AN. Yet another one-shot, once again starring my favourite triclops-x-telepath friendshippy pair. This one is set somewhere during the 130 days before when Tien and Chiaotzu were wished back to life at the end of the Frieza saga. Enjoy :D
Night did not fall on King Kai's planet. The empty space it hung in didn't contain a sun, so the small rock did not have days, nights, months or years. There was no sense of time there. When one was hungry, one ate. When one was sleepy, one slept. There was no guidance from the world itself.
The inhabitants of the world, however, did feel the usual strains of life, despite being dead. They felt hunger, fatigue, weariness, pain. They could not die (death for the dead is impossible, unless something really drastic happens to your spirit), but they came to learn that death is painless, pain itself is not.
Due to the complete lack of time from either a sun or a moon, most visitors to the planet followed the time zone they had been in when they died, or where they lived normally. When Tien, Chiaotzu and Yamcha were stuck on the planet for days after Piccolo was wished back, they fell back into their normal sleeping patterns.
Yamcha's day seemed to be on a time-zone six hours behind Tien and Chiaotzu's. This was hardly surprising, and it meant that there were six hours a day when they didn't have to deal with each other. Tien and Chiaotzu, however, were basically inseparable.
Then Yamcha was wished back to life, when Tien had said he wanted to stay and train and Chiaotzu had refused to go if Tien wasn't, leaving the two of them alone to train with King Kai, Bubbles and Gregory.
According to their time-zone, it was very late at night, though the sky was still bright, and Chiaotzu had succumbed to exhaustion hours before, retiring to the house to sleep. Tien, always one to push himself, stayed awake, training until what would have been early in the morning. Eventually the need to sleep claimed him and he dragged his feet inside.
There was a room separated from the main room, and this was one that had been darkened by thick blankets in front of the windows for those who wished to sleep. As soon as Tien was inside his eyelids seemed even heavier, the ten-times normal gravity dragging down on his tired muscles.
Chiaotzu was a small huddle on the double futon, the blanket pulled up around him, his eyes peacefully closed. He was still dressed in the clothes he had died in, and Tien felt a pang every time he saw them. Tien collapsed onto the other side, lacking the energy to even move from his sprawled position. His eyelids were almost fused shut he was so tired, and he felt that nothing could wake him.
He was wrong.
The soft, high-pitched voice sliced through his weariness the way no other thing could. He opened his eyes, turning his head a little. Chiaotzu had his eyes open, his pupils huge in the darkness of the room, and tears were steadily trickling down his cheeks as he offered a slight smile.
"Chiaotzu, what is it?"
"I've been thinking…" Chiaotzu paused, then lifted one small hand and gently wiped away his tears before starting again in a stronger voice, "I've been thinking about what you said…when King Kai was making his plan…"
"Huh? What plan?"
Chiaotzu giggled a little. "The plan to save the Nameks, of course."
Tien's exhausted brain couldn't quite understand what Chiaotzu was talking about, before memory of the episode with Frieza came back and he closed his eyes with a sigh.
"Ah yes, that plan."
"Yes." Chiaotzu's voice had that lift that meant he was wearing the wide smile of amusement that showed so rarely. "Anyway, I was thinking about what you said…did you mean it?"
"What did I say?"
There was a note of playful exasperation in Chiaotzu's voice as he said, "Tien, you know what I mean."
"I'm very, very tired, Chiaotzu," Tien said, and noticed with a little bit of surprise that his voice was starting to slur. "I can't think when I'm tired. You know that."
"It was when Kami said that I couldn't be brought back to life," Chiaotzu said in a soft voice and Tien's heart skipped a beat.
"And King Kai didn't say anything to deny that…" Chiaotzu continued. "And then you said…"
"That I'd stay," Tien finished when Chiaotzu didn't seem he was going to.
"Yes… Did you really mean it, Tien? If it turns out that Porunga or whatever the Namek dragon is called can't bring me back after all, will you really stay dead?"
"Yes," Tien said without hesitation. "No question."
"Even though you could live…"
"Not an issue."
"Even though the others will be upset…"
"They'll get over it."
"Even though Lunch is waiting for you…."
At this Tien paused and flushed. After a moment he said, "She doesn't really love me…she thinks she does…but if she did love me, like really love me, then she'd love me in both her forms. She only loves me when she's blonde, have you noticed?"
Chiaotzu giggled softly. "But blonde-Lunch does love you so much."
Tien tried to answer, but found that for a few moments he couldn't. Eventually he managed to say, "But I don't love her… You know that, Chiaotzu, you know I don't feel that way about her…"
"But you like her…"
"W-well…" Tien flushed an even deeper red. "She's very pretty…" Chiaotzu giggled suddenly, a high-pitched, joyful sound that made Tien smile without even meaning to. "And even so," he continued. "I don't love her." His smile widened and he managed to catch one of Chiaotzu's hands in his own as he said, "She's not my soul mate, Chiaotzu. You are."
Chiaotzu lightly bit his lip. "I want you to go back, Tien. I want you to live life even if I can't. I don't want you to stay here."
"Chiaotzu, I can't leave you here…"
"I want you to." Chiaotzu's hand tightened around Tien's as insistence filled his tone. "Tien, you have your whole life ahead of you. You could live for so much longer…" Tears started to spill down his cheeks again as he said softly, "I don't want you to give up your life for me…"
"Chiaotzu, you're the only person I would give up my life for…"
"And I don't want you to." Chiaotzu closed his eyes, using his other hand to pull the blanket up so it covered his face. "I'll be fine here waiting until you die of natural causes. It won't be that long. And then when we meet up again it'll be all the nicer because you'll have lived your real life and I'll be content with that."
"I won't leave you alone, Chiaotzu."
"Don't say that, Tien, please." There was a hint of sadness in his voice now. "I don't want you to stay dead, Tien. Please, don't stay dead… Death isn't that bad; I can stand this alone for another fifty or sixty years…"
Tien flinched. Death wasn't that bad…compared to last time, was what Chiaotzu meant. Tien supposed that any death was better than the torment the boy had suffered after death at Piccolo Daimao's hand. And that time Chiaotzu had been alone in death, forced to endure torture with no one by his side.
"I can't leave you alone…"
"I would rather you leave me alone than stay dead when you don't have to," Chiaotzu said, then started to cry. "I don't want you to be dead, Tien. I don't want you to be dead just for me."
Tien stared, horrified, as the blanket covering Chiaotzu started to tremble, the part that covered his narrow chest jerking up and down.
"Don't, Tien…just don't…"
"Chiaotzu, you know I can't just leave you. You know that. Would…" Tien paused, hesitated, then plunged on with, "Would you do that same in my position?" Chiaotzu pushed the blanket back, blinking at Tien with wide, tear-filled eyes. Tien stared back, and asked in a gentler voice, "Would you leave me, even if I wanted you to? Could you?"
Chiaotzu looked down, lifting his hand to absently wipe away his tears. Tien wasn't ready to let it drop.
"Chiaotzu? I'm waiting."
Chiaotzu let out a sigh, pulling the blanket up over his head. When he spoke his voice was a soft mumble, infinitely weary.
"You know the answer to that, Tien…"
"I want to hear you say it."
There was another moment of silence, then Chiaotzu said, "I couldn't…I couldn't leave…"
"Then why do you expect me to?" Tien's voice was gentle, a soothing murmur, but Chiaotzu didn't respond beyond a soft, sobbing breath. "Chiaotzu, you can't expect me to…abandon you, for lack of a better word. You're my brother, my best friend. You're the only one I really trust, the only one I would really die for and stay dead for out of all the rest of the Z warriors. You're the only one in the universe that I really love. Can't you accept that?"
"Of course I do." Chiaotzu's words were warped by his tears, sounding strangled and muffled. Tien thought he was probably the only one in the universe who could understand them. "But, Tien, you have to keep living. You have to. You're the only one I love too and I don't want you to throw your life away for me. It's not fair on you…" He shook his head, the movement only just visible under the blanket, before adding, "I feel exactly the same way, Tien. I…can't see you stay like this…"
"You really want to stay here for another fifty years with just King Kai, Bubbles and Gregory for company?" Tien asked, surprising a little giggle out of Chiaotzu. "If you're feeling guilty because I chose to stay with my little brother rather than spending fifty years being chased alone by a scary blonde woman then you can quit it right now."
"No buts." Tien was smiling now, his lips curled up a little, and he could hear the smile in Chiaotzu's tear-stained voice too. "You're my brother, and it's both of us or no deal, all or nothing. You'll learn to cope with me not leaving in time." He put out a hand and slipped it beneath the blanket covering Chiaotzu, finding and squeezing Chiaotzu's hand. "And just in case, I'm asking them to wish you back first. That way if it doesn't work I'll just cancel my wish. Deal?"
"Why would you…?"
"It's easier than turning to the nearest person and asking them to kill me," Tien said smoothly. "Plus I'd rather stay than run down that snake path thing again. That road is long, damn it."
Chiaotzu laughed again, the blanket drawing back to reveal his eyes. They were lit up with good humour, though still filled with tears.
"Alright, you win," he said. "You don't have to leave. You can stay if I can't be wished back."
"I don't think it will be a problem," Tien said, leaning forward and gently kissing Chiaotzu's exposed forehead. "They got Krillin back with no problems, right? So I don't think they'll have any difficulty with you."
"Good." Chiaotzu giggled, covering his mouth with one hand. "Coz I want to see you pass King Kai's test again. And let's face it, onii-chan, I can't see that if we stay."
Tien laughed and grabbed the boy in a one-armed hug, feeling tears burn in his eyes. Good, he could fulfil his promise. He had been scared for a second there, but he and Chiaotzu could talk each other out of or into anything, and he was glad this was no exception.
AN. Sorry about the ending again... I tend to apologise a lot...I'm gonna stop now... If you didn't like it, well...fine then... If you did a review telling me why would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a bunch :D