nodded as if to say 'you can do this.' Without another thought, she signed the paper and handed it back to Mr. Kietsu. He thanked her, and she stood up and excused herself from the room. She had a very important phone call to make right now.
Tien watched his friend pick up his plane ticket from the table and reach for his overnight bag. He felt horrible for Krillin. He'd been through so much the last couple years. "Are you really sure this move is for the best? Your cutting yourself off from everyone."
Krillin continued to gather his things as if he hadn't heard a thing his best friend had just said. "It's a little too late to go back and change my mind now," he tried to joke.
"Krill, you were drunk when you made the decision in the first place."
"But I was sober when I told my boss I'd take the move," he reminded. He stood up and took a deep breath. "I'll ring you when I touch down at LAX."
Tien stood up and nodded reluctantly. "Launch wants to come out and visit you in a couple months, when you're all settled."
Krillin smiled. "Sounds good to me. I'm looking forward to it already."
"Flight 463 to LAX, boarding in ten minutes and Gate D," an annoyingly pleasant woman announced over the speaker.
Tien glanced out the window. This was harder than he thought. They'd been friend since diapers and had never lived more than twenty miles from each other. It was going to be so boring without him around. It didn't help that he felt his best friend was making a big mistake, but as Launch had said, they needed to give him space. He was going through so much right now.
"I'll talk to you later," Krillin said.
Tien watched as Krillin boarded his flight and let out the breath his was holding. He turned to stare out the window at the airstrip. Maybe he'd find what he was looking for in California. Maybe he wasn't making a mistake. He wasn't sure how long he stared out the window, but it must have been a long time because the plane was starting to take off. He turned to walk away but froze when he saw who was standing across the lounge.
"What the hell are you doing here?"
"I missed him," Marron whispered brokenly.
Tien glared at her. "Good. He doesn't need anymore of your shit."
She glared back at him. "Where is he going? No one will tell me. I called his office and his boss hung up on me."
"I'll have to shake his hand when I see him next." He stared walking past her.
"Tien, I need to speak to him," she pleaded.
"Leave him alone, Marron. You've done enough damage, and stop calling the house. Launch doesn't want anything to do with you after the way you treated Krillin."
Gohan sat on the back steps of his house, watching the movers putting box after box of his things into the back of a large truck. He didn't want to move to California. It wasn't that he didn't love his aunt Bulma, because he did. He just didn't want to leave his home. He grew up here. All his friends lived here, and he was popular. He'd be a nobody in St. Rosa's Bay. A big nobody with no parents! He tossed a rock into the back yard and glared at it. He wanted them back!
"There you are," his aunt said from behind him.
He looked up at her just as she sat down next to him. "Hey."
Bulma looked down at the ground. For some reason, she wished her friends had been able to stay, but there was too much to do back in California. Taking a deep breath, she ignored the pain in her chest. Yamcha had said he would be here, and he hadn't even shown up. When had he become so unreliable? Hadn't he been the strong one in high school? Had college, new friends, and their horrid break-up really caused such a personality change?
"I know this is a really difficult time right now," she said, pushing aside her stupid, selfish thoughts. There was far more important issues at hand than Yamcha's absence today. "And I know that moving to the west coast doesn't help matters any, but maybe it's a good thing for you right now."
"Maybe not," he shot back. "I don't want to go to California!" He shouted, standing up.
His aunt glanced up at him with a sad expression on her face. "But you've never been there, Gohan. I know if you just give it a chance, maybe you'll like it," she tried to explain to him.
"No! I already said I wouldn't like it. Why can't we stay here?!"
"Because my business, and my home are in California," she told him firmly. "I have no choice in this matter. I have partners that depend on me to help run our business. I have to go back."
"Why can't I stay with Gran or uncle Radditz and aunt Ausrin then?!"
Bulma stood up, towering over her nephew by a couple inches. "Because your parents gave you to me," she shouted back, tears streaming down her face. She had been holding in her grief for too long now. "They left you to me," she repeated brokenly. "And that has to mean something!"
Gohan walked back into the house without saying anything, leaving Bulma to cry alone on the porch. Goten, who had been sitting by his bedroom window, frowned. He didn't know why his brother was being so mean to his aunt. He jumped up and ran downstairs and out the back door. Bulma was surprised when the little boy ran over and jumped in her lap.
"Don't be sad, aunty B!" He said, hugging her tightly around her neck.
Bulma held him close and let out the breath she had been holding when she first saw him run out of the house toward her. "Thank you, Goten."
The little boy smiled. "I think it's cool that we get to go visit you why mom and dad are gone. I've always wanted to see your house and meet all your friends you're always talking about!"
'Oh god no,' she thought desperately. It sent a chill down her spine that her youngest nephew wasn't grasping that his parents were gone for good. This was going to be harder than she thought.