DragonBall V: A World both Familiar and Foreign

Author's Note: Cough. Yeah so my computer broke down and I couldn't afford a new one for some time. And when I did get the new parts and such my hard drive was corrupted so I lost all my old writing. Luckily I still remember where I was going with this story but I don't have my old notes, the time line, etc. However the important thing is I'm back and writing again, right? So um… yeah. Here's a new chapter for you. Finally. After five years. Teehee

Required Disclaimer: I don't own the DB franchise, I've never worked for them, I'm not making any money off this, and I'm dead sexxy baby! Read and enjoy.

Chapter 40: Head Full of Ghosts

Peasa sighed softly as she stared at a photograph of Vegeta. In it he was smirking at the camera, arms crossed and looking as handsome as ever. It was one of the rare times that the Prince of Saiyans had allowed himself to be photographed, and the only one in which Bulma wasn't in the picture with him. The Saiyan teen knew she should have felt a little guilty for coveting the picture because of that, but it was an indulgence she allowed herself. 'Bulma has her memories and I have mine.' She rationalized.

Her eyes shifted to another portrait sitting on her dresser, that of her adoptive brother Trunks. Peasa's tail swished around anxiously as she contemplated the shy smile that the lavender-haired youth sported. She hated to admit it, but she missed him. Their relationship had been rocky, between all the sibling rivalry, the teasing of the boy's lack of a tail and awkward socialization, and then the uncomfortable crush he formed on her during their Room of Spirit and Time training, he had above all been her little brother. Even though she had done her older sibling duty of making his life a living hell, she still would have taken Cell's energy blast for him had their situations been reversed.

That led her thoughts back to a darker path. Cell had not only been responsible for the deaths of both Vegeta and Trunks, but of Goku as well. Though the latter hadn't been family, she had finally warmed up to him during their time in the Room of Spirit and Time… not quite a year's worth, since Goku had to leave early, but close enough. During the entire time the Saiyan girl had known him, he had annoyed her at the best of times, and made her feel uncomfortable at the worst. It was during that training that Peasa had realized why she had trouble relating to him. He was a Saiyan, but he had been raised as a human. He had a strange mix of both tendencies, but his gentle spirit had been purely human. Once she made that discovery, she had made an effort to relate to him simply as Goku, and not as one Saiyan to another. And so she developed an appreciation for his enthusiasm, his own brand of humor and his fighting spirit. In the end, he was a comrade in arms, perhaps even a friend. All of these men that she cared about in various degrees had been taken from her by a soulless monstrosity, one that she had failed to defeat alone.

It didn't hurt her pride much that she needed help in the end, simply because she had faired the best out of all of them. Though, Peasa still believed Goku hadn't given Cell his all, a feeling she had chosen not to share with the others. She knew how deeply he could dig when he had to. He also had not tried the Genki Dama, his ultimate desperation move. She had experienced that attack first hand during their training, but it had minimal impact on her, apparently due to the limited amount of evil in her heart. On Cell, however, the attack would have hit for the full effect. 'You had to have had something in mind when you gave up, Kakar… Goku. Did you believe I had a better chance against him, or did you think I had something to prove? Was there something I had missed? Some move I didn't do? Some hidden reservoir of power I hadn't tapped? Or did you assume I would draw the others into the fight in a manner that you wouldn't, because of their unshakeable faith in your ability to handle the fight on your own? What was it?'

The Saiyan princess sighed and tried to get her mind off both her mourning and her self-examination. She knew going to the lab to work on one of the many technological projects that she and Bulma tended to busy themselves with was useless, mostly due to the fact that her adoptive mother would be doing the same. And spending time with the blue-haired genius would simply become a sharing of grief, which was something she wanted to avoid. She decided instead to simply go flying at random and find something to occupy her mind and time. She spotted a dance club and smiled to herself, the thought of losing herself in the simple act of dance was appealing.

The Saiyan teen walked into the dance club and grimaced for a moment as the loud music assaulted her sensitive hearing. The girl shook her head and adjusted to the pounding rhythm before moving further into the club, taking her time in watching the gyrations of people on the dance floor. 'Hmm, these humans can come up with some silly moves. Still, it looks fun.' She mused before making her own way into the crowd.

A new song started just as Peasa found a spot where she could dance without fear of injuring people nearby. So the girl closed her eyes, using her awareness of the spirits of nearby people to prevent her from accidentally splitting their skulls with an elbow or crushing their feet with a careless step. The music washed over her in a primal rhythm and her body moved on its own in answer.

It was a while later, red-faced with exhilaration that she heard a suave male voice by her ear. "Hey beautiful, you want a dance partner?"

The Saiyan princess opened her eyes, feeling a little irritated at being interrupted. She glared at the man talking to her a moment before she took in his features. 'Hmm… handsome. Not as handsome as Vegeta or as cute as Krillin, but not bad.' She observed. "You think you can keep up with me?" She inquired in a teasing tone as she continued dancing, swaying her hips in a manner that made the man appraise her curves even more appreciatively than before he had approached her.

"I can give it a whirl, maybe you can show me some moves." The man replied smoothly, joining the dance with some rather impressive moves of his own. "First time I've seen you in here." He observed aloud as the music paused for a few moments as the DJ switched discs.

"Yes, it's the first time I've been in here." Peasa replied, frowning slightly as she waited for the music to restart.

"My name is…" The man started to say before the music restarting cut him off.

The princess turned her back on him, swishing her tail in a teasing manner as she swayed to the music, looking over her shoulder at him with a smirk on her lips. The expression dropped to one of confusion when she saw the shocked look on her dance partner's face. "What's wrong?" She inquired.

"You… have a tail!" The man blurted out, stupefied.

"Yeah… so?" Peasa asked as she turned back towards him, frowning at his reaction.

The handsome guy shook his head and backed a step away. "I didn't realize you were a…" He paused for a moment, shuddering as he thought the word. "Freak." He stated finally. "Sorry, I gotta go." Without another word he hurried off.

The Saiyan girl scowled and swished her tail about angrily, accidentally knocking a nearby dancer into his date, but at the shy grins they gave each other, it was obvious they didn't mind. "Idiot human, doesn't he realize my tail is one of my most attractive features?" She growled out softly to herself.

"When people tell you that, they mean you have a nice ass, girl." A familiar gruff voice said suddenly by the teen's ear.

Peasa froze as she heard the voice. 'It… can't be.' She turned, feeling as if it took an eternity. Finally her eyes fell on the last man she ever expected to see here… or anywhere. "Vegeta?! It can't be, you're…"

The Prince of Saiyans gave her an arrogant smirk. "Dead? That never stopped me before." He replied, letting his gaze wander over her body. "You do have a lovely… tail, I must admit."

The girl raised one hand, trembling as she reached out for him. "Is it… really you?" She asked in disbelief.

Vegeta took a half step back and shook his head once. "Be seeing you, Peasa." With that he disappeared into the crowd.

"Vegeta!" The brilliant teen cried out, stumbling forward and knocking several people off their feet. But she couldn't see a trace of the proud warrior anymore. 'Shit… all in my mind. Of course it was… what am I, an idiot?' She wondered. Peasa glanced down at the people she had banged into and smiled apologetically before rushing out of the club, tears falling anew from her eyes.


Krillin crouched down in a defensive stance, watching the android carefully. "Your move." He offered with a taunting smile.

Android 18 smirked and rushed at the monk, dropping suddenly to flip forwards and use her hands to spring upwards, bringing her feet up to impact with the man's gut. She fell awkwardly however and wasn't able to follow up the move quickly enough. "Oof!" She cried out as she fell flat on her back.

The dark-haired warrior sprang back up, grimacing as his sore stomach complained about the action, but he didn't drop his guard. "That was an unusual move." He remarked with a half smile towards the blonde cyborg.

"It worked better in my head." 18 grumbled as she settled back down into a defensive stance of her own. 'I ended up looking like a clumsy oaf. Good going number 18.' The blonde bombshell chastised herself.

Krillin rushed forward this time and when the android blocked his attack she found it was his afterimage instead. Too slow to react, she suddenly found herself in a shoulder lock and it only took the man a split second to lock it in. "Gotcha." He stated simply, trying to hide the triumphant smile because he knew it would only piss her off.

"Energy field!" The android cried out, emitting a field of energy from her body that electrocuted the monk and made him drop to the ground. She rolled away and brought her hands back, fierce concentration on her lovely features. "Power blitz!" She cried, bringing her hands forward and shooting out an energy wave.

"Kamehameha!" The monk yelled as he rolled up into a crouch, summoning forth the attack as quickly as he could to counter the android's blast. They both grimaced as the energy beams met and struggled against one another. After over a minute of back and forth in the beams, Krillin rolled to the side suddenly and swung his arms away for a moment and then back towards his sparring partner, looping the kamehameha wave around to strike the girl in her unprotected back and knocking her flat on her face. "You ok, 18?" He inquired carefully, watching carefully in case she jumped up to retaliate.

"Yeah… I'm fine." The blonde grumbled, lifting herself up and settling back on her heels, reaching back with one hand to rub at her sore back. "You got me." She conceded to relax the man's posture.

"Good spar." Krillin smiled, offering the girl his hand to help her up. He saw her smirk for a moment and he knew she was considering yanking him down, but she reconsidered and simply took his hand to hoist herself up instead. "I say we relax a while, what do you say?"

18 nodded as she flexed her back to work the kinks out, glancing back to make sure there weren't any scorch marks on her training gi. "Sounds good. I call dibs on the hot tub." She grinned maliciously as she headed towards the bath room. A glance over her shoulder confirmed that the monk was walking towards his room. 'Some day he's going to ask to come with me. I mean… he has to be thinking about it. Right? I'm pretty… even if he's still hung up on his ex, some part of him must he thinking about me. Right? Unless he's… scared of me. The bomb in me must be making him nervous. Shit.'

The android rinsed the sweat off from their long spar session and then scrubbed her skin clean before settling down into the hot tub to relax. She had left the door unlocked, though she was fairly sure Krillin wouldn't walk in. In some ways that was ok with her, because she didn't mind taking things slow. On the other hand, she still felt like he wasn't going to pursue her at all and that was upsetting. 'Maybe I'm fooling myself. He's cute and I think we could have a lot of fun together but… maybe I'm limiting my options? Just because we're out here alone in space for Kami knows how long… two young attractive consenting adults with no romantic entanglements to speak of…' She stopped those thoughts with a shake of her head. 'Just admit it 18, you're crushing big time on that sexy stud.' She giggled as she remembered the blush in his cheeks the first time she had kissed him.

Number 18 climbed out of the tub and got dried off and dressed and then wandered out to see Krillin finishing up a meal. "All yours." She informed him.

"Thanks, 18." Krillin smiled as he passed her and went into the bathroom to get washed up.

The artificially enhanced human rolled her eyes and let a smile touch her lips. 'Clueless. Absolutely clueless.' She mused. She sat down and finished up the rice he had been eating, figuring it would be sufficient to replenish her power reserves for a while. After finishing the meal she moved into the recreation area of the ship and started looking through the movies available. 'I don't even know what most of these are. Dr. Gero didn't exactly find it prudent to download a movie database into my head. I doubt that old fart even knew what a movie was.'

Finally Android 18 selected a disc at random and put it into the player and sat down on the couch to watch it. A recording of the 21st Tenkaichi Budoukai started playing. Mirth colored her features as a while after watching it she saw a young Krillin fighting. "Aw… he's so small and adorable!" She exclaimed.

"I was just a kid." Krillin stated from the doorway, scratching the back of his head in embarrassment. He felt very much like someone whose baby pictures were being laughed at.

18 gave the monk a half smile. "You were an adorable kid." She could see he was uncomfortable so she decided to give him a reprieve from his embarrassment. "I was actually trying to find a movie to watch though. Something funny, preferably."

The dark-haired former monk walked over to the shelves holding the movie collection and looked through them. 'Ugh… romantic comedies. Bulma didn't exactly stock these movies with us in mind, did she?' His eyes roamed the titles until he found one that was somewhat familiar. "Here we go… you might like this one." He ejected the disc with the martial arts tournament and put in the movie he selected instead. It was a series of slapstick shorts by the same two men. The first one involved them trying to get the attention of the same woman and their attempts at sabotaging each others' efforts.

They watched the movie in silence, though out of the corner of his eye Krillin observed the android had an amused smirk on her face as she watched the men whack each other with hammers, poke each other in the eyes, set fire to one another's shoes, and similar antics. The monk started to sweat as he hoped he wasn't giving her ideas to make his life more difficult.

The blonde beauty leaned over suddenly and rested her head on Krillin's shoulder. She felt him stiffen and he didn't relax. Number 18 turned her gaze up at him, confusion playing over her lovely features. "Are you scared?" She inquired. Based on his reaction to her proximity, it seemed the most likely explanation.

Krillin chewed at his bottom lip nervously and scratched the back of his head self-consciously. "Ah… something like that."

18 frowned and pulled away from him and then tilted her head slightly to the side as she regarded him. "Something like that? Be straight with me, Krillin. Are you really scared of me?"

The monk sighed and looked down at his feet. "Terrified." He admitted finally.

The cyborg's blue eyes widened in surprise and she pulled even further away from him. "Is it… because of the bomb? I mean… I can understand that."

"No. It's…" Krillin sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. He was admonishing himself for not hiding his feelings better. "I… really care about you, 18. And that scares the crap out of me."

Number 18 raised her eyebrows skeptically. "I don't get it. Why are you scared?"

The monk smiled bitterly and looked away from the woman, feeling insecure. "I'm afraid I'm going to mess things up. I look at you and I see a future. I see everything I've been looking for my whole life, whether I knew it or not. I feel that can happen… but I also know how dangerous it is to rush into things. I think we need time to get to know each other, and I'm frightened that you're not looking for anything like that. Maybe you're just interested in a little harmless fun. And I'm also afraid that if I let myself get close to you like that now, it might ruin that future I see us having."

Android 18 quirked an eyebrow up as she regarded the blushing monk. "For crying out loud, Krillin… you're already planning our wedding?"

Krillin chuckled, relaxing a bit now that he saw she wasn't freaking out on him for his thoughts. "Not exactly, I can just see that happening one day. I think if we want it, we could have that future someday. Is that weird?"

The blonde beauty smirked playfully. "Yeah."

The monk looked crestfallen. "Oh." He shifted uncomfortably, wishing he had kept his big fat mouth shut.

"But it's also sweet." 18 added a few moments later. She felt relieved that he really was interested in her and that it wasn't a one-sided attraction. 'Time to get to know one another? It's understandable. He's probably right, he has more experience with relationships than I do.' She shrugged as she gave him a kind smile. "So… tell me about your life. I'd return the favor but…" She let that statement linger as she shrugged sheepishly. The message was clear, she couldn't tell him things she didn't know herself.

Krillin smiled, relaxing quite a bit as he shut the movie off that they weren't watching anyway. "Well, when I was a kid I wanted to be a strong warrior more than anything else… so I joined the Orin Temple to learn how to fight." They spent the rest of the night like that, him recalling tales of his youth and her laughing and asking questions. What made Number 18 the happiest, however, was that when she brushed her hand over his, he didn't look scared anymore.


Videl threw a flurry of punches and kicks at Mr. Popo, though all of her attacks were dodged or blocked easily. The jovial genie hopped around effortlessly, always one step ahead of her. "Wow, you're fast!" The girl exclaimed in wonder, pausing for a few moments to catch her breath.

Mr. Popo smiled. "Why thank you, I certainly try my best." He quipped.

The young Satan redoubled her efforts as she launched into another offensive barrage, though her attacks still landed on nothing but air. Finally the genie brought his fist down on the top of her head and knocked her silly. "Ow!" She cried, grabbing her sore head and glaring up at the guardian's servant. "You didn't say you were going to hit back!" She accused him in a huff.

"I never said I wouldn't." The genie responded with an amused chuckle.

The girl sat down and observed the genie carefully, ordering her thoughts. "Are you reading my mind?"

"Oh, no. Of course not. I'm just sensing your spirit. No matter how quickly you attack, I'll see your movements and react accordingly. It's quite simple, really." Mr. Popo responded. He could see the question on her face before she spoke it aloud. "It's like what you learned from Korin, when you were following his movements while blindfolded. Only you were hearing his movements, following his heartbeat, the movements of the air around him. You will not always have such clues to follow. You must learn to use your awareness of your opponent's ki to anticipate their attacks."

Videl nodded, realizing the explanation made sense and fit with what she had learned from the cat master. "So if I become more aware of your ki, I can hit you?"

The genie shrugged. "Still not likely. You waste far too many motions. You also need to learn how to become tranquil like the sky and as fast as lightning. You will never defeat me as you are now, even if you fine tune your senses to detect my energy."

The young Satan smiled, excited by the prospects of learning so much. "Please, teach me, Mr. Popo?"

The black-skinned genie smiled, happy to see she was so eager to learn. "First a demonstration. Hand me the bell Korin gave you." After the girl handed the bell over, he attached it to the sash around his waist. "Now, attack me again."

Videl nodded and leaped up, attacking furiously. She even reached out with her mind, trying to follow his ki, but as she had been told, it didn't help her land any blows. She was able to keep better track of where he moved, even if she wasn't able to do anything about it though. "Phew… I gotta hand it to you, you're incredible, Mr. Popo!"

"And what else did you notice?" The genie inquired.

The dark-haired girl scratched her head, shifting through the fight in her mind for any details that jumped out at her. Her eyes widened in surprise as she realized what he was getting at and her eyes dropped down to the bell attached to his sash. "The bell never made a sound!"

Mr. Popo nodded and jumped and flipped around to further demonstrate the silence of the bell and then picked it up and rang it to confirm to her that it worked as it should have and it wasn't a trick. "You try now." He handed the bell over to her with a kind smile.

Videl attached the bell to her clothes and did a few katas, but the bell jingled the entire time. "Damn." She made a jump and another jingle sounded. "Damn." She crouched and punched the air a few times, earning yet another jingle. "Damn!"

"First calm your mind and then try again." Mr. Popo instructed her.

The girl nodded and sat down to meditate, concentrating on stilling her mind. She stayed that way until her mind was empty of all stray thoughts, her spirit a tranquil pond that felt the ripples of everything around her. She stood slowly and made a few practice punches, but again the bell jingled. She kicked the air and another sound issued forth. "Hmm… I'm doing something wrong." She observed, but she couldn't figure out what it was.

Mr. Popo nodded, happy that she could tell that much at least. "Your attacks have no flow. Your body jerks and quivers and makes all sorts of unnecessary moves while you attack. It slows you down and wastes your energy. It will take time to learn how to flow like the water, but you are welcome to practice as long as it takes to learn it, dear child."

Videl smiled in happiness. 'This is the difference that having a teacher makes. Going at it alone only allows me to expand within my frame of knowledge… I never would have stumbled upon all this alone. Thank you Gohan, for introducing me to this world. Now get your skinny butt up so you can train for the next tournament so I can beat the snot out of you!' She thought to herself with an evil grin plastered on her lips.

The gentle genie started sweating when he saw her expression. "Oh my…" He murmured. He coughed and pointed out the bathroom and a room for her to sleep in when she got tired. "You will stay here until you have learned everything I have to teach you. It will be most difficult, but I believe you will find the training to be invaluable. Mr. Piccolo will also be able to train you quite easily here."

The young Satan looked crestfallen. "But… I have school." She looked up at the silent caretaker. He offered her no council. The training was there if she wanted it, and she did want it… badly. 'I have to make a choice then. I can always catch up on my studies… I need to learn this.' She nodded and walked over to her bag and pulled out a communicator. After pressing a few buttons she smiled as pleasantly as she could manage as Mr. Satan's visage popped up on the screen. "Hey dad."

The (greatest in the world!) martial arts champion smiled at his daughter through the screen. "Hey baby doll. You need daddy to come pick you up from school?"

Videl coughed nervously. "Ah, well, I'm not actually in school right now, dad. I found a sensei for martial arts… he's really good. And he's an excellent teacher, but he's in kind of a remote area. I'm going to have to stay here a while to learn what I can so I need to take a break from school. I swear though, I will catch up on my studies when I'm done!"

"Honey pie, you don't need to learn martial arts with your ol' dad around!" He boasted, as usual.

The girl bit her lip. She knew he was going to say that, but she had come up with a counter-argument. "Dad, how would you feel if someone made you stop training in martial arts?" By the despairing look on his face as he contemplated that, she knew he understood. "I love martial arts too, dad. And I would feel the same way as you if someone made me stop."

Hercule scratched his head. "What if I teach you myself, sweet-pea? Then you wouldn't have to shack up with some strange ol' geezer to learn!"

Videl hid her snicker as best she could, because he was describing Roshi rather well. But Mr. Popo could only be described as gentle and jovial, so she couldn't let that description pass. "He's not like that, dad. He's a very kind man. Now, think about it realistically. Would you be able to teach me the same as your other students? Would you be able to hit me without holding back when we sparred? Because that's what I need, dad. I need a teacher who will take me to the next level."

Mr. Satan couldn't argue with that. He knew he'd never be able to hit his precious little girl, and likely would have beaten the crap out of any students that did. "Can't I at least meet this guy?"

The child grimaced and turned to look at Mr. Popo. The genie nodded. "We will go and speak with your father and pick up anything you'll need for the foreseeable future."

"Well, alright then. Come to the main house, angel-cakes. I'll have the servants gather up some clothes and uh… stuff for you. Toothbrush and uh... your dolls and…" The martial arts champion tapped his chin thoughtfully as he tried to figure out what she'd want.

Videl tried to bite back her rage but it exploded in a yell. "I do not play with dolls, dad! All I need are some spare training clothes and a toothbrush! I'll get it myself when I get there!" Without waiting for a reply she cut off the communication. "He makes me so mad!"

Mr. Popo smiled gently at her. "He cares about you very much, little one."

The young Satan sighed and nodded. "I know. But he drives me nuts too." She shook her head and put the communicator into her bag. "I guess we should get going then."

The genie nodded and took the air. "I'll follow you."

Videl started to sweat as she observed the man effortlessly flying. "Ah, I think it would be best if we took a plane. My dad will freak out if he sees us flying." When the genie frowned at the idea she came up with another idea. "I know, we'll fly most of the way there then I'll pop my plane out of its capsule and we'll take that the rest of the way, like we were in it the whole time!"

Mr. Popo shook his head sadly and followed the girl without a word. 'She works so hard to protect her father. She should have more faith in his affection for her. I'm sure he would accept her, even if he knew she could fly.'

A while later they arrived at the Satan estate. The girl started sweating as she noticed work crews obviously adding rooms to the already impressive house. 'Sheesh, are we going to end up with a mansion? How many rooms do you need, dad?' She wondered. They walked in and were immediately greeted by a grim looking Mr. Satan who stood there cracking his knuckles in the most menacing manner he could manage. "Uh… hey dad. This is Mr. Popo, the man who will be training me. Mr. Popo, this is my dad… uh… Dad Satan."

"It's so nice to meet you, sir. I am Mr. Popo." The genie bowed slightly, his ever-present and ever-pleasant smile plastered on his lips.

The martial arts champion coughed. "Ah, it's Hercule Satan." He tried his best not to laugh at his daughter. He fixed his attention on the strange looking man before him instead. "You don't look like much. You really think you can teach my precious baby girl something she doesn't already know?"

The genie nodded. "If you think I'm weak, feel free to test me yourself. I think you'll find I'm more than capable of instructing the girl."

Mr. Satan let out an arrogant harrumph before assuming a fighting stance. "You asked for it, buddy. Prepare yourself to be defeated by the world's greatest martial artist!" He glared across at the amused genie and started to sweat when he didn't move. "Uh… you gunna take a fighting stance or somethin'?"

"Oh, I'm quite comfortable, Mr. Satan. Feel free to not hold back." Mr. Popo offered.

"You got it!" Hercule cried, launching what to a normal human would have been a very impressive punch. The genie made a small hop to the side and avoided the punch completely. "Oops, my aim was a bit off…" The champion muttered, throwing another punch that had a similar result. "Well damn… I think I'll go all out then!" He threw a flurry of punches and kicks that left him winded, but none of them landed. "It's a trick! You're gunna teach my little girl tricks?!"

The caretaker of Kami's lookout shook his head sadly. "It is no trick. If you really believe that, hit me again. I assure you, I will not move this time."

Needing no more encouragement than that, he punched the genie as hard as he could in the gut. His jaw dropped and his hand throbbed in pain as it felt like he hit a brick wall. "Ouch! Son of a…" He paused and noticed his daughter looking up at him. "Ah… very nice lady." He added lamely, shaking his hand as he hoped he hadn't broken it. "You're pretty tough, I gotta admit. You're not gunna hurt my darling little angel though, are you?"

Mr. Popo shook his head as he smiled. "Of course not. Videl, please attack me." The girl nodded and immediately launched into a series of kicks and punches with a speed and skill that made Hercule's jaw drop to the floor. It was even more astounding that the genie was dodging all those attacks, with only an occasional block happening instead. He noticed that several times the man would shove her gently, or give her a quick tap where she left herself open for counter-attacks, but he never hit her with any significant force. Above all, it showed that he would not hurt the little girl. It also made Hercule aware of a simple fact… his daughter was a better fighter than him.

'Unreal… I always knew she would be great but… this is ridiculous! And this guy is only going to make her better. I've been getting lazy… I better train my ass off, I can't look like a fool next to my baby girl! I gotta make her proud!' Mr. Satan nodded as the combatants stopped their spar. "I know you'll take good care of my precious baby. I uh… can visit her, right?"

Mr. Popo shook his head. "I'm sorry, Mr. Satan. Where Miss Videl will be training is a sacred place. Only those who have proven themselves worthy can go there. I am sure she will communicate regularly with you, however. And we can arrange for her to visit you on special occasions."

Mr. Satan scratched his head. "Oh… so it's kinda like summer camp."

The genie felt a sweat drop form on his brow. "A sacred training ground…"

"Funny name for a camp." Hercule grumbled. He looked at his daughter. "This is what you really want, baby doll?"

Videl gave her father a determined smile as she made a fist. "More than anything!"

Mr. Satan sighed. 'My little girl is growing up so fast.' He mused sadly. He knelt down and hugged her close. "Call me often. Don't make me worry about you too much, you got that?" He knew she was serious when she said she needed this and he couldn't bring himself to hold her back.

The blue-eyed girl sighed in happiness and hugged her father back. "Thanks dad! I'll call when I get the chance, don't worry!" With that she rushed upstairs to pack a bag with plenty of toiletries, having no idea what was available in the lookout. She also grabbed all her training clothes as well as some pajamas and a few casual clothes just in case. She contemplated the intense training she was going to go through and couldn't hold back a triumphant yell. "Yippee!"


Piccolo walked into the Capsule Corp. infirmary and wasn't surprised to see Chichi sitting by Gohan's bedside. 'Hmph. She looks like she hasn't slept in days.' His observation was pretty spot on, for Goku's widow hadn't slept at all since the battle with Cell days before. She just couldn't bring herself to sleep, in case Gohan woke up. "Chichi… you should get some rest. I'm going to try to help Gohan wake up, but it's going to take all my concentration. And I don't even know if it'll work."

"I'm not leaving my precious boy's side, Piccolo. I won't disturb you." Chichi stated firmly. Willpower was obviously all that was keeping her going, and hers was formidable.

The Namek grimaced as he saw the look in her eyes. "I can't say I'm surprised." He laid a gentle hand on her shoulder and in the blink of an eye the woman was asleep. He eased her down onto the bed she had been sitting on so she could sleep comfortably. "That's all I can do for you now, but you'll thank me for it later."

The green man floated up above Gohan's prone body, assuming a lotus position as he started meditating. After mentally preparing himself, he reached down to rest his hands on the boy's temples. A wince crossed his features as he was assaulted by a flurry of chaotic images but he didn't let go and soon made it deeper into the boy's mind.

Piccolo found himself in the boy's mental landscape, various memories and thoughts floated around in seemingly random patterns. His eyes narrowed as he saw the majority of the memories were very painful. At the forefront was his last most vivid memory, that of his father dying in front of his eyes to protect him from Cell's attack. That memory played itself over and over again, seemingly in an endless cycle.

The Namek warrior turned his head and saw other memories at the forefront of his thoughts. The time when Goku had died the first time to hold Raditz still for his Makkenkosappo attack was there, as well as later on when Piccolo had taken the blast meant for Gohan, saving the boy's life at the cost of his own. The memory of the boy arriving too late to go to Namek was there also, as well as his battle with Kui and Ume and how it nearly destroyed him.

Further into the boy's thoughts were smaller moments of shame, times when he had felt guilty for not training as the other warriors went into battle. The overwhelming feeling of dread at his own chaotic power colored the whole of his mental landscape. Even the recent thoughts of how Videl was getting more skilled than him were floating around. All in all, he was caught in an endless loop of grief, shame, fear and self-loathing.

"Gohan… I had no idea." Piccolo murmured, shaking his head in sadness at the sheer depth of suffering the child had already gone through. It tore his heart out and he would have given his life again if it would have prevented the heartache the child had experienced for the past three years. Dwelling on the past was exactly why the child was stuck in this coma though, so it was what he had to change. "Snap out of it, kid. You can't change the past. You can only do what you can to prevent similar tragedies from befalling your loved ones."

The Namek frowned as the memories changed in their order suddenly. Both deaths of Goku and Piccolo's sacrifice took their turns at the forefront of his mind, the images replaying themselves over and over again. Beneath these thoughts was the sobbing form of Gohan. "Bad things happen, Gohan. All we can do is do our best to minimize the damage."

The prominent thoughts changed again, now focusing on when Gohan had nearly killed himself with the loss of control over his power in his battle with Ume and then on when he had gone Super Saiyan after Goku's death and the short-circuiting his body had gone through.

Piccolo sighed as he saw these thoughts. "Yeah, I know. You tried, but you weren't ready yet. No one is blaming you, Gohan. But we can make sure that never happens again, with training. You can get strong enough to protect the people you love, without burning yourself out."

The images in the forefront of the young demi-Saiyan's mind changed again. Memories of Goku, Chichi, Piccolo, Krillin, and even Videl popped up, all with a defiant and strong Gohan standing in front of them, facing towards an unseen threat.

The green warrior smiled. "Yeah… that's right, Gohan." He fell silent, knowing the boy had to decide for himself what to do now.

The thoughts shifted again to show a battered but determined Gohan climbing a mountain. He still had a long way to go, but he was climbing and doing his best.

Piccolo's eyes narrowed as he considered the meaning of these thoughts. "Waking up from this coma isn't as simple as just deciding to… I understand now. But you're working towards it… trying your best now. Hmph… good work, kid. I'm proud of you. I'll be here in a flash when you wake up. Don't give up trying." The Namek snapped out of his trance, feeling drained from the effort. He glanced out at the window and was surprised to see the sun setting already. 'I've been in Gohan's mind for half the day… unreal.'

"Any luck?" Bulma asked from the door.

If Piccolo was surprised to see the blue-haired beauty moments after exiting his trance, he didn't show it. "Yeah… I think I showed him the way out. But it's going to take him time to get to it. There was a lot of psychological damage… he has a lot to work through. But he's making good progress now. It's only a matter of time."

Vegeta's widow smiled sadly, looking over at the still slumbering Chichi. "Well, it's good that there's some hope now."

The green man touched down on the ground and shifted uncomfortably. "So… how are you doing?" He inquired. Showing sympathy for someone other than Gohan was unfamiliar territory for him, but he was trying. Luckily for him, he had the endless compassion of Kami to draw on now as well.

Bulma smiled sadly. "I'm just taking things one day at a time. I have to keep It together for Okura's sake. And even though she won't admit it, Peasa needs me also. She's taking it pretty hard."

Piccolo nodded sagely. "If you ever need anything…" He started to offer. It didn't need to be said, though. It was enough that he let the sentiment be known.

The technical genius nodded. "I know. And I'll keep you updated on the little guy over there."

The Namek warrior nodded and started walking towards the door. "I'll stop by soon." Without another word he left. He wasn't one for goodbyes.

Bulma sighed as melancholy settled over her again. 'I just want to freak out… if I didn't have a baby to worry about, I would have already.' She thought, wincing at the selfishness of the sentiment. She looked up as Peasa walked by. "Hey kiddo." She bit her lip, hoping the girl wouldn't take offense to the term. Due to the Room of Spirit and Time training, she was almost 18 years old now. Hardly a kid. She didn't really look any different though, unless you counted the sadness in her eyes.

The Saiyan princess looked up, obviously having been unaware of her adoptive mother's presence. "Oh. Hey Bulma. I mean mom."

The blue-haired beauty gave the teen a wan smile and hugged her impulsively. "You know you can talk to me about stuff, right?" She asked out of the blue. She could sense that the girl was troubled by something so she wanted to give her the chance of talking it out.

Peasa bit her lip nervously, glancing into the infirmary at Gohan. "How's the runt?" She asked to avoid voicing her thoughts for the moment.

"Piccolo just did some kind of psychic thing. He says Gohan's working his way towards waking up but it'll take time. No telling how much. But he's definitely going to wake up." Bulma informed her.

The spiky-haired girl nodded, looking a little relieved at the thought of Gohan recovering. "That's good." She fell silent for a while before she spoke again. "Bulma? Uh… I mean mom?"

Bulma quirked an eyebrow up. 'Here it comes… what's really bothering her.' "Call me whatever you're comfortable with, sweetie. What's on your mind?"

"I… saw Vegeta at a nightclub. Just a little while ago." The Saiyan deadpanned. After receiving an extended surprised blink session in response she voiced her concerns. "Am I… going crazy?"

Vegeta's widow shook her head. "I doubt it, sweetie. Maybe it's your heart's way of reminding you that he's still with you in spirit? Or… it could just be that you know Krillin is out there trying to find the dragon balls to wish him back. So you're looking for him… it wouldn't be surprising then that you'd see him, right?"

Peasa frowned and scratched her head. "I… guess that makes sense." She stated uncertainly. The only other explanations were that she was losing her mind or that Vegeta had somehow come back to life but she was unable to sense his ki for whatever reason. "Thanks Bulma… I guess that's a better explanation than losing my mind." The girl smiled sadly and walked towards her room with a casual wave.

Bulma shook her head and went to go check on Okura. 'I really hope you're not losing your mind, Peasa… I don't even want to think about what that might entail.' The woman worried quietly to herself.


Next chapter: Flashbacks and fast forwards as the story transitions into the next saga. Stay tuned, true believers! Excelsior! Or something…