Chi-Chi stared at the phone in her hand, almost laughing when she saw it trembling slightly. What was she so nervous about? There was nothing to be afraid of because, well, she always got her way with everyone. Even him. She inhaled deeply and slowly released her breath, trying to coax herself into a state of calm before dialing the number she knew by heart. It wasn't a number she called often, but it was one of the more important ones. Finally, she dialed and held the phone to her ear, each ring increasing her anxiety until she thought she would snap.
"Capsule Corporation, this is Bulma Brief speaking."
Chi-Chi smiled as relief flooded through her. She had hoped she would reach the blue-haired heiress without having to go through a team of secretaries and assistants. "Hi, Bulma, it's Chi-Chi."
"Chich! How are you? Is everything okay?"
The raven-haired woman smiled, nodding, though she knew Bulma couldn't see it. "Everything is fine, Bulma. It's just there's one little thing I was hoping you could help me with…"
"Sure, Chi, anything. What is it?"
Clearing her throat, Chi-Chi started, "Well, you see, Gohan is seventeen now and I was hoping to enroll him in public school. I already have one in mind, but I was thinking maybe it would be helpful if he had a, um, sort of father during the interview."
There was a short silence, then a soft chuckle. "So in other words you want Vegeta to pretend to be Gohan's father?"
Chi-Chi's face flushed a deep crimson. She was glad Bulma wasn't there with her to see it. "I know it's probably not necessary, but, you see, since I'm a single mother and I don't have a job, they may be concerned about me being able to afford to send him to school there. I thought maybe if they saw that he has a, well, we could say a godfather or something, especially one who has such a…wealthy background, you know?"
Bulma nodded sagely in agreement. "You're probably right. Well, I can't promise you anything, but I'll talk to him tonight. I'll give you a call in the morning to tell you what he says, okay?"
"No problem." Bulma hung up the phone and sighed heavily. She did understand where Chi-Chi was coming from, but how was she going to get Vegeta to understand? How would she get him to care? She had her work cut out for her, but she wanted to help Chi-Chi out, especially for Gohan's benefit.
That evening Bulma stopped Vegeta before he could leave after dinner to train. She held onto his wrist with an unbreakable grip and looked up at him pleadingly. "Wait, Vegeta, I have something I need to talk to you about."
"What?" he groaned. He never liked the phrase 'something I need to talk to you about.' It almost always ended badly for him. Still, he allowed her to speak, deciding it was best to hear her out before angering her with a definite 'No.'
Bulma stood up and led him to the living room where they could have some privacy from Trunks and her parents. She smiled at him, hoping to ease the tension that had already grown. "It's about Chi-Chi and Gohan, actually," she said.
"No." He turned to walk out of the room, but she stepped in front of him to block his path. Though he could have easily gone around her, he halted and crossed his arms over his chest, glaring at her as he waited for her to make her case to convince him to reconsider.
"It's nothing really big, she was just hoping you would go with them to an interview at a high school where she's hoping to have Gohan enrolled. You know, act as a supportive godfather or something. Someone who will be able to help out financially if they need it and all that. Really all you have to do is show up. You don't have to gush over how wonderful Gohan is."
Vegeta's eyebrow slowly rose through her explanation. "You want me to what?" He snorted, and, shaking his head, pushed her aside to make his exit.
"Just think about it!" she called after him. She knew by his expression that he hadn't completely decided his final answer would be a negative. Shrugging, she went back to the kitchen to sit down and talk with her family. As busy as she had been at Capsule Corporation lately, she hadn't had much quality time with her parents or son for a while.
Vegeta cranked up the gravity to train under, hoping to clear his mind and rationally weigh the pros and cons of helping the banshee and Kakarrot's eldest. As much as he tried to reason he didn't care about the boy, there was at least some level of respect for him. After all, he had proven himself a capable warrior several times over despite his youth and lack of experience. And he had also helped with babysitting his wild son several times when he thought he was going to lose his mind if he didn't get the little brat out of the house for a few hours of peace. He didn't feel he owed the Son family anything, but as his woman said, he wouldn't have to do anything but show up. But wouldn't that act alone show he cared? He most certainly did not.
Bulma hadn't even threatened him – not that her threats were ever enough to sway him one way or another. Usually they only made him more stubborn since he resented her attempts to force him into doing anything he didn't want to do. No sex? Fine, he'd lived without it for much longer than she was ever willing to withhold it from him. No food? He could leave and hunt wild game if he had to. No gravity room? Though he preferred the increased gravity and harsher conditions, he could still train without it. Really there was nothing she could threaten him with that would persuade him to change his mind once it was made up. Maybe she was finally learning that out about him… Either way, she hadn't threatened him, so he wasn't sure how important this was to her. Obviously it mattered to a degree or she wouldn't have bothered interceding on the harpy's behalf. But did it matter to him? He didn't give a damn about human education. It was pitiful to say the least.
That night when he stopped training and returned to the bedroom he shared with his mate, he saw she was still awake, sitting up in bed reading a book. No doubt waiting for him to come in so she could ask him what he'd decided. Ignoring her for the moment, he went into the bathroom and stripped off his clothes before getting in the shower. More time to think as the hot water relaxed his aching muscles and washed away the day's sweat and blood.
He owed the Sons nothing. But wasn't this the perfect opportunity to make them owe him something? Perhaps demanding a spar with the boy, or making the harpy agree to let Trunks stay over at their house for a whole week. Or longer. Maybe he could make a deal to not let the younger third-class brat over for a month. Or longer. He shrugged. There were many options available. If this was really as big a deal as it surely had to be if Kakarrot's harpy was willing to ask for his help, she would probably be willing to strike about any deal with him he could imagine. He smirked as he finally reached his decision. Of course he'd help – for a price. It was really about what he could get out of the situation. Not because he wanted to help. Because he didn't care at all if the boy got into school or not.
Bulma looked up when she heard the bathroom door open. Vegeta was standing in the doorway leaning against the doorjamb, arms crossed over his chest and a smirk so wide it looked more like a twisted smile. She sighed; he found a way to turn an act of kindness into something worse. Not even wanting to meet his dark gaze, she focused on his bare chest. "So what'll it be?"
He huffed, shrugging nonchalantly. "I'll do it, but –"
"Only if Chi-Chi or Gohan agrees to something in return." Bulma rolled her eyes. "Figures."
He shrugged again, unconcerned with her irritation. "It could be of benefit to both of us. No brats running around the house for a week sounds good."
Bulma's eyes shot up to his obsidian orbs. "For a week?"
Vegeta chuckled as he strutted over to the bed and flipped the covers back, dropped the towel from around his waist, and slid into bed. "Of course, if you'd rather me help without asking for anything in return…"
"I don't see anything wrong with it," she replied quickly. "But make it two weeks."
The saiyan prince chuckled as he pulled his mate into his arms and nipped her neck, eliciting a soft moan of desire. "Whatever you say, Woman."
The next morning Bulma called Chi-Chi before breakfast, eager to tell her the terms of Vegeta's agreement. She dialed the number of the Son household and only had to wait one and a half rings before someone picked up on the other end.
Bulma laughed, knowing Chi-Chi had been waiting all morning for the call. She really was intent on having Vegeta agree to this. "Yeah, Chi. So here's what Vegeta said. He'll play Gohan's godfather for the interview if you'll let Trunks stay over with Goten for two whole weeks."
Vegeta snorted, rolling his eyes when he heard his mate blame him for the terms of the deal. He would have been content with one week. It was she who decided it should be two. But whatever, let her blame it on him. Make him out to be the bad guy. He was used to it, and everyone expected any unreasonable demands to be his.
Chi-Chi barely hesitated before agreeing. "Sure, that's fine, Bulma. Oh, thank you so much! You're the best! The interview is Thursday morning at 9:15 – Orange Star High School. In Satan City, can you believe they named a city after that oaf?"
Bulma jotted down the place and time on a notepad, only half-listening as Chi-Chi rambled on about the idiot Mr. Satan and how he stole the fame and glory from her wonderful son and making a mockery of her husband's death. Finally, she cut her off, saying, "Yeah, Chi, I know. Well, I need to eat breakfast and get to work, so I'll talk to you later, okay? I'll make sure Vegeta gets the information and I'll try to get him to be on his best behavior. Bye!"
Hanging up, Bulma ripped the page off the notepad and carried it over to the table where Vegeta was eating his breakfast. She set it in front of him and pointed to the time. "Don't you dare forget, Vegeta, or I swear I'll make you sorry."
He grunted as he read the message. A few minutes later Trunks walked into the kitchen, stomach growling. He took his seat across the table from his parents and started piling food onto his plate. Bulma smiled at him sweetly. "Trunks, honey, how would you like to stay over at Goten's house for two weeks?"
The lavender-haired boy stared at her wide-eyed for a moment before a huge grin spread across his face. "Really? Two weeks?" Then he frowned and his eyes shifted over to his father. "This isn't some sort of trick, is it?"
"Of course not," Bulma assured him. "I'm not sure what day you'll be able to go, but I'll work it out with Chi-Chi. She's already said it would be okay."
"Awesome! Thanks, Mom!" Trunks' grin returned as he dove into his breakfast, eating with saiyan gusto and royal manners learned from his father. Bulma chuckled a little as she started eating her own breakfast. Now that Trunks knew he was going to be allowed to go to the Sons for two weeks there was no way Vegeta could back out of his end of the bargain. She felt rather smug, as if the whole thing had been her idea.
"Woman, why the hell would I have to wear that?" Vegeta grumbled. He looked over the suit she pulled out of the closet for him, sneering disdainfully. He wouldn't be caught dead in that.
Bulma sighed and sat down on the edge of the bed. "Because, Vegeta, you have to dress nice for interviews. I don't care if you go and don't say a damn word through the whole thing, but you have to look like you care, got it?" She didn't think the suit was so bad. It was navy blue and it was tailored to fit him nicely without making it unbearably comfortable.
He sniffed haughtily. The pants and shirt he could deal with, but the tie and jacket were too much. He didn't like things being tied around his neck and he didn't like how the jacket restricted the movement of his arms. He'd only worn it once before, and that was just to try it on after the woman had it made for him. Why anyone would want to wear such a terrible garment he would never know. He would sooner wear the pink shirt and neon green pants she gave him so many years ago than wear that suit. He was almost tempted to tell her so, too.
"Okay," she relented, knowing what was bothering him, "You don't have to wear the tie. Now will you wear it?"
Vegeta's lip curled with barely restrained contempt. If he had known he would be required to wear a suit, he would have demanded the harpy take his son for at least a month. Grudgingly he nodded. He wouldn't tell her he intended to lose the jacket as well by the time he reached the school. Ignoring her beaming grin, he put on the pants and shirt, fumbling with the buttons until he growled with irritation. Stupid, primitive devices!
Bulma laughed as she stood up and helped him with the buttons, cupping his face in her hands when she finished the last one. "Thanks for doing this, Vegeta." She kissed him softly and patted his shoulder. "You look nice."
"Hn." He picked up the jacket, never intending to wear it, and carried it downstairs with him. He didn't have much time to eat breakfast before he would need to leave. Satan City was miles away, but he could cross the distance quickly flying. But he wasn't allowed to fly all the way to the school. Bulma insisted he take a car capsule and drive once he reached city limits. He didn't like driving. He didn't want to drive. Just another reason he should have made it a month.
As soon as he was finished eating, he left the compound. He would be early, but he always figured it was better to be early than late. No doubt the harpy would agree. Looking to the left and right to make sure no one was around to see him defy gravity, he took to the air and headed east toward Satan City. It only took him ten minutes to reach the edge of the city after flying at a leisurely pace; once he was there, he landed on a quiet street and pulled the capsule out of his pocket and threw it on the ground. At least the car Bulma gave him was decent. A black hovercar with a sleek, aerodynamic build. Grumbling quietly he got in and headed toward the center of the city where the school was located.
By the time Vegeta reached the school, Chi-Chi and her sons were already waiting on a bench outside the principal's office. Without a word Vegeta leaned against the wall nearby, crossing his arms over his chest and scowling at the opposite wall. The hall was silent aside from Chi-Chi occasionally hushing Goten when he would start making a fuss about something – hunger, boredom, questions about school, when Trunks was coming, or a bug he found the other day. For the most part Vegeta ignored them. He was there to pretend he was involved in their lives and get out as soon as possible.
After waiting about fifteen minutes, the principal's door opened and a balding man with broad shoulders and a gut that hung over his belt walked out and addressed the small family. "Good morning, Mrs. Son, Gohan. I'm Principal Kocho." He held out his hand first to Chi-Chi, then Gohan, then Vegeta. The saiyan prince looked at with a slight grimace before reluctantly shaking it. "And you must be Gohan's father?"
Vegeta almost snorted. "Godfather. The boy's father is dead."
"Oh, I'm sorry." Clearing his throat, he gestured for them to come into his office. There were only three chairs in front of his desk. Ignoring them, Vegeta again leaned against the wall, allowing Chi-Chi, Gohan, and Goten to each have a seat. Mr. Kocho walked around to his seat and opened a folder with a rather large packet of papers inside. "I've reviewed your application, Gohan, and I have to say you have a rather outstanding academic record."
"Thank you, sir," Gohan said. Chi-Chi gave a subtle nod of approval to her first-born. Vegeta rolled his eyes.
"However, I am worried about two things," Mr. Kocho added. "The first, unfortunately, is your financial situation, Mrs. Son. I couldn't help noticing you are unemployed, and if your husband is … deceased… I'm concerned you may not have the finances required for enrollment at Orange Star."
Chi-Chi had expected this to come up, but she hadn't thought it would be mentioned so early in the interview. She smiled nervously, folding her hands in her lap to keep from fidgeting. "I understand your concern, Mr. Kocho, but I assure you we do have the money. And," she paused, looking uneasily at Vegeta, "if we were to need help, Gohan's godfather, Vegeta, is willing to help financially."
Mr. Kocho looked at Vegeta, sitting back in his chair and appraising the strange-looking man. "If you don't mind my asking, Mr. uh…"
"Just Vegeta," the prince snapped. "My financial situation is quite secure."
"You are presently employed?" Mr. Kocho prodded.
"Then how will you—"
Vegeta snarled a little, unable to fully hide his irritation. Finances were not one of his major concerns in life. He didn't want to tout how much money he had access to, nor did he want to reveal he was mated to Bulma Brief. Not only did he not want to use his connections with anyone for his own benefit, but he didn't want any more questions being asked about himself or his family.
Chi-Chi cut in, "Mr. Kocho, sir, Vegeta comes from a multi-billion zeni family." She tried to keep the envy out of her tone.
Mr. Kocho's eyes widened. "Oh, I see. I'm sorry to ask these questions, but you see we can't allow Gohan into school unless you're able to pay for it."
The poor mother smiled again, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. "Of course."
"Unfortunately, that does still leave the problem of the distance. Mrs. Son, I understand you live in Mountain District 439. That is a long commute; at least four hours, isn't it?"
"Yes, Mr. Kocho."
He sighed, looking down at the file he had on Son Gohan. "That is outside of our school district, as you can imagine. While we are interested in Gohan, I feel practically obligated to encourage you to choose a school a bit closer to home. To make that commute every day will be difficult and my concern is that Gohan will have problems with attendance, particularly in adverse weather."
Chi-Chi sighed, giving a small shrug. "We have considered that, Mr. Kocho, but I am sure there will be no problem with Gohan's attendance."
"Mrs. Son, I have no doubt you will do your best to see to it that your son is at school every day, but you can't predict the weather and other variables that may interfere with his commute. Will you be driving him to school?"
"No, sir," Gohan cut in. "I have my driver's license. I can drive myself to school."
Vegeta raised an eyebrow. By driving he surely meant flying. It was much faster than any vehicle, even the fastest that his mate's company could produce.
Mr. Kocho looked from the teenager to his mother, clearly not convinced it was a good idea to accept Gohan as a student. Vegeta rolled his eyes to the ceiling. "If the weather is poor, Gohan would stay at my residence in West City."
Chi-Chi and Gohan both turned to him, gaping. Of course they knew Gohan wouldn't need to stay at the Capsule Corporation compound even if there was a raging blizzard, but the simple fact that Vegeta made such a comment to help their cause was shocking.
Mr. Kocho didn't see their incredulous expressions as he nodded. "That is considerably closer," he conceded. "That does also give him a closer emergency contact."
"Emergency contact?" Chi-Chi asked.
"Yes, Mrs. Son. Each of our students must have someone whom we can contact in case of an accident or medical emergency while on school grounds. That is another reason the distance from your home is troubling. However, if you have someone in West City…" He looked pointedly at Vegeta, as if waiting for him to deny willingness to be said contact. Vegeta glared back at him until he averted his gaze.
The rest of the interview consisted of questions mostly directed to Chi-Chi and Gohan about his previous education, his current grade level, and their reasons for choosing Orange Star High. Vegeta grew increasingly bored until he was having a hard time hiding his agitation. Periodically he would growl just loud enough for a certain young demi-saiyan who was becoming too fidgety or whiney to hear, keeping him in line through the interview. Really he wanted to leave and return home to train, but he doubted that go over well with the principal. He seemed to be looking for any excuse he could get to deny Gohan admission into his school. Not that Vegeta cared if Gohan got in or not, but he didn't want to in any way nullify the agreement for the harpy to take his son for two weeks. At least, that was what he told himself.
Finally, nearly an hour later, Mr. Kocho pulled some papers out of the file and tapped them with his index finger. "Of course before we admit you into Orange Star you will have to pass the entrance exams. Judging by your record you should have no trouble with them. We will need to schedule a time for him to come in and take them. It should take about four hours."
"Certainly," Chi-Chi replied tiredly. "Is there time available next week?"
While they set up the appointment, Vegeta pushed away from the wall and tapped his foot impatiently. When the office started to shake he stopped, growling lowly. He was starting to feel caged in the small, stuffy room. To his relief, the Sons stood up and shook Mr. Kocho's hand before filing out of the office. Vegeta was the last to leave, pausing in the doorway. He turned back and said in a threatening tone, "If you don't admit him into this school, not only are you a fool, but I will see to it that this establishment is shut down." He left then, leaving the principal staring at him, speechless.
Gohan heard what Vegeta said to the principal and shook his head. Of course Vegeta would threaten him! He had been too nice the whole time. Now his chances of getting in were practically shot. Vegeta ignored Chi-Chi's silent thank-you as he strode out of the school and got in his car to leave the city before flying the rest of the way home.
Two weeks later Chi-Chi grinned and squealed with joy as she read over the letter one more time. Gohan was accepted into Orange Star High School! She was ecstatic even as she heard the telltale sounds of her home collapsing around her as two young demi-saiyans played training games. 'He's in! My Gohan is in public school! Oh, this is wonderful! Thank Kami Vegeta was there. Maybe he'll help me get Goten into school, too!'
A/N: So I think this chapter is a little different than the others, but it was an idea I had and wanted to put into writing. So, anyway, please review!