Seconds in the breaking.
Artificial lightning danced from spire to spire, stonework shattering as the chaotic energy tore through them. A whirlwind of power carried the rocks, swirling them around and around one minuscule figure in the centre; bathed in gold, a tormented soul.
Horrified aquamarine eyes watched as an outstretched hand released a tiny sphere of energy, toppling three of the gargantuan towers that he had been admiring. A clenched fist swung around, a spasm swinging it so forcibly that the very wind blasted another monument to pieces.
"I CAN'T STOP!"
In the midst of the storm several figures danced. While not appearing to move, they would disappear and reappear for seemingly no reason. However, if watched closely, the pattern could be divulged. Every spot left was - no more than a second later - filled by a torn piece of earth; every spot entered safe for the time being. And out of the dancers emerged one man, alien but still human enough for features to be made out.
An elderly man, skin wrinkled from time and experience. His eyes wide and calm; arms reaching through the golden aura, ignoring the burning of flesh, to hold the rampaging warrior.
"Be at peace, Son Goku. You have the will to gain control, you need only call upon it."
The figure writhed in agony, limbs jerking as he sought for control. For a practised Martial Artist - someone who had come to understand long ago that his body could be depended upon - the experience was more terrifying than words could describe. To not have control was unthinkable and Goku fought against it as he did everything - with the strength of his heart and soul.
And still the old man held him, sparks rolling across his old bones and searing his flesh. The wounds would heal, the pain could be ignored but the sacrifice was understood. The sacrifice was important; it gave Goku focus. If he was trying to help himself he might have difficulties but, whether intentional or not, his very being forced him to help those who suffered.
So the shaking slowed, the clods of earth dropped, the wind fell down to its normal breeze and slowly, but surely, the two descended towards the ground. A few feet before they were grounded Goku collapsed, golden hair fading back to black as he slumped against the old man who handled the extra weight easily.
Glancing backwards, Pascal waved one of his students forwards and gently passed the large warrior to her.
"Take him back to the temple, I'll be back before the sun sets."
The old man turned and stared into the sky, his face frozen in concentration for a second, then he was gone. The wounds would be healed, the pain had been ignored but a sacrifice had still been made.
That would be the thing he remembered most about Pascal; the sacrifices.
Standing at the front door, Son Goku was about to make his own kind of sacrifice. Not his first in the past year, he thought with bitterness that would have surprised his friends. He hadn't been home in a year; actually it was more like two years as he had gone straight from heaven to the hospital.
Had the door always been so forbidding?
Gohan had escaped as soon as they had arrived home, using the excuse of checking up on Icarus. Goku wasn't surprised that fear of Chi-Chi's reaction overpowered even the joy of having his father back; she was, of course, an intimidating woman. He was glad Gohan had left for the moment; he wouldn't want Chi-Chi to hold anything back in case their son heard.
After years of constant training and battles that he had welcomed with open arms, Goku found himself dreading the future for what seemed to be the first time in his life.
What would he say?
The truth was completely out of the question, she wouldn't understand. He could, he supposed, use the excuse he had given his friends. Chi-Chi was sharp though, sometimes it seemed like she knew him better than he knew himself. He was absent minded, naïve, sometimes a bit slow on the uptake but he was incredible at learning fighting techniques. She'd never believe that it took him a whole year.
The trouble was that he didn't think she'd jump to the right conclusion either, that would be too much to ask for.
Goku, saviour of the Earth, never asked for anything in return for what he did. He had all that he needed; a wife, a child, good friends and the strength of his own two hands. Was it too much to expect that he be able to keep those things?
What would she say?
He knew where she was as easily as if the walls were no more substantial than paper; he could feel her anger and suspicion as she washed the dishes; hear the smash of plates too fragile for such a strong woman to hold; smell the aroma of cooking dinner on the wind.
Can't stand here forever..
Slowly, hands shaking, Goku reached towards the door.
"Goku, you're looking a little worse for wear."
Looking up from under a white sheet he had draped around himself, Goku did indeed look like a shell of his former self. His skin drawn, his eyes sunken, the one arm hanging outside of the shade of the sheet racked with bruises from the strain it had been put through. The very act of going Super Saiyan was wearing him down; he couldn't find the control to hold the power in without hurting himself in the process.
And, as Pascal had discovered, he had been doing it a lot longer than he had let on.
When Goku had first arrived he had seemed chipper, a child in a man's body. He would eat as much as he could, then run out and play with the children as if he didn't have a care for the world. And he would train - with incredible strength and endurance. He learned technique after technique, most simple as they weren't a particularly violent race but nevertheless it was an incredible sight.
Occasionally though, Pascal would notice Goku wander away from the crowds. He'd smile at the children, gently guiding them back to their games; bow to the masters and request a break. Finding a quiet corner, Pascal sat and watched as Goku found a place he thought isolated enough and let his façade drop.
Arms drooping, knees bending, his powerful form shuddering in pain; Goku would fall to his knees and scratch at the ground as the unbearable pain took hold of his body. Pascal had never seen anything like it, a warrior who bottled up his pain until it was too great then released it in streams when it could harm no one but himself.
The act of bottling though, it burned him from the inside out. Too much energy for one body to cope with - that Goku was alive was, in itself, incredible. One day, not a day of any importance really, Pascal had approached him about it. Of all the reactions he had expected of Goku; fear, anger, betrayal, there was only a deep, penetrating shame.
"I should have told you, if there was any way for me to leave you know I would. I'm sorry."
Of course he hadn't known Son Goku as well then, how could he have appreciated that the warrior's thoughts were almost never for his own sake.
That was months ago, they had been steadily working towards control since then. It was a difficult task, not only because of the incredible power. The way it had came about; the suffering of his friends - most noticeably the death of the one called Krillen - had pushed him over the edge into a burning hatred he hadn't known himself capable of. The psychological damage was intense; it touched on times of weakness all throughout his Goku's life.
The relapses were more intense now, if fewer and far between. The result of that was almost worse, the aftermath of each explosion leaving Goku drained and depressed. Pascal had quickly come to realise that depression wasn't an emotion Goku was used to; he was finding it hard to cope with.
"I'm sorry Master Pascal, guess today really wasn't the day to try going Super again."
Goku gave him a weak, broken smile before turning to stare at the setting sun.
"True, but that day is closer than even I had dared to imagine. You aren't losing faith at this late date are you?" The words were said jokingly, an attempt to jolly him out of his rut. Then Goku turned back to his master and let the image of his being flicker for a moment.
It wasn't anything physical, though there was enough wrong with him in that respect. It was the look in his eyes; Pascal knew in an instant that what he had thought was depression in Goku's eyes had been nothing. Another façade. What Goku revealed to him now was a gaping hole deep in his soul. It shamed him to know that he had failed to notice it; not as much, though, as the thought that he might rather have never seen it.
"You. ." his voice slowed for a moment, but he was too old to let shock control him, "you certainly are a man of surprises, Son Goku."
A grin - this one real as apposed to the previous fake ones, much more heartening in spite of how tired it appeared.
"That's what they all say Master Pascal, that's what they all say."
Goku could feel Pascal's chiding glare even as his hand wavered inches from the rough wooden of the door. You're stronger than this, Son Goku, go inside and face your wife. You owe her that much.
I owe her more.
The door swung aside easily, not even a creak to give away his presence. Somehow that would have been easier; to have his position revealed in some way he had no choice over. Now he would have to do it himself, Chi-Chi had never shown much more than a passive interest in learning how to sense others.
The floorboards barely made a sound as he padded across the wooden floor, there was no wind escaping through the open door - the world seemed to be conspiring against him. You do this yourself Goku, it seemed to say, no help from me.
He hesitated again at the doorway to the kitchen, leaning against it and simply watching Chi-Chi work. Even in anger she was beautiful, in ways he couldn't really understand. Love confused him, especially whenever Bulma used the word.
With Chi-Chi he knew that he needed her; to be there when he came home; to yell at him when he made mistakes; to lie against him when he slept. Goku had missed it more than he had previously realised, a pull that at once fascinated and terrified him.
When did I become so dependant on you, Chi-Chi?
"Will you stand there all day Son Goku? I suppose another day hardly matters; compared to a year."
It would have been better if she shouted, fought, glared. It would have been easier if she had been angry, not this monotone lack of emotion.
"No Son, please." She was calling him by his surname now? What did that mean? There was some emotion in her voice now, but it was only pain. How could such a strong woman sound so hurt?
"I understand that you don't really understand what it is you do or why it hurts me. I always knew you were naïve; it was a part of you that attracted me most. If only you were more mature, maybe you would know more about what it means to love."
But I do. Not the love that Bulma goes on about, the boring, selfish need for pleasure. I know what you mean - what you want..
He couldn't convey it in words; he didn't have them inside of him. If he could have only shown her his feelings she would understand that he would have given anything up for her. Hadn't he lived with her for all those years since the World Tournament; hadn't he raised Gohan just as she had; hadn't he given up wandering, adventures, nearly training just to make her happy?
How much more would you have me give up before you understood what I feel for you?
There was pain in her eyes, now that she had finally decided to turn. Her powerful body shivered slightly out of it and the sight tore at his heart. Out of everyone, not you! I don't wish this pain on you; let it all be on me!
"I-I always suspected. But a year Goku, what possible excuse could you have for that?"
"There was a technique I needed to learn," he heard his mouth speak the words but it was alien to him, he had no part of it. He was outside, watching as he gave away the paltry lie. She acted as if she didn't hear it.
"It hurt at first Goku, it hurt me for a long time. To know that the man you love is too much of an innocent to return the feeling; it takes away even the solace of hating you." Chi-Chi laughed bitterly, then in an instant leant back sharply and caught her head in her hands.
He just stood there, awkward as his wife mourned the missing husband whom stood before her.
"Master, I have a question for you."
It was two weeks since Goku's experiment with Super Saiyan; progress was becoming harder fought with each passing day. The closer to control they came, the bitterer the progress became. The struggle was tiring, both to Goku himself and to Pascal. The old man had retired to the mountainous spires that Goku had tried to ascend among, meditating to relieve the mounting stress.
Hovering above one spire, eyes closed and arms folded, Pascal decided that he wasn't getting anywhere.
"Ask it Goku, I've never had the patience for meditating."
"Well, over the past months I've been trying to learn as many techniques as possible - so my stop here isn't wasted time."
"I think finding control is a valuable use of time," he replied mildly, "don't you?"
Goku blushed, "I didn't mean to be rude, but it wasn't just that, it had a part in finding control as well. I found it easier to concentrate while trying to learn; now, though, all techniques have been learned."
"Save for one?"
"You do it all the time like its nothing but I haven't any idea how to do it. It's like it's beyond even me, and that's something. Instant Transmission."
One eye opened and peered at Goku's large figure, sizing up his need.
"The Instant Transmission is even more complicated than you think, those who use it begin training at childhood and only make their first attempt towards the end of adolescence. That is at the earliest. Do you intend to be here that long, Son Goku?"
Through the bright sunshine Pascal only just managed to see the grin of the warrior, full of eagerness and mirth that had been missing since the training had begun.
"I don't intend to take that long, Master Pascal."
And so it had begun.
The learning of the technique slipped easily into the search for control, Pascal used it as an example of the desperate need for it. For with Instant Transmission, the warrior using it was at great risk.
Nothing can truly travel at or beyond Light-Speed. That's the limit, even Goku was aware of that fact though only through experience. The closer you come to the speed, the slower everything seems; Goku learned the very graphic and incredibly short (or wide from the spectators point of view) end of the warriors who had pioneered the technique. The jump to speed had to be, as the name implied, instant. From stationary to Light-Speed, that was not an easy task.
On top of that when you reached Light-Speed you stopped being matter; your body became pure energy that crackled through the universe and dispersed in an instant. The 'rub' was that all Ki-Warriors were adept at channelling and controlling their energy so, in theory, it should be possible to control and direct the energy you became - to hold it together as your being - then reassemble on the other side as your self.
A dangerous procedure that counted on your ability to jump to Light-Speed while at the same time holding the pattern of yourself in your mind. That certainly explained why it took so long to learn.
To the untrained it might seem wise to start with short distances, a couple of feet, then work up. In fact that was entirely the wrong way to look at it, once you reached Light Speed getting from one side of the world to the other was incredibly easy. Stopping after a metre - even a mile - though, that was some trick. Pascal had started the training by warning him that he might never master the technique.
Goku had just nodded, smiled, and began.
That was a month ago.
This was now.
There were days, not many, but there were days when Pascal began to believe he had Son Goku sussed out and could no longer be shocked by the child-like Saiyan. Every time he was proved wrong, in Son Goku was a spirit that literally drunk everything up and used it as easily as if he had known it for years.
If you tried to explain the theory to Goku he'd just nod and smile. If you told him about the dangers of 'Light-Speed Travel', the laws of 'Conservation of Energy' or even 'The Theory of Relativity' (which was actually far more accurate on Yadraat than on Earth) he'd get a dazed, sleepy look on his face.
And yet when you asked him to demonstrate how to concentrate, to visualise his energy pattern, to gather energy for a jump into Light-Speed - it was all poetry in motion. Of course these things didn't come right away and that puzzled Goku, even intrigued him, but to see him grasp things after days that had taken Pascal years to get his head around was incredible. Unbelievable. Somewhat enviable.
They were on a barren planet which swung around Yadraat's solar system, it occupied about the same orbit around the sun - just further behind the planet itself - which was the only reason they could stay on it for any length of time. It had taken a couple of seconds to get there, it was a lesson for Goku more than anything else as it gave him a chance to practice maintaining his pattern.
One of his students, Ohm if he remembered correctly, was floating about twenty miles away - hidden behind the spires that surrounded the area - in order to give Goku a target. That was the only real problem, Goku still needed a target to aim for in order to make the jump but Pascal doubted that problem would last.
Goku for his part was glancing around in wonder, drinking in his surroundings, not showing any nervousness over the upcoming test.
"This is really cool, Master Pascal. It's like being back on Yadraat!"
"Yes Goku, in fact we believe that it was something astronomical that caused the creation of the spires and that is why they formed on two completely different.."
He trailed off at the sight of Goku's deadpan expression.
"Yes Goku, cool. Do you want to get started?"
Goku grinned and nodded eagerly, raising two fingers two his head then narrowing his eyes in concentration.
That was another incredible thing about Goku; Pascal would have expected him to be the sort of person to fidget through meditation and find it hard to concentrate. That couldn't be farther from the truth, in fact when Goku was truly focussed it seemed like nothing short of a meal thrust under his nose could wake him.
It was about then, as Goku collected energy and locked onto the familiar energy signature that rested far from sight, that it all went wrong.
"Well, I suppose you're hungry."
The words shocked him out of his daydreaming, that Chi-Chi could go from crying to cooking in just a couple of seconds seemed farfetched even to him. Still his stomach had very definite ideas about home cooking; it bypassed the brain - which was confused enough as it was - and growled.
"That's ok, I'll get something. You just sit down at the table."
She shooed him from the kitchen like a child and began chopping vegetables.
That was it? A year away, crying, pain and now it was just over? Finished?
It wasn't that Goku had been looking forward to it, but it seemed to him that there should be some sort of resolution at the end of all that. They couldn't just act like it hadn't happened, could they?
As she brought the plates to the table she must have caught something in Goku's expression for she sat down, idly brushing moisture from her eyes, and sighed.
"I'm sorry Goku, I was harsh to you when you've always done your best to be good to me. I don't hate you," liar, "but I don't love you either," double liar, " I understand that this might be difficult at first but I don't want Gohan to grow up in a broken home, we will stay together and act like a married couple. We just wont be, not in our minds." She smiled, brittle and fake, "It won't be much of a change I suppose."
She turned to leave but as she did so, her hand trailing along the table, Goku made an act of impulse. Somewhere, deep inside, he understood that Chi-Chi both loved and hated him. He understood that she was completely serious about continuing their marriage just for the sake of Gohan. And, most important of all, he understood that the chance to fix this was slipping away forever.
Chi-Chi was in pain and he could see only one chance to fix it and, being Son Goku, he shunted away the embarrassment and the fear that plagued him and grabbed her hand.
"Don't say that Chi-Chi, please. It's not true, it's never been true."
As his wife looked back at him, clearly fighting back the tears, Goku realised one more thing. That if he was going to fix this, it was now or never. Another day, another minute, another second and his wife would never be his wife again. There were words inside of him but he couldn't grasp them, couldn't bring them to light.
It was just then, as he fought at the terror and the fear and tried to concentrate, that it all went wrong.
"This is impossible, no one has that power!"
Out of nowhere appeared Pascal, wrapping both wiry arms around a gaping pupil before disappearing again - barely missing a streak of golden energy that burned through the ozone where they had been.
"He's reaching his peak!" screamed Pascal into his student's ear as they reappeared, "We've never even approached this level, I don't understand!"
It had started so innocently, he had watched with a patient eye as Goku locked onto his target, gathered his energy and then, finally, moved. All the energy was devoted to one sudden burst, thrusting him into Light-Speed in less than a second. Something was wrong though. He was moving too slowly, from Pascal's point of view he shouldn't been visible but he kept reappearing further and further away.
Something was affecting his concentration.
It was when Goku hit the spire that things really became serious; the mountainous rock formation came toppling down upon him and, strong though he was, stopped him. The cloud of dust and rubble was just settling as Pascal locked onto Goku's fluctuating energy signal. Pebbles were pattering down around them as he gathered his energy. Then the rocks exploded outwards, golden energy ripping through them - sending him and his students spiralling backwards.
From that time onwards they had been forced to keep moving, dodging between the golden energy Goku released as he powered up higher and higher. The very planet was shaking now, the ground for miles around was cracking and the spires were tumbling away. He was destroying the planet purely by being there.
"We've got to get out of here, he'll take us with him!"
Pascal nodded as his pupil screamed into his ear, more to show he was listening than anything else. It made sense to leave him until he had tired himself out. That way no one would be harmed. No one except Goku.
He listened to the common sense.
"You're right, go to the others and tell them we are leaving!"
"Right away master, will you be going ahead?!"
"No, I shall be the last to leave!"
Seconds later his student was gone, darting between the groups hovering around the skyline. Wherever he paused the group would soon disappear, then he'd be off again to another. Soon everyone, including the pupil himself, was gone. Pascal remained, hovering before Goku - though a mile away from him - and studying his latest pupil intently.
Goku who had burned himself up to avoid hurting innocents; Goku who always put the well being of others before his own; Goku who paid for all these things in pain and solitude. Goku who, said all the common sense he possessed, could not be saved.
Pascal took all this in, listened to common sense and then - with a faint smile - did exactly the opposite.
You can't hang around Goku long, he reflected later, without something rubbing off onto you. It got into your soul.
Defying common sense and safety, Pascal disappeared and raced through the air as pure energy - straight for Goku.
Stumbling backwards, he looked in horror at the white marks where he had been gripping his wife's hand. Sparks clawed there way up his arms, ringing his head in a vengeful halo as his hair flickered from black to gold.
"No!" He glanced at one of the dishes that had been lain out on the table, fixing his gaze onto the reflection of his aquamarine eyes, "Not here! Not now!"
"Goku, what is it?" Chi-Chi was approaching him, hands reaching out towards him in compassion. In her heart she was still his wife and in a moment of crisis she was with him but why did it have to be now? This was too big for him, it was certainly too big for her. He had only one alternative and, fingers rising to his forehead, he took it.
Somehow Chi-Chi knew what was happening. She knew that something was wrong with Goku - her Goku - and he needed help. Even if he didn't know he needed it. She leaped forwards, with no other option coming to mind, and seized him by the shoulders, staring into alien eyes as the two disappeared.
Turning, lip curled and teeth showing, Goku snarled at the ageing Namekian.
"The Hyperbolic Time Chamber! Now!"
Kami nodded - there were times for questions and this wasn't one of them - and led the way. Goku followed, body shaking and sparks criss-crossing his torso while Chi-Chi shuffled along behind the group. Normally, and she knew this for a fact, she would have screamed and shouted for answers (Where am I?! Who are you people?! What's going on?!) but the quiet nature of the palace had a subduing quality to it.
Looking away from the strange white architecture, Chi-Chi studied her growling husband.
It was so strange to see him this way, as a person Goku always seemed so gentle and this was a sharp contrast to that child-like side of him. Was he always this way? Could she have missed these lapses in behaviour? Was she, in fact, right to want to end their marriage? It had hurt her badly to even conceive of such a choice - life without Goku as a husband would be painful enough without having to live with him at the same time - but would staying with him result in physical harm?
No! She refused to believe that Goku could even think of hurting her; the only way that could happen would be from accident and though a few plates had been smashed he had never, ever harmed her.
Chi-Chi rubbed her wrist, feeling the swelling of a bruise in the making, then hurried her pace to catch up with Goku. She needed to be certain.
The glare floored her; when Goku's cold, uncaring gaze locked onto her she felt all memories of her kind, cheerful, playful husband stripped away. All that was left was the two cold eyes - freezing her.
The words were so filled with suppressed anger, so full of straining vitality, that Chi-Chi took a step back in spite of herself.
"I refuse to.."
Goku was already moving again, arms twitching as he turned another corner and left her sight. She picked up her pace once again; stride lengthening as she approached the corner.
"Lock the door once I'm in. Don't let anyone follow."
Chi-Chi skidded to a halt at the corner, Goku was nowhere in sight.
There was the sound of a door creaking open as she reached the end of the next passageway, one foot landing on the actual wall and kicking off so as to not lose momentum. There he was, holding the doorway to maintain his balance for a second, then striding through. Kami had his back turned to Chi-Chi, the door beginning to swing shut.
Chi-Chi had never really enjoyed fighting. She had practiced because her father had wanted her to; then to past the time; then to attract Goku's attention. But something had stuck inside of her; in some small way she had grasped some part of the Ki-Channelling that came so naturally to Goku and his friends.
The door was swinging quicker now, any second it would pass across her view of Goku. Blocking him out. Maybe forever.
Suddenly, she wasn't sure exactly why or when, the world was blurring. Arms swinging, legs pumping like pistons; Chi-Chi took a running jump and dived forwards - her hands outstretched towards her husband.
"What are you doing here?!"
Chi-Chi landed with elegance that spoke of her years of practice; her hands catching the ground and arms bending before she flipped forwards onto her feet. Goku was glaring right through her - his rage was almost palatable
"Get out! Get out now!"
The click cut right through all the yelling and crackling of energy.
Chi-Chi and Goku looked back at the door in unison. Or at least where the door had been.
And back on the palace, sparks flowing down his brown, wooden staff and grounding themselves in the tiled floor, Kami smiled at the closed door of the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. A secret of the room, one that he would take to his grave, was that it could be shut off completely from this dimension if the Kami wished it.
He was quite compassionate given his line of work, which was why he had allowed Chi-Chi to follow Goku. If there were any chance of his surviving, it would be with her.
However he'd rather not risk the well being his planet on that 'if'.
"Chi-Chi!" Goku lost all his composure, stumbling backwards off the raised tiling and onto the pure white floor that extended beyond it, "I told you to stay back!"
Turning in a flash, Chi-Chi stamped towards her husband with a frown sliding easily over her features. It was a natural reaction - Goku normally took her anger with such cheerful indifference that she had never thought to curb it.
"Son Goku, if you don't tell me what's going on this instant I will be very annoyed!" She strode forwards, her anger pushing her forwards in spite of all warnings, sending her right off the tiling and onto the white floor beyond. She was slowing down by the time she was half-way to Goku, legs dragging as she got closer, literally forcing herself to move as she drew up to him.
In contrast to her - hands on her hips, panting for breathe, body shaking - Goku looked almost unbothered. He seemed to be in a world of his own after his first comment, the sparks crawling up and around his body. The only signs of disturbance were the closed eyes and wrinkled brow, though as Chi-Chi looked over her husband she picked out the clenched fists and shaking arms.
In all the time she had known Goku - she had never feared him. Even with his incredible strength Goku hadn't seemed capable of harming her, certainly not on purpose, and she had just taken it for granted that it would never happen. Now, standing before him with failing energy, she was beginning to wonder.
About her strong husband.
Her alien husband.
He who she had tried to leave.
Goku's eyes snapped open and the aquamarine glow filled her with a terror she had never before known.
Fighting using Instant Transmission was something that only the Masters - six all together on Yadraat - ever practiced. It involved moving by instinct, jumping in and out of Light Speed in such a way as to be able to both deliver and avoid attacks, and, as has been made clear before, jumping for short distances is an incredibly difficult task.
Goku had been presented to Pascal because it was believed that Pascal was the greatest of the present Masters. Now he would discover if the wisest of Yadraat's warriors' faith had not been misplaced.
When Pascal first appeared it was with his right fist sweeping upwards, digging into Goku's stomach and under his ribs. Cold, dead eyes swept down on Pascal as one might glance towards a fly, then one golden arm swung down on and through Pascal's head.
The image blurred and Goku looked up in time to see one wiry leg swing around and catch him on the side of his face. Still unfazed, one hand rising upwards with a crackle of energy, Goku fired another yellow bolt of energy at Pascal. There was a moment when the sphere met the old mans outstretched arms - shock flaring up in his eyes as he was overpowered completely - then he disappeared only to reappear behind Goku; spinning out of the path of the energy blast; allowing it to continue its journey into the Super Saiyans back.
The blow gave Goku a reason to pause, to reassess his opponent in some animalistic way, then to roar and dive into the fight.
The space around the two shimmered constantly; Goku's arms and legs weaved through the air as he sought to make contact with any part of Pascal's body. One fist embedded itself deep within Pascal's chest only to find nothing but thin air where he had been, Pascal was already speeding towards Goku's head with both feet together to catch him dead on the nose. Crouching, Pascal kicked off Goku and somersaulted backwards through the air before disappearing and reappearing with one fist pounding into the small of Goku's back.
Goku swept both arms around at the aging warrior but again met with nothing but thin air, Pascal was in front of him and rising upwards with energy crackling between the palms of his hands.
"Come back to your senses, Son Goku, it doesn't have to be like this!"
Pascal brought his arms down and released a huge purple beam of burning energy down upon his pupil. Searing through the air, it bore down on Goku like a tidal wave only to be swatted away with one hand. The cold harsh reality was that Goku's immense power couldn't be beaten, not by him at any rate. Pascal was the best fighter that his planet had to offer, going toe to toe with a Super Saiyan was surely proof of that, but Goku was in a league of his own.
Throwing his head back, Goku screamed with more rage than any of his friends could have believed possible. Something inside of him had been let loose, a part of his Saiyan heritage that demanded a price for this power.
And below this all consuming anger, buried in the depths of his tattered soul, all that was left of Goku fought back against it. He didn't know what was happening or why, all he knew was that he was no longer in control in a way far worse than anything before. He was trapped in his own mind and, struggle though he may, he could not see any way out.
To Pascals eyes it looked almost as if Goku had paused to consider something, the energy that ravaged the planet seemed to drop a little. It was not much but enough to give him hope. Enough to make him feel more at ease.
It was even enough to make him drop his guard.
The screaming came again - reaching a new level of intensity - and with it a wave of energy. Invisible to the naked eye but very much there; it hit Pascal with the power of a tornado and he could do nothing to get out of its path for it was everywhere.
Twirling backwards and powerless to stop himself, Pascal looked in horror as Goku appeared before him with one hand - palm open - gesturing down at him. One tiny yellow sphere was all it took, digging into his stomach and carrying him down towards the ground.
He hit hard, the added explosion of the sphere sending him skidding tattered and burnt into another of the spires. Hitting it with such a force that cracked the very stone, Pascal was too battered to move. He could only look on as the gigantic tower of stone began its majestic fall towards him.
Floating there, hundreds of feet away, impassive and uncaring amongst the whirlwind of energy; that which Goku had become didn't even bother to gloat.
And that which Goku had been exploded upwards through his mind.
That was what saved him in the end; Goku might fight to save himself but he would die before he would let an innocent be harmed. It was another sacrifice made by Pascal, he would never ever forget the sacrifices that man made.
Chi-Chi was forced backwards along the smooth, pure white floor; her feet skidding as they sought for grip and her whole body bending forwards into the gale that Goku's energy was creating. All around her the nightmarish world they had been transported to was changing; pillars of flames rising up around them in response to the rage Goku was emanating.
"This, Chi-Chi, is what my year away was about," he didn't even scream, his words seemed calm and measured though his shuddering body showed what was being held back.
This power is nothing to what he can do, Chi-Chi thought with horror, if he unleashed it all I wouldn't even be here.
"My pain! My suffering! I did it all to keep Gohan, my friends, my family, my wife safe!"
Goku shuddered and stepped backwards as if he had just been struck, his head low for a second before looking up with that same cold anger.
"The pain, I can't think of any words that would describe it. I burned myself from the inside out rather than let any of the power get free!"
And there was pain now, such terrible pain that she could feel the tears returning. She called him naïve; had she really believed that one man could be so strong and not suffer?
"Did you ever discover how I became what I am? What price was paid to defeat Frieza?!"
She hadn't, Chi-Chi realised, even considered it.
"I'll admit that the Kaioken technique had seemed painful at the time, the same incredible power that nearly ripped me to shreds. But it was nothing to this price! Vegeta! Piccolo! All those Nameks!" Goku shuddered and took another step back, closer to the flames that bathed the area in blood red light, "That monster kept taking and taking, killing and killing. I felt it all mount up inside me!" He clutched at his head, as if trying to hold the bad thoughts in, "and I still couldn't do anything. Vegeta was bad but he had suffered for years; Frieza had been totally without remorse. Vegeta cried when he died but he didn't cower, he believed that I could do what he could not!"
Chi-Chi was forced back again as another ripple of energy exploded out from Goku, sparks crawling across the ground as the fire grew hotter and hotter.
"Then, when I thought he could take no more, he murdered my best friend!"
His voice dropped into grief Chi-Chi had not thought possible.
"Krillen was nothing compared to Frieza but he was there all the same.." a sob wracked Goku's body amidst the shuddering of energy, "w-we made a promise.. to grow old together. Best friends to the end." Goku looked up again, tears torn away as the old anger surged with more power. "He was there because he believed in me! He gave up his energy because he was my friend! And he died because I was too weak!"
Goku through back his head and screamed into the red sky:
"I'M ALWAYS TOO WEAK!"
"My grandfather died because I couldn't do what I was told and stay in at night!"
When had that happened? He had never spoken of it, not even when he named Gohan.
"All those people Daimou killed, those Red-Ribbon soldiers, every person who got in the way of someone looking for the Dragonballs!"
Chi-Chi had had enough; she tried to scream back at Goku but the wind that carried his voice to her kept hers from him.
"Gohan, who lost his childhood because I was too weak to fight by myself!"
She could listen to no more, she tried to block out the words he screamed but she could not block out the ones inside. Inside she had thought the same, felt the same. And now the guilt tore at her heart.
"Tien, Yamcha, Choutsu and Piccolo who died because I was too slow!"
Chi-Chi took a step back from the gale, her fierce determination draining as the guilt of hating Goku burned her from the inside out. Weakening her..
"I'm to blame for it all!"
Pascal was always making sacrifices, giving something up so that Goku could progress; Goku would not allow Pascal to sacrifice his life for him! So his spirit rose up from the constraints of rage and fought to take back control of his body, diving into burning red monster that had possessed him.
"Give my body back!"
The anger surrounded him, pounded in his ears, tainted his vision – but Goku would not be turned away.
"No!" Something tore at his spirit, blasting it with all the instinctual rage it could bring to bear. Goku managed to weather the blow but not by much, he was fighting something unlike anything he had ever faced before.
"Pascal will die!" he screamed, not even knowing where in this nightmare representation of his mind to turn.
"Let him! I shall not give up the power!"
If this had been the real world there would have been a target; something to bring his strength down upon. Here there was only the voice and rage it poured upon him.
"Because I have had enough of weakness! I will be the strongest! I will no longer fear!"
Images swirled in front of his eyes; pictures of the enemies he had faced and defeated over the years.
"I-we never feared them!"
"Not them! What they could do! To ours!"
Again the images, this time of Krillen, Piccolo, Chi-chi, Gohan; the list stretched onwards just as it had so vividly on Namek. It was - he realised - not fear for himself that was driving him to push himself to such great power. It was fear for them, that which held so much power over him. But-
"That doesn't makes sense!" he turned around in the blazing red fire that surrounded him, "This only hurts them!"
"We won't give up! We won't fear again!"
There was no reasoning with this; he was facing something he had long ignored. Paranoia; Goku had made believe that it didn't affect him while it grew in his heart. His need to help others was turning him into a monster. It was going to turn him into a murderer.
But that didn't help because he still didn't know how to save Pascal!
Underneath all the layers of Chi-Chi's personality; the bitterness of being raised as an only child; the rage at being abandoned by Goku; the hopeless love she devoted to both him and her son; every part of her - was an undeniable steel. So as the guilt tore and tore at her, down past the layers, it eventually hit that which could not be broken. Something which would not be torn away. Steel.
It forced her forwards, step after step, into the gale that had seemed so forbidding before. It made her reach into the maelstrom that was Goku's aura, amongst the sparks and fire, and place her hands on his cheeks. Pulling his head down, the rampaging warrior shocked in his rage, it told her exactly what to say.
"You can control this, Son Goku. You just have to try.."
Those words.. so much like his..
In that moment he was held not just by his wife but by dozens of people..
Everything had been fine up until he had tried to use Instant Transmission. He hadn't felt the burning twinge that preceded an attack or any sort of annoyance that would trigger one for weeks. Goku had been as happy as he always was, a rare thing during his days on Yadraat.
Just before they had started, he considered what finally mastering the technique would mean. He could go wherever he wanted. He could go home and see his friends. His family.
That was the last thought in Goku's head as he made the jump and that was what set him off. In what should have been a joyous moment he considered each and every one of them; what they would say; what they were like; how they had met. And, inevitably, how he had hurt them.
Goku had found himself jarred out of Light Speed, his pattern failing as he lost his concentration, then tried to force himself back in only to suffer the same problem. He just couldn't get the thought out of his head; soon he would be going home and the pain would begin again.
Every day and in every way, he just wasn't good enough and because of this his friends suffered.
He needed to be good enough. He needed to be better!
And then he had hit the pillar.
Everything after that was white noise up until the point he rose up against the rage and paranoia that held him. Now he was teetering on the edge of another crime but this time from mental weakness rather than physical. Goku fought though. He fought with all he had as he had done every day of his life. He plunged relentlessly into the bad memories and dark thoughts – the deaths and the sufferings – to try and reason his way out but nothing worked!
All his anger and rage stemmed from the fact that he couldn't protect his friends, that he never had enough power to keep them safe. That it was his fault - always his fault - that they died. That they suffered. Now Pascal was going to die because he couldn't keep his mind in check! He had given up his time! His energy! His blood and sweat just to help him! Goku couldn't let him die after all he had done!
Watching the titanic boulder tumble towards his mentor, Goku's frantic spirit called up all the sacrifices that Pascal had made for him. Which naturally made him think of the others.
All those times he had been weak, all those times he had failed, could also be seen.. as sacrifices.
Krillen had been there because he believed in Goku; he had sacrificed his life in order to help his friend.
Choutsu, Piccolo, Yamcha and Tien had given up their lives in order to give Goku time to arrive.
Gohan, his grandfather, had taken him in out of the cold and his death had been a sacrifice of his own. He had loved Goku with all his heart and could very well have been trying to protect his adopted child by facing the monster that Goku had become.
The images came back, this time of his own calling, of all those who had given something up in order to give him a chance. All those sacrifices for him. Goku didn't have to feel guilty over those deaths any more. They had sacrificed themselves for him – it was a gift they gave as friends without asking for any sort of payment in return.
If he could let the guilt of his friends' suffering go he could let it all go. Not forever, these feelings would never truly die, but enough. Enough to function. Enough to live.
Enough to save his Master's life.
He saw them all, all those who had given something up for him, and realised what was going on. His worry over Chi-Chi had brought back the memories of those times he couldn't help, making them almost as fresh in his mind as when he was on Yadraat. Goku came out of the daze with Chi-Chi staring up at him, hands still pressed against either side of his head.
"I'm sorry Chi, I thought I had it under control.."
The darkness grew, the boulder swelling to fill all of Pascal's vision. His last thought before it happened was that he would never see the sky again. He hadn't the energy or the concentration to make any kind of jump – he was doomed.
That was when Goku appeared. That was when Goku always appeared and always would. Out of the darkness he materialised, engulfed in golden flames and cupping both hands at his sides."
A lot of people were hurt in my life and it's true I could have done more..
Every day I try and I'll never stop; no matter what it takes..
But that will have to do..
Because I can't afford to lose control any more..
The rocks around Goku's feet shattered as he brought his hands back around, the blue glow that had swelled between them suddenly changing the nature of the world. In one moment Goku was frozen before Pascal's eyes; hands thrust upwards against impossible odds, feet set to fight to the end, energy crackling under his control.
Not just a warrior; a hero.
Chi-Chi blinked as she came out of a daze. When Goku's aura had died away it had only succeeded in bringing back thoughts of what they had been talking about before.
"Goku I.." she trailed off as her mind caught up with what Goku had said just moments before, "Are you trying to tell me that this has happened before?"
Goku nodded meekly – all signs of the trauma of before fading from his childlike eyes – and hung his head in a kind of expectant shame.
Glancing upwards slowly, having expected shouting instead of this rather calm question, Goku took a second to answer.
"All last year."
Chi-Chi cocked her head to one side in frustration.
"Are you trying to tell me that this was the reason that you stayed away? Because you might explode?!"
Goku reached behind his head, ran his hand through thick, unruly locks of hair and laughed.
"Well.." but he didn't ever finish, Chi-Chi had wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him down into a tight embrace, crying softly into his chest. For a moment he was too stunned to react, then his arms slipped around her slight shoulders and he held her until she was ready to be released.
"I forgot what your smile was like," Chi-Chi smiled up at him, arms still laced around his waist. "I'm not sure how I managed without it.."
Chi-Chi could still feel the ghosts of anger and betrayal within her, bickering away in the dredges of her mind. This ordeal wasn't the end of them - such things were never solved in one grand swoop – but it was, to her mind, a good start. Her husband was home. Her child was happy. The world was right again. What more could she want?
"I want to go home."
The two turned and, with such presence that defied their own memories, the door had returned. It swung open to reveal a very irate Kami trying to reason with Piccolo and Gohan, both of whom were crackling with enough energy to level the entire palace.
"Mom and Dad are in there, you've got to let me see them!"
"Don't think I wont cripple you old timer! If you don't open the door right now I'll-!"
Goku and Chi-Chi strode out of the room, the two shaking quietly with laughter at the nonplussed expression on the two warriors. They paused long enough to thank Kami for his help and berate the other two for worrying – Chi-Chi finding the Namek far less imposing after viewing him actually expressing concern for her – then Goku rose up from the ground.
He could have used Instant Transmission and been there in a moment but, with his wife in his arms and friend and family by his side, he was happier making his way slowly through his home.
"How did you do it, Goku?" The two sat on the steps of the temple, sipping tea on his last evening on planet Yadraat, "I still do not understand how you could let go of such guilt.."
Goku shifted uncomfortably, the subject still hard to speak about, but dropping his eyes to the bandages that criss-crossed the old man's chest hardened his resolve.
"I didn't, not really." He took another sip of the tea, with manners that were sorely missing during his previous 12-course 'Going Away' dinner. "I just forced myself to believe that it all had a purpose. That it was all sacrifices my friends made to help me. That way it was easier to bare.."
"So it's in there, the paranoia you spoke of?"
The childlike warrior nodded silently.
"And how will you deal with it?"
"I guess I'll just have to move on. I can't stop fighting to protect my friends.. but maybe it's time to step back a little. After a couple of years Gohan will be twice as strong as I am, maybe he'll be Earth's new hero."
Goku smiled at the thought of his return home, and this time it was the strong smile of one who has begun the trek to recovery. He was far from the wreck of a warrior he had been prior to his breakthrough and, though he did occasionally drop into dark thoughts, was almost as chipper as he had appeared when he first arrived.
"Whatever happens, I can't let things get on top of me like that again. I wont risk my home or my family by going overboard like I did against Frieza. I can't."
His master nodded quietly and the two looked out through the massive pillars, watching as the last of the blood-drenched sun faded from view; leaving a serene, star enriched night sky.
"I'd rather you never taught Instant Transmission to anyone, Goku."
The Saiyan glanced at him in confusion but said nothing.
"You are one of the few aliens in the Universe to be taught the technique; we have a tradition of keeping it to ourselves. On top of that your grasp of it is.." the old man favoured him with a wry smile, "shall we say 'sketchy'? I have no worries over your using the technique but take an old man's advice and don't pass it on to any of your friends."
Goku shrugged and nodded and that was that – with Goku that was all that needed to be said.
"I'm gonna miss this place, Master Pascal."
"It will miss you, Son Goku."
"It's been nice to have a holiday; now I'm going home to Kami knows what kind of disaster. And Chi-Chi and Gohan are probably worried sick.. I wish I had thought to tell Shenlong why I couldn't come home."
"As a wise man once said: 'Hindsight is always perfect.'"
Goku turned and grinned at his teacher before gulping down the last of his tea and leaping to his feet in true Son Goku fashion.
"You're right as usual. Those are things outside of my control and I'll deal with them when I get to them. But here and now there's only one thing I want."
Pascal finished his tea in a much more reserved fashion and placed it down on the step beside him – a smile playing across his aged lips.
"And what is that?"
And they were gone; two shimmering beams of light that leapt from space to space faster than any mortal could follow. He would go home and things would happen – things over which he had no control. Be it upset wives or raging megalomaniacs, he just had to accept that these things would happen and deal with them as they came.
But for now?
For now there was a spar to be had and a battle to be won! For now the energy of Son Goku crackled through space and time – ducking and weaving as he met his teacher blow for blow. And that innocent, exuberant, childlike laugh followed every move he made. Let the problems come in twos and fours and hundreds if they wanted – he was Son Goku and though he couldn't control what life would throw at him, he could control how he would react.
Well this one took a while to write and turned out twice as well as I thought it would. I started out just trying to answer a couple of questions – namely why it took a year for Goku to learn Instant Transmission and why Chi-Chi put up with him – but I guess it became something more over time. I'd like to name DoraMouse and UnromanticPoetess as my inspirations: DoraMouse as the only writer I've seen even mention Goku's time on Yadraat and UnromanticPoetess because of her look into Goku's character (I swear the idea for this story was brewing long before the scene with Goku in Hell though I do owe the mention of the Red Ribbon warriors to you.)
I hope you enjoyed it and please leave a Review if you have the time.
My first complete Dragon Ball Z Fan-Fic; not a bad start.