Added as of 11/30/03: From the manga I have read, Yamcha was said to be too "non-committal" – and I don't blame him. He wasn't the cheater. If you feel the desire to say otherwise, by all means go ahead. I appreciate it. But I will not be changing this story.

This story was brought about because of two authoresses on this site, and because I am sick and tired of seeing fics centered around bashing Yamcha. Velasa, for speaking with me late into the evening about Yamcha (and Nameks), and Kuwa-chan, for giving me Yamcha's history and for general support. Kuwa-chan's also caught nearly every error I made ahead of time. They deserve the credit for me tackling this project.

Standard Disclaimer: I do not own DBZ.

"And I Shall Go On"
By: Dreamwraith

Mortal men have always had kings, for as far back as oral history extends. One, two, or more, they have always existed. Some came to power through shadowed means, others through blood, and still more through war and fighting. Each king has a queen, a woman who has stood beside them through their endeavors. And no matter what may come, they command the respect of their people.

There is but one king of the desert, one man feared and respected by all in that barren wasteland, where the only rule is survival of the fittest. His name is feared throughout all rural villages, and respected beyond that. He is a bandit and a thief, and he is a brave warrior, loyal and true. This is his story, the story of how far one thief would go for his princess, and of how he changed…for her.

And of how far you can go before you fall.

Chapter One

"Hey, man, don't be too hard on yourself. There was nothing you could do about it."

Yamcha stared dully at the mug in Krillin's hand. The steaming coffee inside had always been enough to calm his nerves previously. Heck, he'd had some before he'd gone off to fight the Saiyans, and it had helped. Kami knows, it had helped too much. It just didn't seem to be doing anything for him now. Could it have simply been the atmosphere of the Kame House that had the relaxing effect on him? He wasn't so sure – it wasn't working now. He said nothing, ignoring his friend's proffered hand.

Krillin slid into the seat next to his long-time friend at the kitchen table. For once, the man wasn't wearing his orange fighting gi, as he usually did while at the Kame House. Of course, most of his visits there were for training and sparring. Right now he was wearing a pair of black pants, a white shirt, and dress shoes. The shirt was a tad wrinkled, but knowing Yamcha it was a big concession. "C'mon, Yamcha, you know you should have something to drink," the monk said gently, waving the coffee about slightly, allowing its aroma to drift to the ex-bandit. "You need something in your system."

The larger man hesitated for a moment only before accepting the drink, gazing out the window as he did so. The sky was beginning to darken, the sun's dying rays sending bright streaks of color across the horizon. A few of the stars were visible as well, and Yamcha sighed wistfully. The last night spent at his desert home had been almost exactly like this, and he had spent a good part of that night wondering what she'd think of him, moving to the city. He sipped at the coffee, hissing as the tip of his tongue was singed.

"I know, Krillin," he said after his mouth had cooled. "I still wish I knew why she went to him, of all people. I thought we had a future together, Bulma and I, but I should've known better. Especially after she told me about dreaming of kissing him. If only I had known, I could have changed things." He slammed the mug down onto the table angrily, bringing Master Roshi into the room faster than he could blink.

"Yamcha, Bulma's always been fickle. You know that," Krillin said carefully. Two of the three people involved were good friends of his, people he had known for at least half of his life. He had to remain neutral, or he would risk being dragged into the problem. "Once she made up her mind, there was no way you could have changed anything for her. She's just like that."

"I know. Just why can't she realize how much I've done for her? How much we've done together? She just threw it all away!" The bandit buried his face in his arms, torn between disgust and tears. He was no longer that young any more, he knew. Is that why she had passed him up? Was Vegeta more vital, more alive than he had been? Than he was now?

Krillin glanced up at the Turtle Hermit helplessly. What do I do now? he mouthed, unwilling to leave his friend in tears at the table. Sure, he'd cried when he broke up with Maron, but they hadn't been dating for years. And they'd only discussed getting married once. They'd never gone so far as to actually buy the ring, though. Yamcha apparently had.

Master Roshi came up behind his one-time student. "There, there, Yamcha m'boy," he said, patting his shoulder. "I can't fault you for what she did, but you should've expected something like this could happen. You can never trust a woman who would show her underwear to other men for something." He could barely contain his crackling laughter as an image of a teenaged Bulma appeared in his mind, flipping up her pajamas for him so he'd give her his Dragonball. Though what had happened wasn't exactly what either of them had expected.

"Master, I was going to marry her," came the response after a moment of silence. He lifted his head away from his arms; his eyes were red with unspilled tears. He stood up silently, save the scraping of the chair against the floor. Then he walked through the living room and out the door.

Krillin followed him as far as the doorway, stopping on the front porch and watching as his friend sat down on the beach, under the palm tree. He watched as he gazed up into the sky, looking at the recreated moon. He watched as the man he called his friend brought his knees up to his chest and rested his head on them. And he watched as Yamcha began the silent recollection of his memories with Bulma, the woman he loved and thought had loved him in return.

The setting sun cast its golden orange rays over the desert sands, giving the small oasis the appearance of fire. The sand blown about by the unceasing winds glowed in the sun's dying rays, creating the illusion of a firestorm in progress. It was truly an impressive spectacle, one that many men would give their right arm to glimpse once in their lives.

A lone figure stood by the water, his figure outlined by the sunset. The clothes he wore were loose and billowed in the wind, typical of any desert dweller, although it did not take a trained eye to see that he was not typical. At his side was a sword, carried through countless battles and doubtless as sharp and as biting as the desert sands during a windstorm. He wore a red bandanna about his head to keep his long, curly hair out of his eyes. He was a warrior by nature and a bandit by trade.

At first glance, one would have thought that the man had a deformity of some sort; one of his shoulders seemed to be significantly higher than the other. Had anyone actually been watching, they would have seen something separate from his shoulder and neck. "Yamcha," that 'something' piped, "are you sure you want to do this? It's your life. You shouldn't be rushing things."

"I know, Pu'ar," the man said, "but I know this is what I want. I can't hide from the world now that I've gotten a taste of it." As he spoke, he turned his head toward the small creature that had been nestled into his shoulder. "This is what I have to do." The man was rather young, perhaps in his early to mid-twenties, rather handsome and athletic to boot. He carried himself with pride, and his voice reflected that.

"And besides," he added after a moment in a bemused tone of voice, "Bulma needs me. She'll need the company, since her adventure with Goku just ended."

This girl, Bulma, was the heiress of Capsule Corp, one of the largest enterprises in the world. She was a scientific genius in her own right, and she invented new and useful things every so often, some of which aided her on her adventures with Son Goku. The young woman in question had met Son Goku when she was sixteen, and she had run into Yamcha not long after that. She was easily the most beautiful creature he had ever laid eyes on, with shoulder-length blue hair, wide blue eyes, and a dazzling smile. It was love at first sight, noticeably so on her part. At the time, he had been deathly afraid of the female gender, and when confronted by one the bandit would falter, his nose would bleed, and it became necessary for him to "retreat". It wasn't that he was afraid of women, exactly, but he hadn't been around a female since he was very young. Sure, he'd seen a few, but only from a distance. He'd learned he couldn't handle women from one particularly disastrous caravan ambush…and he never made a mistake more than once.

Bulma had been more trouble than she was worth then, but he eventually learned how to cope with her, as they searched "together" for the Dragonballs. She had wanted the perfect boyfriend, and he had wanted to be rid of his fear of girls. They had to work with each other; she had the Dragonball Radar to guide them, and he had the swift, reliable transportation. She'd been a pain the first few nights they spent together as a group: the two of them, Pu'ar, Son Goku, and Oolong, a shapeshifter whose natural form was a pig. Fitting, he thought wryly. Their constant arguing eventually shifted to playful teasing, and respect. And then he had fallen in love with her. Honestly, truly, in love.

He recalled the first time he laid eyes on her with a sigh. He had been about to pulverize Goku, who was merely a boy at the time, albeit a rather strong one. Yamcha had had the upper hand in the fight; even though Goku was stronger (not by much, he added with quiet pride), the boy was inexperienced in real fighting. Then Bulma had awoken from her sleep under one of the many interesting rock formations in the desert. She sat up, yawned, and asked what was going on. Then their eyes locked, and the bandit's face flushed crimson. He did not believe in love at first sight until that moment, where a heartbeat can last an eternity. He'd thrown the fight to the boy and left, swearing to himself that he would see her again. And he did, through their many adventures.

Bulma, he thought. What a beautiful name for such a beautiful girl. She wasn't all that much younger than he was. They had been seeing each other for some time, but since she had put her adventuring with her monkey-tailed friend on hiatus she hadn't been around to see him. This saddened the bandit greatly. Bulma was the only woman he could be near…they were perfect together. Where she was rash and impulsive, he was calm and pensive, almost shy (except when angered…but that is a different story altogether). She was the firebrand. He was the stream. They balanced each other out. Yamcha knew they were meant for each other. The only problem was, did she?

"Yamcha, please give it some time. Think about it," Pu'ar reasoned. "You've been away for a while. You haven't seen her in a few weeks, not since Oolong outwitted that Pilaf character. What if she has a new boyfriend?"

Yamcha glanced over at his shapeshifter friend. Pu'ar had been his traveling companion for a few years; he'd met her two years before Bulma and Goku had crossed his path. She assumed the form of a cat most of the time, but he could never be sure if that really was her true form or not. You never can tell with shapeshifters. She was not too keen on leaving their lifestyle of many years behind them, but he knew that she would not try to dissuade him from doing something without good reason. Another man in the picture would be a very good reason. But how would he know unless he went to see Bulma?

"Pu'ar, I have to see her. I don't care if she does have another man in her life right now. I need to tell her that I love her. If she doesn't want me around, then I will leave," he said with a sigh.

The shapeshifter sighed as well, resigned. They had gone through this particular discussion at least four times today, and she knew she wouldn't be able to change his mind. She had to try, though, to keep him from making what could be the worst mistake of his life. If Bulma had displaced Yamcha, where would he go? What would he do? A different sense of adventure had taken up residence in her human companion's heart, and all she could do right now was advise him as a true friend should. "Yamcha," Pu'ar said after a moment, "promise me that you will sleep on it before you do anything."

The young man shrugged. "All right. I promise."

Y'know, it's almost challenging to write a good Yamcha story, since nearly everyone out there bashes him to high heaven. Let me know how I did – for better or for worse – and thanks for reading.