Disclaimer: You know the drill. Not mine!
A/N: Warning for all you B/V fans (of which I am one) this part is mostly a Goku-Chichi story. But don’t worry and don’t flame me, it’s really only this part.
As the wife of one Saiyan felt sleep claim her, across town another was just waking from the throes of a dream. A dream where her husband was alive, holding her, brushing her hair back behind her ears to give him a better look at her face, moving closer to taste her….
At that point Chichi always woke up. Perhaps, she supposed, her mind couldn’t handle much more torture than that. If imagining something as simple as kissing Goku was enough to cause her such torment, then what would anything more do?
Chichi let the question silently float through her mind, breathing deeply of the cool night air. She tried not to stare too hard at the empty place on the bed beside her, still indented, after all these years, by her husband’s presence. Maybe her heart was like the bed; the impression had been so deep, so permanent, she would never recover. After all, a decade had passed and yet her desire for him hadn’t diminished in any way, she hadn’t ever stopped wanting him. She knew that from the first night they’d spent together, the first night she’d welcomed him inside of her.
Ironically, Chichi and Goku’s honeymoon had fallen on the night of the full moon. Though they had started long before nightfall. After the wedding, Goku had carried Chichi to the largest bedroom in their new house, taking his time to savour the moment. Though, looking back, Chichi guessed that he was taking his time simply because he didn’t know what to do with her when they got there.
But Chichi, who had been instructed by much older and wiser women earlier that day how to please a man, was proud that she - still so young and unworldly - had something to teach the great warrior, Goku. Gently she had undressed him, then herself and instructed him to get into bed.
"Are we going to sleep? It‘s too early yet, isn‘t it?" he had asked in that childlike way of his which worried Chichi a little about what she was about to do. But at the same time, seeing him in only his underwear, she knew he was already a man. Physically at least.
"No, Goku," she told him, sounding almost breathless. "Just lie down, please."
Obediently, he did so and as she slid in beside him, grazing her soft skin against him, she knew she was beginning something…incredible. With little more than a few suggestive caresses, a few tentative kisses, Goku knew what he needed to do. And he did, a little awkwardly, though. Chichi was glad for it; if he knew what he was doing - if he weren’t nervous or unskilled - the power contained in his body might kill her. And so they spent the afternoon discovering, laughing, loving.
Then it happened. The initial defining moment of Chichi’s love. The understanding of what she’d done by marrying Son Goku. What she’d done by seeking to control a storm of power with little more than whispers of love and eyes full of promise.
The sun set.
And the moon rose.
At the moment it happened, Goku was beneath her, holding her slender hips to guide her motions. She was on the verge when she noticed something in Goku’s eyes change. They went from soft and loving to need. That was the only word for it. Pure, unrestrained need. She could see the irises of his black eyes shimmer as suddenly, with a guttural growl, he flipped them both over, pounding into her, crushing her beneath him. Chichi gasped for breath but made no move to push Goku off of her; the feelings he was igniting inside her were too strong, she would have been a fool to stop them. It was the sweetest thing yet, to be treading the fine line between terror and excitement, to know the difference between being held in your husbands arms and to be cleaved to him so desperately until you were unsure of where you began and where he finished.
Each thrust was both more powerful and more pleasurable than the last. But finally, Chichi’s body could wait no longer and she cried out, bowing her back and digging her short nails into the flesh of her husband’s back crying out for…she didn’t know what. Maybe for the ability to be like that forever. But even as Goku screamed above her, a wild animal sound that seemed to vibrate through the room, and as his eyes flashed from almost shimmering gold to black again, she knew that this would be the closest thing she had to forever.
After that, when Goku awoke again, she found him returned to normal. He nearly cried when he saw her, terrified of what he’d done. She couldn’t see herself very well, it was painful to move, but she knew she would be covered with bruises, marks where he had gripped her or forced her wider in his mad pursuit of release. He quickly moved off her, rubbing his eyes, bewildered by what had happened. But Chichi comforted him with her words and smiles, trying to assure him that what had passed had not hurt as much as it seemed to do. Somehow, what he felt, she did also and vice versa. That would have explained why Goku relented, crawling back into the bed and pulling her gently into his arms.
"I love you, Chichi," he whispered softly. Though Chichi could tell, through their bond, that he was only beginning to learn the meaning of the words.
No night after that was the same. Goku was especially careful not to be too rough on her, remembering what had happened and haunted by his ability to hurt the ones he loved underneath the full moon. Chichi was still pleased and her love for him was not diminished in the slightest way. And with Gohan to take care of, she was often too concerned by other things and was willing to settle for what was merely ‘candlelight’ in comparison to the ‘sunburst’ of the first night.
That was until the night before he left for the Cell games. Gohan, exhausted from training, had gone to bed early and showed no signs of waking till the morrow. And Chichi, watching her husband undress beside the bed, knew with grim certainty that her family would not survive this coming battle intact. They had been too lucky so far, with Goku dying once already. It was as if her heart was training her for the eventual loss by giving her some near misses.
Well, this time she was ready. But she was not ready to lose him without one proper night together; a night where they could both lose themselves in the madness of passion.
Goku resisted at first, telling her softly that he would not hurt her, that he had tried so hard since that first night, when they had made Gohan. Even as she looked into his eyes, though, she knew he was lost. It was clear to the both of them that their time together was limited and Goku, more than anything, wanted to reassure Chichi that he loved her, but he needed her to be alive and happy and safe. He needed to convince her that dying was worth it, made sweet by the knowledge that it would be for the sake of protecting his loved ones.
Goku made love to her slowly and carefully, putting to use all the skill he had gained over the many nights of having to hold back. But when he entered her he let it go; his fear of hurting her, his doubts, until it was purely his body and hers, entwined, pushing against each other in a struggle for the ultimate peak. And when they reached that peak together Goku didn’t stop, he wouldn’t let his body stop. He kept going, watching her tears roll down her face even as she cried out his name, begging for more. He forced himself to watch her, lithe and beautiful, as he made her his again. As he left her with something to hold on to.
They didn’t stop that night. Only just before the sun rose did they fall asleep, holding each other against the cold. They didn’t say anything because there was nothing left to be said.
The glory is always followed by the pain, Chichi recalled the words from a poem long ago, still disbelieving that anyone else in the world could understand the journey she’d undertaken.
"Oh, Goku," Chichi whispered into the night. "Why did I let you leave me?"
Chichi raised her hands to her eyes to block out the moonlight, the memories, and cursed who she was. That she was not the stronger fighter, that the fates had decreed that she give up fighting for love and family, that she couldn’t have been the one to die for him. That she had been the one left alone.
So lost was she in her despair that she didn’t notice the tapping at her window until it was an incessant banging. At first she choose to ignore it, knowing how often her mind made up the situation that, just when she was on the verge of tears, Goku would show up at her window and without another word, claim her once again. But when it refused to go away she stood up and wearily pulled back the curtain.
"Well, it took you long enough," the old woman on a floating crystal ball complained. "Do you have any idea of how painful the cold is when you’re old? No, of course you don’t," she mumbled, floating through the now open window. "Darn Saiyajin bond, keeps these damn women young. If I’d known about it, I’d have hooked the boy myself."
"Grandma," Chichi said, already used to the woman’s complaining. "What brings you here at such an…early…hour?" she asked, holding back a curse at the realisation that it was three in the morning. But secretly she was almost glad for the company; as much as she loved Goten and as much as he had his father’s sense of humour, it wasn’t the same as talking with another adult.
"The least you could do is fake happiness to see me," Grandma mumbled. "It’s not like I always make the effort to fly across the countryside with a message from the Gods. I decided to make an exception for you."
"Message? What kind of message?"
Grandma’s eyes glinted at the prospect of dragging Chichi along for a few minutes. Then she saw the bags under the younger woman’s eyes and knew that she hadn’t slept well for days, years maybe, since she lost Goku and decided against it.
"News about your husband, child," the witch told her. "Straight from them up there. They’ve told me you may have the chance to bring him back, if you’re strong enough."
"Just tell me what I have to do," Chichi said quickly, unsure if she was still dreaming. Still, she’d never had an old lady with pink hair appear in her dreams before. Gods, the prospect of having Goku back in her life, Goten growing up with a father…
"Don’t rush me, Chichi," said the old woman. "These things have to be done carefully. Life is like a pond, drop the right stone in the right place and you can change everything. And your friend with the temperamental husband is about to drop a stone."
With that, Grandma hopped off her ball and conjured up an image of Bulma. Of course, Chichi already knew who it would be; she didn’t have many friends with temperamental husbands.
"Bulma," she said. "What will she do?"
"You know, the Gods have been watching your friend for a while. Despite her choices in men, she’s really quite bright. She’s made this machine, a device which opens gates between worlds, between here and the afterlife." Grandma waved her hands and in the ball appeared a lab somewhere. Chichi had never seen it before, but it sure looked like something from Bulma’s house. In the centre of the lab sat a complicated looking piece of apparatus.
"When did she make this? Why didn’t she tell me?"
"Ah, it’s not perfected yet. But it will be in a few hours, thanks to her husband. Don’t ask me to explain how that happened, though. There are some things the Gods just won’t elaborate on. In any case, tomorrow night will be your only chance to use this thingy, if you can find the strength inside you."
"Of course I can, but why only tomorrow night?"
"It’s the best window of opportunity, I gather," Grandma whispered in a low tone. "I can’t tell you why. But I can tell you how to get in, and maybe some information on how to work this ‘gate’. After that, the choices you make are your own."
"You make it sound as if I would consider not bringing Goku back," Chichi said.
"You’re not just going to be opening a gate if you go through with this, Chichi. Opening a gate is one thing, making someone who is dead alive again is something completely different. You’ll have to give up something of yourself to make up for the life that Goku will receive; an exchange, you see. You can’t get something for nothing. I don’t know what effect it will have on you, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be pleasant." Grandma waved her finger, as if to emphasise her warning.
"Thanks, but I already know what I’m going to do," Chichi said. "But I have to know one thing."
"Why me? Why am I getting the chance to change things?"
Grandma sighed, making her seem just as small as she really was. "I try not to consider that too much, Chichi. Normally, the Gods would only go to the effort if Goku were needed here. And if he’s needed, then something very bad is on the way."
As dawn slipped it’s light through the buildings of the capital, Bulma disengaged herself from Vegita’s grasp, amazed by how peaceful he looked whilst asleep, even if his frown of worry seemed permanently etched in his forehead. She quickly showered and dressed and was just about to congratulate herself on not waking Vegita - whose sharp senses had the unhappy knack of being able to follow her every move - when she heard him say, "Where are you off to so early in the day, woman?"
She turned around, cursing. "Why can’t you be like every other male and sleep in after a long night?" she asked, smiling as she bent to give him a kiss.
"Don’t answer a question with a question," he told her.
"Then don’t ask the question in the first place," she quipped, stepping back as she knew he would reach out and grab her if she weren’t far enough away. If he did, no one would see them till mid afternoon. Or lunchtime, when Vegita got hungry. Otherwise, he had the stamina of a wild beast. She figured she’d only had about three hours of sleep in total last night.
"I’m just off to do some work. You do know what that is, don’t you?" she asked, fighting off the urge to forget work and lie in bed all day. Maybe she could even show him her new powers, which she hadn’t given a thought to since yesterday.
"Do you?" he asked, purposefully answering her question with a question.
"You’re right, that is annoying," she told him. "I’ll see you at lunchtime."
And with that, she left the room, ignoring Vegita’s muttering about being left alone. He especially hated it in the morning. Bulma grinned, picturing the look on his face. Still, it would do them some good to be apart for a few hours. The night before was intense, to say the least, and she needed time to sort through her thoughts. A bond, a Saiyajin bond, had been formed between them now, but with her limited knowledge, she couldn’t even begin to imagine what that meant. She couldn’t be sure it meant love; perhaps it went too deep to be explained in a single-syllable word.
In any case, she knew she couldn’t lose Vegita now. And the only thing that filled her with the fear of losing him was death.
Death haunted the Z warriors as a burden put upon someone completely undeserving of it. They all knew it was there but chose to ignore it because it was as pointless as trying to outrun your shadow. There was no escape and no other option than to live with it. And for the Saiyajins, as the strongest of them all, the possibility of death was even more pressing.
Vegita may have been ready to accept a brave warriors death at any given moment, but she was not ready to loose him so easily. Especially not after last night. No, dammit, she would not have the paradise she was building in her life and family pulled away by so quickly and by something so unpredictable as death. She had seen what it did to Chichi, she would not have it happen to her. And the Dragonballs, as they had seen in Goku’s case, had their limitations.
That was the reason for Heaven’s Gate. A mostly aesthetically unpleasing hunk of bits and pieces of other machines, it had started off as a hobby of Bulma’s, sitting in her own, secure lab in the basement of Capsule Corp. At first, she had hoped it would be a replacement for all the ships and transports the company produced, being able to open doors through space into any other given point in space. The initial trials showed promise and then Bulma realised what she’d really created. Mathematically and technically, there was no reason why her gate couldn’t be used to open doors into other realms; such as the afterlife.
Everything had been completed earlier in the year; the machine itself was technically viable, the computer programs to run it had been perfected and all mathematical contingencies covered. Only one thing was missing; a power source.
The biggest problem, as far as Bulma could tell, was that there was a difference between this world and the afterlife. It was like a piece of paper and a tree. Essentially, they were comprised of the same things but that didn’t mean that you could use a pair of scissors to hack down a tree trunk. There had to be some kind of converter, something that could use the energy sources of this world and convert them to the ones of the next.
And for the first time, Bulma realised that she had that. Herself.
As she stood before the ‘gate‘, two metallic alloy poles standing about 2 metres apart, she was sure of it. It just required a bit of tweaking and the addition of a kinetic-thermal-conversion module and she was all set.
Bulma could feel the rush of blood to her head as she placed both hands on the KTC module, a round, copper-coloured orb. She began to do what she always did when calling up her new powers; let her mind drift and then focus the energy in one spot or on one task. This time she focused on the orb and almost lost her concentration when she felt it vibrate beneath her hands; it meant a source of energy compatible with the system was feeding it. Come on, she whispered to the machine. Work, I need you to work.
The orb hummed beneath her hands and Bulma heard the promising sound of the machine powering up. Just a bit more energy, a little more time…
Then it happened. With an outburst of light and energy that could only be compared to a bolt of lightning rebounding between two points, the gate ignited, a silvery light forming between the two gateposts.
In amazement, Bulma could just stare at it for a long time. Then she snapped herself out of it, checking her instruments and the computer screen. Sure enough, the door had opened on to the closest mathematical co-ordinates for the ‘afterlife’, though there was really no visible proof. Come on, Bulma, it’s a door, not a window. What did you expect, a front row seat for King Kai’s world?
That was when she felt it; a pulling. Bulma’s first instinct was that it was Goku, calling out to her from the other side. But for some reason, it didn’t feel like him. It was strong, but it wasn’t Goku. Curious, she stretched one hand out to the gate, careful to keep her other hand and her focus on the orb.
*That’s it*, whatever it was beyond the gate called to her. *A bit further, now, child.*
Almost involuntarily Bulma reached her hand, hypnotised by the silvery sheen of light. Her fingers brushed the sheen, disrupting it.
With a flash of light as brilliant as a thousand sunbursts, the gate exploded. Bulma was thrown across the room and as she landed heavily against the steel door of the lab she cursed herself for being so stupid. Like a little girl, she had reached out to touch the lion and promptly been bitten. Of course the gate would have disengaged, she was the power source and she’d been stupid enough to touch it. Can you say ‘short circuit’, idiot? she criticised herself.
She stood up, carefully examining herself. Her hair had felt less frizzy and her bottom was seriously bruised but nothing seemed broken. She’d been lucky.
Bulma consoled herself with the knowledge that she’d essentially conquered death. She’d done what generations of alchemists and scientists had been unable too. The computer readouts proved it, and now she would be able to share her knowledge with the world. There was no reason why Bulma Briefs, just an ordinary human being, need be the only one to possess the knowledge. Now if only she could figure out how to work it without her powers…
*Ah, yes, your powers. We are going to have fun with those, aren’t we?*
Bulma spun around but there was nothing behind her but a steel wall. And no one else knew she was down here anyway. If she hadn’t known it was impossible, she would have said that the voice was from inside of her. But that was silly, it hadn’t even sounded like her. It was cold, so very cold.
Shivering, Bulma blamed it on the mild concussion and went back to work.
It was well after midnight when Chichi crept into Bulma’s basement, grateful that a long time ago the woman had been kind enough to give her a spare key to the house. Unfortunately, that was as far as the key took her. She had only grandma’s cryptic clues as to what the password to the lab was.
"It’s something the both of you have to remind yourselves every day. It has to do with your husbands" was all that Grandma had told her.
Keeping that in mind, Chichi stood before the keypad of the lock, eyes scanning over it. It needed seven letters. She could do this. If only she could figure out what it was Bulma would need to remind herself….
That was it. She keyed the letters in. F-O-R-G-I-V-E.
There was a high pitched beep before the two metal doors slid across and Chichi had her first glimpse of Bulma’s creation. It was just like Grandma’s ball had shown her; ugly and big. The power had been left on and everything seemed to be running, but Chichi’s technological knowledge was limited to say the least. Anything less than a big button marked ‘on’ would have been little use to her.
If it hadn’t been for good old grandma, who had gone to great lengths to explain exactly how it would work. Chichi didn’t understand why it worked, but she knew how to work it and that was enough for her. She calmly stood up to the KTC module and placed both hands on it.
I can do this. I can do this.
Nothing. Silence was the only response.
But Chichi was not going to give up, not when her salvation was right between her fingertips. She just had to reach deeper, like she had back at the Boudokai Tournament when she’d fought Goku…
Goku. There was the answer. At every moment in her life, when she’d needed inhuman reserves of strength, Goku had been the catalyst. Whether it had been his love or his fighting skills or his passion, Goku had caused the rise in strength inside of her. Now it would be his absence, the many lonely nights without him that would give her the power she needed.
Goku. I love you…
As the tears began to stream down Chichi’s cheeks, even after she thought she’d cried them all out, the KTC began to warm up beneath her hands. She could see, through her tears, the area between the two gate posts glow a silvery hue, then become brighter as she realised that what she was doing was working.
Desperate now, Chichi sent out every image of Goku she’d ever had, knowing somehow that it would lead him back to her. Goku as he fought her, his body language proving his reluctance to fight her. Goku’s confused face at their wedding day. Goku moving above her, his eyes squeezed shut in passion, his lips against hers. She called up each and every memory, so long hidden for the sake of her sanity. And then she let them go.
She knew that voice; its hope, its love. She knew it better than any other sound in the world.
Goku. Even in her mind, her voice sounded fulfilled.
Chichi, what are you doing?
Goku, I’ve opened a door. She could almost see his face now. You can come through. The gods want you back here.
Goku hesitated. I don’t know how.
Just try to reach me. I’ll give you the energy you need to be alive again.
But Chichi, won’t that hurt you?
Oh Goku, she sighed. Don’t you understand? I am already hurting. You’re the only one who can heal me.
Nothing happened for a few moments. Then she felt Goku straining to break through, and the strain it was putting on her own body to provide him with the life energy he needed. It hurt unbearably, but she put the feelings of pain in the back of her mind. If Goku knew how much she was sacrificing, he wouldn’t return.
"Ahhhhhh!" she cried out in agony and closed her eyes against the pain. It was explosive, coursing through every nerve in her body, driving like ice picks into her brain. She was dying. There was no way a plain, ordinary human being could survive this. But she would be damned if she was letting go. Even as she lost the ability to stand, she forced her hands against the KTC, pushing until she thought the bones in her hands would break from the strain.
"Chichi, oh Kami, Chichi!"
That voice. It wasn’t in her mind anymore. Dimly, Chichi felt herself being pulled into a pair of strong warm arms. Her husband. The knowledge that he was with her again would have made her cry if she could open her eyes.
"Goku?" she forced her eyelids open and smiled. She was repaid with a smile so big it filled her heart and then some.
"Chichi, you brought me back," he sounded as if he couldn’t believe it himself. But she could feel his heart beating against hers and knew the truth. He was back.
Goku was alive again.
"Chichi, I came as soon as you called. Now what’s the…oh, kami!" Bulma froze in the Son’s doorway, unable to believe her eyes. "Goku-kun, is that you?"
Goku stood there, smiling. A smile that hadn’t changed in all the years she’d known him. "Bulma, how are you?" he asked casually, as if it had only been a few days since they last saw each other.
"Goku, you’re back! But how?" she threw herself into his arms and braced herself for the trademark rib-crushing of one of Goku’s hugs. She got one.
He put her down and for the first time, Bulma noticed Gohan and Goten, standing behind their father. Goten was grinning from ear to ear, understandably, as he greeted her.
Gohan also welcomed her with a smile. But something was wrong. The smile didn’t quite seem to reach his eyes. "Good morning, Bulma-san."
"Morning, boys. Now where is your mother anyway?"
"She’s sick," he responded quietly. "You’d better come with me."
Solemnly, Bulma followed Gohan to the master bedroom while Goten began talking with his father. Now Goku would be able to make up for all of his second son’s childhood that he missed. As Bulma walked, she watched Gohan. He was already nearly as tall as his father, as tall as Vegita at least. Were they really growing up so fast?
They entered the bedroom and at the first sight of Chichi, Bulma had to suppress a gasp. Normally the younger woman was so vivacious, so full of life. But lying in the bed before her was a woman who looked like she was dying. Bulma rushed to her side straightaway.
"Chichi, what happened?" Behind her, Gohan suddenly made himself scarce. That worried her more than anything; if Chichi couldn’t share this with her family, it had to be pretty bad.
"Bulma, I know you’ll be mad at me," Chichi whispered, as if her lungs could handle little more than that. "But I used your machine, your gateway." Bulma gasped. "I know it was wrong, but the Gods wanted it to happen, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do it."
"That explains Goku’s return. Oh, Chichi, that thing’s only in the experimental stage. I only got it to work once. I don’t know how it made you so sick, though."
Chichi smiled. "It’s the price I had to pay for bringing Goku back. A sacrifice of life for life. Don’t tell him, though, he’ll feel so guilty. I just thought you should know, Bulma, so you can explain it to the others and so that you’ll know what’s at stake if you do use it."
"To bring Vegita back, you mean?" Bulma asked.
Bulma sighed. "I can see what you mean. I’m in no position to judge you. In your place, I know I would have done anything. But I’m not sure what’s happened to you."
"I’m healing, don’t worry," Chichi said. "I took a senzu bean this morning and it’s working, just very slowly. I think this is a different kind of illness than your usual kind. Please try to explain that to Gohan and Goten as well. Goku can’t say much, he doesn’t remember it very well. I think they’re all overreacting, just a little."
"Ok," said Bulma. "But let me check your pulse just in case. I’m no doctor, but I do know how to check your vitals. Comes from living with Vegita, I suppose."
Taking the woman’s wrist in her hand, a thought occurred to Bulma unbidden.
*She want’s your husband dead, you know. She wants him to pay for his crimes.*
Now where did that come from? Bulma asked herself.
*She’s a threat. Kill her now. You could blame it on her sickness, no one would know.*
"Shut up!" she cried.
"Bulma, what’s going on?"
She opened her eyes. Chichi was staring at her as if she’d gone mad.
"Chichi? What happened?"
"You tell me. Your eyes…they went red. And then you yelled at me," said Chichi, the worry evident in her voice.
Bulma shook her head. She had the biggest migraine ever. "Um, Chichi, I think I’d better go."
The other woman stared at her for a long time. "You used the machine too, you said."
"But I didn’t bring anyone through."
"Are you sure about that?"
A shiver ran down Bulma’s spine as she went to stand. She smiled at Chichi, giving her some flippant answer, and made some pathetic sounding apology to everyone else before leaving. She promised she’d come back soon, with Vegita and Trunks as well, and they’d have a proper party to celebrate Goku’s return. Until then, though, she told them she had a lot of things to do.
It was a lie, though.
Because she knew her real answer to Chichi’s question was no.
* * * * *
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