Anything But Innocent
(aka Happy Endings)
(aka Unexpected Surprises)
It all happened in a flash. The wind seemed to pick up from nowhere and gather around us. Vegeta's roar coalesced into rumbling of the ground about us. The Dragon wrapped about us, forming a barrier of scales between the two of us and the red-faced Saiyan prince. I could only briefly make out the distinct golden glow emitting from Bulma's husband. Even a Super Saiyan cannot defy the magic of the Eternal Dragon.
Bulma's pretty mouth remains agape, and I gently take her hand and squeeze it. I'm just trying to tell her that everything's going to be alright, that this is our moment. It's a little surprising to see her not jerk away. It's a little gratifying to see her staring back at me. Then, I feel the sharp guilt that follows as I realize how terrified she looks.
But it's too late, and the black sky cracks with blue lightning. Instinctively, she moves closer to me as the whipping winds take away from here, to a different time and place. "Wha—what have you done?" She murmurs, staring at the swaying Dragon in astonishment.
"Your wish…" rasped the Dragon in our ears as a series of images and sounds flood our brains…
The dust clears. I'm standing next to Bulma in a huge concrete stadium.
I know this place.
Just a bit ahead, there it is: the great platform on which I fought so many battles. Or, well, I mean the concrete itself was destroyed pretty often, but that's the spot right there. I can see him in the distance as if through a clearing fog, myself as a young man of nearly eighteen.
Bulma and I are ghosts, watching our youth played out before us. The Dragon perches on my shoulder, silently preparing to fulfill its promise to recreate history. She looks down at herself with uncertainty, and then around the other members of the crowd from another time. There's no Vegeta now, but ChiChi is standing there, looking pretty furious opposite the stumbling young man, the boy I used to be. I'm muttering some apologies at her because I don't know what she's talking about. A shrill voice hisses, "But you asked me for my hand in marriage!"
I lean forward, trying to hear the conversation more clearly. This is it, the moment that, hoping to appease her, I proposed to ChiChi. My knee is bending, and my mouth opens as I get closer and closer to asking her to become my wife.
"Tell her you can't do it!" I mutter, nearly falling over the concrete wall from our seats. The Dragon nods.
From a distance, I see the younger version of myself pull his knee up in a blink. I put ChiChi's hand to my chest.
"Can't we get any closer?" I ask the Dragon. He shakes his head, and we grow in size and glide over to our younger selves.
Bulma is staring warily at the Dragon. "Goku, you do not just get a redo. Think about this."
I look to Bulma and then at the Dragon, "What's he saying to her now?"
The Dragon grinned at me, teeth scintillating in the perfect sunlight. "What do you want him to say to her?"
I look over at Bulma as her hand falls on my shoulder, just under the miniature version of the Dragon. Bulma tries again. "Don't say anything different to her; just propose to her like you did. Goku, really, think about Goha-"
I shook my head, breaking away from Bulma's grip. I'll figure something out about Gohan and Goten, I promise. I just don't know what to do about it right now, and we've got to try. "Tell her not to be angry. Tell her I can't do it."
I feel Bulma's glare hit the back of my head. The Dragon nods.
ChiChi lets out a groan of frustration and hurt, and the fight continues. I see a young version of myself defend himself as gently as possible. But there are other things that are happening at the Budokai this time of year.
I had an enemy to defeat. Piccolo was still waiting for me.
"It's time to go," the Dragon said. The scene before us at the Budokai faded, and what remained before was a simple stone path. It seemed as if every direction we looked in, there was a curtain of blackness. I peered at Bulma and held out my hand.
"Come with us."
"Goku, you can't do this."
"We've got another chance. Don't you just want to see where things go?" I flashed a grin at her. I needed to convince her just to keep going along. Please, Bulma. Please trust me again.
The Wishing Place
She didn't take my hand, but she did follow reluctantly as the Dragon and I began to walk through time. We were alone in this universe, free to pop in and out of the various stages of our youth. The only sounds to be heard were those of our footsteps and breathing. All my eyes can see is the vast, empty space as the path stretches over the minutes and hours and days of my life.
Look down from any stone, and we could see a particular time on Earth. I took a step forward, watching my fight against Piccolo. I watched as I nearly lost my life.
"Look," I touched Bulma's shoulder, "You're so scared for me here."
Bulma jerked away, sneering at me. "I didn't want you to die! That doesn't mean that everything you do is so perfect!"
Another few steps along the magical stones and I find the world snuggled contentedly in a brief state of peace. The floor ripples and I see myself sitting at a huge table with Bulma, Yamcha, Krillin, Master Roshi, Turtle, Oolong, Puar, and even Tien. "I want to go here."
The Dragon nods and Bulma and I are sucked into the memory. We're laughing and joking. We're all alive and doing fine and I wish that my Bulma looked half as happy as Young Bulma does. This time, the Dragon allows us closer to the younger versions of ourselves. Still nothing more than spirits, we hover about our younger selves and watch them play and tease.
I'm slurping down every bowl of noodles I can get in front of me. Krillin's telling us about what it's like to come back from the dead, pausing every few moments to study the group's reaction. My eyes can't but fall on Young Bulma, grinning and nodding along. Yamcha's arm is casually draped over Bulma's shoulder. She leans comfortably against Yamcha, hand sliding playfully up his thigh. I frown and the Dragon watches me dutifully, like a dog prepared to bite at its master's command.
Bulma's waving her hands through her younger version's face. "Is this a dream?"
Young Me is still just eating and laughing, oblivious is the word that comes to mind,and Yamcha shoots a lecherous look at Young Bulma, clearing his throat. "Bulma, you sure look tired. I guess we ought to get the check now." I can't believe I never noticed how he could act so full of himself. Like he was ever going to take care of the check. Like he really cared about anything other than getting into Bulma's pants.
"She can't go home with him," I say, a little more panicked than I meant to sound. The Dragon nods and Bulma scowls. "I just want to go talk to you." I say, now to Bulma, hoping for her to understand.
Bulma looks at me with skepticism, ghost-to-ghost, and asks, "Is that really all you want to do?"
"Is it any better than what you went off to do with Yamcha that night?" I shot back at her. She flushed.
Young Me looks straight at Bulma with a grin and asks, "Hey Bulma, we should go hang out after this."
Yamcha sort of raises a brow. "It's pretty late. Really, I think we should all turn out."
Younger Bulma is all smiles at me. She drops her hand out of Yamcha's lap and says, "Sure!"
"Buuuut, uh, Bulmaaa…" Yamcha trails off, hopeful.
Master Roshi and Krillin leer on, recognizing Yamcha's immediate discomfort. "I bet those two love birds want to go get it on, what with the world not being over and all," Krillin remarks slyly. He pats my shoulder. Even Turtle grins at the two.
But Bulma waves a hand at them, the same hand that was just petting Yamcha moments ago. "Ugh, with the way all of you guys are acting, it's no wonder why Goku's the only one of you who has women throwing themselves at him."
It's my turn to blush, and Young Me looks away with discomfort.
Oolong can't resist and asks, "Hey Goku, why didn't you go hook up with that ChiChi girl?"
"I don't know…" I said, scratching my head. "She kept saying she wanted to marry me."
"Marry you?" Bulma asked, loudly.
I grin over at my Bulma. "You didn't like that I was going to marry her anyway."
Bulma moved away from me, still watching the scene play out in front of us. "It was a very surprising thing that you were just going to get married."
"But she's gorgeous!" Roshi gushed.
Krillin joined in: "And I think she really liked you, Goku."
Oolong added, "And she's a rich princess."
"I guess I wasn't really thinking about all of that," Young Me said, shrugging a bit at the group. "I was just thinking about winning the Budokai."
"But now that's over," Yamcha pressed, tapping his fingers impatiently at Young Me from Young Bulma's shoulder. "Maybe you should go ask her out.
"Oh you guys!" Young Bulma says, slapping Yamcha's hand off of her, "That's probably why he wanted to go talk to me. It's not like any of you know too much about picking up a girl!" She crosses her hand over her chest, looking down her nose at the group in superior fashion. "I'd be glad to go hang out with you after this, Goku. Don't pay any attention to them."
I grinned at my Bulma, "It seems like you were pretty willing to spend time with me back then."
She sighs, rubbing her head a little bit, "What happened to Vegeta?" She walks in front of me, away from my eyes and closer to the younger version of herself again. She seems so fascinated with her youth, with the slight changes already occurring in the timeline. "Even if you're not sure about marrying ChiChi, I chose to marry Vegeta."
"You shouldn't worry about him," I said, reaching out to touch her again. The Dragon's eyes flash and Bulma relaxes slightly- enough such that when I pull her against me from behind, she allows me. My lips gently pushed through her hair against the outer lobe of her ear. My hands rested on her warm belly and round hip. "Look at how beautiful you've always been."
Her weights shifts and she leans against me, a bit limp and resigned. I try again: "Please don't worry about him. Trust me."
"But how can I do that? Look at what you're doing!" She responds, pressing away and yet not totally out of my grasp. Gently, gently I moved my hands from her hips to just near the curve of her bust, and quickly, before she could protest, to her shoulders. I lightly massaged her, moving closer to her warm neck. Our younger counterparts laughed together at some joke.
Yamcha looks pretty unhappy with the new arrangement back in young-us time as the group thins out. "But Babe, we were going to let Goku get going because I thought we were going to, uh, have breakfast tomorrow."
Have breakfast? Is that what they used to call it?
Young Bulma looks at Yamcha, and then at me. I see it there in her eyes: the adoration I always thought was there. I know my Bulma is afraid because she sees it too, written clearly on her own face, how deeply she loved me then. "It's okay, I'll call you later. You can catch a cab, right?"
When she hears herself say this, Bulma scoffs indignantly.
"What's wrong?" I ask her, spinning her around so that she doesn't totally pull away. I'm just hoping to get her to make eye contact with me again, but her glare is set firmly at herself, full of derision and disgust.
"Is the point of all of this just to prove how interested in you I was back then? Because congratulations, you've done it." She moves away from me again, crossing her arms over her chest.
"No, I just wanted to spend some time with you." I said earnestly, following Bulma as she began walking away from our past counterparts.
"We don't even know where we are right now in this weird, timeless place where you just get to dictate what happens in the past!" Bulma's frustration appeared in her eyes. The street outside of the restaurant faded. The Dragon floated about our heads, impatiently waiting to complete its task.
Young Bulma and I walk past the two of us, oblivious to work being done outside of their control. Now we stroll the streets outside of the little restaurant, with the rest of our friends having dispersed throughout the evening. She glances over at Young Me with some expectant look and asks, "So what did you want to do tonight, Goku?"
"I—uh…" I begin to stutter at her. I feel the emotions I am having in that moment as they happen now. I'm so confused and young, and now that it's just Bulma and me, I feel comfortable and nervous all at once.
I frown at myself. "Doesn't he see what she means to me?" I asked out loud, mostly to the Dragon. His face is stony.
"Ask her if she's in love with Yamcha!" I urge Young Me, hoping that anything can help.
Bulma glares at me and sits next to her younger self, "Don't listen to anything he has to say, he's gone crazy."
Young Me laces his fingers behind his head and looks over at Bulma as he walks down the path. "So, do you love Yamcha, Bulma?"
She blushes a bit, stopping in her tracks. "What do you mean?"
"Do you love Yamcha?" I ask her, a little more slowly.
"I mean, I care… about him." Bulma blinked a bit at me. Well, Young Me. I see the confusion in her eyes, and the glimmer of excitement and interest.
"But… is he going to want to marry you, like how ChiChi wanted to marry me?"
Both of the Bulmas swallowed at this question. Finally, she responded: "There was a lot of confusion between you and ChiChi. Yamcha and I have been through a lot together."
"But you guys fight all the time."
She sighs and takes a seat on the top of a bench under a single lamp and gestures for me to sit by her. Balancing her weight on her palms, she leans forward to inspect me while Young Me dumbly sits on the bench seat, eye level with her knees, and I'm remembering the curves of her legs in live-time.
"Isn't that the truth," Bulma says, resting her hand on her palm with a sigh. "Yamcha's interested in me and just about every other pretty girl in West City." Her hair spills down her shoulders.
I nearly flush when I sense my own confusion at her words. "What do you mean, Bulma?" I ask.
She just laughs though, with more patience than I ever really remember her having. "I don't think he's any more interested in getting married than I am right now. Your friend ChiChi has some different ideas about relationships, I think."
I looked at myself. I tried to see, did I not care? Was I so confused? Yamcha was my friend and Bulma was my friend, but that can't stop me from trying to have this. "Please," I tell Young Me, "Tell her how you feel about her!"
The Dragon's eyes flash.
"Bulma, I think you're great." I said weakly. Young Me doesn't know where these words are coming from, really, or how to express the bubbling feelings erupting inside as we watch Young Bulma's hair change colors under the streetlight.
"She's better than great, and she's going to marry someone else if you don't get it together."
"Goku, I love Vegeta. I could end up being with him regardless of-" Bulma began as if arbitrating some court case and I turned away at the sound of her words. How is it that the combination of 'I' and 'love' and 'Vegeta' could lead to so much pain? I mean, someone ought to love Vegeta. Vegeta had a really rough life. Vegeta ended up being alright, a little humorless, but he's a living thing and I guess he has some redeemable qualities, the least of which being his sexual and romantic relationship with the woman I love. I accept that someone ought to love Vegeta, but he can't have you, Bulma. I look over at her, shaking my head.
"I think you're great too, Goku. I don't know what we'd do without you, kid." Bulma leans forward a little bit and her bust crawled towards my eyes.
"Tell her she's beautiful."
There is a content, tense moment of silence as Bulma and I watch Young Me shift.
"You look really pretty tonight, Bulma."
The silence shifts and Bulma blushes. She slinks down to sit by me, our knees nearly touching.
"So what was it like, fighting Piccolo?"
Young Me gets excited at this, and he animatedly begins to recount how enthralling the battle was: "Oh man, it was so awesome, he was so strong!"
"Goku!" Bulma hisses, "You're not listening to me. I have to consent to our relationship and you are just manipulating me."
"You loved me back then!"
Bargaining Always Comes Before Acceptance
The scene fades and we are back along the stepping stones. "Where are we?" I ask the Dragon. He's larger now and floating between Bulma and me as we materialize in this new realm.
"These stepping stones represent the stages in your life. You may walk along your path and make this woman your wife."
"Uh, hello!" Bulma waves a hand in front of the Dragon, "I just said I don't want to marry him."
The Dragon grunted in reply.
"What if I convince you?" I asked, looking over to her.
Bulma shook her head, "No. Not at all, it doesn't matter how I felt about you."
"But Vegeta's bound to show up anyway. If you really love him, you'll end up with him anyway." I eyed her slyly, "Or at least that's what you said."
Bulma glared, and promptly stopped. The stone beneath her feet glimmered.
"Wouldn't you rather date me than Yamcha before you meet Vegeta?"
"Yamcha's a nice guy, Goku. He's your friend, too, just in case you forgot about that while you're on your huge selfish asshole kick over here with the big, scary monster-dragon!" She gestured towards the Dragon and again, there was a grunt.
"I'll change it back if you want me to."
"Really?" She asks, looking up with uncertainty.
"Yes… if you give it a shot. I want to see what it would have been like to be with you." I crossed my arms over my chest. "Provided that you give us a chance and admit that at one time that's what you wanted too, I'll wish to change everything back if that's what you want."
Bulma narrows her eyes at me. "That's not exactly a fair deal."
"Is it fair for me to never have a chance to be with you?" I shot back.
"We were already together! Vegeta knows about it and everything." Bulma looks away, truly depressed for a moment. "Even if we do go back there, Vegeta knows I was unfaithful and you might have ruined my marriage."
I took a step closer to her, staring down my chest at her. I softened my voice and she's taken off-guard a bit. "What if I used my other wishes to change what happened?"
"To change our having sex?"
"Yes. If you give us a shot and you still end up with Vegeta, I'll wish for everything to go back to the way it was and for us to have never had sex."
"I don't think this is a very good idea…" She trailed off, shaking her head slowly.
I held out my hand, "Is it a deal or not?"
"If you truly love him, then it should be no problem as soon as he comes to live with you."
"There may be no me if he kills us all when he first arrives at Earth and there's no Gohan."
"What if we had a child?"
"What if ChiChi, Gohan and Goten were standing here right now listening to all of this!" Bulma slapped my hand away. "I cannot believe you!"
I feel a pang of guilt. I hadn't considered that the wish would erase my sons' existence. I look at the Dragon. "How do I keep Gohan and Goten alive?"
"…It is yet unclear."
Bulma sighs and points wildly at the Dragon. "See, Goku! 'Yet unclear'! This is bad news, messing with the timeline and everyone's lives."
"Is it possible?" I persisted, matching the Dragon's gaze.
He hesitated again. "Yes."
I looked over at Bulma, triumphant.
"What about my kid, Goku? How about Trunks? Or did you think that only you care about the continued existence of your entire family?"
"What about Trunks? Is it possible for him to exist in the new timeline?"
"Can they all be our children?"
The Dragon was silent. I swallowed.
Bulma gasped at the scandal: "Goku, no!"
"It is yet unclear."
Vegeta's fist hurled at the Eternal Dragon, "Where are they?!"
A bright flash created a boundary between the scales of the Dragon and Vegeta's wrath.
The Dragon rumbled, "They have gone to grant the wish."
"It hasn't been granted yet?"
"These things take time." The Dragon's voice was almost casual.
Vegeta scoffed impatiently, "I want to make the other two wishes."
"Why the fuck not? That fucking moron has taken off with my wife and he is not here to make the other wishes, so I want them." Vegeta is shaking with rage. The only thing he can think about is finding and destroying his enemy.
"You did not cast the spell."
"Fine, I will go to New Namek and make the wishes there."
The Dragon remained still, floating in the air. Vegeta watched him hover over dark sky before turning slowly, trying to formulate a plan to rectify this damage.
"You may be needed." Another voice called out. "You ought to be still."
Vegeta turned to see Piccolo floating from behind the Dragon. "How is this any of your business?"
"If Goku doesn't marry ChiChi and Gohan, Goten, and Trunks are never born, there could be some serious changes to the timeline."
"That's in another world, isn't it?" Vegeta asked in a stony rasp.
Piccolo shook his head. "If the Bulma and Goku from this world decide to switch their lives over to another time, no one knows what could happen."
"So? What's done is done here, all I need to do is wish that idiot back here before he can fulfill the wish."
Piccolo clears his throat and directs a question to the Dragon. "If they decide to merge their identities into those of the other timeline, what happens here?"
"They will disappear from the point at which they decide to begin their married lives. That is when the wish has been granted."
Piccolo looks over at Vegeta, "And if they chose to do that when they were young, what happens to all of their respective children here?"
The Dragon takes a moment to consider. "This world will begin again from the point at which the two decide to leave it."
Now they're both sweating a little bit.
"So our world gets a total reboot if or when Goku and Bulma decide to, uh, build their new lives together?" Piccolo asks with skepticism. He's feeling pretty pissed at Goku right now as well, and isn't too pleased with Bulma either. Even so, his main concern is for Gohan, and the potentially disastrous position the entire universe is about to be put in.
The Dragon's eyes flash as if excited now. "That is correct."
Piccolo cracks his neck and glances from the Dragon to Vegeta. "We need to come up with a plan, quick."
"How do I know you're not just stalling for your pal?" Vegeta sneered.
"What are you going to do, travel to Namek and try to cancel out another wish? It doesn't work like that, Stupid."
A vein bulges and Vegeta shouts, "What's that, you slug?!"
"I'm just saying, whether you trust me or not, you're going to need someone to help you try to fix this because there are going to be consequences."
Vegeta is silent. He is still trembling with fury, and he knows that the Namekian is right, which makes him sick to him stomach.
Young Bulma blushes and touches the back of my arm, "You've always been kind of cute, but when I saw you come back for the Budokai, I thought you were so handsome."
"Gee, thanks, Bulma."
It is heavenly to see how quickly we have come to this place, and it is hellish to consider how far we have left to go.
We've been flirting like this for weeks and still nothing. I'm so clueless and uncertain and she is such a flirt. Things are still on-again-off-again with Yamcha, and she is still routinely spending time with me because I moved into Capsule Corporations instead of rushing off with ChiChi this time.
I give Young Me as many hints and jabs as possible, but Bulma resists most of the way and scolds herself wildly for her cleavage and for her other antics alike. We are on opposite sides of a chess game. She insists she's trying to talk some sense into me, and I just want her to listen to herself giggling at me in a strategically chosen bikini.
Yamcha's more suspicious than ever, but it just makes them fight because Bulma insists on the phone with him late at night that I'm just a friend and how dare he be jealous of little Goku. Yamcha warns that I'm not a kid anymore and he complains that Bulma spends way more time with me than she does with him. It's true; and here Bulma is, examining my bicep with flushed cheeks. She sits next to me after I return from a long day of roaming around happily in the mountains while she was at work.
"You should come for a swim with me," she laughs, tugging at my arm. I get closer and closer to her bust and warmth until flesh touches flesh and I can sense every part of me tingle.
"Sounds great!" I say, cheerily.
"Look at how happy we are." I say, crossing my arms over my chest in satisfaction as I watch the two of us scamper off towards Bulma's pool.
Bulma shakes her head, "This whole thing feels unnatural. Just because I seem happy doesn't mean that if that version of me knew that you're basically lying and manipulating me from the future, I wouldn't be just as angry with you."
"That's not fair. We're really falling in love over here."
"I don't love you, Goku. I just had sex with you." The words stung, but I've become more and more used to them. She insists these things and sits next to me, sometimes flushing just as nervously as I do when she watches herself falling for me. I know she can sense her feelings. I know that they are slowly changing her mind, even if she feels bad about it. "I love Vegeta. I just made a mistake. I'm sorry that it seems like we really had a thing and maybe that's what made you make this wish, but I do not want to be with you now or ever."
I turn and move closer to her. We're chest-to-chest and she's breathing a little more heavily. "You mean you're not attracted to me?"
"You don't like my arms?" I grinned.
She shook her head a bit too adamantly.
"So then," I said, tugging at my shirt, "if I just took this off…" I pull my clothes off of my chest. The younger versions of ourselves are in the pool, laughing and touching and playing some inane game of tag. If I look over, I can see her wrapping her legs around my waist and if I think about it really hard I can feel the way it feels to be over there, in that pool, holding her one moment and then crashing our bodies into the water abruptly.
My Bulma watches me saunter towards her with narrowed eyes. She's not entirely permissive when I rest my hands on her shoulders, so I gently tilt her chin up at me. Her eyes find mine, and I see her fear and pain and plainly written all over her face is a soft, growing love. "Please let me kiss you." I say, venturing to touch her hip with my free hand. She puts her hand over mine, but she doesn't move it away this time.
I move my lips closer to hers, hovering just over them, and they nearly brush against each other when I ask, once more, "Please…"
She nods against my lips, eyes closed as if in a daze.
That's when the phone rang. Once, twice. I hear Young Bulma say something to Young Me, and vaguely register her answering with my Bulma in my embrace. Stupidly, I'd thought in that one instant that I could make her agree to love me forever, to love only me, and to try to start over together.
That is when I heard it: "Goku! Come quickly! Old man Roshi says that ChiChi's palace is on fire and no one can get it to go out!"
My Bulma pulls away. I felt genuine concern for ChiChi, her father, and the people who lived in her palace at that moment. As she scanned my emotions, she asked, "So do you just not care about how much ChiChi loves you? Or what you guys have shared over the past, what? Forty or fifty years?"
I stayed silent and Bulma eyed me victoriously. Guilt ate at me from my toes to my chest. My brain could barely function as I raced to register the various emotions and sensations I'd just been exposed to. And no, I did not want to face ChiChi again.
But Young Me wasn't worried about that, Young Me wanted to save the day and find the adventure. He grabbed Young Bulma's hand excitedly, "We've got to go save them!"