Disclaimer: I don't own DB/Z/GT.
Female Goku = Goku, Male = Gokou.
Chapter 69: Back Together Again
We find Krillin in his bedroom, sitting cross-legged with his back leaned up against the foot-board of his bed. His face is buried in the palms of his hands. The blonde sleeping beauty was still an accurate description for Android 18. Krillin sighed and rested his elbows on his legs, cradling his chin in his hands.
"This is bad," he muttered mostly to himself. "This is really bad."
Krillin glanced across at 18's peaceful face. "I hope you don't mind me talking to you. If you were awake you'd probably think I'm nuts. It's just I have something I need to get off my chest. If I hold it in any longer I think I might explode!"
All was silent for a moment.
"You don't know this because you've been out of it since that monster hacked you up and I took you here… That night I left to tell Bulma and Vegeta that we could wish back Goku, Yamcha, and the others with the Namekian dragon balls... well, let's just say things didn't go as planned. You see… I think…"
Krillin clenched his fists. They shook with anger. "I think Bulma and Vegeta hooked up! I don't know what's up with Bulma and Yamcha, but Vegeta had this serious thing going with Goku, and he just betrayed her the same day that she died - or so we thought, but that's beside the point!"
Krillin laughed sardonically and shook his head. "I thought all along that Vegeta was a rotten guy, and that he was going to hurt her! Would you believe that after all the good things Goku said about him I was starting to actually believe he could change? I'm such a dope! And Goku… if she knew, she would be heartbroken! She's got his kids inside of her for Kami's sake! I thought Saiyans were all about honor and pride – well where's his sense of honor now?"
Krillin hopped out of bed and began to pace the small room. He stopped for a moment and growled. "And Bulma! She's known Goku longer than anyone. She's supposed to be Goku's friend damn-it! How could she do this to her?!
"When I found Bulma half-naked with that look of guilt on her face I couldn't even stand to be around her a second longer, and I was so pissed I almost went after Vegeta. Heck, who am I kidding, I still want to confront him – but I'm just a human. I'd have my ass handed to me on a gold platter. I'm so outclassed by all these aliens I'm borderline pathetic.
"I'm so ashamed of myself. I did the cowardly thing, and came back here. After all, someone needs to be alive to… Can you believe that when we went to Namek to make the wish they acted as if nothing had happened? It makes me so angry just thinking about it! Now Vegeta has gone off to get Goku and bring her home, and she's none-the-wiser."
Krillin leaned on the wall like it was a crutch. "I don't know what to do, 18. If I tell Goku the truth, Vegeta will kill me, and it'll break Goku's heart. If I don't tell her, Goku will be living a lie. I don't care if Vegeta kills me for it; I just don't know if I can hurt Goku like that… she's already been through so much. It isn't fair, ya' know?"
"Life isn't fair," a voice unexpectedly responded.
Krillin gasped and stood straight up. 18 was sitting on the edge of the bed, fully awake, and staring straight at him.
Krillin's mouth hung agape and his jaw bobbed up and down. "Y - Y - You're awake!" he stammered anxiously.
18 raised an eyebrow slightly. "Huh, you don't say?" she replied sarcastically.
"H – how long?"
18 shrugged her shoulders. "A few minutes, but I've heard everything."
Krillin's eyes widened. "Everything?" he repeated stupidly. "How much is that?"
18 rolled her eyes. "Everything, as in everything since that bastard Cell coughed me up."
Krillin laughed nervously. As his mind tried to pinpoint all of the humiliating things that he'd said during that time span, his face grew more and more red with embarrassment.
"You know, it's funny," 18 said.
"Wh – What's funny?"
"This is the second time you've saved me. You put your life at risk for me – a thing that you don't even know," she explained.
Krillin frowned. "You're not a thing!"
18 appeared genuinely surprised, and a small smile peaked out. "None of your friends would agree with you."
Krillin crossed his arms. "That's not true. Goku would, just ask Android 8."
"I may look human, but I'll never be completely human again," 18 stated matter-of-factually.
Krillin shook his head. "No. You aren't a machine, 18. You have thoughts and feelings just like any other person. I don't care if you were just a brain living in a jar – you're still human to me."
18 stood up and approached Krillin. She paused in front of him and swept a lock of her blonde hair out of her face. She cradled his chin in her hands and directed their lips together. After the lip-lock had ended Krillin just stood there frozen still with a dazed look on his face.
"Thanks, Krillin," 18 said casually, walking toward the door.
As 18 pulled the door open, she turned one last time to address Krillin. "By the way, I think you should tell her. She deserves to know."
Krillin shook himself out of his stupor and turned to catch one last glance at the blonde beauty. "18!" he suddenly called out.
"Do you maybe, do you, I mean… can we?" Krillin stammered awkwardly. "Do you like coffee?"
18 laughed with amusement. "You always get this nervous around androids?"
"N – No!" he exclaimed. "It's not like that! It's just pretty girls!" Krillin choked on a gasp and suddenly smacked his hand over his mouth. He didn't know what he was thinking. The words just flew out of his mouth of their own accord! 'Real smooth, idiot!'
18 smiled. "I like you." She turned and began walking away. "I'll see you around, Krillin."
Mount Five Element:
"Don't fret, Vegeta. I will help you save your friend. Though let us consult with someone who knows the ins and outs of this beautiful furnace before you make any rash decisions," Gohan senior explained.
"Annin?" Gohan ventured to guess.
Gohan senior chuckled. "Good guess! You're such a smart lad!"
"Thanks!" Gohan replied with a smile.
"Annin!" Gohan senior called out, "Oh Annin! We have visitors!"
There was suddenly a loud booming sound. The whole cave shuddered as if there was an earthquake. The booming continued. An enormous shadow was cast on the wall in front of them.
"What is this?" Vegeta muttered.
"Uh – Annin?!" Gohan junior stammered uncertainly.
The rumbling and quaking suddenly stopped, and the shadow disappeared. From behind the furnace an ordinary looking woman with long hair as black as a starless night entered the room. She was tall for Earthling standards and was garbed in strange attire that matched the orange and white of the furnace.
"Someone said my name," she stated simply, searching the faces of her visitors and crossing her arms impatiently.
"I did," little Gohan answered, bowing slightly to show his respect. "It's nice to meet you, ma'am. My name is, Son Gohan."
"Son Gohan, eh?" she muttered. "You look familiar."
"He's my great grandson," Gohan senior supplied proudly.
Annin chuckled. "You don't say!"
"Enough with the formalities," Vegeta promptly interjected. "Every second we waste is one more second Kakarrot is in danger!"
Annin's attention was drawn to Vegeta. She narrowed her eyes at him. "And who might you be?"
"None of your business!" Vegeta snapped. "Now tell me how to get to otherworld through the furnace!"
Annin stuck up her nose at the Saiyan prince. "Why I never! I would never help an insolent fool such as yourself!"
"You will help me or else I'll blast you into nonexistence!" Vegeta threatened.
Annin growled and her body began to grow to colossal proportions. It stopped growing just short of hitting the ceiling. "You will pay for that little man! You're in my world now!" she shouted in a menacing, booming voice that echoed throughout the cave.
Vegeta snickered. "The larger they are, the harder they fall."
Gohan suddenly ran in-between the two of them before a full-on fight could break out. "Please, ignore him! He doesn't mean what he says, he's just upset. Please, if you won't help him, do it for my dad!"
Annin's anger suddenly dissipated. "Your dad? Where is Goku. Is he in danger?"
"It's a long story, and we don't have time for it right now, but yes, ma'am, my dad is stuck in Area three of otherworld and could be killed at any moment! Please help! I'm begging you!" Gohan pleaded.
Annin sighed. "Ordinarily, I'd say no to make an example of your foolish friend's behavior, but since this is Gohan's grandson we're talking about, I will help you."
"Oh thank you, Annin!" Gohan senior exclaimed happily.
"Thank you!" little Gohan added.
"Alright, listen up if you want to save Goku. You there, man with the temper!" she suddenly addressed the prince in a snappish tone.
"Vegeta," Gohan softly supplied.
Annin nodded in acknowledgement to the boy. "Vegeta, I will lift the lid to the furnace for you to enter. At that time, you must wave the Bansho fan once. It will direct you a path through the flames. You will only have approximately 10 seconds before the flames reignite and swallow you whole. At the bottom of the furnace, there is a vault that connects to otherworld. Open up the vault. Once you pass through you will be in Area 3."
Vegeta smirked. "Excellent. Let's do this already."
"Wait!" Gohan suddenly exclaimed. "How will we know when to lift the lid to let them back out?"
Annin frowned. "I hadn't thought of that. I don't know, and you can't possibly lift it yourself, Vegeta. It's much too heavy!"
Vegeta laughed derisively. "I'm the prince of all Saiyans! I will not succumb to a mere boiler lid. Now let's get started already!"
Annin frowned. "Well, if you say so," she said, using all of her strength to lift the lid for the Saiyan. "But don't say I didn't warn you!"
At long last our trio of otherworldly traveler's reached the end of the road, and at the end of said road was a small clearing, and in the center of the clearing was what appeared to be an enormous white furnace with orange patterns painted on it.
"Hey!" Gokou exclaimed. "This looks exactly like the fire furnace at Mount Five Element!"
Goku scratched idly at the back of her head. "You know, it's been awhile, but it really does seem familiar."
"Gokou's quite right," King Kai supplied. "The Furnace of Eight Divinations is connected to both Earth and otherworld – this is just the otherworldly aspect."
Gokou grinned. "I get it. That's how the spirits pass through the steam. So all we gotta do is get inside and pass through to the other side in the living realm!"
"Yeah!" Goku agreed. "It'll be a piece of cake!"
King Kai cleared his throat. "It's not as simple as it seems." He gestured to Gokou and suggested, "Why don't you try opening that vault on the side of the furnace?"
Gokou examined the structure, and approached the vault. "Shouldn't be too difficult," he commented. He pulled on a lever. The door didn't want to budge. "C'mon!" he grumbled, pulling harder. "Darn thing needs some elbow grease!" Gokou power up a little bit and yanked on the handle.
The door creaked slightly and finally budged. Gokou had applied so much force, the door flung open faster than he expected. The instant the vault was open, giant flames exploded out the entrance and into the open space surrounding the boiler. The trees overhead were scorched by the massive heat. Goku and King Kai ducked to the ground to avoid the colossal flame, shielding their eyes from the blinding light it gave off.
Quickly as he could, Gokou slammed the door shut. When it was done and over-with, he sighed exasperatedly, poking at a singed tuft of hair. "That was a close one!"
"Um, Gokou... your butt's on fire!" Goku suddenly exclaimed.
Gokou spun around in a circled. "Ah!" he shouted, patting at his bottom with his hands. "Hot! Hot! Hot!" He gave up with that method almost instantly and began rubbing his butt on the ground like dogs do on carpet. Finally the flame was extinguished and Gokou let out a sigh of relief. He stood up and examined the damage. There was a large hole in his orange pants, and his underwear was exposed. "Closer than I thought," he muttered.
King Kai slapped his forehead and shook his head.
"So, any other ideas?" Goku asked.
"We need something to subdue the flames long enough for us to travel through," King Kai explained.
"Like a Bansho fan!" Gokou suggested giddily, happy to be of service.
"That would be great!" King Kai exclaimed sarcastically. "If we had one!"
"Well, if there's one on Earth, shouldn't there be one down here too?" Goku asked.
"Not necessarily," King Kai replied, "but there should be something that we can use. I was told that once upon a time, the ogres were assigned to come here once every century and examine the furnace for defects. They stopped doing that long ago."
"Which explains why I had to do it," Goku muttered.
"Anyway," King Kai continued, "the ogres have tough skin, but not that tough! They would need something to quell the flames."
"Well, what did they use?" Goku asked.
King Kai idly tapped at his chin. "I wish I knew, Goku, I wish I knew… Whatever it is, they must have hid it somewhere nearby. If we can find it, then we're home-free!"
Gokou cocked his head in confusion. "Why would they hide it?"
"Because there are plenty of evil things down here that would love a chance to use this furnace as a portal to get to the mortal realm," King Kai explained.
"Makes sense," Goku agreed.
"Alright, so this is what we're going to do. Goku, you stay here and stand guard." King Kai gestured at her male counterpart. "Gokou number two and I are going to search for something to get rid of those flames."
"Wait a minute," Goku whined, "why do I have to stay behind? This stupid furnace doesn't need to be guarded. It hasn't even been used for centuries!"
"Because it's safer here, and everything's been trying to kill you!" King Kai retorted.
"He's got a point," Gokou supplied earnestly.
Goku pouted. "I suppose so," she admitted. "Well, good luck you guys!"
"See ya!" Gokou called out as the two took off.
After a little while, Goku cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted to their retreating figures, "Just yell if you run into trouble!"
"Likewise!" she could here King Kai reply.
Goku sighed and sat down on the ground with her back propped up against a tree staring at the vault of the furnace. It was odd, being so close to where she desired to be, yet so far away at the same time. This whole trip had been one struggle after another. She loved adventures, and although she had been aching for some form of excitement to break the monotony lately, she hadn't had something like this in mind. She never wanted to bring her babies this close to danger!
She caressed her abdomen affectionately, and smiled. "We're almost out, little guys. What's the first thing we should do when we get home? I'm thinking sleep." Goku idly yawned. "Yep, sleep sounds great."
One of the babies promptly kicked in protest.
"Hey!" Goku argued jestingly. "You're seriously not going to let me sleep even after all this junk has happened to us? You have got to be the mini-Vegeta! Okay, okay, how about we eat first?" As if on cue, Goku's stomach rumbled. "I'm so hungry I could eat 10 hippos."
There was a lighter kick this time, and Goku took this as an agreement.
"Thank you, mini-Goku. Tell mini-Vegeta to be a good, won't ya'?"
An unexpected sound of creaking jolted Goku out of her playful conversation. She felt as if a bolt of lightning had suddenly struck her chest, and her heart started pounding. Her ears followed the sound to the furnace, and her eyes scanned it warily. The door had opened slightly.
'Maybe Gokou didn't shut it tight enough?' she thought.
She began to doubt herself when she realized that flames weren't licking out past the cracks. "Who's there?" she asked, standing bolt upright.
The door suddenly swung open, and out bounded Vegeta. He slammed the vault shut behind him just as the flames began to reignite. He was saturated in glistening sweat and breathing laboriously. In one hand he was tightly holding the famed Bansho fan.
His eyes zeroed in on Goku the instant he stepped foot into otherworld, and they locked onto her unflinchingly. "By the gods," he muttered breathlessly, a smirk forming on his lips, "I've found you!"
Goku eyeballed him cautiously. He made a move to approach, and she immediately dropped into a defensive position. "Don't get any closer!" she commanded.
Vegeta frowned, his eyebrows furrowing together. "What?"
"You heard me," she replied. "What are you this time, a land squid?"
As one might imagine, Vegeta looked completely puzzled. "Land squid? That's preposterous! Something like that doesn't even exist!"
Goku's eyes narrowed. "Exactly the kind of thing a squid demon would say. What do you think, I was born yesterday?"
"Kakarrot, are you feeling ill? Did you eat something you shouldn't have?"
"I'm fine thank you. Now, go back to where you came from. I don't want to hurt you," she said.
Vegeta growled. "I did not come all this way to have you go crazy on me!" he snapped, outright ignoring her demands and stomping his way closer. He reached out a hand to touch her, "Kakarrot, it's me!"
Goku quickly retaliated by crouching down, thereby dodging the outreached hand, and giving Vegeta a quick uppercut to the chin, followed by a swift punch to his stomach. The attack was entirely unexpected on Vegeta's end. He stumbled backward in shock, rubbing his chin with one hand, and clutching his abdomen with the other.
"Consider that a warning!" Goku shouted.
Vegeta clenched his fists angrily. "What's wrong with you, woman?!"
"How dare you pretend to be the man I love! What's wrong with you?" Goku retorted. "I didn't do anything to you! If this is Laedei's doing, then she lied to you! She tried to kill me and I fought back! I never wanted to harm anyone! Why won't you leave me and my friends alone?"
Vegeta growled, his fists shaking from his mounting frustration. "I am the man you love! I don't know what you've been through to make you so paranoid, but I swear that I'm telling you the truth!" Vegeta glanced down at the Bansho fan still in his hand. He quickly held it up, and pointed at it with his opposing index finger. "See?"
Goku frowned, a look of concentration taking over her features. "That looks like…"
"That's right, Kakarrot. This is the Bansho fan. I used it to get to you! I thought you were dead! We tried to wish you back, and that's when I found out you were here all along. Your brat and I traveled to the Furnace of Eight Divinations to bring you back!
"You have no clue what it has been like these last couple days!" Vegeta snapped. "I thought you were dead! I thought I was too weak to protect you! I didn't even want to live anymore! Do you have any idea what that's like?"
Goku blinked in disbelief at the Saiyan man who stood before her. "V - Vegeta?" she stammered, a trembling smile adorning her lips. "It is you!" Goku didn't know how to respond to what he'd just said. "I'm not dead," she murmured quietly. Goku suddenly felt ashamed of herself, and couldn't keep eye-contact with his piercing gaze any longer. "I'm sorry I didn't transport back sooner," she said, twiddling her thumbs anxiously. "I was following the fight at King Kai's, and I knew how agonized you were, but I couldn't transport back and tell you I was okay."
Vegeta's entire body trembled. His eyes ignited with fire. "You knew? You knew and you just let me go on thinking I had failed you?!"
"Please, Vegeta," Goku pleaded. "You have to understand. I needed to do that so that you would be angry enough to ascend and beat Cell. There was no other way! I'm not proud of what I did… I'll understand if you can't forgive me."
Goku's eye returned to Vegeta's face. No word could even begin to describe the look plastered on it. Goku wondered what it was the prince could possibly be thinking. Without warning, Vegeta closed the distance between the two of them in an instant. The fire in his eyes was roaring. He pushed her up against a tree trunk. One hand was pressed against her throat while the other constricted her waist possessively. The hand at her throat roughly squeezed her chin and pushed her face upward.
Goku searched his eyes, trying to see past the anger and frustration. "Vegeta?"
After a momentary inward struggle against Kami knows what, Vegeta's scowl softened and he muttered, "To hell with it."
Vegeta smashed his lips into Goku's and the very instant their mouths made contact, it was as if an invisible wall that had been separating them crumbled to pieces of rubble at their feet.
Goku slid her fingers up his sweaty, muscular neck, and into his untamed Saiyan mane. If it was at all possible, Vegeta pulled Goku even closer, pressing her body up against his. Their lips broke apart for a moment and a soft moan escaped her lips. Vegeta nibbled on her lower lip playfully before tipping his head up to kiss her forehead, then her cheek. He brought his swollen lips up to her ear. A soft, wave of warm air blew into her ear and Vegeta's distinct, rough voice tickled at her eardrum: "The things I'm going to do to you…"
He suckled on her earlobe for moment. His lips then brushed down to her neck to continue their onslaught, while his fingers caressed up her arms, coming to rest at her throat. He tugged at the battered collar of her shirt, and the alabaster curve of her shoulder peaked out.
"Vegeta…" Goku called out in a breathy whisper. "I love you…"
A/N: A wild Kakarrot appeared. Vegeta used sexy beast attack. It was super effective.
Thank-you for the feedback as always! It's much appreciated! I'm really hoping you guys liked this chapter! :) Don't forget the poll!