PART 21: The Calm Before the Storm 

        Another day in Satan City.  A beautiful Monday morning.  Goten whistled as he headed towards Capsule Corp to visit Trunks.  He was really in mood to hang with his best buddy, and he knew Trunks would be home, since it was Monday and Trunks hated Mondays with a passion.  He rang the doorbell and hummed to himself, waiting for it to open. 
        Vegeta happened to pass by the door, so he answered it. 
        "O-ha-yo!  Vegeta-jisan!" Goten smiled widely but didn't realize that doing that irritated Vegeta all the more because he looked so like Goku. 
        Vegeta gritted his teeth. "What do you want?" 
        "Um…I just wanted to see Trunks…you know, if he's in…" 
        "He's not here!" 
        "Oh?  Okay, where is he?" 
        "He's…" Vegeta struggled for the word. "He's EVERYWHERE." 
        "Hehehe…you're very funny, Vegeta-jisan." Goten forced a smile. "Um, but can I know where he is?  I 
have something very important to talk--" 
        "Go talk to a wall!" And Vegeta slammed the door. 
        Goten stared at the door for a moment, then decided to fly over to Trunks' room if he couldn't go through the house.  Before he reached Trunks' room, he passed a big window and he looked in curiously.  He immediately felt like a Peeping Tom, for it turned out the window belonged to Bra and she was brushing her hair with only a towel wrapped around her. 
        He felt himself catch his breath and he began flushing.  He shook his head. "No!" He smacked his forehead and flew over to Trunks' room.  He tapped on the window. 
        "Goten?" Trunks stood up and opened the window. "Why didn't you come through the door?" 
        "I tried to, but your dad slammed the door in my face." 
        "He did?" 
        Goten nodded. 
        "Wow, he must still be mad about Saturday." 
        "What do you mean?" 
        "You know, the night you sent Bra home?  Okasan said he was really upset about it for some reason." 
        "Hmm.  Well, I've got something important to talk to you about, so--" 
        Marron stepped into Trunks' room carrying some books at that moment. "Trunks, Bra wanted you to…oh, hi, 
        "MARRON?" Goten looked at Trunks. "What is she doing here?" 
        "She stayed for  the night." 
        "YOU GUYS SLEPT TOGETHER?" Goten exclaimed. 
        "NO!" Trunks and Marron yelled back, both blushing furiously.  Trunks suddenly had an urge to murder his 
best friend and Marron just reached over and walloped him across the face. 
        "Geez, sorry!" Goten ducked. "Boy, sen-si-TIVE!  ANYWAY, I have something I need to talk to you about…?" 
        "Oh, yeah.  What is it?" Trunks asked. 
        "Well, I don't want to say all at once.  But right now, I just need to borrow some money from you, 
        "Money?  Why?" 
        Goten trembled a little. "Well, it's kinda humiliating…but I really need it…" He looked at Marron. "Since you're here, maybe you could help me, too…" 
        Marron and Trunks looked at each other, then back at him. "Help you with WHAT?" they asked together. 
        "It's a surprise." He winked.  Trunks was confused but Marron even more so.  She looked at Goten closely.  Was he…BLUSHING? "This afternoon. Downtown.  And I'll tell you everything I'm planning." 
        Marron stared at him. "Well, can we bring Bra-chan, too?" 
        "Su-sure!  Why not?" 
        "Okay, then.  I'll go get her right now." And she left. 
        The guys stood in silence for a while.  Then, "SO, what did you guys do last night?" Goten smiled wickedly. 
        Trunks frowned. "What do you mean?" 
        "You and Marron, baka!" 
        "Bra just invited her to spend that night, THAT'S ALL." 
        "Baka," Trunks muttered. 
        "I already said that." Goten sighed. "Okay, just tell me when you're finally gonna get married, although I think we'll both be old and decrepit by the time that---AHH! OW! OW! OW!  Stop it, STOP IT!" 
        "Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!" Trunks yelled, hitting Goten perhaps just a bit harder than was necessary. 

        "What?  We're going where?" 
        "I dunno.  Goten just said---" 
        "Wait.  Goten's here?" 
        "Yes.  He's in Trunks' room right now…" 
        "NOW?" Bra's face turned bright red, then pale, then red again. "Marron, I'm scared…" 
        "Oh, c'mon Bra!  You can do this!  It's not like he'll be able to find out just be looking at you!" 
        "You're right." Bra took a deep breath. "You're right.  I'll just act…normal." She closed her eyes. "BUT WHAT DO I DO IF IT'S OBVIOUS?" 
        "Bra, relax, chill out!  Everything is going to be okay!  Trust me!" 
        "Yeah, I know, I know.  You're totally and completely right.  I need to just GO in there and greet him like any other day." She stood up.  Her eyes were shining with confidence. 
        "That's the spirit!" Marron cheered. 
        Bra stood straight up and walked proudly to her brother's room.  She would not tremble.  She would not stutter.  If she did, she vowed she would hang herself.  Luckily, the door was open and she could hear Goten and Trunks talking before she even stepped in. 
        "Hey, Trunks, can I borrow one of your fancy shirts?" 
        "Sure, go ahead, feel free to ruin one," Trunks muttered. 
        Just then, Bra pushed the door open and her mouth dropped.  After a couple of minutes, she finally got the presence of mind to realize she was staring at Goten's bare, muscular body.  He had taken off his shirt, but hadn't got Trunks' on yet when she stepped in. 
        He finally noticed Bra standing there. "Oh, B-chan!  Hey!" 
        Bra was so shocked that she didn't even blink.  Her mind went blank and everything around her went dark.  Instead of replying, Bra ran back to her room and slammed the door behind her.  Goten blinked in confusion. "Uh, Trunks? What's with your sister?" 
        "Hmph.  You tell me!" 

        As they drove downtown, Trunks got impatient. "So where are we going?" he demanded. 
        "Just to a jewelry store…" 
        "Nani?  What are you going to do in a jewelry store?" 
        "You'll see," Goten said with a mysterious smile. 
        Marron and Bra were sitting in the backseat of the car, silent.  One was too shy to speak, the other kept wondering to herself why on Chikyuu Goten would want to go to a jewelry shop.  Then Marron's eyes widened 
and she went pale. "Oh, no," she breathed as she suddenly figured it out. 
        "So here we are!" Goten stepped out and walked straight into the shop.  Trunks followed and Bra was about to step in when Marron grabbed her by the arm. 
        "What's wrong, Marron?" 
        "Bra, please trust me and don't go in there…I'm not going to, you shouldn't…" 
        "What?  Why?" 
        "Please believe me…all I know it's going to break my heart so badly that I think I'm going to go home and 
cry in my bed for five days." 
        "Marron, I don't understand." 
        She shook her head and stepped in, ignoring Marron. 

        She heard Marron call after her, but ignored her as she walked over to Trunks and Goten.  They were in front of the ring section.  Diamond rings were everywhere.  All of them were expensive.  Bra grew more and more curious.  The two guys were discussing something and looking at every ring.   Bra went closer 
so she could hear what they were talking about. 
        "So when are you going to ask her?" Trunks asked. 
        "Well, hopefully tomorrow." 
        "Tomorrow?" Trunks exclaimed. 
        "Yeah." Goten blushed. "I think tomorrow will be the best day to propose to her…" 

        When Bra heard this, she felt like her heart had been pulled right out of her and torn into a million pieces.  The pain was so sharp, she thought for an instant that she wouldn't be able to stand it.  She couldn't believe what she had just heard.  She bit her lip fiercely, hoping the pain of that would distract her.  She tasted blood.  It didn't matter.  She 
couldn't cry.  Especially not in front of Goten.  She just stood behind them, her face getting paler and paler.  She understood now why Marron had told her not to come in.  And her friend was telling the truth.  Her heart was broken. 

        For Goten was going to propose to Paris. 

        "Bra, are you okay…?" 
        "Huh? Oh, oh, yes.  I'm just peachy.  I'm great.  Fabulous.  Don't worry about me." 
        "I'm so sorry," Marron whispered. 
        "Sorry? Oh, what for?" Bra chuckled. "I'll be fine! Really!" 
        "You're sure?" 
        "Of course I'm sure!" 
        "Well…if you say so…" Marron stood up. "I better get going…I still have a lot of unpacking to do…You call me if there's any problems, okay?" 
        "Well, sure, but there aren't going to be any problems.  Not one." 

        Marron looked at her friend, suppressed pain deep in her eyes, overly bright smile on her face. "Bye, Bra-chan…" Marron left and closed the door slowly. 
        As Bra sat alone in her big, empty room, she realized she felt cold.  She was shivering, hugging herself, and then she felt tears streaming down her face.  She knew she couldn't keep up the act anymore.  She just had to let it out.  Covering her face with her hands, she sobbed  and sobbed.  How she had wanted to tell him…but it was too late.  From what she had learned, there was no hope for her anymore.  As if there ever was.  She had also learned something else that day… 
        How fragile the heart really is. 


"Automatic" by Utada Hikaru