Part 33: Trouble!

        Pan glanced at her watch.  Five p.m.?  Where does the time go? They've been in the mall for at least four
hours!  At least they'd gotten all their shopping taken care of.  Glad we're done! she thought.  She was tired and hungry and couldn't wait to get home.  Her Saiyajin tummy grumbled while her feet cried in pain. 
        She would have walked faster if not for those two.
        Those two.
        Pan turned her head and looked behind her.  There was her uncle and there was her best friend, and there they were walking side by side, even closer than ever.  They were talking and laughing and…Pan suddenly felt sick, thinking that her uncle might fall in love…with…with her so-called-best-friend, who was eleven years younger than he was!  It just wasn't right.  Marron would have been better.  Bra?  No way.  An aunt two years older than she was?  Pan shook her head.  It would be impossible.  They couldn't…falling in love.

        Could they?

        She remembered that just an hour ago, she had caught Bra holding hands with her twenty-seven year old uncle
in an empty bookstore.  Both had looked sad, although Bra had looked a little nervous and had been blushing furiously.  And when Goten had responded…she had relaxed completely and looked totally secure.  Pan knew Bra had been happy he responded. 
        Well, weird things happened.  Her best friend had fallen for her uncle.  The only question was, did he share Bra's feelings?  Pan decided to ask him at home. She didn't want to disturb the lovebirds.
        Pan was so absorbed in her thoughts that she bumped into someone.

        "Hey!" the guy yelled. "Watch were you're go--SON PAN?"
        Pan smirked.  It's so nice to be famous. "I'm sorry," she apologized, "and yes, Son Pan is my name.  You are?"
        "Oh wow!  This is so cool!  My name is Kaede!  I'm your grandfather's BIGGEST fan!" he told her excitedly.
        "Oh.  You mean Satan-ojiichan."
        "Yeah!  He's so totally awesome!"
        Pan snorted.
        "Hey, can you do me a?"
        Pan blinked as he left his sentence hanging.  She suddenly noticed that the guy was actually looking at
someone behind her.  Ah.  He must be one of Bra's friends from school.
        "Oh, hey there, baby, what are you doing here?"
        Not a very polite greeting.  Kaede smiled slyly, completely forgetting about Pan and staring at Bra.
        Bra glared at him and looked away, ignoring his evil grins and leers.
        "Aww, baby, come on.  Don't tell me you're still mad at me?"
        Goten stared at Kaede's face.  He didn't like the guy.  He looked at Bra and could see that Bra didn't like him either.  She was slowly backing away from him.
        "Won't you EVER forgive me, Bra, baby?" Kaede gave her a pleading look and walked closer towards her.  He reached out for her shoulder but she jerked it out of his reach.
        "Back off!" she yelled.
        Being the jerk he always was, he ignored her words and continued to advance until a much taller guy blocked his path.
        "Keep your distance, buddy," Goten warned solemnly.
        Bra blushed as Goten stepped in front of her, defending her!  Pan rolled her eyes at this melodramatic scene.
        "Ooh, I'm so scared," Kaede mocked after a long pause. "Hey, don't I know you from somewhere?"
        Goten was distracted for a moment. "You do?" And he thought only his niece was famous.
        "You're Son…Gopan.  Isn't that right?"
        "Goten." Famous.  And he can't even get my name right.  Feh!
        "Whatever.  So you're Bra's latest boyfriend, huh?"
        Bra's eyes widened and she looked at Kaede in dismay. Ooh, that JERK!  She wanted to kill him, rip his face off and FEED HIM TO HER FATHER and?well, that wasn't a very good idea.  What she really needed to do was shut
him up before he started talking again.
        "NO!" she suddenly yelled.  She wasn't sure if she really wanted to say that, but she had to say SOMETHING.  Everyone looked at her in surprise. "It's?it's not true," she continued.
        "Bra, baby, don't tell me you were lying?" Kaede exclaimed mockingly.  He really enjoyed watching her squirm.
        "Wait." Goten looked at the younger man. "What are you talking about?"
        "Oh, well, you see…"
        "Shut UP Kaede!" Bra cut in, trying to stop him, but to no avail.
        "She told me and all her friends that…"
        "I said, SHUT UP!" Bra gritted her teeth and raised her hand to slap him, but Goten grabbed it and held it tightly.  He wanted to know what was going on.
        "Announced what?" he asked.
        "Well…" Kaede shrugged and smirked at Bra. "She told us that she had met a guy who was taller than me, and smarter than me, and so on and so on…he's just all-around better than me in EVERYTHING!"
        "Bra, baby, takes one to know one.  I'm just telling this guy what he wants to know.  Anyway, she told us that this boyfriend of hers was one SON GOTEN!" Kaede pointed. "Namely, YOU!"
        "I'm…what?" Goten choked out.  He didn't even notice Bra pulling on his arm.
        "Goten, let's go!  I don't want?"
        "Wait a minute." Kaede looked at Goten for a minute. "You didn't know a thing about this, did you?"
        Kaede smacked his forehead. "Well!  Isn't THIS interesting?"
        Bra had never been so humiliated in her whole life.  And for it to happen in front of Goten…She couldn't move.  She'd thought today would be the best day of her life, but it turned out to be the worst.  Why did she have to meet up with Kaede?  He's spoiled everything!  She bit her lip and tried to hold back her tears.
        "Bra, Bra, Bra.  You DO know how INCREDIBLY lame that was?"
        Bra glared at him with her best poison-dart look.  Her heart was beating at about a million beats a second.  Her face was flushed with pure shame.  And he had won.
        "You were BLUFFING.  You lied to EVERYONE at our school."
        Bra covered her ears and shook her head. "Not true," she whispered. "All lies…"
        Kaede smirked as he looked back at Goten. Pan was standing close enough to hear everything. "Well!  Can you believe that?  She USED your name, just to keep her social standing!  Unbelievable!  She used you…just to keep herself from being embarrassed."
        Goten stared at Bra.  Her head was bent and she was saying something too soft for him to hear.  She shook her head non-stop.
        "Which school do you go to?" Kaede asked Goten.
        "I've graduated already…"
        "HOW old are you?"
        "WHOA!" Kaede exclaimed and let out a whistle. "Now THIS is interesting." He laughed derisively. "Of all
the guys to choose from, you pick this OLD MAN?  You better watch out, GOPAN, I think she likes you." Goten was not happy to hear that.
        "Lies…" Bra stammered.
        "B-chan." Goten spoke to her. "Is this true?  You're who I believe."
        "IT'S TRUE!" Kaede yelled. "SHE LIED JUST TO?"
        "He wasn't talking to you," Pan interrupted. "So why don't you SHUT UP!"

        Goten lowered his head so he could see her. Her face was pale and her eyes were shut, trying to keep the tears from spilling onto the floor.
        "B-chan," he said, softer than the first time. "Is it true…"
        "NO!" Bra yelled. "IT'S NOT TRUE!"
        "Oh, Bra, baby, you know you can't hide it anymore." Kaede laughed at her. "After all…"
        "YOU!" She pointed at him. "YOU?BASTARD!" Bra slapped him across the face so hard he bashed into a tree and fell to the ground, completely knocked out.  The jerk.

 Serves him right.

        "Whoa!  Bra-chan!  Bra!  Calm down!" Pan yelled, running over to her friend and pulling on her arm.
        Bra jerked away and looked at Pan…then at Goten, who was still standing there, motionless.  A sob escaped her lips, then tears came pouring down her face…This can't be happening, she thought.
        "Bra…are you…okay?"
         "NO!  I'm not 'okay'!"
        Pan froze.  Bra couldn't help it anymore.  She was angry, ashamed, disappointed, hurt…she was just as Kaede had said: lame.
        And there was no hope.
        "Gomen nasai…" she blurted out and turned and ran away, leaving Pan and Goten way behind.  Her tears blurred her vision until she couldn't see where she was going.  She stopped for a moment and wiped her eyes.
        Then she flew, heading for home.

        "Bra!" Pan yelled, but Bra was too far away to hear.  Pan was about to take off, too, when she noticed her uncle was still standing there, stunned. "OJICHAN BAKA!" she yelled at him. "Aren't you going to stop her?"
        "What for?"
        "After she's humiliated me…used my NAME to impress a bunch of lousy high school kids!?"
        Pan rolled her eyes. "According to what I heard, Goten-ojichan, she was just DEFENDING herself."
        "Using MY name?" he demanded.
        "YES!  Because YOU'RE the one who's been stuck in her head all the time!  You're the one guy friend she can use to keep herself safe from jerks like Kaede!  Who else would she use, TRUNKS?"
        "Wait…stuck in her head?  What do you mean?"
        Pan felt a sudden urge to hit her head against a hard object. "SHE LIKES YOU!"
        Goten's eyes widened. "Nani?"
        "Can't you SEE?  DIDN'T you REALIZE it?  The way she reacted back in the bookstore!  DUH!  How could you be
so blind!  She ASKED YOU OUT!  How can you not realize…SHE HAS FEELINGS FOR YOU!"
        "But…Pan, how can you tell?"
        Pan couldn't help laughing a little. "She's my best friend, Ojichan.  Of course I can read her like a book.  What I don't understand is how you can be so?"
        Without another word, Goten turned and took off.

        He was looking for Bra.

        Flying through the air, she wasn't quite sure where she was headed.  It didn't matter, though.  She let
all her tears stream down her cheeks.  What was the point in trying to keep them suppressed?
        She knew she had no hope.
        After all that happened, Goten wouldn't want to see or talk to her again, let alone return her feelings.  Why had she been so foolish?  Why had she used him to keep her pride?
        And why did she have to fall in love with him…?
        Bra shook her head and sped off.
        "B-chan!  B-chan, WAIT!"
        She cursed under her breath.  He must have tracked her ki.  And Goten was much faster than she was…it would be no problem for him to catch up.  And then he was right behind her, still calling her name. She ignored him and kept going.
        Goten's eyes narrowed and he put on a burst of speed and caught Bra by the arm.
        "Let…me…GO!" Bra tried to jerk away, but he was too strong.  She had to settle for glaring murderously at him.
        "NO!  We have to talk!"
        Bra still struggled to get away. "Goten…you're hurting me…and that's ALL I have to say to you."
        He loosened his grip, but didn't let go fully. "B-chan…I need you to tell me the truth."
        "FINE!  IT'S THE TRUTH!" she yelled. "I USED your name just to keep from being embarrassed.  Okay?  I'm guilty!  Are you happy now?"
        Goten looked at her for a long moment, then shook his head. "No…sorry.  I need you to tell me…"
        "There's NOTHING ELSE to tell, Goten!  He asked me out, I said no because I had a boyfriend and I said HE WAS YOU!  That's all there is to it!"
        Goten silenced her and looked her straight in the eyes and held her by the shoulders. "I need you to tell me…if it's true…that you have…feelings…for me…"
        Bra wilted like a flower in the sun too long. How does he know?
        So there they were, hundreds of feet above the ground.  In complete silence.  Bra began shivering.  She was  speechless.  She was ashamed.  She was cold.
        Goten's grip on her shoulders tightened slightly, as if he sensed her sudden urge to flee.  He was waiting…for the truth.
        "Goten, I need to get home now," she said without looking at him. "Let me go."
        "Answer me, Bra…please."
        Slowly, Bra nodded and pushed his hands away.  She tilted her head up and tried to speak, but nothing came out.  Warm tears began flowing down her cheek again. "I…I…"
        Goten waited, watching her steadily.
        Bra suddenly realized how pointless it was to keep everything to herself now. She's going to confess, and she's going to do it right now.  While they were both on top or the world, alone.  She wiped the tears away so she could see the man standing in front of her and smiled.  A small smile, but a smile.
        "Goten-kun," she said softly. "When I was a little girl, I had a major crush on you."
        Goten was startled by the bluntness of her statement and felt himself begin to burn inside.
        Bra took a deep breath and continued. "And now, Goten-kun, I've realized that I still do." She closed her eyes and felt the tears well up again.
        She turned away. "Just forget it, Goten-kun.  You wanted the truth, and you got it.  I didn't say it would be a nice, happy one." She started to fly away, but turned back for one last glimpse at his face. "Ja neh, Goten."

        Then she took off.

        "Goten-ojichan!  Here you are!" Pan leaned against a wall, breathing heavily. "So what hap?"
        "Pan, go home."
        "Nani?" She raised her eyebrows. "But?but…" 
        "Go now." He looked at her. "And tell your grandmother I'll be late for dinner tonight." Then he sped away.
        "WAIT A MINUTE!  WHERE ARE YOU GOING?" she yelled.

        No answer.

        Pan groaned and began grumbling under her breath as she flew towards home. "Well, this is just great.  What am I gonna tell them? 'Oh, yeah, Obaasan, I had a great time at the mall.  Where's Goten?  Oh, Bra told him she loved him and he ditched me.  He might be late for dinner.  Well, I'll go wash up now'?"

        From high above, he looked down at the wide blue sea until he spotted the small island that was his destination.

        He was heading for Kame House.

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"I For You" by Luna Sea