Once Upon A Time In The City Of South City
A BatB/DragonBallZ Crossover
Right after his talk with his older brother, Devin, Vincent had spent an hour gathering a nice meal for the two convalescents in his care. He had been in the community kitchen going over the leftovers and asking the cooks which particular foods they would be most happy to part company with. Carefully heating up the homemade broth, Vincent decided that perhaps Goku and Piccolo might like a few other items to go with it. ‘Are those two addicted to tea or coffee? Catherine did not like to go a fourth day without at least a mild dose of daily caffeine, usually in the form of either coffee or tea,’ he silently wondered. Coffee was usually difficult for Vincent to prepare just right, so he boiled some water and steeped some shredded some tealeaves in it. He boiled some more water, and added some shredded chamomile flowers to it. There seemed to be a shortage of other herbal ‘teas’, much to Vincent’s dismay, so he was stuck with the chamomile that he had just started to steep; there were to be only two varieties of tea, not three. ‘Well, can’t win them all.’ he thought. He gathered a couple apples and toasted four slices of whole wheat bread. He put some jelly on the side, the three flavors available: apple, grape, and strawberry. The cooks then directed him to some other flavors, including a surplus of guava jelly, and mint-flavored apple jelly, called “mint jelly”, that some Helpers had donated with a very large shipment of very nice hand-knit heather-grey sweaters and socks. There was also a huge surplus of jellied cranberry sauce that can serve as “jelly” to spread over toast. (If the cans remained unopened for too long, the canned food often took on a horrid metallic taste, and lost nutritional value, so the cooks were pushing the eating all the “cranberry jelly” before while it was still good.)
Vincent thanked the cooks, then assembled a basketful of solid foods, the apples and slices of toast with several jellies on the side, and went to the infirmary to feed the two guests, planning to come back later for the beverages and broth, then he went to the infirmary. As if on cue, Goku was the first to stir as the smell of food started to permeate the infirmary air. Vincent emptied out the baskets, first laying out the trays on one of the tables, then the plates and butter-knives, and then the toast and jellies and apples upon them; then he gently laid the trays on the two men’s beds, next to their shoulders. (The men’s upper torsos were somewhat elevated, making eating possible.) “Do either of you want any tea? I have regular tea, and I have chamomile, brewing in the… other room.”
“I would like some regular tea, thank you,” Piccolo said, “And, I would like to be able to speak with you more when you have the time.”
“I’d be glad to, after this; I’ll be back shortly, so don’t move a muscle,” Vincent replied, and first stepped out and got some tea before conversing with Piccolo.
Goku was a little impatient, and said, “He stepped out before I could tell him what I want to drink.”
“Don’t worry, Goku; he’ll be back in a little bit,” Piccolo assured the hungry Saiyan. Piccolo was rather pleased with the fact that, during his and Goku’s recovery, the kind stranger had applied the bandages in different ways every time he had changed bandages on their bodies, which were several times. (The facial bandages did not receive as many changings or restylings, but only enough to keep the skin clean, and Piccolo noticed that the room was dark and he was heavily medicated into semi-sleep whenever the stranger changed the facial bandages.) The wrappings were apparently tailored to the changing needs of Goku’s and Piccolo’s healing bodies. Piccolo liked the detail of his increasing physical mobility, and he suspected that Goku liked it, too. Piccolo fumbled around the tray (still not used to being blindfolded by the bandages around his face and eyes), first finding the plate itself, then apple next to it, then (going back to the plate itself) finding two slices of toast, and butter knife, and then eventually six medium-sized mounds of jelly on his plate, next to the toast.
Vincent stepped back into the room, but more slowly than usual. Both Piccolo and Goku noticed that the stranger’s softly-padding footfalls were slower than they usually were, let alone the speedy footfalls the stranger had demonstrated when he had gone out of the room shortly before. “I simply decided to come back with pots of both teas, and a full tea-service, rather run from room to room for for cups and whatnot.”
“That’s quite nice,” Piccolo said graciously. (Out of Piccolo’s mouth, that was special. It is hard for Piccolo to say anything nice to anyone; any compliments he made to others were usually subtle to the point of being excessively understated. Thus, usually only such people as Goku and Gohan knew whenever he was making a compliment on someone or something.)
“Yum!” Goku said, thinking with his stomach as usual. Vincent quietly smiled at the obvious compliment.
“I brought the service in a basket. It has four cups, in case either or both of you want both the regular tea and the chamomile,” he explained to the two guests.
“Thank you very much, as that was considerate,” Piccolo answered, “and yet, I confess, I never got your name.”
“My name is Vincent,” the stranger said, with a mild tone of tentative nervousness in his voice. Goku was not hip enough to notice that, but Piccolo was keen enough to observe the mild tone.
‘This Vincent is keeping all information to a minimum, afraid to divulge too much,’ was all Piccolo needed to think as a silent note-to-self reservation.
“The tea’s pretty good, and so is the rest of the meal. Ow! I just burned my hand on the hot stuff... again! Hey, Vincent, can I take off these bandages, so I can see what I am doing?” Goku said.
‘Goku, you’re more genius savant than idiot savant,’ Piccolo privately thought.
Vincent hesitated. ‘Can I trust these two to keep secrets?’ Vincent was about to weigh out the pros and cons, but Goku made the decision for him, by taking off the bandages, peeking without permission, which was unusually naughty of him. Vincent saw Goku’s unbandaged face, through the corner of his eye; and then he turned around to Goku with no bandages able to block his vision. There were some well-stitched healing scars on the Saiyan’s face, Vincent noticed that Devin had done a very good job at helping out with the bandaging and wound-cleansing that first night, and teaching Vincent the finer points of changing bandages with the new antibiotics. Devin was right, no need to change facial bandages as often as the body bandages. Vincent got to see...
...and Goku got to see Vincent’s face, a structure that was the seamlessly-knit composite of human/ape with lion/cat. The overall structure was mostly humanoid, except the fangs and muzzle and unusually high cheekbones and soft downy hair covering much of Vincent’s face.
Also, Goku saw Vincent quake with fear, as he were not sure whether he wanted to stay there or run out of the room.
“Hey, Piccolo, take a look at the man who was kind enough to have rescued us and let us stay with him for these past couple or few days. He looks like one of the local policemen in South City, except he more looks like a lion than a tiger.”
‘And, he looks more human than the tiger cop,’ Piccolo silently thought.
(Actually, the tiger policeman was one of those humanoid animals, a gift to the world from the Great Mutation, and his face and head were all tiger, and he walked on two legs with a body that was almost human in its proportions; the tiger cop did not feature the configuration of part-human-part-cat face and head with a mostly-human-part-cat body as Vincent's configuration was.)
Piccolo carefully took off his bandages to see the man who had been taking good care of both him and Goku for the past.... how long?.... a couple or a few days. Piccolo was very nervous, and so was Vincent. Piccolo’s sensitive Namek-jin nose can almost smell Vincent’s fear on his sweat. Vincent was oozing the oily, strong-smelling sweat of fear. Never did Piccolo notice the kind-hearted stranger smell so bad before. ‘So it is true,’ the Namek thought, ‘Fear stinks.’
Several minutes of silence transpired between the three men, and then Vincent decided to break the silence with a question, “Is the secret of me, and where I live, and my family, safe with you two? My family is large, full of a lot of good people, and their lives and safety depend on your keeping the secret.”
“Vincent, Goku and I both swear by the Dragon of Earth, that we will never divulge your secrets to people who have no business to know,” Piccolo said, with earnest promise in his voice; and Goku agreed with a nod, with the same earnestness in his movement.
“Yeah,” Goku said, extending his part of the shared promise, “I always remember my debts. The people of Yardrat were kind of me, so if they need my help, all they need to do is call, and I’ll be there to help them.”
“Thank you,” Vincent said, realizing that he had not taken such a risk with trusting strangers for years. It was like parts of him that had slept for years, nay, decades, were finally awakening. ‘Yet, how do I tell Devin?’ he wondered, ‘I don’t want to cover up what had just happened. Devin trusts me, and so do the others. How do I tell them? Father, I wish you were here to give me some hints; and Catherine, I also wish you were here, to let me know what these two Topsiders are probably thinking.’ In his thoughts, Vincent realized that he were to soon face some very hard questions from the lips of Devin and the others, and from his own heart and mind, also. Yet, he intuitively knew that the two warrior-looking men were easy to trust, both the tall green one and the somewhat shorter one with spiky black hair.
More thoughts began to flood Vincent’s mind. ‘Dragon of Earth’, eh? Did I hear of such a being before? What was it.... ah, yes, on the day that Father and Narcissa came back from a meeting they had been to----and how odd for those two to be together at all!----and told me that while they were not able to speak to someone named Kami, they did get to meet Kami’s assistant, someone named Popo, and someone with a title called “Grand Kai”. The last thing the Grand Kai said was something about a special breed of genie, known as a Dragon or wish-Dragon. The next day, Father and Narcissa are off on a journey again, and come back a few days later, and he tells me a wild tale that not even Narcissa would believe unless she were there and saw it. I thought that Father was playing a joke on me, with Narcissa as his confederate; but, apparently, there are some people who actually do believe in the existence of the Dragon of Earth!’
“You mentioned a Dragon of Earth,” Vincent said.
“Yes,” Piccolo answered, “There is a legend of the wish-Dragon, and I am one of the true believers. How did you hear of the legend?”
“From the mouths of Narcissa and my Father, Jacob Welles,” Vincent answered. “They had met a couple of people, and one of them said to call the Dragon of Earth to secure the vital secrets of this place, the Secret Place, from anyone who can fulfil these three criteria: rich and powerful and willing to either expose the Secret Place or otherwise harm it.”
Piccolo looked at the floor, thinking for a while. Then, some specific memories that he had inherited from Kami, when he allowed Kami to Fuse into him, started to come back. Fusions are always risky, just like Spice Agony and transference of a lifetime of memories described in Frank Herbert’s “The Dune Chronicles”, that Gohan had once read and eventually had Piccolo read also; performing a permanent Fusion was every bit as dangerous and every bit as enlightening as taking the “Water of Life” which was actually the blue bile of a small sandworm, as described in “Dune”. Now, the Fusion was again proving itself beneficial: he now remembered an old man and an old Haitian woman who both wished to live in peace and to see good days for their families. Piccolo had an urge to ask,
“Vincent, were the two people whom your Father and Narcissa had met, by any chance named the Grand Kai and Mr. Popo?”
“Yes!” Vincent answered, eyes and mouth wide open and trembling a little, “How could you possibly know that?”
“Because part of me is Kami. He was not able to be at the meeting, and he told the Grand Kai that, so he had Mr. Popo take his place in the meeting.”
“Part of you is Kami? How?” Vincent asked, incredulous. Vincent had seen many improbable things in his lifetime, even the spirit of a deceased artist named Christopher Gentian who painted the most incredible painting of him and Catherine together; but what Piccolo had said was a little hard to swallow. How could someone literally be part of someone else? Not metaphorically----literally!
Piccolo began by describing the mechanics of the Namek-jin permanent-Fusion technique. Vincent was right with his suspicions: this would be hard to swallow. ‘I had best grab a chair and sit down.’ So he did exactly that.
Piccolo did most of the speaking, as Vincent was too amazed to speak, and Goku kept quiet because he liked hearing the story. (Vincent could tell that Goku liked it, because of the look on his face that Vincent had only seen before whenever he told stories to a group of children he was asked to read to, and whenever he told bedtime stories to any of his own children.) Vincent intuitively knew, that the story was going to be very good.