Faint sounds were the first thing to bring Videl out of unconsciousness. It was a steady murmur, almost as if a crowd of people were talking and doing so from far away. Then the pain set in, particularly a nasty headache and a tender neck.
She felt a presence at her side, but she had no clue as to its identity. Slowly, she opened her eyes and her vision piece by piece came to her. She was sitting in a car seat, her seat belt off, though she could've sworn that she had been wearing one previously. She became aware of a dull throbbing on her left side, the reason as to why she had no clue. Almost in a daze, she focused on the sight before a cracked car windshield.
There were police cars everywhere, their red and blue lights flashing hypnotically. There was also a couple of ambulances, a few emergency workers jogging from the trucks to some scene to her right somewhere. Cops were standing about, either talking with each other or were near the sidewalks of the street, making sure any bystanders didn't wander onto the scene, whatever scene this was. No wait, this had to be some sort of accident, right? And seeing as it all was surrounding her, she must've been in some sort of accident. It was beyond her as to why she was involved in one though.
A long, soothing sound came from her left, making Videl turn her head and look. There she found an emergency worker standing next to her, bending his knees so he could look at her better. His lips were moving, but Videl couldn't make out what he was saying. Well, at least that was until he got to the end of whatever he was saying.
"I'm sorry, but could you say that again?" she asked, her voice surprisingly raspy.
The man gave her a wry smile. "I said to take it easy Miss. You've just been in an accident and you should just rest right where you are."
"Oh. Okay." There wasn't much she could say other than that. She was truly lost at the moment. "Umm, how did I get into an accident?"
"Well, as far as I can tell, you ran a red light and got broadsided by that truck." At this, the man pointed to something on her right, but Videl just felt too sluggish to look. It was taking most of her mental faculties just to focus on this man, much less anything else. "It was a textbook T-boning if I ever saw one," the worker continued. "After you were hit, you went spinning around until you came to a stop. Sometime during that you lost consciousness. You're probably even feeling a severe headache at the moment, along with some whiplash."
"Is that why I'm hurting?" Videl wondered out loud. In some part of her, that explanation made sense to her, but it was taking too much energy to really understand it.
Languidly, Videl turned her head to look to her right. It was there she found a large truck sitting several feet away, its front end smashed to hell. In fact, her vision seemed to be becoming sharper because she was noticing the ruined side of her car. Wow, what a wreck.
Oddly enough, there was a huge crowd of cops at the back of the truck. She had no idea as to why, but the back doors were wide open and men seemed to disappear into it and reemerge for some reason. There were other men that would emerge from the truck too, usually dressed in odd outfits; some were wearing suits while others that looked like the guys had been dressed in the dark. Very odd.
Her attention soon turned towards the front of the truck once more. The doors of the truck were open and there where two men sitting on the ground near the truck's cab. They both looked okay from what she could tell and seemed to be police officers since they were wearing police uniforms. Yet something was nagging at her as she stared at them. In fact, those men were looking familiar to her the longer she looked. One man was bald and the other had long, shaggy, black hair. Though the second man was looking away from her, she could still see the side of his face and could make out the presence of a scar.
And that's when it hit her. Those were Officers Shinhan and Yamcha. They were men working with Detective Son and Westingham on a taskforce made specifically to capture her. Oh crap. Crap, crap, crap. She had to get out of here before those two recognized her and arrested her.
Immediately, Videl turned in her seat and tried to get out of the car, the emergency worker throwing his arms out and grabbing her by the shoulders in an attempt to stop her. "Whoa, whoa Miss. You need to stay right where—"
"Get the fuck out of my way," Videl growled at him, causing the man to jerk back in surprise. She tried again to get out of the car, but the worker recovered enough to force her to stay in the car seat.
Any sort of civility was gone from his voice and expression by this point. "Miss, you have to stay right where you are," he ordered in a stern tone.
Videl lost all of her patience at that moment. Balling her right hand into a fist, she punched the man in the face, landing the blow on his nose. She could feel cartilage snap against her knuckles, a torrent of blood shooting out the man's nose as he yelped in pain. Finally getting to her feet, Videl shoved the man aside and began to stagger away from the car, no known destination in her mind other than to get as far from here as she could.
Unfortunately, the police proved to be more alert than she had hoped. Immediately she was surrounded by men in blue uniforms, a couple of them restraining her by grabbing her arms and shoulders. Due to the throbbing in her left side though, Videl couldn't put much resistance to their restraints, the dark-haired woman's body going limp as she let out a weak cry of pain.
"Hold her right there!" a loud, deep voice shouted above the commotion, a voice that Videl recognized and flinched at. Oh, this was just going from bad to worse, wasn't it?
Turning her head to look to a side, she saw an enraged Vegeta weaving his way through the maze of police cars in between her and him, Gohan keeping up with him from behind. Once the two were passed the cars, Vegeta looked over to the car Videl had been driving and seemed to lose a step in his stride. Then his rage became cold fury.
Whipping his head to look at her, he then demanded "I want this bi…this woman arrested." When the cops around her just looked at the District Attorney blankly, he snapped "Right now, you empty-headed fools, before I have every donut store closed within the city limits for health violations!"
That got a reaction out of the men, one of them jerking out a pair of handcuffs and walking up behind Videl. The two policemen holding her forced her arms behind her as the handcuffs were slapped around her wrists, the cool metal biting into her skin. One of the braver men though, stepped over to Vegeta and asked "If you don't mind Sir, why is this woman under arrest?"
"Because she's the suspect of a federal probe, something far above your pay grade." Tilting his head to Gohan, he then said "Detective, I want you to take custody of the suspect."
It was then the policemen hardened their stances, glaring at Gohan. "What the hell is he doing here?" one of them demanded.
Vegeta merely said "He's working under me. Now if you don't let him do his job, I will have you under arrest for interfering in a federal investigation."
Apparently being under the threatening gaze of Vegeta was enough to weaken any resolve the officers had. Gohan walked passed them and grabbed Videl by one of her arms, removing her out of the grasps of the two policemen restraining her, and directing her to move towards Vegeta. Looking at the men for a second longer, Vegeta then turned around and began walking back the way he came, Gohan and Videl following him.
"A little harsh there, weren't you Vegeta?" Gohan commented as they moved out of the policemen's hearing range.
A scowl appeared on the DA's face. "I just had my favorite car stolen and damaged beyond repair. I'm not in the mood to mess around with the morons in the police department." He then turned his head to the sight of the wrecked paddy wagon and grimaced. "I better make sure none of those arrested men slip away." Without even waiting for a response, he changed direction headed right for the truck.
Gohan and Videl just kept going walking away from the scene. Neither of them said anything and that was just fine by Videl. She wasn't in the mood for any conversation.
They soon arrived at a very expensive-looking car. Directing her to the backseat, Gohan opened the door and guided her into it, shutting the door once she was seated inside. Staying by the door, Videl watched as the detective moved to the driver's door and opened it, sitting down in the driver's seat.
It was silent for a few moments before Videl had to ask "There isn't anyway you're letting me go, is there?"
Gohan remained looking forward. "Afraid not."
A moment of silence passed. "You know, I really would've done my best job for you."
"Is that so?"
Videl found herself nodding despite the man not looking at her. Or maybe he was using the rearview mirror to watch her; that was definitely a possibility. "I hate doing substandard work," she said. "It always leaves me feeling dirty on the inside when I do."
"For what it's worth, I believe you," Gohan offered. "A bit counterproductive that you would set me free, though."
"Possibly," she admitted. "But say I got you off. You could have struck me off what ever suspects list you had. Why would a suspect of yours fight to free you when it would be more beneficial to just send you to jail and cut you out of the picture?"
"I can see your point," he acknowledged. "Unfortunately for you, Erasa caught you in the act and made evidence."
A melancholy feeling filled up Videl, causing her to bow her head in sadness. "Out of all of this, that's the one thing I regret. I wish she hadn't had to die"
"She didn't have to, you know."
"Gohan, that choice was out of my hands the moment she found out about my operation. The people working under me would've done who knows what to her had they let her live. As much as I hate to admit it, death was the best way for her."
This time, Gohan turned in his seat to look at her. "How could being stabbed to death be her best choice?"
"They could've made Erasa vanish. With her whereabouts unknown, they could have taken turns raping her and beating her. Torture and destroy her mind and body. And if you want to go further, they could have sold her into the sex trade. There's plenty of worse fates than what happened to her."
It was several seconds later that Gohan nodded his in agreement. "I see your point."
It was silent after that for awhile. Eventually, Gohan decided to break the silence this time. "You know, Erasa thought you were just spying on her."
"If only that was just it," Videl said ruefully. "And even then, I'm not sure I would've ever done anything to her. Try and stop her investigation maybe, but that would've been the most I would have done. Could have done."
Gohan frowned. "There's always a choice."
This time, Videl looked at him as if he were a little child. "You do realize who the people are that work for me, don't you? They're not the people you usually see welcoming new neighbors into the neighborhood, they're the kind of people that would sooner stab you in the back the moment you gave them a chance. In this kind of business, you don't usually see nice, kind-hearted people. Those sorts of people end up getting chewed up and spat out just like everyone else, faster than everyone else."
The detective had nothing to say to this as he turned around back in his seat and stared out the windshield once more. After awhile, Videl said "I guess I'm going to be put away for a long time."
She saw movement in the rearview mirror, Gohan's eyes looking to it and reflecting it so she could see his attention was on her. "I'm sure you'll be out in no time."
"Detective cleared of charges," Goten read out loud, leaning back in Gohan's chair as he held a newspaper in front of his face. Propping his feet on top of the desk, he continued to read "Federal inquiry uncovers corruption inside of District Attorney's office."
"Not a bad headline," Gohan commented from the bathroom, the sound of running water also being heard.
The younger Son ignored his brother. "A year long probe into the District Attorney's office was concluded last night when the leader of an illegal black market organization, along with several of her associates, was arrested. The District Attorney Vegeta had noticed unusual activities within his office and brought it to the attention of federal authorities. A joint taskforce headed by Vegeta and Krillen Westingham was convened to investigate these activities, which resulted in the arrests of over a dozen people, all with connections to the DA's office."
Goten fell silent then as his eyes began skimming the article. With a huff, he tossed the newspaper onto the desk just as Gohan walked out of the bathroom, drying his hands off with a towel. "It doesn't say anything about your involvement in the article. What a jip!"
"I'm not as well-recognized as Vegeta or Krillen, so of course they wouldn't mention me," the older Son replied.
"But the headline pretty much shouts that you were innocent!" Goten exclaimed, grabbing the paper again and facing it to Gohan, tapping an impatient finger at the headline. "How can they write an entire article without mentioning you when they do in the headline?"
"You'd have to ask the journalists or editors why. I don't care either way," Gohan shrugged. "I've been cleared of all charges and have a solved case to file away. No way does being refused credit ruin my day."
Goten frowned at that before flipping the paper around and looking at it again. "You'd think they'd at least say more about your charges being dropped," he muttered. A moment silence passed before he said "Oh wait, it says it hear in a column at the bottom. Charges dropped on accused detective."
"See? They reported it," Gohan said as he pushed his brother's feet off the desk. "Satisfied?"
"Now, tell me how long you intend on staying. You've been here awhile and I haven't seen you call Mom or Dad once since you've been here."
"Oh, um, a few more days I guess," Goten answered absently. His brow furrowed for a moment before he asked "Um, Gohan? There's one thing I'd like to ask you."
Gohan raised an eyebrow at that. "Shoot."
"Well, when I was at the Westingham Mansion, that guy's wife came down and explained a lot of stuff to me. She also mentioned that you found that bracelet she had been trying to get rid of for a long time."
"Uh huh. And?"
"Well, she also mentioned you impressed her husband with something. What was it?"
"Oh." Gohan began walking in front of the desk, taking a seat in one of the chairs in front of it. "I found his car keys for him."
Goten nearly fell out of the chair. "Keys? That's it? How could that possibly impress him?"
"Well, Krillen usually has a chaffer. Problem was the chaffer was indisposed of at the moment and he was stuck driving himself around. Needless to say, he wasn't used to that arrangement. So there he was standing outside of the courthouse, checking every pocket he had for his keys and trying his best not to swear. I just happened to be around the courthouse at the time when this happened."
"And you were there for what?"
Gohan began scratching the back of his head in embarrassment. "I was looking for clients. Figured a courthouse would be a good place to offer my services. It didn't quite work out that way."
"How many times were you rejected?"
"Well, I wasn't exactly confident in my social abilities. Kinda made it hard to approach people. And when I did have opportunities, I was brushed aside."
That sounded like the brother he knew. Goten couldn't help but shake his head as he heard this. It was almost hard to believe the guy had actually made a living here considering his problems with social settings. "So you saw Krillen searching for his keys. Where were they?"
"In the ignition."
Goten couldn't help but sweatdrop. "And this was the guy who headed a federal taskforce."
Gohan gave him a small smile. "Incredible, huh?"
"I just don't see how that could have impressed him though."
"Well, I approached him when I saw he was having trouble. I asked him what was wrong, he told me he couldn't find his keys, and I just pointed it out to him. He hadn't even considered that the keys were anywhere other than his coat that it stunned him to find out they were somewhere else."
"And you knew they were there how?"
"Caught sight of them through the window when I walked up to him." A chuckle left his brother's lips. "I'm afraid the story isn't very exciting."
"Yet you somehow used that to become the main detective for the wealthiest family in the city," Goten added. "You have some amazing luck, don't you Gohan?"
Gohan leaned back into his chair, a grin appearing on his face. "Who ever said it was luck?"
To rocker101: The best line of the story lol
And that's that for Framed. Thank you everyone that read this story and a special thanks to all who read and reviewed it. I really appreciated it. I didn't think it would get nearly as big of a reaction as it did and that was a very pleasant surprise to have.
A lot of this story was inspired by John Grisham's Rainmaker. In fact, that book and movie set the tone for what I wanted to do with this story. However, I couldn't get the whole court scene to work in my head—one that had Frieza sitting in as the judge oddly enough—so I ended up changing my plan with this story several chapters in. As one reader pointed out multiple times, it was obvious there were some changes. While I did try to add some changes here and there, trying especially to keep them subtle, it didn't completely work out the way I had hoped. It was definitely a learning experience for me and something to think about for future stories.
But now it's time to move on from this story and onto the next one. As mentioned at the end of Immortal Enemies, I have another project I was working on and that one is taking a bit of time to get through. But it will be the next story I post, I will promise you that. As for my next G/V Week 5.0, the next one I intend to do is the entry that received the most votes, Disastrous Space Adventures.
Once more, thank you all for reading, reviewing, and enjoying the story.
Until next time,