Just when Raiko began to wonder if
they would ever stop, Trunks began hovering in mid-air. “There. What
do you think of this spot? It’s far enough away that we won’t hurt
or scare anyone if our ki levels get really high.
Raiko looked around at the gulch. “Empty” was the only word she could think of to describe it. It was devoid of almost all life, bleak and barren. “What happened here?” she asked, awed.
“17 and 18,” Trunks said grimly.
“Oh.” Raiko wasn’t quite sure how to respond. “Well, it looks perfect for our training,” she said, overly bright.
“Good. Attack me.”
“Attack me. I need to know your strengths and weaknesses.”
“Oh. Um, all right.” Raiko watched him closely, then teleported behind him. She punched him in the back and tried to get away, but he grabbed her arm and flipped her over his shoulder. She wriggled out of his grip and kicked him.
“That was good,” he complimented her.
“Thank you,” she replied.
They continued physically attacking each other for several minutes until Trunks called a halt. “Why don’t you use any ki attacks?”
She shook her head. “I can’t.”
“Oh, come on. You can fly, can’t you?”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“You can easily be taught ki attacks if you can fly. Try it.”
“Build up power inside you and let it out.”
She bit her lip. “Um, okay, I guess.”
“It’s not hard. I know you can do it.”
Raiko was never quite sure how she did it, but somehow she felt the power build, and then it was gone, released in a large blue-colored ki ball. Her jaw dropped as it flew by Trunks.
“How did it feel?”
“It … hurt.”
“Hurt?” Trunks frowned. “It shouldn’t have. Was that a new level for you or something?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“That would explain your lack of control. Can you try a smaller one?”
“Yeah, I’d assume so.” Raiko built up her energy again and formed another ball, this time concentrating on control over it. She hurled it at Trunks, who easily dodged it, but she had done it.
They stared at each other, amazed, for a couple of minutes until Raiko finally broke the silence. “That is _cool_,” she said in both a stunned and delighted tone of voice, and with a growing grin on her face.
He grinned back at her. “Yeah, it is. And that’s the hard part. Are you ready to _really_ start?”
She sobered. “Yeah, I am. Let’s go.”
She loved the fight. Trunks could see that. She positively thrived on conflict. And it was easy for her, too. She picked up new techniques as if she’d known them her whole life.
They stopped for a break.
“You’re amazing, you know that?” Trunks panted after a particularly successful workout. Raiko still couldn’t hit him with a blast, but she got stronger and closer to it each day.
“Amazing?” she repeated. “No, I hadn’t realized that. You’re very sweet. Wrong, but sweet.” She bent over slightly and tried to catch her breath. She pulled her hair out of the ponytail braid she had put it in and shook it out. Trunks had to consciously keep his hands from reaching over and touching it.
“No, you really are.” His voice was slightly unsteady. He steadied it and continued. “It took me months to come as far as you have. And I’ve only been training you for two weeks.”
“Raiko, I’m serious. You’re _good_.”
“Thank you, sensei. I’m honored.” She bowed slightly. “So, shall we continue?”
He chuckled and got into his defensive pose. “Let’s go.”
Raiko felt as if a barrier had been lifted from her, as if some instinct was guiding her movements. Her hits were sharp and effective, her blocks actually blocked, and her ki blast …
Raiko couldn’t move. Her blast _hit_ Trunks. _She_ had _hit_ Trunks. All on her own. She had finally done it.
“I hit you! I hit you!” she exclaimed in joy. For the first time ever, Trunks heard her laugh.
He looked at her and laughed with her. “Yes, you did.”
Her smile seemed to light up the canyon. “I finally did it,” she said softly. “I can’t believe it.”
He hugged her. “Believe it. You worked hard for it.”
She hugged him back and looked into his eyes. “Thank you so much, Trunks. I couldn’t have done it without you.”
“Oh, yes, you could have. You just needed a trainer. There’s nothing special about me.”
“You might want to rephrase that.” She tried to pull away but he held on. She gave him a quizzical look.
Trunks swallowed and looked down at her. He bent his head a fraction and she lifted hers. He bent his head the rest of the way and lightly kissed her.
Raiko’s eyes closed when his lips touched hers. Then, suddenly, she pushed away. “No!” she cried, and flew away.
“Rai-chan?” Trunks flew after her. “What’s wrong?” he asked when he caught up with her. He touched her arm, but she jerked away like she had been burned.
Raiko turned away. “This! You and me … together. We can’t.”
“Why? I don’t know! We just can’t! It’s wrong!”
“Wrong? No, I don’t think so.” He pulled her in front of him and tilted her head. “Look at me,” he commanded gently.
She reluctantly raised her eyes.
“Rai-chan, this isn’t wrong.”
She started to disagree, but his eyes held hers and she couldn’t. His eyes were so very blue …
“This is very, very right,” he whispered and kissed her again.
Raiko meant to push him away, but somehow her hands wound up around his neck and she was kissing him back and his arms pulled her so close she could feel the loose change in his pocket.
“Are you all right now?” he asked.
She laid her head on his shoulder. “Yes, I’m fine.”
“Good.” He pulled away slightly and she raised her head. “Shall we continue with the training?”
She grinned up at him. “Well …”
“Believe me, I’d like nothing better than to just hold you forever, but …”
“I’m joking, of course. Let’s go.”
Bulma could see something had happened the minute the two walked in. Raiko was radiant—just this side of glowing, and there was something in Trunks’ expression that made her, as a mother, both nervous and excited for him. “Sit down, you two,” she said. “Dinner’s almost ready.”
“Bulma-sama, guess what?” Raiko said excitedly as she washed her hands.
“I hit Trunks!”
Bulma smiled. “That’s nothing new.”
“No, I mean with a ki blast. We were sparring, and I hit him.”
“Wow. That’s really impressive.”
“She’s getting really good, Kaasan. You should see how quickly she’s picking everything up. I swear, if I weren’t her teacher, I’d hate her.”
Raiko laughed. Bulma almost dropped the platter she was carrying. She’d never heard the girl laugh before. “Well, then, it’s a good thing you’re the teacher,” she said smoothly.
“Kaasan, this smells great. You can’t believe how hungry I am.”
“Well, you probably can.” Trunks waited impatiently for her to set the main dish out, then attacked and was finished with his first helping before Bulma had even started. The funny thing was, Raiko wasn’t that far behind. Although, Bulma had to admit, Raiko ate much more neatly than her son did.
Trunks actually stopped eating and stared at her.
“What? Do I have something on my mouth?” Raiko asked self-consciously.
“No. I’ve just never seen anyone else eat as much as I have.”
“Trunks, that was very poorly put,” Bulma scolded.
“Huh? Oh, jeez, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that.”
“No, it’s okay.” Raiko attempted a smile. “I’m—I was just hungry.”
“Raiko-chan, you can eat as much as you like,” Bulma cut in. “Don’t let Mr. Foot-in-mouth bother you.”
Raiko laughed again. “Thank you, Bulma-sama. I will.”
“Good.” Bulma threw her son a murderous glance. “_Baka_,” she muttered.
“Kaasan, I said I was sorry,” Trunks protested.
Bulma gave him another look that spoke volumes.
Trunks sighed. “I give up.”
They ate in silence for a while.
“Rai-chan?” Trunks asked.
“Do you think you could reach Super-Saiyajin?”
She blinked in surprise. “Super-Saiyajin? I’d have to be Saiyajin to do that, would I?”
“Well, yes, but do you think you are?”
“I have no idea.”
“That’s easily discovered,” Bulma said with a long-suffering sigh. “Raiko-chan, you are.”
“I am? How do you know?”
“I applied the medication to your back, remember? You have a lot of scars, but there was one from having your tail removed that I definitely remember.”
“Really?” Raiko’s eyes lit up.
“Really. And, no, don’t even _think_ you two can go out and train in the dark. Saiyajins or not, you’re staying right here.”
Trunks grinned at Raiko. “She knows us too well.”
“I’ve lived with Saiyajins most of my life, starting with Goku,” Bulma told him. “And if Raiko-chan’s a Saiyajin, should I expect her to be any different?”
“I’m glad that’s settled. Just finish eating, then you can find something else to amuse yourselves with.”
“That’s my obedient boy.”
Trunks smiled at her. “I’ve lived with _you_ all my life, Kaasan. I don’t bite the hand that feeds me.”
“Obedient and smart. Every mother’s dream.”