Ten Cents

A Story by Kat

 

Ohaiyo, minna! I wrote this after a stressful day at school and I needed to vent by working on one of the many ideas floating around in my little head. Send all comments (no flames!!) to "mailto:QuatreLuva@hotmail.com?subject='Ten Cents' comment" .

First, to clarify a few things: 1) In this story, Trunks and Goten are 18; Marron is 17; and Pan/ Bra are 16. I know those aren’t their real ages but this is the big beautiful world of fanfiction where I control all that happens! J 2) I know the idea seems kind of outrageous, but just go with it. I think it made it even more interesting!

As always, thanks for reading!

 

Part 1: It’s Difficult to See With Closed Eyes

One pizza. That’s all that’s left of the food we ordered, and I’m still a hungry Saiyan. “Oi, Bra, you’re not going to eat that are you?” I inquire, eyes pleading.

“Nani? This slice?” she replies, glancing down at her last piece of pepperoni pizza.

“Iie, the whole thing,” I return, a grin slowly spreading across my face as she rolls her eyes.

“I knew it. I was just hoping that you were going on a diet or something…,” she sighs, resigning her slice and offering what was left of the dish. “You eat too much for your own good, you know? I mean, I’m half Saiyan too and I don’t sit down to a meal and devour third and fourth helpings of everything!”

Smiling angelically I whine, “But I’m still a growing boy! I need my energy!” and consume another three slices, licking the sauce off my lips. Delicious.

Snickering can be heard resounding from all corners of the table as I finish off the last of the food and clean my plate. Goten merely glances between my now empty plate and me, and begins to laugh anew. “Trunks, let me tell you, I’m a half-Saiyan guy just like you and I still don’t see how you can polish off five pizzas all by yourself. I can barely manage four!” he laughs, placing his arm around Bra’s shoulders.

Wiping the last of the crumbs from my face I retort, “Well, that’s an easy one. I need to eat more because my power level is greater than yours. It requires a higher caloric intake!”

“Only in the world of your ego, Trunks,” Pan rejoins, patting me on the back and giving me the sweetest smile she could manage. “Well, I need to go to the ladies’. This was a nice change from the normal pizza places, Trunks, good thinking. Now, whose turn is it to pay?”

Suddenly, all eyes are absently wandering around the small pizzeria, searching for something to look at or talk about other than the current topic. Joining in this course of action, however, I have no such luck. “Trunks, isn’t it your turn? And even if it isn’t, I think you should considering fifty percent of the bill is your order!” Marron reasons, pointing to the check that had been placed on the table a few minutes ago.

Sighing in defeat, I agree. It was no use trying to talk my way out of paying for a meal with this crowd. After assuring them that I would take care of the bill, everyone except Pan, who had to make a stop in the bathroom, gathered up their coats and left the establishment squabbling about who’s turn it was to drive home. In my case I could only fit two people, including myself, in my new convertible, and no one was driving it but me, myself and I; the other three could ride in Goten’s car. Throwing one last glance around the table to guarantee I had collected everything, I make my way up to the register to pay for the rather large sum.

I give the employee a smile as I hand him my check and pull my wallet out of my jacket, picking out the bills I would need. In a dull tone he informs me of the amount I owe and I hand him the money, silently declaring myself broke. Glancing inside the money fold, I sigh as I observe that this latest excursion has completely cleared my wallet of any money whatsoever. Oh well, it was good food and it gave us a nice excuse to get together and talk. Lately it seems as if the five of us never have time for each other any more, and we’ve grown so estranged that the person I spend the most time with now is Pan instead of Goten. I remember when he and I used to do everything together; it wasn’t that long ago. Then suddenly his interest in my sister became more than just plutonic, and so began a new period of phone calls and outings that didn’t involve me. There is an upside to everything that’s happened as of late, though: since Pan and I have been spending more time together we’ve become really close, closer, I think, than Goten and I ever were. In some ways it’s better; there seems to be more things we can discuss and her female point of view really came in handy sometimes. I guess some things just change for the better.

“… ten cents,” the cashier finishes, sighing impatiently. I had become consumed in my thoughts and hadn’t really been listening to what he was saying. “Sir? You still owe ten cents.”

“Nani?” I reply, still dazed and a little confused. I thought I had paid the exact amount; there was absolutely nothing left in my wallet. “Ten cents?”

The cashier rolls his eyes, obviously irritated. “Hai, ten cents. Your bill was $100.10. You only gave me $100. Therefore, you still owe me ten cents,” he patronizes.

I laugh. “Ten cents? Come on, man, you’re kidding me, ne? Let’s just let this one slide; I think it’ll be fine,” I answer, smiling. However, the smile slowly fades as I observe the serious look that remains on his surly countenance. “Ne? It can’t matter that much! I don’t have any money left at all! Let me speak to the manager about this.”

“Sir, I am the manager,” he retorts monotonously, “and I make the policies. No one leaves without paying their bill in full. Now, can you pay it or not?”

Smiling nervously I answer, “Iie, I guess not. I don’t have a dime on me.” What is he going to make me do, wash dishes? Yea right!

Returning the smile in a way that killed all my hopes for getting out of there he replies, “Please come with me to the kitchen, unless any of your friends are still here, then they can join you as well. There are some dishes that need a good scrub down.”

Perfect. What else could go wrong?

“Oi, Trunks, what’s going on? Aren’t we leaving yet?” Pan inquires as she comes up behind the manager, who has now stepped out from behind the counter and is standing next to it.

“Are you with this young man’s party?” he demands. Oblivious to my frantic warning signals, she nods. “Then you can follow me as well. Your friend here can’t seem to pay the full bill, so you and he will be scrubbing dishes until your entire bill is paid. This way,” he explains dryly, gesturing for us to follow him into the kitchen by way of two swinging metal doors.

Throwing me an agitated look, Pan falls into step beside me and asks how much I had fallen short by. When she hears the answer, her countenance becomes dumbfounded at the miniscule amount. After noticing my pleading quizzical gaze, she apologizes and informs me that she doesn’t have any money with her at all. This night just keeps getting better.

When we’re shown into the washing area of the kitchen, our mouths drop in utter shock and amazement. Glancing at each other, thinking the same thing, we stare again at the Mt. Everest of dirty dishes.

This was going to be a long night.

Part 2: With the Wool Removed, the Light Can Be Blinding

Crash.

“Trunks!”

“Oops. Gomen, Pan!” I apologize. It’s not my fault that the Saiyan blood that flows through my veins isn’t accustomed to dishwashing!

“That’s the seventh plate you’ve broken tonight! I would like to get out of here before I’m forty!” she exasperates, shaking her head. Then a small smile begins to play on the corners of her lips. “What’s the matter? Dishwashing too hard for a man like you? Would it be easier if the sponge was attacking you?” she teased, squirting some of the water from her sponge onto my shirt.

“Perhaps. Or maybe it would be easier if I was attacking someone!” I counter, wringing my dishrag over her arm.

“You baka! Take this!” she yells, retaliating with an airborne sopping wet sponge that lands perfectly in the middle of my face. This is war!

I grab the small spray nozzle next to the faucet, warrant, “You shouldn’t have done that, Pan,” and press the button with my thumb, resulting in an extremely comical picture of a very mad, very wet Son Pan. She takes her hands, scoops them into the sudsy water, and splashes the lemony-smelling liquid in my direction. With my entire front side completely soaked, I grab the remaining sponge in the sink and tackle her. Lightly sitting on her and pinning her to the ground, I wring the dirty warm water all over her face and hair.

Feigning rage, she yells, “Oi, now you’re going to pay, Underwear Boy!” and prepares to throw me off her when who else should walk in but the manager.

I didn’t have time to reproach Pan for using my hated nickname before he observed the soggy scene before him and informed us in that same monotone that our bill had just increased by fifty dollars. Spinning on his heel, he strode out of the kitchen and back to the front of the pizzeria, where he could take the checks of the paying customers.

Well isn’t this just peachy. “Gomen…” we both start at the same time, then laugh.

“Gomen, Trunks. I shouldn’t have teased you like that,” she apologizes, smiling sheepishly. “I always seem to cause a lot of trouble with my mouth.”

There she goes again, just like always, blaming herself for everything that goes wrong. I think she’s perfect just the way she is, but she never gives herself a break about anything! “Iie, Pan, we’re both to blame. It was my fault, too; I shouldn’t have gotten you wet like that. Gomen,” I reply, giving her my classic smile; it’s the one I always flash when I’ve been caught doing something I shouldn’t be and I’m sincere about my apology. She’s always so hard on herself, and I wish she’d stop berating herself about every one of her flaws. I like the way she doesn’t endeavor to appear impeccable like so many other girls. It’s what makes her Pan: tomboy qualities and all.

“Uh, Trunks?” she whispers, pulling me from my thoughts. I hadn’t realized I had been staring at her the whole time my mind was rambling. “Do you think you could get off me now? You’re not exactly light,” she prodded, poking my ribs and smiling.

Nodding my consent, I attempt to get a firm footing on the slick tile floor before transferring all of my weight to my feet. Slowly, I begin to stand up but it’s not long before my foot slips on a wet spot and I’m sent crashing down on top of Pan, legs and all. Circling in my mind with all of the other embarrassed feelings as I lay on top of her was one I’ve never thought before. Curiously I wonder: have those curves always been there…? Blushing furiously at my latest notion, I’m suddenly having a very difficult time forming words to speak.

“Well…this is awkward,” she murmurs, laughing nervously. “Maybe you should try to get up first, without falling this time,” she offers, a playful smile quickly replacing the nervous one on her lips.

As I manage to stand up, and remain standing, I notice just how long we had been lying like that. It had certainly been longer than necessary, that’s for sure. But you didn’t mind it, did you? Huh?! “I suppose we’d better get back to washing dishes before Mr. Sunshine gets mad again,” I declare, hoping to erase the last, and surprising, thought from my head.

“Hai, you’re probably right,” she assents, taking the hand I had reached down to help her off the floor.

While we’re walking towards the sink she closes her dark eyes and begins to run her fingers through her damp jet-black hair, attempting to regain some semblance of her former style. Stealing glances at her while her eyes remained closed, I finally turn back long enough to gaze at her and the way she looked so…beautiful. What?! That one was new, too.

“Trunks-kun, daijobu?” she asks, suddenly becoming aware of the way I’d been staring at her. As I quickly turn around and reply that I’m fine, I catch a glimpse of something tugging at the corner of her mouth. Was that a smile just now?

We continue washing and drying the dishes in an awkward silence, neither one of sure of what to talk about. Conversations between us never seemed this difficult before! Luckily she saves us both. “It was really nice tonight, getting to see everyone again. I can’t remember the last time the five of us were all in the same place at once. We should make it a weekly tradition,” she remarks, scrubbing the glass in her hand a little harder than necessary. Whether it was out of nervousness or a stubborn piece of crust I didn’t know.

However, once again she has managed to read my thoughts. “Hai, I know. Ever since Goten and Bra became interested in each other it just hasn’t been the same. And with her new boyfriend, Marron isn’t around that much any more, either. It seems our little group is coming apart before our eyes,” I reply, a jealous tone underlying my words. I’m not sure what I’m more upset about: the fact that the five of us are not as close as we used to be, or the unexpected pang of loneliness I feel when I suddenly realize everyone seems to have someone else but me. I wonder why I’ve never felt alone until now…

“Cheer up, Trunks. You know there’s no way that’ll every really happen,” she reassures me, rubbing my back with her hand. “And besides, even if everyone else does fall away, you’ll always have me.”

That’s why, I realize, a smile slowly forming on my lips as I stack another plate on top of the heaping dry pile. The mountain of dishes that had once been there was slowly dwindling into a manageable hill. And you’ll always have me, Pan-chan.

Part 3: Whispers of the Future Are as Light as Snow

Fifteen minutes later our quiet period of self-revelation is shattered by the carrying sound of a very irritated woman at the counter. My mother.

She is arguing with the manager about our castigation for being unable to pay the bill, and from the sound of his voice, he seems very flustered. “Gomen nasai, Mrs. Briefs, I didn’t realize he was your son! I’ll go and get him right away,” he obliges, rushing back towards the washing area of the kitchen. “Excuse me, sir, it seems there’s been a mistake. Your food was on the house! Gomen nasai for any inconvenience this may have caused you,” he apologizes, his anxiousness apparent in his usually droning voice.

“Think nothing of it,” I reply casually. In truth, the evening couldn’t have been better. “Shall we go, Pan?” I inquire, offering her my arm, which she accepts with a laugh.

As my mother heads out to her car and I lead Pan towards mine, my hand rubs against something in my pocket. Curious, I extract the shining object from my coat and a small smile crosses my face. It was a single, round dime. Nonchalantly, I toss the coin over my shoulder onto the snow-encrusted pavement.

“What was that?” she asks, raising her head from the crook of my arm. We reach my car and I quickly unlock the doors to escape the icy cold of winter.

“Nothing that matters,” I assure her as I turn the key and start the ignition. She replaces her head against my shoulder and is soon fast asleep with the soporific hum of the engine. As I glance at the dancing snowflakes drifting past the windows, I can’t remember the last time I felt this content in all my life.

 

Kat 2001