The guestroom hadn't been used in forever, and Trunks flushed a little, watching Kurama finger the old blanket. "We let a lot of people stay here when
this city was attacked, but they all left soon after that. No one really comes around here now, so...I guess I never really thought about keeping the rooms
ready or anything."
"Don't worry," Kurama smiled, jerking the blanket off the bed. The rest of the room was fine, it wasn't dirty at all. Only the cloth had been lying for what he
thought must have been three years at least. "We would be horrible guests if we complained about the accommodations." The lavender-haired youth
didn't look so sure of that, but Kurama's smile seemed to put him a little more at ease. Wadding up the musty cloth, Kurama glanced around at the doors
set into the wall. He though it was probably a closet, nothing they'd need to get into, but his eyes were caught on an odd little square panel in the wall.
Hiei was standing near the small window in the room, and Kurama brushed by him, shooting a quick look at his quiet lover. He was rewarded with a rolling
of red eyes, nothing more. Trunks was watching him from the doorway. "What's this?"
"Oh." Blinking, Trunks gave a quick nod. "That's the laundry shoot. If you put the blankets in there, I'll wash them for tonight." His nose tried to wrinkle at
the thought of doing the laundry, but he wasn't about to complain. It wasn't that he didn't want to do his share of the work, but the washing machine was in
the basement, far too close to Bulma's readily rigged laboratory. The prospect of going down there and interrupting her wasn't pretty. Kurama had
dropped the blanket into the shoot, and Trunks remembered the redhead's soft words earlier. A quick glance found Gohan leaning against the outside of
the doorway. His friend was frowning thoughtfully at the floor. "What's wrong?"
Trunks' pale eyes were filled with wary concern, and Gohan sighed. "I think she knows," he admitted, folding his arms over his chest. "I don't know how
she knows, but she definitely acts like she does."
"I thought as much," Kurama commented, smiling as he peaked around the doorframe at Gohan. "You two aren't very good at hiding. I was wondering if
you really thought she didn't know about you." The younger boy frowned at him, making Kurama's smile widen a bit. "Your mother's a very smart woman."
"She's a scientist," Trunks said, still frowning at the taller youth. His gaze shifted to Gohan, and he shook his head. "She can't know. She'd never have
agreed to let you stay here if she knew."
Glancing between the two, Kurama sighed at their matching frowns. "It sounded to me like she was testing you. But she could have been giving her
"No way," Trunks said, his eyes wide. "She'd *never* support me fighting the androids. She keeps saying I'm too young. If she knew Gohan was training
me, she'd never let me near him." Sniffing as he folded his arms, he scowled. "She'd probably ground me or something."
Gohan shrugged, catching Trunks' eyes. "Maybe she isn't mad because you're *not* fighting the androids yet. Training isn't the same as fighting.
Besides that, she has to realize it's safer if you get trained."
"But she said flat out that I *hadn't* been trained." Remembering the way his mother's eyes had sparkled when she said that, Trunks gave a frustrated
sigh. "Then again, she did have that 'look' when she said it. I don't know *what* to think. If she knows, then we won't have to sneak around, not if she
knows and hasn't forbidden it. But if she's just trying to get us to admit that you're training me..."
The boy groaned, rubbing a hand through his pale hair, and Gohan's lips tugged into a smile. Shaking his head, he threw an arm over Trunks shoulders
with a light squeeze. "Don't get all bent out of shape over it. My mom was a lot worse than yours when it came to fighting. It took *years* before she finally
stopped pulling guilt trips on me."
Sending a pained frown up at his friend, Trunks shook his head. "I don't want to *wait* years for her to let me fight. I'm ready now." A slow smirk caught his
eye, and Trunks blinked, heat rising to his face. "I mean..."
"I know what you mean," Gohan smiled, "you're all fired up. But you're not quite ready to go rushing out after the androids. Your mom and I at least agree
on that point. Just focus on getting stronger and don't worry about her. If she's not going to come out and say anything, then neither will we."
Normally Trunks would have agreed with that bid for patience, but a glance at Kurama's interested expression had him frowning. He folded his arms and
pulled away from Gohan, turning to stare at him. "I probably won't need to get stronger," he said slowly, putting on a small smile that didn't reach his eyes.
"You three can take out the androids without me."
A pout would have been preferable to that faked smile, but Gohan knew Trunks was trying to hide his feelings. His lips curved into a fond smile and he
darted forward. Kurama jerked aside, but he didn't even glance at the redhead. With an arm over Trunks shoulders, he caught the boy and mussed up all
of that silky lavender hair. "Trunks no baka," he muttered, ignoring his friend's furious attempts to get free. "Baka."
"Stop that!" With a muffled wail, Trunks managed to duck out of the hold. His hair was standing in odd little ruffs, and he glared when Gohan stifled a
snicker. "Jeeze, Gohan, do you have to do stuff like that? You make me feel like I'm six or something." The older half-saiyajin grinned at him, and Trunks
batted away the hand that moved to smooth down his hair. Doing it himself, he tried to regain his dignity.
"No," Gohan smirked, patting Trunks' head and receiving a swat for his efforts, "you're not six. But you're still just as cute as ever." Pale blue eyes glared
daggers at him, and he sighed, his smirk easing into a smile. "No one's going to cut you out of this," he said, his voice solemn. "Just because you're not
ready to fight doesn't mean you can't help."
"Sure," Trunks muttered, sarcasm dripping from his tone. "I can be the cheering section." An odd look passed over Gohan's face, and Trunks' eyes
narrowed when the older saiyajin stared at him. "What?"
With a forced laugh, Gohan shook his head. "Nothing. I was just thinking of those cheerleaders we saw on television. You know, the ones with the little
purple and white outfits?" A dark flush flew to the boy's face, and Gohan threw up his hands when Trunks immediately raised his fists in embarrassed
fury. "I just thought you'd look cute with pompoms! No offense!"
Choking for a second, Trunks managed to hold himself back, his face flaming hot. "B-baka! You're more of a an idiot than *me*!"
Out of sympathy for Trunks, Kurama hid his smile behind his hand. He hadn't planned to comment on that little statement, but he caught movement to his
right. Finding Hiei beside him, he raised his eyebrows at the youkai's frown.
"What are pompoms?"
Gohan let out another muffled laugh when Trunks glared at him, but Kurama was happy to explain. "Cheerleaders are people who stand back and cheer
for players in human games. Rather like Keiko, Botan and the others during the tournament. They're usually girls, and they tend to wear rather skimpy
little skirts to show their legs. Pompoms are bushy things they hold, with streamers, and they shake them as they cheer." Kurama motioned with his
hands, his green eyes sparkling merrily when Hiei's eyes widened. The black-haired youkai turned to stare at Trunks, Hiei's expression settling into a
The boy's face was quite red, obviously angry, and Hiei looked him over. Only humans would want to dress men up in women's clothing. His red eyes
switched to Gohan and he gave the half-saiyajin a derogatory snort. "Baka."
Trunks laughed, losing most of his embarrassment as it was transferred to his friend. He smirked when Gohan flushed, the tall youth blinking surprised
eyes at Hiei. Kurama winked at him, but Trunks wasn't sure exactly what that meant, so he simply shrugged. "I'll show you guys to the other rooms."
Moving past Gohan, he waved a hand at the doors further down the hall. "Those are guest rooms, too, at least, they used to be. The bath is at the end of
the hall." He paused as Kurama peaked into the door next to the room they'd come out of.
Both bedrooms looked the same, and Kurama frowned, his gaze shifting to Gohan. "Which room will you be using?" he asked, his voice mildly curious.
Trunks hadn't shown them *his* room, and while he wasn't going to pry, he was curious where the boy would place his older friend. From what he'd just
seen, Kurama had an idea the two weren't as close as Trunks' mother obviously thought. The only thing they seemed to be hiding was the 'training' they'd
mentioned. Of course, Trunks did appear to be a little young for that sort of relationship, but it was hard to tell these days. He had to add in the fact that
they weren't fully human. The black-haired saiyajin blinked and looked to Trunks.
Frowning a bit, Gohan shrugged. "It doesn't really matter to me. There are plenty of rooms here."
"The reason I ask," Kurama said slowly, moving a step back so he was closer to Hiei, "is because of proximity." He was aware of a glare snapping to his
back, and he smiled at the two saiyajin. "I'm hoping we won't be a burden to you for long, but it would be easier if we were honest with you." Trunks' eyes
shifted past him, and Kurama noted the way the boy flushed lightly.
"You two want to share a room," Trunks said, his voice soft. He almost expected a denial, and he couldn't help be surprised by Kurama's calm nod. He'd
never heard of people being *that* open about something like that.
Keeping an eye on both saiyajin, Kurama was careful not to show his suspicions. He was fairly certain the two males were destined to end in a relationship
similar to his own, but so far they didn't seem to have taken any steps. He didn't want to shock them, but he and Hiei had gone past the irritation of
pretending. They weren't about to go back to hiding their status now. "If that will be a problem, we can stay somewhere else."
"No," Trunks blurted, blinking quickly. "It isn't a problem. I don't know what mom would say, but we don't have to mention it to her or anything."
"I don't plan to hide it from her," Kurama smiled, taking in the boy's discomfort. "I just wanted to make sure neither of you would be upset. My experience
with humans has found them to be a very...mixed crowd. It's easier to be blunt." Glancing past the short boy, Kurama raised an eyebrow at Gohan, noting
where those dark eyes were focused. If he'd been a youko, he wouldn't have been able to resist interfering. He had a nearly irresistible urge to take the
taller saiyajin aside and tell him that, 'yes, the boy is fine with the idea of two guys being together, and yes, this is a chance to find out why.' But Kurama
had never played matchmaker, and he doubted it was his place to do so now. Instead, he turned to smug smile at Hiei. "It looks like our little rendezvous is
in the Ningenkai, after all."
Without giving the fox a rejoinder to that taunt, Hiei merely rolled his eyes. He was getting more than a little impatient with this entire 'tour.' Folding his
arms, he frowned at the young lavender haired boy. "Are you finished?" Trunks blinked at him in visible confusion, and Hiei scowled at Kurama. The
kitsune didn't seem to get his hint. With a pointed glare, Hiei grabbed one of Kurama's convenient forelocks and jerked the redhead down so they were at
eyelevel. "Outside, now."
Kurama had time to blink twice before he was released and abruptly alone in the hall with Gohan and Trunks. He barely heard the front door shut behind
the quick shadow. The two saiyajin were staring around the hall in evident surprise. Straightening, Kurama ran his hand through that over-abused length
of hair and shrugged helplessly. "Usually he'd take a window, but that was probably faster. I'll be back."
Trunks nodded, not speaking as the redhead left the hall. He wasn't sure what to say once he found himself alone with his friend, but he settled on a
bland comment. "He is pretty fast, isn't he."
"I didn't see him move," Gohan muttered, blinking dazed eyes. "I can't believe that. How did the androids knock him down if *I* can't follow his movements?"
"Maybe he didn't move that fast with them," Trunks offered. Mimicking Kurama's shrug, he gave a vague smile. "You think he was mad that Kurama just
told us outright like that?"
"I don't know." Throwing the younger saiyajin a quick smile, Gohan turned back to the remaining rooms. He was careful to step past the door alongside
the one Kurama had chosen. "So, which of these is the most livable?"
"I haven't been in any of them in so long I don't know," Trunks admitted. "The only time I go in these is when mom wants something from one of the
Following the boy, Gohan sighed. "I still remember when all these rooms were filled with robots and stuff. My dad used to come by here for all sorts of
"I know," Trunks smiled, stopping by the door next to his own. "Mom still has a few of his old outfits. She had me carry them up a few weeks ago." The
room wasn't as clean as the others, but Trunks stepped over the boxes lining the wall. With bright eyes, he waited until Gohan reached him, then opened
the closet. It only took a moment to find the shelf behind the line of clothes, and he grinned, holding his hand out. "Do you know what this is?"
"That's..." Eyes wide, Gohan picked up the little gadget, a tingle lighting his nerves. "I haven't seen this in so long," he whispered, his tone almost
reverent. "Why would she keep it?"
Trunks shrugged, leaning against the open closet door. "She always liked your dad. She says it reminds her of how they met, looking for dragon balls
together. There's no use for it now, but she didn't want to throw it away."
"That sounds like Bulma," Gohan smiled, looking at the little hand-held dragonball detector.
"I bet she'd let you have it, if you want," Trunks offered. "Better than it just sitting in storage."
"Is that what this room is?" The gadget fit fine in his pocket, and Gohan reminded himself to check with Bulma later, just in case she wanted to hold onto
it. In the meantime, he leafed through the closet, looking at the different outfits there. Something blue caught his eye and he grinned suddenly, grabbing
a heavy uniform out. "Hey! I can't *believe* she kept this." With a big grin, he held the suit up to Trunks. "Guess she figured you still have a while before
you fit it."
"What are you talking about?" Trunks frowned. He had a feeling he should be insulted by the comment, and he didn't know what the blue outfit was.
"It's a training uniform," Gohan smiled. "Bulma offered to make me one a few years ago, but I like the ones my dad wore." Lifting the suit and advancing
when Trunks took a step back, he smirked. "I'd bet anything this is the same outfit Vegeta used to wear."
Pausing his slow retreat, Trunks frowned and held still as his friend moved the suit to his shoulders. "If he wore it, then it definitely won't fit me," he
muttered, scowling down at the thing. There weren't any pictures of his father, but his mom had told him the man had been at least a few inches taller than
him. And as much as Gohan had 'filled out' in the last few years, Trunks knew he had a ways to go before he'd be considered an 'adult' saiyan. He didn't
even want to think of how ridiculous he'd look in a baggy training suit.
"Not necessarily," Gohan said, his eyes locked on the outfit. With rapid movements, he removed the plastic and felt the material. It wasn't rubber, and it
wasn't cloth. Whether it was the original outfit or not, he knew the material wasn't something they'd made on earth. At best, it was a replica Bulma had
created to replace the many suits Vegeta had gone through in his relentless pursuit of more strength. Glancing at Trunks, Gohan shook his head at the
difference between the memory, and the son in front of him. The two were too dissimilar for comparison. "Why don't you try it out?" Trunks began
shaking his head before the words were all the way out, and Gohan smirked. "Just think, if it fits you won't have to worry about hiding tears and burns from
your mom when we train."
"If you guys get rid of the androids we won't *have* to train anymore," Trunks muttered, still frowning at the suit. He blinked when a hand fell on his
It didn't take much to move the boy back to the bed, and Gohan pressed him down to sit on it, tossing the outfit beside him. With a sigh, he leaned over
his friend, hands squeezing Trunks' shoulders. "Even if there isn't a threat, that doesn't mean I'm going to bail out on you," he said, nodding sharply when
Trunks looked doubtful. "I said I'd train you, and I plan to. As long as you're willing and I'm able, I'm not going to stop until you can beat me." He grinned
when a pale eyebrow was raised at him. "Haven't I said you've the potential to beat me? Just think, I didn't reach super saiyan until a year ago. As hard
as you're working, I *know* you'll get there a lot sooner. There's no way I'd abandon my protégée when we're just getting started."
Trunks gave a slight smile at that, and he leaned forward when the older saiyan sat down beside him. "I'll never get stronger than you," he said, ignoring
his friend's frown. "Besides that, once the androids are gone, things will be normal again. I don't know what that means, but mom keeps saying things will
go back to normal someday. I doubt you'll have much time to train me when your mom gets you to studying again."
"Don't even mention that," Gohan groaned, rubbing his head. "She'll probably make me go over everything I've missed since I was *ten*. She always
wanted me to be a 'scholar' instead of a fighter." He glanced up when Trunks gave a small laugh, and he relaxed. Letting out a sigh, he fell back on the
bed. "Normal. It's hard to imagine things being 'normal.' It's been so long, I don't think even *I* remember what it's like to live a normal life. I mean, there
was always something happening. Don't stress out about the future, Trunks. Even without the androids, you can bet we'll end up getting into some sort of
mess eventually. And when it happens, the 'Z fighters' will be out there to protect the earth." Trunks had turned to look down at him, and Gohan smiled,
reaching a hand up to ruffle the boy's hair. "That means you and me. So you can bet I'll make time to train you, no matter how much studying my mom
makes me do."
"I don't see how you can be so optimistic," Trunks said, frowning as he ran a hand over his hair. "But if you think so."
"I do," Gohan nodded. He rolled a bit onto his side, reaching past Trunks to snatch the discarded outfit. With big eyes, he held it up. "So try it on,
please? I bet you'd look cute in it." The boy's eyebrow twitched, and he grinned. "At least it's not a cheerleading outfit."
* * *
The front lawn was empty when Kurama reached it, and he frowned, looking back at the house. Hiei wouldn't have gone far, at least, he didn't think so. He
ran a quick search for the demon's youki and smiled as he found it, as he'd thought, very nearby. It only took a moment to circle the interestingly domed
house, and he raised an eyebrow at the black-haired youkai. Hiei was leaning one arm against the wall. "I know you're bored," Kurama said, sidling
closer, "but you could have been a *little* more patient. I just fixed things so we'll have all night for private discussion."
"We won't be 'discussing' anything tonight," Hiei snorted, eyeing Kurama's guilty smile. "You just wanted to meddle with those ningens."
"I wasn't meddling," Kurama frowned, coming to stand next to his smaller lover. "In fact, I was making it a point *not* to meddle."
"There was no reason to tell them," Hiei reminded him, "neither of us is loud. You chose to bring it up to see their reaction." Not receiving a denial, Hiei
shook his head. His hands rose, and he pulled off his cloak and scarf with a quick sweeping movement.
Blinking in surprise, though not disapproval since there weren't any windows or people around, Kurama licked his lips. "Is *that* what you were impatient
about?" The question earned him a snort, and he frowned. "Well, what do you expect me to think when you order me outside and then start-" Hiei had
turned his back on him, and Kurama closed his mouth as his eyes fell to that bared flesh. Anger bubbled to his lips, and he clamped down on it, moving to
kneel behind his lover. His fingers played over the dark bruising that stretched from those tense shoulders down to the shaded small of Hiei's back. "You
should have said something," he muttered.
Hiei sniffed, looking over his shoulder at the redhaired teen. Kurama was reaching into his hair, and he settled on the ground, making himself comfortable
while the youko found the right plant. "It was an inconvenience only."
There were no breaks in his lover's skin, and Kurama sighed as he crushed a few rapidly grown leaves in his palm. "Not even a flesh wound, right?" A
sharp nod answered that, bringing a small smile to his lips. "You're so irritating sometimes." He rubbed his hands together until they were coated before
rubbing the medicine onto the bruised area. "Did this happen in a fall?" he asked, keeping his tone to mere curiosity. Hiei did not bruise easily, and he
couldn't imagine a fall that would result in something this dark. Besides that, the bruise was almost circular.
"No," Hiei said, keeping his head down so Kurama wouldn't get any of his mixture in his hair. "It was a back attack, some sort of energy ball. The heat was
minimal, but the impact was not."
Not stilling his hands, Kurama leaned a bit closer so he could look over Hiei's shoulder. "Was it anything like Yusuke's rei-gan?" Droll red eyes flicked up
at him, and Kurama sighed. "I guess if you caught it in the back you wouldn't have seen it. But it must have been similar. If one hit could bruise you this
much, I can see why you classified them as S class."
"I only felt it after," Hiei admitted, scowling as the pain ebbed. He could feel the moment the bruised part of his back healed, that slow massage turning
from uncomfortably painful to simply uncomfortable. This was not the place to be unclothed with Kurama leaning over him like that. He pulled away and
had his cloak back in place a second later. Green eyes blinked up at him and he snorted at the seemingly innocent surprise written over Kurama's face.
"This was not an invitation."
"I don't need an invitation," Kurama sniffed, wiping his palms on the grass. "But I do believe some sort of recompense is in order. You should have told me
you were hurt as soon as you noticed it."
"I let you touch me, didn't I?"
Kurama smirked, grabbing a fold of the youkai's black cloak and jerking Hiei down in front of him. A slender black eyebrow rose, making him pull the
demon a few inches closer. "I think I deserve a little more than that. If it bothered you enough to bring me out here, it wasn't just an inconvenience." His
lover snorted softly, and Kurama smiled, his arms shifting around a slender waist. "I'm half tempted to test how well I healed your back," he murmured,
enjoying Hiei's partial glare, "be glad I'm willing to suffice with a kiss."
* * *