The Disclaimer: blah blah blah... DRAGONBALL Z... yadda yadda yadda... copyright of all characters... blah blah blah... the great, all-powerful Akira Toriyama... yadda yadda yadda... C'mon an' get me ya lousy Feds!... HAH!
The Perfect Day © 2009 Darke Angelus
This story takes place one year after the end of the Dragonball Z series.
Checking his watch for the fourth time in less than half an hour, Goten solemnly declared: "He's not coming."
It was the end of June and behind Satan City High School a large pavilion had been set up over a stage with crepe paper rustling in the breeze; Orange and white, the school colors, were the dominant theme. The Junior High band was situated off to one side and trying to get organized. The music instructor was just about bald from the stress of getting the seating arrangement right among the nervous would-be musicians. Other students were finishing up arranging chairs and programs were being handed out to the parents and friends who had been invited to the occasion. The mood, like the weather, was bright and warm.
The teenager was talking to the group of adults who stood in a half-circle around him, away from the rest of the civilian crowd. They were a collection of individuals who possessed the collective might to destroy a galaxy, if need be. On this particular occasion, however, they were far more sociable than usual, rarely seen as a collection in public and drawing more than their fair share of spectators at this reverent event.
Yamcha, as usual, seemed to bask in the attention. Dressed in a faded suit that had seen better days, he waved politely to the pretty girls but kept reminding himself of their age; "Jailbait... jailbait... jailbait... Nope! Won't let THAT happen again..."
Tien and Chiaotzu looked completely out of place and blinked in constant bewilderment at the teenagers in their caps and gowns, unable to fathom the reason for celebration. They were dressed in their best attire, with the little Emperor looking every bit like some strange costumed doll. He stayed near his partner in an embrace that looked beyond friendly (but nobody wanted to comment on it).
Gohan was in attendance with his wife and, to the uninitiated, they looked like any young couple, deeply in love. He was dressed in a professional grey suit and Videl looked quite comfortable in a printed dress that stopped just above her knees. She couldn't stop looking at her taller paramour and blushing. To his credit, the twenty-eight year old member of the Son family was doing some beaming of his own as he held the hand of their daughter, Pan. The little dark-haired girl was ogling at the sights and constantly asking questions.
"Why's everbody dressed up like women, daddy?"
"They're wearing caps and gowns, Pan. It's a tradition."
"Because, sweetie, it's Goten's graduation."
"It's a ceremony that signifies the transition from scholarly achievement to-"
"Gran! Daddy's using big words again!" the little girl bawled.
ChiChi boldly moved in and swept the girl into her arms and cooed at her.
Ever silent, Android 18 stood near her husband, Krillin, and kept her strange, slanted eyes glued to the crowd, as if anticipating trouble. On this occasion, her usually straight blond locks were curled in an attractive bob and she was wearing a light blue pantsuit that showed off her exotic figure. She kept their teenaged daughter, Marron, close beside her and refused to let the girl out of her sight. Krillin, hardly believing that this tall goddess was actually his wife, spent the majority of his time staring at her with huge cow eyes. He wasn't the only one. Master Roshi, dressed in his Jackie Chun suit and hat, couldn't stop marveling over the android's figure either. He was hunkered down in the background, dapping at his bleeding nose while his eyes remained glued on her well-rounded ass.
Piccolo, clothed in his usual turban and cape ensemble, glowered menacingly at the paparazzi that had been tipped off about the exotic attendees to this occasion and were gathering in greater numbers by the minute. They were currently held at bay by a length of tape in the parking lot, much to the chagrin of Mr. Satan, Videl's eccentric father, who loved to bask on the attention of any camera within reach. The old blowhard was leaning over the tape and engaging in a boring diatribe into any mike he could grab.
Completely opposite the old has-been fighter's showboating, Bulma Briefs deliberately positioned herself closest to Goten and his family, knowing that the taller members of this unique group acted as a convenient shield. She had never been comfortable in the limelight, although one would never know it considering how she was presently dressed; sporting a red designer dress with a slit up one tanned thigh, knee high Italian leather boots and wearing dazzling jewelry that could probably buy off the school. Holding onto her hand was little Bra, four years old and unusually subdued as she absorbed every detail of the pomp and circumstance with her huge, blue eyes.
Vegeta stood beside them and, like his wife, also looked like he had stepped out of some fashion catalog, dressed in a black formal leather coat, slacks, and silk shirt and tie. Everyone was surprised he was here and, honestly, he wished he could be home and free of this ridiculous farce; he had already gone through it a year before with his own son. But Goten had personally asked him to come and the Saiyan prince had endured way too much of the boy's bullshit over the last decade to be able to successfully turn him down.
Beside him stood their son, Trunks. He had let his hair grow during his teenage years and now had it tied back in an attractive pony tail. He looked extremely comfortable in a casual suit with jeans and smiled easily at his best friend, one year his junior. "He'll be here. Just give him a few more minutes, Goten."
The teen adjusted his mortarboard and puffed air at the annoying tassel and plucked at his gown with nervous fingers. Finally, he cast an urgent glance at his mother and said with amazing venom, "I guess I shouldn't be surprised. He missed my birthday, too. I guess Uub's just more interesting than I am."
"Goten!" ChiChi admonished. "Your father is simply wrapped up in training the poor boy. You know full well how he, well... he forgets sometimes..."
"I know. He forgot to come and visit the seven years he spent partying in the afterlife," the boy shot back. "You'd think he'd try to make up for it but noooo. He decided to abandon us a few short years after he came back by going to train a complete stranger!"
There was the sound of applause and heads turned to see Vegeta, with a deadpan expression on his face, clapping at the speech. Bulma came up beside him and grabbed his arm. "Don't make this any worse than it already is," she hissed at him.
"Hey, after all these years of being dismissed as the resident bad man, I intend to enjoy the moment," he shot back. "Kakarrot's always been an inconsiderate clown. I'm amazed it's taken all of you this long to notice it."
"Vegeta..." Piccolo said in a cautionary tone.
"He's right," Goten said sadly.
ChiChi immediately whirled around, her dark eyes practically bulging in shock. "Goten!" she squawked. "How can you say such a thing?!"
"Then where is he, mom?" the teen shot back, extending his arms. "He's not here, that's for sure!"
"Give him some time-"
"I've given him my entire life!"
As the pair faced off, an elderly man with a terrible toupee came up and nervously asked, "Is everything alright here?"
"Don't worry. This is normal," Krillin chimed in with a broad smile.
"Everything's fine, Mr. Stockley," Goten murmured, dropping his eyes in embarrassment.
The teacher took note of the strange-looking guests, swallowed, and said to Goten, "Go get in line with the rest of the class, please. We're about to begin."
"See? What did I tell you?!" the teen said in frustration and stalked away to join his classmates.
Piccolo cast Gohan a glance and the young man swung his head around and regarded his former mentor. They stared at each other for perhaps a good ten seconds before the hybrid excused himself and followed the huge Namek around to the back of the building. They were quickly joined by Krillin, Yamcha, Tien, and Chiaotzu.
"Is there any chance that the Flying Nimbus could pick him up and transport him here in time?" the little monk asked hopefully.
"No chance," Piccolo rumbled. "The damned thing travels too slow anyway. Goku's more than two thousand kilometers away!"
"Does he have a cell phone?" Tien offered.
Gohan shook his head. "He says they're too complicated to figure out. Besides, Uub's entire village is so remote there wouldn't be any coverage anyway."
"None of us is fast enough to fly there and tell him to use his Instant Transmission to come back here in time," Yamcha said. "Gohan, can you reach him telepathically?"
The young man shook his head. "It's way too far for me. The only one who might be able to establish a link is..."
"Me," said a cold voice. The group turned and saw Vegeta leaning against the side of the building with his arms crossed. "And all of you should know better than to even ask."
"For God's sake, Vegeta!" Piccolo thundered. "This is Goten we're all concerned about. Can't you put aside your petty rivalry with Goku for one second and think about someone other than yourself for a change?"
"This isn't about me," Vegeta corrected him. "Every time that dimwit drops the ball, you all scramble to pick it up for him."
"That's a crock and you know it," Tien said, raising himself to his full height and relishing how the small alien had to cock his head to the side to fix him his usual sullen glare.
"Oh really?" Vegeta said with a deliberate smirk. "I seem to recall you died because that idiot was late the first time I made landfall, or have you forgotten that wonderful day?"
All three of the huge fighter's eyes narrowed in spite at the mere reminder. He couldn't believe the Saiyan prick actually had the audacity to make jokes about the day he had invaded Earth and damn near killed them all. Through clenched teeth he changed tactics and managed to say instead: "Helping Goku's family is the least we can do for a hero who's selflessly saved this planet!"
"I've got an update for you, freak. He's also saved the planet-" Vegeta cocked his thumb at Gohan, "and I have, too, and you don't see anyone trying to make excuses for us. That's because we take care of our own. Family first. Then this stupid planet. Not that someone like you-" he dropped his eyes to the fighter's constant companion, "-would ever understand that."
Tien took a menacing step forward and the Saiyan stood his ground. Before any blows could fall, Krillin stepped in between them. "Fighting isn't going to get Goku here any faster. Vegeta, can you reach him with your mind?"
The Saiyan crossed his arms and looked away with a sniff.
"Please, Vegeta," Gohan prompted. Of any of them, he was probably the only one who could persuade the alien into action.
"No," Vegeta admitted after a long pause. "I can sense him but I can't reach him directly. The distance is too great."
Tien couldn't put old grudges to rest. "Useful as usual," he grumbled.
The Saiyan lifted his upper lip in a sneer and then turned his back on them to look at the crowd of spectators. The Junior High band had started playing (badly, as usual) and everyone was getting settled in their seats and readying their camcorders, digital cameras, and cell phones to record the spectacle. Bulma was seated next to Trunks, and Bra moved over to where the rest of her odd friends were seated and the three girls giggled among themselves as if sharing secrets of the universe. It was quite a sight and one that made Vegeta pause and think. In the last fifteen years all of the children born to the different families of their unique circle had been female and it seemed to possess some sort of significance that was lost on him. He couldn't deny his daughter's affect on him, either. Even now his anger at Tien faded away as he watched Bra stand up in her seat and look around for him. He felt a desperate ping in his mind, an indication of the girl's fledgling telepathic rapport, and gently sent back, - I'll be there soon. Patience.
"Hurry poppa!" she screamed, turning heads.
Vegeta winced. So much like her mother...
In the background, the members of the Earth's Special Forces were still plotting strategies that were absolutely useless in the limited time that they had. Krillin tried to reach King Kai but only got back the equivalent of an ephemeral answering machine message that said the eccentric ruler was off playing Go! with the Kais from the other three quadrants. Piccolo asked Dende for any suggestions and the young God of Earth sought out Korin for advice but the cat was recovering from a disastrous flea dip and wasn't much help. Neither was Yajirobe. No surprise there.
Tuning them out, Vegeta went back to regarding the graduation ceremony. The teachers were taking their places on the stage behind the podium and the principal started droning on about the present generation and the achievements the students had made over the last year. Vegeta couldn't comprehend the majority of the implications; he had never endured anything remotely resembling high school but he understood that the purpose of this graduation ceremony seemed to mark an important transition in the life of a teenager: the move from group subservience to individual independence. He could understand that, hell, he could even appreciate it. He, himself, hadn't been free of Frieza's dominance until he had been thirty. No wonder these teenagers went crazy the instant they got their diploma: Freedom, independence, and limitless options and all at the immature age of eighteen. He was almost jealous.
"-The nearest village to Uub's is thirty klicks away? Are you serious?" Yamcha cried in dismay. "So much for sending a runner to carry a message over to him. What about-"
Fools, Vegeta thought. The principal called the first student, Samuel Anderson, and the youth tripped on the first step, recovered, and climbed the rest without incident. It was clear he was nervous. He accepted the rolled up diploma, shook the principal's hand, moved the tassel to the left, and then waved at the audience (most likely at his family) as he exited the stage.
Soon this was going to be Goten's honor and all of his friends and family were in attendance except for the one that mattered most to the youth: That insufferable, absent-minded, gullible goofball of a father. It amazed Vegeta that someone so concerned about the well-being of strangers could treat his own family so badly. ChiChi was a bitch, there was no denying it, but Gohan was an amazing young man and his daughter looked to be a chip off of the block. Goten was naïve but not stupid and his time around Trunks and the rest of the Briefs family had imprinted on the teenager just how a 'real' family was supposed to act (even if it was household comprised of a spoiled heiress, an alien prince, and their colorful hybrid children). The teenager also saw how his older brother successfully coped with his family life. He had every right to feel resentful and betrayed.
It was puzzling... Goku had singled out Uub right from the start and his decision to train him was rooted more out of a desire for a worthy sparring partner (at this, Vegeta bristled with indignant rage) than to help out the poor African kid. It had been a selfish act to leave his family at the tournament and it made the Saiyan wonder just how much of the aborted Potara Fusion was to blame*. Since the Majin Buu incident, Vegeta had become the home-body and Goku had become the traveler. It was quite the role-reversal, that's for sure.
"Amy Beaton," called the principal.
"Gohan," Vegeta called over his shoulder. "How large is Goten's class?"
Confused by the sudden attention, Gohan stammered out, "I'm not really sure. Two hundred students, maybe two-fifty. Why?"
Vegeta didn't answer. He watched the student named Amy Beaton accept her diploma, exchange a little idle banter with the principal, and leave. The entire process took about a minute and a half. "Shit," he said under his breath and turned around, walking over to the group. He shrugged out of his leather coat and threw it at Yamcha. "Make yourself useful and hold that."
"What's going on?" Gohan pressed, recognizing that the older Saiyan seemed to be readying himself for action. Nobody could understand it, even with flight the fastest journey would take over an hour.
Loosening his tie, Vegeta snarled, "Not one word of this to my woman, understand? If she finds out she'll drag my ass to every damned craft fair on this entire planet!"
"What are you going to do?" Piccolo demanded.
"I'm going to bring back your hero," Vegeta said and pressed two fingers to his forehead and closed his eyes. A few seconds later he winked out sight.
The entire group went mute with shock. The Saiyan prince had just used Instant Transmission.
"Son of a bitch," Piccolo finally spoke up, but he was smiling.
To be continued...
* Fanfic reference: "MIRROR, MIRROR"