by James Mah


Android 18 was annoyed. That was nothing new, Android 18 was always annoyed. It was just that now she was more annoyed than usual. It had been four months since Cell had been defeated, four months since the protectors of Earth had brought back to life all those that had been killed by Cell. So why couldn't she find Android 17?
She had scoured the globe multiple times but she couldn't find any traces of him. It was as if her brother was deliberately avoiding her. It made no sense, the two of them had a bond. Her brother was the only person that didn't annoy her.
She was making another pass over the less temperate zones, looking for anything that reminded her of Android 17. It wasn't going well, her luck was all bad.
Out of the corner of her eye she spotted the floating fortress that those fighters had taken her to. Going to the fortress would mean sudden death. Those guys had defeated Cell and they didn't take too kindly to Androids. Still, she was getting desperate. Maybe they would cut her a break.
Only one way to find out, she decided, and changed course. The flight up the entire length of the fortress was no problem, although she could have sworn that she had seen a talking cat on one of the lower levels. Finally she reached the very top and landed.
There didn't seem to be anyone around. Maybe they were all inside.
"Wow Dende, you're really getting a hang of this Guardian thing."
That voice! No, it couldn't be him. Anyone but him.
"Thanks Krillin."
No! Not the little bald guy. She could face anyone, even that little kid who killed Cell, but not Krillin. There was just something about the way he kept doing things to help her that didn't seem right. She had beaten up his friends, she had insulted him, she even mocked the feelings he professed to have for her and still he kept doing nice things for her. She had taken special care to avoid him in the past four months, so why did he have to be here now?
There, she could see them coming out of the house. Krillin, the little green kid, and Picollo, the big green Namek who had almost beaten her brother.
"Hey, no problem Dende. I still can't believe you got the Dragon to grant us two wishes instead of one. You're doing a great job as Guardian. What do you think Picollo?"
"He's doing well."
"Don't worry Dende, that kind of compliment from Picollo is like a gushing of emotion from anyone else."
"I know. I'm just glad Nail... I mean Picollo agreed to stay and help me."
"It's not like I've got anything else to do, kid," the taller Namekian said.
"That's true," Krillin said. "It feels good not to have anyone trying to destroy the world for once. I wonder if Goku was right about how everyone was just trying to get to hi... Android 18!"
Android 18 mentally cringed. Krillin called out her name with excitement and glee when it should have been with anger or fear. It just wasn't right.
"Dende, stand back," Picollo warned, going into a fighting stance.
"Hey wait Picollo. Let's find out why she's here before we get into anything hasty," Krillin said. "She's not here to fight."
Then there was just a slight pause that made Android 18 smile as Krillin looked at her and grimaced.
"You aren't are you?"
"No," she said.
Krillin sighed with relief. His face broke into a smile and Android 18's bad mood returned.
"So how can we help you?"
"I need to find my brother."
"What's that got to do with us?" Picollo demanded.
"You guys always seem to be able to find us. At least you did five months ago."
"Why would we help you?"
"Why not? Bald boy over there seemed pretty eager to help me last time."
Krillin was surprised. He didn't think Android 18 had noticed. When she flew away four months ago part of him had been sure it was the last time he would ever see her. Nice to know he was wrong
It was good to see her again. She hadn't changed much in four months. Her clothes were different, although it looked like she was still favoring the white shirt and dark pants look. Krillin felt better just knowing that she was okay.
"I think I can help," he said.
"You?" Android 18 asked, surprised. "How can you help?"
Krillin took a small device from his pocket. "This is a tracker, it's set up to find the energy signatures unique to androids built by Dr. Gero. Bulma made it for me."
"Why?" Android 18 asked suspiciously.
Krillin laughed nervously. "Well I mentioned to her what happened and Bulma thought it would be a nice gesture. You know, just in case I ever wanted to find you, or something."
"I see," Android 18 said accusingly.
"No, it's not like that," Krillin all but screamed. "I haven't used it." He didn't mention that sometimes he turned it on just to make sure that Android 18 was still alive. That kind of thing gave him comfort.
"Give it to me," Android 18 said.
"Give it to me. I'm going to find my brother."
"But what if I need it?"
"For what? Are you going to track me down so you can peep on me taking a shower?"
"No! I mean what if I need to find you for some reason."
"Trust me little man, you'll never have a reason."
"Just give me the tracker."
"No. Not unless I can go with you."
Android 18 stared at him and suddenly Krillin regretted his words. This could only serve to alienate him from her, but Krillin didn't want her to just leave his life again. If Android 18 wanted to live the rest of her life in seclusion at the very least Krillin wanted to was see her off.
Android 18 shrugged. "Whatever. Just don't expect me to slow down so you can keep up."
Krillin grinned and walked forward. Picollo grabbed his shoulder.
"Are you sure you want to do this Krillin. It could be dangerous."
"It's okay. I don't think she'll try to hurt me. We haven't heard of her or her brother doing anything in the past four months, why should she start now. Besides, I don't think she's got it in her."
"Be careful then. I don't trust them."
Krillin just smiled. Picollo removed his hand and Krillin handed Android 18 the tracking device. It beeped once.
"Fine let's go," she said and jumped off the side of the platform. Krillin followed after her.
They flew away, Android 18 leading the way.
Nothing was said between the two. Krillin used the time to watch Android 18. The last time they had been together things had been hectic. Now that the world wasn't in danger he was able to give her his complete attention.
She must have noticed because she stopped and turned around.
"What are you doing?" she asked angrily.
"Huh? Nothing."
"You were looking at my ass!"
"No! You've got me all wrong! I wouldn't do that!"
"Then why were you looking at me."
"I... That is to say... You look really good."
"Like I need you to tell me that."
"Uh, sorry."
"Hmmph." Android 18 turned back around and flew off.
Krillin sighed and flew after her. After another hour he spoke up, "So how have you been doing these past few months?"
Android 18 screeched to a halt and turned. She stood floating in the air, an angry look on her face. Krillin stopped next to her, a confused look on his face.
"Is everything okay?" he asked, concerned.
"Why are you doing this?!" she screamed. "Why can't you leave me alone?"
Krillin jumped back in sudden fear. One look at her pained face and he could fear her no longer. She was angry, that much was evident from the tone of her voice, but there was something more. Could it be fear? No, impossible, Krillin couldn't imagine her being afraid.
"I-I'm not sure," he stammered. "I just wanted to help you."
"Oh so what? Poor little woman needed the big strong man's help? Did you think I'd be so grateful I'd fall into your arms?"
"No!" a stunned Krillin almost squealed. His arms were gesturing his defiance, looking all to much like a poorly executed attack. He put them down quickly, not wanting to embarrass himself further. "I just thought maybe you could use some help. It's not easy to take on a guy like..."
He mentally groaned.
"Like who? My brother? Me?"
"I didn't mean it like that. I just meant if he's not feeling to friendly you might want some back up."
"What? You?"
"Well yeah."
"Don't make me laugh, little man. My brother and I could easily take you apart."
"You shouldn't underestimate people," Krillin said with more confidence than he felt. "I'm no Super Saiyan but I can hold my own."
"Hold this!" Android 18 screamed as in a blur of motion she brought her fist forward into his face.
Or at least that was the plan.
To both their surprise Krillin deflected the blow easily.
"What is this?" Android 18 asked angrily, the annoyance almost tangent in her voice.
Krillin was staring at his hands with awe. He knew he had become stronger since the Androids first appeared, but he had no idea he was this much stronger. The intense training he had undergone to face Cell must have paid off. Could it be that he now surpassed the Androids?
Android 18 put his theory to the test. With a barrage of kicks and punches she tried to land a blow on the young bald man. Krillin deflected every attack.
Much more at home with fighting than trying to deal with women, Krillin was in his element. He was more than holding his own against the woman that had beaten up Vegita. At the power level he was at he might even be a match for Frieza.
He was deflecting the best close combat attacks Android 18 had. And dare he say it? He was doing it with ease.
Krillin grabbed her arms as they accelerated toward his head. Maneuvering skillfully, he avoided her kicks but held onto her arms, keeping them firmly in place at her sides.
"Do we really have to continue?" he asked wearily.
Android 18 tried to struggle from his grip to no avail. "This is impossible," she protested. "You can't be this strong."
Krillin was about to say something witty but he stopped himself. He just couldn't bring himself to say anything mean to the beautiful cyborg. She didn't seem like herself. Her normally unimpassioned face was twisted in fear.
Fear? What could she possibly have to fear?
"Now what?" she asked, trying to maintain her sarcastic front. She was failing, Krillin could hear her voice tremble. "The p-poor little g-girl is at your mercy, going t-to make her love you? M-make her y-your girl or else?"
Krillin let go of her, so fast it was as if she were on fire. He flew back, putting distance between them, trying to get away from her piercing eyes.
"I-I'm sorry," he said, tears beginning to form in his eyes. "I didn't mean to... I... Sorry!"

He flew away, leaving Android 18 alone to look at the place he had once been, her mechanical heart beating furiously. How had Krillin gotten so strong? Just a few months ago he had been frozen with fear at the prospect of fighting her or her brother. He had been so pathetic that she had kissed him on the cheek to tease him.
When Cell had tried to absorb her he had come to her aid and was of no help whatsoever. Cell absorbed her and for a while she had ceased to exist. When she woke up Krillin's face hovered over her own, concern clearly visible.
It didn't make sense. People didn't get concerned about her. She was an Android, people feared her. If someone was nice to her it was because they were afraid of what she would do to them.
So why was someone clearly stronger than her being so nice? Krillin had a chance to deactivate her, he chose to destroy the destruct mechanism. Krillin had a chance to let Vegita kill her, instead he pleaded for her life. Krillin had a wish and he wished for her happiness.
It didn't make sense. People didn't act that way. It had to be a trick.
Yes a trick, He was planning to hurt her. She remembered the momentary look of smugness on his face.
She would make Krillin pay.
The tracking device began to beep. It showed two signals. One was right in the center of the screen, obviously hers. The other was only a few miles away. Android 18 smiled.

Krillin wasn't sure where he should go. After how he had behaved he didn't feel he had a right to go home. He wanted to talk to someone, but Goku was dead. Gohan had his hands full, Yamcha wouldn't understand, Master Roshi would have just wanted to know how Android 18's breasts looked, and there was no way he could tell Chi-chi or Bulma what happened.
He had seen the fear in Android 18's eyes.
Oolong called her a monster. So what did that make Krillin? The monster's monster?
He called upon all his training, going all the way back to his training at the monastery. The answer came to him, he had to do penance. It was the only way. Then, if his soul ever felt clean again, he could tell his friends what happened and ask their forgiveness.
Krillin landed in a nice abandoned stretch of forest. This would be his home now. He would train beneath the stars until he had cleaned away the hatred and anger in him. Otherwise he would become arrogant and cruel. He would be Vegita. Krillin shuddered at the thought.
Eventually he would need to make a shelter, but for now he would just train. He leapt into the air and began to attack invisible enemies with a flurry of punches and kicks. He allowed his mind to focus completely on his attacks, even throwing in the occasional destructo disc.
When he had cleared his mind Krillin began to wind down his training. That's when the attack came from his right. It was fast, so fast that he barely even saw it. But he did see it.
He braced himself and blocked just as Android 17 torpedoed into him. By carefully manipulating the force of the impact Krillin was able to throw the Android away from him. The black haired android tumbled through the air and landed on his feet.
"Eighteen told me what happened," Android 17 sneered. "For that you will pay."
Krillin nodded. So Android 18 had been able to find her brother and told him everything that happened. Krillin agreed that he needed to be punished, but he didn't think the Android's idea of punishment was in line with his own. Android 17 was probably thinking of something along the lines of death.
Android 17 rushed at Krillin and battered the bald warrior with a multitude of punches and kicks, all of which were deftly blocked. Android 17 seemed surprised, but showed no sign of letting up.
Which is when Krillin was attacked from behind with a strong kick to his knees. Taken by surprise, Krillin fell to his knees and was subjected to blows from both Android 17 and the second fighter. Krillin shot into the air to evade them and give himself time to catch his breath.
A quick glance to the ground confirmed his suspicions, the second fighter was Android 18. That was bad. Against either Android Krillin was pretty sure he would prevail, but against both of them he had little chance. Not if they both wanted him dead.
So Krillin did the only thing he could. He landed and stood perfectly still.
Android 17 flew toward him, his fist already extended for a torpedo punch. Android 18 waited a few seconds and then began her charge from a perpendicular angle so that if Krillin suddenly jumped the two wouldn't crash into each other.
Krillin made no move and so Android 17's blow hit him first, sending him flying into a tree. He grunted as the force of the impact caused the tree to collapse.
Slowly he got up and was struck in the head with a roundhouse kick by Android 18. It sent him into another tree, which also fell. Before he could get up Android 17 kicked him high into the air where Android 18 was waiting to bring both her fists down onto his back, hurtling him towards the earth and making a large crater in the forest floor.
Krillin stood up once more, drooping slightly and clutching his ribs. The Androids readied themselves, prepared to avoid whatever attack Krillin had planned. But he did nothing.
Cautiously Android 17 let fire an energy beam. It slammed into Krillin's shoulder and sent him flying three feet, where he crashed unpoetically to the edge of the crater.
Krillin stood up.
"This is getting annoying," Android 17 said.
"This doesn't make any sense. He's stronger than us," Android 18 said. "He should be trying to defend himself at the very least."
"I think your great threat realizes he can't take on the both of us and is looking for a fast death. Far be it from me to deny him."
Android 17 let loose a volley of energy beams in Krillin's direction. It was a wide series of shots, meant so that only a few needed to hit in order to do the required damage. Many of them would miss. In fact given Krillin's size most of them would miss. But a few would hit, and that was enough.
The range of the shots was abnormally wide, something Krillin realized seconds before Android 17, and long before Android 18.
Krillin leapt to his right, right in front of the path of the energy beam heading towards Android 18's head. It hit Krillin squarely in the chest before Android 18 registered what was going on.
Krillin stayed on the forest floor for a short minute to gather what remained of his strength. When he felt enough of it return he pushed himself on his hand and knees and was swiftly kicked in the stomach by Android 17. He landed at Android 18's feet. She looked down at his pitifully battered body and frowned.

"Why don't you fight back?" Android 18 demanded.
Krillin slowly looked up at her. Looked at her beautiful face and remembered it twisted in horror.
"I don't deserve to fight back after the way I treated you."
She stared at him, the shock registering on her face. "W-what are you talking about? Get up and fight us."
Krillin said nothing so she kicked him in the ribs, sending him flying into the sky. He landed twenty feet away with a grunt.
"Fight us!" she yelled at him. "I know you're strong enough, so why don't you fight! I'll kill you if you don't!"
"I'm sorry," he mumbled. He could taste the blood rising up his throat.
"Stop that!" she screamed, kicking him again. This time it wasn't with enough force to send him airborne.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have scared you. You don't deserve better."
"Stop that! Stop being nice to me!" Android 18 kicked him a few more times to emphasize her point.
Android 17 picked up Krillin's limp body by the neck. "You shouldn't have messed with my sister."
Krillin tried to apologize once more but was forced to cough. He sprayed a red mist all over 17's face.
"You'll pay for that," the android said darkly.
Krillin felt the artificial fingers close around his windpipe. The young fighter didn't have enough will power left to try and stop it.
Maybe he didn't deserve to.
Oh well, at least he'd be able to hang out with Goku again.

Something just wasn't right. Her brother held Krillin's life in his hands, ready to extinguish it, and Android 18 couldn't help but think that it felt wrong.
That was stupid. Krillin had to pay for what he had done. He had tried to play with her emotions by being nice to her. Pretended to like her.
Nobody liked Android 18. They feared her or they tried to kill her. She was the mechanical monster created by Dr. Gero.
It was what she deserved.
Wasn't it?
No, she couldn't think like that. She was a killer. She was evil.
Except in Krillin's eyes.
No that was a trick! A trick, to hurt her. To make her suffer. Everyone wanted her to suffer. So she had to do it to them first, hurt them before they could hurt her.
Krillin saved her life multiple times. Kept her safe from Cell after she was ejected. Removed the self-destruct mechanism in her body with a wish from the dragon. Fled because he thought he had scared her. He would never hurt her.
It was all part of a trick. He only pretended to love her.
But what if it wasn't a trick?
Of course it was a trick. Or else it meant admitting that he genuinely liked her. It meant giving up a part of the defenses she had spent so long to build. The defenses that saved her from Dr. Gero, from Cell.
Why? Why would the defenses fall?
Because if Krillin liked her then she was vulnerable.
Because Krillin would use that opening to attack her, make her less than she was.
Krillin wouldn't do that.
Yes he would. Any man would. They're all beasts.
Krillin was different.
No he wasn't! He was the worst.
Android 18 liked him. Krillin was the first person in a long time that she could be around and not be angry. And he would use that against her.
Krillin wouldn't do that.
Yes he would. Remember that smug look on his face when they both realized he was stronger than her? He was no different than anyone else.
Then why did he apologize?
Because he was trying to hide it. Trying to make Android 18 think he was different.
Krillin was different! He was special!
No he wasn't! Every time Android 18 was around him she felt nervous and scared.
Like a girl in love.
Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Krillin was evil! He was pain! He would hurt her more than anyone else!
Why did she have to keep telling herself that?
Because it was true!
Because she wanted to believe it was true.
It was true!
Then why didn't she believe it.
She did. Really she did.
Then why was she arguing with herself. Who was this voice in her head that wanted her to trust Krillin? Maybe even to love him.
She didn't know.
Yes she did. She just had to think hard enough.
The small part of her that had survived Dr. Gero's tampering. The part that wasn't filled with rage and hatred.
It still existed?
She could feel it now. It had always been that one part of her that seemed off, the part she had tried to silence.
Krillin wasn't going to hurt her, was he?
No he wasn't.
Android 17 turned to look at her. "What?"
"Stop it! Don't kill him."
Android 17 shrugged and tossed Krillin's lifeless body to the ground. "Whatever. He's on the verge of death anyway."
Android 18 knelt beside Krillin's body and placed her hand over his heart. She could just make out a faint, erratic heartbeat.
"He needs a Sensu bean," she said.
"And where are we supposed to find those?" Android 18 snorted.
"The green kid."
"The little green boy. He can heal anyone. He healed me. We've got to get Krillin there."
"This is ridiculous, just let the bald weenie die. It won't matter."
"No! It matters. Krillin's different."
"If you're not going to help me I'll do this myself," Android 18 said. She picked up Krillin's body and flew off into the air.

Krillin wasn't sure what was going on. He felt that he was flying really fast, but he wasn't concentrating his energy so that was impossible. He also felt like he was being cradled by something very warm.
Android 18 landed next to Picollo but ignored the large green Namekian warrior. Instead she mad a bee-line straight to the young green boy standing by the entrance to the Palace. He was the guardian of the planet and a healer.
Dende wasn't worried that the monster known as Android 18 was walking towards him. His eyes were glued to the small figure in his arms. It was his friend.
"You, green kid. Heal Krillin, or I'll kill you."
"Don't threaten him," Picollo said angrily.
"It's okay Picollo. She just wants to help Krillin. Isn't that right?" Dende asked.
Momentarily forgetting herself, Android 18 nodded. "Yes, please."
"Okay. Just lay him on the ground."
Android 18 did as she was told and stepped back.
Dende approached Krillin's prone body and placed his hands upon it. Android 18 watched as Dende concentrated and all the bruises on Krillin's body gradually disappeared. Soon there wasn't a scratch on him.
Android 18 gasped with delight. She fell to her knees next to Krillin's body and brought her hands close to his heart, afraid to touch his body for fear that she might undo the healing.
Krillin awoke with a start and sat up. Android 18's hands flew back to her own chest on reflex.
"What happened?" Krillin asked groggily.
"You were hurt so Android 18 brought you to me," Dende said calmly.
"Wow, good thing. Last thing I remember was being pretty beat up."
"Yes, how did you get so many injuries in such a short amount of time? Is there a new threat?"
"Oh, no, I just got in a little scrape," Krillin laughed. "Nothing to worry about. Android 18 must have saved me."
Android 18 stared at Krillin in disbelief. If he had told them the truth then Picollo would have taken her apart, but he was lying to them, for her. She had seriously underestimated this man. Fortunately part of her hadn't. Krillin had reawakened the one small shred of humanity left in her.
She grabbed his big bald head and kissed him squarely on the lips. A small part of her tingled with excitement, and now she knew which part. The last time she had kissed him it was meant to tease his weakness, this time it was a token of her appreciation, and just a little bit of it was an expression of her affection.
When she pulled away from him she became aware that three sets of eyes were on her. The faces connected to those eyes were all firmly rooted in stupefaction.
Android 18 remembered herself and stood up.
"You're better. Good. Next time don't take my brother and I so lightly."
"Uh, yeah," Krillin agreed.
Android 18 pointed her index finger at the ground and carved a series of numbers into the platform's floor with a few well timed energy blasts. "I'll be at my brother's house. Call me."
"Uh, okay."
"Good." She leaned over, kissed Krillin lightly on the cheek, and ran off the edge of the platform.
"Krillin, what just happened?" Dende asked.
"I don't know Dende, but I think it's a good thing."


On To Chapter Two ~~~>