Author's Chapter Notes:
While Goku, Vegeta, and their sons are still Saiya-jin, they don't have majority of the abilities they had in Dragon Ball Z (which includes flight and supernatural strength/speed). In this story, Gohan is fifteen, Goten is ten, and Trunks is eleven. This story was inspired by Maldoror's Gundam Wing fanfic Freeport which can be found on http://www.gwaddiction.com. Also, most of this techie stuff is being made up so excuse me if it sounds stupid.
Warning: Japanese terms/phrases. I don't use many of them (like in, say, Metamorphosis) but there are enough to warrant a warning.
(when I should be working on Metamorphosis I instead come up with something brand new)
Author's Note (October 09, 2007): I'm planning on tweaking this story a little. Series 2 will be merged with series 1 since they're closely related anyway. Fortunately for you, series 1 is finished and series 2 was about halfway finished. I don't have a very good track record when it comes to completing series (series completed to date: zero).
When Vegeta walked into the bar he was hit by a stench so awful it nearly made the tiny hairs in his nose shrivel up and drop off. It did, however, make his eyes water. He stopped dead in his tracks, one hand clasped to his face, and seriously contemplated backing out of the establishment, contact or no. If the client that the man represented hadn't been one of his best, he would have readily written him off as a loss.
His dark brown, almost black, eyes scanned the dim interior of the bar, trying to catch the distinctive hairstyle the contact usually favored. It was usually a brilliant, almost radioactive green that surely glowed in the dark, gelled up into rigid spikes that could looked as if they could impale a person if he ever decided to charge them. Unfortunately, he couldn't see Mr. Spiky Head anywhere and it wasn't because there were several large furians that closely resembled fridges moving to surround him in a loose semi-circle.
"I don't have time for this," he complained aloud. The leader of the group, a furian wearing a leather jacket with metal spikes on the shoulders and cuffs, made a show of cracking the knuckles on his huge hands. Vegeta wondered if he would have time to take those few steps out of the bar and then that half mile to the dock without being forced to stand and fight. He seriously doubted it.
Not that he was trying to run away because he was afraid. He just didn't have the time for a brawl, not when he had already squeezed Obsidian's contact in a tiny time slot between a delivery and his departure for Gnoll. The more he thought about being stood up, the angrier he became until he started to look forward to the fight as a way of releasing stress. A wide grin spread across his face and he lowered himself into a fighting stance, startling the thugs standing above him.
"If we're going to do this, we need to do it now. My departure window is coming up."
With a roar, the leader rushed him and he moved like water around legs that were nearly longer than he was tall, and landed a punch to the base of his spine. With a grunt, the leader fell, temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.
Watching their exalted leader fall like a tree stole most of the courage from the other three. When they engaged Vegeta in combat, it was in a half-assed way that pissed the Saiya-jin off even more. In his opinion, if you were going to fight, it was a waste of time not to give it your all.
By the time Vegeta re-entered into the perpetual gloom of MO-12, his anger had been worked out, but his blood was still surging through his veins. He half wished that someone else would pick a fight with him, not that there was any more spare time to utilize. Once he got back to his ship, he was going to send a message to Obsidian and thoroughly criticize his contact with words that would still hold their potency even after being downloaded down onto the other man's computer and decrypted. No one invoked the ire of Vegeta and got away with it.
As it was, he had only five minutes to do the pre-flight before it was his turn to depart. If he had missed the window, he would have had to reschedule with the control "tower" and they would have bitched at him. It also would have thrown his entire schedule off as those crates of sweetgrass had to be in Gnoll in three days or else he would suffer a penalty. He understood the importance of forcing captains to schedule arrival and departure windows (especially since he had no desire to encounter some careless idiot and get killed out in the weightless -- and airless -- expanse of space), but in the event of an emergency, that law could really throw everything off.
He waited until he was outside MO-12 space and had engaged the auto-pilot before launching into his e-mail tirade. Vegeta spent twenty glorious minutes criticizing every single fault he could find in the contact (whose name he had never bothered to learn) then ran it through the encryption program before sending it off via his satellite link. Then he sat back in the captain's chair and closed his eyes with the intention of catching a little rest before he had to pilot again.
"We've got those parts you wanted, Goku. Just came in." Raquelle was already reaching beneath the counter before he could even open his mouth. She set a box big enough to hold a large dog on the counter with an ease that was owed entirely to the weights she'd lifted to get such an impressive set of biceps.
Goku looked at the box and raised his eyebrows. "A toddler could fit in that thing, Elle. I bet Goten could fit in it with no problem. Are you sure they didn't send someone else's stuff in the same box as mine?"
"Sure I'm sure. Don't you think I examined the contents?" She gave it a little push towards him. "You want me to add it to your tab?"
Son Goku seemed to have a running tab everywhere he shopped, but there was no help for it. He was the only one in the household that worked as his wife had various reasons for not lending a hand. She even went as far as to suggest that their eldest, Gohan, get a job, but Goku wanted him to concentrate on his studies. With his mind he was destined for great things and he would do all he could to help him achieve them.
"Yeah," he sighed. "Money's a little tight this month. Again."
"Hey, I understand." She pulled out a small book and made the appropriate notation. "You coming down to Nipsy's tonight? I heard that Flash and his crew are back in the neighborhood."
"I don't know. It depends on Chi Chi."
Just as Raquelle opened her mouth to issue her usual diatribe about his wife, his youngest, Goten, came speeding into the mech shop from outside. "Tousan, they're comin' again."
"Goddamn!" Raquelle cursed, vaulting over the counter. In a very stiff and angry way, she clenched her fists and headed to the door. "Goku, stay here and watch the shop."
"No," he said firmly. "I'm not letting you get hurt."
The six foot, three inch tall woman stared him in the eyes. She cut a very impressive figure in the tight gray tank top that showed off both the muscles in her arms as well as the black tribal tattoos covering them like spider webs. There was a silver bar through her left eyebrow, a ring through her lip, and her right ear held five piercings (which was nothing when you compared it to her left). Raquelle looked him over for a moment then shook her head. "You've got a family. I don't have anyone. Besides, I can bench press more than you." She grinned when she said this, infinitely pleased with herself.
"That may be true, but I'm better at actual fighting. Keep a close eye on Goten-chan or else he'll follow me out." This was said with a stern look at his suddenly sheepish son.
"Come on little guy," Raquelle said with resignation, one strong hand on Goten's shoulder. "We'll let your father work and watch from the window."
"Aw, Elly," he whined. Fortunately his father was already out the door.
When Goku stepped onto 12th Street, it was already deserted. The Serpents (a furian gang who loved to scare business owners into giving them "protection" money and harass innocent citizens who happened to run into them on the street) was notorious throughout the Aros sector. Few had the courage to stand up to them. Even Goku (who wasn't afraid) loathed to deal with them. Like most furians, reasoning didn't work well on them and they were larger and stronger than most of the other races. Even their children ran around like miniature thugs, terrorizing the sectors. But whenever people complained to the Solaran government, nothing was ever done to fix the problem. It made many think that someone with a lot of power was doing their best to ensure that they were never rid of their furian problem.
A trio of Serpents in their matching "uniforms" of green bandanas tied around their heads spotted Goku and started to make their way over to him. The Saiya-jin stopped halfway between the mech shop and a small restaurant and waited.
"If it isn't the wittle monkey," one sneered as he stopped in front of Goku. "Do you always have to try and stop us from doing our job?"
"When you bother people I care about, I'm always going to stop you."
"Until next time, that is. You can't be down here all the time."
While it was true that he had a family to care for and a job to do, he did spend a hell of a lot of time down on 12th Street. All of the business owners knew him by sight, if not by name, and he was friendly with a lot of the regular visitors. So he had a vested interest, you might say, in their happiness.
Without further ado, Goku dropped into a fighting stance and waited for their attack. It came exactly how he knew it would. No skill whatsoever, just brute strength. Rolling his eyes, Goku neatly side-stepped the punch of a large royal blue furian with with a thick white horn in the center of his forehead and grabbed his outstretched arm as he was going past. He then proceeded to flip the furian over his shoulder and onto the concrete of the street with a thud. Seeing that he was down for the count, Goku turned his attention to the other two. They were staring at him with wide eyes and didn't look at all inclined to engage him in combat. Goku jumped at them mockingly and they turned tail and ran.
"Don't come back or I'll kick your asses like I kicked his!" he shouted. When they were out of sight, he looked down at the blue furian and wondered what he was supposed to do with him.
"I called the cops," Raquelle told him. "We'll tie him up and wait 'till they get here. You were great as always."
Goten nodded in agreement. "You were awesome!"
Goku didn't appreciate the fact that he'd won the battle so easily. It had really been a long time since he'd fought someone for longer than a few minutes before they either surrendered or were knocked unconscious. He didn't let his disappointment show, however, merely took the electrical cord that Raquelle offered and "hogtied" the furian's hands and feet together with it.
"Will you be okay watching him?" he asked.
The mech shop owner looked around and saw that people were starting to emerge from where they'd hidden. "Oh, I'll be fine. I bet none of these people will allow him to get very far if he somehow gets free."
"Alright. I have to get home, then. I'll try to show up at Nipsy's tonight around... nine?" He briefly disappeared inside the shop to retrieve his box. "Come on, Goten," he said once back outside again.
"Bye, Elly!" Goten waved as he skipped after his father. "See ya later!"
"See ya, Goten!" She waved then turned her attention back to the felled furian (who was now waking up). "I'm sure as hell not going to let you get off on a technicality this time," she snarled. "And I have all of these lovely 'witnesses' to testify against you in court."
"Witnesses?" he groaned. "Weren't no witnesses." He blinked slowly up at the crowd of angry people that had gathered around him. There were more than just humans there: a pair of calico felids, a handful of slender ghazi, and even a maned ninx or two joined them. It sunk in then that he was well and truly screwed. The furian closed his eyes again and dropped his head back onto the street. Maybe his cousin's stories about jail had been greatly exaggerated. An image of a larger, meaner furian using his body as a punching bag came to mind and he shuddered. Then again, maybe not.
Goku and Goten headed through the sector towards home. Aros was much like the other nine primarily-residential sectors of Solaris (though it, like the others, had its own special uniqueness). It was inhabited by mostly families, though the word meant something far different to Solarans than it did to those who lived on planets. His own homeworld, Earth, still insisted that a family consisted of a man and a woman who were married and at least one biological child, which was often not the way families were in reality. On Solaris, a family was a group of people who cared about each other and that was that. So not only were there male/female couples with children but also same-sex couples with or without kids, roommates with kids, and groups of only adults bound together by shared experiences.
Aros, because of its high population density, was also filled with apartment buildings. Space was a very valuable commodity on a colony so buildings tended to be built upward instead of outward. The building where Goku and his family lived was five stories and housed over 60 people. He was pretty friendly with everyone on their floor and the two below as there were only four apartments per floor. Goten's closest friend lived across the hall. There was a strong sense of community in the building that only grew larger when the entire sector was taken into consideration. He could count on his neighbors to watch out for his children as he would watch out for their own. It definitely hadn't been that way on Earth and he was glad that he'd moved as soon as he'd gotten the chance. Once his grandfather had died, he hadn't seen a point in remaining there.
He'd met Chi Chi on the shuttle to Solaris. She was a native of Earth as well, but she had only been traveling to Solaris to visit a friend. She had no intention of living there. After spending five days on the shuttle, they'd gotten to know each other pretty well and had each considered the other to be a friend. Once the shuttle docked at their destination, they reluctantly parted but not before exchanging contact information. It had only taken a few more meetings for Chi Chi to fall in love with him. Goku, however, was still waiting for those feelings to surface. Oh, there wasn't any doubt that he cared about her well-being, but he wasn't sure that what he felt for her was love.
From what he understood of the emotion, love was supposed to make you feel as if every nerve ending in your body became alive whenever you were near the one you loved. When he was around Chi Chi, he mostly felt like finding an excuse to be elsewhere. While he felt something for her that equated to affection, she often made him forget that whenever she started nagging him about something. Not a day went by when she wasn't complaining. Once upon a time, when Gohan had been small, she didn't think he worked often enough since they were always just barely making ends meet. When he picked up more hours at the garage, she began to complain that he wasn't home enough. It had gotten to the point that he usually tuned her out from the moment she opened her mouth. If what she had to say was truly important, he could always count on one of his sons to tell him about it later. The three of them shared a sort of camaraderie due to the fact that they were all victims of Chi Chi's verbal abuse.
"Tousan, can I go over to Chisa's? Her brother's home from college for a little while and he can watch us." His father usually had no objection to him spending time with his best friend, but her parents worked long hours and she was usually left in the care of a baby-sitter. Goku had suggested to Chi Chi that she looked after Chisa when her parents were at work since the little girl and Goten got along so well, but that had earned him a reproving look for even bringing up such a thing. She had then told him that it was hard enough looking after Goten. That had sparked an unusual reaction from Goku and he asked her in a tone that was only slightly below shouting why Chi Chi bothered to look after her children at all. As soon as the words had left Goku's mouth he had regretted them, but when he tried to apologize, Chi Chi had coldly shut him out.
He usually said yes to Goten's requests, but it was too close to dinner for him to be out and about. Heaven forbid if someone held up a meal in their home. "Check the time, son. It's almost five." Goten's face fell, but he didn't bother to whine about the unfairness of their strict dinner time. He had learned long ago that protesting his mother's scheduling was useless.
"Well, can I go over there after dinner?" he asked.
They entered the building, greeting the twin sisters from the fifth floor who were sitting on the stoop before they did so. Very few of the apartment buildings had elevators as the Solaran government had deemed them wastes of energy. While it made things difficult for those moving in or out of the building (and for the elderly who couldn't get apartments on the lower floors) it did give you a good work-out. Goku and Goten raced each other up the stairs to the third floor and Goku, as usual, allowed his son to win. Goten pumped his fists in the air in triumph, knowing full well what his father had done but enjoying his victory anyway, and entered their home.
"Kaasan we're home!" he called, automatically toeing his shoes off at the front door. When he received no answer, he shrugged and threw himself onto the sofa. "Maybe she went to the store."
"Maybe," Goku said. But it wasn't likely. Chi Chi loved schedules and loved sticking to them. Her shopping was done in the morning on a weekday when the local grocery store wasn't crowded. For her to be shopping in the evening after all of the kids had been released for school and after a lot of people were heading home from work was highly unusual.
The sound of footsteps on the wooden floor of the back hallway caused Goku to abandon his thoughts. Gohan stood there, a fragile look on his fifteen-year-old face that tore at Goku's heart. There was a piece of paper clutched in the hand he offered to his father.
No one moved or said a word. Not even Goten (who really wanted to know what was going on). Then Gohan's control faltered and tears began sliding down his cheeks. "She's gone," he said. "Okaasan's gone."
 = informal version of "father"
 = informal version of "mother"