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CHAPTER THIRTY: A LONG WALK

 

 

Chichi didn't really mind having Gokou's father living with them as a guest. Although his presence added a certain... flavour to their lives that she would rather not have, for some odd reason Gohan had been spending more and more of his time locked up in his room studying. That boy was going to be a scholar for sure! She had to admit that she was a little worried that he'd try to follow in his father's footsteps and be a fighter, especially after that little... incident with Piccolo. Well, Gohan still liked him and talked about him every day, but that just meant that you can't win everything. But you can get damn close, that was for sure!

Of course, the downsides to having a full-blooded Saiya-jin in the house are pretty obvious. For one thing, Bardock either didn't know his own strength, or simply enjoyed breaking things. Chichi suspected the latter.

Then there was the fact that he seemed obsessed with training with Gokou. The two would just take off every day and come home all beaten up, bleeding all over her new carpet!

That and the fact that he just didn't seem quite right... nah, it was nothing. Probably just the fact that he came from a different culture, and all.

Chichi thought quietly to herself while she cooked breakfast for all three of them. This of course meant that she had to cook for fifteen, but what's wrong with a few extra dishes when you can have a studious son in the meantime?

"Breakfast's ready!" Chichi called out, then immediately jumped into the corner of the room. Exactly three and a half seconds later, all three of them came barreling into the room like derailed trains on a mission of glory and destruction. Chichi just watched.

Somehow, in the ensuing chaos, she had managed to spirit away a small plateful, and Chichi quietly ate it while her husband, father-in-law, and son nearly devoured the table itself.

A couple of minutes later, when all the carnage was over, Chichi started gathering up all the dishes, trying her best not to think about how long it would take for her to clean them.

"Hey, Chichi," Gokou smiled at her, "My dad and I are going to go out and train again. Is it okay if Gohan comes, too?"

Chichi turned around to offer a sharp word of disapproval when she felt Gohan tugging at her apron. Chichi bent down to his level, waving a hand at her husband.

"Is there something you want, sweetie?"

"Yes, mommy," Gohan said in only a way that a little kid could, "I don't wanna go with them. I wanna study or something."

There was a look in Gohan's face that said something slightly different. /Please, mom, I don't want to go with HIM!/

At that point Chichi realized something that she could have smacked herself for not noticing earlier, but she kept it hidden for the time being.

"See, Gokou," she said, standing up, "Gohan wants to be a good boy and study some more today. I guess you'll have to train without him for today!"

"Well, if he really doesn't want to go..." Gokou trailed off, scratching his head.

"Come on, Kakarotto! The day isn't getting any younger!" Bardock said impatiently from the doorway.

"Coming!" Gokou shouted as he turned for the door. He gave Chichi a quick peck on the cheek before he left.

Chichi watched them go, then turned toward Gohan.

"Now Gohan, I think you have some studying to do," she said, hands on hips.

"I think he'd prefer a field trip, don't you think?" Came Piccolo's voice from outside the window.

Chichi started and turned toward the Namek.

"And just what are YOU doing here?" she asked in her perfect angry-mother tone.

"Just taking my best friend in the whole wide world out for a walk," Piccolo said, in a mock-sweet tone.

Chichi blew up at him. "IF YOU THINK FOR ONE MINUTE THAT I'LL LET MY BABY GO ANYWHERE WITH YOU, THEN-"

"He spent a year with me in Kami's little room, didn't he?" Piccolo asked, a smirk on his face.

Chichi opened her mouth, then closed it again. She opened it again, and closed it for a second time.

"He's not going," she said, turning her back and crossing her arms. "End of discussion."

"I want to talk to him about his grandfather," Piccolo responded.

Chichi turned around faster than most ki warriors. "I SAID, HE'S NOT- what did you say?"

"I said, I want to find out what he thinks about Bardock. A private man-to-man talk might help a bit with this."

Chichi's expression changed completely. "If you're saying what I think your saying, then take him. I'm worried."

"So am I," Piccolo said from outside the igloo-shaped house.

"C'mon, Gohan, let's go for a walk," Piccolo told the boy.

***

"So, Gohan, how are you today?" Piccolo asked in a tone that he would only reserve for one person alive.

"Okay, I guess," Gohan answered.

"Really? How's your family?"

"Oh, we're all fine," Gohan said, "Mom's like always, Dad's been having fun. We're all happy."

"Really?"

Gohan didn't answer that one.

Piccolo changed the subject. "What about the alien visitors? What did you think of them?"

Gohan looked up at Piccolo. "What do you mean?"

Piccolo shook his head. The boy was bright, but the way his mother had babied him seemed to have effected him in the head somehow. "You know what I mean. Don't act cute with me, Gohan. I really hate it. Now, what do you think of the green-haired man?"

"Oh, Mr. Zarbon? I think he's okay. A little weird, but he really didn't seem to want to hurt us much."

"Okay, then, what about Zangya?"

"I don't know, I didn't have a chance to talk to her. She's shy."

"You're telling me," Piccolo thought out loud.

"What?"

"Nothing. What about your grandfather?"

"Oh, grandpa? I love him! He comes by every weekend, and always brings me lots and lots of presents, and there's so much of him to hug, and-"

"You know who I mean!" Piccolo snapped, "Don't try to change the subject. What do you think of Bardock?"

Gohan was silent.

"Well? Gohan? This is important."

Gohan still didn't speak.

"Gohan!" Piccolo shouted, "Remember your training! I didn't teach you to act like a baby! Now, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR GRANDFATHER?"

Gohan mumbled something.

"What was that?" Piccolo asked through his teeth.

"I'm afraid..." Gohan mumbled again.

"I said, WHAT WAS THAT?" Piccolo shouted this time.

"I said, I'M AFRAID OF HIM!" Gohan yelled back, then broke down in tears.

Piccolo, who prior to his time with Gohan in the room of Spirit and Time had had no experience comforting little children, sort of grabbed Gohan in a carboard-stiff hug and patted him twice on the head.

"There, there, now stop your crying."

Gohan stopped crying immediately. Somehow, Piccolo's comfort for him was better than anyone else's- except for his daddy's, of course. Besides, in Piccolo-speak that was one of the mushiest, most heartfelt things that he had ever said.

Piccolo knelt down to Gohan's level. "Now, tell me about your other grandpa."

"Well, he scares me," Gohan said, wiping away his tears with the sleeve of that miserably cute little yellow thing that his mom always put him in. At least he appeared to be outgrowing it.

"He's nice, and all, but there's just something about his face- it's all mean, meaner than anything elses- even meaner than yours, Mr. Piccolo!"

Piccolo chuckled at the boy's amazing social graces, and let him continue. He was definitely Gokou's son.

"It's not just that, either. He's strange... 'off' is the only real world that can describe him," Gohan said, suddenly gaining a remarkable eloquence that Piccolo only saw when he was away from his mother, "He doesn't act right. Everything about him seems artificial, like he's trying to act nice, or something. The other Saiya-jin who kidnapped me- at least I knew what he was like just by looking at him. My dad's dad reminds me of a dark cloud ready to burst."

Piccolo stopped and thought about this for a moment. That was exactly what he had been thinking. He'd have to take this boy to Kami sometime later, and get his council (as much as he hated speaking to that old idiot).

"Do you think the other two knew anything about it?"

"I don't know. I think they had some sort of idea, and that's why they left so soon."

"I think they just had some business to do, but I agree with you. What do you think we should do?"

"Go out for some Ice Cream!" Gohan cheered. He was back to his little-boy mode again.

***

Gokou took a breather from training for a minute. /Man, Dad's driving me!"/ he thought to himself, /You'd think he had plans or something!/

***