CHAPTER ONE 
 
 
 °»Oh, no!°… Marron yelled, looking at the clock.  In theory, she could make to class on time, but she knew she wouldn°«t.  She didn°«t know why she even bothered to rush.  Still, she grabbed a pair of jeans and a T-shirt with no particular concern for what it might look like.  T-shirts and jeans suited her fine on days when she was running late.  Homework°ńwell, math was
done, anyway.  She supposed that was the most important, especially since she had it first.  Breakfast°ńwho had time?

         In other words, it was a day like any other.

        °»Sorry, Tousan, gotta go!°… she called as she ran through the kitchen.

        °»Marron, get back in here!  You have to eat.°…

        °»Daaaaaaaaad, no time.  I°«m running late!°…

        °»You have time to eat,°… Krillin said firmly. °»I°«ll write you a pass or something.°…

        She rolled her eyes, then smiled sweetly at him. °»Do I have to go to first hour at all?°… she asked hopefully.

        °»Depends on how long it takes you to eat.°…

        Marron sat down and began picking at the oatmeal. °»How long on those eggs?°… she asked with a grin.

        18 yawned as she stepped in. °»Marron, what are you still doing here?  You°«re gonna be late!°…

        Marron looked at her mother with chagrin.  18 was rarely up by seven-thirty. °»Tousan says I have to eat,°… she said cautiously.

        °»You haven°«t eaten yet?°… 18 sighed. °»Well, he°«s right, you do; you°«re practically a stick.  But you also have to start getting up earlier.°…
 
       Marron gave her mother an incredulous look. _I like being a stick_, she thought stubbornly, knowing her figure was a major point of envy for many of the girls at her school.  Then 18°«s other words registered. °»Get up earlier?°… she repeated.  Her mother was famous for both staying up and getting up late.

        °»Yes, get up earlier.  Don°«t get smart-mouthed with me,°… 18 snapped, but chuckled.

        °»Coffee, dear?°… Krillin asked.

        18 smiled charmingly at him. °»Yes, please.  Thank you.°…

        Marron inhaled the rest of her oatmeal. °»Kaasan, Tousan, I really have to go.  Math is a pain, but it°«s
a class I really can°«t miss.°…

        °»That°«s a very responsible attitude, Marron-chan,°… 18 praised her.

        °»You°«re not going to try and talk me out of it?°… Marron sounded disappointed.

        18 laughed. °»No, dear, sorry.°…

        °»Dang.  Oh, well.  See you after school.°… She kissed her mother on the cheek, hugged her Tousan, grabbed her backpack, and raced for her motorbike. She was going along pretty well when°ń°»Going fast enough?°… an amused voice asked from above her.
        Marron, startled, almost flipped over, but regained control of the bike and looked up. °»Trunks?  What are you doing out here?°…

        °»I, uh, I wanted to talk to your mother.°…

        Marron nodded. °»Whatever.  Kaasan°«s at home.  But she°«s kind of in a bad mood, I don°«t know if you want
to face that.°…

        °»Oh.°… Trunks chewed on his lower lip. °»Well, maybe not, then.°…

        °»Whatever.°…

        Trunks started to fly off then turned around. °»Say, do you want a ride?°…

        °»What?°…

        °»Do_you_want_a_ride?°…

        °»I heard you, Trunks,°… she said witheringly. °»What do you mean?°…

        °»I can carry you, and I can go faster than that bike of yours.°…

        Marron looked up at him. °»Can you carry me and my bike?°…

        °»Huh?°…

        °»Well, I don°«t expect you to take me home, too.  You don°«t go to high school, I can°«t imagine you°«d want to
come back just for me.°…

        °»Oh, I wouldn°«t mind, but I think you should take it just in case.°… He hovered in front of her. °»And, Marron, I am a Super-Saiyajin.  I can carry both you and the bike, no problem.°…

        Marron felt her heart beat a little faster at his first words.  With supreme effort, she kept her face under control and merely grinned. °»Okay, then.°…

        °»Piggyback or across the threshold?°… Trunks asked.

        °»Why don°«t we do piggyback?  It°«d probably make it easier for you.°…

        °»All right.°… He hovered next to her and she climbed on his back and clasped her hands around his neck.  He picked up the motorbike, got a secure grip on it, and hurried towards the mainland. Marron squealed as he sped up.

        °»Too fast?°… Trunks asked.

        °»Nope.  Perfect.  Tousan never flies this fast.°…

        °»Why not?°…

        Marron made a sound of disgust. °»I°«m °∆delicate.°« °…

        °»Oh.  Well, I can°«t say I disagree.°…

        °»What?°… she exclaimed.

        °»You always cried when we were little,°… he said wearily. °»If I so much as _touched_ you with a ki blast, you started bawling.°…

        °»Trunks, those ki blasts- _hurt_ me.  They still do.  But I can take flying.°… She sighed. °»I wish I could on my own.°…

        Trunks shrugged and Marron had to hold on tighter to stay on. °»Augh!  Trunks, when I have my arms on your
shoulders, don°«t shrug!°… Trunks grinned at her. °»Sorry,°… he apologized.  Then, °»You could, you know.°… She had to lean closer to him to hear what he was saying. °»Could what?  Shrug?°…

        °»Don°«t be ridiculous.  Fly, of course.°…

        °»Tousan wouldn°«t train me,°… she scoffed.

        °»But I could.°…

        °»Serious?°… She turned and looked him in the eye.

        °»Sure.  Heck, I always need to train, and I hear training others helps you.°…

        °»Well°ńgreat.  Thanks.  That°«d be nice.°… Her face clouded over. °»But what will Kaasan and Tousan say?°…

        °»Don°«t give °«em a chance.°…

        °»You mean, lie?°… Marron looked shocked.

        °»Not exactly°ńI mean, ignorance is bliss, right?°…

        Marron°«s shocked expression faded slightly as she grinned. °»Yeah, right.°…

        °»So don°«t show your report card and keep training a secret.  Is it a deal?°…

        °»Yeah.  Thanks.°…

        °»Well, here°«s your own little piece of Hell,°… Trunks said after a brief pause.

        °»School°«s not _that_ bad.°…

        °»It isn°«t?°…

        °»Well°ń°…

        Trunks stood on the ground and put her down. °»If I can, I°«ll meet you here after school.  It ends at three, right?°… She nodded.

        °»Okay, maybe see you then.°… Trunks strode off.

        °»°«Bye,°… Marron said to his back.
 
 

        °»Sorry I°«m late, Miss°ń°… Marron broke off as she stared at the young man sitting in her teacher°«s desk. °»Am I in the wrong classroom?°…

        °»No.  Miss Kline is sick today.  I°«m Mr. Brock.  And you are°ń?°… He left in an open-ended question.

        °»Marron.°…

        °»No, you°«re not flushed at all,°… Mr. Brock.  And you are°ń?°… He left in an open-ended question.

        °»Marron.°…

        °»No, you°«re not flushed at all,°… Mr. Brock said.

        She closed her eyes as the class tittered.  It was times like these she wished she had significant ki. °»No.  That°«s my name.  Marron.°…

        °»Oh.  Well, do you have your homework?°…

        °»Yes.°… Marron dug through her backpack then handed him the paper. °»There you?°… She was cut off again as he grabbed her arm and twisted it, almost painfully, staring at her forearm. °»What are you?°…

        °»Is this natural?°… he asked intensely.

        °»What?°… Marron laughed nervously, looking at her classmates, who were dismally failing at trying to appear uninterested in the conversation. °»This!°… He pointed to her birthmark, a white splotch with a darker heart-shaped spot in the middle.

        °»Y-yes, it is.  Wha??°…

        °»Come with me.  Class, your assignment is on the board.°… He dragged her into the hall. °»That°«s natural?°… he repeated.

        She jerked her arm away and rubbed it. °»Yes.  Why?°…

        °»Is your?is your mother alive?°…

        °»What is with all these questions?  Yes, she is, but what business is it of yours?°…

        He stepped back. °»I can°«t believe it,°… he whispered.  Then he straightened. °»You have to take me to meet her.°…

        °»_What_?°… Marron exclaimed.

        °»Trust me.  You have to.°…

        °»Trust you?  I °∆have°« to?°…

        °»Please,°… he pleaded.

        She stared at him and decided to use the telepathic ability she had inherited from her mother.  Letting her fingers °»accidentally°… brush his arm as she straightened her sleeve, she probed his mind.  There was something not quite right about him, but she didn°«t have time to explore it.  He didn°«t mean any harm to her family, she could tell that much. °»All right.  Tomorrow,°… she agreed reluctantly.

        °»Tomorrow?  Today.°…

        °»You can°«t come today.  I don°«t live close to the school.°…

        °»Okay, I°«ll drive you home.°…

        Marron sighed.  Trunks said he might meet her, and give up Trunks°« company for Mr. Brock°«s?  Not _very_ likely. °»Sorry. Today, bad, tomorrow, fine.°…

        °»But I _must_ meet your mother,°… Mr. Brock told her.°»It°«s imperative.  You can°«t possibly understand how important it is.°…

        °»Why don°«t you try and explain it?°…

        °»I can°«t.  I mean, I can°«t tell you first.  She has to hear it.  It°ńit just has to be that way.°…

        She sighed again.  Looked like she was giving up Trunks°« company for Mr. Brock°«s. °»All right.  Fine.  Today.  Do you have a boat?°…

        °»A boat?°…

        °»I live on an island.°…

        °»Oh.  I can rent one.°…

        °»Okay.  I°«ll meet you after school.  Here, okay?  Now I gotta go.°…

        °»Excuse me?  We still have class?°…

        °»I _was_ getting a ride home from a friend.  I have to try to find him and tell him that I don°«t need one
anymore.°… He sighed. °»All right.  You°«re excused from this class period.°…

°»You°«re too kind.°… Marron turned and stalked away.

        Finding Trunks proved not to be too difficult.  Marron knew his favorite coffee shop and when she checked, there he was. °»Hi, Trunks,°… she said, sitting down across from him.

        °»Marron!°… He looked surprised and pleased. °»Skipping first hour?°…

        She shook her head. °»No, silly.  I just came to tell you I don°«t need a ride home after all,°… she said unhappily.

        °»Why not?°… he asked, taking a sip of his coffee. °»Oh, geez, I°«m sorry.  Do you want anything?  My treat.°…

        Marron stared for a minute, then recovered. °»Oh, uh, some hot chocolate would be great, thanks.  And, uh.°… How could she explain the situation without sounding melodramatic? °»My math teacher needs to talk to my parents.°…

        Trunks began chuckling as he paid for the hot chocolate. °»Doing that badly?°… he asked sympathetically.

        She took a sip. °»Uh, yeah.°…

        °»Well, that°«s okay.  Tomorrow, then?°…

        °»You _want_ to give me a ride?°… Marron stared at him.

        °»Why not?  Who wouldn°«t want to spend time with you?  Besides, we can talk about a training schedule.°…

        °»Oh.  Okay.°…

        He settled back. °»So, why aren°«t you in first?°…

        °»Oh, right.  Well, my teacher told me I could go.  I told him I had to tell you I didn°«t need a ride anymore.°…

        °»Him?  I thought Miss Kline taught your math class.°…

        She looked at him, surprised he knew. °»I have a sub,°… she explained.

        °»Oh, okay.°… He squeezed her hand. °»Parent-teacher conference aren°«t that bad,°… he comforted her. °»The worst that°«ll happen is you°«ll get a tutor.°…

        °»Yeah.  The worst.°…

        °»Well, we have forty-five minutes to kill.  You want to start training?°…

        °»Here?  Now?°…

        °»Not here.  But we could go where I train if you like.°…

        °»Well, um, okay.°… Marron picked up the backpack and followed him out the door.
 

        Trunks set her down and checked his watch. °»We have forty minutes left.  Okay.  I have time to test your
power level.  So just fight me.°… He frowned as he began to try and sense her ki.  It was unusually high if she really hadn°«t had any training; he guessed it at about 60.

        °»Um°ńokay.°… She paused. °»Can you start?  I°«m better at defensive, and I°«m guessing you want to see me at my best.°…

        °»That°«s fine.°… He started a punch towards her.  To his surprise, her level jumped from about 60 to about 120 as she blocked it and hit him. °»That°«s good,°… he said, surprised.

        She chuckled. °»Thank you,°… she said sweetly, then kicked him in the stomach.  Surprised, Trunks went down. °»Are you all right?°… she asked, holding a hand out to him.

        °»Yeah, I°«m fine.  That was pretty good.°… He helped her up.  This time he was prepared and blocked her hit.  She turned away from him, then circled back around and knocked his legs out from under him.  She straddled his chest and held a small knife to his throat.  Trunks°« eyes widened.  Her power level was around 200. °»Wow,°… he breathed.

        °»What?°… she asked, looking down at him.

        °»You°«ve never had training?°… he replied.

        °»Not really.  I mean, I watch sparring all the time, and Kaasan and Tousan taught me some self-defense, but that°«s all.  Nothing really that great.°…

        °»Nothing that great?  Marron, you really have a high power level, considering.°…

        °»Oh.°… Marron suddenly realized where she was and what she was doing.  She scrambled to her feet, blushing
slightly.

        Trunks stood up. °»Okay.  I°«ll work out a program for you.  You don°«t want to get serious about this, right? You just want to fly?°…

        She nodded, not meeting his eyes.

        °»So, just for now, exercise.  Run, jump, all that good stuff.°…

        °»Okay.°…

        °»Hey, is something wrong?°… He looked at her, concerned.  She seemed to be flushed. °»Was I hard too on you?°… She shook her head. °»No, no, nothing°«s wrong,°… she said hastily.

        He tilted her head up. °»Really?°…

        She got a rush of images from him.  He wanted to train her and he wondered what was wrong with her were the initial mental pictures she picked up.  And something else°ńsomething even he didn°«t know he was feeling.  But Marron had learned to block out images that she received from simple contact and proceeded to do so.  His mind might be an open book, but she still didn°«t have to °»read°… it.  Still, she wondered what it was. °»Yes, really.  I°«m fine, thanks for asking.°…

        He looked at her doubtfully. °»Okay.  If you°«re sure.°…

        °»Yeah.  Thanks for the training.  How long do you think it will take?°…

        He dropped his hand. °»I°«m not sure.  It depends on a lot.  How serious you are, how high your power level is to start with, how fast you improve.  Different things for different people.°…

        °»Oh.  Okay.°… She looked at her watch. °»Class starts in five minutes.  I°«ve gotta go.°…

        °»I pity you.°…

        °»°«Bye, Trunks.°…
 
 

        Mr. Brock was waiting for her after school. °»Let°«s go,°… he said, pulling her arm again.  She jerked it away. °»Stop doing that!°… she told him sharply.

        °»Sorry.  Can we go?°…

        °»Yes.  Do you have a boat?°…

        °»Got it during lunch.°…
 

 She nodded and followed him out.



 
 

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