The Goal of Normal

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

Bra groaned as her alarm clock chimed cheerfully. She pulled her pillow over her head to block out the annoying sound of a new day being greeted.

Several minutes later her mother mercilessly flipped on the light switch. "Up and at 'em sweetie. It's a school day."

"I think I might be sick," Bra announced.

Bulma frowned. "It's the first day of your second week of Junior High," she said.

"I could happen," Bra replied. "I'm being exposed to all those strange human germs for the first time. I could be deathly ill."

"You're half-human," Bulma said drily. "You've been properly immunized. And you've lived in the same house as your grandparents and I since you came home from the hospital after you were born. I don't think you need to worry about a 'War of the Worlds' scenario."

"Maybe it's just the flu," Bra modified. "My stomach feels queasy, if I go to school and barf in front of everyone I'll be a laughing stock."

"You're half-Saiyan, totally immune to the flu, colds and food-poisoning. Kami knows your brother and Goten certainly proved that last one. I swear there wasn't anything they wouldn't at least try to eat."

Bra scowled. "They're boys," she declared. "I'm a delicate little girl. I'm sure Daddy would agree I'm not up to going to school."

"Yes, I'm certain you could turn your puppy-dog eyes on your father and convince him to take you to the mall instead of school," Bulma agreed. "Which is why I'll be seeing you to the bus stop if you keep this up. For goodness sakes Bra, this is your chance to make friends, to spend time with other kids your own age. You ought to be excited."

"Alright, I'm going," Bra announced grudgingly. She shrugged off the covers and stomped toward the bathroom.

As she showered she muttered. "Make friends? Who does she think she's kidding? I'm a freak and everyone knows it."

After her shower she opened both doors of her closet, stepped back and considered her choices. "Well, at least I don't look like a freak," she had to admit. Her mom might make cracks about how she had her father wrapped around her little finger, but Bulma had been the one to take Bra on a major back-to-school for the first time shopping spree, including letting Bra get her hair styled at a trendy salon. Bra sighed she knew she looked good, it just wasn't enough.

Bra picked an outfit, did her hair and make-up and headed downstairs to join her family for breakfast.

Sh grimaced at the sight of the breakfast table, her grandmother had laid out enough food for a nine course banquet, at least in any other household. And there were already stacks of empty dishes at her father and older brothers' elbows.

Bra took a small plate-full and started to eat.

"Oh for goodness sake Bra, you'll be starving before the morning's half over," Bulma exclaimed as she spooned more food onto her daughter's plate.

"Mom!" Bra protested.

"Something wrong with you brat?" Vegeta asked. "You haven't been eating all week."

Bra contrived to look pitiful. "I think I might be coming down with something."

Vegeta glanced over to Bulma and Bra instantly felt guilty as she interpreted his "She was supposed to get better," look. She'd been born premature and delicate even for a human baby, let alone for a Saiyan. Vegeta had never really gotten over seeing her as unbearably fragile.

"She's just malingering," Bulma assured her husband.

Bra gave in. "I hate school. That's all that's wrong Daddy. Don't make me go, pretty please?"

Now it was Bulma's turn to send a non-verbal message: "Back me up or sleep in a spare bedroom."

"Your mother can't have you underfoot all day," Vegeta said.

"You need to get used to socializing with normal human beings," Bulma said.

"What? I'm not normal?" Trunks asked. He contrived to look heartbroken.

"Are you and Goten still torturing the poor cartographers by moving Mt. Ayumi every other month?" Bulma asked.

Trunks grinned. "How could we give that up? It's tradition. And with a name like 'Walking Mountain' how could we resist?"

"And you claim to be normal," Bulma laughed.

"I'm perfectly normal," Trunks declared. "A perfectly normal demi-Saiyan. Bra, you ought to hang out more with Pan. Then Mom wouldn't worry about you making friends."

"Pan's such a tomboy," Bra protested. "She spends all her time at her Grandpa Hercules' dojo beating up the poor boys."

"Kakarrot should have kept up her training," Vegeta remarked. "If she's going to fight she should be taught to do it correctly. Satan's a joke and the brattling doesn't get it."

"Two more years and Pan-chan will be in Junior High too," Bulma said. "Videl and Gohan agree with the rest of us about the need to socialize. After all, they never would have met if Chichi hadn't sent Gohan to a public high school."

"Geez Mom! I surrender," Bra exclaimed. "School's great," she made a face to show how insincere she was being.

"Your lunch capsules are on the counter," Bulma said. "Trunks, would it be a problem for you to get out of your three o' clock lecture today? I'd like you to sit in on the Shareholder's meeting this afternoon."

"Sure Mom," Trunks replied. "I think I could even finagle some extra credit out of my professor for doing it. I mean, I am working on my MBA after all, what could be more relevant? Do I need to change into a suit?"

"If you have time," Bulma said. She gave each of her kids a kiss on the cheek then sent them on their way.

Bra glanced at her lunch capsule then left it where it lay.

By the time Bra joined the line of her fellow students waiting to buy their lunches she was wishing she'd let her mother fil her plate even more than she had. 'But I have to get used to eating like a normal person,' Bra reminded herself as she forced herself to only put a few items on her tray. 'I can't keep being a freak.'

Once she paid for her meal Bra found a seat on the outskirts of the group she'd identified as the school's popular kids. Her arrival didn't go unnoticed for long.

"Oooh, let's see what Piggy brought for lunch today," one of the girls laughed.

Bra rolled her eyes. "Oh Kami, Blush. Would you let that go already? I told you I grabbed my big brother's capsule by mistake that first day."

"If he eats like that he must be big," another girl remarked. "Too big to fit through doors probably."

"I still think Piggy here is the reason people are starving in Africa," Blush declared.

Bra gritted her teeth and didn't say anything. After a moment the other girls went back to making snide remarks about the rest of the student body.

About fifteen minutes into the lunch period the carrot stick Blush had been munching on fell out of her mouth. She stared past Bra with a look of unadulterated teenage lust. "Oh my gosh! He is hot!"

"If he's the new PE teacher, I've died and gone to heaven," one of her friends said.

"If he is, I'm getting my PE uniform a couple sizes smaller."

Bra looked over her shoulder to see what all the fuss was about. She frowned in puzzlement, she'd expected a movie star look-alike but all she saw was the normal collections of students, teachers and... Bra's stomach clenched in pure dread. The instant she saw him she knew exactly why he was there and she knew beyond any doubt that he was going to blow her little fiction clean out of the water.

Vegeta stalked across the cafeteria directly to Bra. "You forgot your lunch brat," he stated as he dropped the capsule on the table.

Bra bit the inside of her cheek and tried not to cry.

In a hushed whisper one of the other girls remarked. "The only thing over-sized about Piggy's brother are his muscles."

Vegeta scowled. His sharp gaze took in the whole group, noticing everything from Bra's blatant misery to the subtle diffidence the group showed to Blush.

Blush preened at his attention. "Hey, what's your name Piggy's, I mean Bra's big brother?" she asked as she batted her eyelashes. She hoped he wouldn't notice her slip of the tongue, but then he'd called Bra 'brat', maybe he wouldn't care.

Vegeta stared at the girl piercingly and Bra almost felt a shred of pity for Blush. From her expression it was readily apparent that she was completely oblivious to the doom staring down at her.

"You are a student here," Vegeta remarked. "So I assume it's only coincidence that you both dress and behave like a cheap whore."

Several of the other girls snickered as the color drained from Blush's face.

Vegeta reviewed his knowledge of Earthism for the significance of calling someone a pig. His glance fell on the bag of carrot and celery sticks that Blush had brought for her lunch. "Does dressing like that and eating like a rabbi make you believe that you look like less of a cow?" he asked cruelly.

Blush burst into tears and ran away.

Vegeta turned to Bra. "We will talk tonight brat," he informed her. "About the foolishness of taking of the words of jealous inferiors to heart."

"Daddy, that was horrible!" Bra declared as she greeted Vegeta with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you. For the whole rest of the day the only thing anyone talked about was how much of a moron Blush had made of herself. Especially once I explained that she'd been coming on to my dad."

Vegeta shrugged. "It was less messy than crushing her skull."

"With the added bonus of not involving the police or, Kami forbid, Gohan in his silly outfit," Bra responded. "Every time I see him in that fashion disaster my eyes just want to bleed."

"Your mother designed that thing," Vegeta remarked.

"Proof positive that even brilliant people can make terrible mistakes," Bra rejoined. "Besides, Blush didn't really deserve to die for being mean to me... This way she suffers more."

"You're evil, girl," Vegeta commented.

Bra smirked. "I come by it honestly."

"But why you allowed such a pathetic creature to affect you? Bra, you've barely eaten for a week now, and this is the cause?"

Bra squirmed uncomfortable. "Blush is - was the queen of the popular girls." She hesitated. "They laughed at her as easily as they laughed with her."

"That group you were with, they have the instincts of a pack of feral mutts," Vegeta summarized his observations. "Why did you show them weakness?"

"I didn't," Bra protested. "I was hiding that I was strange-" She broke off at the dark look Vegeta sent her.

"You are the Saiya-jin Princess, they are weak, pathetic Earthers."

"You're going to be in trouble with Mom for saying that."

Vegeta glared her back into silence. "Your mother is not weak," he stated. "I've said things as bad, if not worse to her. She knows her own worth and replies in kind rather than being crushed by mere words. Why do you doubt your worth?"

"Maybe because I'm not smart like Mom, or strong like you and Trunks," Bra answered, refusing to look at her father. "If you haven't noticed, I'm almost ordinary. But I can't seem to get that right either."

"What are you talking about?" the incomprehension in Vegeta's voice startled Bra into making eye-contact. To her surprise she saw that he didn't have clue what she was talking about, that her father had never considered her less than extraordinary. It didn't change anything, but Bra found that she suddenly felt better.

Bra found a smile for her father. "Who wants to be normal anyway?" She shrugged. "I'll be incredible, at something. Just gotta figure out what, right Daddy?"