Note: I haven't written in forever! I felt inspired after reminiscing on my own personal experiences. This story is based in canon and not related to Live.

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Monsters Don't...

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Night had fallen over the Son household. Another peaceful day over. Another day without Goku.

ChiChi's heart ached for him. She reached down to the bulge of her gravid belly, which held the last piece of Goku left to her before he gave his life fighting Cell.

She sent Gohan to bed. He went without protest. The solitude let her relax.

A tightening sensation made her rub her lower back. The dull ache slipped around to fill the bowl of her pelvis. She was glad Gohan didn't protest going to bed - now she could focus on the work ahead.

Frogs croaked outside. ChiChi used the rhythm of their song to guide her mop. Mopping kept her upright and took her mind off her discomfort. She checked the clock. The red second hand ticked in slow motion. The ache slowly faded to nothing. Her contractions were ten minutes apart and lasting about forty five seconds. She still had plenty of time.

I miss seeing my own feet. ChiChi mused to herself. My belly isn't as big as it was with Gohan. I'm a basketball instead of a watermelon.

The mop swished. ChiChi hummed under her breath. Her womb tightened. She paused, pulled a deep breath into her belly and let it out. Staying relaxed took more concentration than before, but she didn't mind.

Gohan's birth was the most chaotic experience of her life, and not one she wanted to repeat. Her father panicked. Goku panicked. She panicked. The birth itself wasn't horrible - but lying back in a hospital bed being treated like birth was a disease didn't feel dignified or miraculous.

This baby was Goku's last gift to her. She wanted to unwrap it on her own.

ChiChi mopped until the floors in the kitchen and living room shone like new. Good. The house was clean. She smoothed her simple purple robe and pulled off the circlet holding her hair in a bun. Her long black hair tumbled down her back.

She made herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and devoured it hungrily. Milk chased it down. She paced the kitchen, glancing at the clock.

Her first true contractions started shortly after lunch, around noon. They came as a low pinch in her pelvis every ten minutes, but she went about her day without paying them mind. They got stronger and closer together right after she ate dinner, yet she managed to do the laundry, put away the dishes and sweep the front steps. Now it was nearly nine o'clock and she couldn't quite ignore her womb anymore.

Sending Gohan to bed was the right idea. I know he means well by worrying about me...but I can't have him hovering.

ChiCh emptied the bucket outside and put it and the mop away. The balmy night air felt nice on her skin. Up above, stars shone brilliantly in the clear sky.

She went outside to the large wooden basin, which was full of water. Everyone in the family used it to bathe, but tonight it was to be her birthing pool.

A few insects floated on the water's surface. She scooped them out with her fingers and knelt to strike a piece of flint near the wood piled beneath the tub. A spark caught. She used her oncoming contraction as fuel to puff air on the embers until flames appeared.

Something moved in the forest. ChiChi turned, her face lit by the firelight. Just a doe with her speckled fawn.

"I'm having one of my own." ChiChi whispered, rubbing her belly. She swore the doe smiled before ushering her young back into the forest.

She knelt to strike the flint again in two more places. It took longer than she expected to have a decent fire wrapped around the basin. The wood was stacked to burn for hours - all night long if necessary.

Her lower back tightened. The ache in her pelvis completed its circle faster, felt sharper and stayed longer. Relaxing at its onset became important. Squatting or leaning on nearby objects helped, so she made use of the trees and the ladder beside the basin. She wasn't afraid of the pain.

ChiChi waddled back inside, returning again with a dozen beach towels, scissors, twist-ties and smaller towels for the baby. The beach towels lined the edge of the basin as a cushion. She laid her other supplies out on a shelf she could reach from within the water. Nothing she did made a sound louder than the chorus of frogs chirping in the woods.

She emptied her bladder in the outhouse. It eased some of her pain.

The baby kicked. She gave her belly a reassuring stroke as she stepped indoors again. Gohan would be hungry when he woke up. She set a large soup pot on the stove and poured in six boxes of oatmeal mix. Occasionally, she paused to lean on the sink or the chairs. Then she washed and set out several fresh oranges. A hastily written note instructed Gohan to add water and heat up his oatmeal whenever he wanted it.

Focusing on simple tasks was getting harder. She had to stop and think about how to spell Gohan's name, because for a few seconds it utterly escaped her.

Those oranges looked so tasty. ChiChi peeled and ate one. She glanced at the clock. Almost midnight, and for the last hour and a half her contractions were five minutes apart.

Where did the time go?

"Ohhh..." She grasped the edge of the table. Something inside her shifted, like a knuckle cracking. Then her panties felt wet and more oozed down her legs.

"Ah! No! Not my clean floors!" ChiChi squealed. She rushed outside and yanked her panties off. There was no smell of urine.

Her contractions sped up almost immediately, and no longer gave any warning. The circle didn't slowly draw itself around her pelvis - it was just there at full power.

Clothes were suddenly an annoyance. ChiChi unbuttoned her robe and threw it over the clothesline. She unclasped her bra and tossed it next to her robe. Her ruined panties found a home in the trash.

ChiChi climbed into the basin and took comfort in the weightlessness of the warm water. It didn't erase the pain, but it became bearable. She sat back against the side of the basin with her eyes closed, moaning low in her throat to get through her womb's tightening. Her mind was still clear when the contraction abated.

ChiChi sensed ki on her left. Goku taught her how. She could never identify people by their ki, but she knew it was close.

She slowly turned her head and opened her eyes.

Piccolo stood near the trees. His seven foot four inch height let him see her clearly. As usual, he was scowling.

Normally, ChiChi would scream at him for showing up unannounced. She hadn't liked having him around while Goku and Gohan trained to fight the Androids. In fact, she made it a point to avoid him as much as possible while he was in her home. Sending him and Goku off to driving school was just an excuse to get them both away from her for a few hours.

Piccolo was the monster that took Gohan away and made her worry for an entire year! How many wrinkles did she get for it now? Four?

Yet, at this particular moment, she didn't care that he could see her naked. Swollen brown nipples and a bulging belly probably didn't strike him as appealing anyway.

After all, she wasn't green.

Piccolo approached the basin. He moved silently, keeping his gaze respectfully on her face. The fire illuminated his features. The Namek wasn't scowling at all. His eyebrow ridges just made it seem that way. He looked scary in the dark.

"I sensed your energy spiking." He said by way of explanation. "And I felt another one nearby, so I came to - "

ChiChi held up one finger and turned over onto her hands and knees. She focused on relaxing her entire torso. If Piccolo said anything else, she didn't hear it. She returned to herself to find him looking intently at her belly. Her skin rippled when the baby moved its feet.

"So that's where it was coming from," Piccolo muttered. "Your son is strong."

Her hands moved to her stomach. "I-it's a boy? How can you tell?"

"The energy signature feels like Goku's." He said.

A lump swelled in ChiChi's throat. She looked away from Piccolo's intense eyes.

"Why are you bathing at this hour?"

She glanced at him. "I'm having the baby."

Piccolo leaned over to peer at her. "Well, what are you waiting for? Cough it up."

"W-what?"

"Doesn't everyone cough up eggs?"

ChiChi covered her mouth to avoid a rude laugh. "Is that how your women give birth?"

Piccolo raised an eye ridge. He ducked his head and his cheeks became noticeably purple. "I...um...my people don't have women."

Seeing Piccolo stammer and blush wasn't something ChiChi expected.

"So you cough up eggs? All by yourself?"

"Yes."

"Oh," she said. It morphed into a low moan and she leaned forward against the side of the basin. The water sloshed against her body.

"If you're having your baby...then have him."

"It's - not - that simple!"

"Why not?"

"Just shut up!" ChiChi snapped. When the contraction released, she breathed out and went on, "A woman's body has to prepare to let a baby out. It's why they call it labor."

"It looks painful."

ChiChi glared at him. Gee, ya think?

Piccolo scratched the back of his neck and leaned back away from her. "Look, I don't know anything about how female bodies work. I just know you need males to produce young."

"I'm glad you know that much." ChiChi muttered. "And for your information, this baby isn't coming out of my mouth."

"Oh. Is he supposed to fit through that?"

ChiChi looked down where Piccolo pointed. "No...not my belly button. Lower."

Piccolo scratched his head. "Uhhh..."

"Between my legs!" She snapped. "Things stretch to let babies out! Argh! Hold on, I'm having another contr-aaargh!"

"Geez, no wonder it hurts." Piccolo grumbled.

ChiChi ignored him. Her mind started doing funny things during a contraction. Piccolo said Nameks reproduced asexually. The few she met during their stay on Earth were very kind and sweet people. She couldn't help imagining them randomly doubling over and spitting out eggs. Nameks didn't need husbands and wives. They appeared to care deeply about their children, yet...

Do they love?

"I know what it is to care." Piccolo said suddenly.

"How did you..."

He pointed to his forehead. "I heard your thoughts."

"Oh."

ChiChi panted as her womb tightened. She had forgotten to keep timing her pains, but she knew they were less than five minutes apart.

"I miss Goku," she whispered. The whole of her soul ached to have him in the basin with her, sharing the fruit of their lovemaking.

She remembered their wedding night - the first time they made love together.

"Uh, ChiChi, why are you - Ah! You're naked! I'm not supposed to look!"

"Goku, it's all right."

"You won't call me a pervert?"

"Oh, I might...hey, I'm kidding. Come here."

Goku was so passionate once he understood the act wasn't dirty or shameful. He wasn't the sharpest man she knew, probably a result of the head injury he sustained as a baby, but his innocence always made her smile.

"Goku went out like the idiot he is. Grinning and waving." Piccolo said.

ChiChi yanked herself back to reality and saw Piccolo looking off to the side.

She whispered, "He was smiling?"

Piccolo nodded once and said, "I think I understand why he did it." His eyes moved up to meet hers. "I did the same thing once, way back during the battle with the Saiyajins."

ChiChi clung to the side of the basin. Despite her pain, she choked out, "W-when you s-stole G-Gohan..."

"I had to," he said softly. "But my reasons changed during the fight."

"You still took him!" She snapped. "He was my baby - and you - y-you - oohhh - you beast, you TOOK him away!"

Piccolo flinched and lowered his gaze to the fire. He chewed on his bottom lip. Did she imagine it, or had she hurt his feelings?

"Gohan is the only person who didn't treat me like a monster. The rest of Goku's group still looks at me like I'll eat their children." His gaze dipped pointedly to her belly before refocusing on her face. He narrowed his eyes and walked even closer. So close she could hear him breathing. "I gave my life for him in that fight. It was the most idiotic thing I've ever done, to die for that sniveling brat..." He turned away with a swish of his white cape. Under his breath, he added, "but I don't regret it."

Monsters don't let children die...

ChiChi closed her eyes, trying not to grit her teeth. Her body had to relax, not tense up.

"I guess it's the same reason Goku died trying to take out Cell. He wasn't thinking of everybody on Earth. I think he was thinking about you and Gohan. Saving planet Earth was just a bonus."

Then Piccolo walked a few paces away and settled into the lotus position on the ground with his back to her.

"What are you - "

"Wild animals like the smell of blood, and I've got a feeling human births are bloody," he replied. "Do what you have to. I'll keep watch."

Well, that was nice of him.

ChiChi let herself turn inward. The stars had shifted westward a fist's width. She wasn't sure how much time went by. She decided to relax and focus on her body.

Her contractions picked up in frequency and intensity almost immediately. She panted and moaned through them. Trying to take each tightening as it came without thinking of the next.

The stars moved across the sky. Piccolo breathed in and out. An owl hooted.

"Ohhh...ouch. Ouch!"

ChiChi began to struggle through the march of contractions. Moaning and breathing wasn't helping like it did earlier. She barely had time to rest between them. They were one after the other, each so intense she felt like someone shoved a stone between her butt and her breasts and used a vice to relentlessly squeeze her midsection around it. Changing positions and rocking her hips helped a little, but her mind continued to spiral with irrational thoughts of Goku. She found it hard to remember why she was suffering this way.

"Ohh..." ChiChi groaned. The water felt too hot, so she stood up. Then she was too cold, so she sat down again. Nothing felt comfortable! "Piccolo..."

Piccolo was right there almost before she noticed he moved. He stood on the bottom rung of the ladder, his hands grasping the basin's edge.

"Why can't you bring Goku back?" ChiChi wailed. "He was there when I had Gohan!"

"I'm sorry." Piccolo answered.

She clutched his wrists so he wouldn't move away. In the moment the only thing she wanted was someone close. Her whole body kept shaking. "I need Goku. I need him right now."

"He's d- um, I mean, ChiChi, Goku isn't here right now."

"It hurts! He's always been there when it hurts!"

"Uh..."

Tears flooded down ChiChi's face. She sobbed, "I can't do this...it hurts too much! I can't do this without Goku!" A contraction tore into her, and her last sense of calm disappeared. She swore her contractions were having contractions. "Ahhh! It hurts! It hurts! Goku! GOKU!"

"Goku can't be here right now." Piccolo said again. He sounded so calm.

ChiChi bit back a scream. She had a contraction every time she moved her legs. She wasn't even sure if the moisture on her forehead was water or sweat.

"I can't do this without him...Piccolo, I can't do this without him!"

"You have to!" Piccolo's voice was stern.

She moved her head side to side, crying harder than she ever had in her life. Wet hair clung to her cheeks and shoulders. The pain was too much. She should have gone to the hospital. Doctors could make it stop!

"I can't...I-I can't...I need to stop. I need a break!"

"ChiChi, you're too stubborn and annoying to give up like this!"

"It hurts!"

"A lot of things in life hurt. That doesn't mean you quit!"

"No!"

"ChiChi, focus."

"I need Goku! I need him! I need him! I need him!"

Piccolo sucked air in through his teeth and let it out. "He can't be here right now, ChiChi. Now focus."

"I can't focus! It hurts!"

Piccolo's attempts to remain calm would have been funnier to her if she wasn't in agonizing pain.

ChiChi snarled at him, "Go get him! You know where he is!"

"I can't reach him right now. You need to um...you need to breathe now. Yeah. Breathe."

"Don't tell me when to breathe!"

"FINE! Don't breathe!" Piccolo growled. "Just do whatever you have to do! You'll see your new son when you're done."

My new son, ChiChi thought. She held on to it like a thread of hope through the next several pains. Her pelvis ached. The backs of her legs hurt. Some of her contractions made her feel urges to empty her bowels. She yelled through them, clutching at Piccolo's wrists. They began to out again. Still intense, still painful, but giving her room to breathe.

"You should drink something." Piccolo's voice roused her from her stupor. Quieter than before. He held out something brown. A flask.

She accepted it. Her hands shook so much she barely got it to her mouth, but when she did she drank heartily. The water was fresh and cold. As she threw her head back to finish the last of it, she noticed the sky growing brighter. No wonder she felt so tired - it was almost morning, and she hadn't slept a wink!

"Are you still having a panic attack?" He asked.

ChiChi breathed out and shook her head. She moved to sit and was hit with an almost overwhelming urge to move her bowels. Her body bore down against her will. To her relief, she didn't foul the water. Now she knew what the urge meant.

"ChiChi?"

"Grrgh!" ChiChi growled. The urges were too strong to resist. Something primal within her was coming to life, and she was letting it happen. "He's coming."

"What?" Piccolo leaned over her. "I don't see him."

"Not yet!" She cried. "I have to - aah! I have - to push him out."

Behind her, Piccolo audibly gulped. "Push?"

ChiChi sucked air into her lungs. Above her, the sky was milky with the beginnings of dawn. She bore down as her body demanded it. The pressure in her pelvis became a slow stretch. All thought left her mind. Her baby was moving down. Nobody could bring him into the world except her.

"How long does it take to push a baby out?" Piccolo asked. His voice was genuinely curious.

"It takes as long as it takes. Give me your hand."

"What? Why?"

She snarled, "Because a woman holds a man's hand when she's giving birth!"

"Okay! Okay! Just stop yelling!" Piccolo growled back. He offered her his left hand. It was bigger than Goku's and had long, tapered fingertips ending in claws.

At that moment, ChiChi didn't even notice the claws. She placed her hand in his and gripped for all she was worth. Piccolo made a choked noise. She didn't care. She bore down as if having the biggest bowel movement of her life. The force of her pushes made the water ripple. Piccolo said something about a phenomenal power output, but again she hardly noticed. Her entire being remained intent on meeting this new baby.

ChiChi felt pressure between her legs. When Gohan was being born, a doctor told her not to push. She kicked him square in the face and pushed anyway, and Gohan was born into the hands of a doctor with a black eye. Gohan's birth also tore her. Recovery was not fun.

Still, something told her to slow down. She paused to breathe.

"I need a drink."

"There's water right in front of you."

"It isn't for drinking! I need fresh water! Cold, if you can help it!"

"Geez, you're so demanding. I can get you more water in two minutes."

"Then do it."

"Uh." Piccolo moved his fingers. The two middle ones were purple from her grip. "I need my hand first."

"Oh." ChiChi released him.

Piccolo took less than two minutes. ChiChi welcomed the coldness in her mouth. She gestured for Piccolo's hand again and went back to work.

All at once, pain! Hot. Burning. A fiery ring!

"Yow!" She screeched. The burning went away when she relaxed. The baby's head tried to slide backwards. She kept her muscles clenched so she wouldn't lose all that progress. His feet were moving. That told her he was all right.

Another contraction. Another push. More burning. Red hot. White hot. Blue hot. Violet hot. ChiChi reached down and felt a dome of hair. The baby was crowning! Another push and an ear brushed her fingertips. Her hand swept down to find a nose pointing towards her butt. Another push and his chin emerged. Her fingers swept again, feeling for any sign of an umbilical cord around his neck. There wasn't any.

Phew. Nothing to worry about.

She could see Piccolo's reflection in the water. His eyes were the size of saucers

"There's a head coming out of you." He said.

"Wow - grr - imagine - ungh - that!" ChiChi grunted. She drew her knees up to her chest and moved herself into a semi-squat. Another contraction. The baby turned slowly to one side while still mostly inside her body. ChiChi sucked air through her teeth. She bore down again, grunting. The baby shifted forward. One shoulder. Two shoulders. More burning flashed over her brain and she let out a scream that sent birds flying.

Suddenly, the agony was over!

ChiChi felt a gush of fluid escape as the baby practically shot out of her body. He resembled a little astronaut in space, tethered to the mother ship by a single lifeline.

It was a boy, just like Piccolo said. She let go of Piccolo's hand and reached into the water to turn him over. Goku's little face greeted her just as the sun hit the basin. He opened his dark eyes while still underwater and looked right at her. He smiled as if he knew her already.

Tears spilled down ChiChi's wet cheeks. She lifted the baby out into the daylight. He was wrinkled and pink. Waxy white vernix coated most of his body. His hair sprang up into spikes just like Goku's.

Then he seemed to notice the outside world was cold. He coughed and let out a wail.

Her pain already forgotten, ChiChi pulled her newborn son to her chest and rubbed his back. Right then, she would move the universe for his sake.

"Hello, baby. There, there...mommy's here. You're safe. Yes...that's a good boy."

"Wow." Piccolo let his breath out.

ChiChi rested her head on the side of the basin. She let the baby cry and clear his lungs. When he realized how close he was to her left nipple, he latched on and suckled like an expert. He had Goku's appetite.

The sky was clear and the air smelled wonderful. ChiChi sighed. The morning looked beautiful with a new life in the world.

And it brought the baby's name to her.

"Goten." She whispered. "His name is Goten."

Piccolo's lips tilted in a half smile. "Goku would like that."

ChiChi smiled back and delivered the placenta. Piccolo frowned at it. She pulled on the rubbery umbilical cord and examined the afterbirth. Completely intact. The cord was slack and turning pale. Goten didn't need it anymore.

"Piccolo, bring me the twist ties and scissors. Please?"

Piccolo retrieved the items. ChiChi talked him through tying the umbilical cord off in two places and cutting between the twist ties.

"This won't hurt him?"

"No. The stub on his stomach will dry up and fall off. That's where belly buttons come from."

"Oh." Piccolo reached into the water and cut the cord. He looked over at Goten. The corners of his eyes crinkled, but his mouth didn't smile. "Well, happy birthday, kid."

ChiChi giggled. She stood up when Goten finished nursing and retrieved a towel. After swaddling him, she turned to Piccolo. "Do you uh...would you mind holding him for a few minutes? I need to clean up."

"M-me? Sure...all right."

"Hold him like I am. Support his head. Newborns can't pick their heads up. Gentle now." ChiChi was surprised at how natural Piccolo looked holding Goten. The baby didn't seem at all afraid of him.

And why should he? People were only supposed to fear monsters, and ChiChi realized Piccolo didn't fit that description anymore.

She moved to a part of the basin not clouded by bloody water and bathed thoroughly. Then she pulled the plug in the middle that released the water and put out the fire. The front door of the house burst open as she wrapped herself in a clean towel.

"Mom! I heard screaming! Are you okay?"

"She's fine." Piccolo said. He turned so Gohan could see the new baby. "Kid, you have a little brother."

Gohan froze. His eyes filled with tears. "Oh, wow...he looks like dad."

"His name is Goten." ChiChi told him. She wrapped the placenta in an old, ratty towel. "Gohan, bury this by the woods. Don't look under the towel."

"Sure, mom!" Gohan took off with the towel and a shovel. He dug a hole and covered it up in two minutes flat.

Piccolo shifted. "ChiChi, Goten is starting to look angry. I think he wants you to hold him."

"Oh! Here. I'll take him." ChiChi reached for Goten. Piccolo looked relieved. His awkwardness was almost cute.

She opened her mouth to say something to him, but Gohan scampered back over to examine his baby brother.

"Gohan, go inside and comb your hair. You look like a delinquent."

"Aw, mom!" Gohan rubbed at his hair. He smiled sheepishly. "Should I call Bulma and the others?"

"Not yet. I need to rest a little. For goodness sake, Goten is only twenty minutes old. He doesn't need a bunch of people in his face. Now go brush your hair." ChiChi shooed Gohan into the house, followed him and turned on the stove. Goten rested peacefully on her arm.

I'm so glad I got this ready beforehand. Making oatmeal with one hand is a pain.

Gohan emerged with hair slightly less messy than before. He helped himself to the oatmeal when it was ready.

ChiChi let him eat in relative silence. She walked into her bedroom to clothe herself in a clean purple dress and panties with a heavy pad to catch her lochia. Goten squirmed within his swaddling towel. She hurried to scoop him up off her bed and kissed his puffy cheeks. Then she returned to the kitchen to find Gohan poured her a bowl of oatmeal and a glass of milk.

And orange peels littered the table.

ChiChi sighed to herself. If Goku was here, she knew she would be wading in orange peels.

Ruffling papers told her Gohan was in his room, studying. She would make him clean up his mess when he finished.

Suddenly, she realized Piccolo didn't join them inside. He was still standing outside, his arms crossed and his back to the house. His cape moved gently in the wind.

She called out the kitchen window, "Piccolo?"

Piccolo faced the house. He didn't look demonic at all in the sunlight.

"Why don't you join us for breakfast? There's still some oatmeal left."

He chuckled under his breath. "Thanks, but I think I'll pass." Then he turned to go.

"Wait!" ChiChi called. She hurried outside as fast as she could with a newborn in her arms. "Thank you," she said, glancing down at Goten, "for helping me through that."

Up close, he really wasn't all that scary. Socially awkward, a little abrupt, even handsome, but not a horrible demon bent on stealing children.

"You did all the work." He pointed out.

"That's not the point." ChiChi grasped the front of Piccolo's gi. She gave a tug that tipped his face closer and kissed his leathery cheek.

"What the - oof!" Piccolo straightened and wrinkled his nose. He wiped at his cheek like a child afraid of cooties. "Is this mushy stuff really necessary?"

She giggled. Then she grew serious. "I'm sorry that I called you a beast."

He shrugged his shoulders. "No big deal. Been called worse."

Goten yawned. ChiCh rocked him and looked up again.

"Those people are wrong, then."

That time, Piccolo ducked his head and flashed a real smile, and there was no cruelty on his face at all. Then he leapt into the air and zoomed over the trees.

ChiChi sighed happily and went back into the house. She looked forward to a long nap with Goten in her arms.