Disclaimer: I don't own Dbz

Chapter 1

Son Residence - 3 hours after the defeat of Majin Buu

Goku sat, eyeing his wife from beneath hooded lids, whilst making a great show of listening to every single thing his excited seven year old son was reciting from atop his lap. It's not that he wasn't interested in Goten's rapid banter - he was. Kami, he had missed seven full years of his life, he wanted to know everything there was to know about his new found son. It's just that he couldn't shake this horrible feeling that something wasn't right with Chichi. She had simply been…disconnected and quiet.

Shifting the excited seven year old in his lap, he turned him around so he could get a better view of his wife. Goten didn't even notice, he was talking non stop, trying to relate every single one of his and Trunk's adventures to his recently resurrected father. Below hooded eyes, Goku watched as Chichi furiously scrubbed away at the same pot for over half an hour. He frowned at her ferocity and permanent scowl.

They had come home at the end of the little get together that had taken place straight after Goku and Vegeta's arrival at the Lookout, to a mountain of Goku's favourite dishes piled up on all the surfaces of the house. He had felt a little reassured then, surely if Chichi had gone out of her way to prepare so much of his favourite foods, things couldn't have possibly been as bad as he had previously thought - but as dinner progressed, with Chichi simply staring blankly at her food, twirling it around her plate without so much as a word to anyone, Goku had began to worry all over again.

Thinking back on the events of the day, he tried hard to pin-point even just one moment, just one, where his wife appeared to have been happy to see him. But alas, she had carried that same blank expression around the entire time, as if none of the dramatic events that the day had had to offer had affected her at all. Well...almost the entire time. There was that one time that he had dared to approach her at the Lookout after teleporting everyone there to tell them of Vegeta and Gohan's demise at the hands of Majin Buu.

When he had announced that Vegeta and Gohan had died, he had been especially dreading Chichi's reaction. To his shock though, only Bulma had shown any signs of grief. Chichi had simply turned away. No fainting, no screaming, no crying, nothing at all. Fearing that she had gone into some kind of fatal shock, he had meandered his way towards her and tried to comfort her by placing his hands on her shoulders - big mistake. Like a wild cat, eyes blazing in a fury like none he had ever seen, she had lashed out and attacked him, clawing at his eyes with her nails, biting and actually succeeding in taking a few chunks out of his skin with her teeth! She went completely nuts!

It had taken Krillin and Yamcha's combined strength to subdue her, not that they had walked away from the incident unscathed. If he hadn't been so horribly, horribly paralyzed in fear and shock, he would have been so proud of how she had kicked both their asses several times over before they had managed to subdue her. Once they had her immobilized however, she had suddenly gone back to that blank expression, as if the whole incident hadn't happened at all.

After demonstrating SSJ3 to the boys during their Fusion training, he had desperately wanted a moment alone with her to talk before Baba made her appearance to transport him back. In fact, thinking about it now, he had been trying to orchestrate a private moment to talk the whole day, but somehow, she always stayed well out of reach. When he had first noticed Goten, she had left it up to Gohan to introduce his brother to him, he hadn't thought much about that until much later at the Kai planet whilst waiting for Gohan to finish his training.

He had thought a lot about the days events then, and had realized with horrific clarity that apart from screaming "Don't touch me! Don't you dare touch me!" whilst attacking him, she had not directed a single word in his direction the entire day. And finally, when the battle was won, the earth restored and the universe once again at peace - he had hoped that his news of being given back life, of coming home for good, would crack through that blank façade and earn him a smile, a hug, a kiss, a look, anything…but she didn't even react, she just stood there, watching, completely unaffected like some kind of damned statue…it was down right…unnerving…for the first time in his life he wanted to scream at her, shake her, force her to acknowledge him. But in the end, he had just done what he always did, he had smiled and cheered and shared stories, playing 'catch-up' until it was time to come home. Which is why, he had been so shocked when he had walked in through the door, only to be greeted by a huge 'Welcome Home' banner and tables and tables full of his favourite food.

He had allowed himself some false hope once again, but now…now…as he continued to watch her antics with that damn pot, sweet Kai's above, the thing must be ready to crumble from all that ferocious scrubbing! He just knew that his hopes that all was well, his hopes that they could pick-up where they had left off seven years back, had been in vain, it was alarmingly clear to him that something was terribly, terribly wrong between them.

Noticing that Goten was practically telling the rest of his stories with heavily sleep induced murmurs, he sent a pleading look to Gohan, who had spent the last hour or so of Goten's banter deep in his own thoughts. With a quiet nod to his father, Gohan scooped up his brother and began to walk him to their room. As he passed his mother, he stopped and whispered a conspiratorial 'I think it's clean now' before disappearing around the corner towards the bedrooms. Goku watched his wife take pause at Gohan's words. Without a second thought she dropped the pan back in the sink, offered a genuine smile towards the two disappearing boys and wordlessly followed behind Gohan. With a heavy sigh, he leaned back against the couch and contemplated his next move.

Disappearing around the corner in the direction of her bedroom, Chichi still had the same mantra going on and on in her mind. Though there were slight variations from time to time, over all it went something like this: damn that dragon, damn that dragon, damn that meddling, infuriating, insufferable, incompetent poor excuse for a dragon! Damn him, damn him straight to dragon hell if there's such a thing. Curse him, blast him, Oh Kami, DAMN THAT stupid, stupid, oversized, steroid taking DRAGON! Damn that dragon, DAMN THAT DRAGON! She continued in this fashion until she was safely behind her bedroom door.

With a soft click, she closed the door and leaned against it. Sliding down the length of the door with her back she allowed her body to flop unceremoniously to the ground and took a few deep breaths. I survived it she sighed. There had been moments, oh yes, there had been moments when she had felt her resolve crumbling. Oh who was she kidding? She had crumbled. She had been doing so well, so well indeed until he had dared to lay his filthy hands on her. She hadn't meant to, it just slipped out of its own volition, it slipped out and took over. She wasn't in control then, it was it. The thirty-five year old pent-up fury.

She still couldn't believe that all of this was happening.

Just yesterday, just yesterday she had been a ninety year old woman, bitterly going about her business. She knew her time was near, and frankly she was glad for it. She was glad to be leaving this wicked, ungrateful world. She welcomed death like a drowning man welcomed breath. She'd had only had one piece of unfinished business to take care of before her time was up, but that had backfired, oh how it had backfired on her.

When Goku had first come back to life after those seven years, all those many, many decades back, oh it had been so sweet, those years following his return were amongst the happiest in her life, even more so than the blissful five years they had spent together as a family before all this nonsense of aliens and super-saiyans had began. It had been the biggest shock of her life when after a blissful ten years, he had suddenly up and left JUST. LIKE. THAT in the middle of the tournament, carrying that blasted Uub on his back.

She had been upset of course, but this was Goku, she had reasoned with herself, and his spontaneity was one of the things she loved most about him. She had NOT been expecting him to disappear for TEN. BLASTED. YEARS! She had been expecting him back home after a few months, a tight lipped lecture on her part, some shamefaced grovelling on his, and they'd pick up where they left off. Pah! As if! When he did come back, he was in a pint sized body of a ten year old and he wasn't even motivated to wish himself back to normal!

In retrospect, they had done the most fighting during that terrible, turbulent time. She couldn't take seeing him like that, on top of the fact that she was still furious for being abandoned for as long as she had. His trip into space with Pan and Trunks had given her some room to breathe, some time to calm down and actually look forward to having her husband back and finally settle down with her, the two of them growing old and grey together, like she had always envisioned.

Pah! It never happened of course. Goku had found more trouble in space, trouble that had followed him home in the form of that egg-laying abomination called Baby. A whole series of battles and destrution had follwed, naturally. After all the dust was settled from that incident, she had again, been looking forward to finally having him back home, even if it was in the body of a little kid. She had been patient for so many years, missing and longing for him that she had decided not to waste the rest of their years bitching about his size. She figured he could always transform into that hairy adult version of himself if the situation really called for it. She didnt really care how he came back to her, she just wanted her Goku back. But oh no, that was not to be either, he had simply taken off on the back of Shenron, never to be seen again.

Like a fool, she had again believed with all of her foolish heart that this last stint was just a trip, one final adventure for rest and recuperation. She fully believed that he'd be able to get his body back to its rightful size and that a few months the ordeal would be over and they'd all be a family again. But as the months stretched into years and years became decades, she began to realise the ugly truth. Goku was gone. He was gone, and he was never coming back. Well, at least not in her lifetime anyway.

She couldn't wrap her mind around it. She couldn't accept it. She would sit outside their home in Mt. Paouzu all day, every day for weeks just staring out into the horizon, willing, hoping, praying, imagining that her husband would finally come back to her. She didn't want to let herself believe that the man she had loved with such abandon, could be so cruel, so callous, so selfish as to actually do this to her. She had lost her joy for life, her children and grandchildren had done their best to try to fill her emptying soul, but no amount of grandchildren or great-grandchildren for that matter, was ever able to fill the black hole developing in her heart.

In his old age, Yamcha had always remained optimistic that Goku would just appear out of nowhere one day, and give their collective old age some meaning and excitement, he had been even more worse off than her, he had never settled down, not really. Bulma had really broken him when she left him for Vegeta, he had given up fighting and pursed a random life of sport, loose women and pleasure. They had formed an odd friendship in those last days, both of them clinging to the hope that Goku would return and shed some light to their pointless existence. But then one day, his heart had given out and just like that, he had died and the little faith she had been holding onto, died with him.

She had finally snapped.

She didn't remember exactly what became of her during those dark days, but seemingly she had lost her mind, she would mistake Goten for Goku, and depending on her mood she would either try to verbal lash him to death or even worse for Goten, try to love him to death, either way the poor boy had been traumatized. That dark period took a toll on her children, they had never been the same. Goten was never the same happy go lucky man he'd been, and his new demeanour took a toll on his own marriage. When she had finally come out of her insane stupor, she had finally given up on ever seeing her husband again.

She had simply withered…she aged rapidly, and as her body began to take the final descents into old age, her soul, her once pure and shimmering soul, took on a different path, it darkened, blackened, hardened, and for the first time in her life she knew what it was to truly hate. She would find herself imagining all the ways she could make Son Goku's life miserable in the after life. But even that revenge would have to be postponed for Kami knew how long. The man would probably live forever just to spite her. Just to deny her the satisfaction of facing up to his crimes, the atrocious crimes that he'd committed against his family. So she had cooked up one last ditch effort to have her say, to get one last little jab at him before she died, she had made the children take her to New-Namek.

Her one wish: To give Son Goku the biggest verbal lashing of his life, to tell him just how much she hated him, just how much he had destroyed her, just how much he had failed in being a husband, a father and a friend. She had wanted Porunga to open up some kind of communication portal so she could communicate with her husband in whichever planet, plane, or realm he happened to be in. To have her say before her death, and Kai's willing, maybe an opportunity to spit her contempt in his face.

But that stupid dragon, that stupid, incompetent, poor excuse for a dragon had dared to say that it was not within its power to reach Son Goku.

He had dared to say that he could not grant her wish. He, who had restored the earth back into orbit, he who had resurrected billions and billions of lives that had fallen at the hands of Buu. He who had been as mighty as to do all of that with just the glow of his monstrous dragon eyes, could not, would not grant her one tiny, infinitesimal wish. She had realised then that the whole universe always had, and always would side with that abomination of a man over her. She had realised then that even in death, even in the after life, she would never be granted her justice, she would just have to suck it up, like she had always had to, only this time it would stretch for years, and decades and centuries, to infinity and beyond.

True hopelessness had enveloped her then, she was to have nothing, nothing at all, and really, truly what was the point of existing at all, if one couldn't even have the hope, the hope that one day she would get her dues.

In a fit of rage and fury that had taken her children by complete surprise, especially considering her frail and decrepit ninety year olf form, she had tossed her walking stick aside and picked up rocks and sand - she had thrown them vindictively at the dragon, wanting to hurt it, crying - no wailing unrepeatable insults at it, especially as the stones fell harmlessly a ways away, not even getting near the colossal being. Her heart had already been cracked and bruised by Goku's inconsiderate treatment years ago, toppled up with old age in itself, it had not been in the best condition, within seconds of her failed attempt to communicate with Goku, her failed attempt to cause grievous bodily harm to the abominable dragon that was clearly siding with him, each part of her cracked heart gave in, pieces began to chip off slowly, and by the end of her pathetic excuse for a tantrum, it had finally given out, shattering into a thousand weightless specs, scattered, all over that accursed New Namek.

With no fight left in her, she had given into death, and with her last breath, she had unknowingly muttered the words that would bring her to this unacceptable reality she had woken up to this morning.

"I wish I'd done it differently when he came back after those seven years" she wasn't even sure if she had said it out loud, it was just a fleeting regret, a useless mumble, a random ramble from a decrepit old woman. And for all his talk of not having the power to grant her real wish, the one she had wanted with all her heart, Porunga, that meddling scum had decided to take her literally, and when she came to this morning, hoping to finally be in otherworld, hoping to finally be reunited with her mother and her father once again, the only two people who had truly loved her, apart from her children, she had woken up instead, very much alive, back in the land of the living, back on earth, back on Mount Pazou, back in her own bed, back in her youthful body, back to that accursed day of the world martial arts tournament, back to relive this cursed life all over again when she had been so close, so close to eternal peace.

And so here she sat, her bum firmly on the floor, her back against the wooden door, unsure, uncertain of 'how' she was supposed to deal with this reversal of time. How was she supposed to re-live, re-do, all that had already happened. Any little thing she could have changed, might have altered the course of the future for the worst. It was not her right to interfere with the destinies of others, it was not her place.

She might have told them all about the outcome of Videl's fight with that over-sized brute Spopo-whatever, but that could have changed things in a way she could not have predicted. For all she knew it might have created a different path for the Satan girl, a path that didn't end with her falling in-love with, and marrying her son. She might have told them about Majin Buu, about Vegeta and Goku's fight feeding the energy to release the monster, she might have told them that Buu would absorb her sons and Piccolo, she might have warned them that Gotenks did not posses the maturity to be an effective warrior, at any time, but she had let things play out as they had played out originally. Any change, any alteration may have changed things for the worst, so she had stayed put, like a zombie she had followed through with her role, distancing herself from the events of that day.

She had forced herself not to lash out at Goku when he had first arrived from otherworld. The bastard had disappeared for thirty-five years! Oh, it had taken everything she had and more to remain rooted to her spot. She had just told herself not to look at him, not to make eye contact with him. She had willed herself to be calm, to remember that though he was the same man who would go on to blacken her soul, lashing out at him would accomplish little, as he would not understand, he did not remember. As if that was any consolation. She had even marched up to Buu on the lookout to slap him, knowing she would be turned into an egg, knowing she would be crushed to death. Again.

Yes, she had done her best to play the part of the thirty-something year old widow whose youthful body she was masquerading in. She could do nothing for her mind and her soul though, despite her smooth and youthful appearance, her strength and agility, she was still the same ninety year old woman who had been broken, who had longed only for the release of death. But when he had dared to lay his calloused hand on her shoulder, shortly after explaining that Gohan and Vegeta had been killed (she knew that Gohan was very much alive at that point - training hard for his own fruitless battle with Buu) she had lost all the restraints, decades upon decades of pent up fury had come flooding out, and well, let's just say, that Goku, Krillin and Yamcha got a small taste of the rage that she really would have liked to unleash upon the unsuspecting Saiyan.

The day was over and done with now, the dust had finally settled, and that 'man' would be coming up soon. She laughed a low, chilling, throaty laugh, when she recalled how eager she had been for him fifty-five years ago, when he had first come back from the dead after a seven year drought. All the promises he had made to her then, the same promises, no doubt, he was planning on making to her now. Hah! She still had no clue how she was going to handle this situation. Any dramatic changes and the future of her children, if not the future of the world, might be altered unfavourably, Trunks from the future had more than demonstrated that little bit about the butterfly effect. Gohan and Videl were due to get together soon, Goten was due to have the time of his life, getting to know his father. If she killed him in his sleep, or maimed him, or simply kicked him out, or anything else that didn't follow the original path, she might inadvertently change Gohan and Goten's paths. It might not be such a bad thing, if she could guarantee that the change would not be for the worst. But these were her children, she couldn't possibly forgive herself if she brought more sorrow to their lives.

She didn't want to admit it, but in those first ten years after coming back, Goku had been the perfect, doting father and husband. Videl had been attracted to Gohan, in-love with him actually, it had taken him some time to man up and grab what was offered by the spunky girl, in the interim, Videl had confessed to Chichi that many a time she had thought of giving up on him, but she had so desperately wanted what the Sons had - the solidarity and love she saw brimming from them, she had wanted that in her future. Especially since her own family had broken a long time ago. If she cracked that so called 'solidarity' that had appealed to Videl so strongly now, would it have a consequential effect on their relationship? She was still mulling over these decisions when she heard the footsteps on the wooden floor.

Goku was coming.

She sat, completely rigid, barely breathing from the tension that had suddenly invaded her body.

The footsteps were getting closer and closer.

She clenched her fists and gritted her teeth. Damn it! She still didn't have a strategy!

The footsteps stopped right outside the door.

The restored muscles in her stomach tightened. Instinctively she pressed her back harder against the door, as if her body could really act as a barricade against the might of her husband!

The doorknob turned. A trickle of sweat dropped lightly from her forehead.

The small pressure being exerted from the other side of the door cracked the door only slightly ajar, because of the pressure her back was exerting back, instead of the door opening, the force and the momentum just nudged her forward a tad.

Her heart stopped.

Another small nudge increased the small opening and pushed her a bit further off.

Her veins glazed over.

"Chi?" is something blocking the door? Goku's voice permeated through the small space. She didn't know what to do, she wasn't ready to face him alone. She hated him so much, she might just butcher him to death! It wasn't fair that she couldn't lash out at him, call him on everything he had done. He didn't remember anything. No one did, everyone's memories had been wiped clean, their bodies restored to their previous youthful states, transported to the exact same places they had been all those years ago, trees and shrubs had sprouted were they had been replaced by construction, the living who had been too young had been unborn, their souls returning back to the land of the gods. Those who had already passed on resurrected, their bodies restored, their memories also wiped clean. Everything, and everyone had been reverted back, her own body as well, only her memories held the truth of how far along in the future things should really be. Damn that dragon!

"Chi?" He called out again, and she still didn't answer. She was about to press her body back against the door, effectively shutting him out, instead, her heart jumped out of her chest when she saw his form materializing right before her eyes, his fingers lightly touching his forehead.

Damn him and his accursed techniques!


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