Disclaimer: I do not own the heinously popular (and rightfully so) series Dragonball Z, and though I wish I were, I'm not making money off of this.

Here is my bit of DBZ fanfiction. This'll actually be my first really serious attempt at a multi-chapter, because though I've delivered some stunning oneshots (ahem) I tend to lose the flame with long commitments. So here's hoping I make it!


"Would you like to go camping?"

Bulma blinked. In all the time she had known Chichi, the younger woman had never taking the initiative to suggest a leisurely activity. Safety procedures and courtesy protocols she had plenty of resources on, whether for a trip to a hot spring or to the geology/rock museum (Bulma had been very careful to steadfastly refer to it as the ROCK museum, knowing that a museum of 1980's records and posters was not in compliance with Chichi's educational plan for four-year-old Goten), but the most Bulma had come to expect from Chichi's fun department was Parcheezi played with custom-made player pieces—made by the players because things usually got out of hand, or ki-blasted out of hand, in the spirit of competition.

What was most surprising, Bulma thought as she took a pensive sip of her tea, was the phrasing of the question as an invitation. "Us and the kids? Don't you think they're a little young?" Trunks had just turned five, and though no other years could compare to those when he would stuff his face with anything in sight, Bulma found the fussy stage he was currently going through trying. If everything wasn't just so, he wouldn't sleep, or play, or even eat—for example, if she squirted the mustard on the bun and not the hot dog. "I don't think I could handle Trunks out in the wilderness, not now, anyway," she elaborated.

"I was thinking, actually," said Chichi, "of leaving them with a babysitter, and just us two going."

Bulma nearly dropped her tea. "Leaving them?" Chichi saying this calmly? When the Sahara Desert floods! "What are you up to? Is something wrong?" she asked, growing alarmed.

Chichi placed her own cup down on the rich mahogany coffee table of Bulma's rich house. Her expression was faintly surprised at Bulma's reaction, but still calm. She smiled reassuringly. "Nothing's wrong. If something were wrong I would never leave my children, you know that."

"So", Bulma narrowed her eyes searchingly. "You're not running away and taking me with you to perform ritual suicide?"

Now Chichi recoiled, eyes wide. "Heavens, what a ghastly imagination!" She only laughed when she saw Bulma grinning mischievously. "I do have seppuku swords in reserve just for the occasion," Chichi said, waggling her finger. Bulma smiled indulgently. Vicious in combat and hair-raising in volume her friend could be, but sarcastic she never would.

"Any particular reason, then?" she prodded.

"No, just—do you have work to do? We don't have to go if you have business."

"Of course not," Bulma waved the reticence away. She would never have business where her friends were concerned. "You know if I didn't get a break one in a while I'd just keep going and burn out. I was thinking I was about due for a free weekend. Or did you have a time in mind?"

"If this weekend is all right for you, I would appreciate your company," Chichi said warmly.

"Super." The women took another sip. Bulma noted it was cooling rapidly, then thought to ask, "So where are we going? And who are the kids going to?"

Chichi looked at the coffee tabled to gather her thoughts and back at her friend. "Well, the way it seems to me is that your parents are much too old to be handling the boys' energy. My father is even less trustworthy; he's getting so on in years. I thought Krillin and 18 would be able to tire them out, at least, but Krillin says it would be too crowded on the island, so they would have to go camping, too, and that would just be Krillin and the boys since 18 won't let Marron too far from home. What a good mother she's turned out to be," she commented approvingly, but in the same breath continued, "despite her violent programming." She was forever making judgments that seemed petty, but Bulma figured it came with the territory of being an old-style princess without too much money to back up the name; no affording lookovers of character. "I do not wish to bother Piccolo with the task—he's already received Gohan so often lately he could snap at the kids. Goten isn't so well-behaved as Gohan," she admitted, smiling.

Bulma was glad her friend had slowly begun to accept Goku's friends as her own. Chichi, unlike her husband, held grudges. Bulma supposed this too had to do with a princess' pride. "Even if 18 were to go camping with everyone I doubt she'd do anything to protect anyone but her baby," she pointed out. "Even if Godzilla attacked the island. I bet the boys would be just as safe camping with Krillin as anywhere on the planet."

"Provided they don't choose any Ring of Fire islands," murmured Chichi darkly over her tea.

The humor caused Bulma to breathe out swiftly in a silent guffaw. "Krillin and Gohan would carry them away, you know that," she said merrily, so Chichi nodded and smiled. Reaching over for a cookie, a notion struck her. "Can't you fly, too?"

She looked genuinely surprised. "Goku tried to teach me once, after he returned from space, if I recall, but I was so focused on him I didn't want to concentrate. Anyway, Kinto'un is still with us. I sometimes use it for grocery shopping, when Gohan doesn't. Me, flying," she laughed, tickled at the idea. "You should ask Vegeta to show you sometime."

Now Bulma laughed. "Vegeta would sooner teach me rhythmic gymnastics than teach me to fly. How would he get away from me and my nagging?"

"Easily," game a gruff reply, startling both women out of their laughter. How he managed to be gruff with a voice so silky eluded Bulma, but it annoyed her when he was able to sound nicer than he was. Vegeta entered the coffee/living room from the kitchen, holding two Gatorades and a Red Bull.

"What are you doing with those?" Bulma asked quizzically. "Like you need more energy!"

"I'm confiscating them from Trunks," informed Vegeta.

"Oh, well, in that case," Bulma turned to Chichi confidingly. "Better err towards the lesser evil."

"Who are you calling lesser? I'm still drinking them," said the prince, moving to the staircase.

Bulma rolled her eyes and braced herself in advance for the night. "Oh!" she said. "I guess I should tell you since you're here. I'm not going to be here the day after tomorrow. Or the day after that."

"Do I find your maggot-infested carcass the day after that?"

Chichi grimaced while Bulma beamed. "Maybe if you look for it. It's entirely possible I could be mauled by a tiger, or poisoned by a platypus, or stabbed by a unicorn. And you will have come too late to see it."

"You don't fool me," said Vegeta. "That second one doesn't exist." Chichi stifled a giggle of amusement. He fixed her with a long-suffering stare and said to Bulma, "This isn't a business trip?"

"If it were I wouldn't bother telling you," she replied. "Where we're going I might get scared if we decide to do something fun, and I don't want you rushing in and blowing stuff up."

"'We'?" he queried, turning to face them fully and forgetting to contradict her assuming that he cared for her well-being.

"Chichi's offering to take me camping." She took another cookie.

Vegeta regarded the wife of his deceased foe coldly. "What makes you so generous? The woman has standards." Insulting her financial status was low on the scale of acidic remarks, but he had to communicate he didn't like the idea of Bulma spending even more time with her, the banshee.

She answered calmly, meeting his eyes. I too am royalty. "I hadn't explained to Bulma that I did want this to be traditional camping, using tents and not capsules, but if she wants to prepare for more than that it is up to her. She will be my guest."

"Your guest?" piped up Bulma, making a face. "How will this be fun if we're only going to be at Mt. Paozu?"

"No need to worry about that," smiled Chichi, glad her friend was becoming eager. "Not just my house, but the mountain and all the land surrounding it until the town is under the Frying Pan name. We can go wherever we like."

"As long as you don't come back whining about not being able to relax with Trunks making trouble." Vegeta resumed his long walk to the staircase.

"No problem," sang Bulma. "Trunks and Goten will be with Krillin and Gohan."

He stopped, paused, and pivoted, looking stern and put-upon. "Then who's going with you?"

"No one. We'll be all by ourselves, out in the wilderness, braving the elements."

"And expecting me to come get you when you find you can't survive."

"I already said I'd rather you didn't come ruin it. You won't feel a thing, I swear," she said, referring to his ability to sense her miniscule ki spikes of distress.

"Until the unicorn gets her," interjected Chichi unexpectedly, throwing them into a fit while Vegeta glared at the both of them.

He was not amused. "You humans," he sneered, "so far removed from your own world you go out of your way to expose yourselves to it. Yes, I'll expect a scream from you, but don't look for me. I won't come." He stood with his three drinks turning tepid in his hands, and his face was stubborn and fearsome.

Chichi looked at him. She saw the root of the problem and felt her honor speaking to her heart. She said, "I thought I made it clear Bulma will be a guest on my land. I will take full responsibility for her safety. I assure you I am quite capable of defending her; I have fought before and I will if the need arises." She gave a gentle smile. "Would it help if I said I will treat her as my own sons?"

"Excuse me?" said Bulma, pouting at how little credit she was getting, though she now felt extremely safe.

Vegeta seethed. "I didn't ask for your assurances," he spat at her, then zoomed up the stairs, cracking the first step in his wake. She looked after him, marveling at how unlike Goku he was, how unappreciative of sentiment and sincerity he was. How they were both of the same race bewildered her at every meeting.

"Don't be upset," Bulma said. "He's just mad he was found out."

"I hope you don't mind my doubting that," Chichi put a hand to her cheek mildly.

"Oh, for the first year he really tried not to get back into the swing of things, but now he even watches TV with me, and not just horror," the blue-haired genius gushed. Chichi privately wondered how TV-watching counted as quality time. "I think you did great. Standing up for yourself without yelling," she sighed. "I wish I did that more often."

"So do I," said Chichi honestly. At least, she thought morosely, I wish I had.

Bulma took yet another cookie. "I have to take only one of these at a time or I'll get fat. How the hell did you make these so good?"

"It involves the pummelling of dough, and you would need the muscles of a fighter to do it."

"Fighter cookies?" Bulma chewed slowly, asking though one side of her mouth. "Why does it have to be so hard?"

"Because I make forty pounds of it to last an evening's dessert plus a modest gift for a friend."

Bulma stared at her friend's relaxed, content face, at the gift of three dozen minus eight cookies, and moaned. "You set the standard so high, Chi! I'll never be a real wife!"

"Nonsense!" said Chichi placatingly. "You show your love in other ways, that's all! You make a wonderful wife!"

"It's a wonderful wife who has all the nearest take-outs at the top of her contacts," wailed Bulma.

"Don't be silly," said Chichi. "Trunks and Vegeta know you love them, that's all that counts. What's more, you're beautiful, talented, and strong in a fashion all your own. A wonderful wife indeed you are!" she concluded.

Bulma cut off her sniffles and smiled ingratiatingly. "You're right. I know. I just wanted to hear it said." At that moment the doorbell rang. They heard Gohan speak with Mrs. Briefs. "Well then, call me tomorrow for the logistics and I'll be ready for Friday afternoon. I'll try to keep the capsules to a minimum," she winked as they stood and went to the door.

Gohan stood with Kinto'un hovering above his head. "Hey Mom! I brought Kinto'un so maybe I could go to Mr. Piccolo's?" he asked with a glimmer of hope in his eyes.

"I think not," answered Chichi crisply. "You'll be having quite enough rough housing with Krillin this weekend and I don't want to buy more clothes than could be avoided. Goodbye, Bulma, thank you for the tea, and I will call at four." As Bulma closed the door behind her she saw the teenager light up. What a nice thing for the tightly wound warrior woman to do. She wouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. Years ago she never would have accepted, but the time comes when one must allow a person to act kindly of their own volition, and this must be it for Chichi. 'And now,' she thought, bracing herself, 'I have my "husband" to take on…'