Okay, I know what you're thinking. Krillin and 18? Eh…But seriously, there was a time when I too believed that there couldn't be a convincingly accurate and not just…odd story about those two getting together. Ya see, it wasn't that hard to hook up Vegeta and Bulma, so now I'm in for a challenge. Why would the most beautiful woman in the Dragonball universe end up with a short, bald, noseless guy? (No offense to any Krillin-lovers out there) Hopefully this story will help at least one person out there appreciate Krillin more. And if I fail miserably, would someone just do me a favor and recommend a good story about those two so that I'm able to see where I went wrong? There are so many DBZ stories, and I haven't nearly enough time to sift through all of them in search of a story of this type. So, now that I've rambled on sufficiently, here goes the story.
A Taste of Humanity
"I can't stand this!" 18 growled angrily as she stood next to the prostrate form of number 16. "Something's going on, isn't it? What's happening?" she demanded, almost glaring at the severely damaged android.
"Vegeta is much stronger than Cell. We may have a chance." 16 answered in a voice that was calm as always. Why couldn't 18 maintain her calm? She was an android, just like 16. She should be cold and aloof, just as she always had been. But somehow, that attitude seemed hard to maintain after Cell had absorbed her brother 17 into him. Anger heated her thoughts at that memory. Cell had stolen everything 17 had ever been! And now the only thing she could depend on was 16, who was basically a talking junk heap now. His circuits were fried because he had tried to defend her from Cell's evil.
"How can Cell be this way?" she spoke her thoughts aloud. "He destroys everything."
"17 and you destroyed many things as well." 16 pointed out quietly. "Are you really so different?"
"I…I'm nothing like that monster!" 18 was furious. How could he even dare to insinuate such a thing? "He stole my brother!"
"Do you deny the possibility that in your anger you killed many?" 16 questioned her logically. "It is highly likely that there are those that hate you as deeply as you hate Cell."
"But…" 18 didn't know what to say. His logic was irrefutable. She was like Cell. True, she hadn't taken so many lives as him, but if 17 and her had their way, they would have soon tied his score. "I…I didn't think…"
"Now is the time for you to think." 16 advised. "I know it goes against our programming to think such thoughts, but wouldn't it be wonderful just to live in this place? To go on and let things occur as they might? Without interference or destruction, wouldn't it be wonderful to just let things grow? To create instead of destroy?"
"Maybe…" 18 could feel her programming rebelling against the stray thought. "I don't know anymore."
"Someone is coming." 16 informed her casually, but despite his calm voice, she sensed urgency in his manner.
"Cell?" she hissed, fear in her tone.
"No, much weaker. I'm not sure who…" 16 drifted off, staring blankly at the ground. And suddenly, 18 could feel something nearby. Nothing dark and vile, like Cell. And the level of power was no threat to her. Just then, a vision struck her. She saw herself, leaning over enticingly, for once making use of her feminine charms as she kissed a funny little man on the cheek.
"Krillin." She breathed the name inaudibly. She was sure it was him. He was an interesting one, definitely. He had to know that he was far weaker than Vegeta, Trunks, Piccolo, or his other friends. And when 17 and her had decimated their entire group, he had been too scared to try his hand against two fighters so obviously stronger than himself. She had found it amusing and slightly endearing how he had refused to let them go afterwards, insisting that if they were planning to take on Goku, he'd fight them off single-handed. What a joke. She could have easily killed him herself without any help from her brother. Somehow, Krillin had seemed noble in that right and in that moment 18 had not begrudged him his humanity. She had wished she could depend on someone like Krillin, not someone so arrogant and conceited as her brother. Someone who saw his weaknesses and his shortcomings, yet would never abandon her in favor of saving themselves. He must truly care about Goku to so carelessly throw his life aside for that man when nothing else could overcome his fear of the androids and their deadly power.
She turned around, her eyes still wide with fear at the idea that perhaps she was mistaken. Perhaps it would be Cell come for her after all. "It's you." She spoke, half relieved, half suspicious of the short, well built man standing barely ten feet from her. He was holding something in his hands. A remote of some sort. And that look on his face, one of grim determination. Suddenly she understood. Do it. She thought. If I'm no better than Cell, just be rid of me. But then she realized that she was afraid. She didn't want to die. Since when did I care about self-preservation? What have I got to live for? She wished he'd just push the damn button. Everything was so confusing as of late. And he could end it. That would be fitting, wouldn't it? At that moment, she could almost claim that with the appearance of Krillin and his friends, her ideas had been challenged, her programming questioned. Fitting that he should end all of that for me.
Krillin froze, his heart suddenly in his throat. It was her eyes that held him frozen, unable of any movement or speech. Those same eyes had haunted him from when he first saw her. The eyes are the windows to the soul it was said, and 18's eyes had always been cold blue slants of ice, empty and emotionless, yet eerily enchanting. She was a beautiful woman, there was no denying that. And who knows what kind of person she might be now if Dr. Gero had not twisted the humanity out of her, filling in the gaps with cold steel and wires. Her eyes had been clear in his memory, never showing any sort of emotion, not even in the heat of battle could she feel anything, it seemed. He would never have considered destroying this beautiful woman's life were it not for those soulless eyes that didn't even contain sorrow at her own plight. I guess that's what it means to be without a soul. No pain, no joy. Nothing. But the fact that she could envy others their souls, their humanity, their comparable normalcy, had made Krillin hesitant once more. If she was truly nothing but a machine of destruction, he would have no problem destroying her, no matter her beauty or the soft memory of her lips on his face. But the fact that she could feel even jealousy suggested that perhaps 18 was more than the twisted creature Dr. Gero had intended. Perhaps, by some quirk of fate or strength of will, she had retained some sliver of humanity. A piece of her former self buried so deep that she herself was unaware of it's existence. And now, as she stared at him with eyes full of fear, self-loathing, surprise, and hesitant anticipation, Krillin knew for sure that there was a soul behind those cold eyes, something that was only now awakening after years of dormant rest. Something he had no right to destroy. I can't do it, he realized, throwing the remote down and smashing it with his foot as 18's eyes widened in astonishment and confusion.
"You have to leave." Krillin told her, fighting to keep emotion and pleading out of his voice. "There's not much time, but you aren't safe here. Go!"
16 looked up and blinked calmly at Krillin. Trust 16 to be unaffected even at a time like this. It was strangely ironic. Of all the androids, 16 stuck closest to his personality programming, yet he was the first to rebel from it and point out it's flaws. But even now, he remained calm and thoughtful, just as Dr. Gero had intended. Why couldn't she maintain that cool exterior? What she wouldn't give to be able to logically think this situation through. But something in that man's dark eyes unnerved her. Was it…pity? Why should he pity her? "Why did you do that?" she demanded, trying to speak forcefully to hide the nervous quiver in her voice. "You were going to deactivate me, weren't you?" she pointed at the bits of metal and wiring next to Krillin's foot. "What stopped you?"
Krillin's mouth went dry. Why is she looking at me like that? The way she was staring at him, one would think she was expecting him to tell her what the meaning of life was. Isn't that what she asked me? True, she hadn't used those words, but she wanted to know what made her life so worthwhile that he would spare it, even at the risk of countless others. "I…I don't know." He muttered inaudibly. She was asking him for answers that only Kami himself could hope to offer.
"Tell me why!" She demanded, anger and urgency latent in her tone. "Why?"
"Now is not the time." 16 interrupted. "Something is wrong."
"Go, now!" Krillin urged. "You don't have a lot of time before Cell finds you. You've got to get out of here."
Realizing that Krillin was unwilling to give her the answers she wanted, 18 conceded. "Come on, 16." She leaned to help the injured giant up.
"Leave me. I will only slow you down." He spoke to her, as calm as ever. Does he have some sort of death wish? She wondered in frustration.
"Come on, you'll be fine." She repeated her command, bracing herself to lift the huge mass of metal, but he brushed her aside.
"Just go. He won't find me anyway. He is looking for you, remember?" 16 told her. Damn that hunk of junk and damn his clear logic. 18 heaved a sigh and turned to Krillin. It was just the two of them, then. She'd have never guessed a few days ago that she'd end up on the same side as this man. He was quintessentially different from her. He had many friends who he cared about deeply and would die for. Her whole life, 18 had only relied on 17, and then on 16. And it seemed that, though they had tried, both had failed her. So now her only hope was this bald man who barely cleared her waist and was weaker than 16 or 17 by a fair margin. At least she had her own strength to rely on. Krillin couldn't be much help, no matter how brave he was. And that is a man who only defends the things he loves. 18 added to herself. No human could love me. Not after what I've done.
"Let's go!" Krillin's voice brought her back to reality. Someone was fighting nearby. Very nearby. This couldn't be good.
"All right, I'm coming." She agreed. "But we must be careful or Cell will spot us as soon as we move."
"Don't worry about it." Krillin reassured her. "You have no life force and mine is too weak to concern Cell. How do you think I got here?"
"Amazing." 18 commented, shaking her head in awe.
"What?" Krillin wanted to know.
"You know how weak you are." 18 explained. "Don't you worry that you're useless against Cell? That if he finds us here he'll take care of you much easier than me?"
"Of course I worry, that's why I want to leave." Krillin urged her.
"But why are you worried about me?" she wanted to know.
"I have to protect you." Krillin told her. "Cell's out for you."
"So? Is it only your concern for the rest of the world that makes you protect me, or is it something else?" 18 asked. "It must be something else, otherwise you wouldn't have destroyed that remote, you'd have used it when you had the chance and been done with me. Why would you spare me like that? What makes my life so important?"
"I can't answer that." Krillin admitted. "But the fact of the matter is that you do live, and I can't take that away from you."
"Why not? I'm not innocent. You know I've killed people. I could do it again." She reminded him.
"I don't believe you will, but if you do, I'll stop you. I may be weak, but I swear to Kami that I won't let you give up on what I've given you, so let's go before Cell takes your life for himself." Krillin urged her.
"How can you have any faith in me?" 18 was astounded, but Krillin didn't get to answer her.
"He knows where you are!!!" Trunks' yell was audible to them all, and they turned to the skyward noise.
"Cell! He's right there!" 18 exclaimed.
"And he's spotted us! We have to leave, now!" Krillin told her desperately.
"I'm not leaving without him." 18 nodded to her android companion, slinging his arm over her back as Krillin helped her with the hulking burden. He only hoped they'd get out of there fast enough. Krillin suddenly realized that he was already thinking of 16 and 18 as part of their group. But really, why not? Vegeta had been far more destructive than either of these two remaining androids, and now he was a strong, if not exactly steadfast, member of the fighters.
"Going somewhere?" Cell was suddenly in front of them, and both Krillin and 18 instinctively stood on guard, ready to protect the injured 16. "Finally, I will be complete." The vile android stepped forward, poised to take 18, but Krillin would have none of it.
"You can't have her!" he yelled, flying at Cell and pounding him uselessly. Cell batted him away like a used toy he was sick of, and Krillin flew painfully into the earth. Cell took another step forward as 18 gritted her teeth. Why had Krillin tried to save her? That idiot should have known he'd just be hurt. She glanced at his motionless form, half covered in dirt and rocks.
"You MONSTER!!" she screamed, lunging at Cell with everything she had. But none of her attacks phased him. "No." she breathed as she gave up on her useless attack, stepping back against a rock wall as Cell closed in, grinning maniacally. There was no escape now. Why did she feel regret? She had never regretted anything in her life; why would the emotion suddenly fill her to bursting? Maybe this is what it feels like to die. She realized. And for the second time that day, she regretted her past, the people she had killed. This is only fair, I suppose.
Suddenly, a gold streak flew out of nowhere, smashing into Cell and then turning to face her. It was the man called Trunks, the one they oddly had no data on. His teal eyes burned with a silent fire. He hated her. 18 knew in that moment that Trunks hated her more than anyone else he had ever known. Why had he saved her, then? So he could kill her himself? Perhaps. "You better get out of here. There's not much time." He practically spit the words at her before he flew after Cell, swooping up to battle in the air. Steeling herself and refusing to waste time contemplating why Trunks hated her so much yet let her live, 18 moved again to pick up 16. And then Krillin was beside her, grabbing 16 by his other arm before smiling reassuringly at her. So they moved up into the air.
"SOLAR FLARE!!" the attack call echoed all around them as a bright flash of light blinded everyone but Cell. Krillin, 16, and 18 fell from the sky as Cell came down to claim his prize. Krillin was momentarily blind, but he could sense Cell's presence.
"18!" he called out, hoping that she had escaped somehow. He flew at Cell, pounding away at the biomechanical fortress uselessly until he was once again flung aside and 18 was left to fend for herself.
I won't let this happen. 18 wasn't quite sure why it was so important that she lived, but perhaps she could have Krillin explain the logic behind it later. If there is a later. "Just give up." Cell told her as he made his move, engulfing half of her still-struggling body. "Nooo!" she shrieked, fighting desperately to escape. "I won't become a part of you! I won't!" Outside, she could hear Krillin yelling and fighting with Cell again. As she struggled, the idea that he'd fight to protect her so vehemently almost made her smile. That man must love her. But why? And then her struggling stopped as images flashed in her mind's eye.
"Kiree!" a dark-haired boy ran toward a nearly identical blonde girl. "There you are! I was looking all over."
"I told you I'm a better hider than you are." She giggled innocently. "Now lets play again. This time, you can hide."
The two children, slightly older, were huddled together, the girl crying as the boy held her. "Don't worry, Kiree. I'll always take care of you. We'll get out of here."
"No we won't." she cried. "We'll die here, I know it. That crazy man keeps doing those tests on us. He'll kill us, I know."
"I told you I'd protect you, sister." He told her, holding her close. "I won't let that crazy man kill us. Ever."
"You two are too disobedient." Dr. Gero told 17 and 18. "I must put you to rest while I try to adjust your circuits. You'll learn that I am your master."
"Never!" 17 shot back insolently as Dr. Gero hit a button, and both androids lost consciousness.
"Goku's friends are outside right now. You are to destroy them and then go after Goku." Dr. Gero told the two androids, absently fingering his remote. 17 and 18 each glanced at the device and then at each other. 17 swiftly took the remote from the doctor before he knew what was happening. "What are you doing? I don't have time for this!"
"I think I'll hold this for the time being." 17 grinned at 18. He had kept his promise. Soon they would escape. And kill that damn doctor.
"I won't let you go after him!" Krillin yelled, ready to fly at both of the androids who could easily kill him. 18 smiled at his courage, however misplaced it was, and leaned forward, kissing him on the cheek.
"Why don't you go take care of your friends? They look like they could use some senzu beans." She smiled at the stunned man before flying off with 16 and 17.
"What was that all about?" 17 asked as he flew beside her.
"What do you mean?" 18 looked at her brother nonchalantly.
"Why'd you kiss the short guy?" he asked her.
"I don't know." She shrugged, laughing suddenly. "Hey, 17, that was my first kiss!" she told him.
"Well, I was just wondering, because that guy wasn't much to look at." He teased her.
"You're just jealous because no one's ever kissed you!" she shot back as she laughed.
"But seriously, why'd you do it?" he persisted.
"It just seemed…right, I guess. I don't know, but there's something about that guy. Maybe if I was a human…" she trailed off.
"Oh, now you're in love with the guy!" 17 burst into laughter. "I can't believe this!"
"I am not!" 18 argued. "That's not what I meant. He's just…interesting, that's all."
"Sure, just be sure to invite me to the wedding." 17 taunted.
"Shut up." She shot a playful energy blast at her brother, both of them laughing as they continued on their way.
"17, look out!" 16 yelled as Cell appeared behind the handsome android, engulfing 17 in his tail.
"No! 17, don't let him take you!" 18 screamed. This couldn't be happening. But all too soon, 17 was gone from view. "No." she felt like weeping, for the first time in as long as she could remember being this way, 18 wanted to collapse into tears. "Now how will you keep me safe?" she breathed the question so quietly that even she could barely hear it. She blinked back the tears in her eyes. 17 never cried. And now she would have to be as strong as him. She had never really relied on him for protection so much as for companionship. But now she was alone.
I am alone. 18 thought as everything she knew and felt faded away. I am alone.
The End (Of Part 1, That Is)