I don't particularly like Chi-Chi in Dragon Ball Z, but when I think about how Goku had the unfortunate habit of leaving her (and this does not just include all the times he died protecting the Earth) and forgetting that he had a wife and family, part of me can relate to what she must have felt. So I'm writing this story because I think that Chi-Chi's feelings should be explored.

Disclaimer: I don't own DBZ or any of its characters. They belong to Toriyama Akira

Chapter 1-Abandonment

She was doing it again, though it was obvious that she was trying her best to hide the fact as she had done everyday for the past three weeks since her husband had died and chosen to remain in the afterlife.

Piccolo let out a sigh of irritation before he leaned backwards and rested his backside up against the tree behind him. Sometimes it felt like the hearing he was granted was more of a curse than anything else, and today was one of those times. Peering through the foliage towards the quaint cottage only a few hundred feet in front of where he was safely secluded in the darkness of the surrounding forest, he narrowed his eyes at the wife of his former rival.

She was outside busying herself with the domestic task of hanging out laundry to dry: the crisp, white sheets whipping around as a gust of wind blew around the house. He watched as she fought with the wind, pushing her dark hair out of her face as she pulled the fabric across the line and then efficiently fastened the sheets with clips before moving onto the next one. However, it wasn't her struggle with putting up the laundry to dry that had caught his attention. Instead, it was the sound of mewling cries and soft sobs that the wind also carried to his overly sensitive ears. And it was obvious to him that she was trying to hide her weakness from even herself, though she was failing miserably at the task.

Grinding his teeth in irritation, Piccolo tried to ignore the sounds of distress coming from the woman who he had little to no tolerance for to begin with. Yet, for some reason that he couldn't fathom, he was rooted to the spot he was in, just as he had been since Goku had died trying to rid the world of Cell. It had become his daily ritual to head out to Mt. Pazou in order to ensure that Gohan was well, yet somehow he had also become an unsuspecting voyeur, watching Chi-Chi as she struggled to once again cope with the loss of her husband.

Not for the first time, he found himself frowning in disgust over the emotional weaknesses that most of the human population seemed to possess. It was true that since his rebirth as the reincarnated Piccolo Daimo, he had learned and accepted that he also contained emotions beyond hate and a thirst for power, especially after becoming Gohan's temporary guardian and his absorption of both Nail and Kami. However, that did not mean he understood the purpose of crying over something that couldn't be changed. It was utterly pointless and Chi-Chi's behavior was only proving to him how foolish she was acting. Shaking his head in revulsion, Piccolo decided that since he couldn't concentrate on meditating with Chi-Chi outside, it was time for him to leave his spot and head somewhere else. Standing up slowly, he closed his eyes and focused on finding Gohan's ki. It only took him a few seconds to find the boy, who was apparently in his bedroom, no doubt studying. Sensing that he was fine, Piccolo turned around and walked away from the hopeless atmosphere that had become a part of Mt. Pazou ever since Goku had taken off on yet another adventure in the afterlife.

Wrestling with another sheet as the strong wind whipped around her body, Chi-Chi let out a groan of frustration as she found herself becoming tangled within the embrace of the white fabric. Pushing it down and away from her body, her hair blowing in her face, she hefted the heavy material up and over the line and quickly secured the sheet with clothespins before the force of the gale would force it back off the line. It was such a frustrating, monotonous task, yet it was something that helped her to keep her mind off of other things. Some of the time, at any rate.

Letting out a deep breath, she found herself bending over tiredly, looking inside the basket to see what other items she had left to hang out to dry. Pulling out a piece of purple material, she realized it was the top half of one of Gohan's fighting uniforms he used when he sparred with Goku or Piccolo. Rubbing the cloth between her fingers, an inadvertent image of her dead husband popped into her mind. Before she knew it, she could feel a stinging sensation as the tears she was desperately trying to hold back swam at the corners of her eyes. Letting out a sniffle, she buried her face into Gohan's shirt trying her best to not think about Goku, to not think about her own pain, to not think about…

It was a losing battle, and she knew it. Accidentally tipping the clothes basket over with her foot, she watched as the wind picked up the stray articles of clothing and blew them across the grass in front of her. Sinking to her knees in the soft grass, Chi-Chi pulled Gohan's shirt close to her body as she hunched over, letting her tears finally free themselves and slide down her cheeks, dampening the loose strands of her jet-black hair that had been forced out of her bun from the irritating wind.

Biting her lip to keep her sobs from spilling forth, Chi-Chi let her anguish spread across her body. She couldn't understand it, couldn't fathom it. That her husband would willingly choose to leave her and Gohan, this time with the intention of never coming back. Though she knew he was doing it to protect the Earth from any more destructive forces, she wondered if the reality of his decision was somehow based on her, that she had driven him away from his family.

She had never been a patient woman, nor had she been a woman that was easy to get along with. These things she understood about herself, but the fact that Goku was not coming back made her wonder if had chosen to leave because he had decided living with her as a spouse wasn't worth the effort. Maybe if she would have shown him more affection or perhaps if she would have listened and approved of his designs for Gohan's future, been a better support towards Goku's path as a Saiyan fighter, he would have wanted to stay.

Or, perhaps not…

Wiping her face with Gohan's now wrinkled gi top, she pushed it onto her lap and clenched the material in her fists. Looking down the hillside where the items from her clothes basket where clinging to the blades of grass and branches of bushes they had been blown on to, she took in a deep shuddering breath and let out some of the anger she felt creep inside her heart. Maybe it was wrong to feel the way that she did, but besides feeling guilty over his permanent departure from the Earth, she felt abandoned.

In all the years that she and Goku had been married, no amount of nagging or coerciveness on her part had ever convinced him to stay tied to the home they shared here at Mt. Pazou. Goku had always been wildly independent, and he had a stubbornness that most people didn't realize he possessed except when he was in a battle that could determine the outcome of the future for the Earth and its citizens. This in and of itself was not surprising to Chi-Chi, considering he had spent most of his life alone in the wilderness, making his own decisions without needing the input or advice from a second party until Bulma had found him and taken him on his first adventure searching for the Dragon Balls. But it had always made their marriage difficult, which had resulted in her strong disapproval of the lifestyle he led and how it could influence Gohan. She didn't want her own son to end up taking the lifestyle of a wandering fighter, not when he had so much potential within his small body.

She had never imagined that he would permanently run off on her though. And where did that leave her? Was she supposed to grasp onto the fact that perhaps someday, he might decide to come back? Was she supposed to live off the meager amount of savings that they had put away from the tournaments Goku had won, supporting herself and Gohan in the hopes that he might change his mind and return? She knew that her father would help her out where money was concerned, especially where it related to Gohan's education, but she couldn't help but worry over the fact that she was poor and unskilled in anything beyond martial arts and homemaking. She had never held a job before, and the thought of moving away from the seclusion of Mt. Pazou to the city in order to find work was a frightening thought. And she was ashamed; ashamed that her husband had once again left her, and this time he had left her with a partying gift that would most likely evoke pity from the friends and family that she had. She did not want anyone's pity and she did not want to become a burden to those she called friend.

Rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand, she tried to put a lid on the emotions that were boiling out of her. Swallowing down some of her pain, she bit her lip as she tried to focus her mind back to the task at hand of having to pick up the scattered clothing blown across the lawn. She was about to stand when she heard a short gasp and turned her head sharply towards the direction it had come from. Her heart sank when she saw Gohan in another one of his purple fighting uniforms, no doubt thinking of going to train somewhere to release some of his own pent up feelings of frustration and depression over the death of his father.

"Mother! Are you okay?"

She watched as he bounded down the front steps and came running over to where she was sitting in a heap, probably looking like a terrible mess. Brushing her hands through her tangled hair, she tried to hide the evidence of her crying, but Gohan was too perceptive to let anything like her condition skip past his eyes. Looking at her in concern, he bent over and put his hand out, waiting for her to grab hold so he could help her up. Hesitating briefly, Chi-Chi slowly took hold of his offered hand and found herself standing face to face with her son, who was now almost as tall as she was. Brushing off pieces of grass and debris from the lawn that were stuck to her dress, she shrugged in embarrassment and then bent over to retrieve the laundry basket.

"Mom? Are you hurt? Is it, umm…is it, you know?"

Turning around quickly, Chi-Chi could see red staining his cheeks over the question he had just asked and she wondered for the first time how much Gohan knew about certain things, things that she still didn't have the courage to tell him about. Putting a smile upon her lips to reassure him, though she felt far from doing so, Chi-Chi shook her head.

"I'm fine Gohan. I just…well, I tripped over the laundry basket. It's nothing more then that."

She knew immediately that Gohan realized she was lying to him, but instead of calling her on it, he simply shook his head in acceptance and then ran down the hill, picking up the clothing that were spread across the lawn. Within a few seconds, he was back, shaking the grass out of the clothes before clipping them on the line.

"There Mom, it's all finished."

Glancing over at her son, she watched as he wiped his hands and stood back, peering at her with an unreadable expression in his eyes. Feeling leery of what he could be thinking about, Chi-Chi gathered the empty basket and started making her way back to the house. She wasn't ready to deal with a confrontation or questions about things she still had yet to fully accept. Reaching the doorway, she was surprised when she sensed Gohan next to her, opening the door before she had the chance to even move her hand towards the handle. Nodding her head in thanks, she stepped into the house and made her way towards the kitchen and the small laundry room off to the side. Putting her basket away, she headed back into the kitchen, only to find Gohan sitting uncomfortably at the kitchen table, waiting for her to come back.

"I thought you were going to head off to train. I'm assuming your school work is done?"

Walking around the small table to the sink, Chi-Chi turned the tap on and waited for the water to heat up before she put her hands into and washed them, busying herself to help keep her uncertainty and uneasiness at bay. She could not act or look weak in front of her son, especially since she was the sole parent now that Goku was dead.

"It's done but Mom, I'm…I'm worried about you. You're not clumsy and I just wish you'd be honest with me. I understand if you don't want to talk about it, but you can't keep ignoring it either."

Trying to hide her shame, Chi-Chi turned around and put her hands on her hips, making herself look more stern and angry then she actually felt.

"What are you talking about exactly, young man?"

She observed as embarrassment and anger washed across his pale face, his eyes taking on the steely determination that Goku always had around her. Realizing that he wasn't going to let it go, especially when he had the right to be worried about her, she slumped her shoulders in defeat and waited for what it was he was going to say to her.

"I'm talking about you and…and the baby you're going to have."

There. It was out in the open and she knew it would be foolishness on her part to refute such an assertion coming from her own son.

"It wasn't the baby Gohan. I…it's difficult without your father around. You'd think we'd be used to it by now, but…I don't want you to worry about this Gohan. Everything will be fine, you'll see."

She could tell that he didn't think everything would be fine, but he nodded his head in acceptance and slowly stood up from where he was seated. Walking back towards the back door, he put his hand on the latch and then stopped, looking over to where she was still standing, clasping her hands nervously in front of her.

"When's the baby going to be here? Have you been to the doctor? And did…, well, never mind Mom."

It wasn't difficult to realize that the last question he had been about to ask was whether or not Goku had known about the baby before he had made his decision to stay dead. Not wanting to impart her own feelings of abandonment and resentment on her son, she chose to ignore it like he had and instead focused on answering the other two questions honestly.

"In about six months, I think. And, well, with the Androids, your father's sickness and then the battle against Cell, I haven't had the chance to go."

She also left out the fact that she was afraid they didn't have the finances to warrant going to the doctor either, but she decided to omit that information as well. There was no point in needlessly worrying her son about it. He had enough on his plate as it was and she knew he was also dealing with his own grief over the loss of his father. In her mind, he was still a child and he was entitled to his childhood, especially given the fact that he'd faced atrocities most young people his age could only imagine about in their worst nightmares. She didn't want him shouldering any more burdens then he already had.

Thankfully, Gohan accepted this without reservations. Opening the door, he smiled at her and then stepped outside.

"I'm going to find Piccolo and spar with him for a while. I'll be back for supper. See you later Mom!"

With that said, he quietly closed the door behind him, leaving Chi-Chi alone once again.

Letting out a deep breath, she put her hand up to her forehead and closed her eyes. It hadn't been as bad as she thought it would be, telling Gohan about her pregnancy. But she still felt uneasy and upset about things. Pulling away from the counter, she glanced at the clock, seeing that she still had a few hours before she needed to start preparing for the evening meal. Deciding her body craved a nap, she slowly started for the stairs and made her way up to the small room she had shared with Goku up until a few weeks ago, up until he had died trying to save humanity from Cell.

Pushing the door open, she slowly sat down on the soft bed, running her hand over the pillow that had belonged to her husband. Coming upstairs to her empty bedroom always felt like a punch in the stomach, the reality of being left alone open for her to observe. Stilling her hand, she pulled her legs up and then lay down on her back, her eyes taking in the simple wooden ceiling above her. She was alone. He had left her. And part of her hated him for abandoning her, Gohan, and his unborn child: especially abandoning her.

End of chapter one. I hope you like it so far and feedback is appreciated.