Sorry for the long wait, but here's a new chapter. Many thanks to Kanotari for beta'ing this chapter. It's also dedicated to boboleta for finally getting me to write this.
When he awoke the next morning in Erasa's bed, everything seemed surreal. The girl he had quickly developed strong feelings for was hugging him as she slept peacefully, her head nestled against his chest. Her blonde hair looked like the most beautiful thing he had ever seen and he replayed the entire experience since he arrived at college over and over in his head, reveling in his luck.
Not wanting to wake the sleeping beauty from her tranquil slumber, Sharpner resolved himself to just lay there in her bed and think for awhile. He didn't really know whom else was in the room with him since when he fell asleep Videl and Angela weren't in the room. He assumed that both girls were elsewhere in the room but he'd have to discover that later.
This also begged the question of what happened to Gohan. The last time he saw his best friend, the kid was outside Kenley and talking to Videl animatedly. He was proud of how many huge strides his black-haired buddy had made in such a short time to be able to talk with an air of confidence to a girl of Videl's attractiveness. Maybe a change of scenery was all it would take to get Gohan out of his shy, nerdy shell and begin anew as a reinvented teenager.
Trying not to move too much, Sharpner slipped his right hand into his pocket and removed his cell phone, opening it up moments later. The screen blinked a few times to notify him that he had several unread text messages.
The blonde boy clicked the center button, opening up the first text. As he expected, it was from Gohan, asking where he was. Before responding, Sharpner decided to read the rest of his messages to see if that was the only one Gohan had sent. As it turned out, Gohan had sent two more last night, both discussing his confused feelings over Erasa's close friend, the girl he met last night and now knew to be Videl.
He felt slightly guilty for not being awake and conscious enough to offer his opinion to his black-haired friend the previous night, but at the very least now he could offer a fully informed, wide awake take on the matter rather than a half-assed one.
Clicking the appropriate buttons to send a reply, Sharpner began typing out the traditional "What happened?" response. Now was the time to gather as much information about Videl as possible.
Sharpner rolled over, reattaching his arms to the beautiful blonde girl's waist. He pulled her closer to him and sighed, taking in her delectable scent. This now marked his third day at university, and yet it seemed like so much more. So much had happened in such a short amount of time - hell, he'd kissed a girl and thrown up due to drinking on the very first night!
Now was a time for action, though. For helping Gohan, and for sorting out his mixed emotions on college so far. Reluctantly entangling his body from Erasa's grasp, he sat up, surveying his surroundings. It seemed he was correct about the other guests in the room. Videl and Angela had both returned and was passed out asleep, left to their own devices.
Deciding his was probably time to return to his own dorm room and deal with his emotional, naive roommate, Sharpner adjusted his hair, attempting to do so by memory and without a mirror, then hopped out of the bed, nimbly landing on the ground. Not making a peep was harder than it seemed, but the blonde nineteen-year-old managed to make it to the door without a hitch.
Just as he was about to leave, Sharpner realized that his new girlfriend - wow did that seem weird to think, he reckoned - wouldn't take kindly to him up and leaving as soon as he awoke. She might think he regretted sleeping the night in her bed with her, which he absolutely did not. Her scent, her touch, everything about her drove him up a wall, and he wanted to make sure he conveyed this to her. Well, without the emotional mush. As quickly as he could, Sharpner wrote a small note detailing how he wanted to go check up on Gohan's state.
Satisfied, he slipped out the door, making sure to gently close it behind him as not to disturb the three sleeping girls.
Room 112A wasn't too far away, only taking Sharpner around a minute to walk to. He waved his identification card in front of the small sensor, then waited for the green light to appear. Within two seconds, the beet red had changed to vibrant green.
When he entered his room, he was greeted with the still, stunned form of his best friend slouched against the wall, relaxing on his mattress. Gohan quite simply looked floored, flabbergasted, stunned. In seven long, fun-filled years as friends, Sharpner had never quite seen his companion like this.
"Gohan, my man," Sharpner started, "what's up?" He took a seat on his own bed and waved a hand in front of the Son boy's charcoal orbs. Finally, it seemed he'd gotten the kid's attention.
"Oh, hey dude," he replied plainly. His bored eyes continued staring straight ahead, not betraying anything going on in that thick head of his.
"Give me something to work with, buddy," he responded. "I can't help if you don't tell me what the deal is."
Gohan didn't give even as much as a simply shrug in response, continuing to stare aimlessly.
Finally fed up, Sharpner snapped. "You texted me quite upset last night, Gohan. Give me something to work with otherwise I'm going back and spending more time with Erasa."
That finally captured Gohan's attention, for it seemed he didn't want his friend to leave him alone to his thoughts so quickly after returning to the room. "I don't know, Sharp. I just don't want to involve someone new in my personal life with my parental life about to explode. I apparently can visit my dad soon, and I don't think having a new close friend at this time would be good. I only really decided to let Angela in because she's also had a rough past."
Sharpner knew the weight on his friend's shoulders must have been enormous when his lifelong buddy resorted to calling him "Sharp." Considering that nickname was reserved for times Gohan felt lost and confused, it made the blonde teen all the more aware of the tense atmosphere in their dorm room.
"Don't snap at me, Gohan," Sharpner started, "but I think what you're feeling and going through right now is bigger than just family stuff. I think my little boy," he teased, walking up to the other boy and clapping a hand on his shoulder, "is finally escaping his cocoon. Gohan the caterpillar is going to become a mature, awesome butterfly." His tongue-in-cheek ribbing made a small smile appear on the black-haired boy's lips, lifting his own spirits.
The other thing he noticed was that his friend's cheeks were now graced by a light red hue - Gohan, the same Gohan who couldn't even identify nail polish a few short days ago, was blushing!
"Maybe, Sharp," he responded. "I don't really have experience with this emotional stuff," he admitted quietly. "Can you help?"
Sharpner wasn't one for displays of brotherly love, but the current situation - a set of onyx orbs adopting a puppy-dog look - was too much to say no to.
"Fine," he relented. "I can't believe I'm the one who is going to coach you through this shit."
Gohan smirked a little at that. 'He's probably enjoying having me tormented like this,' Sharpner mused.
"So how do I know if I like a girl, Sharp?" Awesome, he was completely clueless. There was nothing like starting at the bottom and building an entire foundation of relationship knowledge!
"Look bro," Sharpner began, using the closest thing to a true term of endearment had for his lifelong pal, "I know I've never bothered you much about it, but have you never had a girlfriend of any kind? I always just assumed you might've kept one or two girls secret from me."
Gohan looked down at his bed, fidgeting with his hands, before finally speaking. "No," he admitted, "I've never had an actual relationship. A few crushes here and there, but nothing ever really materialized."
The blonde boy sighed. This was going to be way more difficult than he imagined at first. He needed to be sure of one thing, though. "Please tell me Chi Chi explained the bird and the bees!"
When Gohan's expression scrunched up into one of confusion, Sharpner couldn't resist burying his head in his hands and rhythmically chanting, "Why me! Why me!" over and over again under his breath.
"Do you mean intercourse, Sharp?"
After choking back a simultaneous cry of pity for Gohan and of relief he didn't need to explain the story of the stork and the child, he responded. "Nobody our age refers to it as intercourse; but yes, I'm talking about sex. Where did you hear it called intercourse, anyway?"
Gohan thought for a moment, then responded. "My old homeschooling tutor, Launch, explained the basic concept."
Well, he supposed that was better than having to sit through Son Chi Chi's version of explaining it. Plus, his father wasn't around to give a basic breakdown of it, since he was already in prison by the time Gohan hit puberty.
"My point was going to be," Sharpner continued after letting the information sink in, "that your limited experience with feelings and girls is going to make this difficult."
Gohan sighed at that, clearly exasperated by this revelation. "There's no easy as one, two, three solution for this type of thing, Sharp? What about with Erasa? Don't you sometimes just know?"
"Yes, that'd be correct. But those types of lucky situations are few and far between. You need to remember Erasa and I were both drunk when I kissed her a few nights ago. It's easier to let down your guard and speak unfiltered when you're inebriated."
He could see the gears turning underneath all that black, spiky hair. "So I just need to get drunk with Videl? I mean, I find her beautiful just like you found Erasa pretty."
That about did it for Sharpner. He groaned and banged his head against the wall behind him, beyond frustrated at his best friend's naivety. Part of the blame fell on himself to be sure - after all, it wasn't some new revelation that Gohan had a sheltered upbringing - but this was absolutely ridiculous!
"No, you nimwit! That's a bad idea. I can clearly tell you like this girl while sober so you just need to learn how to handle women better. You'll get in time. After all, you'll have the finest coach available."
Roshi Kame? What the hell was he doing calling? Granted, he, Krillin, and Goku had been close once upon a time and all taught under Professor Kame's tutelage, but that was ages ago!
Deciding to dwell on it further at a later date, Yamcha excitedly responded, "Hey, Roshi. How have things been?"
Life had been sweet for Yamcha in the last decade. Though he hadn't seen his old friends - the old geezer on the phone included - his life was simpler. Still, though, respect shone through for the former desert bandit turned reformed high school ace performer.
"Pretty good. Things have been pretty interesting lately," Roshi commented.
"You still a modern example of a ladies' man?" Yamcha teased.
"As if you'd expect anything less." He could just picture Roshi's exuberant, perverted grin on the other side of the line. "How about you, Yamcha? Any luck with the ladies?"
That made the tall man frown a little, delicately touching his cross-shaped scar. That particular womanly experience hadn't been too kind to him. "Nothing concrete," he lamented. "You know what I do now, right?"
"I've seen you on the TV a few times, yes," the older man replied. "You're a baseball star now."
Yamcha smiled at the news his former teacher and friend knew a little about his life. "Yeah, I can thank Goku for that," he chuckled, "since if it weren't for that guy's incessant pestering I never would've hit the gym. I have enough power to barely clear the fence, but it isn't an overwhelming amount of power."
"If I saw correctly," Roshi added, "you hit thirty home runs last season, right?"
"You did," the baseball star affirmed, "but the drawback to being famous is nobody wants to know me for me... anybody who's talking to me these days is after one thing," he lamely complained.
"That two million dollar payout is probably a bit of a harbinger when it comes down to finding a genuine girl, isn't it?" Roshi teased, mirth evident in his voice.
Yamcha sighed, knowing the man was right. Who was he to complain when he was reeling in enormous amounts of money? Plus, it was his own fault anyway. He'd had a great girl at one time, and let her get away. These days, a fine lay was easy to come by, but a real, actual relationship? As rare as a phone call from Professor Kame.
"I've been thinking of going back to my roots this coming offseason. It's been awhile since I visited Diablo," he informed his former teacher.
"What're you going to do there? You'd better not relapse on me!" Roshi admonished. The former criminal could virtually see the frown he assumed to be etched on the old man's face.
"I'm not. I just haven't seen my old friends from out there since," he paused, putting his right pointer finger on his chin to emphasize his thinker's pose, "before I made it big time, if I'm not mistaken."
"That's for good reason, you numbnut!"
"For a university professor with multiple degrees, you're oh so eloquent, old man. Has the student finally surpassed the teacher in his grasp of our language?" Yamcha teased.
"Shut your trap, kid." Though his tone was heavy with words associated with anger, anybody listening to their conversation would be able to discern that there was zero malicious intent behind the words. It was simply banter between a pair of colleagues, friends, harmless in every way.
"Have you heard from Krillin or Goku lately, old man?" The two were his best friends back in high school, and even into their twenties. The last time he'd seen Goku, or Krillin, for that matter, was when his old buddy's kid, Gohan, was only eight years old. What was that, a decade ago? At thirty-seven years old, it'd been nearly two decades since Goku and Chi Chi got married right after high school. He saw them at their wedding and fairly frequently thereafter, but hadn't heard hide nor hair from the spiky-haired man in almost ten years.
Sometimes it worried him, but when those times came he pushed his concerns to the back of his mind and concentrated on his new life. Still, though, it seemed about time to catch up, especially given Roshi calling him. What was that word people used? An omen?
"I actually haven't heard from either of them in ages," Roshi admitted. "Something's been bothering me, tugging at the back of my mind." The old man sighed in exasperation before continuing, "I know Goku sometimes goes a long while without contacting us - especially since Gohan was born - but I've literally heard nothing from either of those two in more than half a decade."
"Maybe we should contact them," Yamcha suggested. "I'll call Krillin, all right?"
"Then I'll try to reach Goku. It was nice talking to you, Yamcha. Hopefully my students don't keep me too busy this semester, and maybe we can meet up for drinks at some point. Oh," Roshi slipped in before he hung up, "and maybe you could find a nice girl to settle down with.
As the light fluttered in, Videl Satan opened her eyes. It took her several minutes to collect her bearings and realize where she was, but once she did, a smile crept its way onto her face. Despite herself, she blushed a little.
She might've told Erasa her credit card would remain for her own use, but that adorable spiky-haired boy she met last night could say her opinion.
Growing up motherless through her teenage years, she was accustomed to having nobody to talk to about guy problems. That was the main cause for her ineptitude when it came to the male gender.
The Satan girl sat up, rubbing away the sleepiness in her eyes, and looked around the room. A mess of red hair was visible on the far bed, and a collection of blonde locks greeted her most nearby. She knew who the blonde hair belonged to, but the ruby-colored head of hair took a few seconds to recognize. It was Erasa's roommate, Angela.
Now that she had her bearings, she decided to search through her high school friend's drawers for some of her clothing. It only took but a second to find a simple white and orange shirt with the letters 'FIGHT' spelled across the front. Finding her favorite pair of skintight, black biker shorts, Videl took the pile and went to the bathroom to get dressed.
"Hmm, he was so cute," she mumbled to herself, examining her appearance in the round mirror. She normally wasn't into guys so quickly like this, but there was something about Gohan which drew her to him. His eyes, as black as the darkest night, were simply alluring. He was naive, she could tell that from first glance, so she didn't need to worry about being taken advantage of. Back when her and Erasa were in high school, a multitude of guys tried to take advantage of her status as the great Judge Hercule Satan's daughter to get into her pants and gain some publicity.
Then again, as she'd discussed with Erasa last night, she didn't know Gohan well at all. For all she knew, he was a money seeking manwhore, putting on a nice act to trick her. Still, though, he seemed genuinely naive and kind. She was so confused!
"Videl, are you in the bathroom?" a voice called out to her.
Immediately recognizing its owner as Erasa, she responded, "I'll be right out," before tidying herself up.
Her outfit complete and her appearance deemed acceptable, the young woman exited the bathroom, a smile on her face. "Good morning, E," she greeted her friend, a pep in her step. She was eerily happy for someone who was just waking up. She even decided it was worthwhile to use her pet nickname for Erasa.
"Morning, Vi," replied the blonde girl, just before laying back down on her mattress, her head softly bouncing off her pillow. "How'd you sleep?"
"Pretty well, actually," Videl responded. "I slept through the entire night without so much as a single nightmare." That was another thing Videl really despised as a consequence of her mother's murder. Almost every night, horrific, gut-wrenchingly realistic dreams attacked her in spades.
"Perhaps it was because of Gohan," Erasa slyly slipped in, winking as she did so.
As much as she tried to hide her guilty smile, her lips involuntarily quirked upwards, betraying her answer. This only earned a quiet chuckle and an "I knew it!" from Erasa.
"So?" the raven-haired girl countered defiantly. "He's nice. I need to get to know him more though."
"So call him, silly!" Erasa admonished. "He's roommates with Sharpner, who left me a note saying he was going to check up on Gohan."
That's right, Sharpner had slept here last night too. She had been too caught up in the one-way track her mind was on to even notice the kid's disappearance. "I don't have his phone number," Videl admitted regretfully.
"Well, did you give him yours?!" the blonde demanded.
In the heat of the moment, phone numbers and other such silly nonsense hadn't seemed necessary, but she really regretted not having extensive knowledge of how to handle boys now. She needed to talk to Gohan, though. "Erasa can't you track down his number for me?" Normally, absolutely no situation was worth degrading herself to the point of begging, but the mysterious onyx-eyed man she met last night truly seemed different from the rest. "Please!" she finally added, desperation shining through her eyes.
"I don't have Sharpner's number, actually," she answered despondently. "If you really want to, you could ask Angela to help you."
Though the flirtatious redhead seemed nice enough, Videl couldn't help but feel jealous of how close her and Gohan had seemed. Even though she recalled that everyone said Gohan didn't have feelings for Angela, the girl's words rang strong.
'Tell me, does Gohan know your father is Judge Hercule Satan? I don't think he likes that man very much.'
'I had a nice, long drunk conversation with the boy last night while sleeping on his shoulder, after all.'
It was probably just friendly fire, Erasa's roommate trying to get a rise out of her, but it still stung that there was strong truth to the words.
"I know you and her aren't on completely amicable terms - and I do thank you for keeping the peace while in our room, by the way," the blonde interjected, "but she's your only choice. She's been to the boy's room when she went around introducing herself.
Swallowing her pride, Videl tiptoed up to the redhead's bed, resolved to wake her up and ask her to help. Was it really worth it though? Was Gohan worth stooping to asking this girl, this evil girl, for help? Was there not another way? One that didn't involve conversing with her apparent frenemy?
Stopping right at her bedside, the Satan girl felt the inside of her pocket. Her cell phone was in her right hip pocket, right where she thought it was. It might not fully solve anything, but anything that would delay this situation was okay with her.
"E," she began, "I'm going to go to the vending machine and call Andrea. I'll be back soon, okay?"
Not waiting for an answer, Videl scurried out of the room. From the events of the previous night, she could remember where the room with the vending machine was. As she slid inside discreetly, she whipped out her cell phone, hurriedly punching in the digits for the Satan Mansion.
"Hello, you've reached the Satan Mansion. Communications Head Roger speaking, how may I help you?"
"Hey, Roger. It's Videl." She really wanted to skip right to the chase, but it would've been extremely rude to not give her father's oldest worker the time of day.
"There's my favorite teenage girl! How is university treating you so far? Want me to get the old man for you?"
Despite his kind charade this week, she still didn't really want to speak to her father at the moment. It wasn't as if she and him were on bad terms per se, but she didn't want to talk to him about this little issue, and certainly needed to talk to somebody! "No thanks Roger. Could you put me through to Andrea, please?"
Roger obliged obediently, punching in the three digit extension code for the maid's office.
"Satan Mansion Head Maid Andrea here. Who am I speaking with?"
Videl gave a giant sigh of relief upon hearing her pseudo-mother's voice. After her mother's murder, Andrea had become the closest thing to a mother she had. "Hey Andrea! It's Videl!" The reflexive squeal that came through the phone brought a smile to the face of Mr. Satan's daughter.
"Videl! How are you? How's school? How is Erasa? Talk to me!" Andrea ploughed out in one breath.
"To answer your first question," she began, "I'm good. School is good. Erasa's good. Everything is good. I need some advice, though," she finished, hoping to slip that last line in there without garnering an overreaction.
"Advice? On what?"
"Um," she started hesitantly, "how do I word this? Let's say I made a new friend, but I'm not sure if they want to be my friend for me, or because I'm Dad's daughter," she spoke cryptically. "They seem to be really nice, and I've even heard a rumor that they don't particularly like Dad, but I'm terrible at making new friends," she finished with a frown, hoping that her mother figure had some ideas.
"Cut the crap, Videl. You like a boy, don't you?"
'Damn it,' she cursed mentally. "How did you know so easily?" the teenage girl whined.
"You've always been terrible at hiding things from me, Vi."
"Fine, then! It is a guy. I only talked to him once. I don't even know if I actually like him, and I have even less of an idea of what he thinks of me. E thinks he likes me, but I just don't know."
"Where is the fiery, passionate girl I know?" Andrea queried. "What kind of guy is this to melt your insides and make you like this?"
"Oh," Videl replied, smirking, "my personality is still in check. I've just been going through lots of personal and emotional changes, so the soft, Erasa-affected side makes more appearances than in days past."
"Emotional changes?" her maid inquired. "What do you mean?"
"Basically, I think I might be ready to test the dating game, to try to find a boyfriend."
"Well, if that's the case, you should be fine. You're beautiful and kind hearted; what sane guy could resist you?"
Videl smiled - a talk with Andrea was exactly what she needed. "Thanks. You always know what to say. I'm going to get back to Erasa's room, all right? Talk soon?"
"Of course, Vi. Call me any time."
Their conversation over, Videl returned to her blonde-haired best friend's room, confident and rejuvenated, ready to tackle the challenges of university.
Contemplating his emotions was truly a draining task. So draining, in fact, that Gohan decided to let the winds of the world carry him off into a nice slumber following his talk with Sharpner. He could only get about five minutes of good, solid rest before his phone buzzed.
Picking it up, he spoke into the receiver. "Hey, it's Gohan. Who's this?"
"My name's Krillin."
Confused as can be, Gohan rose his eyebrow. "Who is this? I don't know anyone named Krillin."
"Of course you wouldn't remember me," the other man began. "You weren't even ten years old the last time I saw you. Wow, how time flies. I can't believe you're already in university."
The Son boy was now extremely puzzled by this phone call. "How do I know you?"
"I used to be a friend of your father's."
Gohan's blood chilled a little at hearing that information. Could he trust somebody associated with his father? He didn't really know much about what had happened to his dad, but more importantly, he didn't know this person well at all.
"Why are you calling me?"
"I just got engaged," Krillin explained, "and called your house looking for your pops, and learned he's in jail."
"What's your point?" Gohan asked. He might be an innocent and naive teenager in ninety-five percent of situations, but anything related to his father brought out a different side of him, a version of him way more serious and formal. His education was a blessing when it came down to discussing his father rationally and peacefully.
"I figured that if Goku's been in jail for near a decade, you probably don't know much about him," Krillin reasoned.
"How did you get this number?" the dark-haired teen demanded, suddenly. His voice held a serious, do-not-cross-me edge to it, something rarely seen.
"Details aren't important," Krillin deflected effortlessly. "What's important is that I tell you all about your old man. He was a kind, great man and I need to reconcile what I know of him with this man behind bars."
Gohan hesitated, his indecision evident. "I really am not sure this is a good idea, Krillin," he retorted, elongating his pronunciation of his father's friend's name for emphasis. "I don't know much of anything about my father, I actually don't know anything about you, and I'm not sure I'm ready to learn either of these things."
"Come on, kid," he tried, "can't you help me out? Like I said, I have a fiancee now and she's made me realize how out of touch I've been with my past friends."
"I'm sorry, sir," the Son boy began respectfully, "but I'm not interested in what you're trying to sell." Gohan then began to hang up the phone, but a loud yell broke through his concentration before he could.
"I'm not a damned telemarketer, kid! I just want to talk. How about it?"
That made Gohan pause. What had changed in his tone? He was more adamant, more passionate, that much was evident. Why would that make him think twice about his decision, though? He seemed quite invested in making this work. Is that what had changed? Was he slightly moved by the man's dedication? Perhaps that was it.
"Tell me something more to prove you are who you claim to be. Do that, and maybe I'll believe you. That's a big maybe, though."
Krill audibly sighed in relief on the other end, bringing a slight smile to the Son boy's face. "Thanks, Gohan. I appreciate it. Well..." he trailed off, "I guess I know your mom is Son Chi Chi and you know a stubborn, cranky man named Vegeta."
"I actually don't know Vegeta too well," Gohan countered, "although the fact you know of his existence bodes well for your assertion. My brother knows him better than I do since he plays with their son."
"Wait," Krillin interjected, "you aren't an only child? You have a younger brother?"
Gohan smiled at memories of his younger sibling. "Yeah. His name is Goten. He's a great little tyke." Thinking about that adorable little seven-year-old, and how he's a carbon copy of his father, made him more amenable to meeting Krillin. "Upon further consideration, I'll meet with you," he said. "I admittedly don't know much about my dad, and since Goten never met him, he'll undoubtedly ask questions when he's older. I want to have answers prepared."
"So if Goku never met him I assume he's about seven or so, right? Because he would've been conceived in the nine months prior to Goku going to jail," Krillin reasoned.
The logic was sound, and the facts all lined up. His little brother was born within the first few months after his father was imprisoned. Just thinking about how long ago that had been, how it was an entire lifetime ago for Goten, brought tears to his face. That damned judge Satan had made it so he'd gone seven full years without seeing his father's face. Despite all the uncertainty surrounding whatever happened, Gohan still needed his dad, now more than ever.
"Where do you want to meet, Krillin?"
"How about Cafe de Maro? It's that small place close to your university."
How did Krillin know where he attended school? He was completely positive he hadn't mentioned a single thing about his schooling during their entire conversation. Come to think of it, that raised a lingering question from before. "How did you find this number, anyway?"
If he were next to his father's old friend at this very moment, he was sure he'd see the older man sweating profusely, gulping back any speech whatsoever. He knew it, he'd caught the man off guard.
"Why the sudden interest?"
Slow, steady breaths. The sure sign of nervousness. Even through the phone receiver, Gohan could ascertain every single intake of fresh air his conversation partner took; there were many of them.
"I never told you where I went to school," he replied, "so I'm just curious how, all of a sudden, one of my father's old buddies decides it's high time to track me down, after almost a damned decade," Gohan vented, subconscious frustration bubbling through to the surface. Where was this man for the past seven years? Oh yeah, in the process of getting engaged. Why suddenly reinsert himself into the Son family's lives? How would one go about doing that? The normally calm and collected exterior Gohan had was beginning to break. Every second that passed, new cracks formed in his sturdily built emotional barricade. Where was Sharpner or Angela when you needed them? Hell, even Videl or Erasa would be of assistance right now.
"My wife tracked you down."
The spiky-haired teenager grumbled something unintelligible under his breath, fed up, before speaking louder. "I see you're in the profession of being frustratingly vague."
"To be clear, she went through her prospective maid of honor, whom I believe you know."
Whom could he know who would be this man's wife-to-be's close friend? He only really knew three women who were the right age, and he doubted it was either his mother or Bulma, just because he knew more about them that wouldn't gel with this.
"That is correct," Krillin affirmed. "She is my fiancee's best friend."
Well, now everything makes sense. He trusted his former tutor slightly less now, but on the whole it wasn't a big deal. It was probably important to this woman to help out her future husband in this endeavor, so Launch decided to be nice. He didn't think he could doubt her trustworthiness any.
"Now it all makes more sense," Gohan responded with a true, genuine smile gracing his features for the first time during their conversation. "I'll meet you at that restaurant in thirty minutes."
Walking into the restaurant, memories swarmed to the forefront. The most stark one, the one which recurred most often, was of his recent visit with Eighteen. Dinner, proposal, future wedding. Every time he came into this restaurant, those amazing marble archways stunned him into a silent stupor.
"Hello, how can I help you today?" the maitre d asked. Krillin looked at her professional appearance. She was one of the people who was at the restaurant a few nights ago. Would she recognize him?
"May I have a table for two? My friend should be here soon." He began tapping his foot impatiently on the floor of the establishment, observing silently as the woman in front of him typed some numbers into her computer.
"Please follow me," she said, grasping two menus and walking in the direction of some empty tables. Krillin following dutifully behind her, enjoying the scenery of the restaurant. The maitre d led him to a small, secluded table for two next to the swinging kitchen doors.
"Thank you very much," the vertically challenged man answered. His height was often a sore subject for him, one he was teased mercilessly for in high school. On that topic, he never quite understood what Eighteen saw in him, but didn't complain. Everything those teenage bullies had identified as being wrong, his fiancee praised. A bald man with dots on his head, freckles, and a challenge reaching the top shelf? Nothing to write home about as far as he was concerned, but evidently the perfect man for one Alice Tean.
Krillin took his chair and pulled it backward, subsequently taking a seat and waiting for his former best friend's son to arrive. As if that phone conversation hadn't been awkward enough... he sighed, thinking over how he would approach Gohan. What would the kid look like? Tall, intimidating, handsome like his father? Would he have elements of Chi Chi's appearance mixed in? He sure hoped that the kid inherited Goku's trademark black spiky hair...
His anxious wait didn't last long, for before he knew it, a waiter was approaching his table, the undoubted son of Goku trailing not far behind. He wasn't exactly a carbon copy per se, but it was easy to associate the two. He didn't look that far off from Goku's teenage appearance, although the fancy clothing he was adorning afforded him a more professional look.
"Hey," Krillin greeted when the other adult sat down. The shorter man let his eyes sweep over the table once more, taking note of a light jacket now placed on the back of Gohan's chair. "So you're Gohan all grown up, I see."
"Indeed, I am. Nice to meet you. Or, uh," the spiky-haired kid stumbled, "meet you again after so many years?" he half-asked, half-stated.
Krillin chuckled at his taller companion's expense, enjoying a small laugh. "I guess that's one way to phrase it, kid."
Gohan's face broke out into a gigantic smile now that the tension at the table had been deflated. "So yeah... as you said, I'm Gohan," he confirmed, offering his hand out for a handshake at the same time.
The shorter man gladly accepted the friendly gesture, grasping the proffered hand in a firm grip.
At that moment, a waiter came over and took their drink orders; cherry cola for Gohan, lemon lime-flavored soda for Krillin.
"Now that pleasantries are out of the way," Krillin began, "we can start talking, I suppose."
Gohan's eyes scanned the restaurant, though for what purpose, Krillin had no idea. "So what can you tell me about my father?" he asked, after his sweep was completed.
"Lots of things," Krillin admitted. "I didn't know him as well leading up to the time he was put in jail, but I can tell you what I do know. For starters, he was a great man."
Gohan involuntarily let out a small scoff at this statement. "Sure. Let's go with that."
"It's true. He always had a little bit of an aggressive side to him. It rarely surfaced though," the bald man explained, "and all in all, he was one of the best men I ever knew."
"How did you know him again?"
"We went to high school together. Your pops, our friend Yamcha, and I, that is. We were inseparable back then," he stated with a nostalgic sigh accompanying his words. "Over the years, though, things change. We grew apart."
"Can you tell me some stories about my dad?" As Krillin observed the man across from him, he picked up on a few things. First and foremost, he seemed to know next to nothing about his father. It was possible he used to view him in a better light, and the man's arrest and subsequent jail sentence had ruined his reputation in his son's eyes. If that were the case, hopefully this conversation would shed some positive light on Goku. It also seemed he was nervous about something, evidenced earlier as well by his fidgeting.
"Sure, kid," Krillin eventually replied, having taken an additional pause when their drinks were brought over. "I'll start out with how we met Bulma. More specifically, your dad met her. He was off duty when some crazy man wielding a blade attacked Bulma. He revived her through CPR, and had her get a blood transfusion. She lost enough blood that she would've died otherwise. He saved her life, and then we - as in, Yamcha and I - became friends with her too."
He could tell Goku's kid was absolutely floored right now. Shocked, stunned, flabbergasted, you name it. It was his intent, of course - start off with a bang and paint Goku in the greatest possible light. Hell, it was possible the college student before him hadn't even been aware his father was a former junior police officer.
"What do you mean off duty?" were the first words out of Gohan's mouth.
Ah, so his suspicions were correct. He couldn't really blame Chi Chi, though. From what he'd heard, Gohan had a one-track mind when it came to Goku for at least a few years. He refused to hear anything that didn't appease his preconceived notion that his father was a monster. The bald man knew Chi Chi dearly loved her husband, so hopefully she could push him further in the right direction after this conversation ended. Of course, Judge Satan's sentencing - no visitation from Gohan or Goten, and everything - certainly didn't help matters.
"He was a junior police officer. You didn't know?" Though he was pretty sure he was correct, Gohan's nod of confirmation still slightly surprised him.
"My dad... he saved lives?"
The poor kid's expression made Krillin feel for him. He looked so bewildered and lost, like his life was a lie. "Yeah. Like I said, he was a great man. A hero."
"If he was such a hero, then why is he in jail? Why wasn't he there to raise Goten? Why do his actions make my mother cry rivers of tears?"
There it was. Bitterness. It wasn't healthy to bottle up the negative emotions you held for a person. Letting it all out in the open could only help...
"I don't know all the facts. I do know that the Goku I know, the great man, would never do something worthy of being put in jail," Krillin defended, "but he would've been there for Goten if he could've. He would have tried to be there for your teenage years, too. Think about it from his perspective. He's missed almost a decade of both his son's, and wife's, lives."
"I guess I don't really consider that too often. This whole situation is probably way worse for him than it is for us. He's the one suffering alone."
Krillin smiled, hoping he'd finally made a breakthrough. It only took one hellish phone conversation and actually meeting in person to get on amicable terms with the kid!
"Do you remember much about your dad from childhood?" It was a straightforward question with, hopefully, a straightforward answer.
"Not really." It just didn't end up being the answer Krillin had been hoping for. "Most of my memories of Dad are from right before he went to jail. I was old enough to know he was leaving me with a younger sibling, and mainly resented him. Then I found out I couldn't visit him and I decided to try to forget about it."
"Didn't you ever wonder?"
"Why you couldn't visit him?" Krillin replied. "I mean, doesn't that seem, I don't know, off? Weird?"
"Of course I did," the spiky-haired adolescent admitted. "It's the reason I absolutely abhor Hercule Satan."
Wow... abhor... that's quite the word. Krillin chuckled to himself at the kid's vocabulary. "You're smart like your pops, too. He was always smart, although that was when he expressed his anger the most. He would get frustrated when people didn't understand his angle."
"Well... I guess I should be going," Gohan said, a contemplative expression adorning his face.
Krillin looked up at the time and realized their conversation had taken up awhile. The bald man put down his drink and smiled. "By the way, have you met Judge Satan's kid yet?"
"He has a kid going to my university? What's his name?" Gohan inquired, legitimately surprised at the revelation.
"Her name," Krillin corrected, "is actually quite a nice name. It's Videl."
That's the chapter. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it, and please leave a review with your thoughts.