Goku tore his gaze away from Christmas tree to see Goten standing in front of him in his pajamas. His eyes were red and puffy as if he'd been crying.
"What is it, Goten?" he asked softly. "Another nightmare?"
"All these horrible things were happening to Momma!" Goten cried. "She was getting attacked by monsters…"
"It's okay," Goku said soothingly. "You know it was just a nightmare…"
"W --- What if it isn't?" Goten sobbed. Goku held out his arms and Goten crawled into his lap, crying. "Something bad could be happening to her --- and it's all my fault! If Trunks and I hadn't got the dragon balls, none of this wouldn't have happened!"
"No, no, don't say that," Goku told him, feeling an icy stab of guilt. "It wasn't your fault…"
"It was!" Goten wailed, burying his face into his father's chest. "It was Christmas Eve… I was supposed to come home early, and I didn't!"
It was my fault, not yours,Goku wanted to say, his heart sinking horribly. He hated to see his youngest son like this, but he couldn't let himself fall apart. He needed to be strong for his family.
Goku held his son tightly as he continued to cry. "I want my momma!" he kept whimpering every so often.
I want her too,Goku thought sadly.
He looked at the Christmas tree, the ornaments illuminated in the dark. Two weeks had passed since Chi-Chi had disappeared, and they still didn't know exactly what had happened to her…
Goku had arrived where Shenron was located just as a bright light enveloped everything. He sensed not only Goten and Trunks's kis… but also another one that was fading rapidly.
"MOM! MOM!" Goten was screaming.
"Goten?" Goku called out, shielding his eyes from the light. "Trunks? Chi-Chi? Where are you?"
The light quickly vanished. Shenron let out a mighty roar and separated into the seven dragon balls, which dropped to the ground as mere stones. Goten and Trunks stood nearby, staring the stones in dismay.
Goku looked around. He couldn't find Chi-Chi anywhere.
He rushed over to the boys. "Goten, what happened?" he asked urgently. "What did you ask Shenron to do?"
"We didn't ask for anything," Trunks explained, looking scared. "We were going to --- and then Goten's mom showed up. We couldn't hear what she was saying…but it must have been a wish."
Goku stared at the stones. "The dragon only granted one wish?"
"That's not right," he muttered. "The dragon was supposed to grant two wishes, not just one… unless the first one was so powerful, he couldn't grant another wish…"
"I know what she wished for!" Goten cried out suddenly. "I could hear her! She said that she wished she was never born!"
"WHAT?" Goku yelled, unable to believe what he had just heard.
"She wished that she was never born!" Goten burst into tears. "She's gone!"
Oh Kami, no!Goku thought, panic-stricken. It can't be… Shenron never granted a wish like that before! He couldn't have made Chi-Chi vanish off the face of the earth. It's impossible…
He put two fingers up to his head and searched for Chi-Chi's ki. He couldn't sense it anywhere on the planet.
She's not dead,he told himself firmly, although his heart was sinking. I would have felt it. She has to be around here somewhere… she can't be gone, she just can't be!
"You two go home," he told the boys, trying to keep his voice steady. "I'm going to go look for her, okay?"
Goten shook his head. "But the dragon made her disappear! What if you can't find her?"
"Don't worry, it'll be all right," Goku assured his son. "Just tell your brother what's going on, and I'll be back with your mom soon, okay?"
Goten sniffed, wiping away his tears. "'Kay." He and Trunks flew off to their own respective homes.
Goku then began searching for his wife. He took off in the air and soared around the woods, calling out her name. He caught sight of something lying in the snow. He flew down and saw that it was Chi-Chi's shawl. He sniffed it, trying to pick up her scent. It was faint, as though she had been gone for hours already.
Fear for his wife consumed him. "Chi-Chi!" he hollered. "Chi-Chi, where are you? Answer me!"
There was no response. What did Shenron do? he wondered fearfully.
After searching Mount Pouzu for almost an hour, he then started to fly around the entire world. He was a very fast flier; he go around the planet in less than a day if he flew fast enough. He kept stopping in every village or city, hoping to see her somewhere.
Please be all right, Chi-Chi, he kept praying. Please be around here somewhere… I'm so sorry I wasn't home when I was supposed to be. I'm so sorry…
He refused to give up searching; she could be injured or lost, and he wasn't going to let her down again. Yet no matter how many times he searched or prayed, there was no sign of her anywhere.
It wasn't until the next morning, after his third flight around the world, that he had to return home and break the news to his sons that their mother was gone.
It was probably the worst Christmas Day the Son family ever had. Goku used his Instant Transmission to go to Namek and gather its dragon balls, but it was all for nothing. Porunga told him that he had no power over a wish that Shenron had granted. Until the earth's dragon balls were reactivated in a year, there was nothing they could do to bring her back.
The Christmas tree (which Goku, Gohan, and Goten had solemnly decorated) remained in the living room long after Christmas. Neither of them had the hearts to throw it out, nor had they bothered to open their presents. They refused to do that until Chi-Chi came back --- if she could come back…
A depression cast its shadow over the Son household. Gohan shut himself up every day after he came home from school to study. He insisted that Chi-Chi would have wanted him to keep studying no matter what. Goten couldn't go to sleep every night without having nightmares. And Goku couldn't sleep at all without her.
Never in his life had the Saiyan felt so helpless and guilty. All Chi-Chi had wanted was for the family to be together for Christmas… and he let her down.
It's all my fault,he thought bitterly. I forgot to give her Christmas present, so I got her one at the last minute, but I get home late. She got so upset that she wished she were never born. And if I hadn't gotten her a present, she would have gotten mad anyway. Kami, can't I do anything right?
Goku gazed dejectedly at the stones on the table. When he had sensed her death when he was on the Supreme Kai's planet, he went crazy, yet the knowledge that she could be wished back kept him sane. Now, however, there was nothing they could do until the dragon balls were reactivated in a year.
Tears filled his eyes, and he brushed them away quickly. No, he couldn't cry… Gohan and Goten needed him.
Two weeks had been torture enough, but the thought of a whole year without her made him feel sick. Oh, they could manage without her cooking; Goku could hunt wild animals or fish for meals, and Gohan wasn't too bad of a cook…
Yet life wouldn't be the same without her. They needed her --- Goku needed her. He didn't think he could stand it if he never saw her laugh, cry, or even yell at him again…
Suddenly, there was an eerie light shining in the darkness. Goku turned around. His jaw dropped.
The stones were now orange balls with red stars marked on them. They were glowing gold.
Ecstatic, Goku leapt from the couch and ran to the foot of the stairs. "Gohan!" he shouted. "Gohan! Come quick!"
Gohan raced down the steps. "What's going on, Dad?" he asked.
At the same time, Goten sat up, blinking bemusedly. "What is it?" he asked. Then he and his brother saw the glowing dragon balls.
For a few seconds, Gohan and Goten could only gape at the sight, a mixture of shock and amazement on their faces. They looked at their father, and the three of them exchanged identical, hopeful smiles.
Without a word, they grabbed the dragon balls, threw on their coats and boots, and ran outside. Goku set the dragon balls on the ground. "Shenron, come out!" he shouted. "We have a wish!"
The night sky went darker than it already was. The glowing balls floated up in the air and came together to form a giant light. Shenron appeared, his red eyes flashing.
I hope this works,Goku thought desperately. Aloud, he yelled, "Shenron, we want you to bring back Chi-Chi! Whatever wish she made, undo it!"
There was a brief period of silence, broken by Shenron's low growl. "This I cannot do."
"What?" Goku, Gohan, and Goten cried in unison.
"Why not?" Goku demanded.
"I have already granted a second wish," the dragon continued.
"But you were just summoned!" Gohan exclaimed angrily. "How could you have granted a second wish?"
"Please, Mr. Shenron!" Goten begged. "We need her… we want her back!"
Shenron shook his head. "A wish has already been granted," he repeated. "Farewell."
"NO!" Goku yelled, but it was too late. Shenron disappeared into the seven dragon balls, which turned to stone and shot out in different directions of the earth.
Goku let out a roar of frustration and slammed his fist into a nearby tree. Goten started to cry again. Gohan just stood there, dumbfounded.
"I don't get it," he wondered. "If the dragon already granted a wish, then why did he bother to come back?"
Goku shrugged, staring hard at the ground. If Shenron couldn't grant their wish… did that mean that Chi-Chi was never coming back?
It couldn't be true… she couldn't be gone for good! He loved her. He needed her. He couldn't imagine what life would be like without her, and wasn't interested in finding out…
Oh Kami, what am I going to do?he thought miserably.
Just then, he sensed a ki located miles away --- a familiar one. It was very faint at first, but was steadily increasing with each passing moment…
It was impossible. Only an hour ago, he couldn't sense it anywhere on the planet. And now…
"Dad?" Gohan asked, concerned. "Dad, what is it?"
Goten stopped crying. He, too, noticed the eerie way his father was staring off into space. "Daddy?" he asked softly.
Goku didn't answer. He just stood there, hardly daring to believe it.
"Dad, what's wrong?" Gohan inquired worriedly.
"Stay here," Goku replied in a strange voice. "I'll be right back." He placed two fingers to his head, concentrated on the ki, and vanished.
The first thing Chi-Chi became aware of was something cold and wet on her face. Snow --- she was lying facedown in the snow. She felt more lightly sprinkling down on her.
The wish, she remembered. Her thoughts seemed to be traveling slowly through her tired mind. Did it work? If it did, I should be home now…but I'm still here.
She knew that the only way to know for sure was to get up, but she continued to lie there. She was still tired from her journey; not a spark of energy remained in her. It would be foolish to get up when she'd probably collapse again.
And if the wish hadn't worked, she didn't have a reason to get up.
All of a sudden, she heard a rush of air nearby. Footsteps rushed towards her.
Leave me alone, she thought groggily, failing to recognize the voice. I'm trying to sleep. Just five minutes…
She felt warm arms pick her up and shake her. "Oh no… Chi-Chi! Wake up! Please wake up!"
Her brain seemed to be working a little bit faster. She knew that voice…
Slowly, Chi-Chi opened her eyes and saw Goku bending over her, looking more concerned than she had ever seen him look in her life.
"Chi-Chi, thank Kami!" he exclaimed in relief. He helped her up to her feet and hugged her tightly. "I'd thought I'd never see you again!"
Chi-Chi was disoriented. Had the wish been undone, or had Goku been simply revived. She had been on hugging terms with Goku after she had made the wish, after all…
"How --- How did you get here?" she croaked.
"Instant Transmission," he replied simply. "What happened to you? I couldn't sense you anywhere for two weeks! I knew you weren't dead though, I would have felt it…"
"But you were the one who was dead!" she blurted out.
He pulled away from her, looking baffled. "Well, yeah, I was dead," he said slowly, "but I came back a year ago, you know that…"
"No, I don't mean when you died in the Cell Games!" she said impatiently. "Piccolo killed you!"
"What?" Goku asked in disbelief. "Don't be silly, Piccolo didn't kill me! Well, okay, he did back when Raddiz came. Only that was when he was evil! He's good now, remember?"
"No, no he isn't... I saw…" She looked around, still not quite awake. "At least, I thought I saw…"
Everything looked more or less the same after she had made the wish. Yet Goku was alive. He couldn't have returned --- unless…
"Goku, are we married?" Chi-Chi asked at once.
Goku looked at her as though she were crazy. "Did you hit your head or something?" he asked worriedly.
"No, I didn't ---" Chi-Chi started to say, but Goku took no notice of her words and quickly started inspecting her for injuries.
"This all my fault," he said ruefully, shaking his head. "I'm so sorry I wasn't there at Christmas Eve… I didn't mean to make you so upset… especially not upset enough to wish you were never born! You've been gone for two weeks! We've all been worried sick about you…"
"Wait a minute!" Chi-Chi interrupted, narrowing her eyes. "How do you know I made that wish?"
"Goten told me," he replied quietly. "He saw the whole thing…"
"Goten?" she repeated faintly, her heart pounding madly in her chest. "Our son, Goten?"
"Um… yes," Goku said uncertainly.
"And Gohan? We have a son named Gohan?" Chi-Chi asked urgently.
Goku stared at her, stunned. "Oh Kami, you lost your memory didn't you?" he muttered. "Don't worry, Chi-Chi, I'll help you get your it back no matter how long it takes. I'm Goku, remember? Your husband…"
Chi-Chi let out a happy cry, and threw her arms around Goku with such force that he stumbled backwards into the snow. "It worked!" she squealed. "It worked! I'm back!"
"Back from ---?" Goku started to ask, but Chi-Chi silenced him by pressing her mouth against his.
This time, he didn't try to move away. Instead, she felt him pulling her closer to him, kissing her back softly, gently. She clung to him tightly, not wanting to let him go.
After what seemed like hours later, they finally broke apart. Goku stared at her, dazed. "So… you aren't mad?" he asked hesitantly.
"About what?" Chi-Chi replied cheerfully. Then she remembered. "Christmas Eve?" She shrugged, surprised to discover that she was no longer upset about the whole thing. "It doesn't matter. It's only the night before Christmas; it's not Christmas Day, after all."
"But we kind of missed that too," Goku admitted, scratching the back of his head. "You were gone for two weeks!"
This, of course, was no surprise to Chi-Chi, since that was the amount of time that passed after she made the wish. She still felt a bit disappointed about missing the first Christmas back with her family, but that didn't matter to her. Christmas was just something that came once a year; all she really wanted was time with her family.
"That's all right, Goku," she said consolingly. "We'll have other Christmases." She embraced him. "Oh, I'm so glad you're okay! And I'm so sorry… I didn't want to lie to you or hurt you…"
"Whoa, whoa!" Goku laughed, trying to sit up with great difficulty since Chi-Chi was still on top of him. "Chi-Chi, calm down! What are you talking about?"
"You mean you don't remember?" Chi-Chi asked in disbelief.
"Remember what?" Goku asked innocently. "All I remember is that the boys and I were worried sick about you for the past few weeks! We looked everywhere for you… where were you anyway?"
"I never left!" Chi-Chi tried to explain. "I was right here… or at least I felt like I was. But all our friends and family didn't know me at all!"
Goku looked uneasy again. "Maybe you were dreaming," he suggested.
"It wasn't a dream!" Chi-Chi said vehemently. "It was real!" She looked at him incredulously. "Are you telling me that you don't remember any of that?"
Goku shrugged. "I don't think so…"
This doesn't make any sense,Chi-Chi thought. It wasn't in my head; it was real! How could Goku not remember?
And then hit her: undoing the wish must have modified everyone's memories, since the timeline had been returned to normal. It was as though nothing had happened. Nobody would remember what had happened --- nobody but her.
Perhaps it was for the best that Goku didn't remember. She wasn't ready to admit all of the things that she had done after she had made the wish, even if he would forgive her for them. Also, she didn't think he'd understand that the Eternal Dragon created the memories he had of the past to weeks. If roles had been reversed, she wouldn't be able to understand either. A memory, like time, is a thing that shouldn't be meddled with.
"Well, never mind that, Goku," she said firmly. "It's over now, and that's all that matters."
Goku nodded, understanding. "I'm just glad to have you back," he said softly, holding her close.
Chi-Chi smiled, feeling safe and warm in his arms. "I'm glad to be back," she replied, leaning forward to kiss him again.
What's keeping him so long? Gohan wondered restlessly, shivering in the cold.
A great deal of time had passed since Goku had vanished. Gohan knew his dad was more than capable of taking care of himself. Still, he and Goten were getting worried.
"What if he disappeared too?" Goten whimpered.
"No, Dad wouldn't do that," Gohan said, trying to comfort his little brother. "He'll be back…"
"And what about Mom?" Goten went on tearfully. "She's never gonna come back… and it's my fault!"
"Don't say that," Gohan said, patting Goten's shoulder reassuringly. "We can't give up!"
"But Shenron can't bring her back, who can?" Goten wailed.
What if he's right?Gohan thought, feeling an icy surge of guilt. Ever since his mother disappeared, he'd felt awful for deserting her on Christmas Eve. He knew that going to Videl's party rather than spending time with his family hurt her, but he never thought she'd let the dragon make her vanish.
If he had known what was going to happen, he would have stayed home for Christmas Eve. Girlfriends would come and go, but family was forever…
What if she was never coming back? In spite of her overprotective nature and her frequent nagging, he loved her. She had always taken care of the family. She had been there when his father could not be. He couldn't imagine graduating or even having a family of his own without her to see it…
There was a rush of air behind them. Gohan and Goten turned around to see their father… and leaning onto his arm, looking tired but very happy was ---
"MOM!" Gohan and Goten exclaimed, rushing to their mother.
"Oh my boys, I've missed you!" she cried, hugging them both.
"Mom, I'm so sorry for not being there on Christmas Eve," Goten said regretfully. "I didn't mean to make you so upset. You were right, this was supposed to be our first Christmas all together, and I messed it up…"
"Me too," Goten said, sniffling. "I'm sorry, Momma… you aren't gonna leave us again, are you?"
"No, sweetie, I'm not going anywhere," Chi-Chi said soothingly. "And don't worry, we can always make next Christmas special…"
"Why do we have to wait until then?" Goku inquired.
Gohan, Goten, and Chi-Chi stared at him dubiously.
"Well, who says that you have to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Day?" he asked.
"Because that's when Christmas usually is, dear," Chi-Chi reminded him.
"So?" Goku replied carelessly. "Gohan, don't we still have the Christmas tree up?"
Gohan caught the glint in his father's eye and smiled, getting the hint. "Yeah, we do," he said slowly. He turned to his brother. "And we haven't opened our presents yet, have we, Goten?"
Goten grinned cheerfully. "Nope!"
"Then why not have our Christmas now?" Goku asked brightly. "It doesn't matter what day it is as long as the family is together."
So they did have their own little Christmas. Chi-Chi made hot cocoa for the family as they sat under the tree and opened presents, like they'd normally do on Christmas morning. Mostly, they just enjoyed being together as a family.
Chi-Chi was moved by all of this. She never thought that the boys would refuse to have Christmas without her around. It made her feel like a heel for thinking that they didn't need her anymore. They may be growing up, but they'd never grow out of her…
It turned out to be the special Christmas that Chi-Chi had wanted --- even if it was belated. The best part, however, had to be when Gohan and Goten went to bed… and she and Goku were curled up on the couch, just watching the Christmas tree. It was also something that they had done every Christmas night --- when he was alive or at home.
Grandpa Gohan was right, she thought, snuggling up to Goku. I do have a good life. It's hard sometimes… but I wouldn't change it for the world.
And speaking of Grandpa Gohan…
Chi-Chi sat up, seeing a shadow looking in through the window. "Goku, look!" she exclaimed, pointing.
"What?" Goku asked sleepily. He glanced at the window. "There's nobody there."
"Didn't you see him? He was right there…" Chi-Chi froze. The shadow had vanished as quickly as it had appeared.
Just as well, she thought exasperatedly.
"Oh, I almost forgot!" Goku said, slapping his forehead. He gently pushed Chi-Chi off him and went to the tree. "I wanted to wait until we were alone to give this to you."
"Hey, I was just getting comfortable!" she pouted teasingly.
He dug out a small, wrapped package with a bow attached to it. "I know it isn't much," he said apologetically, "but I wasn't really sure what to get you --- and I kind of waited until the last minute. That's why I wasn't home on Christmas Eve," he admitted.
He handed the present to her rather shyly. "Merry Christmas, Chi-Chi."
"Oh Goku, you didn't need to get me anything…" she started to say, but fell silent as she opened it.
It was a framed photograph of the entire family at the beach. They had gone there as a family outing shortly after Goku had been restored to life. The picture frame was decorated with varieties of seashells.
"This was one of the first pictures we had of, you know, all four of us," Goku said softly. "And I thought you'd might like a nice frame for it… so I went to the beach and collected the seashells to make it look nice."
"You made this?" Chi-Chi asked, astonished. "For me?"
"Of course I did," Goku replied, smiling. "I love you."
She felt her insides melt at his words. "I love you too," she murmured, embracing him. "And this present is… it's wonderful. You still didn't need to get me anything though; I already got my gift."
Goku was confused. "Really? What was it?"
Playfully, Chi-Chi tore the bow off the wrapping paper and stuck it in the middle of Goku's head. "You're home for Christmas," she replied simply. "Well --- sort of. That's all I ever wanted."
Goku laughed, trying to take the bow off. "What would I do without you?"
A/N: This was a lot of fun to write, and I'd like to thank everybody who read and reviewed. I'd also like to thank everyone who sent in suggestions of what Goku would give Chi-Chi for Christmas. A lot of the reviewers all suggested something along the lines of family photos, but I liked Kinosei's idea of a picture with a picture frame the best… actually, she said she read something along the lines of it in one of Lady Thundera's fics. If this is true, I also give her credit for that idea. Incidentally, does anyone know which story that was in? Because I've read all of her fics at least once, and I don't remember anything like that…
I hope to see some of you R/R my next G/CC fic. It may take me a while to actually post it, since I'm still fine-tuning the plot… And now, the reviews:
Kinosei: Thanks for your idea! I hope this ending wasn't too mushy. As sentimental as I am growing, I still urge to gag at things that are so sappy, it's sickening. It takes me a week to finish chapters, so I don't wait long to update after I'm finished. If you think I tortured Goku in this fic, you may not like what happens to him in the one I'm working on. *cackles*
VidelChan313: It took Chi-Chi three days to find the dragon balls.
Angel in the Shadows: Trunks is hot:) My parents would be the exact same way if I mentioned DBZ to them. My brother and I watch the show, but my brother is a boy; he only watches it for the action and humor. I do to, but you know what I mean… As I mentioned, I am planning another G/CC fic.
You may know me: Just because the wish was an accident doesn't mean that Chi-Chi shouldn't feel responsible about it. Anybody would. And as for your other comment, I think you missed the whole point of the story. Yes, Gohan and Goten impacted a lot, but Chi-Chi did make a difference on her own. Goku wouldn't have a family without her, and her father would have been completely bad. She didn't necessarily cause his death; as Mirai Trunks demonstrated in the Android saga, a minor change in the past can change a lot in the future.
SSJ Chika: A baby?! That would take too much time! LOL!
Landamo: Was that a quote from It's a Wonderful Life?
Lady Thundera: I guess anybody can die in DBZ. I was more surprised to find out that Roshi could be so serious in the King Piccolo saga. Baba needed to piss Chi-Chi off… it got her going, didn't it? LOL! Incidentally, why did you want to e-mail me? And which of those stories was Kinosei talking about?
Pu-chan: Okay that's a little too complex for me.
ChiChiko: Thank you!
Lady Idril Celebrindal: Thank you! And another reviewer, Kaye told me to tell you that she's a big LOTR fan too and loves your name.
I won't tell: Yes, Goku wouldn't do anything fancy; he'd do something sweet, simple, and from the heart. His present fit those qualifications very well, don't you think?
Me: I said earlier that some of the lines were a reference to Finding Nemo.
Dark-mean-me: I updated!
Moongirl16: It was the last cliffhanger.
Dopey: Very observant! ;) Your idea was sweet, but as you said, that would be kind of OOC. Goku wouldn't do anything that fancy.
Goku's mom: Thank you!
Lady Athena X: Goku is back, thank God, and everything worked out just fine, if I do say so myself.
Sakura123: Technically, it's the fourth time, since he died in the battle of the Saiyans in the changed timeline.
Meca-chan: Thank you!
La Suka: Thank you!
Abigail Marie: I will write another. The card idea is sweet, but not what I was looking for. Thanks anyway!
Jessica C: It started two weeks later. It would be too mushy if it started right back at Christmas Eve. Chi-Chi didn't get a ride on Nimbus, but she did get to hold Goku and be close to him. Who wouldn't want to? LOL!
Sadako-Tokumei-Kibou: Goku and Chi-Chi are back together again. Now let's hope our good friend Lady Thundera does the same, if you know what I mean. *winks*
Radar Phia: You wished that Chi-Chi had died instead? I wouldn't say that to most of the people who reviewed this story…
Kaye: I had two snow days this week too! Snow days rock! I did what you asked and told Lady Idril.