Chapter 1: Endurance.

Chichi sat before her dressing table, brushing out her long dark hair. Today was their 3 month wedding anniversary— not that they were celebrating or anything. She had no doubt that Goku didn't even know what date it was; let alone its significance.

No matter.

It had been three months. Three glorious months. She was living her dream. She was spending her days and nights with the man she loved— the most perfect human being on the face of the planet. And they were having so much fun! Her beloved Goku was such a never-ending-supply-of-energy. A timeless battery of cheerfulness; and everyday she was amazed at how much more she grew to love him.

They would spar, go swimming in the lake, explore the forest, travel the world on Nimbus and discover all the wonders she'd only ever read about in books. They camped out frequently. Many a night Goku would catch them something to roast outside by the fire, and they would sit for hours just talking, and laughing, with the sky and the stars as their shelter.

She had come to know so much more about him: his childhood, his first encounter with Bulma, and all the subsequent adventures that had followed.

Oh yes, her beloved husband was certainly unique and she wouldn't have it any other way.

Time in his company—in their own little sphere— made it easy to forget the rest of the world. It made it child's play to ignore its social constrictions, its expectations and the rest of its problems. Everything fell away when she was with her Goku.

Half the time she felt like a child again. Goku was ever so playful. He was always tickling her, teasing her, catching her unaware with little creepy crawlies — not that he found it easy, she was no scared city girl after all. It took a lot to scare the eyebrows from her forehead. But, she smiled to herself, that Goku, he certainly tried his best.

And just to make matters in even better, Goku had grown affectionate with her. None of that hands-off-me-crazy-girl behaviour from the tournament. She changed hands, and brushed the other side of her hair with her left hand, her cheeks flushing with pleasure at the thought.

See, nowadays, her Goku never missed an opportunity to hold her hand. It could be down a stroll, after a swim, or even when she sat down to read. He constantly kissed her too! Granted it was on the cheek or a peck on the lips, but to her, it was heaven. He'd also turned into a snuggler. He never missed an opportunity to curve around her on the couch or hold and spoon her at bedtime.

Oh yes, they had grown incredibly close in these 3 short months of marriage. Exceptionally close.

"Oh," her chin wobbled. "Why me!" She halted her brush mid-stroke as a harrowed sob tore through her throat. "Why me? Oh," filling the silent room with despair. "Why me?" she hiccuped, and there went another sob. And yet another one, until her tiny frame was shaking from the force of their torrent.

Kami! It was too much! Simply too much to bear! Oh, they had grown close alright — as close as brother and sister!

Sobs wracking her shoulders, tears running down her face, Chichi tossed the brush aside where it hit the wall with a thud. Then dropped to the carpet. She flung herself onto the bed; the mattress grunting in depression. Oh, it was awful! Just awful how much she had to endure!

In a fit — she grabbed her pillow and smothered her face; muffling what would have been a piercing scream.

Three whole months! Three whole months living with a physique that would make even the Gods jealous and … nothing! No sign that he found her attractive! Not one damn sign! How much longer was she expected to suffer this fruitless proximity? It was downright unconscionable.

"Ugh!" she screamed even more into the pillow; soaking it down with tears and saliva. She wailed until the lack of oxygen took its toll, until dizziness assailed her."Ugh!" she pulled the pillow off her face and tossed it across the room before she suffocated. It simply wouldn't do to die a married virgin!

Panting from lack of air, her chest rising and falling, Chichi flopped back onto the mattress and stared at the ceiling; like a coverlet of satin, her dark hair spilled and flowed around her.

Oh! How she longed for the innocent years of before. Things had been so much simpler before. In those days before her marriage — the earlier days — the days when she had first hit puberty, things had been a lot better then.

Ah yes, she sighed; crossing her arms, hugging herself. Those had been the days indeed. She'd thought of him so! Dreamed of him all the time. Conjured him. Drawn one lewd fantasy after another about him.

Goku had lived so vividly in her imagination that she'd never considered the possibility of the future being otherwise. No wonder she'd lost patience with the waiting-to-be-claimed routine. A typical princess might have waited for years and years for her fair Goku to come swooping down on his cloud. Not her. Seven years had been plenty thank-you-very- much. As soon as she'd turned 18 and legal she'd started planning. And she'd known that the tournament would be a sure bet. So of course she'd begun shaping up to compete in it.

Turning to the side, she covered her mouth with her hands and giggled; she couldn't help it. Just recalling those times ... she couldn't suppress her laughter. Goodness! Even her rigorous training had consisted of many a fantasy about him. And what an imagination she'd had! Not content to leave it at that— she'd even stooped to lying to the village girls — making up all sorts of stories about her secret-encounters with her fiancée.

Ah yes ... she'd done it all in those days. Just thinking about some of the things she'd gotten up to in Goku's name ... her cheeks heated, her mouth dried ... and her nipples hardened. How many times had she touched herself? How many nights had she curled up on her bed imagining Goku's fingers, Goku's mouth and Goku's ... well ... thing. Oh, the folly of youth!

At those wayward thoughts she turned over and slammed herself face-first onto the bed; squeezing her hands into fists.

How was she expected to have known? For even in her most vivid, outlandish of fantasies, in all the ways she had imagined her Goku would turn out, she had never thought he'd be so ... so ... attractive. He was a work of art, perfectly proportioned. Each part of him like an exquisitely chiselled sculpture that was made to be admired; made to be touched and explored and just—

"Ugh!" she pounded her fists into the bed; the coverlet muffling her screams. Over and over she punched and pounded until the screams turned into sobs and her fists lost all their vigour.

She curled into a ball as more frustrated sobs wrecked and shook her. She couldn't stop crying, couldn't ... couldn't ... she was aroused damn it! And she hated herself for it. Just thinking of him and she was reduced to this ... it wasn't fair. She was supposed to be a newlywed!

Well, she was technically still a newlywed. Just a sexually frustrated one.

"Brr," she blew at the unruly strands that had veiled her face in her tantrum; roughly combing them back with her fingers. God she was pathetic. Just how many of these little fits was she planning to have? It was time to grow up and face the facts. Her husband was simply her friend. And as much as he had come to like and admire her, he just didn't think of her in other terms. Goku clearly didn't find her attractive.

A guy his age had urges right? Just like she did. Especially a guy at his age! It had nothing to do with education or lack thereof. It had nothing to do with exposure or experience. It was a simple matter of biology! A timeless matter of nature. The body craved, it demanded. And anyway, wasn't sex the only thing guys his age were supposed to be thinking about?

It was! It was! He must have urges. And urges had to be satisfied!

Oh — she froze. Oh. A terrible thought suddenly occurred. Pierced her heart. Oh no. Oh no! Her heart pounded, her feet springing to life.

She was off the bed and pacing the length of her room in frenzied steps. Oh no! She swallowed; mouth dry, throat tightening. If Goku wasn't satisfying his urges with her then … then ... was he was taking care of them ... elsewhere?

Was it be possible?

Could her sweet, boyish Goku be capable of such a thing? Did he even understand that it would be a betrayal to be intimate with someone other than his wife? Did he even know about fidelity? Did he understand it?

Tugging at the strands of her hair, she whimpered. She didn't know! She honest to God did not know!

All she knew was that he had not even known what a marriage was. In many of their long conversations he had confided as to how he'd only just found out that it meant living with someone just before he had proposed at the tournament. Could Goku really be that naïve? Could he really think that sharing a roof and meals and a platonic bed was all it entailed? And that for everything else any other woman would do? "Gah!" She kicked the corner of the bed. She didn't know damn it! And sadly, he was so naive that she couldn't rule it out.

And wait a minute. Wasn't he always taking off for long periods of time to go train? It wasn't everyday, but sometimes he'd say he needed to work on his Ki attacks. He'd take off to some secluded place and claim it was to go and blow things up! Oh no! Oh no Goku!

Okay. Okay. She willed herself to be reasonable.

It was true that he worked on his Ki attacks. She'd seen him at it for God's sake! Most days whenever she wasn't busy with chores, she'd accompany him; sit out with a book or some mending and watch him train. Watch his magnificent body as it…

"Urg!" Damnit she was doing it again … thinking about him in that way again. Why couldn't she think of something else? Think of something else! Think of something else damn you!

She couldn't go on like this. She simply had to get it together. Looking around at all the things she'd thrown about ...

First, she picked up the brush, then the pillow and set them in their proper places. She straightened out all the creases her ministrations had caused on the coverlet and carefully laid out the purple throw across the foot end of the bed as a nice finish.

There!

She surveyed her efforts. Very good. Everything looked nice and neat again. Housekeeping of the year award, here I come! Regaining her position on the dressing table she sat down and continued with the task of brushing her hair. God I look awful!

She couldn't help but laugh at herself though, proceeding to groom not just her hair but her red and blotchy face as well.

No more hysterics — she commanded the face in the mirror. This was the last one. She couldn't possibly carry on like this. Not in this one sided marriage. No matter how much she loved him, if she stayed married to him under these conditions, she would A — go mad. And B — ruin both their lives.

Yes. She would have to make a change.

It would be easy enough to get an annulment, she thought sourly. After all, nothing had been consummated. Goku would be released from that ill made promise of youth and would be so relieved. And she … she …

A well of emotion bubbled up from within; disregarding her resolve. Just thinking of going back to a life without Goku was—

Damn it! She wiped at her stupid tears, her throat closing up. She picked up the picture frame nestled amongst the cosmetics on the dresser and stared.

She felt so sorry for the oh-so-happy-and-clueless bride in white clutching ever so tightly and hopefully at her handsome groom. They looked so happy. She'd been so happy. If she had only known then what was not to come, she might have done things differently.

With a heavy sigh, Chichi placed the picture back in its place and resumed brushing her hair.

There was no point in putting off the inevitable. Not anymore.

~0~0~

"Ka … me … ha … me… ha!" A loud rumble reverberated in the hills as the mountaintop shook, split, and incinerated.

Happy with his progress for the day, Son Goku wiped the sweat from his brow and called out to his fluffy flying cloud. He plopped his heaving, tired body down on Nimbus, gazed up at the sky and smiled— Chichi.

He was going home to his wife.

He couldn't remember a happier time. And to think he'd been so worried! Horribly worried that living with a girl would be dull! Heh...

To be fair, especially given the girls he'd known before Chichi — girls like Bulma, well, one couldn't exactly blame him for having been scared. Bulma's idea of a good time was complaining about this and that and ... well ... not that Chichi never complained 'cause she did. A lot. But at least she wasn't one to waste an entire day painting her nails like Bulma!

He also knew Launch, but she was completely unstable. One minute she was as sweet as sugar. And the next she was shooting down at you for the littlest things.

No, he didn't know that many girls but from his two experiences, he hadn't known what to expect when he'd first taken off after the big wedding party to go off and live with Chichi.

Ah! Chichi. He smiled again. Chichi was just … just perfect to live with. She loved Martial Arts just as much as he did. And even though he was a lot stronger than she was, they enjoyed training and sparring together. She loved the outdoors just as much as he did. They would go out swimming or hiking or walking. It didn't matter what they were doing, Chichi was great to be around.

She seemed genuinely interested in him as a person. Not just to get him to solve some problem or to fight off some enemy. No. Chichi took an interest in him. She wanted to know all about him. His childhood, his adventures, his likes, everything. The way she looked at him — with those soft shinning eyes — almost like ... he could do no wrong. She made him feel larger than himself, larger than life.

Of course it wasn't all just rice balls and sunshine. There were many things that Goku didn't know that Chichi'd had to teach him. Some were easier than others to remember, and when he didn't ... Oh man, Chichi sure had a temper! She would yell to the top of her voice when he forgot stuff, or got it wrong for the hundredth time. But she always said: the important thing was that he was willing to learn. So even after all her yelling, she'd calm down and say that it was a bit unrealistic to expect him to grasp what takes normal people all their lives to learn in just a few days. She was real understanding that way. She didn't just write him off as stupid like most people often did. Not bothering to explain things in ways that made sense to him. She was real unique that way. Yep! Chichi was the best person he knew, temper or otherwise.

In the months they'd been living together, he'd thanked his lucky stars that out of all the men in the world she could'a picked — and Krilin had said she could'a picked anyone 'cause she was a princess and pretty and stuff. So yeah, it was pretty awesome that outta'everyone, she'd picked him.

Yeah, life was good. And he was determined to keep it that way. 'Specially since more and more these days, he was coming close to messing it all up.

Gah! He covered his face with his hands. Just thinking about it was so embarrassing. He didn't even understand why it was happening or when it had first started. But the ugly truth was that ... well ... he was becoming more an' more like Master Roshi. Kami! Just thinking about it made him feel so ashamed!

Chichi was trusting him! Trusting him! She was letting him hold her hand and hug her and kiss her and cuddle her while they were sleeping. No one had allowed him that kind'a thing since his grandpa'd died. No one. Bulma'd freaked when he'd asked to sleep on her lap. And Launch, well, she'd sleep with him sometimes but man, that Launch, just out of the blue she'd up and shoot him!

With time, accepted that the closeness and warm fuzzy feeling he'd had with his grandpa had been a once in a lifetime thing. And though he'd missed it, more and more over the years he'd grown used to doing without it. He'd even convinced himself that he was just fine on his own. Who needed family? Who needed to belong anyway?

But, like a miracle, without even looking for it or asking for it, Chichi'd appeared in his life and given him back all that warm and fuzzy feeling stuff. She'd handed it to him on a giant roasting spit. She gave so much. Everyday. And she gave it all with a giant smile and eyes that said he must be some kind of God or something. Man, he'd never get enough of the feeling he got when Chichi looked at him.

And all he could do in return was turn Master Roshi on her. Gosh, he ought to be ashamed.

He knew first-hand how upset women got when men tried to … tried to grope them. He'd seen it many times with his old master. As a young student, he'd never understood why Master Roshi even bothered. All he'd got in return for his efforts was grief anyway. Moreover, whenever the girls would catch Master Roshi ogling naked pictures of women, or watching women do exercises on the television, boy did they get mad! Bulma would get real angry, and Launch, well, Launch had shot the old man more than half a dozen times.

No. It had never made sense to him back then why his master was willing to get into so much trouble over nothing.

And now, he sighed. Now he was having these insane urges to touch Chichi there. Out of nowhere, he'd find himself watching those two funbags on her chest bounce up and down. Sometimes in the water they would peak out at him, daring him to touch them. Or at night … long after Chichi was asleep, he would press himself ever so close to her, breathing her in, grinding his…

"Ah!" he covered his face with his hands. I mustn't think like this damn it!

People had always told him he was different hadn't they? But like everything else in his life, he'd shrugged it off. But now he knew for a fact that he was different. Maybe he was part animal or something. He'd seen many animals licking and biting and humping at each other in the forest. And he knew, he just knew that he wanted to lick Chichi, nip her, hump her even. He wanted to rid them both of their sleeping clothes and nuzzle her skin to skin.

How insane was that?!

Just last night, his blood had been pumping so hard he'd caught himself grinding his thing against her soft bottom while she'd been blissfully asleep. And to his utter shame and humiliation, he'd enjoyed it. Loved it. He'd wanted to press even more into her, touch her, lick her — what a sicko.

His body was betraying him. One slip, one slip and Chichi would know just how twisted he was inside and then … and then …she'd leave him.

Damn it! It was his body. He ought to be able to control it! He'd trained all his life against physical weakness. He'd trained his tail — which had always landed him in hot water for being his weakest point. So he would train his body against this insanity too. And he'd beat it, oh yes. He'd beat it down just like any other enemy that threatened to hurt this world. He wouldn't allow anything to come between him and Chichi.

With that resolved, Goku looked once more to the stars to thank them for bringing Chichi into his life.

Whoa! Nimbus was already hovering outside their house! Jumping off, he almost barrelled inside before he remembered himself.

Heh. He was filthy, and Chichi would not be pleased if he dragged all this grime and dirt inside.

Hurriedly, he removed his boots and the overlay of his Gi and left them outside. Barefoot and free, he headed into the house, elated at the prospect of seeing his wife.

He stepped happily through the threshold and was a bit surprised that Chichi wasn't in the kitchen. Usually supper would be half way done by now and the house would be filled with delicious smells that'd kickstart his belly.

Oh well, perhaps Chichi wanted to sit out by the fire and grill some fish. They could even stay out all night, telling stories and gazing at the stars. He liked doing that with her, holding her as she leaned into him. Gak! Don't go there!

"Chichi I'm home!" He stepped into their bedroom.

Huh. He was expecting to find her brushing her hair, or sewing in a button or reading one of her books or fast asleep on the bed or something. What he wasn't expecting, was an entirely empty room with just the bare furniture remaining. His heart slammed against his chest. The bed was made, but the purple little throw that Chichi liked so much was not there. The dressing table was empty. No lotions. No brushes. No clips. None of Chichi's weird little items were there.

His stomach dropped to the floor. No.

The shiny frame with their wedding picture was gone too.

"No," he shook his head. It couldn't be! He leapt, and searched the shelves, the chest of drawers, but all her clothes were missing. No. He rummaged through them some more, heart pounding in his chest. But only his own clothes remained.

"Chichi!" He couldn't breathe. "Chichi!" He flung the wardrobe open, knowing fully well it was unlikely she'd be hiding in there. No!

She wasn't. And neither were her clothes. The metal rods were bare.

"Chichi!" He lifted the bed with one swoop, checking under it, though of course there was no way she'd fit under there.

"Chichi!" he stormed the bathroom, "Chichi!" he yanked down the shower curtain, taking down the rail. Metal clinked and clanked as it hit the tiles, but Chichi wasn't hiding behind it. No! Damn it! He fisted his hair and scrubbed furiously like it itched. "Damn it!" He slammed a fist into the mirror when the bathroom didn't produce her.

"Chichi!" he burst into the extra room, practically taking the door off its hinges. Piles of unopened boxes, unassembled furniture and shopping bags littered the floor. "Chichi, where are you?!"

His chest rising and falling, his pulse pounding in his neck he pivoted and flew into the living room. "Chichi!" He felt sick. Sick. Ready to collapse. Sick like the time he'd gone for a whole night without food.

"Chichi!" he shoved open the swing doors of the pantry, heaved and turned right back around to search the kitchen one more time. Under the table. In each kitchen cabinet where there was no way she'd fit. But the house was bear. Empty. No Chichi in sight.

"Chichi!" he flew out the front door and toppled his bathing barrel. Damn it! The stupid thing was empty! How useless was that! His heart thudded louder and louder.

"Chichi!" he cupped his mouth and shouted, but only the quiet of the forest greeted him. "Chichi!" His chest hurt, she wasn't here. He was alone. Even the sun had slinked off, leaving him alone with nothing but the pale and peach coloured sky.

He bent down by the waist and touched his knees, trying to catch his breath. It's not that he was tired, but ... oh god, his chest hurt.

He straightened and raced to their spot along the river.

"Chichi! His voice was hoarse, his throat closing in on him.

She wasn't there, she wasn't …

He ran blindly, checking every rock, canvassing under each tree .. any and anywhere they'd made a habit of frequenting in the three months of their marriage.

Chichi wasn't in any of those places.

"No!" He shoved his hands into his hair. Squeezing. Pulling. Damn it! He kicked, the tip of his boot razing the earth, gouging a hole like a mole. "Ugh!" He sent a ball of Ki flying. It leveled 3 trees and sent a racoon dog scurrying.

He stretched his senses as much as he could, trying to cover as much area as possible. A breeze whispered between leaves, birds flittered from one branch to another and small animals darted with tiny footsteps in the underbrush. He could hear everything that moved, sensed everything with a pulse, but he couldn't sense Chichi.

If she were anywhere near their home, he would have felt a flicker of her life-force.

Oh God. He sagged and dropped down to the ground like the breath had been kicked from him.

Chichi was gone, and so were all her things. She must'a woken in the middle of the night and caught on to his disgusting grinding.

She wasn't just gone, she'd gone so far even his senses couldn't find her. Gone back home to her father maybe, or worse ... maybe somewhere he didn't know. Somewhere he'd never find her. A place he'd never know to look.

Under the stillness of twilight, all around him the forest hummed with disquiet while his heart beat sluggishly with despair.

Chichi ...

He wrapped his arms around his knees, rocking himself to and fro. She was gone, she'd left him. Just as he'd feared she would. Just as he'd known she would.

And once again, like so many other times before in his life, he was alone.

What was he anyway? Why was he so different? Why did he have a tail when no one else did? Why could he see in the dark when no one else could? Why could he hold his breath for so long that Krillin called him a freak of nature? Why did he have the strength of a hundred men? A thousand even? Why was he the only person he knew who could track another by their scent?

Was he some kind of demon like Piccolo? But the only question that mattered was: Why in Kami's name was he destined to always, always be alone?