Saiyaman gestured away from the crowd that had gathered. "Let's go somewhere where we have a little more… privacy."
"Agreed," said Videl with a grin. Even though she definitely intended to publicise her relationship with Saiyaman, she was in no way ready to do that at the present moment.
The two crimefighters managed to slip away from the crowd, relatively unnoticed, and found a street corner that didn't have many pedestrians around it.
"So, what was it that you wanted to talk to me about?" asked Saiyaman, before murmuring, "Ladies first."
"I-I uhh," Videl stammered a little before clenching her fists and spitting out the rest of her sentence confidently, "wanted to give you my phone number so that we could stay in contact. Y'know, figured that since we fight bad guys together and with what happened… between us… the other day, it'd be a good idea for you to be able to get in touch with me."
She could see a complentative look on the man's face.
"Your phone number?" he repeated questioningly. "I-I guess it couldn't hurt too much, it's just that I don't have a cell phone."
"I'm sure you can manage something," said Videl eagerly as she grabbed a pen and a piece of paper out of her pocket. Placing the piece of paper on her extended knee, she quickly scrawled her phone number onto the piece of paper. "So you wanted to talk to me about something as well, right?"
"Yeah," said the masked man, starting to sound a little unsure of himself. "I just wanted to talk about what happened the other day with that... kiss and all that."
Videl bit her lip. He wasn't going to tell him that he wasn't interested in her or something, was he? She didn't care all that much if he felt attracted to her but that would certainly throw a monkey wrench in the master plan that she and Erasa had devised. "What about it?"
"Uhh, I wanted to honestly ask you," he began, adopting a more stern tone, "if that was just a ploy to try and find out my real identity. I know that you don't like that I keep my face a secret from the public and I know that you've also tried to see what's under my helmet a few times, so…"
Videl's heart began to beat a little faster. When Erasa had discussed this plan with her earlier, the crimefighter had thought of discovering Saiyaman's identity as the 'icing on the cake'. But she couldn't let him know that, no sane person - except for possibly Erasa - would go out with someone who was clearly using them for ulterior motives. "No," she attempted to say convincingly in a half lie. "I… at first I found myself confused by your mysterious tendencies but I became more interested in you, the real you, rather than your identity; I don't care who the man behind the mask is. I promise you that I'm not after your real face."
She heard him breathe a sigh of relief as though a great burden had been lifted from his chest. "Phew, I'm sorry that I had to ask you that but I just needed to make sure," said Saiyaman with a small grin. He stood up a little straighter. "I guess I'll see you around, then."
"Wait!" exclaimed Videl, catching his attention before the man could fly off. She stuck out her right hand, the torn slip of paper still clenched within her grasp. "You've got to take my phone number, I can't wait forever to try and find you again."
"Alright," he said with a playful laugh as he accepted the piece of paper into his gloved hand. "It's been nice talking to you, I'll see you later."
Videl sighed gently as she saw the superhero take off and fly away to god-knows-where. The couldn't help but feel lucky that their conversation hadn't revealed her true intentions because that had been far too close for comfort. The crimefighter glanced at her watch.
2:25. She wasn't due home for quite a while and she didn't have much else to do for the day. The streets of Satan City seemed relatively peaceful and she doubted that the chief would call her in. That left her with one of two options: to either go home and train until she could no longer stand, or she could go find Erasa and work out what to do next.
Training seemed very tempting but it was the fact that she had no idea what to do the next time she ran into Saiyaman that made her choose the latter option. Was she meant to kiss him again? Ignore him? Invite the fighter over to her place? Videl was as clueless as toddler; she had never been in a situation like this before. Erasa would know though, she had done this stuff many times before - Videl had never understood her best friend's fascination with boys but she definitely wasn't ungrateful for it at the moment.
Reaching into her pocket, she paused for a second as she recalled a conversation she'd had with Erasa earlier in the morning. The blonde haired girl had said she was going over to Sharpner's place for a few hours during the day and though Videl hadn't been able to shake the feeling that there was something going on between the two blonds, she didn't allow that to dissuade her as she decapsulated her jet-copter, intent on finding the duo.
"I can't believe that you're actually trying to go out with Saiyaman," said Sharpner as he shook his head in disbelief. "After all the times I tried to get you to just give me a chance in high school."
"Aww don't mind Sharpy, he's just jealous that he doesn't have any superpowers," said Erasa playfully as she stuck out her tongue at the boy.
"It's not like I'm actually going to 'go out' with anyone," responded Videl swiftly. "It's just a facade to get the whole world off my back about Azel."
"That's still probably not going to stop," said Sharpner speculatively. "I mean rumours of a love triangle are just going to spring up instead."
"Not once they see just how in love Satan City's two protectors are," countered Erasa as she grinned. "Besides I think Videl's starting to develop a bit of a thing for Mr. Saiyaman anyway."
Videl fought hard to push back the blush which flushed her cheeks. It wasn't that Erasa's words were true rather that she was embarrassed by how preposterous they were. "Really?" asked the Satan girl as she crossed her arms across her chest. "What gave you that idea?"
"It's just a hunch I have," said Erasa with an all-too-happy smile before glancing towards her fellow blond. "So anyway, Sharpy, have you given any thought into what uni you want to go to?"
"Not really, no," the blond admitted. "I want to go pro with the whole baseball thing, coach says I have a lot of promise but I'm not sure if I want to complete my education first."
"I hear you loud and clear," said Videl as she groaned slightly. "I could either work full time with the cops or go to uni to get a degree so I can become a detective."
"Videl the detective," teased Erasa with a slight smirk. "It has a nice ring to it."
"Well what about you 'rasa?" asked Sharpner as he stifled a yawn. "You wanted to do something in fashion, right?"
"Yeah," said Erasa with a nod. "I'm looking at uni courses but I want to go travelling for a year before I start studying fashion design. I've been trying to save up and get a tiny bit of experience in the field by working at that hair salon."
"You could get a hundred other jobs that would pay more," stated Sharpner, having done research into the job market himself. Pursuing a professional baseball career was a lot of work and often, at least at the beginning, the money wasn't eye-grabbingly huge.
"I don't know Sharpy," said Erasa as she raised a polished fingernail up to her chin thoughtfully. "I like styling hair, in fact you should stop by some time, I'd love to put your hair in a nice little bow."
Videl laughed as the blond scowled. "Erasa's right, I'm quite sure your hair's longer than mine."
"Hah-hah," said Sharpner sarcastically as he looked to change the topic. "Didn't you say something about Mr. Satan wanting you to take over the reigns or something once?"
It took a moment for Videl to understand what the boy meant. "Oh yeah, that too. Dad wants me to kind of slowly replace him as he gets older. Y'know the next big world champ with all that comes with it - the business and everything."
"I could imagine," said Erasa with a sympathetic look on her face. "You poor thing."
"Are you kidding?" asked Sharpner, "That sounds like it would be awesome. Besides Videl loves fighting, right?"
"Dad?" called Videl as she stepped into her home. There was no answer. "Dad, I'm home."
A small amount of light was emanating from the dining room, clearly visible through the otherwise-unlit house. Videl knew that it wasn't the cleaner because the maid who cleaned the house for them liked to work in a brightly lit area. And besides it was too quiet - a low murmuring could be heard, quite different to the distinct sound of a vacuum cleaner.
She took a cautious step forward, unsure whether or not to call for her father again. As she walked closer to the dining room, the girl was able to hear low murmuring. Videl quickly recognised that there were two voices, one sounded like her father but she couldn't quite make out the other. Unsure of what to make of the situation, she anxiously took a few more steps forward.
"Ah Videl," said her father as his eyes fell towards her approaching form. He had a glass of whiskey raised in his hand, and swirled it contemplatively as he looked at her. "I was wondering when you'd join us."
Videl nodded in acknowledgement of her father's words before scanning the room for the other voice. Surprisingly, she found two other people in the room and when she recognised them, the girl wasn't very pleased at all. Azel and Mackenzie Castrol.
"It's great to see you again, Videl. What a fine, young lady you are growing up to be," said Mr. Castrol, Azel's father. "I'm sure your mother would be proud."
Videl bit her tongue. She didn't think very fondly of the Castrols after the whole romance fiasco that they had sparked and truthfully felt that neither of them had the right to mention her late mother, but the crimefighter also knew that now was not the time. She composed herself. "Thanks."
The Castrols were dressed rather formally, Videl noted, as Azel wordlessly nodded his head in a greeting. She begrudgingly returned the gesture. Videl had never had too much of a problem with the guy until she had been pushed to date him but that had formed a rift of sorts between the two childhood friends. He had slowly been becoming more of a jerk since age sixteen but that had been what drove the hammer into the nail for Videl.
"So you're probably wondering what we are doing in your house, correct?" asked Mackenzie. His voice, unlike that of his son, had always had an unrecognisable accent to it in Videl's eyes, a manner of speaking that just oozed of wealth. "Well my son is with me since he has to be trained for his eventual acquisition of the family business; I hear that Hercule intends to begin a similar process with you. But I digress, we are here because I have a business proposal for your father."
"Business proposal?" Videl repeated curiously as her eyes made their way towards her father.
He nodded. "Yes, it's a pretty intriguing one if I do say so myself."
Videl tried to ignore Azel's lingering eyes as she turned back to his father. "What kind of business proposal?"
"Ah the curious mind of a future entrepreneur, there is nothing quite like it!" he chuckled a little too excitedly. "As you know, I run a very successful oil business. Some liken it to a monopoly but I am of the opinion that such allegations originate from our more jealous competitors."
Videl sighed at the braggadocio that the old man exuberated. He was incredibly rich but probably twice as arrogant.
"Anyway, I think I shall cut to the chase. If you have not been keeping up to date with advancements in modern technology, a progressively increasing amount of 'green' energy sources have become available. To be truthful, alternative energy sources are nothing new, but their efficiency is something that has only just begun to pick up," said Mr. Castrol as he took a sip of the glass lying on the table in front of him. It was likely the same whiskey that her father was drinking. "I fear that these alternate forms of energy are going to become a threat to us when it comes to pricing."
"Yeah, that makes sense," said Videl as she began to pay more attention to the man. She was technically an honorary police officer and what her father's friend was beginning to talk about seemed as though it could potentially venture into illegal territory. It wasn't unheard of for people to sabotage their competitors.
"I'll warn you now, this is where it stops becoming so black and white," said Mackenzie with a slight smile, leading Videl to question whether that was meant to be a joke of some sort. "To keep up with our competitors' prices, I have devised a unique solution… outer space."
Videl's eyebrows quickly furrowed in confusion. She shot a quick look to her father who had a thoughtful look on his face but she could from his mannerisms that he had already heard this before. What was being said at the moment was just being repeated for her benefit.
"It sounds ridiculous, I know," said Mr. Castrol as he held out a hand as if to wave her fears away. "But believe me when I say that I am far from foolish, I have spent a lot of time and effort researching this and I believe it is a viable option."
"So then why do you need dad's help?" questioned Videl as she raised an eyebrow. The old man alone was probably richer than entire countries put together, and as successful as the Satan family were they didn't really hold a candle to the influential Castrols.
"I'm sure Azel can explain that for you," said Mackenzie dismissively as he turned towards Hercule. "Now that you are up to speed, young miss, I have business to talk with your father."
"Well… basically, the board of directors is hesitant to support dad," Azel explained quickly as Videl's eyes darted to him. "We need investors, but even then most of them are worried about this idea. They think it's crazy, that space is too dangerous - that it'll not yield the right results."
"So dad's just an investor, then?" asked Videl. "Can't you guys support this… idea by yourselves? I mean, if we're being blunt here, you guys have a lot more money than dad and I do."
"You know that money could be yours too one day," Azel began with a contemplative tone. A glare from Videl had him abandon that trail of thought. "Well, I'd imagine that your dad has a much larger say in the decisions of your family business than father and I do in ours. Ideally, we'd like your company to invest in this project. But even if that falls through and Mr. Satan has to make the investment himself, it will still be fairly beneficial given your father's public image. If anyone can sway more investors over to our side, he's the man."
"Then it's not a money issue?" Videl asked in confusion, she wasn't exactly following. Business-talk had always been something that the girl had found over complicated.
"It is, but it isn't," said the young heir. "I'm sure I could explain it to you later on if you're still confused."
"You do realise that things aren't going to back to how they were," said Videl bluntly as she frowned. "I'm not going to start hanging out with you again, Azel."
"I'm sure I could convince you to change your mind but that is irrelevant," said Azel with a smirk that she had come to hate. If there was one thing which helped to remind Videl that the man standing before her was no longer her childhood friend but an arrogant jerk, it was the expression currently upon his face. "You are coming to that event next Sunday, aren't you."
A puzzled look crossed Videl's face as the bitter thoughts running through her head disappeared. "Event?"
"Yeah, that big dinner coming up? According to dad, the world's most rich and influential people are going to be there."
"Oh yeah, I remember now, dad did mention it," said Videl in acknowledgement. "Something about an alternate fuel source, right? I bet that's what got you and the old geezer so riled up."
Azel's flushed red in either anger or embarrassment - Videl couldn't tell - but it returned to a more neutral shade once he realised that his father had not heard Videl's insulting words. "You'd think, but dad's been planning this whole space thing for a long while."
"It's a pretty weird idea, don't you think?" questioned Videl, "I mean it's pretty out ther-"
"That is the crux of my plan," Mr. Castrol's voice rose in volume, cutting Videl off, as the man began to stand up. "I'm afraid I have other affairs to attend to so we must take our leave, but I urge you to give my offer appropriate consideration."
Hercule took another sip of the glass of whiskey firmly grasped within his hand, savouring the taste of the cool liquid as he responded. "I'll think about it."