"You've definitely got some Saiyajin blood in you," Bulma confirmed two hours and a half later in her basement lab. She shook a vial filled with pinkish fluid. "We don't know whether it's Gohan's blood, but I think that's good enough."
Trunks smiled and held out hand. Pan stuck hers in it.
"Welcome to the club," he chortled.
She grinned. It was the first time Bulma and Trunks had ever seen that. Bulma guessed that now that Pan had told them her secrets, she felt more free to be herself. As Napan, she had to watch her movements and her words, making her seem cold. Now, watching the rosy flush to her cheeks, and the smile hovering around her lips, Pan had finally showed them her real self.
To his mother, Trunks seemed mesmerized by the girl. Bulma smiled. She was happy for her son. He had finally found the companion he'd been longing for. A warrior like himself. She knew that that was why he'd been so depressed. He didn't have to tell her. She'd spent to many years in the company of Saiyajins and their transparent feelings. Even Vegeta had become easy to read once one knew what to look for.
Pan stared at the vial. Trunks put a hand on her shoulder, sensing something was wrong.
"Are you ok?" he asked, concerned.
"Tell me about my father, Trunks," she asked, tilting her head up to look at him. "I want to know everything about him."
Trunks smiled kindly. "Sure, but why don't we get something to eat first. I'm starving."
"Are you hungry, Bulma?" Pan asked.
Bulma shook her head, distracting by something on her computer screen. "No, you two go ahead," she answered. "I'll get something to eat later."
"Pan, would you like to go out to eat?" Trunks asked. "I know of a great place."
"Ok," she said hesitantly. "Just let me go get changed." She stopped and turned when she got to the door. "I'm afraid I don't have anything really decent to wear," she said, embarrassed.
"Just wait a couple minutes while I clean up," Bulma said. "I'll lend you something."
Pan nodded. Bulma waited until she was out of an earshot before turning to Trunks. "Where are you taking her?"
Bulma nearly dropped the vial she'd been holding. "Do you think that's a good idea? Chichi hasn't been herself in a long time."
Trunks smiled tightly. "This might be what she needs."
Bulma looked doubtful. Trunks kissed her cheek and left the room before she could say anymore.
Pan fidgeted nervously with the loose material of her black pants. Bulma had insisted that she borrow the pants and the green cable knit sweater she was wearing. Pan could tell that the outfit was very expensive and had not wanted to take it, but Bulma was hard to dissuade. In the end, Pan capitulated. She did want to make a good impression on her grandmother.
Trunks glanced at Pan from the corner of his eye. "You'll be fine, Pan. She'll want to hear all about you."
She chewed on her lip. "But you said she hasn't been well since my father died. What if she reacts badly to seeing me?"
Trunks released the controls for the skycar long enough to squeeze her hand. "I don't think she will. I know Chichi. She'll welcome you."
"I hope so," Pan whispered, looking out the window and into the darkness of the night. They were passing the city limits and heading into the country where Chichi still lived in the house Goku had built for her. Suddenly, Pan began to shake, her breath coming out in gasps.
Trunks pulled over quickly to the side and turned to her, unbuckling both their seatbelts. Pan threw her arms around him, clinging to his steadiness. His arms came tentatively around her. He could feel her entire body shaking with emotion. He was beginning to find it harder and harder to believe that he had thought she was a boy. Feeling the curves beneath his hands, he knew that Pan was no boy. Flushing, he pushed the thought out of his head. She was his student, and a very troubled young woman.
"W-what if s-she doesn't like m-me?" Pan stammered.
"You're her granddaughter," Trunks replied. "Chichi cares a lot about family ties and you being Gohan's daughter will be enough for her."
Pan pulled back and held him at arms length. Her trembling had subsided somewhat. Trunks could see that her eyes were dry, but she had paled considerably. He rolled down the windows to give her some air.
"Are you sure?" she asked.
She sat back in her seat and buckled her seatbelt. She twisted her hands on her lap, embarrassed at her display of insecurity. Trunks resumed his driving as if nothing had happened. She was thankful for that.
Trunks had seen people react like that many times, especially survivors of the cyborg attacks. The unbelievable relief that they were spared was so overwhelming that the emotions just overflow. Just because Pan was one-third Saiyajin, a race that did not condone emotion, didn't mean that she was an exception. He was just glad that she'd been able to get control of herself because he'd seen what happened when it gets out of control.
He glanced at her several times when he was sure she wasn't looking to see her put her arms around herself. She stared out the window quietly. Once and a while, he saw her shake a little, then stop. She was putting a lid on her feelings and was so far succeeding.
They stopped in front of a cottage at the edge of a clearing. It was a miracle that it hadn't been destroyed during the cyborg attacks. In fact, the entire forest was pretty much still intact. The cyborgs had only been after human lives.
Pan took a deep breaths as Trunks knocked on the door. A slender woman, her black hair streaked with gray, opened the door. Her weary eyes brightened slightly as she recognized Trunks, but not much. Her eyes swiveled to Pan.
"You've finally brought your girlfriend for me to meet," Chichi said, ushering them in. "How wonderful."
Trunks blushed. "No, Chichi. She's not my girlfriend. In fact, she has more to do with you that she does with me."
Chichi frowned, puzzled. Trunks took her arm and led her to sit on the couch in the living room. Pan stood near the doorway, unsure of what to do. She heard the gentle murmur of Trunks' voice explaining to Chichi what Pan's relation to her was. Chichi's exclamation of surprise filled the small house. She stood and threw her arms around Pan, weeping openly.
"My Goku and my Gohan has come back to me in you," Chichi sobbed. "Pan, my granddaughter."
Pan held her grandmother closer. She caught Trunks' eye. He was looked like he was about to burst into tears in a moment. She smiled gratefully at him. She had finally found her home.
Trunks drove back home alone. Pan and Chichi had talked for hours after they ate dinner and Pan had decided to spend the night. Bulma had the forethought to pack an overnight bag for Pan and Trunks gave it to her before he left.
A light feeling spread inside him as he thought of what Chichi must have been feeling. She had lost all hope when Gohan had died and had hardly been herself. It was only now did Trunks begin to see snatches of the old Chichi back. Bulma would be thrilled.
He arrived to a darkened building. His mother must have decided to go to bed early.
Two in the morning. She's cutting back on her hours.
He flew to his window and opened the window easily. It was only when he spotted his bed did he realize how tired he was. Barely able to change into his pajamas, he flopped down on the bed and was fast asleep in no time.
Trunks and Pan wiped the sweat from their foreheads and caught their breaths. They had been fighting for hours in a clearing behind Chichi's house. The grass was almost all gone, and some trees were badly singed. Neither of them seemed to notice as they grinned at each other.
"That was a nice job today," Trunks admitted.
"I had good teachers," she said modestly.
"Yes, you did."
Pan untied her gi and for a split second Trunks thought she was going to walk around topless. She must have caught the look on his face for she smirked.
"I've got a tanktop underneath," she said, showing him.
He reddened. "I see."
"What kind of girl do you think I am?"
"One full of surprises."
She turned to him, her mouth open as she began to question that statement, but the words never left her mouth. The expression on his face made her catch her breath. There was such tenderness on his face.
He cares, he really cares.
She looked away and stared at the ground. Trunks put a hand on her shoulder. She tried not to flinch away from the touch. She could feel the warmth of his hand through her gi, and her senses were running riot, making her breath shallow and her head feeling light.
"Come on, your grandma probably has dinner waiting for us."
They set out for the cabin.
Pan sat back and watched Bulma, Trunks, and Chichi interact. They had an easy camaraderie that came with years of get-togethers such as this. Needless to say, their group had lessened dramatically, and it was hard for all three of them to acknowledge that, but they did what they could to never lose touch with each other. After a week of visiting Chichi daily, Pan was very comfortable with her, but she was still envious of her relationship with Trunks and Bulma.
She watched as her grandmother tenderly ruffled Trunks' hair as he gently teased her. Pan could see that in a way, Trunks was both Bulma's and Chichi's son. He had told her that after Gohan had died, he and Chichi had spent a lot of time together. Bulma mourned Gohan's death as deeply as they did, but she didn't understand just how deep the pain went. Chichi had lost the only son she had, and Trunks had lost the only man in his life. Since then, he'd been visiting her as often as he could. In a way, it eased both their loneliness for her father.
Trunks stole glances at Pan from time to time. Her hair had grown out in the past few weeks and Bulma had trimmed it to a neat bob that ended just below her earlobes. She had put on a pair of silver stud earrings, and was even wearing a short black skirt that Chichi had made for her, and a maroon v-neck sweater that Bulma had given her. She was a very attractive young woman, and once again Trunks wondered why he had thought she was a boy.
It's probably been too long since you've had a date, he told himself. Almost a year, in fact. Time to go out.
"Pan," he said suddenly.
She raised her head and looked at him, an ebony eyebrow raised in question.
"Would you like to go out tonight?" he asked. "I feel like partying."
Pan's eyes widened in surprise, then she smiled and he smiled back. Bulma and Chichi exchanged knowing, and hopeful glances.
"We can go find some dates and hit the clubs," he continued.
A light went out in Pan's face, but she resiliently kept the smile pasted on. She nodded.
"That would be great."
"You go on ahead," Chichi instructed. "We'll clean up here."
Simultaneously, Trunks and Pan kissed her cheeks. She laughed delightedly, with a lightness that had been lacking before. Bulma smiled.
"Thanks," they said in unison, and bounded out the door.
Pan nursed a strawberry daiquiri. Next to her, Trunks stirred his martini. They sat across from each other on a small table in the crowded dance club. Around them, couples were dancing or clenched in corners, the lights flashing wildly around them.
"Is it just me, or does everyone here have someone else?" Trunks asked.
Pan took a sip of her drink. "That's what it looks like to me."
Trunks was about to reply when a pair of scantily clad women sashayed by him. They smiled flirtatiously at him, batting their long eyelashes, and he responded in kind. Pan eyed them warily, feeling self-conscious about her rather conservative outfit.
"You can go ahead and talk to them," she said to Trunks.
His eyes didn't leave the pair. "You sure?"
No, you idiot. "Yes, I'm sure."
Trunks got up as if in a daze and went to the women by the bar. The blonde one took a particular interest in him, while her redheaded friend started chatting with another man.
Pan's lips twisted with jealousy. She glared at her drink, not knowing where else to look. It was either that, or stare at Trunks on the make.
"I sure hope that that guy wasn't your boyfriend."
Jolted out of her thoughts, Pan nearly tipped her drink over. She looked up and into a pair of emerald green eyes that twinkled from a handsome face topped by thick black hair.
"No, he's just a friend," Pan clarified. She smiled invitingly. "Would you like to sit down?"
"I would," he answered. "I'm Ken."
"That's a very nice name."
Trunks laughed as the woman said something. He wasn't even completely sure what she was blabbing about, he just knew he was supposed to laugh. He was distracted by the sight of Pan talking and laughing with a very attractive man. He scowled as she touched his arm, and leaned in closer as she concentrated on whatever he was saying.
"So anyway, I thought maybe you'd like to stop by my place for a nightcap," the woman, Trish might have been her name, said.
Normally, Trunks would have jumped at the chance. She was exactly his type, and God knew he needed some kind of release, but something held him back. Drawn like a magnet, he stared at Pan. The flashing lights threw shadows across her face and her hair, making her look something out of a dream. Trunks smiled. He knew she was going to make some lucky guy very happy one day, but he didn't understand why that thought would sadden him.
Must be because you'll lose one of the closest friends you'd had in a long time.
He knew the second that thought crossed his mind that he was lying to himself. He picked up his half filled glass and downed it in one gulp. He didn't need to explore that line of thought just yet.
Past midnight, they finally decided to leave. It didn't go by Trunks that Pan had her new friend's number written down on the back of her hand.
"So, who was he?" he asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
"Ken. He seems like a really nice guy," Pan answered, a disbelieving note in her voice. She had almost said, "I didn't expect to like a nice guy who wasn't you" but managed to hold her tongue.
"You don't meet really nice guys usually?"
"No, I just didn't expect to meet one tonight."
They got into the skycar and headed for Capsule Corp.
"So, did you get her name?"
"That woman you were talking to. She looked like she was really enjoying your company."
"She was coming on too strong."
"I thought you liked that sort of thing."
"Not tonight," he sighed helplessly. "I just wasn't in the mood."
He blushed when he realized how his words sounded. Pan looked amused.
"Ken must have really lifted your spirits, huh?" Trunks reached, trying to change the subject. It worked.
"Yes," Pan answered, sounding amazed. "I guess he did."
Trunks felt a sharp pain in his stomach. He frowned.
What's going on with me? I should be happy for her. She's found someone nice.
But, no matter how many times he repeated that to himself, he still couldn't bring himself to be happy for her. His thoughts still turbulent, he tossed and turned throughout the night. Not far away from his room, Pan slept soundly in her bed.
To Chapter Five