Author's note: Hi there, you guys. Truly I'm flattered you want to read this story, but I have to warn you it was written a very long time ago and what you're looking at currently is something like a skeleton, heavy on dialogue and at times pretty vague. A full-fledged rewrite is planned for Fall/Winter 2010. Thanks, CL.
How Much I Care
It'd been weeks since she spoke more than short words that could barely be considered sentences to her husband. He'd shrugged it off, her moods often changed at the blink of an eye and she seemed content enough, just quiet. Of course, this was his reasoning the first week.
Volatile, he thought. That was the word, the way that ChiChi's temper could be described. He almost giggled to think of her scolding, her threatening slender finger, even the sharp look in her eyes. Truly, Son ChiChi was known for keeping her husband in his place. He'd married an appropriately strong woman.
The second week, he began feeling slightly uncomfortable in his own home, but by the time dinner was served, ChiChi seemed fine. She ate across the table and spoke to their son about his education in a very soft voice, even his elite hearing had to strain to hear any sort of emotion in her voice.
She was like a ghost walking about the house silently, picking up after them, setting out food for them and they did not acknowledge that she did so. Neither did so purposefully. Innocently, they barely noticed that such was their manner of treating their mother and wife: cooker of their food and keeper of their house.
By the time a month had rolled around, his son brought up the situation.
"I'm worried about her."
His father didn't have to guess who 'she' was or why his son was worried, but Gokou felt perhaps the only way to respond was to not. Gohan did not bring her up again.
There was always a new enemy, some sort of threat. They'd come to expect it now and just pick up broken stones and move on, training harder for the next opponent. Some were defeated more easily than others. The answer to winning was hard work and training. Training was not drudgery, but the highlight of his young life. He knew he would never become the scholar his mother wanted him to be. He was a martial artist as his father was, and that was that.
As another month passed by, this had become routine. He would wake up and go straight to training, coming back in a few hours, breakfast was on the table, he would rest a few moments, then go back to furious training for several hours on end, sometimes remembering to eat lunch, and others not.
Dinner was most important of all meals to Son Gokou. Sundown was the point of the day ending and the training's to be set to rest until the next sunrise. He would walk in and leave his clothes for his wife to wash and take a shower as dinner cooked itself, tasty and warm and waiting for him. They would eat, and his wife no longer spoke at all. Not of education or complain of their laziness. She'd pick at her food like a bird, and speak when she was spoken to.
Gohan tried to manage the subject once more with his father. "Dad, it's like she's lost her light or something."
Gokou watched his wife a little bit, the words ringing in his ears. He didn't really ever think ChiChi had a light. Like a candle in her chest, or something? He shook his head. It wasn't out of maliciousness that his mind was at ease. He just thought he knew better, and in his confidence he smiled at his son, ruffling his hair and telling him to focus on what threat was to come.
Clink. Clink. Clink.
After a while, they would always settle down to eating and saying nothing at all. ChiChi seemed to like this the most. The word awkward comes to mind. Through smiles clearly forced and long stares out the window, Gohan wanted nothing more than to beseech his mother to return to him.
Gokou's fixed gaze on his wife seemingly went unnoticed. Although ChiChi ate carefully and quietly, her facial expressions, varied fairly often. He made a game of trying to catch the subtle changes. One moment, she had a dazed look and the next her jaw would be clinched shut. A third, there would be a more longing and sad look in her eyes. She sat up straight, with her perfect posture, but even with her usual prim manner, she almost looked as if she were slumped over and hiding from the world.
"Do you think she's sick, Dad?"
"Nothing is wrong with your mom, Kiddo."
She barely managed her food, and after serving and giving seconds to both her husband and son several times, her son would leave the table. He shot a look of desperation over at his father.
You could count the exact number of seconds every night that it took for her to get up after her son left. She poked at her food about three more times, got up, set the dishes to the side of the sink so she would take care of them in the morning, and went quietly to clean up before retiring to her side of the bed.
"ChiChi," He called her name out. Her breathing looked irregular, like she was trying to pretend she was asleep. She must have wanted to be let alone. With a shrug, Gokou pulled his shirt over his head.
The emotional state of his wife was far from his concerns until the third month rolled around. He had other much more important things to worry about. If something was going on with ChiChi, he felt assured that he was doing the best thing by focusing on all of his energy on preparing for battle.
One particular evening, he felt offended and alone when he was left to eat silently with no stories to tell for there was no one to listen. He was no longer hungry, his appetite left as this eeriness entered the realm.
He got up and followed her to their bedroom, but the bed was tightly fixed as if it had never been used and there was no sign of his wife's ever entering the room. He'd become nervous now. Had someone kidnapped his wife? Something had happened, surely. A few items of clothing had been carelessly dropped on the floor.
Son ChiChi never left anything out of place in their bedroom.
Panic leapt into his throat.
He followed the pile, more nervous as the seconds pulled on. His mind was racing as he considered any and every foe that could have left this trail of clothes from his bedroom on to the master bathroom. He licked his lips in anticipation of what was beyond the door: the androids ready to attack, perhaps? But they were not due attack for two and a half more years. Gokou shook his head as he prepared to advance.
Nevertheless, on guard, Gokou opened the door to the bathroom. His wife turned her head and immediately grabbed a towel to cover her wet and naked person. Her mouth opened wide in horror and shame.
The gasp he heard emitted from her little mouth was the closest thing that he'd heard to her voice in weeks.
"Uh, sorry Ch'." Gokou muttered quickly. He, savior of the planet Earth and answer to all of those that cry out for help, felt a deep crimson blush rush over his cheeks and he slammed the door shut.
He leaned against the back of the door, breathing hard. His chest rose and fell.
They lay silently in bed that night, both awake but neither speaking as they were under the impression that their other was asleep. Both lay oceans of covers apart in the little bed, but one noticed this every night and the other submitted to his eye's begging for sleep so that soon, his exciting morning of training would begin.
Brief edit, 8/10.