Brought to you by: Sailor, SD and Gue
"Videl Satan, wow," he marvelled, his blue eyes staring at the beauty across the table in awe, "Satan City's crime-fighter, in the flesh, wow."
Videl gave him a weak smile and cast her eyes back to the menu. She hoped the food was good; she was really hungry. Her entire morning and afternoon was spent out of town – pulling out survivors of a collapsed bridge. The desperate emergency forces of Gold City had called on Satan City, Blue City, and White City for reinforcements, and the young Satan City heroine had been amongst the volunteers.
"Thee Videl Satan, wow." Her date cupped his cheeks, leaning forward with his elbows on the table.
"Yes, you've said that fifty times already." Videl sighed as she scanned over the menu with her perfectly manicured nails. So far, this date was a bust. To think, she'd let Erasa drag her out to an exclusive boutique for this overpriced outfit she was wearing. What a waste.
"The champ's daughter herself, incredible," he revered, his eyes practically sparkling.
Videl rolled her eyes in irritation. The guy had been interesting enough in all their conversations on-line, but since meeting her face to face, since finding out her real identity… he was turning out to be like all the rest.
"I still can't get over it. So you're thee Videl Satan, wow." He leaned even further across the table, nearly toppling his wine glass over. He was practically gushing over the realization of whom he'd been lucky enough to meet anonymously on-line. "Videl Satan, wow. I can't believe it."
"Try," Videl muttered dryly, flipping her menu.
"Wait till I tell the guys about this." He sighed happily. "They all laughed at me, you know. They called me a desperado when they found out about, you know…going out to dinner with a girl I met on the Internet. Ha! Who's got the last laugh now, guys? To think that Justice123 is actually Videl Satan. Videl Satan!" he exclaimed in triumph.
Videl gritted her teeth.
"But you're Videl Satan, I don't understand, why?"
"Why?" She looked up from her menu and quirked her brow.
"Yeah, I mean…you're beautiful, intelligent, rich, and you're Videl Satan! Why would you go on-line to meet people? It doesn't make any sense."
"It makes perfect sense," she snapped, shutting the menu and slamming it on the table. "Every guy that's ever asked me out has been interested in either my father, my money, or my fame. I'd hoped to meet someone anonymously, someone who liked me for me. So I went online and assumed the name Justice123, but clearly that didn't work either. Since meeting me, all you've been interested in is my name!" She pushed her chair back and stood up. "This date is so over, I'm outta here."
"Videl, wait." He pushed his own chair back and grabbed her arm. "I'm not like those other guys I swear. Your real identity just took me by surprise. I like Justice - the girl I talked with online, I liked her just fine, I really do. I wouldn't have come out here tonight to meet her in person if I didn't. Your real identity just...caught me off guard...please…sit down," he pleaded softly.,"I was just a little star-struck, I'm over it now."
Videl sighed, but relented. Sky24 and Justice123 had met on Getting-to-know-you dot com, hitting it off immediately. They'd chatted for hours and hours some nights, and they'd had some great laughs. Perhaps she should give him another opportunity to acclimatize to her identity.
She sat back down.
"Just for argument's sake though," Sky24 said, "you think you could…you know, introduce me, to your dad? I want to take a thousand photos with him. I mean, he's the champ! That's like…huge!"
Humph! Videl grabbed her purse and stormed out. She was so out of here.
Thankfully she picked up on the first ring.
"Hey stranger," she chirped, and Gohan could hear the smile in her voice on the other end of the line. It was always infectious. He smiled back.
"Hey," he said tiredly, doodling something with a bitten-down pencil on the report staring back at him from his large desk. He always doodled when he was nervous.
"Let me guess." Her voice was vibrant and loud, "burning the midnight-oil again? This is your office line." She spoke with more than just a hint of disapproval.
"Not my fault. They gave me a new project on my way out of the door, literally." He sighed.
"For crying out loud, Gohan, it's a Friday night, you could have left it until Monday, ya know, " she chastised.
"Are you kidding me, Lime? A bridge in Gold City collapsed out of the blue and killed more than a hundred people, and no one has any idea why. The public is in an uproar over there, and the board wants answers by Monday morning. I'll be working all weekend on this one." He tapped his teeth with his pencil.
"Working all weekend as usual," the beauty on the other end of the line said dispassionately, "and yet, you don't even sound resentful about it. What's wrong with you Gohan?" Her voice rose by an inch of an inflection.
"Resentful?" He blinked into the phone. "How can I be resentful when it's such an interesting case? I mean, don't get me wrong, of course I'm not happy about the people that died over there, if I had known sooner I would have flown over to help out, but..." His voice lost its regret and gained an air of excitement. "I have the blue-prints to the original design of the bridge and the geotechnical reports submitted by the investigating team in front of me right now, and I'm telling you Lime, just from these preliminary calculations, I can already tell that these designs didn't take into account the vigorous scour that was going to affect the main-"
"Hold it! Hold up nerd-brain!" she interrupted his eager tirade, "did you really call me up on a Friday night just to bore me to death with technical details about your work?" she demanded.
"Uh…well, no. Sorry," Gohan said sheepishly. Even though he couldn't see her, he knew exactly the disgusted look she bore on her face. "Sorry Lime, I know how much my job bores you." He sighed. "I guess I can't help but talk about it since it's the only thing I ever get to see day in and day out. "
As an intern, his desk was piled with old cases that had never been solved.
"Aaw, poor Gohan, abused by his bosses, you want me to come over there and kick their asses?" She chuckled at her own lame joke.
"No thanks Lime, that's not the kind of favour I need. I need a favour of a different kind…" He let his sentence hang, already cringing in anticipation of her reaction.
"Again?" Lime's voice lost its cheerfulness. Gohan could very well picture the frown etched on her face, and he didn't blame her. This would be the third time this month. He was such a loser.
"Please Lime, just one more time, please?"
"You said that last time," she said in a clipped tone. She was far from impressed.
"I know I did, but I didn't expect there to be another work function so soon. It's a fundraiser this time, and I have to be there. Please Lime, I don't wanna have to go alone. " He pouted, that always worked on her.
"Gohan, you said you'd ask that girl from your office – Kirsty. You said you were gonna ask her out last time. When are you going to do it? I can't keep being your plus-one for these things. It's just sad really," she reminded him.
At the mention of Kirsty's name, Gohan winced.
"Hi Kirsty." His tongue felt heavy and numb as his insides twisted. The dark-haired structural engineer didn't even look up from her stack of reports.
"What do you want, Son?" she asked absently.
"Um…" He scratched his scalp." I was just…um…wondering if I could ask you something?"
Her brows creased in displeasure as she cast her brown eyes up at him. "Do I have Encyclopedia or Google written across my forehead?" she snapped at him irritably.
"Huh? No, I don't mean something like that, I meant something…erm…personal." He gulped, slipping his hands into his pockets.
"Oh I'm sorry." She pushed up the bridge of her spectacles with her middle finger. "Did my ignoring of you and of the other interns these past few weeks give you the impression that we were friends?"
"Well, we're not. Now go away please, I have work to do," she dismissed.
It was like being punched in the gut by Buu all over again - so much for 'manning up'.
"So, did you ask her out or not?" Lime demanded on the other end of the line.
Gohan scratched his head. "Well, I…no, not really, no," he said lamely.
The sigh from the green-eyed girl was loud and exasperated. "Gohan, a girlfriend is not going to fall onto your lap you know, you have to man up and take chances, geez!"
"I know." He rubbed his temples. "It's not easy for me, talking to girls my own age. I'm just not used to it, that's all."
"Sometimes I could just kick your mother, you know that? She should have let you out more. She should have at least let you go to high school. You would have met many great girls there, I'm sure of it." Lime sighed regretfully.
"I don't know about that, Lime. Girls just mostly ignore me. I'm sure it would have been the same in high school as well."
"You still don't get how handsome you are. Girls are just too shy to even look at you , it's not that they're trying to ignore you."
"Oh I'm sorry." She pushed up the bridge of her spectacles with her middle finger. "Did my ignoring of you and of the rest of the interns these past few weeks give you the impression that we were friends?"
"Sure Lime, sure. I'm sure that's what it is," he said dryly. "I can't talk for long anyway, I have to get back to this investigation. So, will you be my plus-one for this fundraiser?"
"You abuse me because I know all your secrets, you know that? Fine," she grumbled. "I'll be your plus-one, again," she said unhappily.
"Great!" Gohan beamed, what a relief!
"So, when is this thing anyway?"
"On the fourteenth of Feb-"
"What?" she screeched.
"Err…" Gohan had to hold the receiver away from his ears. Man, that was loud.
"No way Gohan, I have a date. Do you even know what the fourteenth of Feburary is?"
"It's Valentine's day moron, and I can't tag along with you on Valentine's day. I have an actual date, with a real guy."
"What do you mean by real? I'm real," he said, his voice wounded.
"No, you're not. You're my friend, there's a difference. Stan might actually put-out, you know?" She laughed.
"Put…out? Put out what?" He blinked in confusion.
"Oh Gohan, you're so sad and adorable. Twenty-one years old and you're still so sheltered. I mean, he might actually take me home and have wicked sex with me." She grinned, knowing exactly how scandalized he would be.
"LIME!" He flushed immediately with embarrassment. "You shouldn't say such things."
"Urgh, stop being such a prude mountain-boy. In any case, I'm sorry, I can't bail you out, not this time."
He knew that tone well, she meant it. He paled. "But I'm desperate, please Lime."
"If you're really that desperate, then do what every other 'desperado' in the city does when they're in a tight spot."
"And what's that?"
"Internet dating Gohan, Internet dating."
Videl pulled off her heels and quietly tip-toed across the mansion. She didn't want to risk bumping into her father - he would ask too many questions about her evening. She slipped into her room and unzipped her now ruined overpriced dress. She giggled as she wiggled herself out of it, thinking of the fun she'd had after ditching Sky24.
After bailing on the blue-eyed bore, she'd stormed out of the restaurant and walked the streets of Satan City feeling rather pissed at the world. She was still hungry, and was indiscriminately looking for a fast-food place to grab some quick take-out when trouble found her.
Ah, the joy of kicking scumbags was just the pick-me-up the evening warranted. Some idiot junkies had made the mistake of trying to rob her...that did not end very well for them. Ah well, it was just as well the dress got ripped in the fight - it's not as if she was ever going to wear it again.
Now that she was home, she opted for comfort – her favourite oversized t-shirt thrown over some baby-blue pajama bottoms. It was still a bit early to sleep so she scanned her book-shelf - Spectrophotometry, Criminal Psychology, Forensic Anthropology, Ballistics, and other textbooks pertaining to her Masters Program lined the array of wooden shelves. The deadline for her thesis was coming up, but she couldn't be bothered tonight. She sat down on her desk and opened her laptop.
"I guess I can't be Justice anymore. That idiot, Sky, is probably still lurking around here," she muttered as she deleted Justice123. It was time to set up a new profile.
"Hmm...what name shall I use?"
Early Saturday morning, after spending the night at his office working on the Gold City bridge case, a sleep deprived Gohan walked out of his office building and ordered breakfast at the only place still open – a 24 hour burger joint. It was 04:00 AM and he wanted to fly over to Gold City to the site of the collapsed bridge for his own analysis before a team of other appointed inspectors could arrive.
Even though he was just an intern, on his very first assignment, he had made an observation on the designs of a bridge that, overlooked, could have resulted in a disaster. The senior engineer of the inspections board had noticed him and from that day forward, all high profile projects always passed by his desk. It was flattering, but a nuisance at the same time – these days he was so busy he never had any time for himself.
He ate quickly and flew 2000 km to the site in Gold City fully equipped with his gear. He was quick with his inspection, only doing it to verify what he had already deduced from his calculations. It took him about an hour to validate his findings, and then he flew home to get a well deserved rest.
It was late afternoon when he finally woke up. The house was quiet; his mother and father were out visiting with his grandpa, and Goten was spending the weekend in West City with Trunks as usual. Thankfully his mother had left a mountain of food for him, so he settled down for an afternoon snack, wondering if he should go up to the Lookout to visit Piccolo and Dende.
The shrill ringing of his phone brought him out of his musings. 'I should really change that ring tone, he thought as he picked up.
"Son Gohan?," the voice prompted when he picked up.
"Err…yes ?" He immediately swallowed the last bit of his bread and dusted off the breadcrumbs from his mouth and clothes nervously. It didn't even occur to him that the person on the other end of the line couldn't see him.
"This is Marcy calling from Public Relations. I'm sorry to disturb you on the weekend," she began, her voice everything but apologetic, "I was just finalizing the seating arrangements for the fundraiser ball and I realized that I don't have the name for your plus-one?"
"Oh, erm…yeah, about that…it's…I…I was just going to come alone."
"Oh. Well, that's awkward since the theme is Famous Couples," she muttered more to herself than to him. "You do realize that it will be Valentine's day right? The seating arrangements are tables for two, so it will be a bit weird if you're seated alone."
"Oh, well, okay, I guess I could…I don't know," he said uncertainly. Why would they do that? It was a work function for crying out loud! Why were they deliberately turning it into some kind of couple's thing?
"Look, err…Gohan is it?" Her voice cut through his whiny thoughts. "The fundraiser is in two weeks so there's plenty of time to invite someone and email me their name okay? I'll drop you an email."
"Um…yeah, thanks," he said, but she had already hung up.
Okay Lime, looks like I'm officially a 'desperado' now. Let's see about this Internet dating thing.
In the midst of thundering helicopters, police sirens and flashing ambulance lights, seated on the bonnet of a police vehicle behind the yellow tape - Videl bit down hard on her bottom lip and tried not to cry.
This was a disaster. This was the tourist bus scenario all over again.
"You saved lots of lives Videl, just remember that." The chief tried to comfort her.
Videl merely shook her head. "But I didn't save all of them! I wasn't…I wasn't fast enough!" She turned her face away from him, the burn of her failure scorching her soul raw.
Maybe she should have carried a gun like the chief had suggested, at least then, she might have been able to shoot that last robber before he'd killed the guard. By the time her foot had landed on the back of his neck, he had already fired, and now…
"You did what you could, we all did," the chief said calmly, taking a seat next to her on the bonnet. "Now go home and get some rest Videl." His tone was uncharacteristically firm - he wasn't asking.
Videl could only nod in agreement. She picked herself up, her hands trembling at the sight of her blood-soaked shirt. It's not that she had a problem with blood it's just that, most of the time it was hers or some punk robbers. But this time, this blood...
"T-Thank...y-you Ms Satan, you...you...saved us." The guard stammered, choking on his own blood as Videl held him. In less than a second, he was dead.
She climbed into her copter and set it on autopilot, her mind was far from clear. She just curled up on the seat and fought the urge to cry. It was turning out to be one hell of a weekend: the bridge yesterday – so much damage, so many wounded, so many dead. And now today, that poor guard...she shut her eyes, trying to shut out the images.
It was early evening when she made it home. The disappointment in herself was so fierce that she immediately hit her training room, if only she had been faster, if only she'd taken him out first, if only...if only...but no matter how hard she kicked and punched, the failure remained rooted deep within her. The training wasn't helping.
She abandoned the useless punching bags and headed out towards the kitchen.
It was just as well that her dad was out, she didn't feel much like company tonight. She ordered a light meal from the chef on-duty and headed up-stairs to her room. While they prepared her dinner, Videl took a quick shower and changed into some comfortable clothes.
She ate quickly, hardly tasting her food and quickly placed her tray outside her door. She climbed into bed and scoured the television channels for something mind-numbing and frivolous to watch.
It didn't take long for her temper to reach boiling point though...
"Urgh! I'm so sick of seeing my face!" she yelled at the TV, throwing the remote-control at the screen.
As usual, her crime-fighting exploits were headline news on every station. That afternoon's attempted robbery was being broadcasted with survivors being interviewed. They were all ooh-ing and ahh-ing about how 'awesome' and 'brave' and 'beautiful' (as if that had anything to do with anything) Videl Satan had been while taking on those robbers. It was all Satan-City heroine this, Satan-City heroine that.
It was so sickening.
What about the guard that had died? Why were they not talking about the guard she had failed to protect?
Gah! It had taken him hours to surf through all these dating sites, goodness. He never would have guessed that there were so many!
Gohan had finally decided on Getting-to-know-you dot com. It looked professional and clean, and the search criteria was organized and easy to use. After going through several profiles, he finally found one that caught his interest. The avatar was bright enough - a fiery phoenix in burning reds and oranges. But...the mystical bird of legend in all its fiery beauty was not what caught his attention. It was more the pen-name associated with it.
It was just the thing that would catch his eye, the user called herself 'Katagirl', and for some reason he chuckled at the name, wondering if its owner could execute even a single kata.
Her profile was nice enough, though like most profiles on this site - it didn't give much away. Just the basics - sex, age, education, interest etc. In any case, he liked her pen-name, so he sent her a request to chat. Her status was set as 'busy', so he doubted that she'd even see it, let alone respond.
Satisfied that he'd made enough effort towards securing himself a date for this fundraiser, he minimized the dating website and connected to the server at his office – he still had a report to put together for Monday.
A few hours later, Gohan was happy with his progress; he was done with his findings, now he just had to make a recommendation and he'd be done. The rest would be up to his boss. It angered him that so much destruction and suffering had come from this kind of negligence – probably to cut costs. He could only hope that the company for those defective hinges would be held accountable when everything was said and done. Nothing would make up for the lost lives, but if the board and the courts were severe in their punishment, other companies would hopefully be more responsible in the future.
For now though, he deserved a little break.
"Mnnn…" He let the aroma of fresh coffee tickle his nose as he placed the steaming cup on his desk. It was late and he was hungry. He was surprised that his parents hadn't come back yet, and the last thing he felt like doing was cooking for himself.
"Huh?" He blinked at the small notice at the bottom corner of his screen. 'Katagirl has accepted your request to chat', it read.
"Oh wow," he said, sitting down. "I guess I should say something, but what?"
Suddenly he felt like he was standing in-front of Kirsty all over again. Even though it wasn't exactly face to face, it was still a conversation with a girl. It just made him feel all awkward and nervous. He bit down on his lip and placed his fingers on the keyboard.
"Hi," he typed and stared at the screen as it reflected his commands:
NimbusRider says: Hi.
The dark screen flickered in green text, and he wondered if his greeting was good enough. He held his breath for five seconds and waited for Katagirl to write back.
Katagirl says: Hello.
He released the breath he was holding and let his fingers glide.
NimbusRider says: Thank you for accepting my request to chat. I'm new here, but I'd like to get to know you, if that's okay?
'Gah!' he immediately berated himself. 'I shouldn't have typed that. I should have said something less…desperate.'
Katagirl says: That depends…
NimbusRider says: On?
Katagirl says: Well, for starters, are you really new here? Or are you one of those guys that like to give themselves a new pen-name every week so they can lure a girl into chatting with them, and then get all vulgar?
Gohan scratched his head and re-read her post. Huh? People did that?
NImbusRider says: I'm never vulgar, and no, I'm not one of those guys. I'm genuinely new, just signed up today.
Gohan sat back in his chair staring at the screen. He figured he must have said something wrong because she did not write back for a long time. Just when he was about to give up and minimise the window, the screen came alive with the written word.
Katagirl says: Looks like you're an honest one. There is no history of accounts associated with your IP. Yeah, just so you know - I've just traced it to a remote location in the 439 district area. How peculiar, I didn't even know there were towns down there.
Gohan nearly had a heart-attack. What the...Traced...Traced? What the hell? Who IS this girl? She just t-traced me?
NimbusRider says: Geez! Is everyone on here this suspicious? I can't believe you just traced me!
He genuinely couldn't believe it, even though he had nothing to hide - well sort of. He wrapped his fingers around his steaming mug and took a sip of his coffee while he waited for a response. Surely this wasn't the 'norm'?
Katagirl says: Probably not as suspicious as me, though they should be. It's in my nature to be suspicious I guess, I have my reasons. Besides, I've been on this site for a while now, and I've come across a lot of creeps and weirdo's in the past.
NimbusRider says: Oh. Well, I guess it's better to be safe than sorry. What classifies as 'creep' behaviour by the way?
Katagirl says: Like that needs explaining…
NimbusRider says: Well, I just don't want to find myself saying the wrong thing, that's all. Like I said, I'm new here, and would hate to offend anyone.
The cursor just flickered against her name. She didn't type back a response for a while. Gohan reached for his mug, placing it at the tip of his lips as he took another sip. Did I say something wrong?
The cursor began to move again in green text against the black background of the screen.
Katagirl says: Just don't ask me about the colour of my pubes, and we'll get along just fine.
Gohan sputtered his coffee, the brown droplets splattering his screen and keyboard. "Crap." He abruptly got up from his chair and opened his drawer to pull out a microfiber cloth. He padded the keyboard first, trying to get as much of the liquid as he could, before he wiped the screen clean. He re-read the last message on the screen just to make sure he wasn't seeing things and sat down in disbelief.
Katagirl says: Hello? Are you still there?
Gohan scratched the back of his head, trying to decide if he wanted to continue chatting to this girl. He couldn't fathom how anyone would throw in pubes into the conversation, just like that.
Katagirl says: Hello?
He bit his mouth and stared, his fingers unmoving.
Katagirl says: *waves* are you still there? Nimbz?
Nimbz? He blinked at the shortened version of his pen-name.
Katagirl says: Are you still there?
Gohan drummed his fingers lightly on his desk and swiftly moved them above the black keys of his keyboard. He started to type something, but quickly deleted it.
Making up his mind, he shifted his hand to the mouse-pad and hurriedly clicked on 'end-chat'. He reclined back in his chair and sighed in relief when the screen reverted back to his profile page.
Videl blinked, and stared at the screen, 'NimbusRider is offline', it read.
Humph! He ended the chat, just like that? How rude. "Did I offend him?" she thought out loud, but at this point, she really didn't care.
The memory of the guad's blood seeping into her clothes, his chest rising and falling one last time before his body went still was still haunting her.
Unable to work on her paper, she had called Erasa earlier, her best friend always had interesting if not outrageous stories to tell her, but the blonde was out with her boyfriend tonight. So she'd scoured the web for random people as usual. But none of the guys she had chatted to tonight had been able to hold her attention or at least distract her from that bloody imagine - least of all NimbusRider - the weirdo from the middle of nowhere.
She closed the dating website and checked the time - it wasn't that late, if she pushed herself, she might be able to write a few pages of her thesis.
That's chapter 1 you guys. Do let the team know if you liked it or not. Would you like to see the story continue? Review and let us know.