"History keeps her secrets longer than most of us. But she has one secret that I will reveal to you tonight in the greatest confidence. Sometimes there are no winners at all. And sometimes nobody needs to lose." – John le Carre


There isn't much else to say.

When I sent Aiken after Uragiru, I'd expected it to result in a bit more excitement. Some type of drama that would draw Son and the others in. Something – anything – to liven things up around here.

Instead, Frigid, Frost and Aiken disappeared off the face of the planet the very next day, along with that little capsule house and Son Goku.

It wasn't real hard to work out a rough idea of where they'd gone – they'd gotten Son Goku to take them somewhere off world, in all probability New Namek. That Son ha gone off with the aliens on what she seemed to think was some careless new intergalactic adventure was confirmed for me by Chichi, who seemed more tired than irate over the entire matter. She didn't even throw a frying pan at me when I came asking, even though she's always hated me. That woman is getting old.

The "why?" was a bit more difficult to work out than the "where?" – or at least the "why now?" was.

I cornered Uragiru with my questions about a week after they ran off. She didn't know much more than I did, but seemed to think that she was the one who'd driven them off.

I doubted that – I'm much scary than she could ever be – but she was absurdly pregnant and that made her obnoxiously proud and haughty, completely untouchable. I could see I was beat before I even opened my mouth, so I didn't waste too much time trying to rustle her feathers.

A good month later, Son came back all alone. I didn't bother to ask him what the four of them had been up to in all that time. It couldn't have been anything all that exciting – probably just sitting around on New Namek, making time until the dragon balls there went active again and they could wish back Frigid's ship. Plus, I'd had enough of Son to last me a decade by then.

And anyway, what was any of it to me?

So that was that, just another of those weird episodes that happen here now and again, forgotten almost before it's over with. None of Frigid's group ever returned here, and time just kept on keeping on.

Over the years, I'd spy on Son's folks sometimes, and sometimes I'd drop in on them. Just to waste time, you understand.

Uragiru folded herself into Son's group almost seamlessly, the way people he'd beat always seemed to do, and after a while you'd have thought she'd always been family. Only thing was that sometimes I'd catch her sending murder-looks at Son's back, but she never took anything beyond ugly thoughts.

The kids were part of it, I guess, because they meant that she had something to lose. Shit, I ain't the most sympathetic of people, but even I know that nothing's ever going to be alright after you lose your entire world – all the sensu beans in the world won't heal that type of wound – but the kids seemed to make a difference. Before Yamcha finally up and kicked the bucket, he and Uragiru managed to have half a brigade worth of little brats, each of them with porcelain blue skin and black hair.

Yamcha was the first of the old guard to go, a good twenty years after Frigid's group left, but after that it was like a game of dominoes. My sister's runt husband went, and Chichi, and even old Muten Roshi, who wasn't quite as immortal as everybody thought. When Bulma died Vegeta didn't follow that far behind, so maybe she really was more to him than a place to crash and an easy lay. Gohan followed the old folks decades sooner than he should have, but that's the effects of too much early stress and a desk job for you.

Uragiru outlived Yamcha by good hundred years – her species was longer lived than humans or Saiyajin, I guess – but after a while her great-grand kids put her in the ground. By then the only ones left from the old group were Dende, my sister and me, and Son Goku.

And here's the hell of the thing: Son never seemed to get much older than he'd been on that morning that Frigid's ship arrived. It was infuriating.

I called him out on that one time, accused him of using the dragon balls to make himself immortal.

Son turned fussy at the accusation, told me that he didn't have an answer for it either. "But maybe," he said, wagging a finger speculatively, "when that old Kai said that he didn't mind giving me this life since there were only a few thousand years left t' it, he really meant that."

I can't really tell how much Son misses his old friends and family members. He cried at all the funerals, before eating himself sick – which for Son was quite the feat – but his attachments have never been entirely human, anymore than he is himself, and people seem to fade out of his life without too much of a production. It's not really indifference or a lack of affection, I don't think, or even a failure of memory. It's just the way he is, and that may or may not have something to do with being a Saiyajin.

"But I hope that ain't the case," he went on, and now he was close to whining. "I don't mean to hang around here forever. All the really strong guys are in the Underworld, and I wanna go and fight them."

I ignored most of that. "You're shitting me," I said to him. "A 'few thousand years?'" I repeated, outraged. By then, you know, I'd been waiting about a hundred an fifty years more than I ought to have had to for him to die.

"What'd you care what I do, Juunanagou?" he asked me, peeved.

Well, what could I say to that? It wasn't like I was going to tell him the truth or anything, when someone with half a brain should have been able to figure it out for himself.

I was made to kill Son Goku, and that's something that's programed into me the same way a bird's instincts tell it fly south, but I haven't done it yet. I've never gotten found a situation where I could best him, and though I keep on waiting.

That's how I'm different from my future self, the one future Trunks killed, you see? Son was dead for him before he even had a chance to kill him, and that took his purpose away, and he went crazy. The me from that time-line is a million times worse then I am, and it's got to be because Son wasn't there for him. He never would have had the option of following through or going against his programing.

And what does that all say about me? About who I am and what I'm capable of an how much control, really, I have over any of it, and I can't know the answer to any of this as long as Son is still around. As long as Son's around, I don't know what I am.

So I'm waiting. It looks like I'm going to be waiting for a while still, because Son Goku isn't going anywhere.