It has always intrigued me how history sometimes seems to repeat itself. How sometimes, strangely, you can be so completely unaware of your surroundings until a single moment in time - one brief, flashing moment where you suddenly recognize the familiarity of the situation at hand and remember when it last happened.
Well, now is one of those times.
I look at my daughter as she walks through the front door and I see myself in her - she has my smile, my hair, and my facial features. Even in personality she is me all over again, but when I hug her when she gets into the kitchen and I look into her face, she stares back and smiles at me with the same sparkling blue eyes that I fell in love with as a child.
She claims that after the Nakazawa boy broke up with her, she is heartbroken. The look on her face does its best to convince me so, but I shake my head and smile at her sadly, bittersweet memories flashing in my eyes.
She doesn't know what real heartbreak is.
And at these moments, as I watch her defiantly climb the stairs to her room, I feel a great swell of pride deep in my heart. She is so much like me.
A moment later, when my mate strolls in the room, I am already lost in memories of the past, and I remember, with a faint smile gracing my lips, how this all came to be ...
I had always been told that Grandpa was a great man - that he was the most powerful, as well as the most selfless, being in the universe. This is how I grew up - hanging onto every word of those stories, stories where Grandpa Goku, Vejita, Dad, Trunks, and Uncle Goten were the heroes. I idolized them, the heroes who defeated Majin Buu, Cell, and Frieza, and I threw myself into my training, hoping that someday I would be able to fight alongside them.
That dream, at least, came true.
Upon my return from space, I felt as if I were complete all except for one thing - the romantic aspect of my life, sadly, was nonexistent. Contrary to the beliefs of my mother and grandmother, I did know why. I was feisty, never gave up, was stubborn almost to a fault, loyal, and smart. Not to mention I could kick ass better than any human on this planet, and quite frankly, that scared most guys away.
But that wasn't all.
I was also in love with my former babysitter, a man fourteen years my senior, and the most unattainable bachelor in the universe.
Don't ask me when it happened or why. I wouldn't be able to tell you. All I knew was that he was more important to me than anyone else was, but I knew that I had no chance with him. Why would I? I was nothing but the tomboy little girl that he used to baby-sit - his best friend, his Pan-chan. I was a child, never a possible candidate for a mate, not when he was always surrounded by willing, beautiful, perfect women who would jump on a chance just to shake his hand. He would never look at me the way I would want him too, the way that I looked at him when no one was watching - with utter devotion and love.
So I never told him. I never told anyone.
But it destroyed me to watch him confess his love to another, to pretend to care when he came to me, ecstatic after just proposing marriage to the woman he claimed was "the love of his life". It tore my heart to pieces to put on a smile and say congratulations when I didn't mean it, when I really wanted to burst out screaming, crying, and go kill the bitch that dared to steal my love.
But I couldn't.
Because he would hate me for it, and because I felt that my life wasn't worth living if he hated me. So I shut in my pain and did what he expected me to do, said what he expected me to say.
But in my head, I had already made a decision that would change my life forever ...
I sat on a tree branch overlooking the front yard of Capsule Corporation, where Bulma was holding a reunion of some sort. This long weekend, all of the Z-senshi had gathered at CC to catch up, as most of us hadn't seen each other for many years. The Briefs, Kuririn, Android 18, Marron, Kame-sennin, Oolong, Yamucha, Puar, Tenshinhan, Chaotzu, Uub, Piccolo, and all of us Sons were there, the majority of us socializing in the courtyard.
Naturally, a few of us weren't.
Piccolo was meditating at the base of the tree I occupied, and Vejita - obviously - was was nowhere to be found. I smirked. The arrogant prince was probably training, and I decided to go join him. After all, he had the right idea. I nimbly jumped off of my branch, landed on the grass and stretched my muscles, then made a beeline for the GR.
"Oi Pan, come over here!"
I saw from the corner of my eye Bura waving at me and smiled brightly. She was standing next to the refreshment stand, close to, I noticed with a mental smirk, the spot where Goten was stuffing his face full.
"Yo," I offered in greeting, trying desperately to hide my amusement at her obvious affection for my uncle. "What's up?"
"Oh, nothing much," she said evasively. I rolled my eyes, but then decided to play along.
"Ah - okay. Well, you're welcome to stay here and continue crushing on Goten, but I think I'm gonna go train with Vejita in the GR."
"Pan!" she replied furiously, her cheeks turning bright red in embarrassment. I simply grinned cheekily in response, then left her stuttering in my wake.
I knocked three times on the door to the GR and waited for Vejita's usual gruff "What the hell do you want" before letting myself in. The gravity automatically shut off, and I started stretching.
"Hey, Vejita. Okay if I spar with you?"
I think he actually looked less disgusted than usual.
"Feh, fine. I could use a good punching bag."
"Not a chance, Vegetable head, I'm gonna pound your ass to the ground," I replied cheekily.
In a burst of ki, I launched myself into a series of back flips not a moment too soon. 'Wow,' I mused, 'He really charged up that Big Bang fast.'
My feet connected with the wall of the chamber and I kicked off hard, throwing myself into an attack of lightning-quick kicks and punches. Vejita took me head on, meeting me blow for blow and getting in more hits than I could count. Shit. And I hadn't even managed to land a single hit yet!
We continued to exchange blows until he felt we were warmed up enough, and then the fun really began.
The thing I loved most about sparring with Vejita was his creativity - he could come up with attacks and moves that I could only dream of being able to imitate. 'That and,' I added to myself as his fist connected squarely with my jaw, 'he never goes easy on me.' Crap. I could taste blood in my mouth.
I had no time to hesitate, however, and decided to take the offensive before he could beat me down any further. Damn, he was fast! He managed to dodge most of my attacks and even countered with his own, sending me flying in desperation out of the way of an especially intense ki blast. Turning around, I noticed too late that he had phased out on top of me, and I just managed to brace myself before he brought his two closed fists down on my head.
Stunned by the powerful blow, I crashed to the ground and grit my teeth, forcing myself to roll out of the way just in time to avoid another ki blast. I stood up, yelled, and powered up, prepared to launch myself back into battle when -
My blood turned to ice. I could recognize that voice anywhere, and by the look on Vejita's face, so did he. Let me tell you something - Bulma Briefs was one scary lady when she wanted to be. So much that I sincerely commended Vejita for having enough courage to marry her.
As if on cue, the door to the GR beeped and slid open to reveal the president of Capsule Corp in a livid rage.
Oh, man ...
If looks could kill ...
"What in the world have you done to Pan-chan? Have you lost your mind? I told you specifically not to train at this party; do you have any idea how important today is? Oh my Dende, look at her, she's bleeding everywhere! What were you thinking when you beat her up like this?" She turned to me and I winced, bracing myself for a verbal onslaught.
"Come on, Pan, let's get you cleaned up," she said calmly. I let out the breath that I didn't know I was holding. "And you," she ordered, pointing at the surly prince, "go take a shower and come out to the courtyard. Your son has an announcement to make."
"Announcement? What announcement?" I asked her, curious.
"Oh, it's the greatest news!" she squealed as she led me out of the GR and into the hallway. "But you should wait until you find out from him, it'll be a bigger surprise if everyone hears together." I raised an eyebrow, now more than a little disconcerted. Bulma sighed dreamily and clapped her hands together. "Finally!" she sighed, delighted. Her eyes went all misty from Dende knows what daydream, and I sauntered off to take a quick shower before going outside.
Why was there an icy feeling of dread that was beginning to settle in my stomach?
Five minutes later I was cleaned up and dressed in fresh clothing, courtesy of Bura. It was a little more form-fitting than I would have liked, but I wasn't against wearing girly clothes once in a while. I wasn't that concerned with what outfit I was wearing at the moment, anyway.
I was more worried about why I felt such a terrible sense of foreboding.
I walked out into the yard - Vejita was already there - and everyone turned to face me. "Good, she's here, now we can start," said Bulma, who was still looking - and this was seriously freaking me out - misty-eyed and dreamy. My heart thumped. What was going on here? And why was Vejita looking at me so... calculatingly?
Trunks was standing in front of everyone, Marron at his side. Seeing this, I suppressed the urge to growl. They had been going steady for a while now, and this bothered me to no end - whatever announcement he wanted to make, she didn't need to be there, clutching onto his arm like some mindless bimbo. I snorted and crossed my arms, brows furrowed. It's not like he needed her help giving a stupid little announcement anyway. She had no reason to be there.
A little voice at the back of my head asked me a question that frightened me. What if she did have a reason to be there?
I started panicking, and I was having a hard time trying to hide it. They had been dating for almost a year now - that wasn't enough time for Trunks to decide to... could he? They'd known each other since they were kids, does that count? What if...? No, he wouldn't do that to me, would he?
'You never told him,' the little voice in my head replied. 'He wouldn't know what he's doing to you.'
I paled, and the deep sense of dread I felt in the pit of my stomach increased.
Oh, Dende, please, no ... anything but this ...
Trunks took a deep breath and smiled shakily. He looked at Marron for support and took her hand in his, intertwining their fingers, and looked forward at the group again. His eyes met mine, and I forced a cold mask onto my face despite the turmoil I felt inside. He looked confused at my blank expression for a moment, then opened his mouth and spoke eight words that changed my life:
Dende, if you're listening, please, stop this ...
"Marron and I have decided to get married."
"No," I whispered. "No."
Author's Note: Just as a side note, Pan is about 19 and Trunks is 33.
Disclaimer: Any and all characters belonging to Dragonball/Z/GT are the legal property of Toriyama Akira and/or FUNimation.