That Fat Guy in a Red Suit (2/2)
Goku crawled into their large bed that night, a worried expression on his face. Vegeta had been really quiet since their disastrous trip to the mall, but while the two younger kids had been too excited by the new turn of events to notice their shorter father’s black mood, Goku and his older son had not. “Koi, are you ok?”
“Hn.” Eyes remained stubbornly fixated on the ceiling.
The prince abruptly sat up in bed, obsidian eyes flashing dangerously. “I was so close! No, there must be another way… The brats were almost convinced!”
Goku fell back on his rump in shock. “Huh..wha..?”
It turned out that the prince wasn’t just simply sulking; he had been thinking hard of a plan as well. “Look. The stories say that fat fraud lives in the North Pole, right? A house or something like that? Well, tomorrow we’ll bring them up to search the place. If we prove to them that no such place exists, then they have to realize that the fat guy doesn’t exist!” Vegeta crowed. “I’m brilliant!”
“But…it’s Christmas’ Eve tomorrow!”
Goku sighed, recognizing the stubborn look on his lover’s face, and gave in. He couldn’t really come up with a good excuse, and Vegeta was unlikely to acquiesce even if he did. ‘”Oh, all right…” He wrapped his arms around the smaller prince and pulled him closer with a grin, intending to take advantage of his mate’s sudden upswing in mood.
After breakfast was cleared away the next morning, Vegeta demanded, “Where is that fat guy in red supposed to reside?”
“He means where does Santa Claus live?” Goku explained. “Directly above the North Pole, right?”
“Yep.” Goten nodded enthusiastically. “It’s a workshop where he makes toys for all of us!”
“All right then. Get dressed.” Vegeta stood up with a smirk. “We’re all going to the North Pole!”
The boys quickly ran to their room to change, excited at the thought of meeting Santa Claus. Goku watched them go with a small frown of worry. “I hope they won’t be too disappointed…”
“Tch.” Vegeta sniffed. “They’ll get over it. I think it’s more important that they know the truth. And remember, it’s your fault in the first place.” At his mate’s hurt look, he rolled his eyes. “Partially your fault.”
Goku sighed. On one hand, he liked seeing his kids happy, and he had personally found the tale of Santa Claus to be enchanting when he first heard it from Chi Chi. Since then, he had enjoyed playing dress-up for his sons and thought it was a harmless bit of sweetness and fun that added to the festivities in winter. On the other hand, when stated baldly by the frank prince, it did sound really bad. They had been deliberately deceiving their children and setting them up for future disappointment.
A few minutes later, five warmly dressed Saiyans were gathered in their living room. All were wearing their thickest woolens and fleece-lined jackets. Goku fussed a bit as he tried to get the boys to wear another jacket over their current ones, while the boys shifted impatiently. Although they were only half-Saiyans, their metabolism was high enough that they rarely suffered from the chill, even in the coldest part of the winter season.
“Daad…” Gohan whined, a little embarrassed. He was practically a teenager, for Kami’s sake! Bad enough that his mother still fussed over him, but to have his dad hovering around was truly exasperating. “Let’s go already.”
“Enough, Kakarrot.” Vegeta snapped. “I hardly think we’ll die there… We are Saiyans after all.”
“Well, ok.” Goku smiled sheepishly. He sat Goten on his shoulders and then reached for both his older son’s and his mate’s hands while Vegeta held onto Trunks’ with his other hand. And the party of five winked out.
They reappeared, gasping at the blast of frigid air. As they hovered in mid-air, their breath coming out in little visible puffs, they turned and surveyed the famous North Pole.
It was pitch black.
“Why is it nighttime here, ‘tousan?” Trunks whispered to his father. All the boys were shocked; the North Pole was not anything like they had imagined. They had thought it would be a snowy, cheerful landscape, sunshiny and dotted with snow-laden, Christmassy-type trees.
Instead, what little they could see by the glow that emanated from the hovering Saiyans revealed that the icy, snowy landscape was starkly bare and dark. The white expanse beneath them reflected and refracted the yellows and blues of their energy signatures into an eerie greenish mix.
It was all really eye-opening, especially with the arctic winds howling in their ears. Their fathers’ ki shield helped to muffle the whistling and lessen the chilly winds, but it was still unnerving.
“Well, that’s the interesting thing about the North Pole, Trunks.” Vegeta replied gruffly, glad that he had awoken early to read up before breakfast. “For six months of the year, it’s daytime all the time at the North Pole and nighttime all the time for the other six months.”
“You mean it’s a six-month long night?” Gohan asked incredulously.
“Yep.” Goku was glad Vegeta had given him a briefing after doing all the research.
The three older Saiyans powered up, allowing their visible aura to expand and lighting up the inky darkness. At the same time, their raised ki helped keep them warm. Goku brought Goten down from his shoulders and hugged him close to his body, allowing the young boy to share in his body heat. Even Vegeta held Trunks close, wrapping a protective arm around his son’s waist. Trunks gave a pleased sigh and sank into the warm circle as he continued looking around curiously.
“Where’s the North Pole?” Goten asked after they flew around in slow circles for a while.
“This is the North Pole, Goten.”
“But, where’s the red and white pole?” Trunks looked confused at Goku’s answer.
“Kakarrot is right. This is the North geographic pole, or True North. The northernmost part of this planet. There is no red and white pole to mark it.” Vegeta pointed to the ice below. “See that? It’s all ice. We’re actually right above the Arctic Ocean and the North Pole is mainly sea-ice. There is no way Santa Claus could live here.” 1
“Umm….maybe he stayed further out?” Goten asked hopefully. Catching Vegeta’s eye, Goku gave a quick nod. Vegeta rolled his eyes with an ‘oh all right’ expression, and increasing their speed, they flew on.
As they flew further away, the ice started to break up, and they could occasionally see jagged channels of greenish water between the large ice floes. They did not find the ‘red and white pole’ or any possible evidence that Santa Claus could stay at the North Pole, but they did see the artic wildlife. Polar bears reared up awkwardly on their hind legs with curious looks as the glowing figures flew over them while walruses lay lazily at the edge of the ice.
“So fat!” Trunks pointed to a particularly large bull elephant and erupted in giggles. Occasionally, the boys would pipe up with questions and their fathers tried their best to answer.
“Where are the penguins?” Goten wondered.
Gohan broke in excitedly before either father could reply. “Those are found only at the South Pole.” He smirked. “I learnt that in school.”
“Is that a …rabbit?” Gohan asked in surprise. Sharp Saiyan eyes immediately turned to see the tiny blob on the snow-covered ice below.
“An arctic hare.” Vegeta nodded. “They’re larger and hardier than the rabbits you know.”
Sparse tundra vegetation now dotted the landscape and herds of reindeer and musk ox grazed placidly. Arctic foxes and wolves froze warily in mid-movement, and a large snowy owl flapped away in alarm as Trunks naughtily lobbed a small ki ball at it.
“Otousan? If that was the North geographic pole, then what about the magnetic pole?” Gohan tried to recall his geography lessons.
“It’s not the same; it’s further south, somewhere in Artic Canada.”
“Then, what about the …ahm….lights that I read can be seen up here?” The adolescent’s face crinkled in concentration.
“The Aurora Borealis?” Vegeta cocked his head.
“Oh yeah, right! That’s the name... term I was trying to remember!”
“What’s that?” Goten interrupted.
“It’s a display of lights also known as the Northern Lights or fox fires.” Goku looked at his mate, who nodded. “And they normally appear near the North Pole here. The South Pole has its own Southern Lights too.”
“But we didn’t see anything just now.” Trunks felt cheated.
“Kakarrot wasn’t referring to the True North, where we came from. There is a third kind of North Pole, called the Geomagnetic North Pole, in Greenland, and the Aurora Borealis is commonly seen at this North Pole.“ 2
“Have you seen it, ‘tousan?” Trunks thought it all sounded very interesting. When his father shook his head, he said excitedly. “Then, can we go?”
Vegeta shrugged and flew closer to his mate, lightly gripping his shoulder as Gohan did the same. The one Internet site he found on the auroras didn’t have any pictures and he wasn’t all that excited. He had seen such celestial phenomena before; he had spent a fair amount of time traveling in space. “Do you know where it is, Kakarrot? About a thousand plus, maybe a thousand three, miles west of the True North.”
They stopped in mid-air as the brawny Saiyan tried to get his bearings. He wasn’t sure just how he did it; it came rather naturally to him, but over the years since he had mastered in Instant Transmission technique, his sense of direction and distance judgment had improved tremendously.
Vegeta may have thought that he had seen quite a number of astounding things in his lifetime, but the sight that greeted them when they reappeared took his breath away as well. The Saiyan family floated open-mouthed and wide-eyed, utterly mesmerized as bands and curtains and wisps of vibrating color danced around them. Beautiful, haunting streamers of red, green, blue and violet flickered against the inky velvet night sky, constantly changing and dynamic, constantly hypnotic and bewitching.
“Wow.” The boys were speechless.
“It’s beautiful.” Goku whispered. “Magnificent.”
Vegeta could only nod mutely in agreement. He had read that it was the largest display of lights in the world, and very beautiful, but mere words could not adequately describe the dazzling splendor around them.
They were not sure how long they spent admiring the resplendent display before them; they only came to when their stomachs started growling. The two younger boys were starting to shiver slightly as well, and so, despite the boys’ protests that they were fine, their fathers decided it was time to go back.
“After all, there will always be other occasions!” Goku chuckled just before he took them home.
It was late afternoon when they appeared in their living room again. Vegeta lowered his son to the floor. “So, do you believe me now?”
Both Trunks and Goten nodded slowly. “And how do you feel?” Goku asked carefully.
The two boys thought for a few seconds, and then Goten admitted. “A little sad…”
“But not too sad.” Trunks finished the sentence.
“Why?” Gohan looked surprised.
“Well, we don’t need Santa Claus when we have you to give us presents…” Goten grinned up widely at his two fathers.
“And he’s just Santa Claus; he’s not you.” Trunks injected. Japan’s richest boy waved his hand flippantly. “No big deal. It is just presents…”
“For you…” Goten gave his best friend a sour look, but then burst out laughing. “And seeing the real North Pole was so much better.”
“Yeah!” Trunks’ matching grin was just as happy. It had been a fabulous day. His usually gruff father had carried him the whole time during the trip, and although the prince had taken them to the North Pole to prove that Santa Claus was just a myth, it had been all for them. Their fathers had taken all that trouble just for them, especially his birth father. Despite his shivering, he felt a warm fuzzy glow on the inside, and impulsively, he hugged his ‘tousan around the waist. “Arigato, ‘tousan, Dad.”
“Go and get changed out of the clothes, brats.” Vegeta didn’t really know how to handle the sudden display of affection, but he was pleased nonetheless.
“Aww, thanks Dad, but there was really no need to get us stockings.” Gohan pointed to the row of five red stockings hanging over the fireplace as he pulled off his hat, jacket and scarf.
“Yeah, now that we know that Santa Claus isn’t real.” Trunks took off his jacket and accessories, hanging them up neatly.
The two fathers watched as their boys skipped back to their bedroom to change and then questioned simultaneously. “Was it you who put up the stockings?”
“You mean, you didn’t put it up?” Goku asked in confusion. “Well, maybe it was Chi Chi or Bulma, but I thought they were in the Bahamas?”
“Maybe one of the others. Maybe it was Baldy; it’s just the kind of thing he would do.” Vegeta shrugged, frowning. “Though, I thought I had told you not to give anyone else the key.”
“I didn’t.” Goku was really puzzled.
Vegeta looked at the stocking with his name stitched on it and peered in. His eyes widened in shock as he pulled out a handful of candies. “These… these are traditional Saiyan sweets…I’ve not seen these since I was …back on Vegetasei…”
“How…?” Both males snapped their heads up as they heard the faint jingle of bells.
1 The North Polar Region consists primarily of water, the Arctic Ocean, surrounded by land. The South Polar Region consists of land, the Antarctic continent, surrounded by water, the Southern Ocean.
2 It is the north end of the axis of the magnetosphere, the geomagnetic field that surrounds earth. Ions from the sun travel outwards at high speeds in a stream of plasma (ions) known as the solar wind. As the solar wind interacts with the edge of the earth's magnetic field, some of the particles are trapped by it and they follow the lines of magnetic force down into the ionosphere. When the particles collide with the gases in the ionosphere they start to glow, producing the auroras, northern and southern.
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