Stay a while. Chapter 28. You probably look like a golden porcupine.

Disclaimer: Do not own DBZ. ):

"Trunks is taking you home to your timeline tonight."

Both girls gaped at him in surprise as he ran a hand through his hair. It was no surprise when the little girl reacted first. "No way!" She cried out, jumping to her feet and pulling her hand from her father's. Tears began to pool as she narrowed her eyes. "You can't send me back! I can fight. I can help!" This was the kind of thing she was training for—to be a hero like everyone else.

"I don't want to send you back, Panny, but you know I have to," he reasoned quietly as he reached for her again. She shook her head furiously, jumping to stand behind her mother. "Pan."

"So you're going to send her back?" Videl finally asked as she slid an arm around the girl's shoulders. "Just like that?"

"What do you want me to do, Videl? I can't keep her here. She'll be safe in her timeline. Don't start this now." He heaved an exasperated sigh as he ran a hand down his face. This was not something he wanted to deal with just then. His first priority was getting his future daughter safe.

"Don't-wha-don't," she spluttered in disbelief as she gaped at him. "Don't tell me not to start this now. If I didn't invite you to join us just now, when were you going to tell me you decided to send her away?"

"It's not like that and you know it. This is more than about just-"

"I swear if you say 'me'," she threatened, cutting him off mid-sentence. "She's supposed to be my daughter, too, Gohan. I have just as much a right as you to decide." Her hold tightened around the child in her arms. How could he just decide that on his own? "I know that you know more about what's going on but damn it, you can't just cut me out like that."

"That wasn't my intention, Videl. I just want her safe and that's not here." He reached forward and gently touched the child's hand. "I don't want to send you away, Pan, but you belong in your timeline with your mother. This fight, if there is one, isn't yours." Like hell would he let his daughter into a fight if he could help it. She wasn't going to grow up like him. She was too young to be fighting for her life.

"How about a compromise?" Videl offered as she looked between father and daughter. Neither looked ready to give in and she really didn't need to see her daughter flying through the air again, in case the child decided she was done with words and pouty faces. "Pan will go back to her timeline but we'll let her stay a few more days."

The four year old seemed to contemplate her options before giving a grudging nod. It was better than being sent back right away. "Fine," she grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest. "I can stay until poppa's birthday?"

With a sigh of defeat, Gohan nodded. "Yes, but we're sending you back after, okay?" He countered, narrowing his eyes at his daughter. She looked ready to protest but instead gave a reluctant nod. That was as good a deal as she was going to get. Her grandmother always gave her the same look. "Two days and no more."

Silence reigned over the three only to be broken by someone clearing their throat "I'd hate to interrupt this little family gathering, but Father is going to really try to kill you if you're late, Gohan." Mirai announced as he hovered a few feet away. He was dressed to fight, complete with a brand new haircut.

"Yeah, I'll catch up," Gohan sighed as he stood. So much for getting some sleep before the spar. Mirai gave a brief nod before taking off. Running a hand through his hair, Gohan turned to the two girls again. "Should I even bother asking you two to try staying out of trouble?"

Videl scrunched her face at him. "You are so not funny, Gohan Son," she grumbled with a roll of her eyes. It wasn't as though they were constantly getting themselves in trouble. In fact, she spent most of her life trouble free until he came into it. As he started to rise into the air, she reached forward and grabbed his hand. "When you get back, we need to talk."

This time it was Gohan's turn to cringe. Did they really have to? What else did they have to talk about? As far as he was concerned, the thing about Pan going home was settled. "Yeah, sure," he agreed reluctantly before taking off after Trunks. Gah, girls.

Turning to her daughter, Videl pursed her lips. "So, what's this about a birthday?"

"That's what it said on Grandma Chi Chi's calendar," Pan answered matter-of-factly. "'Gohan's surprise birthday party!'"

"…Are you sure you're only four?" She said dubiously. What four year old could actually read and understand what she read?

Gohan cursed and ducked as an energy blast flew right over his head. "Damn it, Vegeta!" He yelled, swatting away the second one that came at him. "I'm not late!"

The saiyan prince scoffed. "No, but you almost were so I almost hit you." No one dared to comment on the childishness of the response. Dropping into his stance, Vegeta eyed his three opponents as they did the same. "Enough talk, let's do this."

Sound akin to thunder exploding ran through the area as the four opponents attacked simultaneously. Training between them always started with a free for all. It wasn't about perfecting technique. It was about putting the practiced moves into action and seeing its effectiveness in battle.

Back at Capsule Corporations, the mother and daughter pair sat by the window. "Poppa's really strong," Pan murmured as she focused on tracking the energy levels of the fight halfway around the world. "So are Mr. Vegeta and Mr. Piccolo and sensei."

Videl frowned, tracking the four energy levels colliding halfway across the world. It was alarming to still be able to detect it from such a distance. Just how much did Gohan's power really dwarf hers? The constant output of high levels of energy only seemed to get more intense as the fight drew on. Crawling under the blankets, Videl patted the mattress next to her. "Come and try to get some sleep before everyone is up for the day, Pan."

"-e up!" Tiny hands tugged at the sleeping teenager's sleeve. Instead of getting up, she merely squirmed further under the covers. "Momma!"

"Maybe we should just blast her," Trunks suggested with a shrug of his shoulders as he formed a ki ball in his palm. He yelped in surprise as one came flying at him instead, causing him to shoot his into the ceiling. "Hey! What gives!"

Pan glared at the younger version of her sensei. "Don't hurt momma! Auntie Bulma said we just had to wake her up!" The four year old stood in a defensive stance between her mother and her mother's would-be attacker.

At hearing the voices, Videl wearily peered through one eye to take a look at what was happening only to jump up in surprise at finding the three children in her room. "What's going o-WHY ARE THERE SCORCH MARKS ON MY CEILING!"

Trunks gulped as the livid teenager turned her attention on him. "I didn't mean it!" He all but squealed as he took quick steps back towards the door. Royal Saiyan blood or not, even he knew better than to mess with the mother of a Saiyan. His father and Gohan couldn't hold a candle to his mother and Goten's mother. "Besides, you're the one that wouldn't wake up. Mom called all the students to the conference room ages ago!"

"Miss Satan," Bulma called out as soon as Videl skidded into the room. The teenage girl gave a nervous wave as she walked over to an empty seat, attempting to ignore the curious stares of her fellow classmates. "As thrilled as I would be for my godson to finally get a girlfriend, I can't just excuse you for being late to one of our few scheduled events because you guys were in the gardens all night." Videl's protest died at the tip of her tongue as the woman leveled her with a stare. This was a lady well-versed in dealing with stubborn guys, a teenage girl was not going to be that much more difficult. "See me after the presentation."

The students filed out of the conference room as soon as they were dismissed. As interesting as it was to find out about the inner workings of Capsule Corporations, there were far more interesting things to do on the compound. Bulma wasn't surprised to find the three teenagers newly introduced to their little group still seating in their seats once the doors closed.

"So I'm sure you're wondering why I've asked you to stay," the blue-haired genius started as she leaned against one of the nearby seats. The crime fighting teen nodded sheepishly. "You see, I need a favor."

Videl's eyebrows furrowed in confusion as she met the woman's blue eyes. "A favor?" She repeated curiously. That was certainly not what she had been expecting. After the no-nonsense tone Bulma had used earlier, she had been sure she would be in some sort of trouble.

"I don't know if you guys know this or not but it's Gohan's birthday in a few days. We usually have a small gathering here or at his house, but we clearly can't go missing again seeing as the rest of the students are still here. They're oblivious but not stupid." She'd actually been surprised at the progress reports the assigned mentors had for her. "With that being said, I doubt Gohan really wants everyone around his classmates." Their gatherings were notorious for their tendencies to get out of control. It was nearly a guarantee that there would be new craters or holes the shape of numerous Z fighters by the time everyone left.

Videl pursed her lips. "I don't see what this has to do with a favor?"

Bulma grinned. "It's not really a big deal, I don't think. I just need you to keep your boyfriend busy while everything is set up so he doesn't pay too much attention to everyone arriving."

"Gohan's not my boyfriend. We're just friends," Videl grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest. Why was it that everyone seemed to have just paired them up? It wasn't as if they did anything couple-like. Sure, there was Pan but that was an alternate timeline.

Bulma raised a finely sculpted eyebrow at the girl. "Oh? And do you make it a practice to kiss your friends?" she countered, allowing a sly smirk to cross her lips as the teenager predictably spluttered for a reply.

"I..Uh..I..Wh-wha-I can't believe he told you!"

"You did WHAT?" Erasa squealed, grabbing onto her best friend's arm. "You've been holding back on me, Videl Satan! I can't believe you didn't say anything."

Videl cringed and attempted to escape the blonde's vice grip. "There was nothing to say. It was a one time thing and we said we weren't ever going to mention it!" That was the impression she got from that conversation, anyway.

"But you kissed him!"

"He kissed me!" Videl shot back, throwing her hands up in desperation. "I didn't even realize it until he was right there!"

This time two other women joined in with the cry of surprise. They knew that Gohan had kissed Videl but no one really knew the circumstances behind it. To find out that the innocent little boy raised in the mountains had actually been the one to initiate the whole thing...well, perhaps they weren't too surprised. Gohan was, after all, still a teenage boy.

Blushing furiously, Videl pressed her hands over her burning cheeks. Why did she even bother trying? If the past few days showed her anything, it was that these people were relentless in their teasing and only fueled by any resistance. "You were talking about a favor?" She asked in a feeble attempt to change the direction of the conversation.

Bulma blinked in confusion before gasping. "Right, right! I just need you to keep him busy. We can take care of the rest."

The crime fighter scrunched her nose together. "You do realize that Gohan has that ability to sense everyone, right? I can try to distract him but he'll notice their energy approaching." If he could figure out that Pan and her had left her room while he'd been sleeping, she was sure he would notice nearly a dozen fighters with higher ki levels approaching.

Scoffing, Bulma crossed her arms over her chest. "Don't worry about that. I've got it covered. I'm not called a genius for nothing, you know." No, this was something they'd planned for months. "I've made these nifty little devices that can hide a person's ki."

"But won't Gohan think it's weird that everyone's ki is suddenly disappearing?"

Bulma rolled her eyes. "I've got that covered," she answered with a dismissive wave of her hand. "Look, we've thought of everything but a way to keep him from noticing anything amiss. We really need just a few seconds to make a swap and that means keeping his focus elsewhere. Everyone agrees you'll be the best person for the job." The original plan had been to use Goten and Trunks as the diversion, but everyone had been skeptical about that. The youngest Son had never been the most adept at keeping secrets.

Videl eyed the older woman warily. "There's really no getting out of this, is there?" she mumbled under her breath before nodding in defeat. "Okay, I'll try to distract him but I'm not making any promises!" Gohan Son just had a tendency of not doing what she expected of him.

"And that is all we ask." Bulma agreed triumphantly as she shared a high five with Lime. Considering the past few days, they had no doubt that Videl could keep Gohan completely distracted. "I need to tell Chi Chi so we can put together the final touches!" This was the first year they could actually plan a party for Gohan and neither of the two women were going to waste it. He used the excuse of having no one else to invite to warrant an extravagant party often enough. This year, Gohan had friends and they would be damned if they passed up an opportunity to throw together a party.

As Bulma dashed off to phone her friend, Videl shook her head in disbelief. "You guys do realize that Gohan is not going to be easily fooled, right?" she asked, turning to the redhead.

Lime shrugged in indifference. "Yep, but this way we've got our butts covered," she answered with a large grin. At the looks of confusion she received, Lime slid an arm around Videl's shoulders. "With you involved, he can't get too mad." No one could deny that the half-saiyan had a soft spot for the obstinate girl. "I mean considering all the crap you've given him and the fact that he hasn't blown you to HFIL in retaliation, my dear best friend is incapable of being mad at you and since you're involved and he can't be mad at you, then he can't be mad at us either."

Sharpner let out an uneasy laugh. "Has Gohan ever actually done that?" he asked nervously. "Blown someone to HFIL in anger, I mean." After everything, he couldn't deny the guy's ability to do such a thing. He just hoped Gohan never actually followed through. Considering the amount of crap he also dealt the new guy, the blonde wasn't sure if he really wanted to know just how close he could possibly come to an untimely end.

"You guys are being ridiculous," Erasa cut in with a roll of her eyes. "Gohan is such a sweetheart. I'm sure he'd never hurt anyone intentionally." It just didn't seem possible to her that the same guy that stuttered his introduction in front of the class could actually blow someone up in anger.

Lime couldn't contain her grin as she looked over at Sharpner. "If it makes you feel any better, that last guy that happened with really deserved being blasted to HFIL." She had to bite the insides of her cheeks to keep from laughing in amusement as the blonde seemed to pale. "And the useful thing about blowing someone up with ki is that it leaves no trace. No gun powder or explosives and any other such marks to trace it."

"What lies are you feeding him now, Lime?" Gohan asked tiredly as he entered the conference room. Healing in the rejuvenation tanks took a lot longer than they'd anticipated or perhaps they had a few more injuries than they first assessed. Regardless, Bulma had informed him of the presentation he missed.

"Not lies, Gohan. Just telling Sharpner here that you could, if you wanted, blast a guy into HFIL and there would be no way to prove it," she explained with a careless shrug as she slowly looked him over. She didn't need to be able to detect ki to know about the four way spar the four strongest fighters on the planet had earlier that morning.

As if sensing her concern, Gohan tugged gently at the end of her braid. "I'm fine. No more damage than usual," he said reassuringly. "We just may have gone a little overboard." Or a lot, but his best friend did not need to worry unnecessarily. That and no one really wanted to bring up the fact that the four of them had to be carried back by the two boys. Bulma had reamed into them about giving her premature grey hairs while they were imprisoned in their tanks without any possibility of escape.

Lime rolled her eyes. "Right, I believe that," she grumbled under her breath.

Purposefully ignoring the jab, he turned towards his three new friends. "So what'd I miss?" He raised an eyebrow as the other three stared at him questioningly. "What?"

"What?" Sharpner seemed to recover first. "What do you mean what? How can you say what? What in HFIL was that this morning?!" He'd been sleeping comfortably in his room when he was suddenly woken by four large energy levels duking it out. For a second he'd thought the aliens arrived early and just about had a heart attack.

Gohan gave a nervous chuckle as he rubbed the back of his neck. "Heh, sorry, Sharpner. I guess I forgot you wouldn't be used to sensing that kind of stuff. Most of the guys know we get a little…carried away when training for something so they ignore us but I completely forgot you're new to this stuff. Didn't Mirai warn you?"

Sharpner scoffed and crossed his arms over his chest like a petulant child. "No, but really sometimes it's like all that guy wants to do is beat me into the ground and see how close he can send me to HFIL."

"Apparently not close enough," Mirai cut in as he suddenly appeared next to Lime. It wasn't a surprise to see his so-called pupil nearly fall over himself in fright. "Did I forget to mention that with enough training you can almost completely conceal your energy signature?"

Collecting himself, Sharpner glared at the purple haired time traveler. "Yeah, you did forget to mention that detail," he grumbled with a half-hearted attempt at combing down his hair. With less time to care for his hair, Sharpner cursed as he managed to get his fingers caught in tangles. "Maybe you were right about getting this cut."

"I'm surprised you've actually kept it that long for so long," Gohan commented as he ran a hand through his own hair. "Long hair tends to get in the way of fighting and is an advantage for your opponent. I don't know how many times my dad threw me across a field while training by my hair when I was younger. It finally got bad enough that he cut it himself." That and he looked absolutely ridiculous as a super saiyan with long hair. His dad, despite all his love for fighting, broke into laughing fits every time he'd transformed during a spar.

Sharpner sighed as he looked at the end of the blond strands. So much for having fabulous hair, he thought as he grasped the ends and looked over at his best friend. "Are you any good with a pair of scissors?" He asked slightly hesitantly.

The question was met with silence as all the occupants of the room stared at him in surprise. "You actually want to cut it?" Erasa asked, blue eyes wide as saucers. Sharpner was one of her best friends. If anyone knew how much the guy loved his hair, it would be her and Videl. "Seriously?"

"Well, yeah," he answered, grimacing. "As great as my hair is, they've got a point. It gets in the way when I train and I don't have the time or energy to maintain it." Hell, at this point he was lucky if he had the energy to properly bathe after each day before collapsing into his bed. So much for being one of the best students at a dojo.

"I suppose I could try," Erasa conceded uncertainly as she eyed the long strands. It was hard to imagine Sharpner with short hair. "Anyone happen to have a pair of shears?"

"Bulma probably has some lying around. I can go with you to ask her," Lime suggested as she hooked her arm around Mirai's. "This one needs a haircut too." She rolled her eyes as Mirai started to disagree. "Nope, give it a few more centimeters and you'll be able to tie it back. You probably look like a golden porcupine." Gohan nearly choked on air in his attempt to not laugh at the accurateness of the statement. "See, Gohan agrees."

"As does Vegeta," the half-saiyan added with a snicker.

Mirai rolled his eyes as Lime tugged on his arm. "Father does realize that his hair always looks like a pineapple, right?" He countered before following the red head out of the room. Now that that little observation was stated by Pan, he had no qualms with repeating it. His father couldn't get that much angrier.

Once the other four cleared out, Gohan turned to the only other occupant in the room. He raised an eyebrow at finding her inspecting her pigtails. "Are you thinking of getting them cut, too?" He asked, tilting his head slightly to the side as he studied her. "It'd be a good idea for you to have shorter hair."

Videl's eyes quickly turned from her own hair to meet his steady gaze. She bit her lip, feeling the ever steady rise of blood to her cheeks. Such a simple statement yet she had no doubt her face was turning blatant shades of reds darker. "Do you like shorter hair, Gohan?" she asked uncertainly, tugging at the end of one of her pigtails.

"Uh," Gohan stuttered at realizing the implications of his statement and her response. He had no doubt that the redness of his face could make hers pale in comparison. "What I…uhm…I've never really thought about it." He admitted with a nervous chuckle. "What I meant was that…uh…Mirai was right. Short hair is more advantageous for fighters. Your opponent can't grab it as easily and-" His rambling cut off as he noticed the steady build of her anger. If such things were actually visible, he would have sworn he saw steam puffing out of her cheeks. "Uh, Videl?"

"WHY DON'T YOU JUST SHUT UP AND STAY OUT OF MY HAIR. THAT'S FOR ME TO DECIDE, ISN'T IT? YOU BIG JERK." With a huff, she stormed off, leaving a stuttering Gohan in her wake.

WELL, that seemed like as good a place as any to end it.

It's a bit alarming how much this story has deviated from the original idea. /: Granted, the original idea wasn't fully thought through. Ha. In light of that, I will finish Stay A While, but I will probably also be working on a separate story that actually follows my initial plans and should, theoretically, be better organized. (Let's hope I actually have the time for this.)

Sorry it's taken me so long to update. You would think the fact that I no longer have school would mean more time to write, but nope.

In other news, I finally bought a new laptop so maybe I can work on things more. My previous situation only allowed me to work on things while in my room so this should be a good change. I actually ended up typing out most of this right after buying the new laptop. (: However, while that's a plus, I've also got other responsibilities (ick, that word) that prevent me from devoting all my time to working on this. I now have two jobs, which means I work about 60 hours a week, and I'm helping out a former teacher with some projects for extra cash. I have also discovered this thing called a social life. (I know, terrifying, but it had to happen some day.)

Thank you for reading and reviewing! Hopefully the next update won't be as long a wait.

- Skye