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"Now, go!" yelled Gohan as Mark grit his teeth, punching forward with all his might. The demi-Saiyan didn't even wince as he caught the blow with his left hand, before twisting the Satan boy's arm around and then prodding his wide open chest. "You've got a big hole here."
"I know," acknowledged Mark. "If I were fighting anyone else, it would've worked as a trap."
"Well you're not," reminded Gohan as his body relaxed. Taking a steady step closer to Mark, he moved the man's left hand closer to his chest and instructed him to spread his feet a little further apart. "It helps with your stance," explained Gohan. "You can spring forward a little faster since your legs won't be so close together."
"That's not really a good thing either," countered Mark. "I mean if my body weight is spread out too far, wouldn't that make it harder for me to resist a hit?"
"Theoretically, yes," nodded Gohan, immediately recognising that his new student had an appreciation for the tactical side of things. "However sometimes the best wall is one that can be rebuilt the quickest."
"That's not a good wall at all," Mark claimed. "I know I'm no teacher or anything but something that can be rebuilt so quickly is surely flimsy."
"Actually," said Gohan, "you have to consider the context. Say you're getting hit by a steamroller. It's not going to matter how strong your wall is. What does matter though, is how quickly you can rebuild the wall to prevent the aftermath from having too big of an impact on you."
"So you're saying rather than resisting a blow, I should let someone strike me so that I can raise my guard quicker again?" questioned Mark suspiciously. "It sounds like a good idea but I'm still kinda iffy..."
"No," chuckled Gohan as he glanced at Mark's feet, prompting the student to quickly do the same. "If you look at where your feet are now positioned, you can alternate between both."
"Both?" asked Mark, unsure of what the new teacher that had been thrust upon him was thinking of.
"Yeah," answered Gohan. "If you think about it, you can swap between resisting and not-resisting blows if you have your body in a middle ground between the two. I reckon that's a style which would suit you pretty well and by the sounds of it, you haven't given it a shot before either."
"Nope," confirmed Mark. "Dad always was a firm believer in just flat out blocking, evading where possible, and then being able to strike back with more force."
"That's not a bad technique," Gohan closed his eyes a little. "However it does depend on the individual, someone who's more strength-orientated would benefit from it, whereas someone like your sister, who is more-speed orientated would benefit from a style that would be more focused on rebuilding the wall quicker than just having one sturdy one."
"So where would I fit in?" questioned Mark, seeing the logic in Gohan's words but unable to see how it applied to him.
"You're what I'd assume a mix of your father and sister," replied Gohan. "While it's just a rough guess from the little spar we had a while ago, you're not particularly strong yet, you're not particularly fast. However you're not weak in either area, so you're probably the closest thing to an all-rounder in your family."
"So is that supposed to be a bad thing?" Mark asked curiously, "From the sound of it, you're not all that approving of it."
Gohan's eyes softened a little at being called out on the critical tone which had overcome his voice. "No, it's a good thing alright. Well, not to say that being specialised is a bad thing either, but it's generally best to be a jack of all trades as opposed to just being a master of one."
"So what would you say you are, then?"
"Hmm... that's a tough one," smiled Gohan, pleased that his new student was posing fairly interesting questions. It tickled both sides of what his parents had raised him to be, the scholarly-side of him held a fine appreciation for the tactical side of them while the fighting-side enjoyed its practical applications. "I'd have to say that I'm an all-rounder like you. I started practicing martial arts from a young age so I'm adept at being nimble and evading blows, since I couldn't really take them back then, but I've also been told that I pack a mean punch."
"How old are you, anyway?" asked Mark, realising that he'd never really taken the light-hearted man's age into account. He looked to be anything from sixteen to his mid-twenties, but his knowledge and expertise indicated that the latter was probably the case.
"Nineteen, turning twenty in May actually," Gohan responded. "Think I'm 'bout the same age as you and your sister, right?"
"That's pretty ridiculous," said Mark, ignoring the small question Gohan had posed. "What're you doing as one of the lead-sensei in a dojo at your age?"
"Like I said, I started fighting from a pretty young age," Gohan answered truthfully. "For years at a time, it was really the only thing on my mind and living in the mountains, most of the people I knew could hold their own in a fight."
"I'll bet that Son Goku's friends could," Mark spoke bitterly. "They're all tournament veterans after all."
"Well, uhh... yeah," Gohan winced slightly, not expecting the Satan boy to have known about his heritage. "So I guess in time I managed to surpass a lot of them, kind of like young children and swimming."
"Makes sense," nodded Mark. "I started training when I was about seven, and Videl joined in when she was nine. I guess the only advantage you had was that your dad had already won one of the World Martial Arts Tournaments."
"That," Gohan bit his lip, knowing what he was about to reveal wasn't going to be taken lightly by the person in front of him, "and I kinda started training when I was four and a half."
Videl gasped wildly as she breached the surface, relieved to feel air flowing back into her lungs. She huffed once and sputtered a few drops of water from her mouth and swiped her thick raven locks out of her face. The scowl printed on her features was a dead giveaway of her sour mood.
A chuckle reached her ears. The sound of it only made her more agitated and made her jerk her head up to reveal its source. Seventeen was lazily lounging high up in a tree by the brook of the river, a smirk curling his lips as he leaned his back against the thick trunk with his eyes closed. Just the sight of it annoyed Videl to no end.
"Sweetie," her new sensei said in that irritating voice of his, the obvious mockery of it laced into its tone "Next time you decide to swing and miss, you should try to avoid the river; it might save you some wet clothes." The dark-haired man jumped from his branch and plummeted down to the earth below, using his energy to land on the ground as lightly and gracefully as a feather.
"Like I don't know that!" Videl yelled as she swam back to the edge of the water, hoisting herself up and rolling onto solid land. She exhaled deeply and shivered as the cool breeze made her clothes feel like sheets of ice on her body. "You were just playing dirty!"
"Was I?" Seventeen exclaimed with feigned surprise. He slowly walked over to the girl he was to train in the ways of martial arts. "Cause it seems to me that all I did was avoid that flying kick you tried to swing at my head. That the river happened to be there to break your fall is your own problem."
The small crimefighter sent him a glare that would cut right through any normal human being, yet Seventeen didn't even flinch. He just smirked the way he always did ever since Videl had laid eyes on him the first time. It kind of unnerved the girl how those mesmerizing, icy blue orbs of his always looked at you with greatest amusement, mixed with just a little bit of pity.
Whoever this guy was, he certainly wasn't normal. Not that it was normal for any human being to fly around and dodge high kicks at the speed of light, but Videl had gotten used to that by now. What was peculiar, however, was the fact that whenever she tried to scan his Ki level she found that it was absent. Whenever she reached out to for her former sensei's Ki she would immediately ease up at the feel of the relaxed flow. With Seventeen though, there was absolutely nothing to feel at all. It was like he wasn't even there with her, even while he would be standing two feet away from her.
Another thing that Videl had learned about the young fighter was that he was a major pain in the ass. Never before had she had the 'pleasure' of meeting someone so incredibly obnoxious and so full of himself; Sharpener and Mark weren't able to hold a candle to this guy. Every time he opened his mouth something smug or offensive about her would pass his lips, causing the raven-haired teen to grow more and more annoyed with every word he spoke. She knew that she would take great satisfaction in landing a solid blow across his cheek, but unfortunately he was too damn fast.
Videl rose back to her feet and shook her hair around, droplets of water flying in every direction as she did so. Seventeen tutted softly, showcasing his disappointment.
"I thought you were a teenage girl," he chuckled, arms folded in front of his chest in nonchalance. "So why are you shaking your fur out like some sort of dog?"
"Oh, just shut up!" Videl hissed at him in reply. She stomped past him angrily and bumped her shoulder into him, doing her very best not to cry out. It was like walking into a block of steel-protected concrete. She found herself a spot in the sun as dropped down to the soil below to let the warm rays dry her clothes and body. Once again she heard her sensei tut and she had to repress to urge to spew out every curse word in her vocabulary.
"So, we're scheduling our own breaks now, are we?" Seventeen queried with the lift of an eyebrow. "Get off your lazy butt, we have work to do!" The sudden bite in his voice caught the Satan girl off guard for a moment, but she wasn't planning on being treated like some sort of lackey.
"Now listen up!" Videl snapped as she jumped up rapidly. "You may be my teacher, but if you think that I'm just going to let you insult me all day then you're wrong! Who do you even think you are, talking so high and mighty?"
The mysterious man swiped a lock of hair from his face and gave a chuckle. "Does that really matter? I'm the teacher and you are the student, just like you said," His eyes gave her that pitiful look that she resented so much. "Besides, I know who you are, Videl Satan, daughter of the biggest oaf to ever walk the face of the earth."
A vein in the crimefighter's temple popped. "Screw you!" she yelled, stepping up to Seventeen until their foreheads practically touched. "You have never even met my father! Yes, he may be awkward from time to time, but that doesn't just give you the right to talk about him like that!"
A staredown followed, neither one of the two contestants breaking eye contact.
"What were you planning on doing about it then?" the sensei eventually said in his usual mocking tone. "Hit me? You know that you can't even lay a finger on me, so why even bother?"
"Ugh..." Videl growled, throwing her hands up in the air. This was going absolutely nowhere. "At least Gohan had to decency to treat me like a normal person!" she accused the man in front of her.
Seventeen sighed deeply and shook his head in disapproval. "You're still so keen on getting Gohan back as your teacher, aren't you? You really are as stupid as I thought you were. I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't even know how to spell my name."
That was it! Videl had seen more than enough of this guy. Her small hands balled into fists and before she even knew it she was throwing punches at the blue-eyed man's face, each one more aggressive than the last.
"I'll tell you how to spell your name!" she screamed, hurling another fist aimed at Seventeen's nose. "A... S... S.." Every letter that she spoke was accompanied by a blow strong enough to smash her sensei's skull in, hadn't he been avoiding each and every one of them. All in all it was the weirdest form of a Spelling Bee that anyone would ever have the honor of witnessing.
"H... O... L... E!" Videl couldn't prevent herself from screaming the last letter at the top of her lungs. Just to add insult to injury she charged a load of Ki into her swing and punched forward. Seventeen simply tipped his head to the side and evaded the projectile with ease, smirking as he heard it ram into the tree trunk behind him with enough force to tear right through the wood and send a storm of splinters to rain down on both of their heads.
Once again that smirk graced Seventeen's features, the one that made Videl want to wipe it off his face immediately. Yet, this time his eyes didn't look at her in pity and mockery. Now they held a strange kind of softness to them, something that the girl almost believed to be a look of approval.
"You may still be a stupid little girl," Seventeen laughed. "But I like the fire in you. It's good to see someone so feisty."
And that was when he landed one of the most painful blows to the stomach that Videl had ever felt, lunging her backwards several yards to come skidding to a stop and just barely hold her footing.
Strangely enough, she returned the wide grin her sensei was sending her. Perhaps she could still learn a thing or two from him.
"So what's Gohan like?" asked Videl, eager to not give her brother the chance to ask about the various bandages adorning her body.
"He's actually pretty good," answered Mark as he laid back on room's cool floor. They had been given a little downtime before dinner and the pair of twins were using it to allow their bodies to have some well needed rest. "How about that other guy?"
"Seventeen?" questioned Videl as Mark gave a nod, "He's a mix between an asshole and a slave driver."
"Sure it's not just you, you always were a feisty one," teased Mark as Videl stuck out her tongue.
"Well it paid off, didn't it?" she asked rhetorically before answering her own question without skipping a beat, "I'm stronger than you now after all."
"'Course you are," laughed Mark. "I know Gohan's a great sensei and all but there's no way he would've been able to close the difference in skill between us."
"I'll have you know that I can use a mystical energy that you've probably never heard of," she said smug and equally childish. Despite all the years that had passed by, the never ceasing sibling rivalry they had was something Videl was sure would never fade.
"Ki?" Mark chuckled, his worries all forgotten in the moment. Upon seeing the dumbfounded look on Videl's face, he sat up and continued, "I learned how to use that ages ago."
"Well at least I didn't lose to Sharpner!" exclaimed Videl, uncaring for how hurt her friend would've been had he been present.
"At least I didn't get separated from my boyfriend," grinned Mark, knowing that he had hit something of a sore spot at the girl's reaction.
"He's not my boyfriend!" yelled Videl as she threw her hands up into the air in frustration.
"Sure, sure," he said sarcastically, before deciding to let their little verbal feud settle. "Why don't we fight it out once and for all later?"
"What, you mean like an all-out spar?" questioned Videl as she met her brother's cunning brown eyes. "We've had plenty of those, how's this going to be different?"
"Well aside from the fact that I won almost every one of those without much trouble, this'll be the first time we're using Ki in a fight," answered Mark. Resisting a petty argument or show of sibling dominance when he was around his sister was like being a moth trying to ignore a flame.
"You're on," grinned Videl as she smashed a gloved fist into her other hand. "I'll prove that I'm the stronger one once and for all."
"We'll see," said Mark as his eyes glistened, the fire within him that had slowly been smoking out throughout the last few days re-ignited.
"So why are we stuck on food duty again?" complained Videl as Seventeen threw several bags of carrots at her.
"Because someone needs to make food for everyone else," said Seventeen. "Be grateful that I'm helping you at the moment because from after this moment, all students will have to find their own food."
"What, you mean walk over to the little kitchen?" smirked Videl, "With all this martial arts training your putting us through, it's not like it would be a challenge for us to sneak some food out. There are like thirty of us that made it here and only like ten of you."
"Heh, say that you children did somehow manage to make it past us, I'm sure that what you'd find in there wouldn't be too pleasing to your eyes," chuckled Seventeen, in a manner that Videl noted was far more... diabolical?... than Gohan.
"I saw them carry in bags upon bags of food, so unless the rats have gotten to them I reckon we'll be fine."
"I'm fairly sure the food in there won't make it through the night," said Seventeen, an entertained glint in his eyes. "I take it you've not yet been acquainted with Gohan's appetite."
"Actually, I have," replied Videl, her mind wandering back to the time not-so-long ago that she had been at the Son's house for lunch. "But that's still a little excessive for him, and definitely not enough if all you senseis eat like pigs."
"He's gonna love that one, but I suppose you could say that we eat more than the average person. Even though I understand that it's hard for someone like you, who's been sheltered and loved all their life, to grasp the concept; working hard does build up an appetite," Seventeen said, easily slipping under the raven-haired girl's skin.
"Grrr... what makes you think that I've never worked hard before?" asked Videl, infuriated as she tore open the bag of carrots, chopping them quickly and unevenly as a means to vent her anger.
"Pfft, you're only daughter of the world's most famous martial artist," laughed Seventeen. "You might think you've worked hard throughout your life but I really doubt you've done anything of the sort."
"You don't know anything about me," protested Videl, refusing to make eye-contact with the man as she tore into the carrots some more. "How could you possibly know if I've worked hard in my life or not!"
"You wouldn't be getting so worked up over it if it weren't true," said Seventeen as he leant against the bench, beside Videl.
"I've done work with the police force before," she replied curtly, "my life hasn't been gritty and horrible but that doesn't mean it's a picture book either."
"What did they let you do, beat up the bad guys after they took out all their weapons?"
"No because unlike you, I actually use my strength to help those who need it!" exploded Videl, "You make it sound like I'm completely useless and can't throw a punch to save my life."
"Well I'd disagree with you about the completely useless part, somebody's got to play dress up with those lonely dolls of yours," laughed Seventeen in a way that was as non-malicious as it was aggravating. "You'll have to prove to me that you're not just a spoiled brat, y'know."
"Ugh... what about you, though?" asked Videl, pressing further when the black-haired man merely glanced back at her with a confused look. "You were probably just as spoiled as you're making me out to be."
"That's a pretty big accusation for such a small girl," chided Seventeen. "All it sounds like is that you know there's truth behind my words, so you're getting upset."
"Fine then," responded Videl. "Prove it."
"Prove it?" Seventeen repeated, unable to understand what the Satan girl meant.
"Yeah, tell me about your life," said Videl eagerly, as she discarded the knife in order to focus her attention on the man in front of her.
"Well, there's not all that much to talk about, I don't remember much of my childhood but..."
Icy blue eyes slowly began to fall shut, their normally piercing stare clouding up with sleep. Seventeen listened as the birds hummed their lullabies and the wind softly brushed the branches of the forest trees. The sound of the flowing water in the stream beside him soothed his mind, and made him want to drift off into a deep slumber.
Today had been fun, to say the least, but also tiring as hell. It had been the android's first official day of training with his new student, Videl Satan. The girl was a whole lot of fun to tease, especially with the way she always flared up every time he threw an insult or a demeaning joke at her. Seventeen had to admire her spitfire though; Videl was the type of person that knew what she wanted and would do anything in her power to achieve it.
But then again, he couldn't help but choke back wave after wave of laughter every time the thought of her father crossed his mind. The idea that she was the daughter of Hercule Satan, the greatest oaf of a man that the cyborg had ever seen, was simply hilarious. Obviously this meant that he just had to tease the little brat with this information. Getting on her nerves was just an urge that he couldn't repress.
Footsteps sounded and Seventeen's eyes flew open. Gohan was slowly walking towards his spot by the stream and gave a cheery wave. The other young man held up a hand out of what he considered to be politeness. It wasn't that he didn't like the demi-Saiyan, nor was it that he thought of Gohan a wimp like he had told Videl, but he had never been all that much interested in him. When he had been asked to help out with the dojo after the building had burned to ashes he had only agreed to the job because he had felt bored and needed something new to do.
"And exactly why did you decide to come and disturb my beauty sleep?" Seventeen smirked when Gohan halted in front on him.
"I'm about to jump in and catch us some dinner," the head sensei explained, pointing towards the stream of water. "I'll never be able to live on just berries and other greens, I need some meat!" He rubbed his rumbling stomach and gave a goofy grin.
"Videl, huh?" Gohan said as he began to pull his shirt over his head after quickly discarding both weighted wristbands. "Are you holding out with her? Isn't she making it too tough on you?"
The blue-eyed android had a good laugh at that. "Well, she's not that hard to contain. The question should be: is she able to hold it out with me?"
The demi-Saiyan tossed his shirt aside and arched a brow, curiosity in his features. "You aren't picking on her too bad, are you? I assume you already know about her short temper?"
Seventeen folded his arms in front of his chest and flipped the hair from his face. "Yeah, I've noticed." he chuckled. "She seems to think that you'll be back as her sensei in no time." When he saw Gohan's curious look he smirked. "I think she likes you dude, she keeps rambling on about you like you're the greatest guy in the world. Perhaps she thinks of you as her prince on a white horse."
A red tinge crept over the young man's features as he absentmindedly pulled the cord on his gi pants, dropping them to to grass and leaving him clad in his boxers. He remained silent afterwards, so Seventeen chose to drop the subject and let that statement gnaw at Gohan's mind for a bit. When the demi-Saiyan jumped in the water with a huge splash the cyborg got up from his spot and took his leave.
He had decided to give Videl the night off today, partially because her screaming and protesting had left him with quite a headache. Of course he couldn't help but look forward a little to yanking the girl's chain again tomorrow, but for now he would settle with a big piece of fish and a good night of sleep. As he slowly trotted back to camp he was already mulling over ways to irritate his student, a smirk curled around his lips. The next few days would definitely be promising...
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