Barracks

BY : chayron
Category: Dragon Ball Z > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 18982
Disclaimer: I do not own Dragon Ball Z it belongs to its respective owners. This fan fiction is not a commercial project, and I am not making any money from writing it.

   Disclaimer: I do not own Dragon Ball Z – it belongs to its respective owners. This fan fiction is not a commercial project, and I am not making any money from writing it.
   Warnings: Alternate Universe. Yaoi (male x male). Goten x Trunks and vice versa. Other pairings. 
   
   Barracks
   
   by chayron (lttomb@yahoo.com), beta-read by quatreofdoom
   
   Part 18
   
   Goten hummed under his breath and shifted in his bed to get into a more comfortable position. Warm, soft and so sweet was his sleep: no one snoring, no one walking around him. His throat emitted another blissful purr as he hugged his pillow. His tail hung limply over the edge of the bed, a part of it visible from under the covers. The tip of it was curling and uncurling lightly in pleasure. 
   
   The head physician watched Goten rub his face against the pillow. He cocked his head at the sight. “What’s the data?” he asked the nurse who was reading the data from the monitor next to Goten’s head.
   
   “According to the records, the pattern of his brainwaves stabilized completely about five hours ago,” the nurse answered after pushing a few buttons on the left side of the monitor. “The muscle spasms ceased at about the same time as well. He’s in a perfectly normal state of waking up now. He seems to be enjoying it a lot as well,” he added.
   
   “Make him wash the sheets if he enjoys it too much. His shoulder?” 
   
   “Healing already.”
   
   The head physician motioned with his head at the screen. “Have you transferred the data to National Security?”
   
   “Yes, I have,” the nurse nodded. “They even thanked me. There was a big bouncing smiley attached to the email. Nice guys, those two.”
   
   “Check it again. It might be a virus. 'Nice', my ass. National Security is never nice.”
   
   “Oh, c’mon boss. They were pretty civilized while they were here.”
   
   “I would not call usurping our computers and ordering us around ‘civilized’. Damn savages.”
   
   “You should relax sometime, boss.”
   
   “And I see that your problem is that you have too much time for relaxation.”
   
   “Why is that a ‘problem’, boss?”
   
   The head physician thumped him with his notebook. “You young cheeky bastard! Go and make me some tea. And a few sandwiches.”
   
   “Lunch break as usual in the ER, boss?”
   
   “Yes. And no purple-haired shaiis are going to stop me.”
   
   “Err… Way to go, boss!”
   
   “Yes, just promise me you’ll attend my funeral.”
   
   “Of course, boss! You don't even need to ask.”
   
   ooOoOoOoo
   
   When Goten woke up, there was not a living soul in the room. He looked around, then sat up. His shoulder was somewhat painful and stiff. The other five beds were empty. It was quiet in the room except for the occasional beeps from a monitor next to him. Goten could also hear random bursts of laughter somewhere in the corridor.
   
   Goten’s memory obligingly threw up the most recent events it had recorded: he had been sparring with the shaii, they nearly kissed, and then he blacked out. Goten lingered on “nearly kissed”. He touched upon the idea very carefully, warily poked it around with a ten-foot pole, then dismissed the whole thing as a very dubious incident. He might just have dreamt that. 
   
   It would be better if he had.
   
   At least he didn’t have a headache. Goten cheered up. Usually blackouts like that were painful in nature, but this time there wasn't any pain. True, there had been a bout of disorienting dizziness, but he would choose dizziness over pain any time.
   
   He felt fine now. His left shoulder had sustained some damage, but he was ready to go. He looked to his other side where a small bedside cabinet stood. There was a folded piece of paper on it. Goten lifted an empty glass off it and straightened the paper. It was his exemption from physical activity for the next three days. There was also a smiley on the other side of the page and a few lines in a different handwriting. They were congratulating him on beating the record and becoming an official medical bay mascot. 
   
   Goten scratched his stubbly head and folded the piece of paper again. Holding it, he pushed his covers aside, threw his legs over the edge of the bed and stood up. As soon as his feet were on the floor, his tail wound around his waist automatically, as any other Saiyan’s would. Goten headed for the wardrobe next to the door where he knew his clothes would be.
   
   After dressing, he left the ward. He could not tell what time it was, except that his senses said that it was early in the morning. He asked one white-robed passerby for the time and learned that it was seven o’clock. It meant that the morning drill was already over and savars were eating in the canteen. Without giving it much thought, Goten headed there.
   
   His stomach took over his brain as soon as he entered the canteen. Without noticing friendly call outs and greetings wafting from around the tables, he went over to get his portion, then looked around, found his friends sitting at their usual table, muttered a brief greeting, dropped onto the bench, and his jaws got down to work.
   
   Goten’s friends stared at him silently, then met each other eyes. Finally, Kyon erupted. “Would you stop getting sent to that damn med bay?! Do you even know how worried we get every time this happens? Can’t you be more careful, you idiot?!”
   
   “Don’t call me ‘idiot’,” Goten mouthed around a chicken leg. “Besides, do you think <i>I</i> don’t get worried? But everything’s fine. I’m fine. You’re fine. Everyone’s fine.”
   
   “So what actually happened?” Toharu asked. 
   
   “Well… I was returning from the Laundromats and suddenly it all went blank. I just fell and th-”
   
   “It would be a good explanation if not for your mottled left eye,” Toharu said, glaring at him. “Besides, people saw you and the prince enter the training hall and then watched him carry you out of there.”
   
   “Well,” Goten shrugged, “then why are you asking me if you know everything?”
   
   “I’m gonna sock you one,” Ario threatened.
   
   “What the hell were you doing in there with the prince?” Ranvera demanded. “Alone! For thirty whole minutes!”
   
   Goten gave Ranvera a look. He could not understand whether the tall Saiyan was serious or not. “And what the hell do you think we were doing in there?” Goten snorted at him. “I lost my consciousness, damnit!” The table was silently looking at him. A second later, Goten pointed at Toharu’s slowly opening mouth. “No, don’t bother. I bet I know you’re going to say something like: so he fucked you unconscious?”
   
   “Actually,” Toharu drawled, “I was going to ask what was wrong with you, but that’s a suggestion worth consideration as well.”
   
   “Damn.”
   
   “So did he fuck you unconscious?”
   
   Goten gave Toharu a pleading look. “We had a friendly spar.”
   
   “A horizontal one?”
   
   Now Goten turned to Ranvera. Could Ranvera be really jealous? Unbelievable! “I said ‘friendly’!”
   
   “Horizontal spars are the friendliest of all,” Ranvera muttered.
   
   “Oh, just shut up!” Goten turned to Ario as he apparently was the only one who was more or less sane here. “So after the spar, I blacked out. Remember, the same happened to me the previous time we had that swordfight?”
   
   Kyon cocked his head to the side. “It’s like you faint every time you see him. Why is h-”
   
   “Please,” Goten groaned, “I beg of you. At least you... At least <i>you</i> give me a break.”
   
   “I will give you the notes from the classes you skipped,” Kyon said, “so I feel entitled to a little play with your dignity.”
   
   “Anyway, why did he want to spar with you?” Ario asked. He thought for a moment. “No, I think I know why,” he said then. “Hmm…”
   
   “Uh-huhhh,” Toharu drawled as well. His face started radiating genuine interest. “So who won?”
   
   “The prince, of course,” Goten answered.
   
   “You did fight with your ki suppressed, right?” Toharu guessed. “He’s older and stronger than you, but it must have been a close tie.”
   
   Goten hesitated a little. “Well...more or less,” he admitted.
   
   It was silent at the table for a few moments. 
   
   “You’re not normal,” Ranvera said then.
   
   “Yes, I also have zero communication skills, my outsides are just as ugly as my insides, I get on everyone’s nerves a lot and… Oh. And I also tend to explode on my own. So I suggest you forget about me forever.”
   
   Ranvera scowled at him. 
   
   “Well, I find you attractive,” Kyon admitted, grinning. “A bit rough and a bit square – you’re a classic Saiyan beauty.”
   
   Goten put out his hands in front of him. “Whoa, whoa, slow down or I might combust again from the overload of compliments. Or are those…?”
   
   “Compliments, compliments, the most cordial ones,” Kyon confirmed with a chuckle.
   
   “Cheap ass-kissing asshole,” Ranvera muttered. “I was first to confess so, of course, I find him attractive as well.”
   
   Goten scratched his head, then blushed lightly.
   
   From the other side of the table, Toharu stared at the three Saiyans. He elbowed Ario. “Listen, is it only me, or you also think that they are all idiots?”
   
   “Worse than idiots.”
   
   ooOoOoOoo
   
   The shaii was leaning against the wall in the training hall, watching Goten do warm-up exercises. He felt guilty for making Goten postpone his test for other five days, yet it seemed that now the third-class’s shoulder had completely healed. Based on Goten’s warm-up, there were no long-lasting effects from their spar. 
   
   There were a few reasons for the prince being in the training hall. First, he wanted to make sure Goten wouldn’t have any accidents with his ki like he’d had earlier. Second, he indeed felt guilty for hurting Goten’s shoulder. Third, he wanted to know what Goten’s power level was. Finally, he simply needed an excuse to see the third-class.
   
   Since their spar five days ago, Goten had been acting as if nothing had ever happened. Of course, he was supposed to act as if nothing had happened. The prince also acted as if nothing had happened. But still…that annoyed him. He didn’t know what signs he had expected Goten to display, but this was frustrating.
   
   The prince’s eyes followed Goten. He had finished his warm-up and now stood in front of the target his drill sergeant had shown him. Some part of the prince could still hardly believe a third-class was on about the same level as him. He was certain he could easily overwhelm Goten with his ki. Their speed was about the same, their fighting skills were also similar. However, during their spar, while using only physical force, he should have also overcome Goten without much trouble using sheer strength. He was a little older than Goten and his musculature was more developed after all. Either Goten’s enhanced physical power was a part of that project or maybe he had been slacking off.
   
   Making a mental note to do something about his training, the shaii concentrated on the sight in front of him. The sergeant had a highly displeased air about him. The shaii knew better, though. The sergeant was pretty fond of the lad. Just the other day, he had asked him about Goten’s health. He had also inquired about the news on Goten’s background. He was still convinced that Goten was of mixed blood. 
   
   It was not clear what the sergeant intended to do with that information. Anyone who suddenly appeared to be of mixed blood could expect a lot of problems. Half-breeds were not accepted into officer schools. They had no status at all, being considered the lowest the low, even lower than third-classes. The sergeant had seen the world, though. From his comments, the prince had gotten the impression that he was more interested in finding out why Goten was as he was, rather than being interested in reporting him. He had once said that Goten was a very successful half-breed. No man set against mixed blood would ever say that.
   
   The prince was aware that Goten also knew that the sergeant was not as displeased with him as he tried to appear. Goten could be very perceptive when he wanted to be. After spending over two months in Goten’s near-constant company, the shaii knew some of the ways Goten used to measure people’s feelings about him. One of those ways was to decide how much damage a person could cause him and then see whether they chose to cause it. There was no doubt that, despite all his threats and barking, Goten considered the sergeant to be lenient with him.
   
   The shaii watched an aura of blue ki surround Goten. The sergeant was following Goten’s ki, but so far his scouter showed nothing out of the ordinary. This time he did not hurry Goten, letting the youth choose his own pace. 
   
   It did not feel any different than usual. Goten flared his ki up another notch. It was a steady, constant current, just as it was supposed to be. Not sensing any disturbances, he started powering up.
   
   A second later, the sergeant’s scouter started beeping softly. Alert, the prince pushed himself off the wall. Goten stopped powering up. He looked at his sergeant with questioning eyes.
   
   “Obviously, this isn’t your maximum,” the sergeant said, giving the savar a dubious look. “Just ignore the beeping.”
   
   “Sir, it’s really my ma-”
   
   The sergeant held his notepad in front of Goten’s face. “Don’t.”
   
   The shaii saw the sergeant’s face. The man was getting pissed. The sergeant knew all about Goten’s games, just as he did. The prince averted his eyes to Goten’s face. For a moment there, he thought that the third-class would refuse. Then Goten’s eyes met his. The prince nodded.
   
   “Yes, sir,” Goten said, concentrating back on the sergeant, his ki proceeding to rise.
   
   The beeping became more insistent. 
   
   “It’s fifty thousand, sir,” the sergeant said without turning to the shaii, “and still rising.” He cleared his throat then continued counting, “Sixty thousand, seventy, eighty, ninety…” The sergeant smacked his scouter. “Damn.”
   
   “Here,” the shaii pulled out a Vega 213 from his pocket and tossed it towards the sergeant. “This one can read over five hundred thousand.”
   
   The sergeant caught the scouter nimbly. While taking his scouter off, he turned on the <i>Vega 213</i>. He fitted it over his right eye.
   
   With interest, Goten observed the scouter above the sergeant’s eye. “Is that the newest model, sir?”
   
   “Yes, I pre-ordered it quite some time ago,” the shaii nodded. “It should appear on the market in a few weeks.”
   
   “It looks very fancy, sir. How much does it cost?”
   
   The prince shrugged. “About twenty thousand credits.”
   
   Goten’s eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets. “It’s a f-!”
   
   “Concentrate, seamstress!” the sergeant barked. “Or do you intend to blow yourself up again?” He gave a meaningful look to the shaii. 
   
   The prince scratched his head sheepishly. The sergeant turned away to continue watching Goten.
   
   “It’s over a hundred and fifty, sir,” the sergeant informed the prince a few seconds later. “His ki-flow is becoming unstable. There seem to be some abnormalities.”
   
   “Abort the powering-up immediately.”
   
   “Yes, sir. Alright, that’s enough, seamstress. Now, blast the target.”
   
   “Yes, sir.” Goten reached his hands forward and abruptly gathered his ki into a ki-ball.
   
   The shaii’s eyes went wide. “No, wai-!”
   
   The blast shook the training hall. Clouds of dust rose into the air, turning everything white, effectively blinding everyone in the room. The sergeant coughed and waved at the air in front of his face with his notepad. He coughed again. “Damn you, Bardock.”
   
   “Sorry, sir.”
   
   The shaii heaved out a relieved breath at the sound of Goten’s shaky voice. He waited for the dust to settle. Soon he could see the sergeant’s and Goten’s silhouettes. Goten seemed to be rubbing at his eyes. He looked past them at the wall. The target was missing and there was a considerable hole in its place with melted ki-absorbing material around the edges. It hadn’t been able to absorb this much ki at once so quickly. The hole was still smoking and glowing with heat. He turned to look at the third-class who now was having a coughing fit.
   
   “Who was the one saying ‘I’ve got power, no need for a brain’?”
   
   “Err…me, sir,” Goten coughed out. “But, sir, I was ordered to bl-”
   
   The shaii waved his hands in front of him. “Don’t wanna hear it.”
   
   “Hmm…” the sergeant hummed while checking out the smoking hole in the wall. He seemed to be impressed. “You just look at this hole! Amazing! Tell me, seamstress. Why is it that despite the fact that you look like an idiot, you are still efficient?”
   
   “Oh, sir, I must be one of those efficient idiots.”
   
   The shaii groaned. “Oh, for gods’ sakes, don’t spur him on!”
   
   “Did I pass, sir?”
   
   “With flying colors,” the sergeant said, writing something down in his notebook. “Even though this was only a differentiation test,” he added.
   
   Goten’s face brightened. “Thank you, sir. May I go now?”
   
   “Yeah, sure.”
   
   Goten saluted. “Thank you, sir.” He turned to go, but then stopped and looked back at the hole in the wall. It was already dark outside. “Mmm…”
   
   “No, you won’t need to pay for it,” the shaii spat.
   
   Goten gave him a blissful grin. 
   
   The prince watched the third-class go. Then he looked at the wall and the debris surrounding it. He frowned. To hell with the wall. The fact was that the third-class had more power than five average elites put together. This was insane.
   
   “Sir?”
   
   The shaii turned to the drill sergeant. “Yes?”
   
   The sergeant waved the notebook in the air. “What should I write in here, sir?”
   
   “Mark him as ‘above average’.”
   
   The sergeant lowered the notebook slowly. “Sir, is this…” The sergeant reconsidered his question at the look on the prince’s face. He sighed. “Alright, I’ll keep quiet about this, sir. But who will pay for the wall?”
   
   “Send the repair cost to me.”
   
   “And the report on how this happened?”
   
   “Tell them I was having a shitty day.”

   ooOoOoOoo
   
   Goten was humming under his breath while watching Kyon write a letter home. Kyon dutifully wrote home every Saturday. He was hunched over the table, a desk lamp pulled close and a sheet of paper in front of him, while he traced out every letter with exacting care. 
   
   Kyon also received letters. He was probably the only one on base to receive regular mail and parcels. Ranvera had tried to teach him to use e-mail, but Kyon and technology had strong disagreements. The only technology he could use was the fridge and the oven. And to Goten, whose experience with technology exceeded Kyon’s only in using Laundromats and scouters, that seemed like plenty enough.
   
   Goten yawned. It was about time for him to attend his nightly kitchen duty. There were only two days of it left and then he'd be free. He hoped he would stay free of it for a long time.
   
   Goten blinked sleepily, then shook his head. He stood up and headed for the door. He opened it to find himself looking at a passenger’s cabin. Rows of seats stretched out in front of him. They were vacant, not a living soul to be seen. Yet the aircraft was airborne, the soft, soothing hum vibrating through the floor and the empty seats.
   
   Everyone must have gone to their cabins after the plane had taken off. Goten looked back in the direction he had come from. Behind him, he found a bathroom. Ah yes, he must have become violently ill during the take-off.
   
   Goten closed the door behind him softly and started walking towards the spot where he knew the cabins should be. He wanted to go back to his room, but suddenly could not remember which one it was or whether he had one at all. Probably not. He was of no importance after all. 
   
   Goten’s step faltered. For a few seconds, he stared at the door leading towards the front of the plane. Then he picked one of the empty seats next to a window, sat down, and took a moment to think about it. 
   
   Clouds were flowing past the plane. He had never been on a plane before. He was sure of that. He had seen many photographs of different models, though, which easily enabled him to recognize one. He could not remember ever boarding a plane either. Suddenly, this reality did not seem so real anymore.
   
   Goten turned his head towards the sound of an opening door. 
   
   “Oh, here you are,” Gohan said, walking out of the bathroom.
   
   Goten had just taken a look at the bathroom a minute ago. It had been empty. 
   
   “Ah, a dream again,” Goten realized. Now he wondered why it had taken him this long to figure it out.
   
   “Well, yes, something like that,” Gohan agreed.
   
   “Where is everyone?”
   
   “I don’t think they have boarded yet.”
   
   Goten gave him a confused look, then shrugged. For some reason, he could not care much about what was happening. He didn’t feel like questioning it either. Now, knowing that this was a dream, he was just going to take things for granted instead of wondering about them.
   
   “Aren’t you interested where this plane is headed?”
   
   Goten shrugged. “Even if I’m not, you’re going to tell me anyway, right?”
   
   “I’d rather you figured it out on your own.”
   
   “I see. So how is life? Or death? You never answered me. Are you dead or alive?”
   
   Gohan smiled at him. “Can’t I be both?”
   
   Goten frowned at his brother. “I really don’t think so. But how i-”
   
   An explosion shook the plane, Goten’s chest ramming into the seat before him. It took him a few moments to recover, then his still somewhat dazed eyes flickered over the main cabin. Nothing extraordinary was happening. He looked out of the window. He could see four military aircrafts exchanging fire.
   
   Goten grabbed at the seat in front of him as the plane made a sudden turn. “What the hell is going on?” he demanded, his interest in the surroundings suddenly returning with a vital rush. Although this was only a dream, the smell of smoke flooding the cabin and the burning ache in his chest felt all too real.
   
   “It’s an attack,” Gohan explained calmly.
   
   “I can see that!” Goten growled at him. He finally managed to struggle out of the row of seats and now stood on the gangway. “Why are those planes attacking this one? Where are we, for gods’ sake?”
   
   Goten started as there was a loud bump somewhere above their heads. He tilted his head back to stare at the ceiling. A small burning red dot appeared. Immediately, it turned into a red line, spewing sparks. Smoke and the smell of molten metal filled the passenger cabin. 
   
   Instinctively, Goten covered his mouth and nose with his hand. Glued to the spot, he watched the glowing line make a sharp corner, then proceed further. A few seconds later it made another sudden turn.
   
   Goten turned his head to Gohan, who had tugged at his sleeve. Gohan motioned towards the front of the plane and moved forward. Goten shook his stupor off and started following him. 
   
   They reached the door and, just before opening it, Goten heard a loud crash. A deafening whoosh of air followed. Goten turned around to see a large piece of metal lying on the gangway, crushing the seats. Loose things and broken pieces of chair were sucked out through the hole in the ceiling. Then Gohan pulled him forward through the door.
   
   The sudden feeling of free falling was so unexpected that Goten cried out. He was still screaming when he plunged into the water. Water got into his mouth and nose. Panicking, he started coughing and gasping for air. He flailed his arms and legs around, but it appeared that he hadn’t sunk too deep and his head and shoulders suddenly tore out of water.
   
   It took Goten a while to get his breath back. Still coughing and wiping at his eyes, he looked around. He was in a large body of water which hung suspended in blue nothingness. The same pool he had seen before. Goten looked upward to see the edge of the world hanging above him.
   
   Someone cleared his throat behind him. 
   
   Goten’s head turned and he splashed around in the water to face his brother. Gohan was standing on the water and looking down at him, arms crossed.
   
   “You seem to have learned to float,” Gohan said, amused. “Quite a feat, considering this is only the second time you've gone for a swim.”
   
   Goten stared up at Gohan, then he lowered his eyes to his brother’s feet. A few questions popped up in his head. Then Goten blinked in realization. He summoned his ki and rose above the water. Now he and Gohan were hovering and facing each other.
   
   Gohan grinned at him. “Took you long enough; slow as usual.”
   
   “Yeah,” Goten agreed. He looked his brother squarely into the eyes. “Are you really Gohan?”
   
   “And what do you think?”
   
   “I’m starting to think that you aren’t.”
   
   Gohan smiled. “Then I’m not, am I?”
   
   Absently, Goten slid his hands over his sides, making the excess water run down his uniform and back into the pool. He was starting to shiver in his wet clothes. “Then who are you?”
   
   “You mean right now?”
   
   “Uhh…”
   
   “I’m…Goten.”
   
   Confused, Goten blinked. “What?”
   
   “Goten!”
   
   Goten frowned at his brother’s face. “What the…?”
   
   “Goten, wake up! You are late for your kitchen duty!”
   
   Goten gasped as he plunged back into the pool. Just before he woke up, he heard Gohan laugh.
   
   ooOoOoOoo
   
   It was the next day and Goten was in the kitchens, scaling fish for lunch. They had been cleaned and gutted, but there was still a considerable layer of scales left. It wasn’t hard to scale them and Goten was quickly going through the mountains of defrosted fish.
   
   Fish was rare in the region he had grown up. It was expensive and was usually set on the table only on special occasions. It was also less satisfying and gave less energy than other kinds of meat. Nonetheless, it was easily digestible and put less strain on one’s stomach.
   
   Despite the smell, Goten was happy with the current task. The fish was still cool and he preferred it to the scorching heat outside. He had also moved as far from the windows as he could to stay out of the sun.
   
   He was worried about his father. He had left the message on Morawa’s colony a week and a half ago. There was no news so far, only steadily flowing reports about the unrest there. There had been cases when his father would disappear for months and then reappear with bits of news about grand battles and victories which had taken place in the territories he had just returned from.
   
   Goten had given this some thought and he was not a big believer in coincidences. It was suspicious, to say the least. Now, with this newly discovered power inside him, his thoughts had taken on a different tone of speculation. He was nearly sure that his father knew what was going on. He wanted answers.
   
   Nothing really disquieting had happened since he had blown himself up. He felt fine and was functioning normally. Nonetheless, there was nothing normal about him. He realized that perfectly. It was frightening. He was just a tool for someone’s experiments, just a playground. He liked being in control of his actions and now he didn’t know what was happening anymore. It was as if his body was someone else’s. He didn’t know if what was happening to him was a good or bad thing. He was afraid that all these changes were leading to his slow death. How much could his body handle?
   
   The same must have happened to Gohan. He wished he had talked to his brother when he had the chance. He had always felt that there was something weird with Gohan’s rising power. Just before his death, it had been frightening. Just as his was now. Although the prince said that National Security claimed the experiment had nothing to do with Gohan’s death, there had to be a connection.
   
   Goten wished the prince would simply pull a few strings and provide him with answers. Nobody would refuse him. On the other hand, even if he was curious, this was just a hassle for the prince. And now, after that incident in the training hall… Both of them acted as if nothing happened, but something had changed. There was something…
   
   Goten sighed. He stopped scaling the fish and turned around, casting a look around the kitchen. Everyone was hard at work: Kyon was arguing with one of the chefs about which spices to use; the females were grating carrots; Toharu, Ario and Ranvera were mucking around with onions and were openly crying, making fun of each other for it at the same time.
   
   Smiling, Goten watched them. He wished time would stop and he could stay like this forever, with all of them laughing, flirting, talking shit, drinking, throwing up, fighting and simply having fun. He knew he would feel guilty if it did, though.
   
   Goten jumped at the sudden shriek of the alarm from outside. Everyone looked out the windows. Then the alarm broke off and a microphone screeched. 
   
   “Everyone, including the staff and officers, form columns in the training field around the flag to greet a distinguished guest.”
   
   The loudspeakers screeched off into silence. Everyone in the kitchen looked at each other, then filed through the kitchen door. Outside, other savars had started forming columns. Goten was aware of another group of officers standing in a separate formation. He could discern a purple blob in the front row.
   
   Goten smiled sheepishly as the savar beside him sniffed at him, frowning.
   
   “Fish for lunch,” he explained.
   
   “Oh. I see.”
   
   Goten and the rest of the savars looked up at the sky where a dot appeared. Goten shielded his eyes against the glaring sun. It was a spaceship. Not one from Vegeta-sei. Goten continued inspecting it as it got closer. It was one of the Terrans’. Intrigued, he lowered his hand. What kind of business did Humans have here?
   
   The spaceship started to land behind the aerospace center. Goten figured it was as big as the launch pad itself. Everyone’s attention went to the six armored Saiyans who appeared from behind the buildings. The bulky men wore scouters and all of them were armed with serious looking ki-guns.
   
   At the taisa’s command, the whole Hataro Officer Training School saluted, their fists hitting their chests. Goten still had no idea who he was saluting as a tiny blue-haired female pushed the armored Saiyans aside and rushed into the training field.
   
   “Your Highness!”
   
   The blue-haired female stopped, but only to take in the whole training field. Then her eyes sparkled and a huge grin appeared on her face. She spread her arms happily and ran towards the officer columns. 
   
   There was some commotion in the ranks as she lunged at the red-faced shaii. 
   
   “Trunks!” she beamed, grabbing the prince’s face in her palms and kissing him on both cheeks quickly. “It’s so good to see you, baby!”
   
   “Yes, yes, Mother,” the prince tried to calm her down, patting her on her back as she embraced him. “I missed you too.” He was afraid to even look around him, so kept his gaze trained on the back of the blue head. “Nice haircut.”
   
   Wiping at her eyes, his mother raised her head. “Oh yes, just got it a few days ago. But never mind that.” She looked him up and down. “You’ve grown.”
   
   “Yes,” the prince nodded. “It’s been about two years since we saw each other last, hasn’t it?” He squirmed uncomfortably as his mother started tearing up again. He let go of her. “Mother, I think we should finish the official part of the visit. Then we’ll have plenty of time to catch up with everything.”
   
   His mother looked around. She seemed to regain her senses. She nodded and patted him on his arm before turning around and returning to the sanctuary of her bodyguards. The prince’s eyes caught a familiar figure among them. He nodded at his former mentor, acknowledging his presence. The elder man offered a short smile in return.
   
   Silence reigned in the rows while Her Royal Highness, the Princess Vegeta Briefs Bulma, was being introduced. Goten was curiously studying the tiny female. Now he knew where the shaii got his purple hair from; the woman’s blue hair shone brightly from afar. All Saiyan females he had seen so far were at least a whole head taller than her, not to mention their stronger builds. She was older than the savars but she was somehow…very delicate, graceful. This Human female made him want to protect her.
   
   Goten’s eyes shifted a few centimeters away from the charming female. He froze as he met a blue stare. The prince was staring at him with both eyebrows raised, his face reflecting utter disbelief. Goten flushed red to the roots of his hair and dropped his eyes to the asphalt. Mortified, he could feel his cheeks burning.
   
   What Goten didn’t know was that, when the shaii’s gaze left him, the prince saw about eight hundred similar stares directed at his mother. This was like a scene from a nightmare. Irritated, the prince started leading the group of newcomers towards the headquarters. He gritted his teeth as Goten’s gaping face resurfaced in his mind’s eye. So readable, no different from the others. What a simpleton.
   
   He could not believe that he was jealous of his own mother.
   
   Behind him, the shaii heard the officers commanding the savars to return to their previous tasks. He guided the group into the headquarters. Not certain where to go next, he stopped in the middle of the hall. He didn’t know the purpose of his mother’s visit.
   
   “Where should we go next? To the taisa’s office or mine?” he asked.
   
   Bulma gave him a surprised look. “Yours, of course.”
   
   “Alright,” the prince nodded, continuing to walk forward. 
   
   He showed them into his office and took a seat at his usual place behind his desk. He watched the six bodyguards file into the room. He gave his mother a questioning look.
   
   “Is there a pub or a bar or something on the base?” Bulma asked her son.
   
   The prince nodded. “Yes, it’s right next to this building.”
   
   “Right.” She turned to her bodyguards. “You may go and have a decent meal and a drink or two. I’ll send someone to fetch you when you’re needed.”
   
   “But, Your Highness…”
   
   Two pairs of cold, blue-eyed stares made the voice trail off. The captain of the group saluted. “Yes, Your Highness. We’ll await further orders.”
   
   Once the bodyguards left, Bulma made herself comfortable in one of the chairs in front of her son’s desk. 
   
   “What’s with the mass of bodyguards?”
   
   The princess shrugged. “Your father thinks that the situation is turning unstable.”
   
   “He always thinks all situations are unstable.”
   
   “This time it’s more unstable than usual. And I believe that this time he’s right.”
   
   “What is the real purpose of your visit?” He smiled awkwardly. “Not that I’m unhappy, quite the opposite.”
   
   Bulma chuckled. “I just thought I’d make a surprise visit and wish you all the best during your birthday party.”
   
   The prince’s eyes widened. “Oh, I completely forgot!” He scratched his head. “But it’s in two days. Besides… I don’t think there will be a party; you know that Saiyans don’t particularly care about birthdays.”
   
   Bulma winked at him. “They will. As long as we give them a reason to drink.”
   
   The prince laughed softly. “True.”
   
   ooOoOoOoo
   
   About seven o’clock in the evening, Goten was summoned to one of the phones to answer a call from Morawa colony. While running towards the headquarters, Goten begged whatever Gods there were that this wouldn’t be one of those calls informing him about a deceased family member. He grabbed the receiver with a shaky hand and fitted it over his ear.
   
   “Yes?”
   
   “Hello, Goten. I was told you called.”
   
    A relieved exhalation was torn from Goten’s throat at the familiar sounding voice. “Yes,” he nodded, forgetting that his father could not see him. “There are a few questions I wanted to ask you. But are you alright? What’s going on there?”
   
   “I’m fine. We were ambushed and our spaceship was destroyed, but we beat them back and restored control.”
   
    “I see.” It was amazing how his father could squeeze over a week’s worth of events and bloodshed into only one sentence. 
   
   “And what about you? Is everything okay? Beating the crap out of elites as usual?”
   
   Goten rolled his eyes. His father didn’t have much sense of humor. “Yes, I’m perfectly fine. That is exactly what I wanted to talk to you about – just two days ago I was having a ki differentiation test. Could you try guessing what happened?”
   
   Except for the static sounds in the receiver, it was silent. Then he heard his father clear his throat. 
   
   “I would presume you were better than you’d expected,” he said in a soft drawling voice.
   
   “Would you care to guess how much better?” Goten asked in a soft hiss. Although he had expected this, the shock was making him angry. His father knew. The bastard knew what was going on.
   
   His father cleared his throat again. “This is not a conversation we should have on the phone. It might take me over a week to return to Vegeta-sei. I’ll contact you then.”
   
   “I nearly blew myself up!” Goten growled out at the receiver. “I spent three days in a regeneration tank! I nearly died!”
   
   There was a shocked silence on the other end of the receiver again. “I…I see. I’m sorry to hear that.”
   
   Goten snarled. “Sorry, my ass! Why the hell has nobody told m-”
   
   “Calm down, Goten. We’ll talk about this face to face.”
   
   Goten managed to keep himself from lashing out again. He inhaled deeply. “Alright. I’ll wait for you.”
   
   “Good. Goten… Hmm…”
   
   “What is it?” Goten asked impatiently as his father just trailed off indecisively.
   
   “There is one thing I want to ask you. Well…”
   
   “What is it?” Goten repeated impatiently. 
   
   “I was just wondering... have you met the old man at the end of the world?”
   
   Shocked, Goten simply stared at the wall in front of him. For a few seconds he simply stared at it. Then he shook it off and laughed awkwardly. “What the hell are you talking about? The end of the world? What do you mean?”
   
   “Hmm… So you haven’t. I see. Alright then, see you in a week or so. Bye.”
   
   There was a click and the line went quiet. A few seconds later, Goten took off the receiver and lowered it to the desk. Silently, he watched the receiver wobble back and forward on the smooth surface. 
   
   What the hell had just happened?
   
   TBC



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