12 Chapter 12 – Crimson

~ Next Morning ~

The sun hung low in the sky, casting a warm glow over the palm trees that lined Master Roshi's island. A gentle breeze rustled their tall leaves, creating an accompaniment to the soothing sounds of the ocean waves.

Inside the Kame House, a sense of urgency filled the air as residents scrambled to clean up the aftermath of the impromptu party from the previous night. Turtle, with a dedicated expression, was on the floor, diligently wiping up a spill from a drink mishap with a flipper, his tongue slightly lolling out as his scaly face scrunched in concentration.

Meanwhile, Krillin left after-images as he blitzed around the living room tidying up and ensuring that every item found its way back to its original spot. His movements were lightning fast and efficient, a testament to both his training and his familiarity with the interior of the Kame House.

Amid the bustling activity, Ajax stood in front of the sink, his sleeves rolled up as he scrubbed dishes that had accumulated from the previous night's hotpot. The scent of soap and warm water surrounded him along with the clinking of plates and utensils.

Amid the flurry of activity, the main perpetrator behind the mess lounged casually on the couch. A cup of beer rested in Master Roshi's hand as he observed the chaos with serenity, occasionally taking a sip from his drink.

He missed Launch. She would be able to take care of this entire mess alone, with a smile, in under 20 minutes, and somehow also manage to serve watermelons when he knew he didn't have any. She was such a nice housemate, for more reasons than one. God knows how Tien Shinhan managed to steal her from right under his nose when she'd been living with him for years.

It was good to know, though, that he can still blackmail his students into doing manual labor for him, the freeloading little shits. While Ajax can be excused given his age, Master Roshi has a sinking feeling that Krillin will be bunking with him even after some poor gal finally marries him.

"Get a move on! This is important training of the Turtle School!"

The chorus of groans following his command is music to his old ears. Unfortunately, he didn't get to amuse himself with their suffering as much as he would've liked because the roar of an approaching aircraft disrupted the relatively tranquil air. The sound grew progressively louder before swallowing even the noise from the TV.

With a swift turn of his head toward the window, Master Roshi spotted Bulma's plane descending gracefully outside a window, a little too close for comfort. Just above the ground, the plane's engines cut off abruptly, causing it to free-fall the last few feet. The impact sent a furious storm of sand into the air, and a generous portion of it blew directly into the house, landing with pinpoint accuracy straight onto Ajax's unsuspecting face.

"Gyaahhh! I got sand in my eye!"

With a mischievous smile gracing her lips and a spring in her step, Bulma hopped out of her jet's cockpit. Both of Bulma's hands were full of bags filled with an assortment of snacks and treats as she made her way toward the Kame House.

"Hey, everyone! I brought some snacks with me!" Bulma's cheerful greeting announced her arrival as she entered through the door.

Turtle, having just finished putting away the dirty rags he had been using, perked up at the mention of food. He waddled over to Bulma, his beady eyes trained on the snacks she was holding. Master Roshi, still seated on the sofa, lifted his cup of beer in lieu of waving.

"Your boobs are getting perkier every time I see you," he remarked with a familiar lecherous glint in his eyes.

Bulma rolled her eyes at the predictable comment. She instinctively brought her arms to her chest, covering herself to protect her modesty from the ogling eyes of the old martial artist. However, the heavy bags she was carrying in her hands hindered her, stopping her in mid-action. Temper slightly flaring at the failed action, she opted to swing her bags around like a bludgeon instead, nailing Master Roshi in the face.

Master Roshi's grip on his mug faltered and it wobbled precariously from the impact of Bulma's improvised swing. A good portion of the frothy liquid spilled out onto the creaky wooden floor. Beside Bulma, Turtle let out a distressed wail as the beverage splattered onto the freshly cleaned spot he had diligently scrubbed not too long ago. The ancient turtle retreated into his shell, dismayed by the mess.

"Nice to see you too, you perv!" Bulma huffed as she stepped across the spill and set her bags down with a thud, the clinking of bottles and the crinkling of plastic packaging giving a hint of the contents within.

"Feisty! I meant it as a compliment, you know." Master Roshi said chuckling, rubbing his sore nose.

Bulma, her cheeks flushed with annoyed anger, crossed her arms. "Well, maybe try giving a normal compliment next time."

"Can't teach an old dog new tricks, my dear." Master Roshi completed his response with a wink.

Bulma did not dignify Master Roshi's shameless statement with a response. Instead, she turned her gaze to Ajax, her expression shifting to one of faux confusion at the sight of Ajax furiously rubbing his eyes. She leaned in closer, her voice dripping with exaggerated concern, "Are you okay, Ajax?"

"Sand! Everything is sand! It burns!"

"Oh! That's my B!" Bulma giggled and adopted a cutesy pose, her index finger resting on her chin and playfully sticking her tongue out. "Guess I should've parked the plane on the other side!

"Bullshit! Don't think I didn't see you circling the house, selecting your landing spot, and free-falling the last few feet! You did it on purpose because you still haven't forgiven me for requesting a second wish!"

"Yeah, yeah, just because your desired body isn't functioning as expected doesn't mean you get another shot at making yourself actually immortal this time."

"I wasn't going to!"

"Nice try buddy."


"It's okay! I'm sure that body of yours will adapt."

The rest of the residents in the house swung their heads like pendulums, observing the back and forth between the two. Ajax, greatly irritated emotionally and literally, abandoned the argument with a huff and started to wash his eyes under the running water.

As the small argument ran its course, the other residents began to settle down and organize the snacks on the table. A comfortable silence fell in the house, interrupted only by the sound of Ajax's faint cursing and the rushing water from the sink.

"So, when's Goku coming?" Bulma threw the question into the room, breaking the silence.

"30 minutes ago, according to what he said," Master Roshi replied, shrugging as he sipped on a bottle of tea that caught his interest.


"Well, no one has ever accused Goku of being able to count," Krillin cut in, a wry grin on his face.

Laughter rang around the room at the joke at Goku's expense. While Goku's punctuality is questionable, he can always be counted on when it comes to things that really matter, so it was impossible to stay mad at their good-natured friend for too long. 

While laughing along with the others, Ajax couldn't seem to shake the feeling that something was off. It's like he'd seen this before, like déjà vu. As quickly as the feeling had come, it faded away.

"Speaking of punctuality," Krillin continued after his earlier joke, "Where's Yamcha?"

At the mere mention of Yamcha's name, Bulma's demeanor greatly darkened. She scowled deeply, genuine anger bubbling to the surface, and for good measure, she slammed her hand on the table.

"Don't talk about him!" Bulma exclaimed, voice absolutely seething. "Just because he gained a smidge of fame as a rising baseball star, he's suddenly starting to act like he's some irresistible hotshot. Last week alone, I caught him cheating on three separate occasions!"

Bulma's face twisted in anger and her azure eyes flashed with fury as she recounted her grievances. "You know what his excuse was? He claimed those were just 'flings' and that I was his true lover. The audacity needed to say that to my face! Like that's supposed to make everything okay! Like it absolves him of the fact that he cheated on me!"

"Ahh..." Master Roshi sighed, burying his face in his drink.

On the other side of the table, Krillin dragged his hand down his face, shaking his head with disbelief at how Yamcha decided to handle the situation.

"What a dick!" Ajax, who was now wiping his eyes dry, added his own two cents, acting as if he wasn't the little schadenfreude gremlin he truly was, having known of this drama years before it unfolded.

"Right?! Thank you!" Bulma still fuming from the scandalous event, huffed and crossed her arms. "That's why he's not coming. I told him the party was tomorrow."


An awkward silence settled over those gathered. Suddenly, everyone managed to find something incredibly engaging nearby to feign interest in, all trying to avoid the uncomfortable situation.

In this stifling silence, Master Roshi took the initiative to break the tension. He brought his hands together with a loud clap that echoed through the room.

"Well," he began, his slightly gruff voice cutting through the quiet, "since Yamcha's not showing up and no one knows when Goku will get here, we can get the last part of the ceremony done."

Master Roshi rose from the couch with a grunt, his old joints cracking at the movement. He shuffled over to a nearby closet and pulled out a beautifully decorated box from its depths.

"Because of this party, I chose to give this to you today instead of yesterday, Ajax."

With that, Master Roshi made his way to the sink to Ajax, who had finished wiping his eyes by now.

This caught Ajax by surprise. He had thought that the ceremony was completed with the Kamehameha the night before and hadn't anticipated anything else, but evidently, he was wrong. He received the decorative box with both hands and a slight bow, eyeing it with curiosity. Opening the box, his eyes fell upon a neatly folded Turtle School Gi resting within the box. 

"It's a Turtle School Gi. But this one I custom made to be crimson, as I know you've preferred this over the traditional orange." Master Roshi explained with a smile, stroking his beard.

Ajax felt his throat constrict from the gratitude welling up inside him. It wasn't monumental. It certainly wasn't valuable. It was just an observation and this was just a Gi. Despite that, a grateful smile erupted over Ajax's face as he gave a deep bow of respect to Master Roshi, suddenly aware of just how much the man before him had done for him over the past two years.

Master Roshi laughed, understanding the depth of Ajax's feelings, and clapped a hand on his student's shoulder, subtly guiding him back to an upright position from his bow.

"Give it a try!" Krillin cheered. "We want to see you wear it!"

Amidst the chorus of excited cheers and enthusiastic agreement from everyone in the room, Ajax obliged. He made his way up the creaking wooden stairs, disappearing from view. This certainly wasn't his first time donning the Turtle School's customary Gi, and he knew exactly what to do.

In no time, Ajax had exchanged his previous attire for the brand-new Gi. The fabric felt fresh and pristine against his skin, and he couldn't resist taking a deep whiff, savoring the unique scent that only new clothes possessed.

After a brief moment to admire his new attire, Ajax emerged from the bottom of the staircase, the crimson Gi accentuating his frame. The Gi's bright red hue contrasted strikingly with the black undershirt he wore beneath. The iconic 'Turtle' symbol was emblazoned on the left side of his chest, resting just above his beating heart. He stood there, proudly displaying his new look to the enthusiastic crowd, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips.

Master Roshi, comfortably seated on the sofa once more, watched Ajax's return with a nod of approval. "You've shown great dedication and potential, Ajax. As of today, I declare that you have officially graduated from the Turtle School!"

"Congrats." Turtle acknowledged the achievement with a nod.

Krillin, ever supportive, approached Ajax, clapping him on the back with a broad smile. "Congratulations, buddy!"

Bulma had a smile wide enough to show her teeth as she gave a thumb-up.

Ajax, standing amidst the heartfelt congratulations, grinned. He adjusted the crimson Turtle School Gi that he now wore with pride.

"Thanks, everyone," he said sincerely. "I couldn't have done it without all of you."

With the ceremony completed, the room quickly descended into pleasant chaos as everyone squabbled, playfully fighting over their favorite snacks and drinks. In the midst of this controlled chaos, a distant cry echoed from outside, signaling that the final member of the party had arrived.

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