He wandered the street aimlessly. It was about one in the morning, and the world was asleep. Except for the scavengers. But he was never afraid of them. They seemed to have instinct for the weak, and he knew he was anything but weak. Still, he wondered briefly if he should go home. He quickly dismissed the thought. He knew he wouldn't be able to sleep anyway.
Maybe I should go to my other home, he couldn't help thinking. He hadn't seen Bulma-san in…two months? Longer? But it wasn't like his visits were at all regular. Would she still welcome a visit from him?
Well, there was only one way to find out. He squared his shoulders and headed for the Capsule Corp.
Bulma sat back and rubbed her neck. She'd been working all day on her new capsulizer and just about had it.
She rotated her head and stopped. "Son-kun?" she whispered.
The young man in the corner of her lab scowled. Strange, she didn't think a Son would know how to do that. "I haven't been Son-kun since I was six years old, Bulma-san. Don't call me that again."
She stared at him. "Son…it wasn't your fault."
He looked away. "I was there. I did nothing to stop it. How could it not be my fault?"
"Son! You were six years old! You were tied up! How could you have stopped it?"
"I could've broken the ropes."
Bulma stood up and laid a hand on Son's arm. He jerked away. "Son, if they managed to tie Goku, Gohan, and Vegeta with whatever it was, what makes you think
you could've broken it?"
He wouldn't meet her eyes. "I could've tried harder."
Bulma glared at him. "Now, you listen to me, Son Goten, and you listen good. You've been here for every death we've experienced and you've tried your hardest to stop them. The fact that you're here is remarkable. It's not your fault in any way, shape, or form that no one else survived, do you understand me?"
"I hear you."
"I realize that. You're a Saiyajin. Saiyajins have very good hearing. That wasn't the question I asked. I asked, 'Do you understand me?' "
A quick smile flashed and faded across his face. "Yes," he answered.
Bulma's heart ached when she looked at him, so hard and unyielding. His mother had died giving birth. His father had been killed in front of his eyes. But still, how could this harsh young man be the little boy she had raised from his eighth birthday?
"Bulma-san?" His voice brought her out of her reverie.
Bulma smiled apologetically. "Sorry. Memories…"
"Yeah. So, how're Bra and Trunks?" There was only a slight catch in his voice. Maybe Bulma-san wouldn't notice it.
She didn't appear to. "Well, no worse. Of course, no better, either. Do you want to come see?"
"Come on, over here." Bulma led him to the back of the lab, where two crystal boxes lay. Bulma looked inside one. "Trunks' eye twitched the other day. The first sign of consciousness either one has shown."
He could hear the hope in her voice. "So they might wake up?"
"It's always a possibility." Bulma sighed. "I don't know what happened in that fight, so I don't know how to fix it. The injuries are all healed, they're fine physically. It's the mental problems that are bothering, and they're the only ones who can fix those." Bulma sighed. "I keep hoping I'll wake up and they'll be at the breakfast table…it's hard eating alone after being used to people."
He looked away. He couldn't live at Capsule Corp, he just couldn't. He felt bad for Bulma's loneliness, he fully understood it, but it just wouldn't work. "I understand the feeling," he said abruptly.
Bulma's eyes were full of sadness as she nodded. "I'm really glad that you came to visit, Son."
"I was surprised you were still up…"
"Why shouldn't I be up? You were, weren't you?" Teasing now, gently.
"If I sleep, I have nightmares," he said shortly.
She looked away. "We all have nightmares," she said softly. She turned back to her desk and sat down, picking up the capsulizer again. "If you're hungry, the kitchen's yours," she added, looking up at him.
"Thanks." He looked back down at her and touched her hand. "Thank you, Bulma-san," he repeated softly.
Bulma stood up and hugged him tightly. "You're welcome," she whispered. Then she stiffened.
"Bulma-san? What is it?"
All of a sudden, he heard a gunshot and felt pain race through him. He looked down. A bullet had passed clear through him into Bulma. He was bleeding. Bulma's eyes were rolling back in her head and she fell to the ground, bleeding profusely.
"Bulma-san!" he cried out in horror. Bulma gave him a weak smile and then he could feel her ki disappear. Bulma was dead. He spun around and faced the person, still holding the gun. 18. He was filled with an insane desire to laugh. After all the battles, all the ki blasts, all the
everything, they used a gun to kill Bulma. A gun.
18 was looking at the capsulizer. She suddenly looked up. "Oh, you're not dead yet?" she asked, aimed, and fired.
He easily dodged the bullet and came up behind the android. He grabbed her arm and snapped it. "I just broke your arm in three places," he whispered. "I could give you the medical terminology and estimated time of recovery if you like."
He felt another gun jam into his ribs. "Let my sister go," a low voice ordered.
He slowly released 18. She ran behind her brother. "17, he said he broke my arm!" she cried, cradling it.
"Did you?" 17 asked.
"She shot my mother," he growled. The words surprised him for an instant, but they were the truth, because Bulma was his mother in every way that counted.
"That's too bad. Nothing personal, really, just we want to get rid of the last of you guys. You're really irritating, you know that?" 17 asked.
He growled again.
17 shot him three more times and he fell to his knees. "That ought to keep him docile-for a few minutes, anyway. 18, what are you doing? 18!"
18 turned. "I was just looking at this," she told her brother, pointing to a large, blue-colored box. "It has buttons. What do you think they do?"
"Who cares?"
"Maybe it would be more fun to kill him with this," 18 pointed out. "If we knew what it did."
"That's true, isn't it?" 17 walked over and pushed one at random. The machine suddenly began glowing and projected some sort of portal. 17 and 18 stared in amazement at the many-colored, swirling mass of…something.
He tried to take advantage of their distraction and stand up. 17 whipped around and fired yet again. "And I still have two shots left, kid. I would think twice before I moved again," he warned.
"Rot in Hell," he responded.
17 laughed, then stopped as an idea occurred to him. "Where do you suppose this portal goes, 18?" he asked rhetorically.
18 looked puzzled. "I have no idea," she told her brother. "How could I know?"
He smiled viciously. "Well, I want to find out."
17 picked up the near-unconscious young man and looked at the portal. "What do you say, 18?"
She smiled nastily. "Why don't we?"
"I thought you might feel that way." 17 smiled back and threw him through the portal.