By Laura

"Love is the fire of life. It either consumes or purifies."

02: Perchance to Dream

"Happy Holidays! Yamcha Claus is here!"

Tien laughed slightly as Chaotzu returned, followed by Yamcha. The tall human had a large pack strapped to his back, a red Santa hat perched on his head and a large... bandage over his left eyebrow, and another on his right cheek.

"What happened to you?" Tien asked, startled.

Yamcha groaned, pulling off his Santa hat to reveal a large bump on the back of his head. "ChiChi." He said bluntly. "All I did was stop by with a Christmas gift for Gohan, and apparently my presence reminded her too much of Goku and she attacked me with that frying pan of hers."

Chaotzu giggled and Tien grunted softly. "How's she holding up? It must be hard for her, especially since she's pregnant."

Yamcha sobered and sat down. "She's no more of a basket case than usual." He sighed. "Actually, I don't know. She won't let anyone close enough to find out how she's feeling."

All three were silent for a moment, thinking about the wife of their lost friend.

Suddenly, Yamcha straightened, grinning once more. "Hey guys, it's the holidays, this isn't a time to mope!"

Chaotzu smiled, maybe with Yamcha here he'd be able to take his mind of his dreams... maybe.

-- -- --

Within his dream, Chaotzu was once again seated at the kitchen table. The woman with russet curls had her back to him as she prepared their dinner. He stared at her back... A white T-shirt, blue jeans, running shoes... there was nothing spectacular about her, yet his heart was still filled with emotion.

And then she turned around. The scent of vanilla invaded his senses as she smiled at him. Large violet eyes, a delicate mouth... her face was heart-shaped. "Dinner's almost ready." Her voice was music...

"Alright, Tatsuka." His own voice replied.

-- -- --

Chaotzu's eyes flew open. "Tatsuka..." He whispered. Her name was Tatsuka. For the first time since his dreams began, he could remember her name. Her face was in his memory... every last detail of it.

He could hear Yamcha's snoring coming from the guest room, and Tien's heavy breathing through the wall. Hugging his knees to his chest, Chaotzu closed his eyes. There she was, right in front of him... opening her arms to embrace him, no matter what his size. Pushing away the thoughts, he opened his eyes once more. This was getting a little too weird... He could fight, he could watch his friends be taken from him, but when faced with the idea of a woman's love, Chaotzu became afraid.

Getting out of bed, he wandered into the kitchen for a glass of water.

Everyone has a different perception of time, and for Chaotzu, the remaining hours of the night passed in the blink of an eye. He was barely done his original glass of water when a sleepy looking Yamcha padded tiredly into the kitchen.

"Mornin' little buddy." He yawned, stretching his arms high above his head before sliding into a chair. "It sure is different sleeping all the way out here... Felt strange without the din of traffic horns and airplanes."

Chaotzu blinked and looked up at Yamcha. "It's morning already?" He blinked some more.

"Well, almost. I never sleep that late." He shrugged. "I'm an early riser, it used to annoy the crap out of Bulma..." He trailed off for a moment.

"You miss her. Don't you?" Chaotzu's question was soft.

"Yeah, I do." Yamcha rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. "But, Vegeta makes her happy. I suppose that's enough for me." He stared thoughtfully across the table. "We had our fun, Bulma and I. It had to end sometime."

"How'd she end up with him anyway?" Chaotzu, not to mention just about everyone else, had always wondered how Bulma and Vegeta had found their way to each other.

Yamcha shrugged. "Who knows? The heart works in funny ways."

Chaotzu stared into his empty glass for a moment. "Yamcha? What does it feel like to have someone love you?"

The larger man looked quizzically at his smaller friend. "It feels... I don't really know how to describe it. 'Wonderful' seems too inadequate. Why do you ask, anyway?"

"I was just wondering, that's all."

"How about you and Tien? Any women in either of your lives?"

Chaotzu shook his small head. "Tien hasn't really been interested in anyone since the fight with Lunch."

"What about you?"

Chaotzu laughed softly. "That's a silly question Yamcha, why would any woman ever love me? The only woman I'll ever have is in my dreams."

"That's no attitude to be taking!" Yamcha regarded him. "I'm sure there's someone for you somewhere."

"That's easy for you to say, women flock to you." The dejected note in the small man's voice wasn't lost on Yamcha.

"Chaotzu? Is there some reason this is bothering you so much right now?"

"Kind of... I've been having these dreams..." Chaotzu began to explain them to Yamcha, who listened intently. Once he was finished his story, Chaotzu watched Yamcha almost eagerly.

"Those are some dreams." Yamcha breathed. "What's this Tatsuka girl look like, anyway?"

"She's beautiful..." Chaotzu said wistfully. "And unfortunately, she only exists in my dreams..."

Yamcha smiled sadly. "At least you know that. I say, embrace these dreams. It's always fun to have a nice fantasy tucked away that you can call on when you want to. Just make sure you remember that's all it is, okay?"

Chaotzu nodded. "Okay."

-- -- --

"How come we never got married?"

Within his dream, Chaotzu blinked.

"Well?" Tatsuka prodded.

They were seated on a small porch, overlooking a backyard that was filled with trees and flowers. His eyes shifted to the woman beside him. Wearing faded jeans and a red plaid shirt, her hair was messy from gardening. His heart swelled as he examined her face silently.

One perfectly shaped eyebrow lifted, furrowing the skin between her eyes. "I'm still waiting..." Her musical voice had a note of annoyance in it.

His subconscious self waited for the Chaotzu in the dream to reply... but nothing happened. A strange sense of awareness captured the dreaming Chaotzu, as he realized something had changed. He was in control. Almost as if it were more than a dream now... Experimentally, Chaotzu blinked.

"Are you just going to sit there blinking at me?" She smirked slightly. "Are you one of those men who goes silent at the mention of marriage? Are you afraid of commitment, Chaotzu?"

Far from it, he mused to himself. "Of course not." He managed to speak, surprised at how deep this voice sounded. Remember that you're dreaming... Part of his brain was screaming, but he ignored it happily.

"Well, then why don't I have a ring on my finger yet?"

"Because I haven't found one worthy of you."

-- -- --

Yamcha awoke early, as was his habit. The small cabin that belonged to his two friends was silent, saving for the sounds of winter outside. Quietly, his mind drifted to his conversation with Chaotzu. Poor little guy, probably just needed someone to love him.

"It must be hard for him." Yamcha said softly. "Living without having someone to hold, and hold him in return." Although he was alone now, Yamcha had known love once. Bulma had been his life. Everything he did was for her...

This wasn't a healthy train of thought, despite the two years that had passed, Yamcha was still adjusting to the thought of Bulma being touched by... him.

Vegeta, the Saiyan prince. The one who had released the saibamen that had killed Yamcha. The one who's sole purpose in life was becoming stronger than Goku, one of Bulma's closest friends. Really, it made little sense to anyone.

Yamcha wasn't sure what had tossed the two together, and contrary to popular belief he hadn't done anything to jeopardize his relationship with Bulma. He had just... gotten too comfortable, maybe? It sometimes occurred to him that maybe Bulma had wanted some excitement.

He didn't know if Bulma had intentionally seduced Vegeta into her bed, or if he had done it to her. It just wasn't important. What was important was making sure she was happy.

Tossing his arm over his eyes, Yamcha groaned. Yeah, Bulma was happy alright. She had a kid, a successful business, and someone to hold her at night. Absolutely fucking wonderful.

What did Yamcha have? An empty apartment and nobody except for Chaotzu and Tienshinhan to spend his Christmas with. Yamcha would have gone to any lengths for Bulma's happiness. If she had wished it of him, he was pretty sure he could've single-handedly defeated Cell. The power he had felt from her love was that strong.

But Bulma hadn't wanted that. She had wanted Vegeta. And because it was what she wanted, Yamcha wasn't going to get in her way.

Blinking, he wondered if the emptiness he felt without her was at all akin to what Chaotzu must have felt every day since his birth. Realizing how much pain his smaller friend must be in, Yamcha made a vow.

He'd find someone for Chaotzu. He'd find someone willing to take care of him, and hold him, and give him the happiness he deserved.

The pessimistic part of Yamcha's brain nagged. Would he really be able to find someone like that? Sure, women may flock to him, but would any woman really love Chaotzu?

And then Yamcha got an idea. He'd kill two birds with one stone. Grinning broadly, he headed to the kitchen to wait for the others to wake up. It was Christmas morning, after all.

-- -- --

"Do you remember when we met?" Tatsuka snuggled against Chaotzu's chest.

Still painfully aware that he was only dreaming, Chaotzu blinked. Then he was flooded with memories. The supermarket. He had been buying groceries and the scent of vanilla caught his nose. He had turned, entranced, and their eyes had met. Love at first sight...

But that wasn't the end of it. Memories continued to flood his senses. Their first conversations, their first kiss... the first time they made love... When they had moved in together... So much about her was clear as day in his mind.

Tatsuka Aikawa. Two years his junior. Her parents died when she was eighteen. No living relatives. Blood type O. She loved gardening, cooking, and singing. She had a small scar below her left ear. From a fall when she was a child. She loved him.

Tatsuka Aikawa. Loved Chaotzu more than anything. Would do anything to make him happy. Was blissfully happy, as long as he was by her side. Her smiles were brighter when he was around. She loved him.

Tatsuka Aikawa. She loved him.

But if he was merely dreaming, why could he remember these things?

He blinked away the thought, it didn't matter. All that mattered was the woman lying in his arms. All that mattered was Tatsuka.

And Tatsuka loved him.

"Of course I do." He answered.

-- -- --

Dreams are strange. Are they merely illusions created by the mind? Or perhaps a projection of the heart? Are they the working of some outside force? Can one truly know the nature of dreams?

The answer to that is no. For, if one attempts to dissect something so pleasant, will the sensation last?

Ignorance is bliss.

And Chaotzu had no idea how true that statement was.

-- -- --

Her arms, small yet firm around him. Her lips, soft and delicious. Her body, like liquid beneath him. Her scent... like vanilla.

Chaotzu awoke with a start, sweat covering his small body. He couldn't surpress his slight shiver as he got out of bed and dressed. Then he remembered.

"CHRISTMAS! Today is Christmas!" Hurriedly exiting his room, her found a sleepy Yamcha and Tien at the breakfast table, waiting for him.

"Merry Christmas Chaotzu!" Yamcha said, grinning. "We were waiting for you to get up before opening presents."

"You slept later than normal, Little buddy." Tien informed him, reaching for the cereal.

Chaotzu merely shrugged. "I guess I was just tired."

Yamcha shoved a box wrapped in green paper in front of him. "This one's from Master Roshi." He told him. Yamcha had brought gifts from most of the gang along with him on his visit.

Carefully peeling the paper off Chaotzu peered inside. Then his eyes went wide. "Oh my."

Tien blinked and looked over his shoulder. "Hentai Magazines?!" he exclaimed, blushing profusely.

Yamcha laughed nervously. "Well, that's Master Roshi for you..."

-- -- --

An hour and many gifts later, the three of them were seated happily, watching the morning snowfall.

Along with the hentai magazines (Which he had given to Yamcha) Chaotzu had received weighted training boots from Krillin, A handmade quilt for his bed from ChiChi, A nice capsule house for his vacations from Bulma (The card also had Vegeta's name on it, but because it was all in Bulma's handwriting, he doubted the Saiyan prince was even aware of it.) Tien had given him a new hat, and from Yamcha there was this novelty hamster that sang a song and twirled nunchucks when you pressed it's paw.

The most memorable of Tien's gifts had been a seven page letter from ChiChi containing a lits of reasons why he was an idiot for letting Lunch get away. He had scowled and tossed it in the garbage, keeping the photo of Gohan that was inside of it.

Yamcha had merely smiled secretly at them, still working on his secret plan. If he could make it work, he'd give both of his friends the best Christmas ever.


First: I don't hate ChiChi! So don't flame me for all the comments about her being violent when she's pregnant! I love ChiChi, but I always feel so bad for her… *sniffs* the poor woman... Anyways, just sticking that here so nobody gets mad.

Second: I was trying a completely new writing style with this, so reviews would be SUPREMELY appreciated. It's my first DBZ fic (And it's about Chaotzu, oy) so I'm not too sure about how it turned out.