Goten held the little boy in his lap, a warmth spreading inside him. Juno was intelligent and cheerful, reminding Goten of Gohan. He was an innocent kid, so free of malice and full only of happiness. He accepted Goten as his father and now chatted to his 'daddy' about his friends at school. Lunch went off better than Goten had hoped and they were now at the park. He and Paris had talked over the important details, and Goten immediately began thinking about Bura's suggestion that he open a restaurant. He had a son to support now and he had to get the money from somewhere.
"Why don't you go play, Juno," Paris said, gesturing towards the playground nearby.
"'Kay," Juno said.
He jumped off Goten's lap and ran full-tilt towards the swings. Goten watched him, a smile creasing his face.
"You did a great job with him, Paris," he said. "I wish I'd been there."
"Yeah. I wish you'd been there, too."
"But I'll be here from now on. Juno can count on me."
"Can I count on you?"
Goten shot a look at Paris. She was watching Juno, but a rosy flush had risen to her cheeks. His heart began pounding fast and he felt a sweat break out on his forehead.
"I don't know, Paris."
"Is there someone else?" she asked, linking her hands together on her lap.
Immediately, a picture of Bura flashed through Goten's mind. He tried to push it away, but it pesisted on staying. When she'd clung onto him when he'd visited her, something inside him longed to hold her in place, but he didn't want to start anything with her. Like he'd told Trunks, he wasn't the marrying kind, and he didn't want to hurt Bura by just leading her on like he did all his other girlfriends. She was special to him and he would rather have her as a friend than destroy what they have by wanting more than that.
"No," he answered. "There's no one. But you don't want me, Paris. I'll just hurt you again."
She let out a snort. "At least you admit it ahead of time."
"We have a son, Paris, and I will always be grateful to you for taking such good care of him, but I don't want to continue our relationship where we left off. Our time has passed."
She nodded. "Alright, Goten. Thank you for being honest."
"I figure I better start growing up."
"Good. Juno needs someone to guide him."
Goten thought about his own father and his lips thinned. Goku hadn't been there to guide him. At least he'd had Gohan to watch over him and the other men who'd fought alongside his father. Yet, Goten couldn't feel angry. He had met Goku once and knew in that moment that his father loved him regardless...it just would have been better for him to be there.
"I'll be there for him," Goten promised as he watched Juno swing higher and higher. "No matter what happens."
Pan curled up on the couch, a mug of hot chocolate in her hands and Bura sat down next to her. The twins were at their feet, playing with their toys. Not knowing what else to do, Bura had come to visit her friend and was happy to find her home. Pan spent the occassional day at Capsule Corp. to help Trunks out, but Bura suspected that she also went there to remind the other women in the office that Trunks was taken.
"I can't believe Goten has a son," Pan remarked. "A son that's older than my twins. I can only imagine how grandma reacted."
"I don't even want to think about it. If she was a Saiya-jin, he would be at the hospital," Bura said.
"She's bad enough as it is," Pan agreed. "Dad took it better though. Mom told me that he passed out."
Bura laughed at the image of Gohan, glasses and an armful of books, falling to the ground.
"What time is it?" Pan asked, turning on the TV.
Idly, Bura glanced at her watch.
"Two-twenty," she answered, then frowned. Do I have something to do?
Suddenly, she shot up, scaring Pan and upsetting the mug in Pan's hand.
"What? What's wrong?" Pan demanded.
"I'm going to miss my class and we have exams today!" Bura exclaimed, climbing over the kids and grabbing her coat. "I'll talk to you later, Pan!"
She shot out the door, leaving behind a bewildered Pan.
"Class? Finals? What's going on?" she wondered aloud.
Bura dropped her bag and coat before falling unceremoniously onto her bed. The final for her microeconomics class had been a breeze and she was grateful it was over. For five years, she'd been taking classes at the university, unbeknownst to anyone else and she was finally nearing the final stretch. One more semester and then she would graduate in May.
Looking up, she checked to see if she had any messages on her answering machine. She smacked the play button when she saw the red button blinking.
Hey, Bura this is Pan. What class are you taking? I'm really curious now. I promise I won't say a word to anybody. Call me as soon as you get this. Bye!
Bura pursed her lips thoughtfully. This would be the perfect opportunity to finally tell everyone what she'd been up to, but she was still reluctant to do so. The machine beeped and the next message started.
This is Goten. I've been doing some thinking and your idea for a restaurant is sounding mighty good right now. So, um, let me know if you're still up to it.
Bura's hand shot out towards the phone and she dialed his number.
Days later, they stood outside a vacant space in one of the city's trendier sections. Goten eyed the place nervously while Bura could hardly contain her excitement.
"This is it!" she exclaimed, throwing her arms up. "This is the future location of Goten's Place."
"It's kinda ritzy, isn't it, Bura?" he said uncertainly.
"Think about the dishes you make. Do you really think Goten's Place belongs in a mini-mall? I don't think so."
Goten put a hand on one of the smooth white columns framing the doorway. "How much is this place?"
Bura smiled coyly. "That's between me and the seller. Do you want it?"
He unlocked the door and walked in. He was struck by how big the area really was. He could imagine his customers sitting at their tables, awaiting his masterpieces. A smile inched across his face. The double doors in the back of the room were the entryways to the kitchen and Goten went to go investigate what could be his domain. To his delight, it was prestine, with shining metal countertops and a huge stove. He came back out to where Bura waiting impatiently and she looked at him expectantly.
"I want it," he said.
Grinning broadly, she pulled out a packet of papers from her purse.
"Sign this and it's yours," she said.
He looked at her, amazed. "How did you do all this so quickly?"
"I want you to have this restaurant," she answered simply.
Goten grinned and before she knew what was happening, he swept her off her feet and spun her around the room. They laughed, their voices echoing in the empty room. Finally, he put her back down on her feet, but didn't let go.
"Thank you," he said.
"Don't thank me yet," she warned. "This is only the first step."
"But it's an important step," he said. "The restaurant will be open in time for your graduation, Bura, so you can celebrate here. Even if it means that I won't get any sleep in the next four months."
"Whatever you do, I do," she said.
He held out his hand and she shook it.
"Deal. Let's get to work."
Sitting cross-legged in the middle of the empty room, Bura and Goten went over fabric swatches and paint schemes. Their faces were lined with exhaustion, but neither gave up. They had finally finished with the menu and were now ready to decorate. Bura had used a project she'd done a year before on how to set up a new business as a guide. So far, they hadn't hit any snags and they were within their financial limits, though Bura was fairly certain that she could get as much as they needed if the time came.
"We should paint a starry sky on the ceiling," Bura suggested, tilting her head back and looking up. "We'll dim the lights and have shimmery cream colored table cloths. We'll put little lamps on each table rather than candles, which would probably be more economical in the long run anyway."
"What about during the day time?" Goten asked.
She looked at him, confused. "What about it?"
"What if people come in here for lunch and see this starry sky on the ceiling?"
"We have to have a theme, Goten."
He stood and began to walk around the room. She watched him, waiting for what he had to say. He stopped between the two pillars on one side of the room.
"We should put an elevated floor here and put up a railing. The same with the other side since there are pillars there too. But we won't have tables up against the railing or below it because I don't want the diners to be too close together. At night, we'll have the lights dim, but during the daytime, we should let the daylight in."
Bura chewed her lip thoughtfully. She glanced towards the front wall, the gears in her head turning.
"We're not knocking down any walls," Goten said. "We're going to make our own light."
He turned and faced the wall. Bura hugged her knees to her chest and watched him silently. The intense expression on his face told her that Goten wasn't in the same room as she was anymore. He was in his restaurant, seeing and describing what was around him. It was a side of him she'd never seen before and she was glad that she was the one he was sharing his dreams with. It meant a lot to her because it showed how important to himself he thought she was.
"We'll paint a countryside on the walls," he said. "The countryside near my home, where we spar. We'll have wildflowers at every table and a lamp like you said." He looked up. "But instead of a night sky, we should have a succession of skies. From the doorway to the back, it'll go from daytime to nighttime."
"That's a great idea," she breathed. "Goten, that's it."
He smiled at her. "You think it'll work?"
"I know it," she said, standing up to face him. "It's going to look beautiful."
His expression tender, he put a hand on her cheek. She sucked in a breath and looked at him, her blue eyes wide. He noticed then that her eyes were the same shade as a clear sky. Sighing, he put his arms around her. Her arms went around his waist and she rested her cheek against his chest. They fit together perfectly and Bura wished that he would kiss her, but instead, he pulled away. He smiled shakily at her and sat back down where the swatches were.
"So, what'll our color scheme be?" he asked hoarsely.
She sat down across from him. "We need a drawing of what you want, in full color."
He reached for the folder of papers he'd brought with him and pulled out a few sheets. He handed them to her and she laughed gleefully when she saw that they were full color sketches of how the room was to look.
"This will help a lot," she remarked, her eyes twinkling as she looked at him.
But he didn't say anything. He merely smiled because he didn't think he could speak for he'd finally allowed himself to face the truth and it overwhelmed him.
He was in love with her.