Plot, or Lack Thereof: Vegita meets Yet Another Childhood Friend when she drops in with a few “friends” of her own.
Reason for Banishment: Weak characterization, borderline self-insert. In the process of being rewritten into For Want.
Yet another week later, Nataku found herself sitting at the kitchen table and watching Goten do his homework.
“What language is that?” she pointed to the strange symbols he was writing.
“Calculus,” Goten replied, as he wrote down another line of letters and numbers. ”The most mind-numbing branch of math ever to be conceived.”
“This is math?” Nataku asked with amazement. She took a closer look at the nearly incomprehensible formulas. Before she could really make heads or tails out of them, though, the phone rang.
“That’s probably Trunks,” Goten guessed. He stood to answer it, but Nataku stopped him.
“I’ll get it,” she offered. Taking Goten’s shocked silence as a ‘yes’, Nataku went to the phone and picked it up. ”Hello?”
“Nataku?” It was Trunks, as Goten had predicted. ”Could you get Goten on the line, please?”
Nataku looked over to Goten, who was still puzzling over his textbook. ”He’s a little busy right now.”
“Calculus, right?” Trunks chuckled. ”Give him my deepest consolations; I had the same teacher last year.”
“I’ll tell him.”
“I suppose that means he can’t come over, ne?”
“Probably not, unless you can convince his mother that you’re going to help ‘tutor’ him.”
Trunks laughed. ”Very funny, Nataku…oh, no.”
“The Monster Patrol.”
“The who?” Then Nataku heard the unmistakable sound that overly energetic young children make. ”Ah. Your sister.”
“And Pan,” Trunks added sullenly. ”It’s mom’s turn to babysit today.”
Even over the phone, Nataku could hear Bra all but screech: “Who’re you talking to, oniichan?”
“None of your business. Go away. Hey!”
Nataku felt a smile touch her face as she listened to Bra and Trunks struggle over the receiver. Several shouts and hits later, Trunks came back on the line. ”Sorry about that.”
“Ask Goten if he can come over when he’s done, okay?”
Just before Nataku hung up, she heard Bra wail: “You’re mean! I’m telling Mom!”
“Who was that?” Goten asked, not even looking up as Nataku returned to the kitchen table.
“Trunks. He wants you to ‘study’ with him again when you’re done with your homework.”
Goten turned to the next page of his text. ”He’s in for a long wait, then.”
“I’ll say,” Nataku agreed.
It took Goten another hour and a half to finish his homework.
“Finally,” Goten sighed. He closed his book with a thump and rubbed his neck. ”Ow,” he winced, feeling the tightness there.
“You shouldn’t have been hunched over for so long,” Nataku scolded lightly.
Goten gasped in surprise as Nataku began massaging his neck. ”What…?”
“Relax!” Nataku ordered sternly. ”How do you expect to feel better if you don’t relax?”
Goten closed his eyes and forced himself to relax–a difficult task, since Nataku’s touch was not at all gentle. ”Ow!” He cried out, as Nataku pressed down, hard, on a point at the base of his neck.
“Ow what?” Nataku demanded, stopping instantly.
Goten cranked his neck back and forth, and was surprised to find the tension completely gone. ”It…doesn’t hurt anymore!”
“Of course it doesn’t!” Nataku replied indignantly. ”Sheesh! From the way you yelled, people would think I was trying to break your neck or something.”
“You weren’t…” Goten feigned horror. ”Were you?”
Nataku’s eyes twinkled. ”Nah. You’re not worth strangling.”
“Thanks, I think,” Goten grinned back, before returning his attention to putting away his books. When he was finished, he shoved his heavy bookbag behind his bedroom door with a flourish. Going to the phone–a real treasure, with an old-fashioned rotary dial, that Chi-Chi had found at a flea market–Goten quickly dialed Trunks’ number and waited patiently. As soon as someone picked up, Goten said: “Hi. Is Trunks there?”
“Goten? Thank Kami! Please hurry up and come over before the Monster Patrol drives me crazy!”
“Sounds pretty serious,” Goten snickered. ”I’ll be right over.”
Goten was about to hang up when he heard Trunks call: “Hold it!”
“I’m still here.”
“You think you can get Nataku to come, too?”
“I’ll try,” Goten covered the receiver with one hand, then asked Nataku: “You want to go to Trunks’ house with me?”
Nataku shook her head. ”I’ve already made myself too much of a nuisance to Vegita.”
“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that: Vegita always goes sparring somewhere with my dad for the entire day; he hardly ever comes back before ten.”
“Well…” Nataku sighed. ”All right. I guess Trunks’ house is as good as any other place to bore myself to death.”
“Heh,” Goten chuckled, before passing on the good news to Trunks: “She’s coming.”
“Great! See you in a few minutes then.”
“Right. Bye.” Goten hung up.
Nataku and Goten showed up at Capsule Corp. a few minutes later.
“Hey!” Trunks greeted when he answered the door, giving Goten a high five. ”You’re right on time: the Monster Patrol just got put to bed.”
As soon as he said that, however, Bra, drawn by the sound of the doorbell ringing, burst into the living room.
“Oneechan!” Bra shouted happily. In the blink of an eye, she grabbed Nataku and began dragging her inside. ”This is Nataku, and she’s really cool,” Bra introduced when Pan also came out.
“Hello,” Nataku extended her hand.
“Hi!” Pan accepted it, and shook with a surprisingly strong grip.
“Play with us, oneechan!” Bra requested. ”Oniichan and Goten-oniichan never want to play with us anymore.”
“BRA!” Trunks fumed.
“It’s okay,” Nataku said. ”I don’t understand what you guys are doing anyways.”
“Yeah, so be–da!” Bra stuck her tongue out at her brother.
“Nyah,” Trunks made a face back, as Pan and Bra each took one of Nataku’s hands.
Before they could go anywhere, though, Bulma blocked the hallway. ”Wait a minute, you two! What about your nap?”
Bra put on her best ‘puppy dog’ look. ”Can’t we play a little longer?”
Bulma crossed her arms. ”Absolutely not!”
For a few moments, mother and daughter faced one another an intense battle of wills.
And then Bra sniffled a little, and a tear trickled down her face.
Bulma, not wanting Bra to throw a tantrum, relented. ”Oh, all right.”
Bra immediately brightened. ”Hooray!”
Bulma gave Nataku a ‘what else could I do?’ look; Nataku could only shrug.
“Let’s go!” Pan shouted as she and Bra led Nataku into the back of the house.
The playroom was an immense area filled with both Trunks’ old toys and Bra’s new ones. Legos, doll’s clothes, automobile parts, and other whatnot littered the floor; some of it was hastily pushed to the wall in a half-hearted effort to clean up. One wall was lined with bookshelves; most of the books, though, were on the floor along with the toys.
“Let’s play ‘Monkey in the Middle!’” Suggested Pan as the three entered the room.
“Um…Okay,” Nataku answered. ”How do you play?”
“We’ll show you,” Bra rummaged through a few toys before bringing out a ball. ”But since you’re the newcomer, you have to be It.”
Having absolutely no clue what was going on, Nataku let herself be positioned between Pan and Bra.
“Now, I try to throw the ball to Pan without letting you catch it,” Bra explained.
“So…what happens when I do?” Nataku wanted to know.
“The person who threw the ball is the new It.”
“Just play, okay?” Pan piped up a bit impatiently.
Nataku shrugged. ”Fine.”
Bra raised the ball in her hand. ”Ready?”
Before Nataku could answer, Bra threw the ball at her. Reacting purely out of instinct, her hand shot out to intercept it. She winced a bit as the ball made contact.
Bra’s eyes nearly bugged out of her head. ”Wow! How did you do that?”
“Lots and lots of practice,” Nataku replied, not showing her own surprise. ”So you’re ‘It’ now?”
“Yeah,” Bra walked forward and switched places with Nataku. ”Okay! Go!”
Nataku tossed the ball high over Bra’s head, and was rewarded with a second surprise: Bra leapt into the air, effortlessly caught the ball with both hands, and landed gracefully.
“That was too easy!” Bra declared proudly. ”You’re It again.”
As the three continued to play, Nataku couldn’t help but notice the fighting potential that both girls had, as well as the intense competition they showed. However, not even partially Saiyajin children had endless supplies of energy: after about half an hour, they switched to playing a much quieter game of “Connect Four”. After a few rounds of that, though, it became apparent that neither Bra nor Pan could fight off the inevitable sleep any longer.
“Let’s take a break,” suggested Nataku, almost using the dreaded ‘nap’ word.
Pan and Bra nodded sleepily and haphazardly tossed the game pieces back into the box. Looking around, Nataku found a mattress and had the two girls lie down on it; a few moments later, they were fast asleep.
Nataku reached out to caress Bra’s soft purple hair.
“Who knew Vegita could have such an adorable daughter?” she asked herself softly. That was when another thought hit her.
Oh, dear God…if I had actually succeeded in my original plans… She shuddered as she remembered her nightmare.
Taking one last look at Bra and Pan, Nataku got up and left the room, closing the door behind her.
Nataku jumped a little before realizing that the person behind her was Bulma. ”Yeah.”
“I can’t thank you enough for taking care of Bra and Pan for me.”
“Not a problem at all,” Nataku paused a bit to try to stop the words from tumbling out, but they still did: “Playing with little kids was how I entertained myself.”
This, of course, immediately aroused Bulma’s curiosity. ”Really?”
For a moment, Nataku was torn between keeping quiet and going on: part of her didn’t want to talk about her past, while the other part desparately needed to. Finally, Nataku made her choice. ”Yeah. I was only let out of the palace once a week, and that was to ‘train’; the rest of the time, I had absolutely nothing to do. Of course, I snuck out a couple of times, but I got caught each time.”
“What about your parents?” Bulma wondered.
Again, Nataku hesitated; it still hurt for her to even think about this, for it was the first time that Paragas had said to her those awful words. ”My father was executed for treason; my mother died giving birth to me.”
Bulma’s mouth opened in shock; Nataku looked back solemnly. ”I’m sorry,” Bulma finally managed to say, lowering her eyes.
“That’s all right.”
“When…did you find out about them?”
“I was told about it when I was four.”
Another awkward silence. Then Bulma asked, feigning brightness: “When did you meet Vegita?”
“I saw him at every public event that the royal family appeared in, and often passed him in the halls, but I guess the first time I really actually ‘met’ Vegita was when he caught me using his gravity room.”
Bulma’s eyes widened. ”I’ll bet he was really mad.”
“He was. He went into this rant about his being royalty, how I was inferior, yadda yadda ya. Anyways, to make a long story short, I got tired of listening to him, so I told him to shut up,” she leaned forward and whispered into Bulma’s ear: “And then I called him ‘Vegi-Chan’.”
Bulma’s eyes widened again. ”Really?”
Bulma burst out laughing, and couldn’t stop for at least a minute. ”No wonder he was so upset when you showed up!” She giggled. Nataku only grinned. Finally, Bulma managed to stop laughing. ”But how did you think of a name like that?”
“Well, for one, Vegita completely adorable as a kid.”
“Way,” Nataku nodded. ”As far as I can remember, he still looked like a big baby even when he was six years old–and acted like one, too.”
“He still does,” Bulma snickered.
Nataku smiled again. ”As you can imagine, Vegita was terribly sensitive about that: I mean, how could you be the Crown Prince of the universe’s most fearsome race and have dimples?”
This set Bulma on another laughing fit.
Trunks and Goten, hearing the sounds of laughter, entered the hallway.
“Welcome back to the land of the living!” Nataku greeted.
Trunks crossed his arms and pretended to be angry. ”Very funny.”
“What were you talking about?” Goten wanted to know.
“Just girl talk,” Bulma answered mysteriously.
Trunks and Goten looked at each other, as if asking themselves a question. After a few minutes they said in unison: “Nah!”
Bulma checked her watch. ”It was nice talking to you, Nataku, but I have other things to do.”
Nataku smiled. ”My pleasure. We’ll talk again sometime.”
The rest of the day was a blur. Around seven, the women returned from shopping and ate dinner before returning to their respective homes.
“Your mother wanted me to tell you to come home by ten,” Videl told Goten as she helped Pan put her shoes on.
“That’s not fair!” Pan pouted.
“I’m leaving, too,” Nataku announced.
It was Bra’s turn to pout. ”Why?”
“I’m really tired, Bra,” Nataku half-lied. ”Maybe next time, okay?”
Bra hung her head for a while, then smiled. ”Promise!”
Nataku nodded. ”Sure.”
Bra extended her pinky of her right hand. ”Pinky swear!”
“Okay…” Nataku bent down and extended the pinky of her own right hand.
Bra hooked it to hers and shook firmly. ”There! You promised! Don’t forget!”
Nataku looked back at Bra solemnly. ”I won’t.”
Nataku didn’t bother to turn on the lights of the guest room as she entered and sat down on the bed. Her heart felt both empty and heavy at the same time: talking with Bulma brought back all sorts of emotions that Nataku didn’t want to deal with.
“Why can’t I just forget?” She asked herself out loud. Of course, she knew the answer: she would never permit herself to forget. Not now. Not ever. That moment would be forever burned into her memory. An all too familiar tightness welled up in her throat.
Nataku shook it away. Enough of feeling sorry for yourself already! It’s time to move on! She lay down and closed her eyes.
That same night, Bulma recounted some of her conversation with Nataku to Vegita.
“That sounds about right,” Vegita agreed when Bulma finished.
Bulma blinked a few times. ”Even the stuff about her parents?”
Vegita nodded. ”Her father had tried to overthrow the kingdom. After he was caught and his sentence carried out, his mate broke into the Launching Bay in an attempt to leave the planet. She was shot in the melee and went into labor; she died shortly after Nataku was delivered.”
Bulma’s eyes went wide. ”You’re kidding.”
“I’m absolutely serious.”
It took Bulma a few moments to realize that Vegita really did mean it. Then she got angry. ”I can’t believe they actually told a four-year-old girl something so horrible!”
“Would you rather have had my father lie to her?”
Bulma deflated a little. ”Well…I guess not…” she looked at Vegita. ”But still! She was barely older than Bra!”
“Stop thinking so much and go to sleep.”
“Fine!” With an indignant huff, Bulma wrapped herself in her blanket and turned away from Vegita.
As Vegita watched his wife fall asleep, her words struck something within him.
Barely older than Bra…
Vegita never thought of Nataku that way; to him, she had always been a vicious, michievous troublemaker. He had taken for granted that she–and he as well, he amended–was only a child.
He still remembered how Nataku had entered the hall: eyes bright with wonder and excitement at the magnificence of the Throne Room and at what important reason the King Himself had summoned her there. She barely kept her head down in deference as she greeted those seated above her.
“Nataku,” the King began, His voice easily carrying through the room. ”Now that you are old enough to begin training to be a warrior, it is of the utmost importance that you know the truth about yourself.”
“The truth?” Nataku repeated, confused by the complicated words the King had used.
The King’s brow creased slightly, indicating His displeasure that Nataku had spoken. ”Yes. Nataku, Paragas is not your father.”
This time, Nataku stared the King square in the eye. ”What?!?”
“Nataku!” Paragas chided. ”You are not to talk back to His Majesty!”
“Your real father,” the King continued, as if He had not been interrupted. ”Was put to death for defying me. Your mother died attempting to avenge him. You were spared because you had nothing to do with it,” His face darkened, “but the same shall happen to you if you follow in their footsteps. Understand?”
“Nataku,” Paragas nudged the girl.
She looked back up at him. ”That’s not true, is it, Daddy?” She asked, her voice quavering.
“It’s true,” Paragas answered. ”I’m not your father.”
Nataku ran out of the Throne Room.
Shortly after that, Vegita found her sparring in his gravity room; from then on, she never left him alone.
Dende was frowning, Mr. Popo noticed with some worry. Dende almost never frowned; the fact that he did meant that something was wrong. Mr. Popo tried to see what it was that made Dende so upset, but he couldn’t find anything unusual. This only worried the genie even more; his anxiety increased when Piccolo, the former Kami of Earth and Dende’s mentor, appeared next to Dende, also frowning.
“You feel it too, Piccolo-san?” Dende asked.
Piccolo nodded. ”I haven’t lost my former abilities as a guardian yet,” he frowned even deeper. ”And I’m getting some bad vibes.”
“Very bad vibes,” Dende agreed. ”But I can’t quite determine what it is,” he leaned slightly forward, as if he could get a better view that way. ”I think that new Saiyajin girl has something to do with it.”
“Of course she would,” Piccolo growled. ”She’s been nothing but trouble since she got here.”
“This coming from the former Demon King,” Dende teased.
“Oh,please,” Piccolo rolled his eyes. ”This is neither the time nor the place to joke.”
“Sorry,” Dende hung his head in mock remorse, but quickly regained his composure to better suit his role. ”Seriously, though, I wish I could get a clearer view of what’s going on.”
Piccolo sighed. ”Don’t we all.”
Somewhere in the infinite expanse of space, a large ship was heading towards a certain planet in a certain solar system. According to the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, this planet was ‘mostly harmless’. But the captain of the ship knew better.
“Besides that traitor Nataku, there is the Prince and some fellow named ‘Kakarrotto’, plus their families, and a Namekkian, to boot,” he told his away team during the briefing. ”And there still might be other things down there that we don’t know about,” he gave each member of the team a stern, hard look. ”All of you know better than to underestimate the enemy. So don’t. Understand?”
“Sir, yes, sir!” All of the men barked in unison.
Just then, one of the panels on the wall began beeping. Slightly annoyed, the captain went to it and hit the ‘receive’ button.
“Call from General Lufa, Captain,” the communications officer reported.
The captain drew in a sharp breath. General Lufa was the second highest authority of the Haimienjin, and a close aid of King Brillo. ”Transmit the call to this room right away!”
“Redirecting now, sir.”
After a bit of static, General Lufa’s face appeared on screen.
The captain bowed deeply. ”General. What occasion brings you to speak to this lowly servant?”
Lufa didn’t react either way to the flattery. ”I’m joining you on your journey to Earth; I’ll be able to catch up in a few days.”
The captain looked up, startled. ”You wish to come with us?”
“Yes. I have orders from the King for you to wait for me.”
“It would be an honor.”
But Lufa had already hung up.
The captain felt his heart swell. General Lufa coming to his ship! He would certainly get a promotion for this!
He pressed the intercom for the bridge. ”Bridge, tell the engine room to stop this ship at once. And make preparations to receive General Lufa.”
“It shall be so.”
The captain turned back to his men. ”Slight change of plans: We’re going to be a little late, but otherwise the schedule remains the same. Any other questions?”
“Then you are free to leave.”
With one final salute, the men dispersed.