Disclaimer: I do not own DB/Z/GT. . . . But what would happen if I didn't put that? Does someone get paid to go through each and every chapter/story on this site and check for disclaimers? Man, I want that job! Imagine, 60-thousand a year to go "Yep, disclaimer .... yep, disclaimer ... ye -- Oops! This story doesn't have one! Let's sue the already-broke college/high school author!" Eesh!

A/N: Don't expect this to be a very deep or particularly challenging story. It's just something that's been floating around in my head for a while, since I've been wanting to write a Goku/ChiChi story.

I'm a bit of a cynic when it comes to their relationship. I don't believe that Goku was in love with her when they married. It was too soon. I don't even know if he was when Gohan was conceived (which wasn't soon after the wedding, but still!). However, I do think he was in love with her by the time Radditsu came around - long before, actually.

I think, in Goku's case, loving ChiChi came slowly - almost a learning experience. It must be hard for a guy who knows nothing about women or marriage, to go from living on his own to supporting a family. Most people don't give him enough credit - that, or they give him too much and assume he fit right in immediately. I don't go either way.

Well, like I said, this is just a theory. And even if you don't agree with it, this story's still a pretty easy read, so it won't affect anything if you don't like my theory. Just make sure you let me know what you think, because, well, I like knowing!

                Gradual Love

Chapter One:  First Step

The incredible battle was over.  A young man had defeated Daimaou Piccolo's son, though had not destroyed him, and the Earth was finally at peace.  This same man, Son Goku, now named the saviour of the planet, sat with his chin in his hands, legs swinging idly over the side of Kinto'un, his flying cloud.

"Boy, I've got quite a problem, eh, Kinto'un?" Goku muttered, smiling a little as the yellow cloud wriggled in response.  "I'm supposed to marry a girl I barely even remember — and I don't even know what marriage is about!"

Well, no.  Goku knew about marriage, relationships, and everything else now.  What he hadn't learned from Yamucha over the years had been taught to him by his martial arts teacher, Master Rôshi.  A few days prior, the old man had discovered Goku had thought marriage was a type of food -- and had immediately taken matters into his own hands.  The young man's face flushed with embarrassment as he thought of the videos Master Rôshi had forced him to watch.  The things the couples did weren't what bothered him, even though they were naked and stuff ‑‑ it didn't look bad at all . . . but it sure looked personal.  He wondered if they knew  a camera was there.  He bet they didn't.  Why would people have sex in front of a camera?

"So I'm supposed to do all that," Goku shrugged, staring up at the sky, squinting at the sliver of a moon that hung high over the horizon.  Someone had wished it back after Master Rôshi destroyed it years ago, and he was glad.  He liked the moon.  It made everything all silvery and pretty, and it helped calm him when he got confused.

Goku got confused a lot, but he didn't mind that — it was ChiChi who was making him upset about it.  He knew she loved him . . . she had told him so herself, several times, and whenever she said it her eyes got all shiny and she smiled a lot.  Goku, on the other hand, didn't know what it meant to be "in love" with somebody.  He loved ChiChi, he supposed, but he also loved Kuririn, Bulma, Yamucha, Master Rôshi, and everybody else just the same.  Well, no — right now, he guessed he loved Kuririn the most.  Kuririn was his best friend, after all.  But ChiChi probably wouldn't like that.

Goku knew there was a difference between his love and ChiChi's, but he wasn't sure — and he didn't want to ask her.  It had made her mad enough to know that he had all but forgotten her, and ChiChi was scary when she was angry.

He remembered her hugging him, after he had defeated Piccolo.  She'd lifted him right off the ground, though she sure didn't look that strong!  It felt kind of nice to have somebody that worried about him — a different kind of nice than when Kuririn or Bulma worried.  Did that make any sense?  Did that mean he loved her loved her, like she did him?

"Goku-san, what are you doing up there?"

Goku jumped in surprise, looking down.  Standing on the ground was ChiChi, her arms folded over her chest accusingly, staring up at him.  She wasn't glaring, which was a good thing, but she was dressed in her nightclothes and slippers, and she had let down her hair for the night.  She looked worried.

"I'm just thinking," Goku replied, "Hang on, I'll come get you," he swooped down with Kinto'un and grabbed ChiChi by the waist, hooking his arm around her and pulling her up next to him.  "There we go.  Now we can talk."

When Kinto'un headed back into the sky, ChiChi shrieked and clung tightly to him, startled.  "Goku-san, not so high!  What if we fall?" she pleaded breathlessly.

"I won't fall," Goku retorted, surprised she would even think that.  He'd had Kinto'un since before he'd met ChiChi the first time, and she hadn't minded riding with him then.  "Why are you scared?"

"I'm not scared," ChiChi huffed indignantly, but she crept closer to him and held onto his arm.  Goku rolled his eyes, wondering if she wasn't faking a little.  Bulma did that when she wanted Yamucha to act all boyfriend-y with her — pretended she was scared or hurt, that is.  He fell for it every time, and it always pleased Bulma.

Hey, maybe that was what ChiChi was trying to do.  Goku shrugged.  "Here, will this make you feel better?" he scooped her up and sat her on his lap, his arms wrapped securely around her waist.  "You can't fall now."

ChiChi made a sound that suggested she was happy, and Goku guessed that had been the right thing to do.  She settled back against him, resting her head against his chest.  "So what were you thinking about, Goku-san?" ChiChi asked, tilting her head a little to look at him.

Goku paused before replying.  Should he tell her how confused and mixed up he was about the wedding?  Should he admit that he had no idea what a husband was supposed to do?  He didn't want her to get mad at him — but then, he guessed it was better off telling her now.

"I was thinking that I don't know what I'm doing," Goku sighed a little, resting his chin on the top of ChiChi's head.  Her hair smelled pleasant — come to think of it, ChiChi smelled really pretty, not just her hair.  And it wasn't fake like Bulma, who used perfumes and all sorts of stuff, because that always made Goku sneeze.  This was a real sort of prettiness.  Goku shook himself, wondering what was going wrong with him.

"What do you mean?"

"I don't know what a husband is like," Goku let go of her for a second, running a hand through his unruly hair.  "Grandpa Gohan said that I should be kind to girls, especially my wife if I ever got married.  Kuririn said I'm supposed to kiss you and make sure you're happy and buy you presents.  Yamucha said I'll have to live with you and sleep in the same bed and I can't ever look at another girl again.  Master Rôshi said — well, never mind that," he stopped there, because ChiChi giggled a bit, and he knew she figured the last part out.

Goku frowned.  "But it doesn't make sense.  I'm already kind to girls, but they're not all my wives.  So just because I would kiss you and try to make you happy and sleep with you and buy you presents, is that it?  Yamucha does that for Bulma, but he's not her husband," Goku scratched his head, thinking.  "But he does make her mad all the time, and I don't think they sleep together — not that way, the Master Rôshi way, I mean."

"I don't think that's all a husband is," ChiChi disagreed, patting him reassuringly on the knee.  "But I don't know what one is supposed to do, either.  Same with a wife.  Daddy says I should cook for you and keep the house neat, but there should be more than that."

"Yeah," Goku blew out his breath in frustration.  It seemed ChiChi didn't know any more than he did.  "So we have to learn together, then?"

"I guess so."

They sat in silence for a while, then ChiChi spoke up.  Her voice was different this time — kind of teasing, but also a little embarrassed and shy.  He remembered her talking that way sometimes when they were little.  "Goku-san, have you ever kissed a girl?"

Goku almost made a face, but stopped himself just in time.  "No.  Have you?"

"Kissed a girl?!"

"No!" he laughed at the sound of ChiChi's voice.  She sounded completely shocked.  "A boy!  Have you ever kissed a boy?"

ChiChi shook her head.  The movement made her hair tickle Goku's chin, and he moved away from her a little.  "Not really.  I kissed your cheek, but that's it.  I've never kissed anybody on the mouth before."

"Hmm," Goku had walked in on Yamucha and Bulma once, when they had been on the couch.  Yamucha had sat up real fast and wiped his mouth, but Bulma had just laughed and told Goku to watch and learn.  He had, not knowing it would have been rude if they were anyone else — he was just a kid, then.  Bulma liked having an audience, he could tell — but Yamucha kept looking at Goku, like he wanted him to go away.  After that, Goku had gotten the impression that kissing was private.

Maybe kissing was the secret to relationships.  Yamucha and Bulma knew lots of stuff, and Goku wasn't that much younger than they were.  Maybe . . .

"Well, do you wanna' try it?" Goku asked bluntly.  "I mean, I have to kiss you at the wedding.  Your Dad told me.  I don't wanna' mess up and embarrass you."

ChiChi's head swung around, and even in the moonlight Goku could see her cheeks had turned a bright pink colour.  "A-are you sure?" she stammered, her voice all funny, like she was out of breath.

"Sure, I wouldn't've said so if I wasn't," Goku was puzzled at her reaction, but didn't ask.  ChiChi must know more about kissing than he did, since his face wasn't turning red and his voice wasn't getting weird.  Maybe after he'd tried it a few times.

"O-okay," ChiChi smiled nervously, and Goku turned her around in his lap so she was facing him.  She was sitting really close to him by then, so close he was sure he could feel her heart thudding.  "This is so romantic, Goku," ChiChi breathed, getting that starry-eyed look in her eyes again.  "My first kiss!  Floating in the stars, in the moonlight . . ." she sighed happily.

Romantic . . . another word he didn't know.  All Goku knew about that one was that it was something Yamucha wasn't — Bulma had yelled that enough times for him to know it.  He guessed it was a good thing that he was romantic, since ChiChi didn't look mad.  "So, do you know how to do it?" Goku asked.

"I think you just have to do it and figure it out as you go," ChiChi said wisely, nodding like she knew what she was talking about.  "It's not something you can learn from a book.  You just have to feel it."

That didn't help.

"We're supposed to close our eyes, though," ChiChi added, after a few seconds' thought.

"What if I miss?" Goku interjected incredulously.  "If my eyes are closed, I can't see you!  What if I kiss your nose?  Or your chin?  Or your eye?"

ChiChi laughed, and she put her arms up around his neck, her shoulders shaking.  "Okay, you keep your eyes open at first, then close them after you kiss me.  Would that be better?"

Goku nodded, feeling a bit better.  He didn't want to look stupid.  "Well," he said, staring at her.

"Well," ChiChi repeated, looking back at him, her black-eyed gaze intent and, in a way, discomfiting.  Goku swallowed hard, suddenly nervous.  What if he didn't do it right?  What if she got mad?  He didn't want to make her mad — ChiChi was a good fighter and a good friend, and he liked her a lot.

"Just do it!" ChiChi cried finally.  "You'll be fine."

Nodding again, Goku put his hand under her chin, tilting her face up like he had seen Yamucha do.  ChiChi closed her eyes expectantly, and Goku leaned in.  Here goes nothing, he thought, and he brushed his lips over hers clumsily, remembering to close his eyes at the last second.

ChiChi made a funny noise and pulled his head closer, pressing their lips together, and it took all Goku's self-restraint not to jerk away in shock.  A shiver ran down his spine and his stomach fluttered suddenly, almost like he was hungry, but he didn't know why.  ChiChi's lips were soft and tasted almost sweet, and he decided kissing wasn't as bad as he'd been afraid it might be.

He pulled away and looked around eagerly, waiting for the rush of knowledge he knew would come.  When it didn't, Goku felt a stab of anger and disappointment.  Wasn't he supposed to be smarter?  Wasn't he supposed to know what to do now?  What had been the point of kissing ChiChi if he was just as confused now as he had been before?  The only thing different was that he felt a little tingly, but that was all.

"Oh my," ChiChi whispered, her fingers on her lips, and her expression was rapturous.  It was even happier than the look she gave him when he agreed to marry her.  "Goku, that was . . . that was amazing!"

Amazing?  He hadn't felt anything!  He didn't know anything else!  Why was ChiChi the lucky one?  "Again," Goku demanded.  Maybe the knowledge was just taking turns.  He noticed ChiChi's excited look, and she laced her fingers behind his head, obviously taking advantage of Goku's sudden personality shift.

Goku frowned, closed his eyes, and kissed her again — admittedly more roughly this time, causing ChiChi to squeak in surprise.  When nothing happened again, Goku yanked back, not noticing the hurt that sprang to ChiChi's eyes.  "What's the matter with me?" he yelled, his anger giving way to desperation.  "Why isn't anything happening?"

"What?" ChiChi's gaze flickered over his face in concern, and she touched his cheek lightly.  "What did you think was going to happen?"

"I thought it would make me smarter," Goku admitted despairingly, realizing now how silly he sounded.  He lowered his head, expecting ChiChi to laugh at him.  "I thought I'd know more about what a husband does."

"Oh, Goku-san," ChiChi did chuckle, but it was affectionate rather than mocking.  "There's nothing you can do.  We just have to figure it out."

Goku snorted, feeling like an idiot.  "I'm sorry for yelling," he muttered.  "And for not being very good."

A cool hand brushed his bangs back from his forehead, and Goku's head snapped up in surprise.  ChiChi was smiling softly at him, and he thought he had never seen her look so kind.   "It's okay," ChiChi assured him, stroking Goku's face with her fingers.  The sensation was pleasing somehow, in a way Goku didn't understand.  "I'm still learning, too."

He just nodded, when ChiChi reached up and pulled his head down.  Before Goku knew what was happening, ChiChi captured his mouth with her own, locking him into a long kiss.  Her arms came up around his neck, her fingers combing playfully through his hair.  Goku's eyes flew wide open, but before he could protest, the quivering feeling started in his stomach again, and tingles ran from his spine, throughout his body.  He decided he would wait and see what happened.

ChiChi was right . . . once he stopped thinking about it, he did figure out what to do.  Without having to analyze, Goku found himself kissing back, his hands instinctively coming to rest at ChiChi's waist, stroking her sides gently.  He didn't understand what was driving him, telling him what to do, but it was definitely a relief.  However, apart from this strange instinct, Goku didn't feel anything.  The strange feeling in his gut was still there, but he didn't think that was what ChiChi referred to when she called their first kiss "amazing."

At last, ChiChi broke free, her cheeks flushed with pleasure.  "Wow," she whispered, glancing at Goku with admiration.  "I told you!"

Goku just nodded, not sure of what he was supposed to say to her.  He knew his body was reacting in some ways — how else could he explain the shivers that ran up and down his backbone, or the twisting in his insides? — but his mind was just as confused as ever.  He didn't know what he should be feeling — or how he would ever find out.

"Well, I - I'm going to bed," Goku announced, hoping she didn't think he was being rude, but luckily, ChiChi only smiled.

"Yes, I guess I'm a little tired, too," ChiChi cocked her head to one side, and her face started to turn red again.  "Do you . . . mind if I sleep with you? — Just sleeping, of course," she added hastily, in case Goku mistook her offer.  "I mean, you don't have to, but . . ."

Goku thought his eyes were going to pop from his head.  ChiChi wanted to sleep with him?  When he was little, he'd asked Bulma that once, and she had freaked out on him.  Through the years, Kuririn had been the only one of Goku's friends willing to share a room with him — and even then, they always had separate beds or pallets.  He knew he and ChiChi would be sleeping together once they were married, but . . .

"Yeah!" he shouted enthusiastically, grabbing ChiChi in his arms and jumping down from Kinto'un.  "My bed or yours, ChiChi?"

ChiChi just laughed, her arms around his neck, hugging him.  "Whatever you want, Goku-san."

I'll figure this husband thing out eventually, Goku thought confidently that night, as he lay with ChiChi curled up beside him.  It wasn't quite like sleeping with Grandpa Gohan, but it sure beat lying in bed by himself.  And ChiChi sounds like she'll be pretty patient with me.

He frowned a little, just before dropping off to sleep.  He'd been pretty good at faking that kiss — although it hadn't seemed to mean anything to him, he could tell it had given ChiChi a lot of happiness.  Goku knew he could keep that up for a while — but how long would it be until he figured out this "love" thing for himself? 

Well, unfortunately, only time could tell for that one.  Goku was willing to wait — for a little while, at least.  He only hoped he had everything sorted out by the time the wedding came around.