Goten watched silently as Bura studied one frame after another in what felt like the hundredth store they'd entered. But he didn't complain, in fact, he hadn't said much of anything since they'd arrived at the mall an hour before. Fortunately for him, Bura was busy searching for the frame and didn't notice. He answered her when she asked him what he thought of one frame then another, so she did not think anything was strange about his silence.
"Ah-ha!" Bura crowed, holding up a box triumphantly. "This is it, Goten. This is the frame."
He gave it a cursory glance and pulled out his wallet. "Okay. How much is it?"
She showed him the price and he winced, but forked over the money. She walked over to the cashier and paid for it, while he dawdled in the housewares section, picking up pans and looking them over. As the cashier finished up the transaction, Bura regarded Goten thoughtfully. He looked pretty comfortable where he was, unlike the other men nearby who looked lost as their wives puttered around, though he certainly didn't look like he belonged in the middle of all those pots and pans. With his powerful physique and wild midnight black hair, he looked more like he should be in a boxing ring, or something like it.
"Here you go," the cashier said, handing Bura the bag.
Goten glanced up as Bura approached him, a large skillet in his hand. "This is top of the line," he remarked, putting it back where it was hanging. "I could have made some amazing dishes with this."
She smiled at his wistful expression. "Well, your birthday is coming up, so just put that on your list. God forbid we miss out on any original dishes by Goten."
He turned to look at her, a half-smile on his handsome face. "I'm a good cook, Bura," he said quietly.
She nodded. "Yes, you are, Goten. One of the best, I'd say."
He grinned, pleased at her words. "Thank you."
They stared at each other.
"Do you ever feel like you're not getting enough credit for anything?" she blurted out.
"All the time," he replied with a shrug that was supposed to be casual, but the tenseness in his shoulders made it a jerky movement. "Do you?"
They turned in unison and walked out of the store.
"All everyone thinks I do is shop and do my nails, or some other nonsense," Bura complained under her breath.
"I know," Goten said, putting a sympathetic hand on the middle of her back and taking the shopping back from her hand. "Everyone thinks I'm just a lazy bum living off my mom, and going on dates like it was my job."
"Let's go to the park," Bura suggested. "Get some fresh air."
The second they stepped out of the mall, Goten put an arm around her and shot up into the sky. Her heart lodged in her throat for a split-second, then Bura began to fly as well rather than let him take all her weight. The cool air blew her hair behind her and tangled in Goten's hair. She smiled, then laughed. He grinned at the sound.
They landed in the same park where Goten had first seen Trunks and Pan together more than three years before. He smiled at the memory and sat down at a nearby bench. Bura sat next to him, crossing her legs at the ankle.
"What do you do, Goten?" she asked, one eyebrow arched questioningly. "I know it's a horrible question, but we never talk like this."
"Yeah, I know. It doesn't sound bad coming from you since we're in the same boat and all. Well, I cook."
"Yup. Not just for my benefit though. I like experimenting with old recipes and making up new ones," he said hesitantly. "I know it sounds a little stupid..."
"No, it doesn't!" she protested. "In fact, I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner. You're an excellent cook...why not make it a professional thing?"
"I'm...I'm not ready yet."
"What are you waiting for?"
Goten's mouth worked, but nothing came out. Bura sighed.
"Well, I shouldn't be talking," she muttered.
"I've been taking business classes at the university. When I leave for classes, I tell Mom and Dad that I'm visiting a friend or going shopping when they ask," she confessed, feeling a blush creep up to her cheeks. "I was thinking of working at Capsule Corp. with Trunks."
Goten's eyes widened with surprise. "Wow, Bura, I didn't expect that."
"I know. Nobody will...if I ever tell anyone."
"I think they'll notice when you start working at the company," he said dryly.
She swatted his arm and he winced. "Smart ass," she said.
"That hurt," he said with wonderment.
"You know, I was afraid you were going to blow us all away this morning when your mom mentioned something about shopping."
"Why? Do you think my temper is that bad?"
"Bura, what do you think about training with me?"
She looked at him as if he had grown a third eye. "I haven't done any training since I was eight years old."
"I think you should. You have so much power, Bura. Like me, Gohan, and Trunks, you're half Saiya-jin. You can't just walk around here with all that power inside you without you knowing how to control it properly."
"You're giving me the same spiel as you gave Pan and Trunks," she said suspiciously. "You know I don't like fighting, Goten."
He regarded her with some doubt. "I don't know about that. I've seen you argue with everyone we know. We'll pull out the Vegeta in you yet."
"I never said I was going to train with you."
"What have you got to lose?"
She toyed with a strand of hair as she thought it over.
What has been keeping me back from fighting? she mused.
When her silence stretched to more than a minute, Goten took the strand from her fingers and tugged at it. "Don't deny your heritage, Bura. Gohan tried to by not fighting, but look what he did? He dressed up in that weird costume to fight crime. You don't want that to happen to you, do you? Sunglasses and a turban could be in your future if you don't train with me."
Despite herself, Bura laughed. He knew then that he'd convinced her.
"Atta girl," he crowed. "How about we start now?"
"We have to get this frame back to Trunks' and Pan's house," she reminded him.
"I'll tell them I'll cook them dinner in a couple days and you'll be invited. In the meantime, do you have anything else to do today?"
"So, how about we get started?" He smiled sweetly.
"Oh alright. Did anyone ever tell you that you were stubborn?"
He thought about that one. "No, actually."
"Well, now somebody has. Can we at least go back to my house so I can change?"
"Yeah, sure. I have to get my clothes too."
They shot up into the sky, completely ignorant of the looks of the passerby. Bura snuck a peek at her companion and smiled. She'd always hid her feelings from her family because she didn't think they would understand. But she never realized how much she needed to talk to someone until she unloaded her feelings on Goten, and she didn't think anyone would feel like she did until he told her all of his problems. They were so alike that it was mind-boggling. She reached over and took his hand. He glanced at her, surprised, but he didn't let go. He smiled and gave her hand a little squeeze.
The open fields near Goten's house were perfect for sparring because not only did they have a lot of room to move, but also no one was around for miles to see what they were doing. And as Bura tucked an errant strand of hair wet with perspiration, she was grateful no one would see her in this state. Goten looked just as bad as she did so she didn't mind his presence.
Goten studied his pupil's stance and was glad to see improvement. They'd been training for only four days and she was already getting the hang of it. He had to admit that he was enjoying himself. Gohan never sparred anymore and Trunks hardly did, with the twins and the company keeping him busy. Besides that, Bura was a fresh new fighter, and she could still surprise him with her moves. She was already starting to improvise on what he'd taught her.
"That was good, Bura," he yelled from where he stood. "Just make sure you always keep your guard up and your energy level low. You do bring it down but then it spikes back up when we make contact."
"I can't help it! I get excited."
"Can't help that, but you have to be able to control your power level."
"How?" she asked, her tone on the edge of a whine.
Goten wiped the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve and made his way to her. When Bura's voice took on that tone, he knew it was time to stop. Blowing out a breath between her lips, Bura pulled out the elastic tie that held her braid together and shook her hair out. Goten gestured for her to sit down and then he sat across from her.
"I think we're done for the day," he said. "We've been at this for four three hours straight."
"Really?" she queried with some surprise as she began to rebraid her hair. "It doesn't feel like it."
"Look at you. You're drenched in sweat!"
"Yeah, but I just thought we were working hard. Wow."
He looked smug. "See? I told you, you'd like it."
"I don't remember training being like this. When I was little, I thought it was stupid. I just wanted to play with my dolls. Besides, with Dad and Trunks breathing down my neck, it wasn't any fun."
"We Sons know how to have fun," Goten said with a wink. He laid back and twined his fingers behind his head. "Gohan never made training a chore and Dad didn't either. I think it was because they enjoyed it so much. Vegeta's method is more like you have to train because you were born to train and nothing else. Not that his way is bad, but it's much different from our way."
"Don't I know it." She chuckled. "You know, he's dying to know what we do together. When he saw me come back, then leave again to meet with you, he was fuming."
Goten laughed. "I'll bet. Another one of his brats fraternizing with Kakarot's children, those low-class Saiya-jins. Vegeta always scared the crap out of me when I was little, and he still does."
"I can handle him," Bura said confidently. "Hey, did you call Trunks and Pan about dinner yet?"
"Yeah," he said, remembering. "They're expecting us in two hours."
Bura stood and brushed herself off. "I better go get cleaned up then. I'll meet you there." She turned as if to fly off, but paused and turned to look at him. "I'll meet you back here tomorrow?"
He grinned. "You bet. But let's start earlier than usual. Does nine sound alright?"
"Yes, but we'll have to stop at one because I have a class at two-thirty," she said.
"I know," he said slowly as if speaking to a child. "That's why we have to start earlier. See you later."
"Bye, Goten. And...thank you for this." Ignorning the sweat that covered them both, Bura went up to him, got on her tiptoe and pressed a soft kiss on his cheek.
Before he could respond, she turned and blasted off. He watched her until she was out of his view. Then, with a bemused smile on his face and his heart beating a little faster than normal, he turned and flew home.