Disclaimer: Dragonball Z belongs to Akira Toryama. I don't own a thing. The title, as you may guess, is also derived from the movie Finding Nemo.
Author's Note: This fic takes place after the end of DBZ and doesn't follow GT in any way, because let's face it, GT wasn't DBZ since it wasn't created by Akira Toryama. I first got inspired for this when Chi-Chi died in the Majin Buu saga. Since she was on another planet, she wouldn't get to be with Goku, which isn't fair. I think Chi-Chi would want to be with Goku in the afterlife, and being the obstinate character she is, she wouldn't stop until she achieved this goal. Add a few other factors, such as my Finding Nemo obsession, my dislike of GT, a myth I read in school called The Ramayana (which will apply in later chapters), and you've got yourself a plot bunny! :)
I t took me a long time to get the plot of this story straight, since I kept getting all sorts of ideas. I hope the final result is a good story. Please read and review; I would once again like to reply to all reviewers with each proceeding chapter. Okay, enough said, let's get this show on the road!
The time had come and she knew it. She wasn't ill and was in very good shape for her age, but she knew that it was going to happen. Since the moment she woke up in the morning, there had been a strange, tingling feeling in her heart that told her told her that this was the day.
She was going to die.
Chi-Chi was sitting by her bedroom window. Spring was it its splendor today. The sun was shining bright and there wasn't a single cloud in the sky. She could birds singing in the trees nearby her house.
This was something she had done a lot these days. She would sit by the window, lost in her own thoughts. Sometimes she would think of her sons, who were both grown up and living lives of their own. Sometimes she would think of life, which certainly didn't turn out the way she expected it to be.
But mostly, she just thought of him.
She wasn't afraid to die. After all, she was very old. Age had caught up with her, turning her once black hair gray and marring her skin with wrinkles. She had lived a long life --- too long, it sometimes seemed.
Besides, it was almost a relief for her. For she had been dying a little bit each day without him. Very soon now, she would see him again.
Chi-Chi sighed. The Son family and others closest to him had felt his death that fateful morning, many years ago…
It started out as a normal day. Chi-Chi was washing dishes while Goten was eating breakfast. Several weeks had passed since Goku's last visit, and the two of them were wondering when he'd be back next.
Chi-Chi bit her lip, thinking about her husband. He just left to train with Uub without so much as a good-bye, and now she only saw him every so often these days. She understood why he had done it. After all, he and Vegeta wouldn't be around forever; he had to be sure someone would be around to protect the Earth when they were gone…
Yet it still hurt her. She loved him and had married to him too long to ever doubt that he loved her back, but it made her so angry how he'd just come and go whenever he pleased.
Still, she survived. She kept those sad, bitter feelings hidden inside of her and went along with life as usual. And whenever he came back, she welcomed him with open arms. Until the day he would return for good, she contented herself with the time she had with him.
Besides, she still had the rest of her family: Goten, Gohan, Videl, Pan, and her friends...she loved them and enjoyed the frequent times when they were all together…
Suddenly, she froze. The plate she had been washing slipped from her limp fingers and dropped to the floor, instantly shattering to pieces. She put a hand over her heart, which was twisting in pain.
That feeling --- she had felt it before…only it couldn't be, it wasn't possible…
"Mom?" Goten asked in alarm. She turned to look at her son. He stood up from his chair, pale and wide-eyed. He looked more upset than she had seen him look in years.
"What?" she asked fearfully. "What is it?"
Goten swallowed and closed his eyes. "Something's happened. I-I can't feel Dad's ki…"
Chi-Chi paled. "You can't?! Are you sure?"
Goten tried to concentrate on finding his father's ki. "Positive," he said finally. "I can't feel him anywhere on the planet."
"Then does that mean…?"
"I don't know. I better call Gohan." He raced to the phone and dialed Gohan's home. "Hello, Gohan? Did you feel it too?" He paused to listen. "I don't understand…what could have happened?"
Another pause. "You're right. We'd better go see Vegeta."
He hung up the phone, his expression grim. "Let's go," he told his mother shortly.
The two of them walked out of the house. Goten picked up his mother and flew off. Moments later, they met Gohan, Videl, and Pan in midair. Together, they flew off to Capsule Corporation.
Once they had arrived, they quickly went into the gravity room, where Vegeta was leaning against the wall, his arms folded against his chest and his eyes closed.
"I'd thought you'd come here as soon as you sensed it," was the Saiyan Prince's greeting.
"Then…is it true?" Gohan faltered.
Vegeta nodded. "Yes," he said quietly. "Kakarot is dead."
The Son family stared at him, numb with shock. Chi-Chi starting shaking her head in denial. "No…no, it can't be true!" she cried.
"How could this have happened?" Gohan demanded. " Don't Saiyans live longer than humans?"
"Of course they do!" Vegeta barked. "Don't be an idiot! Kakarot couldn't have just dropped dead of natural causes! He was probably killed!"
"That doesn't make any sense!" Gohan protested. "Everything's been peaceful since the battle with Majin Buu! It would have taken someone with an enormous power to kill him."
"Right," Goten agreed. "And we haven't sensed any kis like that since Buu."
Vegeta gave him a hard stare. "Oh? And how would you know? You've been slacking in your training for the past twelve years. But I haven't sensed any particular strong kis either."
"Then what else could have happened?" Goten asked angrily.
Vegeta shrugged. "Perhaps Kakarot wasn't as strong as he used to be."
"You take that back!" Pan yelled, her little face screwed up with grief and anger. "My grandpa's the strongest guy in the world! He wouldn't have just lost like that!"
"Maybe he got sick again," Gohan said suddenly. "In the mirai timeline, he died of the heart virus…"
"No, he couldn't have!" Chi-Chi said, shaking her head. "He was here just a few weeks ago and he was fine!"
Pan covered her ears. "Stop it!" she screamed. "It isn't true! Grandpa's not dead!"
"Honey, I'm sorry, but he is," Videl said softly, putting her arms around her. "We all felt it…"
"He can't be!" Pan sobbed, wrenching herself out of her mother's grasp. "He can't be! He said that he'd be back! He said that he'd be back…" She dissolved into tears.
Gohan and Videl tried to comfort their daughter, although they didn't look too well themselves. Gohan looked as though he were about to break down. Goten was staring hard at the wall, his eyes moist. Vegeta simply just stood where he was. If he was in any way affected by Goku's death, he certainly wasn't about to show it.
Chi-Chi just stood off to the side, watching them all. Hot tears welled in her eyes and streamed down her face. Oh Goku, you didn't even say good-bye! she thought bitterly.
A few days after Goku's death, Uub came to express his condolences. He had no idea what happened to him either. According to him, Goku left the day before --- in perfect health --- to see his family again. He never came back.
There had been no grave for him; they didn't have a body to bury. Even if they had known where he had died, chances were he would have been able to keep his body and cross over to Other World.
Everyone mourned him, but Chi-Chi missed him most of all. How could she not? He was her husband, the father of her children --- he was everything to her. The old bitterness of his absences had gradually faded into acceptance. She knew he thought he'd been doing what was right.
But she would have given anything to have him with her now: to hold him, to kiss him, to tell him that she loved him, and to grow old with him. Okay, so he probably wouldn't have aged along with her since Saiyans could keep their youthful appearances for many years.
If he could only see me now, Chi-Chi thought sadly, as a withered old woman. I'll be he wouldn't have recognized me.
Not a moment passed by when she didn't think of him. He was a constant visitor in her dreams and memories. A part of her still couldn't believe that he was permanently dead. Even when she thought he had died for good in the Cell games, he returned seven years later. Surely, this time wouldn't be any different…
Only that was wishful thinking on her part. He'd been dead for twenty-five years now. He wasn't coming back. So all she could do was wait for the day when she could be with him.
And at last that day had come.
She heard footsteps enter the house. Goten was home. Slowly, she got up from her chair and walked out of her room to meet him.
The death of his father caused a profound change in her youngest son. He took up martial arts again, and trained even harder than ever to make up for how long he'd slacked off. He still hadn't settled down and had a family like his mother wanted him to. He still lived with his mother to take care of her, but he was hardly home most of the time. Often he was training with Pan and Uub, both of whom had been training equally as hard.
Chi-Chi couldn't help but smile. Goku would have been proud. The three of them were a very strong team, and they would be more than ready to protect the earth from any enemy that would threaten it in the future.
"Mom?" Goten's voice called out. "I'm home!"
Chi-Chi entered the kitchen, and beamed at her son. "Hi, Go ---"
She froze. The tingling sensation was growing stronger by the minute. Her knees buckled and she collapsed.
Luckily, Goten caught her before she hit the ground. "Mom!" he cried. "Mom, what's wrong?"
"I… I'm fine," Chi-Chi whispered. She wasn't going to go --- not yet at least. She had to say good-bye first. "I… just need to lie down…"
Goten carried his mother back to the room and laid her down on the bed. He bent over her, worried. "Do you want me to call a doctor?"
Chi-Chi shook her head weakly. "No… there's nothing wrong with me, Goten. It's just my time…"
"What?" Goten asked, confused. His eyes widened with shock as he registered the meaning of her words. "No… no! Don't talk like this, you're going to be fine!"
"It's all right, honey," she assured him. "Come on, I want you to sit with me…"
He sat down on the bed and took her right hand. "You're gonna be okay," he kept saying, his voice trembling. His eyes were growing bright, as though he was about to cry. "You're strong… you're gonna make it…"
Chi-Chi smiled and squeezed his hand lovingly. "It's okay, Goten. I've lived a long life. I don't have any regrets…"
"But I need you!" Goten cried desperately. "We all do! You can't go!"
"You don't… need me anymore," she said gently. "You and your brother can take care of yourselves. I'm so… so proud of you…"
It was getting harder for her to breathe. Her thoughts were fuzzy, like they were just before sleep. The room started to darken, even though it was early afternoon. Gathering her remaining strength, she forced herself to focus on her son's face.
"I'm proud of you," she repeated in a slightly stronger voice. "Both of you. I know I didn't say it much, but I was. I always have. I always will be…"
"Stay with me, Mom!" he pleaded. "At least wait for me to get Gohan and the others!"
"I'm sorry… I can't," she said faintly. Her words were starting to slur in her mouth. "I love you. Tell your brother… I love him… And Pan and Videl… tell them that I love them too…"
Tears started to fall down her son's face. "I will," he promised. He kissed her hand. "I love you too. Say hi to Dad for us."
She pulled Goten a little closer to her so that he could hold her. He buried his face into her shoulder, something he hadn't done since he was a little boy. She could feel tears dripping onto her.
For once, Chi-Chi wasn't worried. Her loved ones would be all right without her; they would take care of each other. She only wished she could have seen Gohan one more time… no matter. Life wasn't forever. She would see both him and Goten again someday.
Her thoughts once more returned to Goku. She smiled to herself. I'll be seeing you soon, Goku. Wait for me…
She felt truly at peace as she allowed the cold darkness to carry her away.
Goten felt his mother's body go limp in his arms. He pulled back and saw that her eyes were closed. He squeezed her wrist, trying to find a pulse. There was none. She was gone.
"Good-bye… Momma," he whispered, placing a kiss on her forehead. He laid her back down on the bed. More tears fell from his eyes, and he didn't bother to wipe them away.
Ever since he was little, he and his mother had always shared a close relationship. She had managed to overcome the grief of losing his father and raised him for the first seven years of his life. She even trained him so that he could fight like his father. She had always been the one to take care of everybody… and now she was gone.
Yet in spite of his grief, he found bittersweet comfort. It had been a fairly painless death. The serene expression on her face that told him that she was finally at peace. He hoped that she would join his father in Other World --- it was what she always wanted.
He stood up. He had to go break the news to Gohan and his family, though they had probably already sensed her death…
He glanced back at the bed. "What the ---?" he gasped.
The body had disappeared.
To be continued…