Goten wiped blood from his lip and groaned. How had Mr. Son done that? Goten hadn't taken his eyes off the man, and now he was flat on his back. Again!
"Better, Goten."
Goten's eyes widened. Mr. Son never praised him unless he'd earned it. "Really, Mr. Son?"
Mr. Son frowned. "When are you going to stop calling me that?"
"And yes, you're really better. I think it's time I teach you to heal yourself…you're going to need it soon."
"You're going to start attacking me?" Goten yelled, thrilled.
Mr. Son smiled. He was smiling more and more these days, but Goten hadn't heard him laugh yet. He had made it his own personal mission to make Mr. Son laugh, and not just any laugh, but a really huge belly laugh. Mr. Son helped Goten to his feet. "I never heard anyone so excited about being beat up. Hot damn."
Goten's eyes widened and he covered his mouth.
"Oh, sorry. Not supposed to talk that way in front of kids, right?"
"It's okay," Goten assured him. "I know a worser word than <i>that</i>."
"You don't say."
"It's another word for 'poop,' " Goten said in all seriousness.
"You don't say. Well, don't teach it to me. I might slip up and say it in front of Trunks or something."
"Trunks was the one who taught it to me!"
Mr. Son smiled again. "Well, I still suspect your mom would wash our mouths out with soap if she heard us talking like that, so we shouldn't, I think."
"Yeah, true." Goten looked thoughtful, then jumped at Mr. Son. He actually knocked the man down before he reacted.
Mr. Son easily tossed him aside, but he was actually grinning. "Good job, kid."
Goten grinned back. A little closer to that laugh. He got back in the attacking position.
"No, no. Weren't you listening? We're focusing on healing right now. Okay, power up."
Goten complied.
"Go to Super-Saiyajin."
Goten shrugged. "Whatever you say."
"You're so lucky you can do that at such a young age," Son said admiringly. "It will make this next part so much easier. Okay, feel the blood leaking out of your mouth?"
"Yes. I can taste it."
"Focus your energy there."
"Focus? What?"
"Your aura. Take it and push it all over to your injury."
Goten frowned in concentration and tried to obey. "This is really hard," he complained.
"It's not supposed to be easy. Come on, almost there."
Goten concentrated harder and then all of a sudden there was no blood. He touched his mouth experimentally and his fingers came away bloodless. He grinned up at Mr. Son. "That is so cool!"
"So, basically, you have no idea how to make the kind of machine I need?" Son asked bluntly, later, at the Capsule Corp. Goten was busy hurting and healing himself, so Son had quietly excused himself and left.
Bulma sighed. "Basically. But that's just
right now. With what you've told me and what I've already guessed, I think I can have the kind of teleporter you need ready…in two or three months."
Months?" Son yelped. "You cannot be serious!"
"Look, Son, I'm sorry. I really am. But I can't just whip one up, you know! Geez! Men!" Bulma muttered under her breath. "Excuse me," she said frostily. "Bra's crying again." She noticed how his face softened almost immediately.
"Of course," he said in that soft voice of his. Bulma remembered the first time she had met him, two weeks ago, and how his voice had irritated her, like he didn't have to speak loud, like you had to make it your business to hear what he was saying. But now she'd just grown accustomed to it.
"Thank you." She left and returned with her small daughter. "Do you want to see Uncle Son while Mama works on some important calculations?" she asked in baby talk. "Of course you do. Here, take her." She handed Bra to Son and began calculating again furiously, her pencil flying over the paper. Son just kind of sat there like a statue. Bra began crying. "Stand up and walk with her," Bulma said without looking up.
"Just do it!" Bulma ordered absently. She leafed through her notebook and typed something on her laptop. "Rock her, it's not so hard. If Vegeta can do it…And aren't you planning on a family of your own someday? This'll be good prac…" She stopped suddenly and stared at the file. Then she began flipping through her book frantically with one hand while typing with her other.
"What? What is it, Bulma-san?" Son demanded.
Bulma sat back smugly, looking at the page she opened to and comparing notes. "I've figured it out!"
"Figured it out? Figured <i>what</i> out?"
"Your little machine. By Kami, I'm smart. I mean the other me. It's so simple, yet so brilliant. Okay, it'll take a month to get the supplies I need…but after that…" Bulma looked up at Son with a bright smile. "I'd say you're very, <i>very</i>close to getting home."
Son stared at her for a minute then began grinning. "Really?"
"Really, Son-kun."
The grin faded. "Thank you, Bulma-san," he said stiffly. "Do you still need me to be here?"
She looked puzzled but shook her head. "No."
"Then I'll be going." Son shoved Bra at Bulma roughly and stalked out, leaving Bulma staring after him in confusion.
"What on Chikyuu did you do to my son?" ChiChi demanded.
Son blinked. He wasn't even fully in the house yet. He looked around in confusion. "Beggin' your pardon, ma'am?"
"Goten! He was playing with knives in his room, cutting himself. 'But, Mom, Mr. Son taught me to fix it!' So…WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY SON?" she yelled.
Son's lips twitched. "Playing with knives, huh? Well, I can't say as I don't understand. No point in healing yourself excepting you're hurt."
ChiChi's mouth worked, but no words came out. She glared murderously at him, spun on her heel, and left.
In the corner, Gohan sat there, shoulders shaking in silent laughter. "Not many can do that to Kaasan," he said when he got control of himself.
"Well, I honestly didn't mean to. I mean, didn't you practice healing yourself after I taught you?" Son asked, bewildered.
"Oh, sure." Gohan nodded. "But I didn't play with knives and I surely didn't do it where my wife or mother might walk in." He started chuckling again. "Imagine how that must've looked to her. She steps in Goten's room and he's wielding a bloody knife, holding it to his wrist. 'Oh, don't worry, I can heal it.' " He doubled over, unable to speak. "By Kami, I wish I'd had a camera!" he choked out in between gales of laughter. "<i>That</i>, my friend, was priceless."
"Well, I'm so glad you were amused," Son muttered. He scowled and headed for his