Summary: A technicality gone wrong in a wish from the Z fighters leaves Android Seventeen in a coma, and with Dr Gero gone the only person who can save him is still a shaky ally. Without her twin, and with Android Sixteen gone Android Eighteen is left alone to put together the pieces of her past and the truth of her own being, with just one person left with faith in her.
Disclaimer: Dragon Ball Z is owned by Akira Toriyama and TOEI Animation Ltd. No money is being made from this work.
Lovefools Chapter Twenty Five – Moving On
Eighteen found herself visiting Seventeen less and less. For the first few weeks of his coma, she had been expecting him to wake up at any moment, and had checked in on him as often as possible, but as time wore on and Seventeen's condition didn't change, she found her hopes waning. For six months she had kept up daily visits, but since she'd skipped the visits during those frantic days in which she'd visited North City and he still hadn't woken up, her visits were becoming fewer and further between. The more time had passed, the more distant she felt from her twin. There was so much she had been through now that he had not shared, and no amount of explaining could ever possibly make him understand. She was different now, and she was beginning to feel like she was wasting her time in his room. Seventeen would not wake up for her, and she was only now starting to accept that.
But rather than feeling bereft, Eighteen was quite content lately. The morning after she'd kissed Krillin, the two of them had unceremoniously left the hospital together, and Eighteen had accompanied him all the way back the Kame House. It was funny to think of that. She had known for a fact that Krillin would have been absolutely fine getting back by himself, and that to worry about him was irrational. She'd done it anyway.
Master Roshi had taken in Krillin's bandages with concern when he'd looked up at them from his chair in the sun, but when Eighteen came with him, he'd looked from one to the other, a wide-spreading grin dawning on his face. Before he'd even said a word, Eighteen knew that the old man had already come to several incorrect conclusions.
"Krillin! Where've you been huh?" He demanded, wiggling his eyebrows. Krillin had looked at Eighteen, who hadn't moved at all, and replied.
"Sorting out some business at Bulma's. I got into a bit of an accident, but I'm fine. Eighteen just wanted to see me home." Eighteen was surprised at the ease with which the lie came from him. She supposed it was because most of what he was lying about was something he genuinely didn't want to talk about, rather than a weak excuse to cover up some salacious affair. Master Roshi looked distinctly disappointed, and not very convinced, but he didn't press them further.
"Well, there's some leftover seafood soup in the fridge if you wanted champon." He'd said, settling back into his chair.
"Thank you master." Krillin had replied, and given a little bow before stepping inside.
In the weeks since then, Eighteen had been spending time with Krillin several days a week. He went to the movies with her, took her shopping, stayed on the beach swimming and sunbathing with her, they'd had drinks and played cards – during which time they discovered that Eighteen played a mean hand of poker – and Eighteen had felt the difference. Krillin's kind face and endless buoyancy was taking its effect. Life was normalizing, and some time during those days she had realised that she was going to be okay.
Her relationship with Krillin had been tentative. She smiled more often, but had not kissed him, and he'd kept a respectful distance.
When she had first met Krillin that day she was awoken in Gero's lab, she'd dismissed him as a weak, dependent sort of person. Ever since then, he had consistently proven her to be wrong, being the supporting beam for the both of them. It was admirable, and it impressed her. She felt at times that she should find some way to help support him the way he did her, but he never seemed to need it. Krillin had been the dominant member of the Kame House for some time now, and was clearly quite capable of taking care of both himself and his master. It wasn't until a fortnight after they'd left the Satan City Central Hospital that Eighteen finally got a bit of insight into what did trouble the mind of Krillin, and find her opportunity to help him.
Krillin had called up Gohan, and arranged for himself, Eighteen and Master Roshi to visit over the weekend. As Master Roshi was coming along, they had taken a small, capsuled motorboat and then taken Krillin's car from the edge of the mainland. Eighteen hadn't even known that he'd owned a car. She thought the bright red was a bit much, but readily admitted that Krillin had much better taste in vehicles than Seventeen. It was also better than the idea of either of them having to carry Master Roshi over several hundred miles.
They arrived at Mount Kao by about one in the afternoon. They found Gohan inside, bustling about trying to help his mother out with lunch. He didn't look too unhappy about it though - he was probably rejoicing in getting to do anything other than study.
"HI GUYS!" He greeted enthusiastically.
Chi Chi was of course, in front of the stove, working even more busily than Gohan. She turned around briefly when she heard her son.
"Oh hi! Lunch'll be ready soon." She turned her head round a little further and shrieked, "GOHAN!" Gohan, carrying a plate of biscuits, jumped and spilled half of them on the floor.
"Get our guests some tea whilst I finish up here!"
"Here, I'll get these." Krillin offered, so Gohan could run after his mother. It looked a bit odd that Gohan was still at Chi Chi's beck and call like that; he was a teenager now, and he looked it. A few more years and the boy who saved the world would well and truly be young man. They all sat around the table in the living room for a while, sipping their tea and snacking on biscuits until lunch was ready. They all helped Chi Chi load everything onto the table – rice bowls and empty side plates, steamed dumplings and fried fish, noodles in broth and deep-fried packets of wrapped pork mince with chives and water chestnuts. In short, it was magnificent feast.
When Chi Chi finally settled down to eat with them, Eighteen noticed how much her belly had grown. She was now seven months in, and was leaning back ever so slightly to keep her balance as she walked. They ate mostly without talking, though the table was far from silent. Gohan ate with an astounding appetite, and Chi Chi was eating a lot more than usual to accommodate her baby. With everyone thoroughly enjoying Chi Chi's cooking, the table was filled with happy munching sounds, occasionally punctuated with conversation about her soon-to-be-born child.
Once the meal was over, Chi Chi was in a hurry to get everyone out of the house so she could clean. The three men scurried off to the river to play, Eighteen trailing behind them. She had not brought her swimmers with her, and wasn't much in the mood for getting wet, so she just watched from a rock on the shore. Krillin, Gohan and Master Roshi all rushed to the river, taking off their clothes as they went. Eighteen felt a little indecent staring at Gohan or Master Roshi, so she watched Krillin instead. Not for the first time she noted that Krillin had a very well-defined body with strong, healthy muscles everywhere a person should. He was not quite as puffed out as Gohan, but more filled-out and masculine than her brother. She quite liked it, and not-very-subtly watched him as he dived in and moved through the cold water, occasionally smiling to herself. She would probably have shot death glares at anyone who actually said out loud that she was perving.
The sun was warm on Eighteen's rock, and the boys were taking their time with water fights and other games, so she eased off her black vest, just leaving her white t-shirt. It was her favourite outfit, and she wore it most often. Presently, Gohan ran out onto the bank, panting and raising a hand in surrender.
"Okay guys, I'm just gonna rest up for a bit" He said to his companions. Krillin and Master Roshi laughed, and went back to bombing each other. Gohan came and sat his wet self on the rock beside Eighteen, stretching out contentedly.
"You sure you didn't want to join in Eighteen? It's a lot of fun."
"No thanks. It seems pointless."
"Oh. Well I guess that's why it's fun, but each to their own. Are you having a good time here anyway?" Eighteen shrugged and gave a nod.
"Sure. I'm getting a nice tan here, and it was a good lunch. Your mom's a good cook."
"Thanks." Gohan said proudly. He was unusually immune to her flat way of speaking. "She used to have to cook twice as much when dad was around. Even I can't eat as much as he used to." Eighteen felt a slight twisting at the mention of Goku.
"Isn't it strange, not having your father around anymore? You don't seem very sad about it." Gohan smiled knowingly, and tilted his head back.
"I know it's weird, but I don't really feel like dad's gone. He has friends in high places you know." And he giggled here as if he'd made a great joke, which Eighteen didn't get at all. "And because of them, he can talk to me sometimes. Not as much anymore, but I can still feel him with me. I don't feel as if I'm never going to see him again." Eighteen was flabbergasted by the cheerfulness of this boy.
"Don't you hate me for what I tried to do to him? Krillin told me you guys spent three years training to fight me."
"Mmm...not really" the boy mused to himself, shrugging. "Piccolo tried to kill my dad a long time ago too, and they're really good friends now, not to mention Piccolo was my mentor. It just goes to show there's nearly always a good side to people, you just have to find it. You guys never even fought my dad, and I knew I was wrong about you all when I met Sixteen." Eighteen's heart plummeted.
"Did you know Sixteen well?" She asked tentatively. Gohan shook his head.
"I didn't know him for very long, but he was a lot like me. Neither of us really like fighting, actually. Sixteen wasn't even a living human, but he had more respect for life than I've seen in anyone. I really admired him; he had so much strength in his personality." There was silence for a moment, and Eighteen thought she would simply let it continue, but found herself saying something she hadn't expected to say at all.
"Dr Gero said that Sixteen was an unfinished model. He was also awakened once before we found him to track someone down that Dr Gero then shot to death." She didn't know why she'd said it. It came from some ugly part of her that wanted to crush Gohan's insistent optimism, because it just seemed so damn irrational and fragile in her world view. How could someone who knew so little about her, but enough to know the horrific violence she was capable of, persist in such a simplistic assumption that she was good? How could he make Sixteen sound like such a saint when he had no idea what he was capable of? She guessed that what she was really doing was pushing to see if such idealism was as fragile as it sounded.
But Gohan looked more puzzled than distressed by what she'd told him.
"Why did he shoot him?" He asked her.
"What?" Suddenly she regretted bringing it up. She didn't want to delve into the past all over again. "I guess because he had a score to settle, or – "
"No." Gohan interrupted. "I mean, Dr Gero's androids were supposed to be his servants, right?" Eighteen nodded noncommittally. "So if you use a deadly android servant to track someone down, wouldn't it make more sense for the android to do the dirty work and kill the guy for you?" Eighteen stared at him in wonder. Gohan shrugged. "I'd guess that Sixteen, being who he was, said he wouldn't do it, and Dr Gero had to resort to a gun. Sixteen looked pretty completed to me. Maybe Dr Gero decided that he was 'unfinished' because he disobeyed him and wouldn't kill someone."
Eighteen consciously shut her mouth. The kid had a point. Why would Dr Gero have gone to the trouble of a gun if he had a killer android at hand to do it for him? Personal revenge didn't quite fit, because otherwise Dr Gero would never have bothered to make her or Seventeen, and spent the last ten years making himself into the ultimate android to kill Goku instead. Grudgingly, she acknowledged that Gohan was probably right.
Gohan was smiling up at the open blue sky, and spoke again. "You know, Sixteen saved the world too, in his own way. I would never have discovered my true strength if it hadn't been for him." He paused. "I'm really sorry he didn't make it through."
Eighteen was quiet, all of her previous affection for Sixteen came rushing back in waves of sadness, and she felt ashamed for having doubted him. He was completely artificial, made with less will of his own than she and Seventeen, along with being the supposed prototype model to them, and yet he'd turned out to be their superior in every way. She missed him. Sixteen could not be wished back - he had never been truly alive to begin with. His motherboard chip had been destroyed, and without that there was no rebuilding him. Even if she died and went to the Otherworld, she wouldn't find Sixteen there. He was gone like no one else could be gone.
"So am I." She replied at last. "He was my friend." And Gohan just smiled at her, letting her know he understood.
At sunset, the four of them headed back to the house together, in very good spirits. They found Chi Chi on the couch, intently rubbing her stomach. Before anybody said anything, Chi Chi gestured for them all to gather round and hush.
"He's kicking - oof! Come and feel it." Krillin and Gohan both put a hand on Chi Chi's belly, then grinned widely after a moment.
"I felt it too!" Gohan pulled away and Master Roshi tried the same. He giggled with glee when he felt the infant kick, but took advantage of the moment to over-step his bounds, as he could always be relied upon to do. His hand traveled up quite a bit further north than it should have, and Chi Chi's eyes suddenly turned extremely dangerous. Even Eighteen felt herself get annoyed on Chi Chi's behalf. Almost simultaneously, the women yelled out,
"PERVERT!" Chi Chi pulled in her legs at struck him in the chest, followed quickly by a hammer fist to the head by Eighteen. Master Roshi ended up stunned, with a nosebleed on the floor. Eighteen sincerely hoped the nosebleed was from being hit, and not from excitement over Chi Chi's chest. Chi Chi and Eighteen looked at each other, and nodded once in approval. After a moment, Chi Chi asked, "Would you like to come and feel the baby kicking too?" It was a sure sign that things were improving between the two women, and Eighteen paused only a little before slowly extending her hand. Chi Chi's body was warm, and her stomach perfectly round. She could feel the other woman's heartbeat almost as soon as she touched her stomach, and to her great wonder, she did feel the baby kick after a few moments too. It was alive and strong and almost ready to come into the world, and it tugged at Eighteen's heartstrings. She had never touched a woman who was with child before – that she knew of anyway – and her envy of Chi Chi grew sharp in that moment.
A cup of tea and another short chat later, Eighteen and Krillin loaded the still-unconscious Master Roshi into the back seat of the car. Krillin was careful to make sure none of the blood got onto his upholstery, before they drove off under cover of full dark.
On the drive home, Eighteen was lost in her thoughts and staring out the window. It was quite some time before she realised how unusually quiet the trip had been, as Krillin would usually fill in the gaps as he chatted to her. She glanced sideways at him, and noticed his expression was very set, almost grim, and rather unlike what she was used to.
"Krillin?" She asked. "What's the matter?"
"Hmmm?" He replied without moving. "Oh, nothing. Don't worry about it."
"You haven't said a word the whole way home. Just say it." She replied tartly. Krillin upturned a corner of his mouth at her directness.
"No getting past you is there? I was thinking about how miserable Gohan makes me."
"Huh?" Eighteen was thoroughly confused. "That makes no sense at all."
"Heh. No I guess it doesn't. I'm amazed at how well he's handling Goku's death. He's not really sad at all, just accepting of how it has to be. I'm... not like that. I'm not a very strong person you see." He looked over at her with an ironic grin on his face, as though this was obvious. "I don't have that sort of personality that I can just accept it and bounce back when things in my life go away. I like to pretend I do, but I hate it actually. I don't really have a lot to begin with. I have Master Roshi," And he threw his thumb back over his shoulder at the KO'd old man in the back seat. "I have some strength, and I have a place to live. Goku was one of my only friends, probably the only one who really cared about me. When Chi Chi went under with her depression, I sympathised with her."
"Why didn't you do the same then?" Eighteen asked him.
"Because of you I guess." He replied wryly.
"Yeah. You were in much worse trouble than I was. It's not like I didn't feel the loss of Goku. Somehow, it's easier to forget how sad you are when you have somebody else who needs help. You seem to be feeling better lately, and so is Chi Chi, so going and seeing Goku's family was a little harder this time. Goku's gone, and he still has so much more than I do. I've always worried about ending up alone. It seems like he never is, no matter where he goes."
The corner of Eighteen's mouth turned up. Like herself, and unlike Gohan, Krillin had a cynical side to him, which she understood very well. Sometimes you just had to hate other people's happiness when you couldn't share in it.
"Strength isn't in deep wells of saiyan power, Krillin." She took him by surprise with the comment. "It's not in never letting the world get you down either. It's in putting your own troubles aside when other people hurt. It's in standing up when you know you'll never win the fight. You have strength and courage in spades."
Krillin gaped at her wondrously, and perhaps for a moment too long.
"Krillin, the road."
"Whoa!" Krillin wrenched the wheel sideways to get back in his lane and avoid hitting an oncoming truck. It beeped at him indignantly as it roared past. After giving him a few seconds to calm down, she dropped the bombshell.
"And it's not like you're alone you know. Next time we go to meet your friends, introduce me as your girlfriend."
She turned to face him then, eyes alight against the glowing controls of the car, heart throbbing hard in her anticipation. There, she'd said it. Krillin kept turning his head from the road to her and back again, unable to keep his eyes away from her. Finally, he slowed the car down and pulled over.
When the car stopped, without hesitating or saying a word, Krillin leaned over, pushed his lips onto hers and kissed her deeply. Eighteen felt the need in that kiss, the hope and the pressing emotion, and she received it all. Her arms went around his shoulders and she pulled him in, bringing his chest against hers. The feeling of release in that touch was intense and wildly fulfilling, and might have become a little hotter if a groan from the back seat hadn't reminded them that there was a third passenger in the car. Krillin broke the kiss and paused a few inches from her face, a deeper, compelling darkness in his eyes that sent an internal shiver through Eighteen. Then Krillin was back in the driver's seat, and Master Roshi was sitting up, blinking.
"Ugh... my head. Where are we Krillin?" He asked groggily.
"We're on the highway headed back from Mount Kao." Krillin answered, his eyes never leaving Eighteen's. "We'll be back to the shore in about half an hour."
"Huh. Why are we stopping?"
"I just needed a breather. We'll get going again now. Just strap yourself in."
After Master Roshi had gone to bed that night, and Eighteen and Krillin had been pretending to be watching the television set for almost half an hour, Krillin announced that he was going to bed too. Eighteen stood as well, and both hesitated before moving anywhere. Eighteen knew what was on the tip of Krillin's tongue, but realised from how nervous they both were that they weren't ready for that yet.
"I'll be in Goku's old room." She said softly. The relief in Krillin's eyes told her it was the right decision. She made her way to the staircase, but before she could get past him, Krillin's hand reached out and grabbed hers. He was warm. Always warm, and comforting.
"I just wanted to say thank you. For what you said about me being strong." And he squeezed her hand. Eighteen turned, bent down and kissed him gently on the lips. He closed his eyes and drifted into it.
"Goodnight Krillin." She said as she pulled away.
Thanks again to all of you who reviewed the last chapter. Most of the feedback I've heard about this story has been quite positive, the issue of the bullet probably being the only exception. Thanks as well to lilDBZbuddy89 for giving me my 100th review! That was pretty exciting for me.
Especial thanks to Cj4Dj, who has not only given me comprehensive and encouraging reviews for several chapters now, but has also done a beautiful fanart for chapter 24 of this fic! Please go and check her out, a small part of the artwork is currently the cover art for Lovefools, but the original can be found at her deviantart page:
crazyjen. deviantart art/ DBZ-FicPic-Lovefools-309700163
Just remove the spaces. There are many other great K/18 fanarts on her page. And yes, in answer to your question Cj4Dj, posting a link to the chestnut island tumblr for this fic is absolutely fine with me, thank you for asking!
Lovefools Part 1 is officially finished! I apologise once again for the amount of time it took to upload this chapter. I have rewritten it twice and am still not entirely satisfied with it, but the other rewrites would have given too much away for Part 2. Speaking of, Part 2 will take a while for me to start posting, so don't be expecting it anytime soon. I have a vague plot skeleton mapped out, but I need to solidify it and flesh it out before I start putting up chapters, and I'm intending to do a bit of DBZ re-watching first. Part 1 took us through the first seven months after the defeat of Cell, and mostly dealt with Eighteen's past. Part 2 will have a greater focus on Krillin, and depending on how much substance I come up with, there may or may not be a Part 3.
Don't get too excited if you see any updates for this fic from now on, I've been noticing a fair few sloppy grammar mistakes in previous chapters, and I've been systematically fixing them up. Feel free to point out any such mistakes to me, they get in the way of the reading experience and I'd rather know about the ones I've missed.
Now I would like some opinions from my reviewers. I'm having some issues with DBGT, in that it canonically contradicts itself. *GT SPOILER ALERT!*
Right before Krillin's murder by Seventeen, Krillin says something about Seventeen being angry with Dr Gero for building him with human emotions. This goes directly against Krillin telling Goku that the androids started out as human beings, and were 'just remodeled a little bit'. The only possible way I would see this as fitting in with DBZ canon is if Krillin is outright lying to Seventeen at this point, and I don't see a good reason for him to do so under the circumstances. There's also the issue with Eighteen saying that Seventeen managed to override his programming to kill Goku, whereas in the dub from the Android Saga it only indicates that Sixteen was actually programmed rather than just ordered to kill Goku. Opinions on this? I can write the story that way, so that the canon links together, or should I just take GT with a grain of salt and write a more likely scenario? I have plans for Seventeen either way, I just want to know what to do about the GT problem.
Anyway, thanks again for all your support, I always appreciate your feedback. I hope you enjoyed Lovefools Part 1 and stick around for the next installment.