Talk of Tails and Telepathy

Disclaimer: Premise and characters are the property of Akira Toriyama, I'm just borrowing them for a bit of non-profit fun.

Author's Note: This side-story fits into the CtbD time line during the months between Majin Buu's defeat and the Dragonballs regenerating, before Goku and 'Geta return to Goku's appropriate time. It was written primarily as means of getting my rules for Saiyan telepathy spelled out (so I'm committed to them now)... and because I thought of a really bad analogy and just had to use it. -g-

Since both versions of Goku are in the story, the younger will be referred to as Goku-kun to distinguish him (by this point 'Geta and Goku-kun look like teenagers not children, so the chan suffix doesn't fit.)

// telepathic conversation //

Since both the adult and child Goku are present for this story, the younger of the two is Goku-kun to distinguish him from the adult Goku (it's post-growth spurt so he and 'Geta look like teenagers now, not children, thus Goku-chan doesn't work).

Bulma looked 'Geta and Goku-kun over with a faintly critical eye then turned to Chichi with a huge grin on her face. "You know, they're both in dire need of new clothes."

Chichi thought it over fora moment. You're right," she declared. "They obviously can't go on borrowing things from Trunks and Goten. They're much too slim to fit into their older counterparts' things."

Goten and Trunks exchanged a terrified glance and fled. Goku quietly made himself scarce, sure he'd been dead for the last seven year, but there was nothing wrong with his memory.

"Mom, I promised Videl we'd meet up with some friends from school, gotta go, sorry," Gohan announced in a rush as he dragged Videl out the door.

'Geta and Goku-kun exchanged a mystified glance.

Vegeta smirked at Bulma, "Have fun torturing the brats... but don't think this changes our deal."

"Huh?" Chichi wondered.

"I don't take him shopping. In return he wears the clothes I buy for him," Bulma whispered to Chichi.

"Not bad," Chichi said. "I could get Goku's sizes without having him there, but I can't figure out how much he's going to fidget without seeing him in the clothes."

"Vegeta doesn't fidget, doesn't think it's dignified," Bulma said. "Still it would be more fun shopping for clothes for him if he'd let me play dress up." She grinned at the two teenaged Saiyans.

Goku-kun glanced around, suddenly nervous. " 'Geta, I don't know what's going on, but maybe we should run too... everybody else did."

'Geta nodded.

As the two boys were about to make good on their escape Bulma and Chichi each grabbed hold of their respective Saiyan.

"You two aren't half as quick as Trunks and Goten when it comes to this sort of thing... and they never escape," Bulma stated.

"It's for your own good," Chichi added.

"We surrender," Goku-kun sighed.

"How bad could it be?" 'Geta remarked.

"That's the spirit!" Bulma exclaimed.

Three hours later 'Geta was more than ready to eat his words. He'd never been more bored in his life. He'd tried on more clothes than he had believed existed, some of them multiple times. And Bulma 'wasn't sure' about any of them yet.

From across the store he could hear Goku-kun whining loudly. "But I like that one! Why can't we just get it and go home?"

"Because we might find something better in the next store," Chichi replied.

"I don't want something better. I wanna go home!"

A small grin formed on 'Geta's face; at least he wasn't the only one suffering.

"Try on the first pair of jeans and the grey shirt one more time," Bulma ordered.

"No," 'Geta stated. "You've seen it twice before! Is your short term memory defective?"

"Alright, we'll just put it on hold and you can come back and try it on again later," Bulma replied, unperturbed. "Chichi, are you ready for the next store?"

"Next store?" 'Geta exclaimed.

"But I don't wanna," Goku-kun complained.

And somehow the fact that both Saiyans were immeasurably stronger than the two human women didn't do them any good at all as they were dragged onward through the horrific torture center otherwise known as a shopping mall.

Goku-kun's expression brightened at the sight of potential salvation. "Hey Gohan!" He called as he broke away from Chichi to run over to Gohan and his school friends. "Save me?" he plead once he was out of Chichi's hearing.

'Geta weighted the indignity of asking for help against the horror of more shopping and quickly joined Goku-kun.

Gohan gave his youthful father a sympathetic look. "Sorry Goku, once Mom gets you in a department store you're doomed."

Videl shook her head. "Please, I don't like shopping myself but you guys are pathetic. It's just shopping not the end of the world."

"No," 'Geta agreed. "The end of the world would be more fun... A lot more fun."

"Gohan, where are your manners?" Eresa teased. "Introduce us o your friends."

Gohan looked slightly worried. He recognized the 'boy-crazy' tone in Erasa's voice from the days before she'd concluded that he was Videl's and thus off-limits. How Erasa determined that back when Videl was still spending her time glaring suspiciously at him and trying to unmask Saiyaman was a mystery to Gohan.

Gohan wasn't the only one who recognized Erasa's tone. Sharpener scowled unhappily at the two new-comers.

Gohan laughed awkwardly. "Erasa, you remember Goku. He stopped by school a few months ago."

"No way!" Sharpener exclaimed. "You're that little shrimp who sparred with Videl?" He stared up at Goku-kun with a shocked gaze.

"But we saw your little brother at the World's Strongest Tournament and he was... well, little," Erasa added.

"I grew," Goku-kun explained. "And I didn't go to the Tournament this time."

"That was Goten," Videl explained. "Goku's not actually Gohan's little brother, but it's best to think of him that way. The whole story gives me a headache."

"But you were a little kid, now you're a teenager," Erasa argued.

"He grew, get over it," 'Geta said. "Now get us away from the crazy people," he jerked his head back toward Bulma and Chichi.

Erasa stepped between Goku-kun and 'Geta and slipped her arms through their's. "I'd happily play dress-up with a pair of cuties like you," she said with a wink.

Videl snorted as both boys blushed furiously. "They want out of shopping, not a fresh torturer, Erasa."

"Oh, poo," Erasa replied. "Of course they'd be happy to model for pretty girl like me." She forced herself not to laugh at the two squirming Saiyans who were trying to edge away from her.

From across the mall Bulma watched the group with a puzzled expression. She wanted to laugh at the sight of two of the Universe's most powerful warriors reduced to flustered teenagers by a flirtatious girl, but there was something off about the picture. Bulma glanced at Chichi and it all fell into place. She remembered the 23rd Tournament, Chichi wrapping herself around her new husband's arm and Bulma remembered Goku's confusion over her actions. Goku-kun was embarrassed by Erasa's attentions but he wasn't clueless.

In a subconscious response to Goku-kun's embarrassment is tail unwound itself enough to re-establish his personal space by pushing Erasa away. That moved her closer to 'Geta. 'Geta scowled darkly at her and said something that brought a pout to the girl's face but got her to release him.

And the pieces fell together. Bulma couldn't be sure, but it was a hypothesis and if she were right...

She hurried across the mall. "Goku, Vegeta-kun, the shopping trip's over. I need the two of you in the infirmary."

Goku-kun paled. "The hospital place?"

Bulma clamped a hand around his arm to keep him from fleeing. "Gohan, I need you to round up the chibis and their fathers and bring them. And Gohan, if you and Vegeta have to gang up on your father to get him there, do it. This is important." She turned to the younger Goku. "I promise I won't use any needles unless I absolutely have to. But Goku, this is important. I'm worried."

"What is going on?" Gohan asked.

"I need to be sure before I say anything," Bulma replied. "Just trust me."

Gohan nodded seriously. "I'll see you later," he told his friends.

Meanwhile Bulma hauled Goku-kun, 'Geta and Chichi off.

Erasa, Sharpener and Videl stared after them in bewilderment. "Do you have any clue as to what just happened?" Erasa asked.

"Not yet," Videl said.

Vegeta crossed his arms and leaned back against the door. The message was plain, anyone who tried to leave would have to go through him. He didn't know what was wrong but he didn't need to hear Gohan relaying the message that it was important. Bulma's ki was fluctuating in a pattern that he recognized as angry/protective.

At times like this, when Bulma's emotions were running high, Vegeta felt like he could almost read her mind. Bulma wasn't Saiyan, the mental bond that formed between Saiyans who depended closely on one another couldn't form with her. And yet he could read the variations in her ki as if it were written in a book.

On the other side of the room Gohan, Chichi and Goku were talking quietly. Simply being in an infirmary gave Goku's body language a tense, agitated air. His movements were slightly too quick and too sharp. His eyes were white ringed and his gaze darted toward the door, toward escape on a regular basis.

Gohan kept a hand on his father's shoulder. "It's just like you forcing me to go back to school after the Saiyaman stuff came out," Gohan said. "Bulma is worried about us. This is for our own good."

From the other room hey heard Bulma exclaim, "Goku, could you just lie still for a few minutes?"

The younger Goku's voice was wary and petulant when he replied. "I don't like that machine, it looks nasty."

"It's not nasty." Bulma insisted. "It doesn't poke you or anything it just scans you with a harmless little beam. It's like sitting beneath a lamp."

"I don't like it."

"Goku!" Abruptly Bulma's tone changed. "Vegeta-kun wasn't scared."

Vegeta snorted at the roll reversal, generally it was the easy-going Goten or painfully well-mannered Gohan who were used as examples to persuade the more obstinate Trunks to behave himself. And he knew perfectly well that most of the group would prefer that he act more like the others, even if none of them had to nerve to actually say it.

"I'm not scared," Goku-kun quickly asserted. "I just don't like it."

"I don't believe you," Bulma replied. "I think you're scared and that's why you won't stay still."

"Am not!"

"Are too!"

"Am not!"

"Prove it!"


Several minutes later Goku-kun escaped the inner lab. "The machine eats you! But it spits you back out," he whispered to his older counter-part.

Goku glanced toward the door. Vegeta tilted his head to the side and smirked, his message couldn't have been more plain, 'Just try it.'

Goku grinned, welcoming the challenge.

Chichi laid a hand on Goku's forearm and gave him a warning look. She knew what he was thinking.

Goku pouted at the realization that Chichi was going to make him be responsible and not let him get in a fight with Vegeta to get out of having a physical.

"Trunks, Goten, you're next," Bulma called.

The chibis scowled and pouted but having grown up with the necessity of doctor's visits and such they didn't really fuss too much.

Goku-kun, having already gone through the horror of Bulma's lab and medical equipment on top of shopping curled up off to one side and fell asleep to recover from the experience. Goku watched the door anxiously as he waited his turn. 'Geta wanted to ask if he could leave, but he was so used to being denied anything he asked for that he couldn't bring himself to express his desires to anyone with the power to refuse him. He paced restlessly for several minutes, shot covert but hopeful glances at the door and waited for someone to dismiss him. When no one did he sighed minutely and too a seat near Goku-kun.

Vegeta and Gohan stood guard to make certain that no one, ie Goku, snuck off before Bulma could run her tests.

After about an hour Trunks and Goten burst out of the lab and made a bee-line for the door. After receiving a subtle nod from Bulma Vegeta stepped aside and let them escape. Upon seeing that 'Geta gave Goku-kun a light kick to wake him and they lit out of the lab as well.

"Your turn Goku," Bulma said.

"What? Me?" Goku laughed nervously. "I wouldn't want to be a bother."

"No bother at all Son-kun," Bulma stated firmly. "As long as you co-operate."

"Err, you don't have to..." Goku protested.

"Goku," Chichi said warningly. "Stop procrastinating."

"Pro-what-inating?" Goku stalled with a wary glance at the lab. "How can I stop doing it if I don't know what it is?"

Chichi's eyes narrowed. "Goku, you're setting a bad example for your son. Now stop stalling and get in there so Bulma-san can give you a physical!"

In the end Chichi went along with Goku to sure he'd behave.

"Tell me exactly what brought this on," Vegeta ordered as soon as he and Gohan were alone.

Gohan scratched the back of his head. "Honestly, I don't know. Goku-kun and 'Geta came over to talk with my friends at the mall. Then the next thing I know Bulma-san was ordering us back here."

Vegeta scowled. "Tell me exactly what happened." he repeated.

He listened thoughtfully as Gohan laid out the sequence of events. At the same time he noted that Bulma's level of agitation, which had subsided during her examination of the brats, was rising again. Somehow Vegeta doubted that her agitation stemmed solely from Kakarrot's childish attitude toward check-ups.

When his turn came Vegeta asked, "So, is Kakarrot going to die?"

"There's nothing wrong with Goku," Bulma said.

Vegeta tilted his head to the side and just watched her.

"Sometimes I hate that I can't lie to you," she said. "You've still got all the time in the world to get stronger than him."

Vegeta's mouth tightened at the bitter edge to Bulma's voice. He wouldn't say that things had changed since they'd defeated Buu. He didn't want to admit that it wasn't just about making sure he was the one to defeat Kakarrot anymore. He would never acknowledge that Kakarrot was the closest thing to a friend that he had. But then he shouldn't have to, Bulma knew how his mind worked.

Bulma sighed and the anger drained out of her. It wasn't Vegeta that she was angry with. "Seriously husband, it's none of your business."

Vegeta drew himself up slightly. "Of course it is. I am the Prince of all Saiyans."

Bulma smiled a little. There was the faintest trace of self-mockery in Vegeta's arrogant proclamation. "Well, you might want to check to see if that means anything to your subjects... all five of them."

"Feh," Vegeta knew he got more respect out of the titles 'Dad' and 'Uncle' that he got from being the Saiyan Crown Prince these days.

Bulma sat down beside Vegeta and leaned into him. "I don't now if I'm even going to tell Goku. I don't know if I can or even if I should try to fix things now and he's better off not knowing in that case." She grimaced. "I can't even ask you to beat up Kamisama for me since it's not Piccolo's fault."

"Hell, he might not have even done it on purpose. It's just the timing and no one else would have cut off Goku's tail unless he went ape and we had to."

Vegeta put that together with what Gohan had said. Then he felt a wave of self-directed rage and fear sweep over him. "Trunks?" he asked tersely.

"Is fine," Bulma assured him. "All the kids are. Remember what you said about adrenalin making the jump to Super Saiyan easier for them than it is for you or Goku? Despite having Saiyan-level strength their endocrine systems are almost completely human."

Vegeta relaxed but the idea that Trunks could have been damaged due to his lack of knowledge about his own biology still angered him.

"I want to talk to Piccolo," Bulma decided. "I need to know if the timing was intentional."

"I wouldn't be surprised," Vegeta said darkly as he remembered the North Kai's efforts to poison Kakarrot's opinion of Saiyans.

"Fly me?" Bulma asked. Vegeta picked her up and few short minutes later they arrived at the Look-Out. Dende, Piccolo and Mr. Popo came out to greet them.

"What brings you two up here?" Dende asked.

"I need to talk to Piccolo about your predecessor," Bulma said.

"What do you want to know?" Piccolo asked.

Bulma led Piccolo slightly away from the others. "Was it just a coincidence that Kamisama got rid of Goku's tail right before he hit puberty?" Bulma demanded bluntly.

After a few moments thought Piccolo replied. "You would have to ask the North Kai. He was the one to suggest that the Earth had been without its moon for too long."

"I doubt Kakarrot would think to wonder why if I asked him to take me to that miserable Kai," Vegeta said with one of his patented evil smirks. 'It isn't about Kakarrot,' Vegeta told himself. 'I just don't like the Kai's attitude toward Saiyans."

Bulma glared at Vegeta for eves-dropping on her. Then sighed. "You heard him," Bulma said. "You better get the North Kai on the phone or we'll just go talk to him in person... and he won't like that."

Bulma heard a sort of mental throat clearing. //Threats against one such as I are frowned upon,// the North Kai declared.

"I'll do worse than threaten unless you've got a damned good reason for what you did," Bulma stated.

//I didn't even know Goku then!// the Kai protested. //When Kami-sama told me about the boy he was training I was concerned. I knew why Goku had been sent to the Earth but Kami was adamant that the boy was the planet's best hope.//

//You have to realize I didn't know Goku, I only knew of the sort of devastation Saiyans had unleashed on the Galaxy.//

"You told Kami to kill Kakarrot," Vegeta stated.

Everyone stared at him. "How did you guess?" Piccolo asked.

Vegeta shrugged. "Before Vegeta-sai's destruction you could have purchased a planet with the reward for a Saiyan's tail, or a solar system for a head. Those interstellar nations which had not fallen beneath the Colds regarded Saiyans as the greatest danger to their continued existence. As the bounty was nearly impossible to claim they could afford to make it exorbitant."

"Kami refused," Piccolo said. "Several months later North Kai brought up the Earth's need to have it's moon restored."

"So you knew," Bulma said accusingly.

//I knew what Saiyans did,// North Kai protested. //After Kami's refusal I observed Goku and he seemed like a nice enough kid, but I didn't think the Earth could survive a hormonal teenaged Saiyan running around.//

"So you arranged it so that he never became a hormonal teenager because the gland that initiated those changes was removed along with his tail," Bulma accused. "Now tell me why I should do everything in my power to hurt you."

The North Kai eeped nervously. //Because it all worked out in the end?//

"How do you figure that?" Bulma demanded.

//You know Saiyans have a limited telepathy,// the North Kai said quickly. //Not true telepathy mind you, it's actually finely tuned ki-sensing and ki-control. If my form of telepathy is a phone call then what Saiyans have is a telegram systems. Also it's how Goku and Vegeta can both imitate any pure ki-attack upon seeing it even once.//

"That isn't possible," Vegeta interrupted the Kai's rambling. "I didn't learn to sense ki-levels until I arrived on Earth."

//Not consciously,// the Kai admitted. //You were always aware of small fluctuations in ki especially in people you'd been sensitized to. Your brain is set up to instinctually notice changes not total amounts.//

"That is why familiarity is necessary for the bond," Vegeta realized. "We need to learn each other's 'language'."

//Yes, precisely. And it is language, the Saiyan's native language actually, before they picked up speech from the Truffles.// The Kai hemmed a bit, uncertain as to how Vegeta might react. //That's why the Truffles mistook the Saiyans for animals when they first colonized Vegeta-sai, because of the lack of a verbal language. By the time they figured it out, well, their society wouldn't accept that Saiyans were sentient, not after they'd been experimenting on the Saiyans for several generations.//

Bulma's scientific side took charge. "So that's why it doesn't work as well with non-Saiyans. Humans can recognize an expression of surprise or anger no matter what culture they're from or how isolated they've been. Saiyans are probably the same with regard to the changes in your ki. You'd share some basic building blocks with other Saiyans, but with another species you'd need to learn, well the alphabet as well as the vocabulary."

//It's a little more than that,// The North Kai said, happy to encourage the side track. //There are very few species with the capacity to control their ki on the sort of fine scale that Saiyans do. Most species can learn to blow things up with their ki or to recognize the presence of an overwhelming ki as a danger signal. Everyone's ki fluctuates in response to their thoughts and emotions, but only Saiyans and a very few others are equipped to 'hear' those fluctuations, or consciously control them. It's not so much learning a new alphabet as it is trying to talk to a deaf person who's never considered the possibility of speech.//

"And how does this make things okay with Goku?" Bulma asked steering the conversation back on track

//Well -er- It's like this,// the Kai explained. //Goku is like a car with a bad spark-plug. Everything works, it just won't turn on without a jump-start. But he's sensitized to Chichi. So when she's turned on her 'spark' can light him up.//