Never Gave Up
By: Kitten Kisses (Manna)
And though sometimes we might not see things eye to eye,
You've always met me more than half the way,
So for all the times I've let you down,
And you could have packed your things and gone,
I love you most of all because you stayed.
And you never gave up on me
When I was givin' love up on you,
Never mattered who was right or wrong,
You stayed to see it through…
You never gave up on me,
When I was making things rough on you,
And you showed me what it really means to love.
-You Never Gave Up On Me
He had, in all his sometimes-not-so glorious years of life (and Afterlife), never given it a thought. He couldn't be sure that it had bothered to cross his mind for even a brief second; let alone had the time to roll around in his deepest thoughts, waiting to be processed completely.
It wasn't as if he hadn't known, though; because even the great Son Goku knew of death, and what it brought- both to those who died, and to those left behind. Krillin, for example, was gone- had been gone for a while, actually, and wasn't returning any time soon- and so were a few of the others...Bulma, and Yamcha included.
A part of him had trouble understanding why, exactly, he didn't like to dwell on those particular subjects, instead concentrating on how his granddaughter, Pan, was doing (and her family), or throwing himself into his training. Unfortunately, he really had no other choice than to do just that, as someone he always thought- or perhaps hoped- would live forever, was dying right before his very eyes.
When had all this happened? He supposed that it had all started when Pan had gotten too old to be her Grandma's girl anymore, and had, instead, delved into the world of dating- a scary place that Goku was partially glad he'd never ventured near. When she had finally found a husband- who was a lot closer than anybody would have guessed- ChiChi had been practically screaming for great-grandchildren. Her sons were grown, her grandbaby was grown, and she was getting old.
He had a feeling that she wanted to hold another baby before…
He didn't like to settle his mind on those kinds of thoughts.
She had been fine, for quite awhile- considering her age- and then Videl's health had started to decline, which had Gohan terrified. That only served to make ChiChi panic, and she'd tried to outdo herself by helping them out, he was certain.
It had only been a few years since her health had started failing, but he hadn't really noticed the time- a day or a month…it really wasn't a big deal- except that, when he had come home this time, his wife just hadn't looked good.
Even though she'd aged considerably since they had been married, she still looked good. Not outwardly, of course (then again, he was starting to show his age, too), but in a different way. When he saw her, he saw…home.
It was difficult to explain.
When she opened her eyes, it startled him at first. Half of his heart immediately plummeted, and the other half jumped for joy. He could tell that she was nearing the end- even if he couldn't sense ki- and he was both glad, and upset that she had opened her eyes. Yet another thing that was just…unexplainable. He half-hoped that, if she slept, she would get better, but he also knew that was impossible- that anything she said now would be her last words to him…to anyone.
He smiled the best he knew how, while his wife lay dying in front of him, and clasped the hand closest to him. "ChiChi?" he questioned, his voice soft, almost afraid that if he spoke too loud, she would shatter into a million pieces.
Her eyes slowly closed, and opened again as she blinked at him. After a few moments passed in silence, she found the strength to speak. "Goku-sa?"
Leaning forward, he answered, his voice almost eager. "It's me."
She closed her eyes, then, her breath deepening. He knew he'd never see them open again; not until he went to the Afterlife again, himself.
Time passed, now, and he recognized it for what it was. Every second churned by faster than he ever thought possible, turning into a minute, and then ten, and before he knew it, she was slipping away further. She was almost out-of-reach.
'Should I say something?' he wondered.
He'd always suspected that, if his wife were to die (again, he didn't like to think about it), she would go out with a bang, probably shaking a fist at him for doing something wrong, anger bubbling over to melt with the small spark of life and love he could see in her eyes. But, like this? So quiet, and …well, gentle?
He supposed he could say something like, 'Oh, well, it was nice knowing you. See you soon in the Afterlife, because I'll have to die eventually'… but that sounded utterly ridiculous, even to him, and the last thing he wanted was to look stupid at his wife's deathbed (he was beginning to accept this thing that was happening).
Her voice startled him out of his rather somber thoughts, and he leaned forward as she spoke, her eyes still closed; her chest fairly heaving to take a single breath.
This was it.
"Tell…the kids, that I love… 'em…"
She was holding on, he knew. Holding on to an answer that he wasn't sure he wanted to give. If he gave her the answer, she would give up… But if he never answered her, would she hold on forever?
No…of course not. She couldn't.
He couldn't even think, really. He knew that he had to answer her- he would do anything she wanted, now- it was something of a "last chance". She was leaving, and she wasn't coming back, not to the Living World. He had to say what she wanted to hear- she was dying (he'd mostly accepted that fact, now)… and you almost always told dying people what they wanted to hear.
"I will." His voice was sincere, and not-so naïve. He was waiting- for more words; maybe another sentence from this woman who was his wife- who was dying.
'She's dying…' He had accepted it.
Her chest rose, her breath shuddering, and suddenly, it stopped.
His heart thudded painfully in his chest, his mind reeling with confusion and hurt. She was gone. What about him? Why hadn't she mentioned him? Why had she only mentioned the kids? Where was the last minute declaration of love- the kind that Bulma and ChiChi had fawned over in the romance movies they had liked to watch?
"Look, Father, she loved you."
He wasn't convinced. It had been nearly four weeks- suddenly, time seemed to mean something to him- and he hadn't been able to figure it out on his own. "But why didn't she say that?" he asked Gohan, his head cocked to the side; hand on the couch beside him.
His son shook his head, setting his chin in his hands; elbows on his knees. "I don't know. There are a million reasons why she might not have. Maybe she wanted to, but she couldn't figure out how to say it with the strength she had left."
Goku sighed, leaning back into the couch. "But she mentioned all of you. Was I a bad husband or something?"
The dark-haired scholar looked up suddenly, guilt flashing in his eyes. "Do you want my honest opinion on that?" he asked, glancing downward to stare at his fingers.
"I… yes! Of course I do. I don't understand why she mentioned all the kids, but not me." Rubbing the back of his head nervously, he sighed again. He'd never really felt this way before, and he couldn't be sure as to what it was called.
Hurt? Did he feel hurt by what she said?
"Look… Dad." Gohan shifted in his seat to face him, his hand reaching out to land on his shoulder. "Mom really loved you. She said it all the time… She talked about you all the time, stars practically dancing in her eyes…even when you were dead. I don't doubt for one second that she loved you with everything she had. But you know… you really hurt her when you took off to train Uub, only coming to "visit" once in awhile.
It's not like you lived here, and trained Uub here… you went there, to live with a bunch of strangers, to train some kid you'd never met before…leaving Mom all alone. You're not supposed to "visit" your wife, you know?
I know you like to fight- we all like a good challenge- but Mom should have come first… Maybe Goten, too, since he wasn't an adult at the time. And what about Pan? She practically idolized you!"
"Son," Goku's voice sounded perplexed. "Pan was your daughter to raise- not mine. I think she spent more time with me than with you and Videl. It was probably better that she didn't hang around me so much."
"So much? You were hardly around at all! You isolated yourself away from everyone that you 'claimed' were your friends and family." Gohan pulled his glasses away from his face, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "You think that it hurts that Mom didn't give you some kind of acknowledgement right before she died? What about how she hurt when you just up and left to train Uub for ten years? She'd loved you so much for all those years, and she felt like you had thrown it away just like that." He snapped his fingers to make his point.
Goku was speechless. He'd never really thought that ChiChi would feel that way about his leaving. He knew she didn't like it, but she'd never said that it hurt her…not to him. "Really?" he asked finally, his voice nearly squeaking in bewilderment.
Gohan looked at him, his eyes suddenly sad. "Yeah, Dad. It hurt her a lot. 'Am I too old?' she asked me. 'Is it my clothes? Am I ugly now?' You'd come to visit for a couple days… she'd feel better about herself, and then you'd just leave again!"
"I… I didn't know." Confusion was a mild term to describe how he felt at hearing his son's words. All of a sudden, he didn't feel like the 80-something-year-old man he was, and more like the 12-year-old boy he had been, so very long ago.
"She used to talk to me about it," a new voice interrupted, and Goku hardly recognized it at all. Gohan's wife, Videl, walked into the room- a little slowly- and took a seat beside her husband. "I always just told her that you just didn't know any better."
"Don't worry about it, Father. There's nothing you can do about it, now."
But he couldn't help but worry a little bit. He'd always assumed the bursts of anger and the tears to be something to make him feel guilty about doing something that he loved to do- fighting- not as something she was really feeling. Why hadn't she told him?
He hadn't always told her he loved her… but he had. He enjoyed her cooking… her company, and he loved being there with her. But he also loved fighting, not to mention a good challenge. He hadn't really thought she needed him… She'd always been so independent, and she'd acted differently around him, then. He'd kind-of thought that maybe she had felt uncomfortable around him, because he was aging a little slower than she was.
Maybe he should have told her that it didn't matter to him. That he'd like her anyway.
Videl's voice cut in again. "You might have broken her heart every time you left her again, but she never gave up. She would always tell me that she'd just love you anyway, and that she didn't marry you because you were perfect."
"She married you because you were what she wanted, Dad." Gohan smiled at his father, putting his glasses back where they belonged. "You weren't a bad husband, you know. You just weren't perfect, and Mom never wanted something that was perfect. She would laugh sometimes, and say that you were kind of like one of the kids…"
Goku stopped listening at that point. Maybe she had included him in her statement after all. Or maybe, she had hoped he already knew what she wanted to say- how she felt. And, in a way, he supposed that maybe he had.
Okay, that's it. End. Owari. Finis.
Goku and ChiChi were in their 80's, which puts Gohan and Videl in their 60's in this fic. So, Goku might seem a little OOC to you, but it's been twenty years or something since GT. I'm still not sure if they're in character though, so I'd really like opinions on that! (My first time trying to write Goku!)
It always bothered me that Goku was always gone, away from his wife and family, never really noticing that it bothered them (especially ChiChi). I would assume that it would be hard for a strong woman like ChiChi to get down and say (to a husband who might not really understand) that she needs him with her more often. And as she ages, it would get harder and harder for her to say it, because (I think) she would feel as if, well, she was too old looking for Goku.
The song lyrics at the beginning are really good- if you listen to the whole song. Wonderful lyrics.
Please, any constructive criticism? If you think something was OOC/wrong, or have a grammar/spelling correction, please let me know! I only want to improve my writing, and I can't do that without your help. Suggestions for how to improve are beyond welcome.
Thanks for reading!