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Hitting Rock Bottom

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The cold wind whipped at her face and Pan winced, wrapping her arms around herself. Autumn was not her favorite season of the year. She pulled her hat further down to cover her freezing ears and sighed into her scarf, looking up at the trees lining along the streets. At least the colors were pretty…

She picked up the pace and took a turn. Maybe she should've taken the car instead of walking to the restaurant. She was going to be all red and flushed when she arrived. Sure, it was only fifteen minutes away on foot, but damn, it was freezing today! And it wasn't even winter. Pan did not look forward to that.

Finally, she recognized the familiar canopy and ran the remaining distance to get inside. As the door swayed shut behind her, Pan sighed in relief in the heated room. Her fingers were still freezing inside her gloves, though, so she wasn't ready to give up on the many layers she was wearing just yet. Absentmindedly, as her gaze swept around the tables, she wondered why she was so sensitive to cold and whom she'd gotten it from.

She recognized the young man sitting at a booth in a corner from the photo on his profile. Feeling a little warmer, Pan took off her gloves, then her hat, then she opened her coat and loosened the scarf around her neck. She walked toward the guy, shoving her gloves and hat in her purse, and put on a agreeable smile as she got closer. He noticed her and perked up.

"Hi!" he said enthusiastically as he stood up to greet her, his eyes gleaming in appreciation as he looked at her. "Pan, right?"

She sat down in front of him, and he followed suit. "I take it you're Haru, then."

"You're really pretty," he said, still with that little glint in his eyes as he stared at her. "Your photo did not do you justice – and I thought you looked super hot in it, too."

Well, he was coming on pretty strong. "Thanks," she said with a polite smile and a light blush on her cheeks. "You're not too bad yourself."

And he really wasn't. He was tall and thin, with broad shoulders and strong hands. She liked the blue of his eyes, she guessed, and his tanned skin and blonde hair gave a harmonious contrast. She had to give it to Bra – the girl sure knew how to pick them. Well, based on looks, at least. Hopefully, his personality would be as charming as his smile.

ooOoo

"I'm going to kill her."

Pan gritted her teeth as she tore through the sky, her ki keeping her warm as she set towards her so-called friend who was responsible for this mess of a night.

She never should've gone to that date. She shouldn't even have agreed to keep her profile up on that stupid dating site after Bra told her she'd made her an account. She should've just deleted the thing and never think of it again. Online dating was so overrated and it barely ever worked. So what if a dozen of cute-looking guys had been interested in her page? They were all losers, all of them! She never should've gone along with it – it would've at least spared her the horrible date she'd just been on.

Haru had seemed nice enough at first. They had started with the usual topics and were getting to know each other. And then she had to say she was into martial arts.

That was when his eyes lit up and he exclaimed, "Oh! I knew you looked familiar!" He smacked his fist into his palm. "You won the Junior Division of the Tenkaichi Budokai years ago, didn't you? That means… that means you…" His eyes widened in realization. "Oh man, oh man – you're Mr. Satan's granddaughter?"

And things only went downhill from there.

Pan envied her mom, who never had to go through a horrible date with a guy who would only talk and ask about Mr. Satan the whole damn time. Nope. She'd just happened to find Mr. Right on the first try, and he just happened to be the one man who wasn't impressed by her parental lineage. Lucky bastards.

Dating sucked.

Honestly, Pan didn't know why she even tried. It was always the same. Almost every guy she'd dated would be Mr. Satan-obsessed. Some had managed to hold it in for her sake, but it always ended the same way, and eventually they would ask for an autograph or even go as far as to request to meet her grandpa. And Pan would always wonder if they actually liked her or just wanted to meet their hero that badly.

Her love life just sucked. She was better off staying on her own, honestly. Why did even she bother anyway? She wasn't even sure she wanted a boyfriend, let alone a long-term relationship. Then again, how could she know if she never properly had one?

Whatever. For now, the plan was to murder Bra Briefs. The rest could wait.

ooOoo

This place was so fucking huge. What a pain in the ass. And Bra, that little sneak, was actually hiding her ki, no doubt having sensed the murder intent in her own aura.

"Tch."

Well, Bra couldn't hide forever. The moment she came out of hiding, Pan would be there to welcome her back – by kicking her sorry ass.

"Oh, hey, Pan. Haven't seen you in ages." Pan blinked, and just like that all of her anger and resentment was gone as a pair of gentle blue eyes locked on her. "How have you been?"

"Not so good. Just had one of my worst dates ever, and if you knew my records you'd know that's saying something. And it's all Bra's fault."

His face fell. "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. What'd my sister do this time?"

Pan sighed. "I don't really want to talk about it. I just want to kick her ass."

Trunks grinned. "I know the feeling. She's such a pain in the ass, isn't she? Nobody ever believes me because she acts like an innocent little angel in public, but you and I both know she's actually the Devil's spawn in disguise."

"I think that's me, though," Pan grinned, her black eyes gleaming in mirth. Trunks snorted out a laugh, covering his mouth with his hand to try and stifle the unappealing noise.

"Oh, you're terrible… That pun…" he snickered.

"Hey, it's not my fault my mom's name is a pun. It fits her pretty well though."

Trunks grinned back at her. "Can't argue with that."

Pan was feeling a lot lighter. Trunks somehow had the effect of a tranquilizer on her. She enjoyed his presence, and his company was always entertaining. The young woman thought to herself that she should hang out with him more often. As they'd both grown up and moved out of their respective parents' homes, opportunities to see each other had become more and more scarce. Sure, they used to be quite close when they were younger, what with Trunks and Goten being inseparable and often playing with her, but as time went on, Pan was sad to admit that they had grown apart. She was still close friends with Bra, if only because of their close age. Trunks was, after all, fourteen years older than her, although now that she was in her twenties the age difference wasn't that blatant anymore.

"Well," he started, a gentle smile playing on his lips, "I'm only your uncle's best friend, but maybe I can salvage some of your night and offer you a drink?"

Her chest swelled with warmth as she gazed into his sky blue eyes – so different than Haru's. "I'd like that."

Well, Haru could go to hell for all she cared. And so could Bra, for that matter. Who gave a damn about them anyway, when sweet, cute, funny Trunks was there to keep her company?

ooOoo

"Okay, let's be real. How can you be who you are and yet have no problem with girls?"

Trunks smirked smugly. "Well, just look at me."

Pan rolled her eyes in amusement. "Cute."

"And I'm not really looking for a serious relationship anyway, so it's not like they stick around long enough to be a problem."

"So you've never had a real relationship either? Man, I hope I'm not still trying when I get your age."

"Hey, you're making me sound old!" he said in exaggerated indignation. Pan snickered.

"Well, you are pushing forty."

"And yet I don't even look thirty." And his smug confidence was back.

"That's Saiyan genes for ya'."

"I mean, I don't even look that much older than you. I could totally pass off as a guy in his late twenties."

"You're still thirty-seven, though."

He mock-glared at her. "Meanie."

"But yes, you do look amazing," she blushed slightly as she said that, though the liquor in her glass was helping her be bolder.

"I know, but thanks."

His sexy smirk was having all kinds of effects on her. Yes, Trunks certainly did look incredible – he was gorgeous, quite frankly, and maybe it was the alcohol talking but as Pan stared at his lips she found herself wondering what it would feel like to kiss him.

"You've grown to become a beautiful young woman, yourself," he added.

There was no flirtation in his tone. It was like he was simply stating a fact. Still, Pan felt her face burn up. She swallowed. She couldn't help but wonder what it was like for all the girls he'd been with, if they'd just been with him for some fun or if they had hoped for more only to have their hearts crushed. She was curious as to what it would be like if she let herself become one of those girls. She hated to admit it, but she kind of really wanted to see for herself.

Oh, who was she kidding? Trunks only saw her as the little girl he used to play with when they were younger. She was his little sister's best friend, his best friend's niece, and she wasn't even sure she could say he was her friend, given the rare times they'd seen each other over the years.

She heaved out a deep, dejected sigh. "And yet I can't seem to find one decent guy who'd like me for me."

He reached across the table between them and placed his hand over hers, giving it a gentle squeeze that made Pan look up at him. His smile was encouraging and reassuring, and somehow it managed to make her feel a little better about herself.

"It'll happen when it happens. You're still so young, so just have fun and make the most of it. It rushes past you, your youth – you can't waste a second of it."

"You're talking like a old man now," she chuckled half-heartedly.

"Well, as you've so subtly pointed out, I am not so young anymore."

"You are in Saiyan standards, and you certainly look it."

He beamed at her, and Pan felt her heart tighten in her chest. His smile was just so beautiful.

"Thanks, Panda Bear," he winked at her.

She hadn't heard that nickname in ages. She must have been a little girl the last time he used it for her. It warmed her heart, but at the same time, it left a bitter taste in her tongue. It was like a reminder of the way Trunks saw her, of the way he would always see her: a little girl.

"I'm twenty-four," she pouted, as though to make him realize that she was a woman, and not a little girl anymore.

"I know."

She wasn't sure what he meant by that. Her gaze fell on their joined hands, his thumb rubbing the back of her hand. Her breathing was coming short. Was it the alcohol? Why did Trunks have that kind of effect on her? She'd known him her whole life – he'd probably changed her diapers, for god's sake! She had no business having these kinds of feelings for him. What was she feeling, anyway? She was just distraught by her horrible date and he was simply being nice and trying to make her feel better. No more, no less.

He was just being nice, she repeated in her head. Nothing was going on. Nothing would ever be going on.

It wasn't like she ever had a chance anyway.

Pan looked up slowly, and their eyes locked.

She forgot how to breathe.

She turned away and swallowed hard. She couldn't lie to herself anymore: she was attracted to Trunks. She had feelings for her uncle's best friend. She wanted to have something with her best friend's big brother.

Ugh. Like life wasn't hard enough already.

"Do you really think I'm beautiful?" she muttered, her lips trembling. Gosh, her face had never felt so hot.

"Well, you are. You look a lot like your mom and Chichi. It's a lovely mix."

He said it so naturally, so casually. Pan wished he would've said it with at least a little bit of uneasiness. She wished she could make him nervous.

"Thanks…"

She heard his chair grating on the floor and looked up just in time to see him standing and leaning towards her, a serious and concerned frown creasing his forehead, emphasizing the light wrinkles he was starting to have.

"Why do you look so sad, Pan? Is it just about your bad date?" he asked, and Pan held her breath when he cupped her cheek as he bore into her eyes.

"It was a horrible date," she corrected him. "As soon as he recognized me, he wouldn't stop asking me about Grandpa. It's always like that." She looked away. "I hate my life."

He took his hand back and his shoulders slumped in empathy. She glanced his way and saw the sad, melancholic smile tugging at his lips.

"I know how you feel all too well."

"So it's not that you don't want a serious relationship, actually, is it? It's just as hard for you to find that special someone as it is for me, isn't it?"

He gave a half-hearted chuckle and raised his right hand. "Guilty as charged."

Her heart was hammering in her chest, as if it was trying to crack her ribcage and break through her body. Slowly, Pan pushed back her chair and stood, facing Trunks. She felt so tiny compared to him, and the way he was towering over her made her feel so helpless, so vulnerable.

"Trunks," she said his name in a whisper, her breathing heavy. Being this close to him wasn't helping. "Do you think I'm… Do you think I'm attractive?"

At last, a blush graced his cheeks, and Pan felt some satisfaction that she had been able to make feel him at least a little flustered.

"I thought I'd made that clear already," he mumbled, looking away. Pan fought the urge to make him look at her again.

"It's not the same as attraction…" She bit her lip and reached up to touch his chest, just over his heart, and she couldn't help being hopeful at the strong and fast heartbeat she could feel against her palm. "What I'm asking you is… whether you are attracted… to me."

Their eyes locked again, but this time it was different. There was an intensity in his blue irises that wasn't there before. It made her want to lean in and close the distance between them…

Things looked to be going in that direction, too… Her heart was racing like crazy. Her eyes were sliding shut and she puckered her lips, murmuring his name in anticipation.

But Trunks pulled away suddenly and took a wide step back. Pan felt her stomach drop in disappointment as he avoided her eye.

"I take it it's a no, then…"

Trunks swallowed. "That… That's not it. It's just… You're Goten's niece… Gohan's daughter. It just feels… wrong."

She gave a dry, bitter smile. "Funny, I was thinking the exact opposite, but I guess that's just me."

She turned away and swallowed back the tears threatening to come out. Well, wouldn't that just be the icing on the cake? Tonight had been just terrific from start to finish, hadn't it?

Pan swiftly wiped her eyes, hoping he didn't notice yet at the same time wanting him to.

"Pan, I… I'm so–"

"Save it," she cut him off coldly, not even giving him a look as she started to walk away. "Save it for someone who cares."

She walked out of the kitchen, her steps going faster and faster, keen to get away, to get as far away from him as possible, as fast as she could. She wanted to get away from this failure of a night and forget it ever happened – all of it.

She wished she hadn't stumbled on Trunks. She wished she hadn't realized she was starting to have real feelings for him. She wished this whole fiasco was all but a nightmare and that she would wake up in her bed any moment now – it wasn't like it could get any worse.

She cursed the giant building that was Capsule Corp. Damn it, she was lost again! Why the hell did they need such a enormous house anyway?

"Ugh, fuck it. I'll just find the first window and take off from there."

I just want tonight to be over already.

But all her emotions were bubbling up inside her and Pan just… broke down. In the middle of some random hallway, she collapsed on the floor and wept silently, her shoulders shaking every time a sob forced its way out of her mouth. She covered it with her hand to muffle the sound, ashamed of herself. She hoped nobody would be passing by and see her in that pitiful state…

Little did she know, Trunks had gone after her. He stayed hidden behind a corner and felt his heart shatter at the sound of Pan's stifled sobs. Trunks shut his eyes tightly and wished he had kissed her back there – god, he had wanted to kiss her so freaking bad. And, yes, somehow, no matter how wrong it was… it did feel right. To be there with Pan, to give in to her… It felt so right, so evident, so perfect. Why did he have to go and ruin everything?

Maybe he was just too scared to take that leap, and used his best friend as an excuse.

Maybe he was just too overwhelmed by how real it had felt. How much she affected him. How much he wanted her.

He heard another muffled sob and winced painfully. His fists clenched, his whole body tense, Trunks commanded his legs to move and go to her. He commanded his fear to back the hell off and let him comfort the beautiful young woman he wanted to be with.

He walked up to her and, upon reaching her, crouched down in front of her. His hand trembled as he touched her arm, and he felt her flinch at the contact.

"Leave me alone," she croaked out, hiding her face with her hands. "Last thing I need is for you to see me like this."

"I'm sorry, Pan."

"I don't care," she gritten out.

"I'm sorry because I should've kissed you."

Her breath hitched. Her hands fell at her sides on the floor, and she stared at him with wide, wet eyes. Trunks reached over and wiped her tears with his sleeve. She blushed adorably and looked away – he lifted her chin to gaze into her eyes again. She had such lovely eyes, as black as the darkest night, twinkling like the most beautiful stars. He placed his other hand on the small of her back and pulled her to him.

"Is it too late to make it up to you?"

He liked the way her breathing deepened, and the way her face was turning redder by the second. He smiled, stroking her cheek. She was so beautiful. Really, what was wrong with the men she'd been seeing? How could they not fall helplessly in love with such a incredible and gorgeous young woman?

Well, if they couldn't realize their luck, too bad for them. He wasn't going to make that mistake again.

Trunks leaned in and closed the final inches between them, tasting her lips for the first time.

And his heart… soared.

ooOoo

Bra yawned, stretching her arms and back as she decided she had slept in enough. How she loved Sundays. They allowed her to catch up on her beauty sleep, and she could just enjoy the laziness of her day off.

As she started her morning routine, her thoughts travelled back to her best friend. She sighed in disappointment. Poor Pan. Bra had really thought that Haru guy could've been a good match. He had seemed nice and funny on the instant messages, and his photos had been more than promising. Bra didn't know what went wrong since she'd been hiding from Pan's wrath last night and all, but if past experiences had taught her anything, Haru was probably another Mr. Satan-obsessed fan.

Poor Pan.

Bra didn't get it, really. Her best friend was a beautiful young woman; she was witty, funny, strong-willed, and adorably shy at times. What was there not to like about her? How could those guys be so stupid as to let a catch like Pan slip through their fingers?

Men. Go figure.

After two hours of pampering herself, Bra was finally ready to face the day, and boy was she hungry. It was already time for lunch, too. She was glad for her Saiyan genes, which allowed her to eat to her heart's content and still have an amazing figure. Looking at herself in the mirror one last time before leaving her bedroom, she took a pin-up pose and winked at herself. Yep, she looked hot as ever. Her favorite red dress complimented her figure in the best way as always.

Despite having a famous family herself, Bra, unlike Pan, had never had trouble getting guys to like her. Although, maybe it was because she was content just having fun with them and wasn't looking for anything serious; after all she was still young and beautiful, and Bra had every intention to make the most of it. She wasn't sure what Pan was looking for in men, but Bra knew her friend well enough to know it wasn't like her to just have fun with guys without overthinking it. Probably Gohan's genes, come to think of it.

Well, hopefully, Pan would have calmed down enough by now and not try to kick her ass. Bra thought to herself at that moment that she should've trained with her dad more, but she'd never been big on martial arts despite her Saiyan genes – kind of like Gohan, in a way – and she just couldn't be bothered to care about getting stronger. As a result, Pan, who loved fighting as much as her mom, could actually kick her ass without breaking a sweat. Bra wasn't embarrassed to admit it – she was happy with her life choices, but boy would it be useful now to be strong enough to hold her own against Pan, at least just so she could defend herself.

In any case, she shouldn't have to worry about Pan for now. Bra was nearing the kitchen, where she could already smell the delicious meal her grandma had made. Closing her eyes, she let her nose lead her steps towards lunch.

As she was turning a corner, she bumped into someone and came to a halt. Well, what did she expect, walking around with her eyes closed? Bra looked up to apologize politely – she was a lady after all – but her jaw dropped as she came face to face with the last person she would have expected.

"Oh, hi Bra," Pan said in a low voice with a sheepish smile. Bra noticed she was wearing a men's button-up shirt and a pair of boxers.

What in the…?

"Don't mind us, we're just passing by," Pan winked at her.

Us?

It was then that Bra noticed that Pan wasn't alone. In fact, she was holding hands with… Trunks…? And they were all googly-eyed and had these silly, dreamy grins on their faces.

What. The. Fuck?

Did they…?

Nooo, no way. Pan and Trunks? That was ludicrous. They barely saw each other anymore, let alone…

Let alone what? Nothing, that's what. Pan and Trunks nothing, because nothing was going on between them. Obviously. Nu-huh. Pan probably spilled something on her dress last night and Trunks was nice enough to lend her some of his clothes, and she most likely spent the night over because she was sad last night because of her bad date and didn't feel like going home, and again, Trunks was nice enough to let her stay over, because Trunks was just nice like that. Except to her, 'cuz she was his sister and he was a dick to her, but that's just how siblings worked.

And they were holding hands because… because…

Because Trunks was being… nice…?

"We've been sneaking around all morning," Trunks chuckled. "Don't tell the parents yet, okay?"

What was he talking about? There was nothing to tell the parents since there was obviously nothing going on. Nothing!

"Wh… Wha…?" was all Bra managed to sputter.

"I'm counting on you, lil' sis," he winked at her, leading Pan away by the hand. "We're going back to my room so Panny can get dressed. I'm taking her out for lunch. Keep it to yourself for now, okay?"

No no no no no… No! This wasn't true! They weren't… They didn't… They couldn't! There must be a perfectly logical explanation to all this. There had to be!

"See you later," Pan said over her shoulder, a big, happy grin lighting up her whole face.

Bra slumped her shoulders in defeat. "What the hell… My brother… and my best friend? That's just sick."

Well… I guess if they're happy together… She sighed. And then made a face as she got an unwanted mental image of the couple. "Ugh. Trunks and Pan? Gross."

She would've rather had her ass kicked today than come upon these two. It was just too weird. They'd barely kept touch the past years and now suddenly they were together? What gives? And it looked like more than just a one-time thing, too. Bra had never seen her brother get serious with a girl, ever. Was he playing Pan? Somehow, Bra honestly doubted that was it.

Could it be they were… in love?

Ugh. Whatever. Right now Bra just wanted to stuff herself and forget about all this. She wasn't ready to come to terms with… whatever was going on.

Ugh…

ooOoo

She sighed in content, snuggling up to her boyfriend as they lay together on the blanket they'd brought with them. They'd gone to a warmer part of the world, leaving the cold season behind to enjoy a nice day out.

"The picnic was a nice idea," Pan said softly.

Trunks chuckled. "I get one of these every now and then."

He ran his fingers through her hair and kissed her forehead. Pan let the feeling of bliss wash over her. This was simply… perfect.

"Took you long enough," she mumbled, mostly to herself.

"Hm?" He looked over at her, an eyebrow raised inquiringly.

"To find me," she beamed at him.

"Hey, you're only twenty-four. I've waited thirty-something years to finally find the girl of my dreams. I should be saying, took you long enough."

"Thirty-seven years, you mean," she teased.

"You're mean," he pouted.

"Well, I am the Devil's spawn."

Trunks laughed, really laughed – threw his head back and let go of all restraint. Pan raised herself on her hands and towered over him, her eyes glimmering with tenderness as she gazed upon the man she loved. Trunks grinned.

She couldn't believe how fast things were moving, yet she wouldn't change a thing. They had waited long enough to find each other, there was no point in playing games. They were in love, as simple as that.

To think he'd been right there all along. It was like she'd had to hit rock bottom last night to finally be ready to be with the one she was meant to be.

After all, didn't they say that when you hit rock bottom, the only way you can go is up?