Although Sharpener and Gohan both sat at the bar filled with patrons, they were still in their own pool of reality. Neither moved from the long bar, both preferring to chat amongst themselves oblivious to other patrons pushing by them.

"So," Gohan said, rattling the ice in his glass as he swirled it in his fingers. "You seem to be pretty studious all of a sudden. Why the change in heart?"

"Erasa," he confessed. Gohan noticed the faint rose tinge creeping over his pale skin. It was a curious sight to see the tough guy exhibit such a gentle disposition.

"Don't tell me. She made you dinner the last couple of nights, and sent you cookies by sneaking them into your locker?" Gohan chuckled.

"Wait a minute, she did that to you?" Sharpener blinked, his mouth gaping.

"Yep. That's her style. She figures the way to a boy's heart is through the stomach. Like my mom does," Gohan chuckled. Immediately another diet capsule cola tapped down on the bar, while the empty glass was plucked from its place. Condensation wet his fingers, and the bubbles of the soda fizzled into his face when he tipped another mouthful over his lips. His sensitive nose twitched rabbit-like.

"Another beer, sir?" the barkeep asked, startling Sharpener out of the faraway daze. He gripped the edge of his stool hard to keep himself from toppling off, but it swayed dangerously back. Fortunately, Gohan leaned forward and seized the chair to stop it from spilling his friend on the dirty floor.

"Oh yeah, sure," Sharpener nodded, glancing embarrassed at a concerned Gohan.

"You all right? You seemed out in space there," Gohan chuckled.

Sharpener steadied himself with both hands gripping the bar edge. Fishing in his pocket, he pulled out his wallet. Gohan noticed the new picture of him and Erasa tucked into the photo part, along with the edge of a few hundred Zenni, and a brightly colored wrapper he recognized. The Raincoat brand, naturally, and Gohan found it was his turn to blush because of the thoughts of him and Videl pixelating in his mind suddenly.

"It's catching, bookworm," Sharpener teased, glad that he hadn't had a nasty fall.

"You're one to talk. I'm glad you two got together," Gohan smiled, watching Sharpener pick up his glass of beer. He licked the foam from his lips, then swung his wrist around and shook his sleeve aside to reveal the gold watch. For a second he consulted it.

"The girls should be back by now, don't you think?" he said with some concern.

Gohan nodded, also glancing at his timepiece. Originally, he had worn a modest watch with a leather band. It had been a gift from his grandfather Ox King, and he had already replaced the battery five times, and the band itself twice from constant use. In comparison to Sharpener's it seemed very plain, but it suited Gohan fine. However, Bulma had since given him one made of stainless steel with nickel finish. It bore the Capsule brand, and contained his great Saiyaman getup. Now sporting this watch, he felt a bit more 'in with the in crowd', though he did miss that other favorite one.

"Huh, what's that on the news?" asked Sharpener, tugging Gohan's sleeve. Annoyed at himself for not noticing, Gohan glanced up. His eyes widened at the sight of ZTV news reporters at a nearby mall. Mr. Satan's limo was being blocked by what appeared to be a mob of people brandishing signs.

"Today in the entertainment news, our own hero Mr. Satan, who saved us from certain danger many times, was at a book signing cut off prematurely by overzealous fans. A strange dark haired woman was seen climbing into his limo as he departed for urgent business elsewhere. However paparazzi snapped pictures of the same mysterious woman climbing out of his limo at the Satan City mall."

"Who's that lady getting out of the limo?" asked Sharpener.

"Oh no... I can't believe it," groaned Gohan.

It was none other than his own mother, Chichi, wearing rather nice clothing with her hair done up in its distinctive do. Biting his lip, he felt his own back muscles tense up just wishing he could hide. Fortunately, the shot was too brief as the woman disappeared into the front doors of the main department store.

"Her identity is being withheld, according to this press release from Mr. Satan. He reassures that everyone will receive an autographed copy of his book for their trouble." The reporter behind the front desk finished. "In other news..."

Bar patrons murmured, jabbing one another in the ribs or whispering among themselves. Gohan shrank down in his stool, wondering if there were eyes upon him or if he was just too paranoid.

"Oh no, I can't believe it. What was she doing there?" Gohan groaned a hand to his forehead.

"What's wrong, Gohan? You look like you saw a ghost."

"I'm just worried€¦ for Mr. Satan that's all. I mean there are some crazy nut jobs out there," laughed Gohan uncomfortably.

"Maybe the Great Saiyaman might protect him eh?" asked Sharpener with a witty grin.

Gohan spewed soda over his pants, coughing spasmodically. Sharpener whacked him on the back, shoving napkins into his face. He realized that he had best stop mentioning the news broadcast to keep Gohan from throwing fits. Whatever had spooked him Sharpener wasn't sure. Yet he knew better then to press his friend. Videl would never forgive him if he were the cause of Gohan choking to death.

Both were relieved to see the hostess leading their dates through the bustling entrance. Slapping Gohan on the back, he urged, "C'mon, the girls are here!"

"Thank Dende," Gohan sighed with relief, internally grateful for the timing.

Minutes before the two teens saw the disturbing news program, by tugging on Erasa's arm, Videl had attempted to budge her out of the nearest clothing store. Already from consulting her watch she saw they were gone a full hour. Surely, by then the restaurant would have a table ready for them. Erasa's squeak of protest vanished with Videl's urgent pressure on her wrist. Next to her Erasa almost dropped the two minidresses she had been grasping by the hangars.

"But I can't decide if green or pink is better!" she had moaned.

"Have 'em hold it!" Videl suggested, dragging her towards checkout. "Now let's go!"

A quick glance to the clerk behind the cash register was answered with a nod. Followed up by a swish of garments on the counter, she waved at Videl and her friend. Fortunately, the Satan name and likeness created very favorable conditions for being in a hurry. Word had gotten around that Videl Satan herself was shopping, and everyone had been most polite and helpful.

"Hurry up!" laughed Videl, urging her friend Erasa ever faster after her. "You don't want to keep two hungry men waiting?"

"Well one of them probably isn't THAT hungry after he found the surprise in his locker," Erasa confessed. Videl screeched to a stop, causing Erasa to collide with her back. Both ladies almost toppled to the floor had they not grabbed onto one another to steady themselves.

"Whoa wait... what does that mean?" Videl asked, blue eyes gleaming with something between suspicion and anticipation.

"I was talking about sharpener," Erasa innocently confessed. "You know... he loves oatmeal raisin cookies!"

"Oh of course, what was I thinking?" Videl burst out laughing. Her mind cleared of whatever insane thought filled it. For a split second, she wondered if Erasa was teasing her about her own relationship. Fat chance considering Erasa's sense of humor bordered more on teasing anecdotes then irony or sarcasm.

They entered the restaurant together, carrying their purchases so far. Whatever ones they had left with the clerk at the boutique they would retrieve later. For now, they prevailed upon the hostess to place their purchases behind the desk. Once they entered the bar, they noticed Sharpener waving vigorously to them.

Both groups rendezvoused with a series of hugs and quick kisses before following their server through the forest of tables to a secluded booth. Windows overlooked a vista of Satan City gleaming in the orangy red of twilight. Gohan remembered having seen it from the perspective of the tallest tower while perfecting his Great Saiyaman shtick. How ordinary and how refreshing to behold it from a restaurant table sliding in next to his girlfriend.

"Now, what will it be folks?" asked the server, whose nametag bore the name Mark. "Shall I give you a few minutes?"

"White wine for me," Videl requested. "And another Capsule diet cola for Gohan?"

"That's right," Gohan nodded, flashing Videl a smile. The fact that she knew his preference so well added to the warmth and familiarity he now experienced. He could now call it contentment.

"A beer for me and a light beer for the lovely lady next to me," Sharpener said, curling his arm around a giggling Erasa. He had to admit he regretted not doing this sooner, so he wanted to avail himself of every opportunity from now on to get close to her. Minutes of mundane yet relaxing conversation passed among the two couples, during which Erasa and Videl updated the young men on their recent purchases.

All the while Gohan pulled Videl closer to him so he could hold onto the fleeting moments of comfort. Any moment now, he guessed sharpener would bring up the embarrassing footage of Chichi and Mr. Satan on the ZTV news, so he wanted to ready himself for the fallout. To his delight, Sharpener said nothing. Their server arrived shortly afterwards with his drink laden tray, reaching among each to pass the beverages around to their respective clientele.

"Ready for dinner, or should I give you all a few minutes alone?" Mark winked.

"I'm starving," Gohan announced. "I don't know about you, but I'm ready to order now."

"I'm with you there, man," Sharpener chorused. "What will it be, sweetie? This garden salad medley looks good?"

"Oh yes, I want the ambrosia salad first, and your chicken Cesar!" Erasa cooed happily.

"The garden salad and steak special looks good for me. How about you, kiddies?" Sharpener teasingly asked the other couple.

"Watch it, Sharpener. You're only a few months older then we are!" Videl shot him a good-natured glare.

"I think the steak looks good. I'll have three orders, if that's all right?" Gohan asked before looking at Videl.

"He's not kidding, he's in training," Sharpener interrupted.

"Okay sure," Mark blinked.

"Salmon with the sides for me, Mark, and antipasti," Videl smiled sweetly. "And don't worry."

"No problems Miss Satan, whatever you like," Mark whispered shielded by his hand.

Though miffed to be reminded of her celebrity status, Videl let it go in favor of enjoying a nice night out with her boyfriend and friends. It was difficult to go anywhere in Satan City without someone recognizing her, so she might as well make use of it.

Food was brought and consumed while the four youths watched the setting sun amidst the twinkling lights of the skyline. That night the world beckoned with open arms, and the possibility of a bright future unfolding before them. Nothing seemed beyond reality with his woman curled up next to him. Gohan lost himself in the pleasures of food and company, simply blending into the world around him.

Videl's trilling cell phone interrupted Sharpener's latest joke. Gohan whispered, "Just ignore it Videl. They can call back."

"Live a little, will you?" Erasa pouted.

"I'm sorry I have to take this. If it's Daddy, he will freak if I don't call in," Videl said.

Casting apologies to all of her friends, she retrieved the device from her purse to check the call number. Judging from the look on her face the three classmates knew the answer. Gohan slid out of the booth to allow her to climb out and find a private corner to speak to her father alone. Watching her retreating figure, Gohan's mind spun back to the news broadcast.

"You okay, Gohan?" Erasa waved a hand in front of his face.

"I'm fine. I just... well it just reminded me we're still young," Gohan commented, his eyes dark with disappointment.

"I know it blows huh," Sharpener said, glancing at his cell phone that he held in one hand. "Mom goes ballistic when I don't call in. Parents are always going to pull the cord a bit before they let us go."

"But earlier you were saying that you told mom you should 'cut the umbilical cord," Erasa started.

"Doesn't matter," Sharpener complained. Erasa leaned her head against his chest and patted his back.

"That's true where my mom's concerned. A few days ago she dragged Dad and me over to Videl's house and declared we were engaged," Gohan said.

"Say what?" blinked Sharpener.

"Whoops, I wasn't supposed to say anything about that," Gohan blushed, clapping hands over his mouth. "It's not LIKE what it sounds like!"

"Ho, so you're going to pop the question?" Sharpener glared at him.

"I mean not RIGHT AWAY I..."

"You haven't set a date yet, right? I'm so excited! This is so sweet!" Erasa half squealed.

"SHH, not so loud!" Gohan begged, his teeth chattering.

"So what did Videl's dad say to all this?" Sharpener wondered, cutting off a piece of steak before thrusting it into his mouth.

"Well, my mom can be pretty pushy. Videl and I finally wanted to talk to Mr. Satan alone. We've decided we're going to wait after college to get married. I mean we don't even know we're going to the same school," Gohan confessed.

"But you said you'd go to Satan City U with the rest of us?" Erasa asked.

"Get real, if he gets accepted into Western College with that brain of his, he'll take it," Sharpener scolded back. "Won't you?"

"Mom wants me to live at home. But I don't think I want to,” Gohan whispered.

"Your mom seems pretty protective," Erasa nodded. "I wouldn't blame you for wanting to move out!"

"I'd say get an apartment with Videl and get married in secret. There are places you can get a certificate fast," said Sharpener.

"But I can't do that! Mom will be even more upset if she doesn't have a say in planning the wedding," said Gohan. "I'm her oldest son. She's got to make a big deal over it or else I'll regret it forever!"

"Wow, she's got you by the balls," Sharpener shook his head.

"You don't want to get my mom mad, trust me," Gohan started. "She's one hell of a woman to see angry. When dad or I get wind of it, we duck and cover."

"Seems like the lady needs anger management classes?" Erasa wondered.

"No, just a room filled with unbreakable objects," Gohan teased. "No, she means well. It means she cares. She loves Videl, and wants us to get married sooner rather than later!"

"Well, that's good right? I mean if she accepts Videl," Erasa asked.

"What it means is that he wants to enjoy his freedom before he gets hitched, sweetie," Sharpener corrected. "Right Gohan?"

"Yes, but I want Videl there too. To be a part of it," Gohan affirmed. Sharpener moved his plate to the side and leaned over the table to bring himself closer to Gohan. He too bent over to hear what Sharpener was saying in a lower tone.

"Then go get her a ring, you poor dummy," Sharpener whispered. "Make a promise to her and a date for two years from now. She's your fiancée, so use that to buy yourself some time."

"I don't want to string her along!" Gohan hissed back.

"Guys, she's coming back?" Erasa interrupted. Both men quickly sat down once more and brushed their shirts off. Neither wanted to cause a scene.

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The End...Maybe?
StarbearerTM is the author of 1 other stories.

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