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Rice Ball

Videl was not a happy camper. Her father, the man who had encouraged her tomboyish traits, who had taught her everything she knew about martial arts, had decided that she needed to learn some somewhat different skills. Her extracurricular activities had the unintended (or perhaps intended; no one was quite sure) side effect of scaring any potential boyfriends away. Although many people thought that Hercule Satan didn't want his little girl to date, let alone get married, the truth was that he was just as anxious for his daughter to settle down and produce grandchildren for him to spoil as any parent was. He just wanted someone strong enough to protect her. In order to speed things along, he had ordered her to learn the matronly art of cooking a good meal. In the (very likely) case that she tried to rebel against learning something so feminine, he told her that she was entering the 35th Annual Satan City Food Festival in six weeks whether she liked it or not, so it would be her fault if her entry was horrible. He reasoned that her competitive nature wouldn't let that happened. He was right.

Now, six weeks later, Videl was standing in a tiny booth, surrounded by the one food that she could make competently: rice balls. Making those things was a lot harder that it looked. The first few times she had tried to make them, all the rice did was stick to her hands because she hadn't wet them. Then the rice fell apart because the grains were too wet. It took a week to find the delicate balance between wet and dry. When she finally learned the difference, things took off from there. A few mishaps later and she was producing perfect rice balls almost every time. She felt quietly triumphant – although they weren't the best ever made, they definitely weren't the worst either.

It was a good thing that she made so rice balls; people knew that she was the daughter of Mr. Satan, the World Martial Arts Champion and defeater of Cell, and everybody wanted to try her dish. The rush of eager patrons didn't show any signs of stopping for what seemed to be forever, but about three hours into the festival it began to slow down. She sighed in relief as she sat down in a conveniently placed chair. Who knew that standing and handing out paper plates could be so tiring? Hearing a voice calling her name, she looked around lethargically.

"Hey Videl!" Erasa called cheerfully as she and Sharpener came up to the booth. "What's cooking?" She giggled at her own joke while Sharpener and Videl rolled their eyes.

"Very funny, Erasa," Videl replied dryly. "Anything else interesting out here?"

"Brains has a booth too," Sharpener informed her. Videl blinked.

"Gohan cooks?" she asked skeptically.

"No," Erasa said, shaking her head. "His mom does. He's just helping her out. You should go check it out!"

Videl shook her own head. "I can't" she demurred. "I don't have anyone else to watch the booth while I'm gone."

"We'll watch it for you!" Erasa piped up at once. She raised an eyebrow at Sharpener, who looked as if he'd rather do anything else. "Won't we Sharpener?" Erasa's voice was sugary-sweet, but her eyes dared him to disagree. Videl stared at the girl as Sharpener muttered something along the lines of "sure." For two people "not going out," Erasa sure kept a tight leash on their blond friend.

Erasa smiled benignly. "It's all settled then," she declared. Hauling Videl out of the chair, she pushed the reluctant girl in the direction of the rest of the festival. "Gohan is down that way," she said, pointing left. "Don't come back until you've had some fun, do you hear me?" Videl smiled and nodded before wandering in the general direction her friend had pointed.

It didn't take long to find the booth. There was still a throng of people lined up and waiting to receive their samples when Videl reached it. A short woman was handing them out as quickly as the little boy beside her could hand them to her. Gohan stood next to the little boy, putting whatever the food was onto napkins. Deciding that there were too many people to push through, Videl got in line. After a bit of a wait, she finally made it to the front. "Hey Gohan!" she greeted.

Gohan looked up at her, startled. "Hi Videl!" he replied. "I didn't know you were here."

Videl opened her mouth to respond, but Gohan's mother cut her off. "Oh, so you're Videl!" she exclaimed. "Gohan's told me so much about you! I'm Son Chi-Chi, Gohan's mother." She made to shake Videl's hand but stopped, looking ruefully at her food-covered hands. "I'd shake your hand, but…" She shook her head, smiling.

"Pleased to meet you ma'am," Videl replied, bowing slightly. "I just came by to see Gohan," she explained, accepting a tiny dorayaki cake. Chi-Chi's smile widened even further at her words.

"Gohan, take a break," she ordered. "Goten and I can manage fine for a few minutes without you." Gohan blinked. "Um, okay," he replied, confused but compliant. He grabbed a napkin and wiped his hands off as he slipped out of the stall.

"You don't have to do that Mrs. Son," Videl said quickly. "I just wanted to say hi." Chi-Chi waved her hand negligently.

"Don't worry, Videl, we'll be fine," she replied. "Have fun, you two!" She turned away to serve the next customer, mumbling something that sounded suspiciously like "grandbabies." Gohan blushed and grabbed Videl's arm gently, steering her away from the booth.

"Sorry about her," he apologized, rubbing the back of his neck in embarrassment. "She thinks that any girl that talks to me is my girlfriend and starts talking about grandchildren." Videl stared at him for a moment, a slight blush on her cheeks before she shook her head.

"Don't worry about it," Videl answered, sticking the sweet into her mouth. Her eyes widened. "This is really good!" she mumbled around the mouthful.

"Yeah, Mom's a really good cook," Gohan agreed. "Anyway, what are you doing here?" he queried curiously. "I didn't think that this was something that you'd be interested in." Videl made a face as they began the trek back to her own booth, not that he knew that that was where they were headed.

"My dad made me learn how to cook," she said, irritated. "I have a stall down here. Erasa and Sharpener are supposed to be watching it." Gohan's eyes widened.

"What did you make?" he asked, sounding surprised.

"Rice balls." They reached her booth and she growled. Erasa and Sharpener were nowhere to be found. "I'm going to kill them," she announced, getting back behind the makeshift counter and checking her food. At least everything was still looking okay. She turned to Gohan, picking up a rice ball. "Do you want one?" she asked teasingly and grinned as he nodded hopefully. Of course he wanted one; this was Gohan, after all, and Gohan was perpetually hungry. "Here," she said, placing one in his hand. He ate it quickly as Videl watched somewhat worriedly.

"Is it good?" she asked. He smiled.

"It's great," he replied.

"I know it probably isn't as good as your mother's," Videl went on. She drew a breath to list all the deficiencies of her cooking before Gohan's finger on her lips kept her from speaking.

"It's great," he repeated, taking his hand away from her mouth. "Don't put yourself down." He smiled kindly at her and patted her shoulder gently before walking away, throwing a goodbye over his shoulder as he made his way back to his mother's stall. Videl stared at his retreating figure before another horde of people came hurtling down the street and she had to be ready for another rush. Pushing her hair out of her face, she smiled at the next person in line and handed him his food, strangely happy that Gohan liked her rice ball.

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