Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon or Dragonball Z. Those shows/manga/etc. belong to their creators.
Darkness Before the Dawn
As far as Gohan was concerned, the day had started off good enough. Light flew in through the window of his room, and the sky seemed calm. It was a light shade of blue, and there were no clouds anywhere to indicate any rain. It was bright outside, and a cool breeze passed by the open fields adorned in green. In short, it seemed like a perfect day.
Two hours later Gohan thought it was the worst day of his life. It was not as bad as the time of the saiyan invasion, when he had been called to defend the Earth from invading aliens bent on taking over the planet to then sell it to the highest bidder. Nor was it like the time that Garlic Jr. had returned from the Death Zone to destroy him and his friends.
But it came close.
He sat by his desk writing endlessly into a growing mountain of sheets and papers, large piles of books lying on either side of him, the end result of having spent the last two weeks buried headfirst into books, focusing all of his energy into his studies. In the corner of his room were previous books that he had already gone through, a collection of subjects varying through science to history and mathematics. Dropping the pencil on the desk he sat up in his seat and stretched his arms, his body snapping lightly in protest. He pushed himself against the desk and began to lean on the back legs of the chair, slowly pushing himself further and further back just to see how far he could go before he tilted over. Just for an added challenge he picked up his pencil and placed it over his nose, keeping it in place while at the same time keeping his balance on the chair.
He did not hate his studies. On the contrary, he was very fond of learning new things and was amazed at all the things he could learn from reading. But he was restless, and after such a long time of nothing but his lessons he had gained a small disdain towards them. He closed his eyes, thinking of all the things happening outside. He wanted to run in the open terrain, to just get out and play. Yet he knew better; the last time his mother had caught him outside when he was supposed to be studying she had thrown a fit. It was nothing that he wasn't used to, and it wasn't as if she had ever struck him for disobeying, but when she got mad he knew it was time to be serious and follow instructions. And that was what he had done ever since his return from Namek, his room becoming his Universe and his desk the world, where all that existed were textbooks, notebooks, pencils, and erasers.
He was so lost in thought that he didn't hear the knock on his door, and when it began to open he jolted in surprise, which caused the chair to tumble backwards, bringing him crashing to the floor. This in turn caused the stack of books that were piled on the desk to tilt and come crashing down on top of him, leaving him trapped under their weight for a few moments. When he was finally able to break free of them it was to come under the irritated gaze of his mother.
"Gohan, are you fooling around again?" Chi-Chi let out a sigh as she made her way over to him and began to help him pick up the books.
"I'm sorry, mom." Her son replied, his gaze falling as he spoke. "I'm trying really hard to stay focused, honest! I just can't seem to concentrate lately."
His mother walked over to him, placed a finger under his chin, and raised his face so that he was looking at her eye to eye. "It's okay, Gohan", she said. "I understand exactly what's going on."
Slightly taken aback, Gohan felt a tinge of hope rise within him. "You do?"
"Of course I do. You've been spending too much time by yourself in this room. What you need is a dedicated hand to motivate you and push you harder."
The small bit of hope he had felt for a moment came crashing down at her words. For one wild moment he had thought she was going to give him some time off so he could play. He had to think of something fast. The last thing he wanted was his own mother strictly watching over his studies.
"No, mom, it's okay. Really, I just haven't been trying hard enough, that's all."
"Don't be silly Gohan." His mother replied. "I know you've been doing the best that you can. You just need some extra help to push you forward now that you're starting some harder subjects."
There was a small smile on her face that told Gohan she was keeping something from him. Whatever it was, he thought, he was sure he wouldn't like it.
"We have a house guest, Gohan." Chi-Chi said as she made her way to the threshold of his room, waving to someone who was standing in the hall and out of sight. "This is Mr. Shu. He's going to be your new tutor from now on."
The young saiyan could hardly believe what he was hearing as a short, scrawny man walked in the room. To say that he was thin was an understatement: the man was beyond slender, nothing but bones glued together by the slightest amount of skin. He had short hair that was kept up in a jumble. A long, slender finger pushed a pair of large, round spectacles up the fringe on his nose.
"But mom," Gohan complained, his voice abandoning all form of restriction. "Why?" He already had to spend day after day in front of his desk doing nothing but studying, and the last thing he needed was someone looking over him and taking away any small moment he had to relax.
His mother continued to smile, but it was more profound, and Gohan understood the message she was conveying with it. "Mr. Shu is going to help take your studies to the next level, Gohan. And I was thinking that you might want to start today."
"Can't I just study harder and forget about the tutor? Please?"
No sooner were the words out of his mouth that he knew he would regret them. Chi-Chi shook her head, and her voice took an end-of-discussion tone. "No, and that's the final word, Gohan"
She began pacing across the room, continuing to speak as though she had rehearsed a speech in preparation for the occasion. "Where did I go wrong? First my husband leaves and now my own son starts rebelling against me. I don't want you throwing your future away. All I want is what's best for you, and right now, that's to study and be prepared so that someday you can find a good job as a scholar. And for that you need to study as hard as you can."
Silence followed her words. Chi-Chi was breathing hard, having poured her heart into the thoughts she had been carrying in her mind ever since she had known she would be blessed with a baby boy of her own. Gohan remained tense but said nothing. He knew his mother loved him and only wanted what was best for him, but he also wanted to just be a kid and have fun every now and then.
The awkward silence came to an end when Mr. Shu cleared his throat. Immediately Chi-Chi felt her face flush. She had forgotten all about the man she had hired to tutor her son. "I'm sorry about that, Mr. Shu." She said as she gave the man a deep bow, her face still a deep shade of red. "Gohan, it's time you two got started." She turned and smiled at the tutor. "There you go, Mr. Shu, he's all yours."
The older man nodded. "Very well, I'll do what I can. I admit I am very strict with my students. Oftentimes slow children like this just need a little discipline."
The smile on Chi-Chi's face disappeared. She gave the man a stern look. "My Gohan is not slow, Mr. Shu."
"Of course he's not." The man said. "I'm sure he is nothing short of a genius. That is why you required a tutor, is it not?"
For the second time in less than five minutes a tense silence filled the air. Any retort Gohan knew his mother could throw seemed to become lost. Taken aback, Chi-Chi remained frozen, her face blank and unreadable to Gohan.
Mr. Shu had closed his eyes and seemed to meditate on something. After a few moments he turned to Chi-Chi once again: "Now if you could please excuse us, madam. There is much work to be done."
Snapping out of her reverie, the boy's mother complied and left the room, but as she did she grabbed the doorknob and slammed the door so hard the entire house seemed to shake.
Mr. Shu shot another glare at Gohan and the boy shrunk back. "Now," Mr. Shu said. "It is time for us to begin your lessons. Please sit down."
Gohan chose not to say anything, and obediently made his way to the opposite corner of the room. Sitting on his desk, he quickly decided it was going to be a long day.
. . .
Chi-Chi walked back to the kitchen, her hands still shaking in anger. The nerve of that man, she thought as she scrubbed a new set of plates. How dare he say that my Gohan is slow! Slow, of all things! She grasped the plate tighter around her hands until she could feel it crumbling under her grip, threatening to be split in two. Taking a deep breath, she managed to calm herself down and continue washing the dishes. She tried to let her mind wander as she continued her work, but all thoughts eventually returned to the same scrawny man wearing an overly large pair of spectacles.
The man was clearly arrogant, but she also knew that he was highly recommended as a tutor, achieving excellent results with his pupils. They called him a miracle worker in private tutoring, taking even the most challenged of children and advancing them far beyond anything they could have normally reached with any other tutor in their studies. And that's what Gohan needs right now, she decided, her resolve returning to her. He needs someone to help him focus on his studies. For the sake of her son she would have to swallow her pride and look the other way.
Not once did it occur to her to wonder just why this man was known as such a great motivational tutor. If she had, there would be no doubt that she would have had no qualms on getting rid of him. However, the man had requested that the door to the room remained closed at all times to avoid any interruptions. It would be a long time before Chi-Chi learned why the man was a great teacher of discipline.
She returned to the dishes, humming to herself as she continued to work, content with the thought that her son was well on his way to the higher education she had always dreamed of.
. . .
"I wonder why Setsuna wanted to meet us so early."
Making her way to the Hikawa Shrine, Usagi let out a yawn and stretched her arms. The sun was now barely rising over a still sleeping town. It might as well have been the middle of the night, for it was still pitch-black outside except for the light coming from every other street light. It was still far too early for anyone to even think of getting out of bed, let alone be up and running. Apparently such was not the case for sailor senshi, and once again Usagi let out a stifled yawn. Everyone knew that waking up early was not one of her specialties.
When they had first heard of the meeting from the guardian of time herself a few days earlier she was the first and loudest to complain. Time and time again she had told everyone she would never even consider making it to the shrine. Yet here she was, walking up the path that would take her to where the other girls were undoubtedly already waiting for her.
Late again, she thought as she began to climb the stairway of the shrine. I should've just stayed home. Rei's going to kill me this time.
Everything had been peaceful for the past month, ever since Chaos had been banished to the far ends of the universe. Since then, Usagi found herself submitted to regular life: she spent time with her friends and fellow scouts, went on dates with her fiancé and soon to be husband (she let out a squeal of delight at that thought), and managed a passing grade at school. For the first time for as long as she could remember, Usagi had the life she dreamed of.
Finally arriving at the top of the stairway, she headed towards the room where the scouts usually held their meetings. The air was colder on the shrine grounds than it had been on the street; not freezing, but a cool breeze that made Usagi feel sleepy all over again.
It all seems too good to be true, she thought. Peace at last. Why does that sound so strange? Shaking the thought out of her mind, she let out a deep sigh.
"Thinking too much will do you no good, Usagi."
The girl, forgetting she was not alone, jumped in alarm. When she realized who was speaking to her, she relaxed. "I know, Luna. It's just that I'm worried. What could Setsuna want to say that is so important? Do you think she's felt another evil presence somewhere? Could that be it?"
"You're making a big deal out of it", the cat responded. "I haven't felt any negative force rising up. I'm sure neither Artemis nor the other girls have sensed anything, either. For all we know Pluto may just be returning to the gates of time and wanted to say goodbye before she left."
Serena nodded. "You're probably right, Luna." Deep inside, however, she knew this was not the case. How could Setsuna even consider leaving now that Chibiusa had just returned from the future to spend a couple of weeks with the senshi? The girl would be devastated if she left for no motive whatsoever.
Stopping right outside the room, Usagi glanced up at the sky. The sun was out now, painting all that was above her in a scarlet tinge and adding life to what just minutes ago was a colorless and barren horizon. Pausing a moment to appreciate its beauty Usagi took a deep breath, reached for the door, and pulled it open.
. . .
Opening her eyes, Minako sat up and took a look around. All the girls were there save for two, and although it was natural for Usagi to be late, she did not understand why the other one was not there on time. After all, hadn't she organized the meeting herself?
The blond-haired girl checked her watch. A quarter to seven. Outside the sky began to glow as the sun rose, and the soft light began to shine in the room. Where could those two possibly be? Taking a deep breath, she took another look around the room.
Ami was busy typing away on her computer, her sapphire eyes seeming to have trouble keeping up with what her hands were typing. What she was working on, Minako had no idea, but nonetheless, she smirked in mild amusement. The hand is quicker than the eye, or so they say.
Beside her, Rei sat with her eyes closed, legs crossed, and hands resting on her waist, obviously meditating. Yet she could see that the dark-haired girl was slightly trembling. Not from the cold; the weather was fairly warm in Minako's opinion. No, she could guess why her friend was shaking, and it came as no surprise: Rei was loosing her temper. It always happened: they called for a meeting, Usagi was late, and when she finally arrived they still had to wait what seemed like hours for her and Rei to stop arguing like little kids. Hopefully this time they won't stir up any trouble, Minako thought, and quickly thought against it. Knowing those two, they would be stuck there all morning before they even got to hear whatever it was Setsuna wanted to say.
In the far corner of the room Michiru stood silently playing her violin. She would dip her bow in long swings - some fast, some slow - before retracting her arm in a swift motion. As she did, her fingers raced over the instrument, changing from the different strings and positions in what seemed like a blur to Mina. The end result was a haunting melody that seemed tragic yet soothing at the same time. Standing a few feet away from her was Haruka, her arms crossed over her chest and her eyes closed as she drank in the sorrowful melody. Following the older girl's example, Minako closed her eyes as she let herself be filled with the alluring music.
The moment was short lived, however, as a loud thud brought her back, stopped the music, and broke the invisible string of activities the girls were undertaking. All eyes were on Rei as she stared at her hands which lay on the wooden table Ami had been using up until just a few seconds ago. It was she who spoke first.
"Something wrong, Rei?" The girl asked with unease. Like Minako, she already knew the answer that would come out of her mouth.
"How much longer is that meatball head going to take?" Rei asked to the silent room. She stood up and began pacing around the table. With every few steps she would let out a short sigh and she would stop, fidget, and begin walking once again. Minako turned to Haruka and Michiru, silently pleading them for help. Michiru, however, quickly turned her gaze away and began to gently strum on the strings of her violin, preferring not to be the one to cause the eruption that was sure to come. By the same token, Ami had returned to her work and the air was once again filled with the light tapping of her typing. Haruka, after a moment of consideration, turned to Minako and slowly shook her head, her message clear: Stay out of it.
And so Minako held her silence, praying that Usagi would arrive soon. No sooner had the thought crossed her mind that it seemed like someone had answered her prayers: the bamboo door slid open to reveal Usagi breathing uneasily. No greetings were exchanged, even though every person in the room registered that she was there. The gentle strumming of chords and the light tapping had faded and the room was once again completely silent. Minako allowed her gaze to lay on Usagi as she stood next to the doorway, as if waiting for someone to welcome her. Then, slowly, her eyes moved to the dark-haired girl, waiting for the insult that was sure to come. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Ami also starring at Rei, and she was sure that if she were to glance at the older girls they would also be looking in the same direction.
Rei glared at Usagi and slowly but deliberately said: "You're late, meatball head."
The blonde-haired girl sighed, looking completely drained to Minako. "I know," she said. "I'm sorry, everyone."
Here it comes.
Rei, however, remained silent. She continued to stare at Usagi as if studying her. After a while she turned away. "It doesn't really matter. We're still waiting for Setsuna."
"What?" Usagi asked. "She's not here yet?"
"No," Ami said, returning to her computer. "We've been waiting here for over an hour. I hope nothing's happened to her."
Haruka let out a chuckle. "Knowing her she's just taking her sweet time getting ready. That woman loves to make us wait."
Michiru nodded in agreement. "Yes, it seems that when you have all the time in the world keeping your friends waiting an hour seems like no more than a second."
"In any case, we left Hotaru at home sleeping." Haruka said to Usagi. "No point in waking her up so early, right? I see you left Chibiusa as well."
Usagi nodded, looking around the room. "Where's Makoto?"
"She went to the kitchen to make us something to eat while we waited." Minako said. Then, hearing footsteps slowly approaching the room from the outside: "That must be her now. Open the door, Usagi."
Usagi, being the closest to the door, complied instantly. No sooner had she opened the door that the tall brunette crossed the threshold carrying a rather large breakfast tray. "Thanks," she said to Usagi over her shoulder as she set the tray down. "I didn't really know what everyone wanted, so I made a little of everything."
The other girls starred at the tray with apprehension. She can't be serious, Minako thought. The tray was overloaded with various breakfast meals. Pancakes, toast, eggs and bacon, waffles; almost every kind of dish known to man could be seen on the tray.
"Help yourselves." Makoto said with a grin.
Usagi, not waiting for a second invitation, began taking plates left and right, devouring the contents of a plate in a matter of seconds and quickly emptying the tray of its various dishes. Soon a mountain could be made from the empty plates around Usagi. The other scouts could only stare in utter amazement at how much food Usagi was consuming by herself. Then, noticing how quickly the food was disappearing, each girl reached for the first thing they could grab without having their hands chewed off by Usagi in the process.
"Slow down, Usagi!" Rei said. "When are you going to stop eating like a pig?"
Usagi swallowed a pancake whole, let out a burp, and turned to Rei with a smile. "But it's all so good, Rei." And with that she went back to devouring as many plates as she could.
Haruka laughed. "Sometimes I forget that our dainty little princess is in fact a walking black hole." She looked down at her plate. "I hate waffles. Michiru, trade you for whatever you have."
Michiru pondered the idea for a moment. "No, I don't think so. I don't share my bacon." She gave Haruka a sly grin. "Besides, you've put on a few pounds from all the sweets you've been eating lately."
Haruka let out an exasperated sigh. "Not that again! Come on, just one bite."
Makoto, meanwhile, turned to Minako. "So, now that Usagi is here I guess we're only waiting for Setsuna, right? I wonder when she'll finally show up."
"Right about now."
The seven sailor senshi jumped back at the same time, each one reaching for their respective transformation pen stashed in their pocket. Setsuna, however, remained unaffected by the sudden change in the atmosphere. She sat on the couch in the corner of the room, sipping tea with her eyes closed.
"I hate it when she does that." Minako said as she returned her transformation pen to her back pocket.
"And where did she get the tea?" Makoto asked no one in particular.
"Glad you finally decided to show up." Haruka said to Setsuna. "I trust there's a reason for being late?"
Setsuna took another sip of tea and put the cup on the table. "Not really. I just forgot to set the alarm last night."
A multiple chorus of groans emerged from the girls, some shaking their heads, others sitting down to eat their breakfast, while Usagi asked: "The senshi of time needs an alarm clock?" This in turn earned her a glare from the six other senshi. She turned to them and shrunk back. "Why are you all looking at me like that?"
"Because you're an idiot, Usagi."
"That's not very nice, Rei."
"The truth is the truth, meatball head."
"So what did you call us here for, Setsuna?" Ami asked, hoping to stop any further fights between Usagi and Rei. To her surprise, both girls stopped arguing and turned to the senshi of time.
"There is something I need to tell all of you. It won't be easy, but it's something you need to know."
She looked at each of the senshi, her gaze both somber and profound, and Usagi was once again overcome with a feeling of anxiety. Whatever she has to say, she thought, it's not going to be good.
She did not know how right she was.
. . .
"These are all wrong. Does nothing get through to that thick skull of yours?"
Gohan bit back a groan as he continued to work on his essay. How many did that make now? He had stopped counting at twenty, both groans bitten back and essays handed forth.
Outside his window the sky was pitch black and he could see many more stars than he could count. He had been working nonstop ever since his mother had introduced him to his new tutor. Ever since then he had done math equations, studied history, solved chemistry problems, looked up various examples of biodiversity, read two books on motivational studying (at the request of his tutor) and had begun to learn another language. Now he had to work on essays.
The sound of his writing echoed from the walls, the only sound that could have been heard continuously for the last ten hours he had spent in his room. Every now and then Mr. Shu would walk up behind him and look over his shoulder to mark his progress, and every single time the man had a comment about his work and how mediocre it was. At first Gohan had not known what to say, but after the fifth time it happened he simply chose to ignore it. He was doing the best that he could, working on subjects that were far more advanced than anything he had studied on his own, and Mr. Shu demanded perfection in each assignment. He would berate the boy, mark every inch of his paper, and tell him to do it again.
Between Mr. Shu and fighting Frieza one more time, Gohan thought, he was starting to think that he would prefer the latter option.
"You did every single equation wrong." Mr. Shu said. He turned to the essay Gohan was currently working on. "And I can also see some mistakes there, too."
Gohan let out a deep sigh as Mr. Shu resumed his pacing. The boy tightened the grip on his pencil, and before he could stop himself, said: "Mistakes are to learn from, you know."
The footsteps stopped, and without the constant scribbling of his pencil the room was silent once more. It was a heavy silence, far more profound than any that had occurred in that day. Gohan sat on his chair, waiting for the reply his tutor was sure to give. He heard the man approach his desk and he stiffened as he felt a hand fall on his shoulder.
"'Mistakes are to learn from', you say?" The hand on his shoulder tightened its grip, and Gohan was amazed at how strong it felt. For a man that was as thin as a scarecrow he was surprisingly strong. Just as quick as the man had grabbed him, however, the grip softened and his tutor walked away from his desk. Gohan sat still, wondering if that was all the man had to say. The next thing he knew something dull and heavy cracked against his shoulders. Gohan could feel a burning sensation in the place where the blow had landed. Just as quickly as the first came a second blow, followed immediately by a third. Again and again the man continued to instruct Gohan with the weapon he had been able to conceal from his mother, all the while continuing his ranting.
"You ignorant, stupid child! How dare you disrespect me! No one talks like that to Mr. Shu!" With every word Mr. Shu seemed to land another blow onto his back. His mind whirling, Gohan gripped the corners of his desk and forced himself to calm down as his teacher continued his maddened assault. It was not as if the blows really hurt him, but he had more than enough of the man he had to call a "mentor". In a moment he wondered just how many helpless children had been oppressed by the very same method his tutor was now employing on him. The thought served only to further his anger towards the man.
There was a knock on the door, and suddenly the blows ceased as quickly as they had come.
Chi-Chi opened the door, holding a tray with two drinks. "Sorry for interrupting", she said, "I just thought you two might like to take a little break."
Mr. Shu remained with his back turned to Chi-Chi, his breathing even, as if it had never changed at all. "That's fine, madam. We are done for today. I will like a word with your son before I leave."
Chi-Chi nodded. "I'll just leave the drinks here." She tucked the tray under one arm and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.
Gohan turned around in his chair and glared at his tutor. There was no fear in his gaze; it was firm and unwavering, the same he had worn many times before whenever he was faced with a new foe.
For a moment Mr. Shu seemed surprise at the intensity of the glare. Then he smirked, took off his spectacles, and held them in one hand.
"You will write an essay based on what you have learned on this day." Mr. Shu said, cleaning his spectacles with the corner of his shirt and pushing them against the fringe of his nose. "You might have given backtalk to your mother before, but you'll soon learn that I am a man of very little patience. Rest assured, whatever rebellious attitude you might have gained from your father will not be tolerated."
Of all the things the man had said, this was the one that really struck Gohan. Stronger were his words than the blows he had inflicted on the boy. Rage overcame him then, a strong hate he had only felt towards the opponents he had fought in the battlefield. This man was talking about his father, insulting his memory. Was this the kind of people his father had spent his whole life defending from destruction time and time again?
With those words the man turned and walked out of the room. The moment he had left Gohan stood, walked towards the door, and slammed it so hard that the whole house shook as if an earthquake had surfaced as the door fell out of its hinge. Turning away from the door, he let himself fall on his bed, a single thought crossing his mind before sleep overcame him.
Where do you find these people, mom?
Author's Notes: If you made it this far I thank you for reading this fanfic. Reviews and criticism will be appreciated. I hope you have enjoyed the first part of this story!