Disclaimer: I do not own DBZ or have any rights to it.
"Why are we meeting here?" Eighteen looked up at the damaged roof of Capsule Corp. uneasily. It also didn't help that the crumbling structure was in the middle of a city that recognized and hated her. "Wouldn't Mt. Paozu be a more suitable location? It's more intact and it's in a nice secluded area."
"Capsule Corp. isn't that bad a place for a party," said Gohan as they walked towards the main entrance. "It's also the only place big enough for all of us to stretch out comfortably. Besides, it's not like anyone saw you on our way here." A sympathetic smile came to his face when he saw her eyes darting around uneasily. "Look…I know the others don't trust you completely, but they'll still accept you, and I'm sure they'll soon realize how much you've changed and begin to open up a little more."
Giving him a coy smile, Eighteen blushed slightly. "Thanks Gohan…you're really getting good at cheering me up now." She chuckled when she saw a light tint of red appear on Gohan's face. "Well I think I'm ready to face them all now."
"How touching," came a sarcastic voice. They both look at the figure leaning against one of the outer walls of the compound. Having not noticed him until that point, the couple was mildly alarmed when they found it was Seventeen, which brought a smirk to his face. "Surprised that I was able to sneak in here without any special powers? I've gotten used to hiding out since the last time we met."
"Seventeen…it's been a year now," said Eighteen. She couldn't believe that he would come here so boldly after his childish display at Mt. Paozu one year ago. Her expression quickly turned serious. "Why would you come here, you know that you're not welcome. Is it to admit that you're wrong that you're wrong?"
"That's not why I'm here," said Seventeen with a fake smile. "I've come here because the world has turned hostile to me." The looks he received told him that they weren't surprised. The sympathy they conveyed angered Seventeen, it made him feel like a weakling. "I know that it was bound to happen, and I blame both of you for it, but unfortunately, this is the only place I know where the people won't kill me on site. Don't pity me, I'd rather not lose anymore dignity than I already have." With that Seventeen walked away to go lean on another portion of wall, where he hoped nobody would find him.
"I hate seeing him like that," said Eighteen. "I guess he couldn't grow up, even after one year of having his mistake shoved in his face, he still hasn't learned his lesson. We can't remove the collar from him, no matter how much I want to."
"I know he wouldn't want me to, but I do feel sorry for him," sad Gohan as he gave her a sad smile. "He needs friends or at least people who would give him a chance. That's why Piccolo, Vegeta, and you were able to change. It's something he can't do on his own."
"He needs to accept that help first," replied Eighteen before turning to face him. "Come on, let's get going. They'll be wondering where we are." Leading the way, she walked through Capsule Corp's now fully restored sliding doors. While sections of the building remained as they had been for the past few years, the main living quarters had been restored to a pre-androids state, making them comfortable to be in.
"Impressive isn't it," said Bulma when she saw Eighteen ogling at all of the repairs. "The people of West City immediately came together after I spread the word of the androids being defeated. Trunks can tell you more about it, but a group of people have been going around rebuilding various sections of the city, but they're mostly restoring homes right now."
"That's good to here," replied Gohan. "The people at Mt. Paozu don't recognize Eighteen as an android, so they were willing to accept her help. We've mostly gone around the mountain district and helped rebuild towns there."
"Things are finally looking up for everyone," said Bulma with a happy smile. Then she stepped aside and beckoned her guests to enter the newly restored living room. "Well go on in, everyone's waiting for you two."
When she stepped into the living room, Eighteen was greeted with a sight she hadn't seen before. Everyone was off enjoying the party in their own way. Oolong, and Roshi were busy stuffing their faces full of food, while Trunks was engaged in a conversation with the Ox King, and near them, Puar and Turtle were trying to solve a puzzle.
"I guess you've never seen people at a party before," said Gohan when he looked at her. It makes sense since she's been a social outcast for most of her life, and this is the first real party we've had since Seventeen's defeat. She looked up and smiled at him before giving him a peck on the cheek.
"Gohan, Eighteen!" Chichi walked over to them with a truly happy smile on her face. "I'm glad you've both made it." She handed a slice of cake to each of them. "Here, you both deserve it after all the good things you've done."
"Thank you," replied Eighteen gratefully. She leaned over to Chichi so nobody would hear, and said, "we met Seventeen outside. He's been sulking there for a while now."
Normally Chichi would've freaked out at the thought of Eighteen's brother hiding around the compound, but now she knew that he was no threat to them due to the device around his neck. In fact, she almost felt some pity for a person like him, being forced to hide out, simply because he was too proud to admit that he had been wrong, though the key word was almost. She was still a long way off from accepting Seventeen as family, even if she'd already accepted his sister.
"Well let's not talk about that anymore," replied Chichi with a sweet smile. "I'm sure he won't cause us any trouble if he knows what's good for him."
"I agree," replied Eighteen before taking a bite out of the cake. "This cake tastes good."
Not content to watch his sister having fun at the party, Seventeen decided to leave and check out the city. The jacket he wore over his usual clothes came equipped with a hood and it helped conceal his face so that nobody would recognize him. Even if the people of this city were still afraid of him, he'd rather they not see him in his current state.
Slipping into the streets, he looked around warily at all the passers by. They were all happy, and carefree, just like he remembered them before he and Eighteen unleashed their reign of terror. The thing that annoyed Seventeen the most about them now was the fact that they were letting him pass by, not showing any sign of suspicion or hostility. He knew that they didn't know who he was, but they could've at least acted hostile, and judgmental like he expected they would be.
With the city still in a state of disrepair, when Seventeen looked around, he saw people working on various construction projects. They all look so happy, thought Seventeen. Looks like they're not taking each other for granted like I thought they would. Still…why are they so happy, when I'm here suffering? Life is never fair!
Picking up a stray brick, he contemplated throwing it at the window of a newly restored shop. It was possibly his last chance to cause destruction. He could outrun the humans and slip away before Gohan or his sister arrived on the scene. However, after brief consideration, he decided against it. It just wasn't his style to do something so underhanded, as if he had to rely on such tactics to cause destruction.
I don't want to act like a weakling, thought Seventeen angrily. He turned around and walked back towards the Capsule Corp. compound. He didn't like going back there, but he felt compelled to at least be where his sister was. Though he hated to admit it, Seventeen did miss her.
To his chagrin, when he got there, Gohan was waiting outside for him. The saiyan hybrid smiled when he noticed Seventeen entering the compound. "I was wondering when you'd come back," said Gohan calmly. "You should come inside, I'm sure your sister will make sure nobody tries to kill you."
"I don't need your pity," said Seventeen before briskly walking by Gohan.
"Then why didn't you just leave for good," asked Gohan as if he knew something. "You could've just run out of the city, never to be seen again." Seventeen froze in his tracks, confirming that he didn't have anything to say to that. "So what made you come back here?"
"I just did," said Seventeen. "Just leave me alone, I don't want to hear any of your pity."
"Don't flatter yourself," said Gohan in a more serious, and harsher tone. "It's not just about you. Your sister misses you because you're her family, and she's proven herself as our friend, and we care about her happiness. So don't delude yourself into thinking that we're just a bunch of softies who're just trying to make friends with you. It's not always about you Seventeen."
"So now it's a lecture?" It came out more as a comment than a question. Turning to face him, Seventeen shot him a death glare, which didn't seem to faze Gohan, or even trigger any sort of hostility. Seventeen would've preferred it if he'd gotten angry with him, instead, Gohan was treating him like an immature teenager. "I don't need you talking to me like that. I'm an adult, I can think for myself."
Gohan shrugged, but maintained his stern expression. "Fair enough. Then think about what I said. You've nothing to gain from sulking in the shadows and feeling sorry for yourself. There are other ways to be happy, besides being the strongest. Your pride's the only thing holding you back." He had nothing more to say and left Seventeen alone to return to the party.
"I don't need you or anyone," mumbled Seventeen before sitting down near the outer wall of Capsule Corp. I can't do everything by myself. I don't need anyone to tell me what to do like I'm some kid. So what if Eighteen left me…I don't need her anymore…I can go on with my own life by myself.
An hour later, Seventeen realized something, which he hadn't even considered. I still have my self-detonation device! I can kill everyone here by blowing them all up. I won't have to endure them talking down to me, like I'm some sort of child anymore. I'll show them all that I'm still a threat!
Eighteen had come outside to see if her brother was still lurking around the compound. Upon seeing him, she immediately deciphered what was on his mind. "Thinking of self-detonating?" He looked up at her suddenly, as if she'd startled him. "You know I'd be able to sense it and cover everyone with a shield."
He looked at her bitterly. She had left him behind, and he could tell that she had grown to love her new life. "Did you come here to lecture me, like Gohan did? I'll bet you pity the fact that I'm not as enlightened as you are. Well sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not going to be drinking Gohan's Kool-Aid."
"No, you're drinking Dr. Gero's Kool-Aid," replied Eighteen in a somewhat agitated tone. "You may not think it but you're acting exactly as Gero predicted you would. He thought that we were just a pair of teenage delinquents that nobody cared about. He expected us to be machines of destructions that would gratify his desire for revenge. I don't know about you, but I'm not going to play his game anymore."
Looking away from her, his mind processed what she'd told him. "I killed him. Was that according to his plan? I don't want to be part of his grand design anymore than you do, but I also don't like being limited by society's rules."
Eighteen rolled her eyes before grabbing his arm and dragging him inside. "Come on, you need to socialize. Taking to people is a good thing, and Gohan can remove all your beefs with society."
However, just as they reached the door, Seventeen tried to pull free of her grip, though she was much stronger than him now, and he failed. "It all comes back to Gohan doesn't it? What's so great about him?"
"If you'd just talk to him, you would know just how smart he is. The only thing holding you back is your pride. Nothing bad is going to happen to you if you give it a try. If you don't like what he says, you can just go back to the way you are now."
"Suppose I do take your advice, and Gohan as able to help me, would his friends really be so accepting of me? They'd probably wait until my guard is down and then kill me."
"They're not like that," replied Eighteen. "Sure they won't trust you at first, in fact, I've been on probation with them for the entire year, and they're only just starting to trust me like a friend. They won't trust you right off the bat, and it'll probably be over a year before you lose that collar, but they will be nice and courteous to you, and won't try to stab you in the back."
Seventeen shrugged the comment off, but saw that his sister was sincere about wanting him around. "Fine, I'll give this a try, but if they try to hurt me, I'm leaving and never coming back."
"Suit yourself," replied Eighteen before letting go of him and walking inside. Seventeen followed after a brief pause. When Eighteen entered the party area Gohan walked up to her and smiled before looking over her shoulder at Seventeen. "It took a while for me to convince him to come inside."
"I'm gad you decided to show up," said Gohan to Seventeen.
Crossing his arms, Seventeen turned slightly away from him in a futile attempt to save face. "It's not because I wanted to. I just didn't have any better choices."
Gohan shrugged him off. "I guess that's good enough for now. Trust me, once you know all the perks of being part of society, you'll never want to go back. It's better to be on our side than to be a loner." Turning his attention back to Eighteen, he gave her a knowing smile. I'll be nice; you can be tough with him.
A few days after the celebration at Capsule Corp. Gohan and Eighteen were flying over what used to be North City. After letting it be for over a month, they had decided to check on the trees they had planted over a years ago.
"Look down there," said Eighteen as she pointed to what used to be a scar on the land. "I can see the young trees from up here." Landing in the clearing, they saw that the trees were all now a littler taller than either of them. "Wow, they've really grown this past year. I didn't even notice it."
"That's the thing with plants," replied Gohan with a happy smile as he admired the young trees. "They grown incrementally and you don't notice it while its happening, but eventually you look at them and wonder how they got to be so big."
"It probably won't be long before they start to form a canopy," added Eighteen. "I…I never thought this would happen, but I'm actually feeling quite proud of them. It's like I'm their parent, and they graduated…It sounds silly, doesn't it?"
Gohan shook his head. "No, I remember growing plants when I was younger, and I always used to feel that way. It's perfectly natural, but I'm think I enjoyed planting these tress the most."
"Why's that" asked Eighteen while raising a curious eyebrow.
"It's because we did it together," replied Gohan. "It's actually more to do with hindsight, but I'm especially happy with this because we accomplished it together. I'm not sure if I could've done all this by myself."
Walking up to him, she stroked his cheek before pulling him into a kiss. When it was over she took his hand and pulled him into the. "Let's get out of here Gohan. I think the forest will be fine now. Besides, we've got the rest of our lives to look forward to." They flew away and from that point on they left the past behind and focused their efforts on building a future they could be happy in.
I didn't want to make the ending too much like a "happily ever after" fairytale, but I wanted it to end optimistically. I hope it doesn't feel rushed or forced, as I find that endings are the hardest part of the story. Anyway, I wanted that last sentence to not only represent them moving ahead in life, but also leaving behind their past grudges with each other.