No Accounting for Taste
Part I - The Wedding
Vegeta looked away from the mirror at the tiny figure perched on the floor next to him.
"Hmm?" the prince responded. It had taken him months to become accustomed to his son's use of that name. His attempts to train the brat to use "father" had been in vain, met with extreme resistance on the boy's part and smug entertainment on the child's mother's. After weeks of listening to bastardizations of the word—including Bulma's personal favorite, "Foofoo"—Vegeta had given up.
So "Papa" it was. If there was one thing Vegeta had learned over the decades, it was that some battles were simply not worth waging.
The four-year-old tugged at his little grey bowtie, obviously uncomfortable. "Why I gotta wear this?"
"Because your mother said so." Vegeta rolled his eyes as he adjusted his own necktie; he had flatly refused to wear a bowtie. Really, if it were up to him, he would have simply put on his standard training clothes. The look on Bulma's face when he'd suggested that, though, indicated that he should just go along with the woman's desires this time. He did not want to hear blaring mariachi music every time he entered the gravity room for a month. Vegeta did not know how Bulma had rigged the system to respond to only his presence, but he didn't want to experience a repeat performance.
Vegeta sighed in a truly legendary display of patience. "Yes?"
"Because we're going down to the courthouse." A few more moments of silence passed as Vegeta slipped on his suit jacket.
"Papa?" came the child's lilting voice again.
"What?" Vegeta spat, his tone far more curt this time.
Vegeta turned back to the mirror again. Damn, how was he supposed to fix his shirt collar? It just looked awkward rumpled under his jacket like that. "Because," he explained as he pulled at his collar, "your mother and I are getting a marriage license." Silence fell again. Vegeta held his breath, hopeful that his overenergetic half-breed of a son had finally ceased his endless queries.
A few seconds went by, and Vegeta breathed out again. Now he just had to wait for the woman to finish getting ready, and they could get this utterly unnecessary procedure over with.
His relief was premature. A tiny voice piped up yet again.
"WHAT?" Vegeta whirled on the boy. Spittle was gathering at the corners of his lips, and his face was set in his fiercest scowl. The child shrank back, but did not avert his gaze. Trunks bit his lip as his father stared him down. His expression was thoughtful, as if he were weighing the potential costs of further irritating Vegeta against the benefits of having whatever question was on his mind answered.
Vegeta took a deep breath, forcing himself to calm down. He would never hear the end of it from Bulma if he made the brat dissolve into a nervous bundle of tears. Again.
"What?" he asked again, this time in a level tone. The boy stared up at him earnestly, and soon the look of nervousness disappeared from the child's face.
Vegeta slammed his forehead into the palm of his hand. He really should have seen that coming. He probably would have yelled at his son, had Trunks not raised a truly legitimate question. He and Bulma had been together, more or less, for five years. Why she had decided to do this now was as much a mystery to Vegeta as to anyone else.
Vegeta responded with his hand still very much attached to his brow. "Believe me, boy, I've been asking myself the same question."
That was, of course, the precise moment Bulma decided to come into Vegeta's bedroom. "You've been asking yourself what question?"
"Why you guys are getting a—owie!" The toddler rubbed the back of his head where Vegeta had hit him. "Papa!" Trunks cried out. "Mean!"
"Hmm," Bulma grumbled. Though she looked displeased, she apparently decided to let it go. She simply handed Vegeta a small stack of papers. "You don't have a driver's license," the woman explained, "so I had to get you some identifying papers."
Vegeta looked over the sheets quickly. Everything seemed to be in order—
Wait. The muscles of Vegeta's right hand tensed, wrinkling the pages.
"You put down my family name as 'Vegeta'."
Bulma raised an eyebrow. "So?"
"You . . ." Vegeta took a deep, deep breath, forcing his voice to remain even. "You also put my given name as 'Vegeta'."
"Well," Bulma said with a smirk, "that's your name."
Vegeta's right eye twitched ever so slightly. He tried to stay calm, but the bemused expression on his mate's face quickly brought the Saiyan to his personal breaking point.
"You made my legal name Vegeta Vegeta!" he raged. He threw the papers down onto the floor, looking quite a bit like a child throwing a tantrum. "That's ridiculous!"
"So just say your parents weren't very creative," Bulma said, giggling a bit. "Which, considering you had the same name as your father and your planet, is probably true."
Vegeta grumbled to himself. "At least I'm not named after undergarments."
"What was that?"
"Nothing," Vegeta replied, a little too innocently.
"Don't sass me, mister," Bulma said, in much the same tone she used when she was irritated with Trunks. Vegeta ignored her comment as he stepped away from her, moving in the direction of his large bed. Bulma checked over her appearance in Vegeta's mirror. Vegeta had no clue why she was still preening, consider that she had probably spent the last two hours in front of her own bedroom mirror.
Vegeta folded his arms as he sat down on the bed. Trunks had gotten up from his spot on the floor, and was poking through the sheets Vegeta had thrown down. He had his tiny purple eyebrows furrowed together as he scanned the papers. Vegeta knew the child had already started learning how to read, but surely those documents were well above his reading level.
Vegeta looked away from his son, returning his gaze to his mate. She was toying with her bangs, clearly unsure which direction she should sweep them in. Really, the woman changed hairstyles like most people changed socks. This time she had grown her hair out, so that it extended in waves just past her shoulders.
Her pale, very bare shoulders.
She was wearing a form-fitting, strapless, deep blue dress that stopped just below her knees. Vegeta would never understand how she could walk in those silver, very high heeled shoes. High heels that strapped around her ankles, making her slim legs look that much longer, emphasizing the curve of her hips...
Alright, Vegeta had to admit, she looked good.
But, he insisted to himself as he stood and picked up the discarded paperwork, he still wasn't happy about this.
"Okay," Bulma finally said, dropping her lipstick into her purse and gesturing toward the door. "Let's go." With that, the three of them stepped outside and climbed into Bulma's car.
The courthouse was only a ten minute drive from Capsule Corp. Which meant that, given the way the woman drove, they were there in just over five. Even knowing that he would easily survive the most devastating of car crashes, it was a harrowing experience for Vegeta. Stop signs were missed, small animals were slaughtered, and though Trunks seemed to be enjoying the ride well enough, Vegeta was quite sure the boy would end up launched through the front windshield.
Even the Saiyan Prince's colorful vocabulary could not match the strings of curses that Bulma hurled at the other drivers.
They parked in front of the courthouse and went inside. It wasn't long before the judge was ready to see them, and the couple stepped into the chamber with their son. The grey-haired, mustachioed man droned on for a few minutes, reciting the standard marriage service with little inflection. He had obviously done this day in and day out for years, and had grown bored with its recitation.
Vegeta zoned out for much of the speech. He still wasn't sure how Bulma had talked him into this. She hadn't threatened him, yelled at him, pouted at him, or worked any of her normal tactics. She had simply asked. True, she had asked repeatedly, but each time she was shot down, she had just shrugged it off and tried again the next week. By the fourth time she had asked—still in that uncharacteristic, infuriatingly patient tone—he found himself agreeing.
Which brought him here. Vegeta tuned back into the judge's words just in time.
"...so long as you both shall live?" finished the judge.
Vegeta opened his mouth to respond, but was interrupted by his clearly bored four-year-old.
It was a good question. He failed to see any practical difference this would make to their relationship, and it wasn't as if Bulma was squeamish about living with a man out of wedlock. As for Vegeta, such ceremonies had been unheard-of on his home planet. Yes, some Saiyans mated for life, but even then there had been no accompanying legal procedure. In truth, Vegeta didn't see the point of going through with this.
But he also had no particular reason not to.
So, because they had gotten dressed up in these absurd clothes, and because they were already in the damn courthouse, and because Bulma had broken several laws to hack into a government database and make him a legal alias, and because spending the foreseeable future with her really didn't seem so bad, Vegeta said "I do."
Besides, the look of utter disgust on his son's face when he kissed the bride made it all worth it.
Part II - The Portrait
It was a pleasant surprise how much Chichi had mellowed out over the past seven years. For instance, she had largely learned to leave Gohan alone in terms of his schoolwork since he had enrolled in Orange Star High, trusting the young man to take care of his own academic matters. Goku had also been rather shocked to find out that it was his wife, rather than Gohan, that had first trained Goten.
That being said, she was still very much Chichi. So, really, "mellow" was a relative term. All things considered, Goku should not have been surprised by the lecture Chichi was giving him.
Goku scratched his head a bit, wondering what he'd done to deserve such a tongue lashing. Okay, maybe he had forgotten that a photographer was coming at noon, and maybe Chichi had told him, oh, twenty times over the past week, and maybe he and Goten were covered in dirt and sweat from a particularly long and involved training session (seeing as Goku had about seven years of male bonding to catch up on), but wasn't Chichi overreacting just a bit?
He asked as much. Which, naturally, made Chichi that much angrier.
"Overreacting?" she shrieked. "I am NOT overreacting!" The woman had her hands balled up into fists, and if Goku didn't know better, he'd swear that the floor of their small home was shaking in place.
"I just want you to look presentable for half an hour so we can get a nice family portrait taken!" She buried her face in her hands, letting out a loud wail. "Is that so much to ask?"
Goku winced, feeling suddenly guilty. "I'm sorry, Chichi," he said with genuine contrition. "I just wanted to spend some time with Goten."
Chichi looked up. Her arms fell to her sides, and Goku was relieved to see her anger apparently deflate. "Alright," she said with a sigh, "it's fine. Just go take a quick bath as soon as Goten's done and get dressed."
Goku nodded, and walked off to do precisely that. He slipped into the small bathroom—it was astounding how little the decor in his house had changed in the seven years he'd been away—to clean up, quickly toweled himself off, and dashed into the bedroom to dress.
Goku didn't think he'd taken that long to get ready, but by the time he walked out of his bedroom, the photographer, a middle-aged man with a particularly bushy brown mustache, was already in the process of setting up in their living room. Goku quickly tied his blue belt around his waist before walking over to the sofa, where the other three members of his family were already seated. He greeted the photographer, straightened out his top, and took his seat at one end of the couch.
Chichi sighed in something between exasperation and relief. "Okay, now we can—"
She abruptly cut herself off as she turned her head to face her husband. "Goku," she asked, a barely-noticeable tremor in her voice, "what are you wearing?"
"Huh?" Goku looked down and held out the top of his orange gi with both hands. "What do you mean? This is what I always wear."
"Exactly!" Chichi leapt up from her spot on the couch, the telltale shrillness returning to her voice. "Can't you make an effort to at least try and look nice? Just once?"
"I just want thirty minutes to get a picture! I don't know the next time you're going to disappear for seven years!"
Goku rubbed at the back of his neck sheepishly. "Gee, Chichi, I was dead at the time."
"That's no excuse!" Before Goku could react, Chichi had grabbed him by his right ear and was pulling him toward the kitchen. "Seven years, Goku! Don't you have any sense at all?" The shouting went on in a similar vein as the couple went out of earshot.
The photographer raised an eyebrow and looked at the two boys, still seated on the sofa. "What are they—"
"Oh, those are my parents!" Gohan cut in, forcing a chuckle through his words. "They're such kidders!"
Goten frowned in confusion. "But I thought daddy really was—mmph!" The child was cut off as Gohan clamped a hand over his mouth, laughing nervously all the while. "Gmmhmm!"
"Hush, Goten!" Gohan hissed.
"Okay," the photographer began again, "what on Earth—"
The beleaguered photographer was interrupted again, this time by the distinct noise of a glass shattering in the kitchen. The mustachioed man turned his head toward the kitchen, this time to see Goku backing up into the living room, his arms raised defensively.
"Chi, calm down." Goku spoke as calmly as he could as he stumbled backwards out of the kitchen and up against the photographer. The photographer barely managed to prevent his tripod from toppling over. "Put down the frying pan, Chichi!"
Chichi's right eye was twitching violently as she approached the retreating man. "Oh, I'll put it down alright." Said frying pan dropped to the floor with a loud clang. The photographer watched, stunned, as the slim woman effortlessly picked up the sofa upon which Gohan and Goten were seated.
The photographer may have been too stunned to react, but Gohan was not. "Mom!" the teenager cried out from his spot above his mother's head. "We're still on the couch!"
Chichi paid her son's yells no mind as she waved the sofa around threateningly above her head, while Gohan and Goten gripped the cushions tightly. "SEVEN. YEARS. GOKU! And all I want out of you is one half-hour!"
Had Goku the slightest bit of common sense, he would have nodded, apologized, and gone into the bedroom to change before Chichi did any more damage to either their house or his poor, abused right ear. Instead, Goku stared for a moment at the sight before him—his screaming wife, his airborne sons, the photographer diving under the nearest solid object—and, unwittingly, began grinning.
"WHAT?" Chichi shrieked in response. "What the hell are you smiling about?"
Goku shrugged, an idiotic grin still on his face. "I missed you, that's all."
That caught his wife off guard. She stopped waving the sofa above her head, much to her sons' relief. Her scowl softened to more of an irritated frown and the couch fell with a thud to the floor.
"Alright, alright," Chichi said as her rattled sons attempted to straighten up the dislodged couch cushions. "You can wear the stupid gi. But don't think you're off the hook."
"Yeah," Goku said with a noncommital shrug, "I know."
Chichi sighed as she took her place on one side of the sofa. "Why can't I ever stay mad at you?"
Goku kissed his wife's cheek before he sat down. "Just lucky I guess."
It was a few minutes before the photographer felt it was safe to crawl out from under the coffee table. His hands were shaking as he pressed the shutter.
Part III - The Honeymoon
The wedding had actually been a surprisingly calm and peaceful affair. Gohan and Videl had had a small, private ceremony, inviting only their closest friends and family. Through a strict vow of silence, everyone, even the notoriously loudmouthed Mr. Satan, had managed to keep news of the precise date and location of the wedding a secret from the press. The ceremony was brief and intimate; the reception was fun and relaxing; the newlywed suite at the hotel stayed private and undisturbed.
Yes, Gohan mused, the wedding had been a remarkably quiet affair. Which made the debacle that their honeymoon had become such a disappointment.
Videl had, of course, been smart about the whole thing. She had "leaked" false information to the press about the location of their honeymoon, sending members of the press off on a wild goose choice to a resort town north of Satan City. So while reporters were on a wild goose chase on the mainland, Gohan and Videl had popped open a two-person Capsule Corp plane, hopped inside, and flown to a small island on the south coast.
And for the first three days or so, her plan had worked like a charm. They had rented a chalet, rather than booking a hotel room, to ensure that no one would get wind of their presence from hotel staff. Videl was able to walk about largely unrecognized, and the newlyweds had been enjoying the sun, sand, and some well-deserved relaxation. Between his studies and his still-frequent bouts of crimefighting, Gohan hadn't even realized how badly he had needed the break.
Gohan should have known that the peace and quiet wouldn't last.
It was on the fourth day of their planned two-week vacation that things began to fall apart. The day had started calmly enough. Videl had gone out to get some groceries for their beachhouse, and Gohan was sitting on the back porch, enjoying an iced tea and a reading a novel in the late morning sun. He set down his book as he heard the door shut behind him inside. "Videl?"
He looked up to see his wife stalk out onto the back porch, looking profoundly irritated. "Gohan, pack."
"What?" He placed a bookmark in his novel and closed the cover. "We just got here. Isn't the reservation for another ten days?"
"Not anymore it isn't!"
Before Gohan could ask what was going on, he found himself blinded by a very bright light flashing in his eyes. He cried out as he fell out of his chair, knocking over his iced tea in the process.
"Augh, what the . . ." Gohan wiped the stinging tea out of his eyes, shaking some out of his hair. "Who—" Again, Gohan was cut off, this time by a flurry of questions from a group of well-dressed men and women at the side of the porch.
"Miss Videl, any comments on the wedding?"
"Miss Videl, how is the champ reacting to your marriage?"
"Are you going to be living in Satan City?"
"Rumor has it that you got married due to an unexpected pregnancy, is that true?"
"Sir, what's it like being married to a woman who can grind you to a pulp?"
"Shut up!" Videl screamed, not giving Gohan the chance to comment. "Don't you people have anything better to do?" Then, without another word, she grabbed Gohan by the arm, dragged him into the beachhouse, and slammed the door behind her.
Gohan shook his head and sighed, marveling at how serene his day had been shaping up to be a mere sixty seconds earlier. "So much for the honeymoon."
Videl positively growled her response. "Some idiot must have recognized me while I was out shopping." She lowered all the blinds, making sure none of the intrusive reporters could see into the house. "Get packed, we'll finish our vacation somewhere else."
"Won't they just follow us?"
"Damn it!" Videl crossed her arms and plopped onto the couch, her normally bright blue eyes radiating absolute rage. "We might as well go home then. No way we're going to be able to relax with that pack of morons following us around."
"Hey," Gohan said, sitting down next to Videl and slipping an arm around her slim shoulders. "Don't talk like that. Look, why don't we just hang out in the house for the rest of the day? They'll probably give up and leave. We just have to wait them out."
"And what are we suppose to do all day?"
"I don't know," Gohan shrugged out. "Read, watch some movies, that sort of thing."
Videl's frown dropped away, immediately replaced by a sly smile. "Is that all you have in mind?" She winked, her smile broadening.
Gohan turned bright red in reply, but wasn't about to argue.
So the rest of the day passed pleasantly enough. Gohan woke up the next morning with a contentedly sleeping Videl in his arms, feeling quite self-satisfied with his plan for waiting out the paparazzi. He slipped out of bed quietly, careful not to wake up his new wife, and walked downstairs to get something to eat.
Gohan was rooting around the fridge when he heard a scream come from upstairs. His heart leapt into his throat, and in an instant he was back in the bedroom.
"Videl?" He dashed into the room, relieved to see that she was alright, albeit topless. "What happened?"
Videl scowled as she grabbed a tee-shirt from the floor, hastily slipping it on. "Have you looked out the window?"
"No, I was just getting some food. What's out the window?"
"Your brilliant plan to wait out the reporters didn't work! They're still out there!" She grabbed a pair of cut-off jean shorts and put them on as well. "And I think one of those reporters got a picture of me in my underwear!"
Gohan's face fell at this new piece of information. "What were you doing opening the window naked, anyway?"
"I didn't know anyone would be out there!" she yelled her response.
"Well," Gohan said, "there's not much we can do about it now."
"Oh, that's what you think." Without another word, Videl ran down the stairs and out the back door.
Gohan raised the blinds in the bedroom and watched out the window as Videl confronted the group of press members outside the house. He couldn't make out what they were saying, but it was clear enough from Videl's posture and her shaking fist that she was ready to lose her temper. One particularly brave—or particularly foolish—photographer decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to snap some more photos.
This was, apparently, the last straw. Gohan looked on as Videl lunged at that photographer, grabbed the camera, and smashed it to several pieces with her bare hands. Soon enough, she had broken every camera in the group, several audio recorders, and at least one nose.
Gohan couldn't help grinning as he watched the reporters and photographers run off into the distance, leaving the shattered remains of their cameras and tape recorders behind.
That's my wife.
"What are you still doing up?"
Trunks looked up, startled. He must have been more lost in memories than he realized—he hadn't even heard his boyfriend come into the living room. He smiled a bit as he shut the photo album, setting it aside on the coffee table.
"You're one to talk."
Goten smirked, running his right hand through his damp black hair as he held his blue towel around his waist with the other. "I don't have an all-day investors meeting tomorrow."
"Yes, well," Trunks pouted, "not all of us can lead the leisurely life of a sports columnist."
The twenty-five year-old vice president narrowed his gaze. "You have no idea." Trunks didn't know how Goten had managed to land a job consisting primarily of watching baseball games and then bitching about them—in other words, what most men did with their free time anyway—but he was sorely envious of the other young man's flexible schedule.
Goten's expression became a tad more sympathetic. He looked Trunks up and down as he joined the other demi-Saiyan on the couch. "You haven't even gotten undressed yet."
Trunks nodded. Though his pinstriped jacket lay draped over the back of one of the kitchen chairs, he was still wearing his vest and suit pants. It had been a long day, and Trunks honestly could not have been bothered when he got back to their apartment to deal with changing his clothes. He'd found the old photo album resting near the bottom of the living room bookshelf, covered with a thin layer of dust. The evening had quickly slipped away, and before Trunks knew it, it was nearly one a.m.
"I just got lost in this old photo album." The grin reappeared on Trunks' face. "Our families are nuts."
"You just noticed?"
Trunks laughed a little. Though he hated to admit it, Master Roshi had been right; Saiyans really did seem incapable of finding "normal" wives. It seemed that there was only one way to evade what Trunks had long suspected was a curse upon Saiyan blood.
And, Kami help him, he'd found it.
When Trunks said as much, Goten couldn't help but laugh. "At least," the younger demi-Saiyan said, "my mother never blasted off my father's eyebrows in a lab accident."**
Trunks glowered at his boyfriend. "Eight years and you still haven't let me live that down."
"Never will, buddy."
Trunks' expression softened as he jerked his head toward the photo album. "It's kind of sweet, actually. How they all put up with each other's neuroses."
Goten rolled his eyes at the sentiment. "You're such a girl sometimes."
Trunks grabbed Goten's right hand, placing it on top of his lap, near his pelvis. "Care to get a second opinion on that?"
Goten nodded and slid his hand in between Trunks' thighs. A sly smile—one that Trunks knew could only mean one thing—came across Goten's face. Goten dragged the young executive into the bedroom by his necktie, his towel forgotten on the sofa.
As Trunks spared one last glance back at the photo album, he couldn't help but drink in the delicious irony that, of all the couples in their little group, they were the normal ones.
**Apologies for the shameless reference to Liquor, Lingerie, and Leather-Bound Musings.