Disclaimer: I do not own Dragonball Z. Period, dot, end of statement.
Chapter 9: Intimidation, or the Lack Thereof
Gohan appeared in an alleyway, safe from prying eyes. He was not quite sure as to which city he had appeared, but he was not particularly worried about it. No one on the planet would be able to seriously harm him. He walked out of the alley nonchalantly, melting into the busy crowds with the ease of long practice borne from hiding from mercenaries.
The demi-Saiyan's sharp eyes took in the various fashions of both young and old men. Judging by the askance glances at the old man who was wearing calf high socks with sandals, that was definitely wrong. Neither did he like the black outfits with black make-up, black hair, and a bone white face – that was way too strange for his tastes. For the most part, however, he saw t-shirts, jeans, and a few types of suits. Ducking into the nearest department store, he followed the arrow entitled "Menswear" and came face to rack with a thousand different kinds of clothing.
Later, Gohan thought that he must have looked like the proverbial deer in the headlights, for a blonde girl with a nametag bounced up next to him. "I'm Erasa! Need some help?" she asked. Gohan nodded, dumbfounded at the sheer amount of material. "All right," the girl said, sounding like she had decided something. "I'll help you out! What do you need?"
The girl's big blue eyes widened comically. "Well then, let's get you started with the basics! First, you're gonna need underwear…" And she was off, motioning for a suddenly mortified Gohan to follow her. She flitted from the underwear ("Boxers or briefs?"), to the casual clothing ("Oh, you'll look great in this, I promise!"), to the suits ("You look good, Gohan!"), and finally to the shoes ("Sandals do NOT go with jeans, silly. Only with shorts!").
By the end of the four-hour-long funds massacre, the teenager had spent a lot of energy and even more money. Granted, he was pretty much starting from scratch, but still, over 100,000 zeni on just clothes seemed frivolous. He still had over three times that amount in the account, but it was still expensive. However, he bowed to Erasa's superior knowledge in clothes. At first, the girl had seemed like the average vapid teenage girl he had heard his mother ranting about once, but though she admitted that she did not take most things seriously, she had a width and depth of knowledge on the things that she did know about (like fashion) that was astounding.
After Erasa handed him the four foot long receipt and the capsule containing all his purchases, Gohan asked a question that had been weighing on his mind since he realized that he had appeared in what used to be Orange City. "Erasa, why is this called Satan City now? Didn't it used to be called Orange City?"
"You're kidding, right?" the girl asked bemusedly. When Gohan shook his head, her jaw dropped. "Just a second," she ordered, and ran to the back. Within a minute she'd returned, purse in hand. "I'm going on lunch; I'll explain on the way. I can't believe you don't know the story! Man, you must really live out in the middle of nowhere!" Gohan held the door open for her and she stopped just long enough to give him a smile of thanks. "Satan City is named after the greatest martial artist in the world, Mr. Satan! Don't you know who that is?"
"Um…" Gohan thought back, and a vision of a gigantic hairy… oh wait, that was Vegeta's Oozaru form… "Oh, that big guy with the black afro that yells a lot?"
Erasa giggled. "Yeah, I guess you could describe him like that. Anyway, he lives here. After he defeated Cell, the city council decided to change the city's name in honor of Earth's Savior!" She walked a few more feet before she realized that Gohan had stopped walking. "What's wrong?" she asked, looking at him strangely.
"Satan?" the hybrid repeated, his voice sounding somewhat strangled even to his own ears. "Mr. Satan defeated Cell?" He could not help it; he laughed. It was not just a chuckle, either – it was a deep, gut-busting laugh that shook him so hard he had to sit down in the middle of the sidewalk. He should have known that the large man would have taken all the credit for Gohan's victory, what with the way he had been acting at the Cell Games. He would have to find out where the "Savior of the World" lived and pay him a visit.
Gohan's companion looked very confused, so he stood up, wiping his eyes clean of tears of laughter. "Sorry," he said, still sounding amused as they began to walk again. "But that's the funniest thing I've heard in a long time."
"I wouldn't tell that to Videl," the girl advised, obviously deciding to not question the sudden bout of hilarity. "She's Mr. Satan's daughter and my best friend, and her father is her hero."
The demi-Saiyan sobered immediately; he knew what it was like to have the illusion of his hero stripped down to what it really was. "I won't," he promised.
They stopped in front of a deli. "Well, here we are!" Erasa said cheerfully. "It was nice meeting you, Gohan. Here, give me your hand." Gohan did so obediently, and she took out a pen and wrote a series of numbers on it. "Give me a call if you want to go do something!" She winked at him and went into the deli, making a beeline straight for a boy with long blonde hair and dark brown eyes. Her squeal of "Sharpener!" was loud enough to hear through the windows, and he saw several people flinch and glare. He snickered quietly, glad that he wasn't in there. He watched for a bit longer.
Suddenly feeling a bit like a stalker, the teenager turned away and walked down the street, hands in his pockets. It did not take him long to find a suitable alley from which to jump to the top of the roof. It took him exactly 1.3 seconds to find the Satan mansion (it could not be anything but a mansion). He smiled slightly, but it was not a nice smile. Though glad that there had been no media circus to hound his family and friends while they were still dealing with his disappearance, it still rankled Gohan's Saiyan pride that someone else was taking the credit for killing the overgrown bug that had almost killed him. The buffoon had helped despite his bumbling, but it was the principle of the thing.
The smile deepened.
Psychological warfare was such a nice, clean way to deal with this sort of thing.
Mr. Satan opened the door to his massive residence and, once through the doorway, closed it with a relieved sigh. If he had known just what he was getting into when he claimed to have defeated Cell, he would have had second thoughts about it. The constant functions and press releases and publicity stunts and whatnot were starting to wear on the big man. All he wanted was just one day to himself, to relax and not have to feed his adoring public's appetite for his (and he freely admitted this, if only to himself) ridiculous antics and showmanship.
The large man turned, intent on going to his room and changing into something that was not a white cape with a large collar and a maroon gi. Down the magnificent hallway, up the grandiose marble stairs, past the opulent television room with its five flat-screen plasma televisions of various sizes, and through his ostentatious master bedroom suite he went, into the surprisingly small walk-in closet. He dropped his clothes carelessly on the floor, putting on an old, tattered sweat suit that had seen better days. It might look ratty, but the suit was the most comfortable thing he owned. (Except, he thought, his mattress. He loved his mattress – just the right amount of fluffiness and support, not to mention the amazing massage function that he had included. The royalties he received from allowing the use of his name had been put to good use by buying that mattress.)
Deciding to see what kind of trash was on the television today, Mr. Satan trekked his way back to the television room, intent on settling into his comfy chair. He pressed a buzzer underneath the light switch, though he did not bother to turn on the light itself, and asked the servant who answered to get him a big bowl of chocolate ice cream. Sometimes, he just needed to eat his cares away, and what better to do that with than chocolate ice cream? Confident that it would be done, he walked over to the end table beside his chair and pressed the "on" button on the television remote. The largest television sprang to life, illuminating the room, Mr. Satan, and the strange person sitting in Mr. Satan's comfy chair.
The man blinked in consternation, then blinked again, just to make sure that he was really seeing a young man in his chair. Tall, judging from how far his legs stretched out in front of him, fair skinned, dark hair, dark eyes. Very defined muscles, though his stature looked to be more of a runner's than a weightlifter's. Martial artist, then, if the gi was anything to go by. He looked somewhat familiar, but Mr. Satan could not place him. Considering that none of the servants had let him know the man was here, he was fairly certain that this was going to be a yet another blackmail attempt. "I don't suppose you're here for a friendly chat," the large man finally said, "but can it wait until I get my ice cream?"
Gohan was at a bit of a loss. Here he was, showing up completely unannounced and sitting in what was probably the man's favorite chair, and all he got was a "wait until I get my ice cream and then we'll talk?" He had seen a vague look of recognition in the blue eyes, but it seemed that Mr. Satan had no clue who he was. Seeing that the man was still waiting for an answer, he merely glowered at him.
"I'll take that as a yes." Mr. Satan nodded thankfully at him and then plopped down on the sofa angled beside the chair. Gohan raised an eyebrow. Apparently this whole "psychological warfare" thing was not all that it was cracked up to be. Or maybe the man's ego made him think that he was immune to damage. It certainly had at the Cell Games. The demi-Saiyan barely caught the grin from escaping as he remembered his shoddy explanation that he had just "slipped" out of the ring and would be ready for round two just as soon as he caught his breath.
While Gohan mulled this over, the door opened and a servant brought in the aforementioned bowl of ice cream. The woman tensed when she saw him, but it seemed that she knew better than to talk to him. Apparently, people appearing in the house without using the front door were common enough that there was some sort of safety protocol.
Mr. Satan took a few bites of his treat before looking up at Gohan again. Blue eyes appraised him for a moment. "So, what do you want from me? You look familiar, but I don't know where I would have met you," he said after a lengthy silence. "Are you from one of the gangs around here? The mob, maybe? I'm impressed at how you got past all the security measures without setting anything off. I had the best in the business set it up."
Golden light suddenly lit up the room. "Does this give you an idea?" Gohan asked, his voice darker and more menacing than it had been. Judging by the wide eyes and pale skin, it seemed that his quarry knew exactly who he was now.
Gohan goggled at him, reverting to his normal form in shock. He shows up without so much as a hello, acts all mysterious and dangerous, and basically threatens him with his Super Saiyan form, and he only gets an "ah?" He must have missed something in the lessons he learned from his grandfather. 'Or maybe,' said a little voice in his mind, 'you just suck at it. It's not like you've ever used it on anyone before. Should have had Vegeta do it.' Gohan scowled fiercely at that part of his mind and told it to go to hell.
"I was wondering when one of you would show up," Mr. Satan said, eating another spoonful of ice cream calmly. "Frankly, I'm surprised it took you this long. I'd expected you maybe a year from the Cell Games, not seven." He surveyed the flabbergasted demi-Saiyan in front of him. "So, what do you want? Money? Fame? Power? 'Cause I can tell you right now kid, it's not worth it. Oh, the money and the power are, I suppose, but the fame? It can go to hell for all I care."
The man sitting on the sofa was not the man Gohan had expected to encounter. He had assumed that Mr. Satan would be the same as he was seven years ago - loud-mouthed, brash, and arrogant to a fault. This man was much different. He was subdued. His eyes were tired and his posture sagged under a weight that Gohan was startled to realize that he recognized. Being famous (or infamous, in his own case) was a burden that people did not understand until they had it. The pressure of being recognized by people and being hounded to death (almost literally, again in his own case) was much more than it seemed. Still… "Why did you do it?" the teenager asked softly.
"Why?" Mr. Satan let out a bitter laugh. "I could tell you a dozen things, none of them and all of them true. I was young, but I wasn't that young. My daughter is about your age, you know. I was making enough to get by, but I wanted more. I was the most famous martial artist in twenty years and I got knocked out of the ring with not even a punch, but a back-handed slap? And then some young punk comes and shows me up within five seconds of beginning the fight, doing things that I could only dream of doing. And then, you didn't even come forward to take the credit. So I took it. I was jealous. I was afraid. I was embarrassed. I was angry." He shrugged helplessly. "Take your pick."
The demi-Saiyan listened in contemplative silence, all thoughts of threatening forgotten in the wake of this unexpected camaraderie. "I can't say I understand," he finally said. "We never do this for the fame. We save the world because there's no one else who can. So I suppose that you really did us a favor, since we would never be able to go outside without being recognized and swamped by thousands of people. Still…" He sighed. "I wished you'd found one of us. Maybe given some of your money in compensation. My parents used to have money, but since my father stopped competing in the tournament, they haven't had much income. My mother is too proud to take money from her father or our friends and I don't think my father even thinks about it. We get a lot of our food from the land, but things from the store are harder to get."
The big man snorted. "People would trace that in seconds," he said derisively. "It might be an hour before your names were splashed all over the tabloids."
"Tabloids? What are tabloids?"
"Are you serious?" Seeing the look of honest confusion on the teenager's face, he smirked. "You really are a country bumpkin, aren't you?"
Gohan flushed. "Something like that," he muttered. He knew the man would not believe him if he tried to explain his story. "I assume that means that we would be famous. Or infamous."
"In a nutshell," Mr. Satan agreed. "I'm in there at least once a week now. Last time I was having randy sex with an alien. They even have pictures."
"If it makes you feel any better, I know of at least two people who have sex with an alien all the time," Gohan replied, and was gratified to hear the other man choke on his ice cream. It distracted him from the thought of his parents doing anything more than a chaste kiss on the cheek. Just because he was comfortable joking about sex now did not mean that he wanted to think about… that. Eurgh.
He watched Mr. Satan clean up the ice cream mess, thinking. Although the camaraderie was nice, he was still here to work out some sort of deal. His family needed some money – Bulma aside, they could barely afford enough to get things they could not get from the land, and Gohan knew that his mother loathed relying on other people for help. "Mr. Satan," he said slowly, "isn't there any way that there could be some sort of money exchanged where it couldn't be traced? Or is that something that can't be done above board?"
Mr. Satan shook his head immediately. "It would just find its way into the papers later rather than sooner," he replied. "If I could, I would. I think you know that."
Gohan tapped a finger to a lip. "You mentioned that you had a daughter…"
"I am NOT giving you my daughter, punk!" the large man exclaimed, jumping to his feet. "I don't know if that's how you country bumpkins do it, but we're in the city!"
"What…?" Gohan asked intelligently, honestly bewildered. "Why would I want her? No offense intended," he added hurriedly as the other man's face darkened further. "No, I was just thinking, what if I offer her lessons on how to fight like us? She won't ever reach my level; you have to have a certain… physiology for that. But if she's been fighting for a long time, she'll be able to be on par with Krillin, at least. We could work out some sort of payment."
Mr. Satan was silent for several long moments. It was obvious that he was thinking things through, trying to find a down side to this plan. Finally, Gohan was rewarded with a bright smile, very different from his normal, arrogant, pain-in-the-ass grin. "Brilliant idea, son. I'll have to spin it so it looks like I just want her to learn different fighting styles and you're the first one, but I think that should work." Then his smile dropped. "Two problems, though."
"One, Videl is still in the hospital from the tournament. She's been itching to leave, but the doctors won't let her until she can do the things she needs to do to take care of herself. Hopefully they'll let her go in the next week or two."
'Two and a half months to heal?' Gohan wondered disbelievingly. He had never realized just how much his Saiyan genes helped his healing time. "I can help with that. What's the second problem?"
"I've pretty much convinced everyone that what you do is just magic tricks. Videl believes it, too."
Gohan's grin was sharp and feral. "Don't worry, Mr. Satan. I'll show her differently."
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