Bulma shrieked when Trunks burst in carrying the girl, though she later denied it. She had nerves of steel, she claimed, and him merely surprising her would _not_ cause her to scream.
“Trunks! What do you
think you’re—who’s that?”
He shrugged. “I found a time machine,” he said. “She was inside it. Kaasan, look at her. She’s—she’s you.”
“Trunks, don’t be ridic—” Bulma felt her breath catch as she really looked at the girl in his arms. “By Dende!” she breathed.
“Is she you, from the past?”
“No, no, she’s not me.” Bulma pointed to the girl’s forearm, where there was a small, strawberry-shaped birthmark near the wrist. “I don’t have that. But she looks so much like me … That doesn’t matter. We need to get her in the infirmary. I think she’s okay, except for that bump on her head. The rest of her wounds are superficial.”
“What about these?” Trunks transferred her to one arm and gestured to her stomach and back.
Bulma raised an eyebrow. “What were looking at her stomach for?” she asked mischievously and chuckled as Trunks began to blush. “They’re healing fine,” she told him. “I can put some antibiotic on it, but that’s just to prevent infection. Carry her to the infirmary.”
“Okay, Kaasan.” Trunks followed his mother to the infirmary, where he gently laid her on the cot in there. Bulma bustled around, drawing blood and doing other medical things Trunks didn’t quite understand.
“Trunks, you’d be doing me a big favor if you’d leave. You’re in the way—go start dinner or something.”
Trunks stared at her as if she’d spoken a foreign language.
“Look, Trunks, there’s hamburger in the fridge. Just start cooking it. You can do that, you’re 21 years old, after all.”
“Yes, Kaasan,” he said, and left.
“Men!” Bulma said, rolling her eyes. Then she shrieked for the second time that day as the girl’s eyes opened.
The girl’s mouth moved, but no sounds came out.
“Um … hello,” Bulma said.
Trunks came running in. “Kaasan! Are you all right?” Then he noticed the girl. “Oh, she’s awake!”
“Where am I?” she asked, starting to stand up.
“Oh, no. Lay back down. You’re not strong enough to stand on your own.”
The girl’s eyes flashed. “I can do whatever I want,” she said through clenched teeth.
“Kaasan.” Trunks grinned. “She _is_ you.”
“Very funny, young man,” Bulma said. She turned back to the girl, who had yet to let go of the bed. “Fine, walk. Trunks, get ready to catch her.”
The girl stared at her defiantly and started to walk—and wobble.
“Told you so,” Bulma said smugly as Trunks caught her. “Now, lay back down.”
The girl obeyed meekly. “Thank you,” she said, smiling slightly.
“Maybe she’s not you,” Trunks murmured.
“Trunks, I do not have ki, but if you think that I can’t punish you for impudence, you’ve got another think coming.”
“Now, back to our visitor. I’m Bulma, and this is my son Trunks, as you may have gathered.”
The girl smiled. “I’m …” Her eyes widened.
“What, you don’t know?” Trunks asked.
She looked up at him. “I don’t! I really don’t! But how can that be, I know … I don’t know. I don’t know anything! Do you know me?”
Bulma looked at Trunks, then back at the girl. “No, I don’t know you.”
“Wait a minute. You know me,” Trunks cut in. “When I found you, you opened your eyes and called my name.”
“I—I did? I swear by Dende, I don’t remember that! I swear it!”
“You … swear by Dende?” Trunks breathed.
She looked at her hands. “Yes. I promise I don’t remember …” She let it trail off. “But you won’t trust me. I don’t blame you.”
“No.” Bulma looked at Trunks, but spoke to the girl. “I believe you. I trust you. And Trunks will, if he wants to eat.”
“And he likes to eat,” the girl added.
“How do you know that?” Trunks demanded.
The girl’s eyes widened. “I—I don’t know. How could I?” She looked at Bulma beseechingly. “Please …”
“You’re not hiding anything,” Bulma agreed. “That was too casual a slip. No, Trunks, I don’t know how she knows, but she’s not lying to us.”
Trunks nodded. For some reason, he believed the girl—his mother’s word was only confirmation. “So, you don’t know your name,” he said. “What do you want us to call you?”
The girl’s eyes had a distant look in them. “I remember one thing,” she said, ignoring the question. “I had to get away. It was scary … it was bad … this is a safe place, I would be protected here …” A flash of pain crossed her face. “I had to run … I had to go. It was bad at home …”
“Um, okay …” Trunks looked at his mother.
Bulma smiled reassuringly at the girl. “What do you want us to call you?”
“You pick a name,” she said listlessly.
Bulma nodded. “What about Raiko? How’s that for a name?”
“Okay, then. Raiko it is. Are you hungry?”
Raiko shook her head.
“Let me know if you develop an appetite. Trunks, come on. We’ll start dinner.”
“Yes, Kaasan.” Trunks obediently followed his mother out of the room as Raiko sat staring unblinking at the wall.”
“Kaasan, she hasn’t changed
position,” Trunks reported after they finished eating. He had just
looked in on Raiko. The girl had really begun to scare him.
She seemed so devoid of hope, and he had seen such spirit in her when Bulma
tried to tell her what to do.
Bulma sighed. “All right. Just take this food in to her. And if she starts to talk, let her. But don’t talk. In emotional situations, when you open your mouth, it’s just to replace whichever foot was in there earlier.”
“Thanks,” Trunks said dryly.
“That was for the, ‘She is you’ comment.”
“I expect that kind of thing by now,” Trunks said to himself. “I’ve lived with her for 21 years.”
Bulma shrugged. “I’m your mother. It’s my job to teach you humility. Now, scoot.”
“Yes, Kaasan.” Trunks took the tray and walked into the infirmary. “Raiko?”
She didn’t move. “Yes?”
“Kaasan wanted me to bring you this food.”
“Can I ask you a question?”
She shrugged. “Go ahead.”
“No, I’m serious.”
Raiko turned to face him. “So’m I. Go ahead.”
“How—how did you get those … never mind.”
“The scars on my backs?”
“How did you—”
Her mouth upturned, but Trunks wasn’t sure he’d call that a smile. Although it she had such a nice almost-smile, he wondered how a full one would look. Probably just like Kaasan’s. Still, he wanted to see it on _her_. “I figured you’d wonder. I don’t know why. I don’t remember much about that night—I don’t think I would, even if I had all my memories. But I was tied to a chair, and someone was scourging me. It wasn’t a whip. It was a scourge.” She looked down. “It hurt … that’s what I remember the most. The pain. It hurt so bad. You can’t understand.”
Trunks didn’t reply, remembering his mother’s…comment.
“You’ve experienced battle.
You’ve been hit with ki blasts. I can tell. But an old-fashioned
beating, with a scourge … that’s something unbelievable. It’s impossible
Trunks reached over and touched her hand. She looked up at him, and this time, she really smiled, a small one, and he was right—it was like his mother’s. Although there was something different, something that showed a hard life, too hard, for someone so young. “Thank you for listening, Trunks,” she said.
He smiled back and squeezed her hand. “I assure you, it is an honor and a privilege.”