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Chapter Nine

Goten screamed in pain as Evil Gohan's fist rammed into his torso. He fell to the ground, spitting blood. Looking up, he saw his brother deliver a swift kick to Evil Gohan's face and firing an energy blast in his face.

Evil Gohan merely smiled and wiped away the blood dripping from the cut on his forehead that blast had caused.

"Nice try," he said. "But that won't do it."

Goten watched helplessly as Evil Gohan let out a yell as he fired a huge energy ball at Gohan. Gohan didn't move. He watched as the ball came at him and then exploded. Heat seared his face, burned his skin, but he didn't move. He allowed an uncontrollable anger, anger he hadn't felt since he fought Cell, take over. Goten gasped as he felt Gohan's power level shoot up.

When the energy ball evaporated, Gohan stepped out of a cloud of dust, hatred etched on his normally placid face. Evil Gohan took a step back, looking worried for the first time. Gohan began to walk towards him, not blinking, keeping his eyes on Evil Gohan. He stopped when he was a few feet away.


Goten braced himself for the explosion, shutting his eyes, and putting his arms up in front of his face. He waited for several seconds, but it didn't come. He opened his eyes, lowering his arms, and saw that Gohan was standing alone.

"He disappeared," Gohan said.

"Jerk," Goten spat.

They looked up and saw Vegeta and Future Trunks coming down.

"The other Trunks took Pan and your Trunks," Future Trunks told them gravely. "I can't feel their energies anymore. He probably took them off-planet."

"Great," Goten said. "That's just perfect. I can't believe those two."

"I don't think they'll be back for a while," Future Trunks said. "They were just testing us to see how far we could go."

"Where is Bulma?" Vegeta demanded, eyes darting about.

"My Dad took them to the mountains," Gohan replied. He looked behind him at the broken pieces of the compound. "The bodies are still there."

Grim, the four warriors began to dig, searching for the dead bodies of their friends. The sun had risen and made it easier for them to see.

Goku sat with his back on the door, Chichi curled up at his side. Videl stood by the window. Bura sat next to her mother, their hands clasped tightly together. Marron and #18 mirrored them, but their expressions were not of fear, but instead were strangely blank. Shock at Krilin's death had finally sunk in and they had cried their tears. Only a dull pain remained.

"Where are they?" Chichi said brokenly.

"They're coming," Goku said.

"They're alright?" Bulma questioned.

"Yes," he said. Then he frowned. "Trunks and Pan are missing."

Bura straightened. "Are they...dead?"

"No," Goku said. "I didn't feel them die."

"They have them," Bura said not without malice.

"Most likely."

Goku stood, pulling Chichi to her feet, and he opened the door to let Vegeta, Goten, Gohan, and Future Trunks in. Bulma jumped up and threw herself in her husband's arms, tears spilling from her eyes. He hesitated a moment, but then his arms came around her. Gohan went to Videl and he rested his head on her shoulder, closing his eyes exhaustedly.

"And then there were four," #18 said bitterly.

"The other Trunks took Pan and Trunks," Goten said tiredly, sitting next to Bura. "He just touched them and they disappeared."

"Instant transmission," Goku said. "He knows how to do it."

"They both do," Gohan said. "The other one disappeared before I could destroy him."

Future Trunks looked around the simple log cabin with its dusty, unused furniture, and he found it easy to picture Goku growing up there. He glanced at Vegeta, Bulma, and Bura. The two women surrounded the proud warrior, their turquoise heads resting on his shoulders, but what surprised Future Trunks was that Vegeta was not sitting ramrod straight, looking more like a tree they were leaning on rather than a man. He had his arms around them, his face lined with worry and fatigue. Next to Bura, Goten had captured her hand and was holding on to it with both of his. Future Trunks looked around and saw Videl with Gohan, Chichi with Goku.

He never felt more alone.

He sat down in one corner of the room and covered his face with his hands. Behind his closed eyelids, he saw Pan's face, slick with sweat and frozen in an expression of pain.

I'm coming...just hold on, he thought to her.

"We shouldn't have come here," Gohan said, straightening, his eyes wide. "They can find us here and find them."

Vegeta looked up quickly. "I should have thought of that."

"Goku," Future Trunks said. "Take them somewhere else. Guard them because you're the only one they can't sense since you have no energy signature."

"No," #18 said. "I will stay with them. I can hide my energy signature. Take Goku with you. He'll make a big difference between life and death for you."

"I can fight too if it comes to that," Videl said. "We'll protect Bulma, Marron, and Chichi."

Goten looked at Bura. She stood, her expression stubborn.

"I have to go with you," she said firmly. "They can sense me."

Vegeta and Bulma exchanged a look. The Prince put a hand on his wife's cheek.

"I will guard her with my life," he said.

"Who will guard yours?" Bulma asked tearfully.

Taking her face in his hands, Vegeta kissed her tenderly. Bulma held on to him for as long as he let her. When he stood, her hands fell away. Gohan let go of Videl's hand with a sad smile, and Goku's hand fell from Chichi's cheek. It was only Bura and Goten who could stay together and they stood next to each other, silent.

"Let's go," Future Trunks said, looking anywhere but them. "They could come at any second."

The Saiyan warriors left the cabin and took off towards the city. The women stepped out and watched them until they disappeared from view. Then, #18 took Chichi's and Marron's hands as Videl took Bulma's.

"Just hang on," #18 said as they began to float upward.

"Where are we going, Eighteen?" Videl asked.

"I know a place," she replied. "Just follow me."

Pan woke and felt like throwing up. The world spun crazily around her and she squeezed her eyes shut, willing it to stop. Slowly, she became aware of something sitting against her back. The events of the past hours replayed in her head. She and Trunks had been overpowered by the other Trunks and the other Gohan. They were bound together by a steel support, wrapped so tightly around them that her ribs felt like they were on fire. She looked up and saw the huge slab of concrete above them. It balanced precariously on two steel supports and Evil Trunks had told Pan with relish that if she tried to turn Super Saiyan to free herself, that concrete would fall before she could blink an eye and crush Trunks. Too weak to power up, Trunks would die. Then, Evil Trunks knocked her out with a well-thrown piece of metal.

"Trunks," she said, her voice barely above a whisper.

He didn't stir.

"Trunks," she said, louder.

He twitched. Dread gripped her as she felt that his energy had weakened substantially.

"Trunks, please wake up," she said, her voice hoarse. "I can't do this alone. Don't die on me dammit!"

"W-what w-would your g-grandmother say about you u-using language l-like that?" Trunks stammered, his head leaning back against hers. "D-Dende help us if s-she ever d-does."

Pan let out a relieved laugh. Though it hurt to move, she groped in the darkness for his hand. His long fingers found hers first. The contact brought a measure of comfort to both of them.

"Keep talking alright," she said. "You need to stay awake."

"S-So I can f-feel myself dying?" he said lightly.

Her hand tightened on his and he responded in kind.

"Don't talk like that, Trunks," she said. "We'll get help."

"Fat chance, Pan," he retorted. "The others aren't going to find us in time. I'm gonna croak."

"No," she whispered, tears choking her.

"Hey...d-do you s-see t-that?" he asked, squinting a small rectangular box to his left and her right.

She turned her head and saw it. "What is it?"

"B-Beats m-me. H-Hope it doesn't b-blow up. Not t-that it'll m-matter to m-me anyway."

"What do you think of our other selves being married?" she asked, wanting to stop him from thinking of his impending death if only for a few minutes.

"I d-don't k-know."

"I'm not surprised," she said, pushing her sadness aside. "They're the only two Saiyans left over there."

Trunks' head tipped forward momentarily, but he brought it back to rest against hers.

"T-That doesn't m-mean they'll automatically f-fall in love," he argued.

"I think it'll bring them closer together," she stated.

"T-That's true."

He coughed and Pan winced as she heard the watery sound of it.

"D-Damn," he cursed and spat out blood.

"Do you think about that?" she asked then, trying to keep his mind off his pain, and also to voice questions she'd had since they learned about the marriage of their counterparts.

He was silent for a while and if not for the pulse she felt beating beneath her fingertips, she would have thought him dead. But it grew weaker by the second and she had to fight back a wave of fear that he would die soon.

"I-I d-don't know w-what to t-think about u-us r-really," he replied reluctantly.

She could sense the battle inside him. She knew how hard it was for him to admit his feelings and decided that if there was a time to discuss their relationship, this was the best time. Before it was too late.

"I do," she said. "I'm not saying I'm in love with you or anything, but we have fun together, Trunks. I did have a crush on you when we were traveling around the universe with Grandpa Goku, but feelings of friendship replaced that teenage crush. I enjoy being with you and being your friend, but I can't help but wonder sometimes."

"I-I l-like being with you t-to, Pan," he said warmly, her admission giving him courage. "I-I l-lied about not knowing w-what I thought about us. I h-have. I j-just try not t-to. I'm m-much o-older than y-you a-and we're s-such good f-friends."

"I understand now why they wouldn't tell us about their relationship before," she said. "Then we wouldn't be having this conversation."


"What do you mean?"

"I t-think if this had g-gone on long enough and our f-feelings keep g-going in t-that direction, s-something w-would h-have eventually h-happened."

"Now we'll never know."

"Are y-you unhappy about t-that?"

She smiled, felt his fingers tremble and she tightened her grip as if she could hold on to his life. "No. I'm not. I'm all for new adventures. Hey, does this mean you'll take me to Chez Louis next time we go out?"

He tried to laugh but a sharp pain exploded in his side. "It's a d-date," he managed to gasp.

Carefully, she moved her head and leaned it against his shoulder.

"W-what a-are you doing?"

The light kiss he felt against his neck was his answer.

"I-I wish I c-could h-hold you," he said tenderly.

She leaned her head back against his and closed her eyes. "Me, too."

To Chapter Ten