Note: This is completely, totally, and unconditionally an AU. All characters are human, there are no aliens, yadda yadda yadda.
It had happened so quickly that she had no chance to prepare for it. One day she had been at the top of the world, the queen of everything she saw and virtually untouchable. Then the men in suits came to her home. They carried briefcases and files and spoke in harsh tones. Whipping through papers that made absolutely no sense to her, they threatened her father with words like "fraud" and "embezzlement". Then they turned to her mother and started talking of "obstruction of justice", "perjury", and "tampering with evidence".
Twenty four hours after the men entered her home, everything was gone. Her parents were in prison, awaiting a trial that everyone knew would not end up in their favor. The house was foreclosed, the cars were repossessed, and every worldly possession she had ever loved was taken away. No family members were willing to risk taking her in, for fear of somehow being connected with the case. There no longer existed a soul willing to be called a "family friend". And, as she had just turned eighteen three days earlier, she was completely on her own.
No home to live in. No car to drive. Barely any money to help her survive. A high school diploma was the only proof of training to her name. She had absolutely nothing but what few belongings she had managed to hide in a backpack out behind the pond before everything was taken.
It had been two weeks since her world had fallen apart, and Bulma Briefs was not fairing well. Out of overwhelming misery, she had left the city she had once called home. The mere sight of it brought so much pain to her heart that she would sob uncontrollably. In her grief, she had taken her pack and hopped on a bus, getting off at a random stop. She had been sleeping anywhere she could, mostly on park benches. She tended to change which bench she slept on, though she never understood why. All she knew was that she slept with her pack strapped to her chest, held as tightly as possible in her arms.
On her first day she had bought food, but it took her one bite into her meal before she realized that if she did that on a daily basis, she would have nothing left after four days. Her remarkable looks had allowed her to flirt an occasional bite from a hotdog or pretzel vendor, but without anything more than a public restroom to clean up in, that gift had been horribly short lived.
As disgusted as she had felt about it, the only way she had been able to reliably get something to eat was to wait for the school children to leave and pulling the remains of their food from the trash. The idea had been so horrifying at first, but after three days without any food at all, she no longer cared.
One dark, windy day, the distraught young woman found herself wandering aimlessly around the streets of her new city. The sky left little doubt that rain would come, hard and soon. Bulma had not had to deal with that particular problem in her homeless state, and she was despondently looking for any place where she might be able to stay safe and dry.
A piece of newspaper blew past her face, and following instinct, Bulma turned her head to watch it. As she glanced across the street, she saw a line forming of people who did not look like they were fairing any better than she was.
Hope began to fill her heart as she headed toward it. With that particular level of clientele, there was little doubt in Bulma's mind that she had found either a shelter or a soup kitchen. While the kitchen would not be able to keep her dry at night, it would give her the first hot meal she'd eat in two weeks, and that thought alone helped the barest hint of a smile come across her face.
She crossed the street eagerly, not wanting to be any further back in the line than possible. With a little hop in her step, she rose over the curb and slid in with the others.
" 'Scuse me, miss," the elderly man in front of her quickly said, "you're going to have to leave."
The once powerful woman shot him a furious glare. "What gives you the right to be here but not me?" she shouted back at him.
The man gave her a questioning look before nodding his head toward the building. "I don't mean no offense, miss, but this here's the men's shelter. Women's shelter is on Helter Street."
Bulma felt her cheeks turning red with embarrassment. "I'm sorry I snapped at you," she genuinely apologized.
"No offense taken," the man replied, offering a friendly nod. "Ya' need to stick up for yourself, 'specially in our line." He looked her up and down, studying her carefully. "You're new to this, ain't ya'?"
The eighteen year old took a hesitant step backwards. "What makes you say that?"
"Too clean," he simply offered. "I mean, yeah, you got some stuff on your clothes and your hair could use a wash, but your pack ain't dirty and it ain't breakin' up. Plus, you got clean nails. Most of us who've been here for a while don't bother cleanin' underneath the nails. You look young, too."
"I am young," Bulma countered.
The man gave a smirk, but also a solemn nod. "Yeah, but you look it. I seen girls your age look thirty years old 'cause of what they do to live out here."
The eighteen year old lowered her eyes for a moment. "How, um, how do I find Helter Street?"
With a smile on his face, the man raised a worn hand. "You go three streets up 'til you reach Pine. Hang a right, sweetie," he added a hand gesture, just to make sure she knew which way to go, "and just keep on walkin' until you find it. Should be on the left." He looked up at the sky and thought for a moment. "You may wanna hurry it up, though. Weather like this has people getting in line quick, and they can only take so many bodies."
"Thank you," Bulma whispered, situating her pack as she turned.
"Any time, kid!"
With a rush of energy she had not felt in two weeks, Bulma began to run. The idea of sleeping with a roof over her head was unbelievably motivating. Her dirty sneakers pounded on the pavement as she approached the first street. The inside of her throat began to burn as she pushed herself harder and harder, determined to make it in enough time. She swiftly rounded the corner, but as she headed down Helter, Bulma's vision began to blur slightly. Two weeks of malnourishment, a severe lack of sleep, and a radical lifestyle change had left her too weak to handle such a swift and intense physical activity.
As her head swam, she accidentally let her side hit a brick building. "No," she whispered. Bulma fought to keep herself on her feet, but even she knew she was fighting a losing battle. Her knees buckled, and the eighteen year old hit the ground hard as she blacked out completely.
"I think she's waking up!"
"You've been saying that every two minutes for almost an hour, honey."
"No, really, I think she's waking up this time! Her eyelids are moving!"
The voices Bulma heard were so muted that she could not tell if they were male or female, let alone who they belonged to. A wave of nausea washed over her, and she rolled her head to the side. She tried to speak, but she could not seem to get her mouth to work properly.
"Oh, take it easy," a soothing voice said. Bulma had cleared up just enough to tell that the voice speaking to her was female. A hand touched her shoulder as she slowly opened her eyes, and the blue haired beauty was disappointed to find that her eyesight was still swimming slightly.
"I told you she was waking up," a soft male voice gloated. "I'll go get some more water."
Bulma tried to sit up on her own, but found it virtually impossible. An arm cradled around the back of her head, and the girl felt her head being lifted into the other female's lap. "There, there," the other woman calmly spoke. "Don't try to move any more than you have to, sweetie. You're not in good shape right now."
As the former heiress focused her eyes, she realized that she was being helped by a girl her own age with raven black hair. Trying once again to speak, she managed to get out a raspy, "Where?"
The dark haired girl smiled softly at her. "You're in an abandoned apartment building on Shoreline Street," she quietly spoke. "My boyfriend found you when he was out…on a walk…and he brought you back here for help." The girl stroked Bulma's hair softly, trying to keep her relaxed.
Bulma glanced around as far as her peripheral vision would allow her to. The room appeared mostly barren, save a few boxes and a pile of blankets. The room was dark, and she could clearly hear that the storm had started. While she had not managed to make it to the shelter before the storm had broken, she was grateful that she at least had a roof over her head.
She coughed a few times, clearing her throat. "Why did he bring me here?" she hoarsely asked.
The other girl brought her eyebrows together before she answered. "You need help, honey," she quietly replied. "And, no offense, but you don't look like you could afford going to the doctor." She paused for a moment before continuing. "Even free clinics aren't completely free. No money, no meds, and if you can't have the medicine, then there's no point in going to the doctor. Besides, it looks like what you need is food and shelter." The girl offered a sad smile. "I don't know how much we can do about that first one, but we're happy to help with the second."
Loud footsteps pounded into the room. "I got the water!" a boy called out. In his arms was an enormous jug, one half full of water. "Is she going to be okay?"
"I think so," the girl answered. "Bring me my cup."
The boy immediately did as he was instructed, eager to help. "How is she?" he asked, handing over the dinged up cup.
Slowly helping Bulma angle her head so she could take a sip, the girl smiled softly. "She should be fine."
Bulma coughed as she tried to swallow, but she did manage to get most of her sip down. "Who are you guys?" she finally asked.
"My name is Chi-Chi Mau," the girl gently answered, "and this is my boyfriend, Goku Son. We've been living in this building for a little over a year with two of our friends." She once again helped Bulma take a sip. "Come on, sweetie, drink up."
Much more awake, Bulma began to gulp greedily as the cool liquid. "Whoah, take it easy!" Goku said. "You keep that up, you're going to puke!"
Though she didn't want to, Bulma did heed his advice and slowed down her drink. "Thank you," she apologized. "For everything, really." From her position on the floor, she looked at her two saviors. "For helping me, for getting me water, for keeping me out of the storm…"
Goku laughed, waving it off. "Please, all I did was carry you, and you're light as a feather!"
Bulma smiled. "Well, thank you anyway."
"Don't worry about it," Chi-Chi softly responded with a gentle smile. "We'll take good care of you."
Goku leaned in to his girlfriend and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Aw, you're just happy to have something to take care of right now," he joked. He looked down at their new companion and said in a loud stage whisper, "She's been trying to play mommy with everything and everyone for the last few weeks."
Feeling infinitely better, Bulma tried to sit herself up. It took some help from her new friends, but she did manage to prop herself up against the wall. It was at that moment that she noticed the small bulge at the other girl's abdomen. "You're…you're…"
"About five months along," Chi-Chi answered with a sad smile. "Which is why even though you're not feeling well, I still get first dibs on blankets and food."
"Speaking of which," Goku interrupted, "the sun's almost down, so the guys should be back fairly soon." As if on cue, two more sets of steps quickly approached. Bulma turned her head toward the door, awaiting the two new people. A bolt of lightning flashed across the sky, lighting up the dark room as the door flew open.
Thunder clapped as Bulma looked at her new roommates.