By the time she folded the last pair of clean pants, the gesture had almost become automatic, mindlessly easy. She'd wished, earlier in the month, not to have so many clothes to take care of, because it took so long; now she had her wish and she regretted it a bit. Learning to fold faster was easy. Learning to fix the immense variety of creative tears her husband managed to make demanded a lot more effort and concentration.
"That Goku," she muttered, with both annoyance and a strange sense of pride. She supposed the pride wouldn't last if her husband didn't learn to care for his clothes...
Her husband. Even a month after their marriage, the thought still made her smile.
She went to stuff the pile of clothes in the little cupboard, and had to pause. The pile was too big to fit easily in the last gap -- and in the middle of the last opening sat her own training gi. She hadn't worn it once since they'd gotten married. Perhaps it was time to throw it away -- or, well, it would be silly to waste the cloth; but maybe she ought to put it in storage somewhere, so there would be more space in the tiny cupboard of their tiny bedroom.
Perhaps... Gyumao Chichi had been a princess, and a warrior; but when she'd married, she'd decided to leave all that behind. Now she was Son Chichi, the wife of Son Goku. It was a good trade. She shifted the pile of clothes to the side to free one of her arms, took her gi out of the cupboard, and put the clean clothes in. Ah, now everything fit.
Maybe it was a sign.
"Chichi? I'm back!" her husband called from the other room. "I brought meat!"
By now she knew what her husband referred to as "meat"; no doubt a monstrous boar, or perhaps a small triceratops. She didn't put it past him to drag the dirty, bleeding carcass through the kitchen and dump it on their rickety table. She abandoned the tunic and pants on a corner of the bed and ran to supervise.
Her husband stood in the door, a king stag across his shoulders, a blinding smile on his face; she smiled back, and blushed a little. The way he smiled almost made her want to forget the dead animal dripping on her kitchen floor and kiss him silly. He was always eager to kiss back.
He rarely kissed her first, though, and that made her feel a little depraved, like perhaps she was corrupting him. "Goku!" she protested, to hide her flustered blushing. "You're getting blood on the floor again! Go back outside, hang it from the tree -- come on, go!"
She ushered him out; he went with a little laugh, carrying the huge animal as if he barely noticed its presence.
"I'll get wood to smoke the meat; you skin it. Do you have a knife?"
"Nah. Look!" he retorted, concentrating briefly and used a burst of ki to cut the skin off. Chichi winced as the odor of singed fur filled the air. Well, that was another pelt they wouldn't sell, not with a hole in the middle. "... Oops. Oh well, it works anyway?"
"It's okay. I'll get the knife."
She went and came back, unsurprised to see that Goku had kept going with his tiny ki blades. The incisions were getting a little neater, more controlled already. He was humming a little song under his breath; "Meat, meat, meat!"; she bit her lip to keep from smiling. He was such a child sometimes.
"Don't eat everything, remember? We need to start preparing for winter."
"Aw, but Chichi..."
"No," she replied sternly. She'd let him beg "just a little bit more" yesterday and the whole boar had disappeared down his throat. Then he'd wasted half the afternoon napping, stomach distended and a silly little grin on his face.
She started the fire, and they butchered the animal and hung some of it to smoke, roasted the rest. "It's so good, Chichi!" her husband moaned as he devoured his share.
She'd barely sprinkled a couple of herbs on it; the rest he could have done for himself. Goku couldn't tell the difference between camping food and a real homecooked meal, and she -- well, she had her mother's cookbooks, and she'd studied and studied them, but a pie here or there didn't count as a meal for someone with a stomach like her husband. Like laundry, she wasn't yet practiced enough to do so much of it at once. Just two days ago, she'd tried to make him gratin; the ceiling was still tinted black from the smoke.
He'd eaten it anyway, black bits and all, and he'd grinned in delight all the while, because she'd cooked it for him and there was no way he would throw it away. He was so silly sometimes, her husband.
"Let's eat outside, Chichi, it's such a beautiful day," he wheedled.
She pretended to think about it; Goku stepped behind her, rested his large, callused hands on her hips.
"Pretty please, Chichi," he murmured in her hair.
She closed her eyes, breath a little short. "Mmh -- alright. But you move the table."
A whee of delight, and the warmth at her back was gone, disappearing in the little house. Sometimes, she really didn't know whether he was as innocent as he seemed, or whether he was secretly evil and enjoying her confusion.
The table was set in record time and she saw about serving him, nibbling here and there as she cooked slices of meat for him. She felt guilty; there were no vegetables, no rice. She'd have to get things ready sooner for the evening meal.
"My father wrote, by the way," she said as she sat down to eat a bite. "Master Roshi was well, and your friend Krilin too."
"Oh? That's good, that's good," Goku replied like he'd never expected any different. "Wasn't your dad going to visit by the way?
"His car is broken, so maybe next month."
Goku gnawed the meat off a bone. "I can take you on Kinto'un."
Chichi blushed. "...I... don't think that's going to be possible," she said.
Goku tilted his head, puzzled. "Why?"
"Well -- that's... Just because."
She picked up the spatula and scooped more rice to shove at him, to give her hands something to do. You had to be pure of heart and mind to ride the magic cloud, and after their honeymoon, well... She wasn't sure she still qualified. She could already imagine the embarrassment of falling through and then having to explain why. It was better not to try it at all.
"No, really, why?" Goku pressed with a puzzled smile.
Oh, how come he didn't get those things? And how come he could still fly it? Granted, the reason he could fly it probably was because he didn't get it, but why -- ahh, nevermind.
Chichi was still red and flustered when he stopped smiling.
Her husband stood, quiet and frowning -- worried, wary. She let the spatula fall back into the plate, worry creeping up her spine.
"... Get inside the house, Chichi."
She stepped away from the table, alarmed. The last time she'd seen him so serious had been during his fight against the demon Piccolo.
He abandoned a half-eaten stag leg on the table; the next second she was rushing to the house, mind racing. She stood in the doorway, watching his back as he stared up at the western sky.
"Who is it? Piccolo again?"
Goku shook his head. "No. Not anyone I know." His voice was strangely quiet when he added, "But he's strong."
Chichi thought that was wrong. Her husband was supposed to be happy when he met strong people. But this time he was confused, tense. She left the door open a crack to hear and stared through the peephole.
And then the stranger was there, landing in their clearing. He wore weird pointy boots, black ones; that was what she noticed first. Red legwarmers, clingy spandex pants, bare arms -- a strangely styled body armor. The armor meant nothing good, but it wasn't what made her stop breathing.
His skin was tanned and his expression was hard, and there was a scar on his face; he was older as well -- maybe ten, fifteen years older, she couldn't tell.
Despite all that he could have been Goku.
Same wild black hair, same bone structure -- maybe a little sharper, more angular, but she didn't know whether there was a real difference, or just age and his harsh expression.
She could only see her husband's back, but she thought she knew what Goku's face looked like anyway, reflected in his stance; watchfulness, braced for battle, but still with an odd sort of openness, potential friendship offered freely.
The stranger stood with his hands loose at his sides, which reassured her not at all.
There was a tentative smile in Goku's voice, some hint of sheepishness, the hope that the situation wasn't as dire as it seemed. "Hello. Who are you?"
Chichi held her breath as the man stared fixedly at her husband. She could see his face, grim and displeased.
"... You don't know who I am." His voice was nothing like her Goku's; much deeper, rougher, different harmonics, words sharp and clipped. His syllables almost seemed underlined with growls.
"Well, no. Should I? ... You look a lot like me, you know."
The man snorted, unimpressed. "Insolent whelp. You're the one who looks like me."
He fell silent for a couple of seconds, and then the belt at his waist loosened up and started swinging behind his legs like a living thing, as slow and deliberate as a cat on a hunt.
"You have a tail!"
"... Yes," the man replied with cold patience, "I have a tail. You do, too -- don't you?" he added with an incisive look at Goku's waist.
Goku ruffled his hair. "Ah... No, I lost it in battle."
The man briefly looked angry -- Chichi had the strange thought that it might have been on behalf of Goku, instead of at Goku -- but that was smoothed away. "Hrrn. It will grow back."
"I'm your father, Kakarott."
Chichi muffled a gasp in her hand; but in a way she wasn't too surprised. Their faces... Too much of a resemblance, of course they would be related. Though she wouldn't have guessed father -- uncle, maybe, or brother, but father? Either he was older than he looked or he'd fathered Goku younger than was decent.
"Don't make me repeat myself."
"But -- oh. Really?"
The man stalked closer, steps long and determined; Goku's posture, which had slowly relaxed, snapped back into a guarding stance immediately.
The man sneered, and Chichi was afraid that he'd finally lost patience; but the expression melted away into a stony, vaguely perplexed stare. "You really don't know me at all."
"No, sorry," Goku replied, voice softening a little in apology. "I mean, I can see that we look like each other, but I don't remember you. I was pretty young when my grandpa found me, so that's probably to be expected..."
"What do you mean pretty young? You heard my voice in the womb and they gave you my scent after birth. It should have been enough to know me anywhere."
Goku just stared at the man. Chichi was breathless. What was he going on about? Was he crazy? Who could even remember anyone they had met before age three or four?
"... You really don't."
"I've told you I don't," Goku retorted with some frustration.
There was more silence, as the man considered her husband. She thought he wasn't sure how to handle Goku, perhaps -- it was obvious he was much different than he'd expected.
He gave Goku another long, measuring look; the strange thing over his eye beeped, and he crossed his arms, nodding in what Chichi was surprised to recognize as grim approval. "You've grown past your birth potential by quite a bit, I see. Maybe this trip wasn't a waste."
"What are you talking about -- why did you come here?" Goku tilted his head in confusion. "To see me? Why did you go away, anyway?"
The man shook his head, frowning. "You really don't remember anything... Stand down, whelp, I have no intention of fighting you now."
He planted his hands on his hips, waiting until Goku's ready fists lowered.
"My name is Bardock. Your name is Kakarott -- do you remember that?"
"No," her husband said. "Grandpa Gohan named me Goku."
Bardock scowled a little at that. "It's not your name. He isn't your grandpa. He couldn't have been -- you weren't born on this planet. You're not a local; you're a Saiyajin -- that's the name of our species."
He paused, gave Goku a long look, while Chichi tried to make the words 'my husband is an alien' make any kind of sense and utterly failed.
Bardock didn't care about her shock. His voice was cold, clipped, delivering information with no emotional value whatsoever.
"Planet Vegeta was destroyed. Our survivors are on the move. I'm taking you back with me."
Those words -- now those words made sense, out of the storm of incredible revelations. Chichi's eyes widened, and then narrowed in outrage. No, no he wasn't!
"Um, it's not that I'm not glad to meet you," Goku said, rubbing the back of his head. "I mean, it's nice to know where I come from, and I hope we get to know each other -- but I like it here. It's a nice place to live."
The man's tail tip twitched, just once, and a feeling of cold determination swept the clearing. "I fail to remember asking for your opinion."
"What?" Goku jerked in shock -- just in time for his legs to be swept out and for a booted foot to crash in his chest and pin him down in the grass; his head glanced off their porch. Bardock loomed over him threateningly.
"This is not a request. You are coming with me."
"No I'm not!" Goku strained to unbalance him and didn't succeed.
Bardock growled in impatience. "Stubborn. Do I have to break your arms and legs?"
Unable to stay hidden a second longer, Chichi surged out of the house, swinging a heavy oak chair at the alien's head. "You're not taking him anywhere!"
Bardock swatted the chair away, giving her a quick, irritated, totally unsurprised look; Goku lifted his hips off the ground and kneed the man in the back of the leg, rolling free when he stumbled.
Goku pounced on his father; Chichi dived off the porch to get out of the way.
Then there was a loud breaking noise, and part of the wall and roof of their house flew off to crash some dozen feet away. Chichi gasped and ran to turn the corner, just in time to see the two fighters blur again. Her husband slammed so hard in the earth he left a crater, and lay there, panting harshly enough for her to hear. And then the armor-wearing stranger advanced.
Goku didn't get up. He tried to turn on his side, but didn't even manage to lift himself three inches off the ground before he fell back down. The man stared down at him, and snorted.
This time Chichi used the kitchen knife, fallen in the grass when the table had been blown off its feet, stabbed at his unprotected throat.
Just as the knife came down the man blurred from sight, and then she couldn't breathe.
He held her off the ground by the neck, frowning. She trembled -- fear, anger, she didn't know. Both. The blade broke on the first stab. She swung her legs, her fists, could find no purchase; his hold was unbreakable and he didn't react to her attacks at all. She felt tears of rage fill her eyes, and forced them back, forged her emotions into a blade. She was a warrior too -- had been -- needed to be a warrior now. She went still, cold-eyed, prompting him to pause and arch an eyebrow at her... And then she struck, grabbing his wrist to stabilize herself as she kicked with both heels, one at his face -- a diversion -- one at the loop of his tail over his hipbone.
At the last moment he twisted away, and she hit nothing but air.
"Chichi! Let her go -- let go -- my wife!"
"Wi-fe?" The man tilted his head and tapped his machine. "Huh. Translation glitch... If you mean you sleep with her, you'll find another one."
"We're married!" Chichi screeched, driving her nails into his skin. "The priests blessed our union -- like I'd let some floozy...!"
The man twitched at her shrill scream, and he lifted her a little higher. She was starting to feel faint; not enough to miss the mounting determination in those cold, narrow black eyes.
"Sealed union, huh? Then I'll need to kill you."
Goku lurched up on his feet and threw himself at his father, but the man dodged and kicked him down again; Chichi's body swung from his fist. She clung to his wrist as hard as she could. The muscles of her neck strained, screaming in pain.
And then there was red light in his palm and her skin prickled with the closeness of his concentrated ki. Her neck hurt, badly, and black spots spread and danced in her vision. She refused to die like that! She was -- she was Chichi, daughter of Gyumao the Ox-king, she was -- she was...
She lost a second of time in darkness, maybe two, but then there weren't enough seconds left to lose and so she lifted up her knees and then uncoiled, toes first -- straight like a blade, straight at his eyes.
And he caught both her ankles in his free hand, so fast, it wasn't fair, held her like a rabbit to butcher--
"--Who got you pregnant?"
Chichi blinked hazily at him, uncomprehending. Bardock dumped her on the ground, and she grunted in shock more than pain; she couldn't move away before he had a hand in her hair, gripping her high ponytail tightly.
"Who got you pregnant?" he asked again, with a strange tension in his voice that wasn't quite anger.
Chichi glared up at him. "How dare you even--" She coughed painfully as her bruised throat complained; realized what he'd just said, paled. " -- I'm pregnant?"
"You don't even know your own body?!" The man growled and his tail puffed up; he lashed it twice and then forced it to curl around his waist, stiff with indignation. "Who?"
If she hadn't already been flushed from almost-strangulation, Chichi would have gone red from rage. "That's -- how dare you! How dare you imply--"
He shook her once, sharply, tearing off a clump of hair. "Was it my son?"
"Of course it was your son!" she screamed back. "I've never been to bed with anyone else!"
She glared up at him, as he stared down, his face a mask -- she could find no trace of the warm man she loved on him. The insult to their marriage and the attempt on her life infuriated her even more than he scared her, and the knowledge she was going to die...
... The child. A child? She had a child. It was going to die, too.
If she'd kept the broken blade in hand, she would have hacked off her own hair and ran, but she'd dropped it; she strained, clawing at his hand. More of her hair tore free, painfully so; Bardock swore under his breath and leaned down to catch some other, less removable part of her.
That was when Goku attacked.
Someone's foot clipped Chichi's shoulder as the two men flew over her head; she crashed in the dust. She'd had enough training to know to curl up so her momentum would roll her back to her feet instead of flattening her; she stumbled briefly and ran away. Grunts of pain and smacks of flesh on flesh rang behind her, spurring her on. She couldn't help -- she wished she could, her sweet Goku -- but the child, the child, Goku was doing it for her and she was so useless anyway, there was nothing to do but run --
A woosh of displaced air had her dodging without even knowing what she was trying to avoid. Not fast enough. She collided with some kind of plastic hard enough to be metal, and then there was an arm around her chest like a steel band, trapping her arms against her body. "Let go! Let go, don't touch me -- Goku!"
Chichi twisted in his hold and bit his collarbone to the blood. She'd been aiming for his throat; next time she wouldn't miss. "I told you to get your hands off me!"
"I think I see why he chose you," Bardock said with such an unexpected flash of humor that Chichi briefly forgot to scream. "Enough, woman, I won't kill you."
His smirk smoothed out into cold threat. "Unless you lied about the spawn being my son's."
She reared in outrage -- and Bardock smiled. It wasn't an especially nice smile, not friendly at all. Satisfied, maybe? She was too offended to puzzle it out. If she could free even one hand -- then they'd see if his eyeballs were as strong as the rest of him!
"Let her go," Goku demanded as he struggled back to his feet. He stumbled, fell back on one knee, tried again. Chichi had never seen him shake so badly, but he wouldn't let himself stay down and recover. "Let go. Chichi--"
Bardock considered him in silence for a second. Chichi couldn't breathe, crazy with the need to go to her husband. Goku was still trying to crawl to her through the dust, and she wanted to cry from the hopelessness of it. She was stunned when Bardock relaxed his hold without warning, letting Chichi slide down his armored body until her feet hit the ground.
"Don't run away, woman. I can catch you."
Chichi had to try two times before the words came out, still reeling from the realization that she'd just gained a reprieve. "I'm not running anywhere. Unless you lied about not wanting to kill me anymore."
She was probably just as surprised as he was when he chuckled.
Drawing her tattered dignity around her like a cloak, Chichi went to her bleeding husband, back ramrod straight. She knelt at Goku's side and her hands trembled as she felt for broken ribs; he touched the ring of bruises around her neck with more pain in his eyes than when his bones shifted under her touch.
"Are you all right?" Goku asked quietly, worry and guilt in his eyes.
His worry she could handle; his guilt at being unable to protect her, she couldn't. He'd done his best; it wasn't his fault his ... his genitor was a monster. So she forced out a little smile and nodded. The muscles in her nape screamed in pain. "I'm fine, silly; you should worry about yourself."
"Heh. 'S nothing. Be fine in a minute." Goku chuckled painfully and tugged on her sleeve, trying to make her move to his other side so his body would be between her and the alien invader. Chichi moved, but only because she wanted to be able to keep an eye on Bardock. At the moment it wouldn't be too hard to step over Goku anyway.
The two men gazed at each other, both so serious, maybe even grave, but she couldn't see them as similar anymore. Goku's seriousness held a hint of concern; but there was a coldness in Bardock's expression that was sharp and deadly like a blade. Maybe it was that Goku was still panting on the ground, bruised and unable to move, but he seemed so small compared to the other man. So vulnerable. Piccolo had been physically taller and bigger than him, but to Chichi's eyes Goku had never seemed tiny before.
"I don't want you hurting or threatening my wife again," Goku said simply.
Bardock's expression didn't change a iota. He stayed silent a couple of seconds too long; Chichi feared it was in anger and offense.
"Hm," he acknowledged. The sound really was nothing else; not a 'alright, I won't', not a 'I will and you can't stop me', not even a 'you can't even sit up, don't make me laugh.' Just a 'I heard.' At least he wasn't angry.
"So," Goku said, pushing himself into a sitting position. "What the hell was that about? Father or not--"
Chichi slipped an arm under Goku's shoulders to take his weight and glared down at him. "Lay down. No talking. This will wait a minute. First I'm going to bandage you up."
She could see Bardock watching them, watching her; he was frowning now, vaguely disapproving. "He'll survive."
Chichi's voice could do clipped, too. "You broke his ribs. I know he heals fast, but not that fast. If he moves now he could drive bone splinters into his lungs."
Chichi got up and stomped her way to the house. She wanted to stop out of sight and shake, but if she allowed herself that much, she wasn't sure she could come back out and face that monster again. She grabbed the first-aid kit and a bed sheet, since they had blown through their stock of bandages a couple of days ago. Goku was propped up against a rock when she came back; her total lack of surprise frustrated her enough that she stomped her way back and started tearing off strips of cloth and bandaging her husband without sparing a glance for the man watching them.
"Why did you only come to find me now?" Goku inquired quietly, once she was done. Chichi sat at his side, legs folded under her, hands on her knees, trying to ignore the tight, swollen bruises around her throat or the strained muscles all the way down her back that made every movement painful. "It's been years and years..."
Bardock snorted, and his tail loosened slowly to curve around his knees. "There was no need to come sooner. You were born weak. We needed warriors, not meat shields."
Chichi's hands shook on her lap, and she clenched them. Weak, her Goku? She couldn't imagine what that meant, how powerful the rest of his species had to be. "So you just abandoned him to fend for himself?" she hissed. "And now you want Goku back? When you abandoned him to die?"
Bardock gave her a look like he had no idea what she was blathering about. "... Die? Nothing on this planet should have been a challenge. And obviously it wasn't."
Angry words rose in Chichi's throat; they died on her tongue when her husband touched her arm. Goku was smiling, and that shocked her into silence.
"A whole race of people stronger than me. Heh. Nice."
Bardock smirked, and hunkered down, crouching on his heels. Chichi should have found it a little reassuring to see him stop his looming; but it made him resemble a big predator scenting the trail, ready to pounce. Chichi wasn't as naïve as her husband. Goku's father was a killer -- and from the way he talked, so were many, many of his compatriots.
"That pleases you? Perhaps you're not too abnormal after all."
Goku blinked, clueless. "I'm abnormal?"
"Do you ever get angry?" Bardock asked pointedly.
Her husband shrugged, and winced a little when his ribs protested. "Well, sometimes."
"Hm." Bardock didn't seem convinced. Chichi knew it would be a lost cause to try to explain what 'righteous anger' meant. Obviously he'd expected Goku to be... quite different. More impulsive, more violent. Not her Goku.
While she thought, Goku had sobered up.
"Why did you try to kill my wife?"
"Isn't your union until death?" Bardock returned simply.
Chichi and Goku both blinked. Chichi's throat hurt too much to say anything, though -- and maybe Bardock would tell Goku more than he would bother telling her.
"Well... Yes, but -- that's not a reason to kill her!"
Bardock gave him a surprisingly tired look, ignoring Chichi entirely. "You can't take her with you. She's too weak. For one thing, the gravity on our ships is ten times that of this planet. She'd get crushed to death."
"Oh." Goku blinked, then frowned. "That's still no reason to hurt her."
"... We're talking in circles. Listen. You're coming with us. She can't come with us." He paused, and gave Chichi a speculative look that made her tense up. "... That was before, though. Are you positive the spawn is Kakarott's?"
The only reason he wasn't killing her was for her baby-making abilities; he hadn't apologized. He didn't regret it at all. "Why does it matter so much?" she asked, swollen throat rasping painfully. "You didn't care about your son, I can't imagine why you'd care about a grandson more."
Bardock's eyes narrowed at her tone.
"She's... Kind of right." Goku straightened up a little, wincing. His eyes were still clear, a little wary, but open too -- still willing to listen, as if the whole thing might have been a misunderstanding. Chichi's hand found his and clenched around his fingers; she wouldn't have been able to explain whether she wanted to warn him or be comforted. She just wanted to hold on. "I can accept that you thought I'd be fine on Earth -- I mean, it's a pretty nice place. But why do you want me back now? Why -- wait, I'm gonna be a daddy?"
His head whipped around so fast Chichi startled. He clenched his fingers out of excitement, and she had to clench back hard to keep from getting her fingers crushed.
"You're having a baby? We're having a baby?"
"I don't know! I haven't noticed anything yet -- he was the one who said so. I don't know."
Her husband stared back at his father, eyes wide. "How'd you know she was...?"
She hadn't expected Bardock to look so completely baffled. It didn't last; but she'd seen it long enough to be sure. It just seemed wrong that such a terrifying man could make that kind of expression. "Smelled it, how else? You mean you didn't even know?"
Goku almost whined. "I've never been around a pregnant person before, how would I know? I just thought you smelled really nice," he told Chichi earnestly.
She reddened a little, though the situation was too surreal to let her get flustered for long. "...Yes. Well. Why does it even matter?"
Bardock gave a short sigh and raked his fingers through his mane, which sprung back up in a way Chichi knew intimately. He was so much like Goku, it was scary. Maybe they all looked the same in their species and that was why those two almost seemed more like clones than like father and son.
... Their species. God. She still couldn't really accept it. Goku was so human. Different, even strange, but -- human. More human than most, actually, in all those virtues that mattered.
"I told you our planet was destroyed."
Goku sobered up and nodded. Bardock frowned at nothing as he gathered his thoughts.
"...At the best of times we don't have a lot of females. About five out of six children are born male, sometimes more, it depends on the season. Female cubs are smaller, don't thrive as much." A pause. "The man we fought was named Frieza, and he was powerful enough to blow up a whole solar system. Our planet was no match."
Chichi couldn't wrap her mind around that kind of power. She knew Master Roshi had destroyed the moon once, but even then she couldn't quite imagine it. It was just so ridiculously off-scale.
"We cannot survive long in space. When the planet went, so went everyone who was still on it. That included a good half of our women and all the nurseries. The survivors -- everyone who had been in spaceships at the time -- escaped. Trained and trained for years -- there was no time to make more children. When we were ready and went to battle, another three fourths of our forces died to buy our victory."
His voice was matter-of-fact, just a little clipped, a list of horror delivered with almost zero emotion.
"All the females who preferred bearing to fighting had been on planet Vegeta. The rest of our females were warriors; they died at the same rate as the rest."
Chichi didn't know how she felt, torn between horror, pity, and the awareness that she could feel as sorry for their losses as she wanted and it wouldn't make them any more gentle with her own species.
"Now there's five thousand male warriors left. And less than three hundred females."
Goku gave him a sad, worried look. "And no more doctors and machines left to help -- is giving birth so difficult for a Saiyan woman?"
Bardock flinched, stared at Goku, first in shock and then, when Goku blinked in confusion, with weariness. "You have no idea what you've just done, so I won't beat you bloody. The next time you read me without permission, I won't let it pass."
Chichi didn't have a clue what had just happened; but Goku didn't offer any hint, just tilted his head to the side and replied gently, "I'm sorry, Father."
They looked at each other in silence for a few seconds and then Bardock shrugged, as if this hadn't been the first time his son acknowledged their link. "Anyway. It's worth seeing how your spawn turns out. If it's Saiyajin enough..." He snorted. "Hell, even if it isn't. Judging by yours, the women here look enough like ours that perhaps less of our warriors will kill each other trying to impress a mate."
Chichi understood what he meant; they didn't have that many warriors to spare. It was something of a relief. Not enough of one, though. A species of battle-hardened killers, every single one of them much more powerful than her husband, the strongest man on Earth? She could see it from here -- ransacked towns, kidnapped women forced to carry their rapist' children... It couldn't happen. They wouldn't stand a chance.
They needed to warn Goku's friends -- Master Roshi, that Briefs girl, all the warriors. But she didn't know if Bardock would let them out of his sight, or how close were the rest of his horde. She'd never regretted so much not having a landline; the village a half-hour away on foot where she sent her messages had never seemed so far away.
"So... What now?" Goku asked, squeezing her hand gently.
Bardock grunted, eyes unfocused as he thought. He tapped the strange machine on his ear; it bleeped. "It's not my decision. Can't take your mate off the planet as she is anyway... I'll send a message to our king. Then we'll wait for orders."
Chichi didn't like how he kept including Goku in his 'we's. Her husband owed no loyalty to some alien barbarian king, not when he'd been abandoned and left to fend for himself as a baby. It didn't matter that they'd assumed he wouldn't die. It was still outrageous.
He was hers now anyway. Hers and Earth's, and mostly hers.
She bowed her head so Bardock wouldn't see her eyes and squeezed Goku's hand. "Well then. If we're done, I'll get you inside. You'll heal better with bed rest."
"Your ribs are still broken," she said sternly, and wished she could make him understand the need to warn his friends, to organize some kind of defense. Just because Bardock had stopped his attack Goku seemed to think they could make peace and be allies, but she really didn't think so. If they were all like that man, then they'd take everything they wanted and not even bother to ask. Or care who got killed in the process.
She glared at Bardock as she helped her husband sit up, challenging him to say anything, but the older man only smirked, still sitting on his haunches like a lazy predator.
She was still strong, enough to take most of Goku's weight, though he was stubborn enough not to allow her all of it. They made their way inside the house, Chichi forbidding herself to wince at the hole in the living room's top west corner -- wall and roof gone, letting the sky show through -- and the dust and broken wood everywhere.
She wrapped bandages made out of the rest of their sheets around her husband's ribs as support. "There, now lie down and try to sleep, alright?"
"Yeah, okay. ... Hey, Chichi?"
She wetted a handkerchief and summarily cleaned the few scratches that hadn't closed over yet. She would have disinfected them, but he never did seem to get infected. "Yes?"
"Is it nice to have a father?" he asked wonderingly. "I only ever had grandpa Gohan."
He was gazing at the ceiling, and for a moment he looked so young, so lonely it made her heart ache. She had never seen Goku look lonely before, not when he was so sure the world was full of friends yet to be discovered.
"My father is very nice," she said quietly, "but I don't think they're all the same."
"...Yeah, he's kind of rough."
Chichi looked down at her hands as she finished cleaning the scratches and didn't say anything. Goku fell silent too -- up until his stomach rumbled.
"Aw, I'm hungry now."
"You're not getting back up," she warned with a frown. The stag was still outside... She would have to go past Bardock, in case he was still around, and it made her tense up already, but she was wondering what he was up to anyway and there were things she had to do that she couldn't do from the very relative safety of their bedroom. "I'll get you some food, but after that you have to sleep."
Goku took her hand and squeezed, surprising her with a flash of seriousness. "Be careful, okay?"
"Of course," she whispered, and squeezed his hand a last time before letting go.
Bardock didn't see her as a threat. She would just not talk to him if she could avoid it. And if she couldn't, then she would be polite. But cold. He didn't seem the kind of man to give anything but contempt or even violence in return for fear and submission.
Then after she had Goku fed, she would politely lie to Bardock about why she was going to the closest village, and why she was, in fact, not asking for permission. She would -- she didn't know, perhaps something she needed for the pregnancy, or how people expected to see her and would come to check on her if they did not. The excuse didn't matter half as much as the cold certainty she had to put in her voice.
She couldn't count on Goku's friends to notice there was a problem on their own -- how could they? She needed to call them.
She allowed her hands to tremble a last time as they smoothed down her rumpled, dirt-stained, blood-speckled dress. Then she firmed them into fists.
She couldn't go to the village dressed like that, but her training gi was on the floor where she'd dumped it to get at the bed sheets.
It had a high collar, and she needed to hide her bruises.