Goodbye Again

She picked up a dirty breakfast dish and submerged it into the soapy water in the sink. Wearily, she brushed a stray strand of hair away from her face and began scrubbing the dishes. Lately, even normal tasks like washing the dishes seemed tedious and tiring. It wasn't so much her muscles that were tired, it was her heart. She had been disappointed too many times in life now, and it had made her bitter. The bitterness and sadness ate away at her, soaking in through her skin and into her weary heart. There had been good times too, of course. There had been good times so wonderful that it had been easy to forget all of the pain for a while. And then it would come back, with a blow so sharp and hard that it left her breathless. She didn't know why she allowed herself to be hurt again and again, but she figured that it had something to do with love. If you loved someone enough, it made it easy to forgive simple grievances, to look past they pain that they had caused you in the past.

She slowly dried a plate and gazed at her reflection in the glass. Her eyes which had once been lively and bright had become dull, with small wrinkles around them, and her once midnight-black hair was no longer as shiny and full as it used to be. After scrutinizing in the mirror that morning, she had even found a lone gray hair hiding amongst the darker strands. She always knew all that worrying would give her wrinkles --- She just didn't know it would give her gray hair too.

"Okaasan?" the polite voice of Gohan called to her. She forgot her thoughts and turned around, wiping her pale hands on her apron. A visit from Gohan always managed to make her smile. Now that he had his own family, he seldom visited the house. ChiChi could not have asked for a better wife for Gohan and she loved Videl like a daughter, but sometimes she was envious of her. Not only because she missed her little boy --- her little Gohan, but because of the way that Gohan treated her. Unlike her own marriage, Gohan and Videl were very loving with each other, and she could tell just by looking into her son's eyes that he thought he was the luckiest man on the planet. It made her jealous to think that she had never been able to experience that kind of love. It wasn't that she didn't love Gokuu, she loved him with all of her heart and soul; she just wasn't sure if he felt the same way or not.

"Gohan, I didn't know you were here." She said with half of a smile and ushered him into the kitchen with her, patting his head and smoothing out his hair.

"I came to say goodbye to Tousan. I'm not too late am I?" Gohan asked.

*Of course not, dear. Your father wouldn't leave us alone for months on end without so much as giving us a hug! Oh....wait....Yes, I believe he already has. But today he has decided to give us the pleasure of actually giving him a farewell. If he remembers.*

Gokuu had come to visit again, on a break from his training. This did not happen often, so his visits were a very special occasion. She was not the only one that missed Gokuu when he was away; her sons had the same kind of ache in their hearts whenever their father left. However, the visits never seemed as though they were that special to Gokuu. He was hard to read of course, because his entire personality was so naturally sunny, but ChiChi often sensed that he didn't understand the full impact of his leaving them. She pulled away from Gohan, both mentally and physically and glanced out the window, a slight frown appearing on her face. "No Gohan, your father went off to spar with Vejiita as soon as breakfast was finished---"

She didn't have a chance to finish the sentence, because Gokuu suddenly popped up right between the two of them, two fingers still pressed against his forehead. Startled, she gasped and placed a hand on her chest. She had seen Shunkun Idou before, of course, but every time he just appeared like that it frightened her. Especially when she was not expecting him at all.

"Tousan! I thought you were sparring with Vejiita-san." Gohan exclaimed, with a confused look on his face.

Gokuu momentarily frowned as if thinking of a very unpleasant and embarrassing experience. He placed one awkward hand behind his head and gave them both a mischievous little smile. "Well, I was, but Bulma came out and yelled at us for ruining the lawn. Then she and Vejiita got into a big fight and....I just didn't think I needed to be around any longer. We will finish our sparring match another time."

ChiChi smiled lightly and tried to look past the fact that even Bulma saw her husband more than she did. As much time as Gokuu spent fighting with Vejiita, he might as well live at Capsule Corporation with them. "Gohan came to say good-bye, Gokuu. Since you are leaving this morning." She reminded him.

"Oh yeah! I completely forgot that I was leaving today!" Gokuu said smiling sheepishly, while placing a hand on the back of his head.

*How could you possibly forget? It is the only thing I have been thinking about since the moment you came back....But then, you always did have that sweet sense of forgetfulness.*

As much as ChiChi was trying to fight it, she found herself smiling too. Gokuu's smile had always been infectious, and she was always amazed at how sweet and innocent he really was. It was impossible to stay angry with him for more than fifteen seconds. And that was where the bitterness came from. She wanted to be mad at him, furious at him for always leaving, for always making her worry, but she simply couldn't. How could she be angry with such a husband? Gokuu had given up all of the comforts of his life at home and traveled to the islands to train Ubuu; he felt that if he did not go and teach Ubuu how to use his power for kindness and good, the world would be in danger. As much as she wanted to be selfish and refuse him of this, she knew that she had to let him go. He was doing what he was doing for the good of the Earth and she simply had to let him go. And as much as this killed her, as much as it hurt her to watch him go, it didn't even seem to perturb him. To him, it probably seemed as though he had only been gone a few days. After all, he was only his happiest when he was fighting. Or eating.

"Well Gokuu, you had better go. Ubuu is waiting for you." She said suddenly, startling herself out of her thoughts. She placed her hands on her hips as if in defense, knowing that if she didn't keep herself strong now, she would fall apart in front of him. And she did not want him to see her cry.

"*Wait*!! Wait for me!" A voice screamed from upstairs before her husband to give her a reply.

In a blur of color and motion, Goten came running down the stairs, still wet from his shower that morning. He stumbled down the last step and ran to his father, wrapping his arms around him tightly. "Don't go Tousan! Please!"

As much as it pained ChiChi to have Gokuu leave every time, she knew it was probably just as bad, if not worse for Goten. Her youngest son had lived without a father for seven years, the most important seven years in his life for growing and learning. And now that he had finally gotten him back, now that he was finally able to have a father, Gokuu left once more. She knew that it had affected Goten in a very personal way, though her son always tried to be strong for her. He had never complained to her; had never even said anything at all about the situation. However naïve and innocent Goten may be, he could still sense that it would hurt her to talk about it.

Gokuu ruffled Goten's hair and smiled. "Goten, I'll be back in a month or so to visit. You know I can't stay...."

A month. A whole entire month of not hearing his voice or seeing him smile. A whole entire month of being all alone in the house that he built just for them. A whole entire month of cooking for just Goten, wishing there was someone else at the table to ask for seconds, thirds, fourths and sometimes even fifths. The thought of being so utterly alone again nearly brought tears to her dark eyes and she struggled to regain her composure, holding herself upright and proud. Much like Goten tried to be strong for her, she tried her best to be strong for him as well. If she gave into the tears now, so would Goten, and that was something that she did not want. Her little boy had already cried too much in this life.

"I know you're coming back..I just miss you so much when you leave." Goten frowned and looked down at the floor, tucking his hands into his pockets. He had gotten used to wearing comfortable, baggy clothes, just like his father. Sometimes ChiChi was struck by how much they were alike. Their faces, their stance, their hair. Sometimes even the way that Goten spoke reminded her of her husband. It made it awfully hard when she was missing him so badly.

"We all miss you, Tousan." Gohan added, putting a hand on Goten's shoulder.

*Well that's the understatement of the year*. She thought to herself sadly.

Gokuu smiled happily at his sons, and she could see the love and pride on his face. As much as she was unsure about Gokuu's feelings sometimes, she never had any doubt that he loved his sons. Like any parent, his heart was so full of pride for his children that it was liable to burst at any moment. She knew, because she felt the same way about them and loved knowing that she had played a part in raising these incredible children.

He eyes traveled to her, oblivious to all of the emotions that she was feeling at the moment. He looked so happy, so cheerful. And as she stared at him with her hands threateningly on her hips, she crumbled inside, melting into a heap of sand. She wanted nothing more than to just throw her arms around him and beg him to stay, to tell him how much loved him and missed him. But because she was prideful, and because she was stubborn, she could not bring herself to do it. Instead, she said nothing at all and turned her back on him. She faced the sink, which was full of dishes that she had not yet finished, and began scrubbing the plates vigorously.

"I miss you too, but I'll see you soon." Gokuu said happily.

"Bye Tousan." Gohan said with a hint of sadness in his voice.

"Bye Tousan." Goten echoed quietly.

She could feel it as the three of them turned to stare at her back, expecting her to say her goodbye as well. She said nothing, just continued to scrub at the plate she was holding with so much strength that her hands shook. She felt Gokuu's eyes on her, and though she could not see his face, she somehow knew that it was drawn into a frown. She could almost hear his little head wondering why she wasn't saying goodbye to him, wondering what it was that he had done.

"Goodbye ChiChi." he said pointedly.

*Go on Gokuu: Run off, save Earth and leave me behind just like always. After all, I don't really matter to you all that much anyway, do I?*

The sound of a dish breaking made all three raise their eyebrows.

She didn't turn, but guiltily stared at the broken pieces in her hands. This was what bitterness did to her: made her so sad and angry at the same time that she could not even contain her emotions. She sighed, giving in.

"Take care Gokuu." She said softly, then threw the pieces into the garbage beside her. She glanced over her shoulder at him, keeping her face as expressionless as she possibly could.

He opened his mouth to say something more, but decided against it and teleported back to the islands. He was gone in an instant. It had taken such a short amount of time, and yet it felt as though it had been a lifetime to her; watching his dark eyes as he disappeared before her. The whole house instantly seemed to be void of his presence, as if the life had been sucked out of the small home. It was already empty, already lonely. ChiChi sighed as she broke yet another dish in her hands. Angrily, she threw the pieces into the garbage can, nearly knocking it over with the force of the throw.

"Okaasan? Are you okay?" Goten inquired, taking a step back. He looked worried.

*I'm just fine*. She told herself sarcastically. *My husband just ran off and left me again and I won't see him for another month. No big deal right? Hell, let's throw a party! Break out the party hats and start up the band!*

"I'm fine, dear." She answered in a tense voice. "Why don't you and Gohan go outside and study for that big test you have tomorrow."

Whether or not they knew she was lying, she couldn't be sure, but they nodded and hurried out of the door. No one liked to be around her when she was in one of her angry moods. She stared after them through the window, watching them playfully hit one another as they strolled on the fresh green grass. Her eyes traveled up to the sky, to the pure white clouds floating over the mountain peaks in the distance. She wondered what Shunkun Idou was like. Did he just disappear and float around in space until he reached his destination? Or was it instant, reappearing then disappearing like the snap of your fingers? And if it didn't take that much time to do, then why didn't he do it more often? He could visit everyday if he wanted to; he had the power to do so without growing tired from flying. She knew if it were her that was far away from her family, she would want to see them as often as possible. But obviously Gokuu felt differently.

Another dish broke in her hands, this time cutting her rather deeply on the thumb. The blood slowly dripped from her finger, spilling into soapy sink, dying the suds a light pink shade. She grabbed a dishtowel off the counter, held it against her thumb, abandoned the breakfast dishes and walked slowly to the bathroom to stop the bleeding.

While walking through the bedroom, she took a moment to scrutinize it. The bed had been neatly made as always; she kept her house immaculately clean, especially when she was alone and had nothing else to do but dust and vacuum. The curtains had been opened earlier that day, and sunshine was spilling over the window sill onto the floor. The rays of light reflected off of the mirror on the far wall, skipping sunshine to all corners of the room and creating tiny rainbows. The only part of the room that wasn't brightly lit with sunshine and color was the wall on which the picture of her and Gokuu on their wedding day was hanging.

*I miss him already.*

Tears of pain slipped down her cheeks as she sat down in a nearby chair, completely forgetting her injury and cried.