Chapter Two: Farewell, Bulma

Kaiou-Sama morosely shook his head as he surveyed the events on earth.

"Oh, dear," he said, antennae quivering like a lobster's. "Oh, this is terrible! What are they going to do?" He sighed, visibly upset. It seemed that ever since the dragonballs had disappeared, trouble had been not raining, but pouring. The Z-warriors had at least been up to the challenge thus far - aliens, natural disasters, whatever it was, they had handled it; however, the mess on earth was sure to overwhelm even them eventually. The really upsetting part was that none of them had figured out the dragonballs were gone yet.

He twitched his antennae a few more times, fretting.

Of course, Kaiou-Sama's first move had been to telepathically contact the new planet Namek, trying to reach Muuri and the other set of dragonballs. Bizarrely and for reasons unknown, the Namek elders weren't answering - were not, in fact, as far as the northern Kaiou could tell, even on their new planet anymore. The one young Namek he had been able to contact had not been able to provide any explanations.

Damn. When it poured, it poured.

"There's just nothing I can do for them down there," he whimpered as he walked into his igloo-like house, followed closely by a concerned Gregory and an oblivious Bubbles. "Here I am, stuck up here, and they...." He stopped.

"Oh, no," he said, looking stricken. "Oh no, not that... oh, how terrible. They'll all be so upset." He sighed, resolving himself. "Well... maybe there is something I can do. Come on guys," the Kaiou said, turning to Gregory and Bubbles. "We've got to clean this place up. We're going to be having company."

Communicating silently with Enma-Daiou and waving his telepathic feelers emphatically as he did so, he began to neaten his small bachelor's home. Limited as he was, Kaiou-sama could see further into space and farther ahead in time than the Z-Warriors could, and while he was not always right, he was usually wise enough to recognize trouble. Well, there was trouble a-coming.

Plenty of it.

***

It was just a normal day at the Capsule Corporation when everything went wrong. Bulma, eyes still heavy with sleep, finally managed to cinch her bathrobe shut and shuffled into the kitchen. True to form, her son and husband had eaten a feasts' worth and left her with the dishes; she could hear them now, fighting one another in the front yard and most likely tearing the landscaping to bits.

"Ugh," she said, exasperated. "Boys. Off to their precious training." She had tried, without notable success, to "yuppy-ize" Trunks, hoping to preen him to take over the Capsule Corporation when he grew up, unfortunately, it had become apparent very quickly that there was just too much of his father in him to make him completely comfortable in a business suit. The funny thing was, Vejiita felt that the boy had too much of his mother to be a proper warrior; not one like the "other" Trunks, anyway, who HAD had warrior's blood in him. As if THAT made any sense.

Ah, well. These men... they were strange, but they were hers, and as such, they would never change. She didn't really want them to.

Taking advantage of the fact that Bra was still asleep, Bulma decided to clean rather than cook breakfast. Smiling to herself, she picked up a dish and turned on the water. She had just picked up the third serving platter when she started to cough.

Her face twisted. The sharpness of the pain surprised her so much that she dropped the plate she was holding, and it broke; naturally, she tried to curse in response. This was when she discovered that she couldn't control her breathing - she couldn't even gather enough breath to utter one simple expletive. That's when she began to worry. Forcing herself to remain calm, she braced herself on the edge of the counter and rode it out, trying to wait until the coughing stopped before allowing herself to panic.

It did not stop. It grew worse, and in a very short time she had tears running down her face and was lacking enough air that she grew dizzy.. Bulma found herself falling to the floor, thinking distractedly that she was going to cut herself on the platter shards and hoping that it would at least let up long enough for her to call Vejiita's name.

***

Gokuu was just sitting down to lunch when Vejiita quite literally burst through the door.

"Hey, Vejiita... uh, you really shouldn't have ripped the door off the wall like that. Chi-Chi's going to..." He did not have quite enough time to say what Chi-Chi was going to do as Vejiita charged at him, grabbed him by the throat and pinned him to the wall.

"Where are they?" he roared, pushing Gokuu harder and making the wall boards creak alarmingly.

"Where are what?" choked Gokuu, and in response, Vejiita's grip tightened. Gokuu was in a quandary; he didn't want to fight Vejiita - that would just be unfair - but, on the other hand, it was getting increasingly difficult to breath.

"Oi! What's going on out here? Oh, Gokuu!" Chi-Chi clutched the sides of her head in horror, and she came racing through the door. "Vejiita, what are you doing to him? Let him go, RIGHT NOW!" Taking hold of a cast-iron frying pan, she started frantically clubbing Vejiita on the head.

Vejiita ignored her.

"I'm not going to ask you again, Kakarotto!" he yelled, spittle flying from his lips. "Where are the dragonballs?"

Gokuu, who could not breathe, gurgled.

How can I tell you if you don't let me go? He asked Vejiita telepathically. Vejiita glared at Gokuu for a moment longer, then released him with a shove. He stepped back and crossed his arms, still ignoring Chi Chi and waiting for an answer.

Gokuu rubbed his throat. "Why do you want them so bad? Why don't you just use Bulma's dragon radar?"

"Because the damned thing's broken!" Vejiita shouted, and his voice uncharacteristically cracked. "It's got to be. I can't..." And then he did another very un-Vejiita like thing. He started to cry.

Gokuu stood in amazement, watching silent tears roll down Vejiita's cheeks; and suddenly, he knew.

"Bulma," he said quietly.

"She's coughing up blood," said a voice from behind Vejiita, and Trunks walked through what was left of the doorway. "We can't find the dragonballs – we've been looking all morning. And the doctor said... mamma is in such bad shape, he didn't think..." he looked at his father, but Vejiita had wiped his tears and hardened once again.

"Low-class woman," he growled. "I told her not to smoke." Trunks winced.

"Vejiita!" said the offended Chi-Chi, and hit him with the skillet again for good measure.

"Don't worry, Vejiita," calmed Gokuu as gently as he could. "We'll find them. We just need...

"I've looked. He's looked. We've all looked," Vejiita snapped. "What I think you'd better do is get the hell up to Kami's lookout and have a nice talk with Dende. If you don't, I will - and I don't think he'd be happy at all to see me if I showed up right now," Vejiita rumbled, obviously controlling his temper with a superb act of will.

So, Gokuu went. He was gone five minutes before he returned, looking extremely confused.

"There's a problem," he said. "I'm going to go to Namek – the new one," he said, and vanished once again. This time he was gone for half an hour, and when he came back, he had very bad news.

"Um," he said uncomfortably, "I'm afraid the dragonballs aren't the only thing that's missing…"

***

There is no question that the next two weeks were hardest on the prince of the Saiya-jin. Helpless, hopeless, he was forced to stand by and watch while his wife - the only person he had ever truly loved, more so than his son, more than his father, more so even than himself - withered away before his eyes. Toward the end, he wasn't even allowed to touch her - just had to look at her, pale and shapeless inside her oxygen tent, and barely able to breathe at all for the demon that was eating her alive.

The doctors had been quite clear; there was nothing they could do. They did not know what she had. They, like Vejiita, had initially assumed cancer - but if that's what it was, then it was unlike any they had ever seen before.

After her initial exploratory surgery, one of them had held up a small glass vile with something dark and evil inside; it was making the glass steam.

"This is the stuff that's in her lungs," he said. "We don't know what it is or where it came from, but it's literally breaking down her tissue like acid. I'm sorry to say it's spread. Even replacing her lungs now would do no good; it would only prolong the inevitable."

"But there must be a cure," argued Vejiita.

"There isn't one," the doctor said simply, and Vejiita had decided that the worthless man had to die. He would have killed him, too, if Gokuu had not grabbed his upraised elbow at the last minute to stop him from spearing the alarmed doctor through like an uncooked hotdog.

Nothing. There was nothing they could do.

They tried small doses of chemotherapy, radiation - but all those things did was make her more ill. In the end, it was Bulma herself who had vetoed further treatments.

"I don’t intend to spend my last days bald and bony," she'd said as she lay in her bed, surrounded by bowls to catch her phlegm and blood. "Afraid that even if I sat down wrong my skin was going to break, hooked up to wires so I look like one of Dr. Gero's horrid creations - ah, sorry, Juuhachi - all weak and sick because I'm being poisoned by my own doctors? No way! If I'm going to die, I'm going to do it with some dignity, damn it!"

"But..." started the doctor, and Bulma had immediately picked up one of her bowls - fortunately empty - and hurled it at him. After the doctor had left (gingerly holding to his head an ice pack that Trunks had given him), she would sit there, nostrils flaring, and declare that she would decide her own fate, thank you very much. At those times she seemed completely unafraid, untouchable, inviolable - and Vejiita loved her more than ever.

But, as the song said, love was not enough. She got worse, and after a while, it just became too hard to hope.

The last step, before she stopped being able to wake up, was a senzu bean. Gokuu had been so sure it would help; so very innocently confident. He had been so very upset when it didn’t work.

Now, Trunks simply did not come home any more. He had taken one look at his mother unconscious in the oxygen tent and hit off for Gokuu's house, and no amount of coaxing could bring him back. Well, that was fine; not something for the boy to see, anyway. Bulma was being completely humbled, all her strength taken away; and sensitive to this, Vejiita threw Gokuu and everyone else out of the house and told them to go home and stay there - which included Bra, whom he sent to stay with Kuririn and Juuhachi. Nobody was going to see Bulma in this condition except for him.

So Vejiita cared for her alone, bathing her when she needed it, giving her food when she thought she could keep it down, and even - heaven forbid - changing her bedpan. She had told him, before she lost consciousness, that aside from the inability to breathe and all the blood and stuff, she was as cozy as she'd ever been in her life.

Vejiita sat, jaw muscles tight, and watched her sleep. The shallow rhythms of her breathing were no longer even and he needed no doctor to tell him that soon her suffering would be over for good. Her hair had been cropped short, much shorter than she liked it, simply because it was easier to keep clean. There was no color in her face; her parted lips were chalky and dry, and her body had almost no substance to it. It seemed that even her breasts had shrunk.

He stared at her, his expression naked.

"You're still beautiful," he said quietly, knowing that nobody could hear him, and then put his head in his hands and wept.

***

Interlude 2.1: Namek

Muuri finally gave up and leaned back against the wall, surprised to find himself for the first time in years wanting nothing more than a good cry. He had been trying desperately to find a way out, but to no avail - the doors he had located would not open, the windows would not break. Not that he could even see through the windows; they were so encrusted with filth it was a wonder they were recognizable as windows at all.

And it had started out to be such a nice day.

There he had been, he and his small population of Namek people, just minding their own business, when a group of Saiyan-like individuals had landed and started demanding information. Muuri, remembering all too well the horror of Freeza and quite aware that the Z-warriors were eons away, had done his best to calm and smooth things over, but it hadn't been enough. These Saiyans... they just weren't right, somehow. They looked like Saiyans, sure, and they sounded Saiyan, and they even smelled Saiyan (although that was something else in itself); occasionally, they even acted like Saiyans.

Muuri was ready to bet his golf bag that they were about as Saiyan as he was.

All they did was ask about Vejiita, not a name any Namek recalled to mind with fondness; and of course, nobody would tell them anything. After a short while, these strange Saiyan-impersonators apparently tired of their new green playthings and had decided to do something else with them.

"Fill your water packs," they'd said, and once that was done, they'd used their astounding array of devices to simply remove the entire population of Muuri's village - including all the elders, who'd unfortunately chanced to be gathered for a meeting - to some unknown building in the middle of nowhere and left them there. Alone. In the dark.

The annoying thing was, this place seemed infuriatingly familiar - even though Muuri knew he had never been anywhere like it before in his life.

"Humph," Muuri said to himself, remembering the trip. "Saiyan technology, my a..."

He jumped as a small hand slipped into his, and even though Muuri could not see, he turned his face toward the small Namek beside him and smiled.

"You doing all right, Moot?"

Moot, as always, responded succinctly, articulately, and with absolute truth.

"I'm hungry," he said.

"Me too, Moot," sighed Muuri, holding back the sigh that might sound like despair. "But we have to be careful with out water; we don't have that much, and I'm afraid to let anybody drink a lot. We may not be able to get any more for a very, very long time."

Moot wiggled closer to Muuri, taking comfort in the bigger Namek's presence.

"It's so stale here. What are we going to do?"

Muuri shook his head. Stale... yes. Leave it to a child to perfectly encapsulate the present adventure in only a few words.

"I know, Moot. I know. Why don't you try to sleep now?" Moot obediently leaned against Muuri's comfortably round stomach, and was out within moments. Muuri stayed where he was, gently stroking the young Namek's head.

"What are we going to do indeed, my child," he said quietly, and putting back his head, also slept.

He dreamt of golf.

***

Pan sat in the grass and played. She had a toy - a stuffed, purple dinosaur - and that was enough to keep her occupied. She had noticed the odd, strained silence around her, but being only a few months old had only limited comprehension of what was happening.

There was no way she could truly understand.

Goten shifted once, noisily in spite of the smallness of his movement because of the fabric of his suit. So far, no one had said a thing; he was getting very hot, and he really wanted to loosen his tie. The humidity was terrible. He was sure the extra strain on his mother was not good, and had suggested loudly – and on numerous occasions – that she stay inside the small chapel. Chi Chi, however, wouldn't hear of it; and Goten, as his father and brother before him, had learned long ago that what Chi Chi wanted, Chi Chi got.

Gokuu stood behind his son, one hand on Goten's shoulder, looking anxiously across the way at his fellow full-blooded Saiya-jin: Vejiita.

Vejiita did not move.

The Saiya-jin prince stood rock-still in his dark suit, his fingers hooked into taut claws, his face locked in a scowl much more bitter than any Gokuu had seen there before. Behind him stood Gohan, and behind him, and to the side, stood Piccolo. The two were there as guards, of a sort; neither were entirely sure that Vejiita was capable of maintaining his stoic silence, and should he start get out of control, they wanted to be there to attempt to contain him before he hurt himself - or anyone else.

The priest nodded once; and slowly, carefully, the four hired hands began to lower the coffin into the ground.

Still, Vejiita stood unmoving. His fingers suddenly clenched into fists, and in moments blood began to seep from his tortured hands to the unyielding ground.

"Vejiita-san..." said Gokuu.

Vejiita did not respond.

"Vejiita-san," Gokuu began again, and Vejiita looked up at him with bloodshot eyes. "Shut up, Kakarotto," was all he said, and silence was resumed.

A shovel was handed to him. As the husband of the deceased, he had the right to the first pile of dirt placed in the grave.

Later, when it was over, the mourners began to drift from the grave site one by one, seeking comfort in silence and solitude.

"Papa," said Trunks quietly, greatly daring to put one hand on the shoulder of his bereaved father.

"Go away," Vejiita said.

"Otou –"

"GO!" Vejiita roared, and Trunks took a step back.

"Come on, boy," said Piccolo, stepping behind the young man and placing one guiding hand on his arm. "Leave the prince to his misery."

Nodding silently, Trunks took his little sister by the hand and walked away, crying his own tears as he went. He ended up having to carry the grieved Dr. Briefs home.

Soon, everyone was gone but Vejiita and Gokuu, who sat in the grass on the other side of the grave and said nothing. The two remained where they were, one sitting, one standing, for the rest of the day and long into the night, neither moving nor speaking. They did not leave for their respective homes until well past four in the morning, and the sun was threatening to break up the starry sky.

Vejiita turned to go, and then he stopped. Without looking back, said, "Kakarotto."

"Yes, Vejiita?"

"Thank you."

Gokuu merely nodded, and both went home.

That was the extent of the prince of Vejiita-sei's official mourning.

***

Things settled down for a while. Oh, that's not to say that there weren't problems of a sort. Vejiita was even more taciturn than usual, and Trunks, who really didn't like being at home anymore, got into the habit of retreating into the wilderness with Bra to take out his angst on any rogue monster or thief he happened to find; but nothing of any real noteworthiness happened. There were happy things, too; Chi-Chi's health took a turn for the better, Mr. Satan worked very hard to spoil his new granddaughter, and everybody felt they could finally take a deep breath and relax.

You'd think they would have known better.

***

It was a beautiful day when the aliens arrived. Of course, no one expected them to be Saiyans.

Their spaceship landed at the Capsule Corporation, and some twenty fully-armed and dangerous soldiers came out - and stopped to stare, wide-eyed, at Vejiita.

"M... my lord Vejiita," one of them said, and they all bowed down with their foreheads right to the ground.

"Humph," said Piccolo, disgusted, and went into the house to get something to drink.

***

Gokuu, Gohan, Goten, and Trunks sat around Chi-Chi's kitchen table and stared at Vejiita. The raucous celebration of their visitors had been too overwhelming for important conversation, so, after ordering them to stay put and not break anything, the Z-Warriors and their respective sons had retreated to Gokuu's home in the wilderness to talk.

Thus far, there had been nothing to say. All they knew was that these Saiyans had supposedly been on a long-term, deep space mission, one which had as an ulterior motive the overthrow of Freeza's kingdom - and therefore, had not been recorded in Freeza's databanks. They had returned to their planet some three years ago only to find that they didn't have one any more; so, using what persuasive means they possessed (on which nobody asked them to elaborate), they determined from the remains of Freeza's army what had happened. And upon going to Namek - the old Namek - they had found the Capsule Corporation markings which led them here.

Of course, they had not expected to find their leader alive; and more importantly, were not initially sure what to do with him. After all, they had lived for some years quite successfully with their present hierarchy; so Vejiita was the king's son. So what?

The debate had ended quite quickly once Vejiita went Super Saiyan.

Brief histories were exchanged, and it was generally decided for the sake of maintaining the peace the Saiyans would leave the earth soon to go on their merry way... hopefully, their leader in state.

"Of course, they want you go with them," said Gohan, breaking the silence. "And you probably should, at least on a trial basis - you're their leader, after all. They want to officially crown you their king."

Vejiita grunted something.

"Maybe this could be a good thing - who knows, maybe you can even keep them from being such heartless b… I mean," stammered Gohan, blushing at Vejiita's glare. "You could keep them from being vicious, deadly planet killers. You know?"

Vejiita narrowed his eyes and spoke the first words he had spoken since they arrived at Gokuu's cabin. "Those vicious, deadly planet killers are your heritage too, boy," he said dangerously. "And from what I've seen of you, you're not exactly harmless yourself. Not that it matters," he looked down at the table. "Just wasted your potential anyway."

Gohan blinked. He really did not know how to take that.

"Um, Vejiita?" asked Gokuu. "Do you... do you want us to come with you?"

Vejiita exploded.

"Of course not! Baka! Why on earth would I want a bunch of sniveling, peace-loving, half-bred, low class soldiers like you?"

Goten and Trunks gasped and moved precautionarily back from the table, but Gokuu just smiled and said a strange thing. "Sure," he quipped. "I'd love you to come with me - at least until I get set up someplace. In fact, why - it's the least you could do." They all stared at him. "Translation from Vejiita-ese," he explained somewhat sheepishly.

The two younger boys glanced back at Vejiita, who was still eyeing Gokuu with an odd look on his face.

"That's Bulma's expression," he said, and Gokuu's smile went down a watt.

"Yeah, I know," he said, and then brightened again. "But it works, doesn't it?" he added cheerily.

Somehow, Vejiita kept from hitting him, and rose instead to go.

"All right. You're coming with me," he said, glancing at Gohan. "At least on a trial basis. In fact, I order it - as your king."

Goten rolled his eyes. "Whatever," he said quietly, but not quietly enough. Vejiita glared at him balefully, and Goten gulped and humbly studied the table-top.

"I... I'm not sure if I should leave," Gohan said. "Pan is only a baby."

"Fine. Stay," said Vejiita dismissively, and walking out the newly replaced door, flew back toward his home.

"Woo hoo! We're going to space!" shouted Goten, and he ran to his room to pack. Gohan rose to leave as well.

"Got to go, Otousan. Videl needs me home with the baby," Gohan said. "But you know," he muttered on his way out. "It is a little strange."

"What is?" asked Gokuu. Gohan turned at the door to answer him.

"That they didn't care that you and I are both more powerful than Vejiita," he said. "You would have thought that at least one of them would have suggested new leadership, since power is so important to them; but they didn't." He spoke almost to himself as he walked out the door. "It's almost like they expected what they'd find here." And he flew home.

Gokuu looked at Trunks, who had sat silently through the entire discussion. "Trunks?" he said. "Are you all right?"

Trunks did not answer. Instead he also walked out the door and flew away, disappearing into the night.

Gokuu sat where he was for a long time, thinking, trying work out Gohan's observations with what he knew of Saiyans. Something he couldn't put his finger on was wrong; but since it was late, and he was who he was, he decided to let the smarter people figure it out and instead get some sleep. He just hoped that Trunks was going to be all right.

***

Interlude 2.2: Bulma

"Hmmm... oh, oh my, no - that won't do at all," complained Kaiou-Sama, moving forward to correct Bubble's unfortunate flower arrangement. "She's going to be here any minute, and..." he stopped suddenly and smiled. "About time," he said and went outside to greet his visitors.

Enma-Daiou appeared in the distance, taking great striding leaps and carrying a young, blue-haired woman in a white dress on his shoulder. He arrived within seconds.

"Kaiou-sama! You old dog, how are you!" bellowed the giant, slapping Kaiou-sama on the back and very nearly knocking him over. Kneeling, he carefully set Bulma down. "Well, here she is," he said. "All dressed up and ready to go! Doesn't she look pretty?" And his expression indicated that he quite meant what he said.

Bulma looked around. "So this is where Gokuu trained, huh? Weird... oop!" She sat down, hard. "I... I can't..."

"Oh, sorry about that," said Enma Daiou. "Gravity here is really high - if you were alive, it might even crush you. As it is, though, you can only get stronger!"

"Oh. Well," Bulma tried to wobble to her feet without much success. "I guess that's okay then." She smiled at her transporter. "Thanks for the ride, Enma-Daiou. It was fun." And she winked.

Enma-Daiou managed to blush a deeper red than he already was. "Well. Um. Hrm. See you around, Kaiou-sama," he said, and was out of sight in three steps.

Bulma watched him leave, then threw back her head and laughed. Gregory and Bubbles just stared at her, their mouths open; she was indeed beautiful. In death, she'd regained all her beauty and more - the vigor of her youth.

"That was great," she said, eyes sparkling. "I haven't done anything like that in ages. I just didn't feel like it," she said prissily, and managed to stand.

"Didn't feel like what?" asked Kaiou-sama, genuinely confused.

"Why, flirting, of course," said Bulma condescendingly. "Ever since I met Vejiita - well, not since I met him, exactly, but ever since we... you know... well, ever since Vejiita, I just haven't felt like flirting with anyone else. Oh, I'm sorry," she said, seeing Kaiou-sama's blush. "I didn't mean to offend you - did I?"

The blue kaiou coughed into his fist. "Ah, no, Bulma. We've just... never had a human woman here before." Gregory and Bubbles were still staring.

Bulma smiled a victorious smile and put her hands on her hips. "Well, you're in for a ride," she said saucily, and looked around. "Say," she wondered, "aren't there any gadgets around here to play with?"

"Uh, Bulma, I think I should make something perfectly clear," said Kaiou-sama, pushing his way past the frozen Bubbles and Gregory and walking up to her. "I took a real chance in bringing you here, and I did so as a favor to Gokuu and everybody down there. You know you're going to be here for a while. A long while. Maybe even forever."

"Oh, pshaw," she said, using Bubbles for support as she started making her way toward the Kaiou's treasured car. "They'll find a way to bring me back. You don't know Gokuu - okay, well I guess you do, but you don't know Vejiita. They're both determined to resurrect me, somehow, and somehow, they will - dragonballs or no dragonballs. So it may not happen now, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not soon - but I know eventually I'm going back." Her face suddenly grew pensive. "Vejiita," she said quietly to no one in particular, then turned to face the Kaiou. "I really thank you," she said seriously. "Heaven is nice, but in the interim I think I'd rather be among friends." She smiled, and Kaiou-sama, finally convinced in his own mind that he had done the right thing, smiled back.

"So," she said, hobbling toward his car once more. "Does that thing even run?"

***

Gohan was silent, holding Videl close to him.

"Go," she said for the third time, and he still didn't know how to answer her.

"How can I leave you?" he said finally. "Not now, when Pan is just beginning to get into things..."

"I know you have to," she said again. "It's just for a little while. Look, I want to go with you, you know I do. It'd be just like the old days. But I can't leave Pan, and I know you want to go - don't you dare try to tell me you don't. Besides, you really have to. Next to Gokuu, you're the strongest, and you have a better head on your shoulders than all the rest of them put together. And besides, like I said - it's just for a little while." She kissed him, slowly, finally. "You're the best... my super Saiya-man," she said sultrily. "You give those stupid aliens a run for their money and show 'em what being an Earthling is all about," she said, and held him tight.

Gohan sighed. "You're right," he said. And just then, Pan started to cry.

"I need to go nurse her," Videl said. "Don't worry - you can be gone when I get back. It's just a 'see you later' - not a goodbye. Kick some butt for me, Gohan." And she smiled and walked away.

When she came back, Pan contented and asleep in her arms, he was gone. He'd left the window open. And as the wind-blown draperies rippled into the room and briefly eclipsed her from view, Videl, alone for the first time since her marriage, finally allowed herself to cry.

***

"Gokuu, don't go!"

Gokuu sighed. "Chi-Chi," he said, "please don't do this to me. You know I have to go, at least until Vejiita decides if he wants to stay with them permanently or not - he's still grieving, he doesn't even know what he's doing any more. And... well, to tell you the truth," he said, looking at her askance, "I haven't had a challenge in a long time. Not since Buu. I want to go."

Chi Chi stood up straighter, and asked something she had never asked for before in all their years of marriage.

"Take me with you."

Gokuu stared at her. "I... can't do that, Chi Chi. Well, that is," he stammered before she could cut him off, "I shouldn't. It'll be dangerous - could be dangerous - and I don't want you getting hurt. And besides," he said with a wink, "the last thing I need is a bunch of filthy Saiyans staring at my beautiful wife."

Chi Chi did not smile.

"I think something bad is going to happen if you leave me, Gokuu," she said. "And I'm old and ugly, and your filthy Saiyans wouldn't want me."

They did not discuss the issue any more. Instead, Gokuu took his wife into his arms and showed her exactly how beautiful he still found her to be. But when he finally left, the heaviness in her heart had not eased. Chi-Chi usually did not get much in the way of premonitions; but this feeling of dread, while not completely unfamiliar, was new to her in its intensity. Frightened of something she could not understand, Chi Chi rolled over and reached for the phone to call her father.

***

To the IndexTo Chapter ThreeTo the Previous Chapter