"Does it ever get any easier?"

There was a time when Chi-Chi was strong, proud, quick to judge, speak, move, act. There was a time that Bulma could not stand that, the overlap, but she is scared enough and tired enough that she can't anymore. Even is nostalgic for it, sometimes, in odd moments.

It seems that the world is always grainy and clouded over, even at sunset, and the hallway, the ridiculous full length windows, is the color of sand. Orange. Sickly. Her arms are full of dirty bandages. Dirty. That's a good word. Everything is, here.

Chi-Chi's back straightens. She is looking out the plate-glass, at the yard, at the graves. Doesn't come much, lately, but sometimes, and it's a shock to see her. Frayed around the edges. Bags under her eyes. Gray. But her back straightens and her mouth tightens and it is a relief. "Does what?" They both look at the bandages. "How bad?" she adds, and is insincere. She doesn't care. Why would she?

"Couple of ribs and his leg." Gashes, wounds, blood loss, more scarring. She's set his bones herself, snapped them in place, built her son, put him back together. He belongs to her, he's a part of her, and she arranges and fixes him as many time as he—they—rip him apart. Chi-Chi no longer has a son to fix.

"He'll heal fast." And go out and do it again. That makes it worse. So much worse. So much.

She'd never wanted a baby. She'd found herself pregnant and waffled, shocked, until it was too late to do anything but have it. Now he's fifteen and killing himself, getting himself killed, and her chest feels small and as tight as if it were her ribs broken in his place, broken and shattered, bone piercing her throat, stomach, heart. But if he wasn't hurt, he'd be out getting hurt, futile revenge for someone else's child.

"Does it get any easier?" Her mouth. Bone in her mouth. Dry and thick and bitter.

"Much." Chi-Chi looks at her from the corner of her eye. "Give it a year, and you'll forget you ever were in love. Give it two, and you'll wake up and think to yourself, what son?"

Bandages, covered in blood. Chi-Chi picks them up for her when they drop.