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Chapter Five

Two hours after having left Capsule Corp., the warriors were back. Bura had immediately relayed Goku's arrival to the others. Then, she and Goten took him to the compound where he immediately began stuffing his face, seemingly unaffected by a weeping Chichi. Although, he did put an arm around her as she clung to him.

"How are you here?" Vegeta demanded, bewilderment and surprise making him forget his haughty demeanor. "You had disappeared...the Dragonballs along with you..."

"I just woke up and I found myself in my old house, up in the mountains. I was hungry, so I went home," Goku said simply. "Where have I been all this time?"

"We were hoping you would answer that," Piccolo said, regarding his old friend with a suspicious eye.

"Well, I remember floating around in this white hazy thing. It was nice though. I was happy most of the time. I learned all these new things and I think I got stronger."

Vegeta snorted.

"I can't feel you, Dad," Gohan said, worried.

"Really?" Goku said, his mouth full of scrambled egg. "Why not?"

"You tell us," Krilin said, staring hard at Goku. "Is it really you?"

Gohan glanced at the small man and then looked back to his father. Something was different. Other than not sensing Goku's usually powerful energy, there was something else askew. He just couldn't put his finger on it.

"What's going on anyway?" Goku asked. "What were you burying out there, Goten?"


"There are two renegade warriors we're looking for," Gohan interrupted, silencing Goten with a look. "You'd be a big help, Dad."

"No problem," Goku said. He gave Chichi a kiss on the cheek and dislodged himself from her grip. "Just tell me what to do."

"You can come with me," Gohan said. "We'll fly around."

No one thought to argue with him. Without another word, he and Goku flew out the door. Pan went to her grandmother and put her arms around her.

"Is it him, Grandma?" she whispered.

"Yes," Chichi replied brokenly. "It's him."

"Can she go lie down somewhere, Bulma?" Videl asked, going to Chichi's other side.

"Yes, of course. Trunks, go show them to the other guest room."

Videl relinquished Chichi to Trunks and along with Pan, he led her to the small room. They helped her onto the bed where she immediately fell asleep. Pan gently tucked the sheets around her grandmother, her mouth turned down with worry.

"I can't believe what's happening," she whispered to Trunks. "First you and I from another world show up, then now Grandpa. I don't know what to think."

"I can tell you one thing," he said, as they made their way back to the living room. "I don't think we're going to have a goodnight's sleep for a while."

Later that night, they gathered at the compound, weary, but tense. Not counting Goku, no one spotted anyone strange or sensed anyone strange. Gohan knew how weak his plan was to begin with, so he sat quietly, thinking about other ways to find the two rogues.

"Nothing was on the news," Marron said. "No explosions, no unexplained deaths. Absolutely nothing."

"I don't know about you guys, but the suspense is killing me," Krilin remarked. "I wish they'd show up already so we can focus on the real problem."

"Things just wouldn't be the same if it was that easy," Trunks said sarcastically. He was sitting on an armchair, slumped down, his glasses sliding down his nose. He and Pan had decided he should wear them for it was a way to tell him apart from Future Trunks.

"What else is there to do?" Bura asked, sitting on a stair step, her chin cupped in her hand.

"What luck. Just as I come back, trouble's brewing," Goku said sadly.

"We can't send you back to where you came from, so just shut up, Kakarot," Vegeta retorted. "We don't need you whining about that now."

"Take it easy, Vegeta," Yamcha said.

"Take it easy?" Vegeta snarled, eyes ablaze. "You're telling me to take it easy when we've got two dangerous Saiyans out there who could possibly blow us all up into oblivion? I'll take it easy when they're dead."

"Point taken," Yamcha remarked, wishing he could sink into the floor.

Bulma went to Vegeta's side, not touching him, but just stood there. He flicked a glance at her and didn't make a move to touch her, but he found that her presence was comforting. He took a deep breath and forced himself to relax...but only a little.

"What else can we do but wait?" Pan sighed. "Anyone up for a game of Monopoly?"

"I could use a distraction," Trunks said.

"Anyone else wanna have a chance at beating the President of Capsule Corp?" Pan called out.

Trunks' disgruntled snort brought a few reluctant smiles around the room.

"Is it alright, Gohan?" Goku asked his elder son. "Or do you have something for us to do?"

"Go ahead and play," Gohan said, standing. "I'm going to go for a walk and do some thinking."

"I'll go with you," Goten said.

They walked out of the room, hands jammed in their pockets and identical expressions of discomfort on their faces.

"What do you think about Dad coming back?" Goten asked when they were far enough away from the compound. "Did you talk to him while you guys were flying around?"

"Yeah and he seems like his regular old self. But I still think that it's bad no matter how we look at it," Gohan answered. "It sounds horrible, but I don't like it one bit. And there's something about him that's seriously wrong."

"I know," Goten said. "He looks the same, acts the same, but something..."

"His time in that white place could explain that," Future Trunks said, coming down to land next to Gohan.

"Don't feel like playing?" Goten asked him.

"Ran out of pieces. I was too slow to save my place," Future Trunks said.

"I'm surprised Vegeta isn't out here with us," Gohan commented.

"I don't think he wants to leave everyone unattended while Goku is there," Future Trunks said. "He suspects him like you do."

"Do you?"

"I don't know. There are explanations for every reason you have for distrusting him. It's just the optimist in me."

Gohan clapped him on the shoulder. "It always helps to think of both sides to the story."

"Yeah, to confuse us more," Goten snorted.

"Do you think Goku could be one of the people we're looking for?" Future Trunks questioned, his voice lowering. "The fact that we can't sense him and his sudden appearance are too much of a convenience to be mere coincidence."

"But it's so horribly obvious that I can't believe that he's the one," Gohan replied, tortured. "There are too many possibilities."

"Trunks, can you promise me one thing," Goten said.


"When you go back home, destroy the time machine. Destroy the plans. Make your mom promise never to make another one."

Future Trunks nodded, his face drawn. "You don't have to tell me twice. That time machine has been a blessing and a curse."

"I'll bet," Goten said. "So what do we do about Dad?"

"Like Pan said, we have no choice but to wait," Gohan said wearily. "We won't be sitting around though. We'll continue with combing the city. At least we'll have an early warning if one of us spots them."

Trunks watched his father watch Goku. Vegeta didn't even seem to blink. He was leaning against a wall, unmoving, reminding Trunks of a guard. He caught his mother's eye but she only shrugged.

"Your turn," Future Pan said, handing him the dice. "You're not very good at this game, are you?"

"He's the worst," Pan told her.

"It's just a game," Trunks defended himself. "I'm much better at it in real life. Check the stocks for yourself."

Pan only patted his hand. He glared at her.

"You gonna roll the dice or what?" Yamcha prompted.

"I can't believe you're actually playing this," Bura said, stifling a yawn. "It's so boring."

Gohan, Goten, and Future Trunks walked in then, their expressions grim.

"Any new insights?" Krilin asked.

"Time machines are the devil's handywork," Goten said.

"Sometimes," Bulma said, feeling the need to defend her alter-ego's actions. "The intent behind Trunks' return--both times--were good ones."

"That's true," Goten admitted relucantly. He sat next to Bura, cupping his chin in his hand.

The game wound down and one by one, they dropped off into sleep. Goku stood and went to the guest room where Chichi still was.

"Dad, I don't think," Gohan began hesitantly.

"I'm not going to hurt her, Son," Goku reassured his son. "She needs me."

Gohan watched helplessly as Goku disappeared up the stairs. Videl put a hand on his shoulder.

"They'll be alright," she said quietly.

Vegeta straightened and eyed the sleeping forms strewn all over the living room. Only he, Gohan, Videl, Bulma, and Future Trunks were awake. Trunks and Pan were leaning against each other on the armchair while Tien, Chaozu, and Yamcha were stretched out on the couch, their feet propped up on the coffee table. Krilin and #18 had gone to one of the beds Bulma had prepared as did Future Pan. Goten and Bura were snuggled together on the other armchair, making Vegeta's frown deepen. He went and put a hand on Bura's shoulder. Her blue eyes opened and she looked up at her father. Then she realized were she was. She slid out from Goten's arms and grinned sheepishly.

"I'm going to go to my room now," she said, inching her way towards the stairs.

"You do that," Vegeta growled.

She flew up the stairs and they heard her door shut. Vegeta glared at Goten. Future Trunks caught the look and had to hide a smile. Goten was lucky he was asleep.

"I wish I could fall asleep as easily as they can," Gohan remarked, running a hand through his hair.

"Stand watch," Vegeta said. "There may be an enemy among us."

Bulma put a hand on the back of her husband's neck and she began to knead it. He covered her hand with his, stopping her action and bringing her hand down, but he didn't let go of it.

"Chichi says that it's him and I believe her," she said, leaning her head against his shoulder. "Only she would truly know if it was Goku."

"How?" Vegeta asked.

"She loves him," Bulma said simply. "She knows."

He nodded his understanding but was not completely convinced. Together, they mounted the stairs to their room. Gohan and Videl looked at Future Trunks who was sitting silently, brow furrowed.

"You take care of Pan, don't you?" Gohan said.

"I do," he replied, not looking at him.

"Good. We didn't get much of a chance to talk with her," Videl said.

"She was just happy to see you both," Future Trunks said. "It was all she wanted."

"I hope we'll have to time to sit down with her," Gohan said.

"So do I," Future Trunks said. "You should go to bed."

"So should you," Videl pointed out.

He shook his head. "I'm used to this."

"You'll be alright?" Videl asked.


They bid him goodnight and went to the den where a cot was waiting for them. Future Trunks waited a few moments before standing and going outside. He went to the backyard, walking behind the greenhouse. Future Pan was there waiting for him. He opened his arms and she walked into them. He took a deep breath, her essence filling him, and he smiled for the first time that day.

To Interlude Two