Disclaimer: I don't own DBZ or any of the characters portrayed in the show.

prologue. bushwhacking.

It seems that people are constantly asking themselves the rhetorical question: If I knew then what I know now, would things be different? And these people usually answer themselves with: Yes, it would be. I wouldn't make the same foolish mistakes or take things for granted. And usually this question is asked with regret, after something has gone wrong. It's a question filled with What if's and typically the reflecting person realizes that they could have avoided lots of pain or suffering or anger.

I asked myself this very question last night. Bulma, I thought to myself, If you knew then what you know now, where would you be? Who would you be? And who else would be with you?

Well, of course, this spurred me to consider what I know now that I didn't know then, and also when exactly then was.

Then, I realized with minimal thinking required, had to have begun just over three years ago. I remember the day well. It was a Thursday. September was just around the corner and the Capsule Corporation was busy working out the distribution of the fall products. It had ended perhaps one of the more normal times of my life, if my life after teenagehood could be considered normal at all. I should have known around mid-morning that this day was a force to be reckoned with.

Vegeta came back at around quarter after ten that morning. I don't know how I remember the time, but I do. Perhaps it's just one of those normal details that stick with you in an attempt to normal out the rest of what happened. But he returned in his gravity room, much like the one my father had built for Goku, demanding gas. Naturally my father wanted to check the ship while it was on Earth, to make sure everything was functioning properly and perhaps make upgrades, and this meant that in the meantime Vegeta would have to stick around and wait. This was how Vegeta found himself in the shower – because there was no way I was having him around where I could smell him – and this was how he found himself dressed in yellow and pink – because my mom was laundering his outfit and also because Pansy Vegeta was amusing (and also very, very hot, as I found out as soon as he stepped out wearing his Badman shirt. Vegeta can pull off pink).

This was the day Frieza arrived, seeking revenge. This was also the day the mysterious boy from the future arrived. This was also the day that Son Goku returned to Earth. And this was the day when the boy told us that androids would be arriving in three years time. It was enough to send my head reeling.

But what do I know now that I didn't know then? For one thing, I know that the boy is Trunks Briefs, my son from another time. I know that his father is Vegeta. I know that the androids couldn't have been stopped without Vegeta's help, that Yamcha and I had never really belonged with each other, and that Vegeta didn't end up leaving after the androids.

If I knew then what I know now, where would I be? Who would I be? Who else would be with me?

Where I would be needs to be answered in two different parts: Where I would be emotionally, and where I would be physically. Physically, of course, I would still be at the Capsule Corporation. Nothing could drive me away from here for long. I would always come back. Emotionally, I would probably be lost and drained and lonely.

Who would I be? An embittered, jaded woman, grieving for her lost innocence and outlook on love and life. I would be a workaholic, drowning myself in my company and focusing on nothing else. Perhaps I would be a great scientist, with a wall full of accomplishments and my Nobel Prize, but I would not be a great person.

Who else would be with me? My parents obviously, and my friends, the Z Fighters. But I would have no one romantically, and I wouldn't have my son.

If I knew then that Vegeta and I would fall in love, I would have laughed obnoxiously in their face. Me, fall in love with Vegeta? The very idea was preposterous, and I was in love with Yamcha. I also know that I would have been afraid that this idea may be true, and so I would have refused Vegeta hospitality, instead sending him on his way to train in space. Mi casa no es su casa. I would have made every effort to ensure that even the slightest possibility of falling in love with Vegeta was prevented. I would have succeeded.

If I'd known that I would get pregnant I wouldn't have slept with him. If I'd known that he would be remaining on Earth, I wouldn't have slept with him. I had thought it a one-night stand, a period where I was desperate and on the rebound. I hadn't expected consequences (Trunks was a mistake, but inventing has taught me not all mistakes are bad – my son proves this) and I hadn't expected Vegeta to stick around to be a painful reminder of what I had done. But Vegeta became a father as well as a warrior – slowly, uncertainly, and somewhat hesitantly, but he took on the role nonetheless. He accepted Trunks, and welcomed him in his own proud way. When I see this, I feel that there is nothing more in life that I could possibly want.

If I'd known then what I know now, I would have lost so much. Perhaps I would have prevented some arguments with Vegeta if he hadn't been there; perhaps I would have spent more nights sleeping instead of repairing Vegeta's gravity room. But I wouldn't have Vegeta or Trunks. Would I have been willing to sacrifice these two people to spare myself some rage and exhaustion? Yes. Would I be willing to make the same sacrifice now? No.

And so I'm glad that I didn't know then what I know now, because if I had I would have made a mistake and taken the easy, so-called 'safe', way out. And everyone knows bushwhacking is more fun than sticking to the main road.