Dragon Ball - The Heart of Adventurers
By LastationLover5000 and Demod20, Edited by Firegod00
Chapter 1 - Bulma and Son Goku
Today was a day of destiny.
Before the eyes of Bulma her childhood friend, Son Goku, stood upon the tiled ring. His taller frame with wide shoulders hardly looked recognizable had it not been for the crop of pointy black tresses atop his child faced head. While initially garbed in tunics he became accustomed from his training in Kami's Palace, he now bore the garbs of Muten Rōshi's Turtle Hermit School of orange and blue. His appearance was both intimidating and welcome to the young purple haired woman's eyes.
This was the 3rd Tenkaichi Budōkai, officially the 23rd in its long running existence, that he'd he participate in. In the last two he had come close to victory, only to have it lost to him by the Crane Schooled Tenshinhan in the 22nd and the "mysterious" Jackie Chun at the 21st Tournament. Having come a long ways since he was a lost child living in the woods, he truly looked like a man ready to take the prize.
The only thing that was troubling wasn't the preliminary match he won handily in. No, it was the combatant registered Anonymous, presented with long beautiful raven locks framed over her brow to her ears and over the top of her back. A blue with red trimming kimono fastened over her gorgeous body, further hiding her past identity to the man in front of him. Hard onyx orbs met mutually hued circles that looked back blankly with confusion at the anger projected at him.
"Um sorry," Goku apologized with confusion in his eyes. Seeing her not relent after his meek attempt, he reached up and laughed sheepishly as he scratched his chin. Beads of sweat crawled down his scalp as he looked at the angry woman, "you seem really mad at me. Any reason why?"
"Hmph! Why wouldn't I be mad at you?!" The woman titled as Anonymous yelled back, tossing her head to the side with indignation.
Goku could do nothing but gawk. Everyone on the sidelines looked on with confusion as they didn't know who this beautiful stranger was. The more the banter was exchanged, it looked like nothing was going to be gained by sitting around. Thankfully the announcer called the fight and got things underway.
But that didn't stop the young woman's assault on Goku while she rebuked him. The two's fight looked like an awkward dance, with the prior aggressively chasing the latter's mostly defensive maneuvers. Her screams continued to hammer out the same indiscernible message that the audience, Goku's friends, and even Majunior from his rooftop perch nonsensical. The spiky haired man did his best to appease to her while gaining some information, but she seemed insistent that he should remember.
After a skyward leap, the two descended back to the ring after a few dozen exchanges of limbs against limbs. When the two tapped against the ring, they backed away, with Goku acting more composed and confused with the woman acting infuriated but hardly winded. One last plea to inquire what she meant and she let loose in a scream that Bulma could unfortunately understand.
"FINE! I'LL TELL YOU THE PROMISE YOU FORGOT! YOU PROMISED TO MAKE ME YOUR BRIDE! YOU PROMISED TO MARRY ME!"
It was a declaration that made Bulma's eyes bulge and her mouth open wide. Looking over at the dumbstruck Goku who only took in the information with minimum clarity, she realized that he didn't know what she meant at all. Through her own deduction, she must have talked him into saying something he had no idea what it was. This was only confirmed when Goku asked Krillin what it meant from the sidelines, making him and Yamcha fall over with the unknown fighter on their sides with comedic exaggeration.
When properly understanding what it meant, Goku turned to look confused and quite scared at the angry lady crouching apart from him, "M-Marry! You?! But...I have no idea who you are! How can I marry someone I don't even know?!"
"You honestly have forgotten? Man, what kind of idiot are you?!" She growled with an upraised fist. Inhaling deeply, she exhaled as she refocused her gaze upon him, raising a outstretched palm of beckoning towards the young martial artist. "Fine, if you want to know my name, just beat me. If you can, that is..."
"I see!" Goku fist palmed, a smile brightening up his face with determination. "that'll work out perfect! After all, I'd like to know who I'm marrying anyways..."
"Don't act like you can even touch me-"
"Here I go..."
"-you have yet to even land an attack-"
It all happened in a span of a few seconds. Goku pulled back an arm, gathering an invisible field of Ki within the center of his right set of knuckles. Then, with a quick jab too fast for even Bulma to see, a wave of force rippled the arena like a rocket propelled softball. It struck dead center in the still talking woman, crashing into her jaw like a wind-propelled punch.
She soared across the arena weightlessly, completely taken off guard by the attack. When her head and back smashed into the brick wall in the out of bounds area, meters away from the edge of the ring, many of the audience members scrambled back out of fright. Coincidentally, the woman had landed only a stone toss away from Bulma and the other friends and acquaintances of hers.
The announcer, too stunned by what he had witnessed, could only stand in awe of the feat Goku had pulled off. The said fighter quickly sprinted across the ring, a look of worry crossing his youthful and naively expressive features. Crouching down at the edge, he saw her stir after a few seconds, groaning as she rose to her haunches to clench at her aching head.
Seeing that she was starting to recover properly, Goku sighed before apologizing officially, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to knock you out. That technique was only meant to send someone off the ring. I hope you're not in too much pain."
"Incredible!" She praised, rubbing her head with no sign of damage that she or the Turtle Schooler could see. Climbing up to the ring's surface like nothing happened, she smiled approvingly at Goku as she continued complimenting, "I was took by complete surprise. You're even more amazing than I remember!"
"Yeah well," Goku shrugged, taking the compliment in stride. Raising a hand to scratch his chin, he looked dubiously at her as he queried once more, "now can you tell me your name?"
"You seriously forgot? Geez," She brushing her bangs with a swing of her arm, she cast an indignant glare at him. Crossing her arms over her chest, she huffed, relenting with her answer, "I'm the Ox-King's daughter, Chi-Chi."
"EEEEEEEEE?!" Goku recoiled with a squeaking yelp of surprise, eyes bulging and mouth pulled back to show a look of remembrance of the name. Seconds after putting two and two together, Goku inquired with a look of incredulity, "wait...you're that Chi-Chi?!"
The Princess nodded with a solemn expression, a bit more patient now that the truth was revealed. The regal, decent apparel seemed vastly different than the wild attire she used to sport as a child. It seemed unreal to the older yet still innocent mind of Goku that she could change so radically in appearance, let alone adopt a very aggressive tone towards him.
"Wait, Son proposed to the Ox-King's daughter?" Bulma thought with a shake of her head, her mind reeling with the implications of this revelation. Slapping her own cheeks, she refocused on the vital conversation at hand. She knew there had to be something more to it than what this Chi-Chi is letting on.
"AH! I remember!" Goku said out loud, the audience's idle chatter becoming unusually hushed in the wake of this melodramatic spectacle. "I remember, when we were kids, I'd love to have a bride!"
"I know, I was there," Chi-Chi said sternly, her unwavering glare kept on Goku's reeling stare.
After a few more seconds, Goku sighed and bowed his head meekly. His pouted lips murmured out only loud enough for her to hear, "But...you don't understand. I thought when you meant would I like to have a Bride, I thought you meant it was a kind of food," looking up, his brows matted with sweat as he smiled up at the sky nervously, "I had no idea what it meant, honestly."
"S-S-Something to e-e-eat?!" She stuttered out, her disposition becoming completely frazzled.
"Really, Son?!" Bulma exclaimed, her eyes nearly bulging out of her sockets. Seeing her friend weakly shrug when his eyes sadly met hers made her recoil. When she turned to see the young friend of Goku's return to the present, she realized just what kind of predicament he was in.
"Then...the promise you made...was a mistake?" The young princess asked with big eyes, watering up with the implication of Goku's interpretation of a bride.
"Yeah, sorry," Goku said with a apologetic smile. Seeing tears well up in her eyes, he scratched the back of his head, trying to think of a way to reconcile, "I really like you, Chi-Chi, but I never thought about marrying you. I don't even know what it means to have a bride. Maybe some day, when I thought it over, I can decide who I'd want to marry but not now. Does that make any sense?"
"Uh-uh," She wiped her eyes, sniffling pathetically on stage.
"I...really am sorry," Goku mumbled out, bowing his head to her as she turned away to walk off the ring. His brows sweated as he watched her snap kick the wall apart, clearing her a path out of the stadium. Without even turning around she walked out of the ring and never looked back.
"Poor Son," Bulma thought when she turned to see the look of melancholy overlap his face. Even as the announcer comically recovered from the breakup the two had, he declared Goku the absolute winner. He had to be coaxed into moving from the spot he stared after his friend's retreat, hanging his head with confusion as he returned back to his sideline. Sighing, she looked up into the sky, finishing her thoughts as the next set of combatants were announced, "I hope you find someone to love, tough guy. I really do."
And so, the fated day between two rivals in the making made their way to the ring. Tension filled the air so palpable that experienced fighters could feel electricity dancing between the two opponents. It wouldn't be too long till that was taken literally, with their fight beginning with a series of dizzying bouts of leaps, dashes, and somersaults as their attacks hit their marks repeatedly.
The battle was perhaps the fiercest one Bulma and the rest of Goku's friends had ever bore witness to. People ran in fear from the reincarnated King Piccolo, having declared his return to satisfy his urge to feed on everyone's dread. This thankfully kept them from being harmed by the arena's destruction later on in the fight.
With Kami safely coughed out of the deadly Majunior, Goku fought with no holds bar against the emerald skinned enemy. Even weathered it appeared that the Turtle Schooler had an advantage over the Demon King. When the latter used his most powerful attack to topple nearly everything on the island's surface it was to his and everyone's surprise that his loathsome nemesis was still standing.
Through a bout of trickery the evil Piccolo Jr. landed a number of incapacitating blows to his target, leaving him all but immobilized. He convinced himself that victory was his when landing an explosive blast of Ki where the ground prone warrior was. But in a surprising turn of events, Goku sailed himself through the air and landed a devastating headbutt, beating his enemy into submission and unconsciousness. This would mark his official prize of becoming the World Champion of the 23rd Tenkaichi Budōkai.
During the aftermath, he showed a moment of mercy to his enemy and enabled him the medical aid that he himself had been given. While Piccolo Jr. vowed he'd get even one day, Goku openly welcomed the challenge and promised he'd only get stronger from here on out. Despite being against this decision, Kami believed Goku to possess more wisdom and prowess than he ever could. When he offered his own title to his disciple, he was immediately rejected, with the Turtle Schooler taking off into the sky on his Nimbus Cloud.
For Bulma Briefs, that was a year ago. And our tale resumes on another fateful day with an encounter of a different kind. One that would change her life forever.
Age 757, June 5th
It had been another long day for the daughter of the brilliant Dr. Briefs. Having spent part of the day burrowed in books about hypothetical forms of interstellar travel to different modes of attaining cleaner and more purified energy, she spent the next part of it cruising through downtown. She wanted some excitement, someone to share her experiences with or just to have a good time. What did she find instead?
Nothing, as per usual.
In her youth, she had went on grandiose adventures that few girls her age could have even dreamed partaking. From the many attempts on her life -or what she'd like to imagine as her pure desirable body- to searching for a way to save the world when not spectating at a Tournament, nothing she found was particularly satisfying her curiosity or urge to explore. Even the average man who many average young women could consider hunks were nothing but brainless and had little excitement in store beyond their fancy cars to polished smiles.
She tried making her relationship with Yamcha work, but as she soon found out, not every first try pays off. The memories were all too clear for her, finding him profiting off his talents in the business industry through offering his skills through a number of mediums. She almost busted the radio in her cabin when she heard a ridiculous song being sung by him, making her sick. It was only a matter of time that their relationship became more obligatory than desired, making her leave him one day in a screaming fit that was more than enough of a wake up call to the scar faced ex-bandit.
"Guess that'd make him an Ex in two fields, now doesn't it?" Bulma thought with bittersweet enjoyment, though it brought no smile to her face.
It didn't take long for her to see the quaint neighborhood that her house and headquarters of Capsule Corps had taken residence within. She was glad that they had installed a subterranean entrance that led to another part of the city on a sub level, otherwise she'd find herself lacking a parking space in her own driveway. She wondered why her father didn't install that feature sooner, though it certainly didn't bother him or her lackadaisical mother till she brought it up.
Puffing up at her bangs, she felt ground-based vehicle bounced slightly at the change in elevation before veer back to a halt. Exiting the car, she grabbed her purse and headed to the house with a huff. The sight of her blonde mother with a squinted smile greeted her, forcing a grin to her own face.
"Hiya, sweetie!" Panchy greeted with an enveloping hug.
"Hi mom," She tiredly replied as she was relinquished from the tender embrace.
"What's wrong, honey? Did you not have a good time?" Mrs. Briefs asked with a frown.
"Ugh," Bulma groaned, immediately looking cross at her mom, "the things I wish I didn't see in town to remind me why I don't have any friends."
"Well, why don't you come inside?" She inquired to her grown girl with a smile and gestured back to the house. "I'm brewing some coffee for your father as he's taking a break from his projects. You look like you could use some."
"Yeah, I do," The lavender haired woman acknowledged with a weary smile. Following her in, the two passed through the circular corridor to the kitchen where the scent of coffee was in the air. Sitting back in a chair around the table was her father, puffing one a pipe while looking through the newspaper.
Their footsteps would sound their arrival, allowing the mustached scientist to look up with a smile on his face,"Bulma, nice to see you. How was the trip in town?"
"Not as great as I imagined it'd be," Bulma answered readily, her lips drawing back into a soured pout.
Pulling stem from his lip with one hand, he lowered the paper with the other to feel more engaged with the conversation. Watching his wife leave their daughter's side, he continued from where they left off, "Nothing really that exciting downtown compared to your tour of the world, hm?"
Rolling her eyes, she crossed her arms and paced in front of the table. After the third turn, she stopped, looking outside of the window view of the neatly trimmed lawn outside of the kitchen. Squinting her eyes, she sighed, and murmured out, "So dull."
"Pardon?" The gray haired man asked.
Gesturing outward, with one hand while propping the back of the other on her hip, she repeated in detail, "This, out there, in this city is so dull. Nothing is that amazing downtown, none of the guys seem that thrilling, and old knots that were unfastened don't know when to stop trying to retie what's gone."
"Well," Her father leaned back, motioning with his pipe holding hand, "you could always go into further studies in my laboratory. You're already showing enough promise to surpass my intellect in a decade or so. If you really buckled down, you could show a lot of latent talent in the field of science."
"As much as I enjoyed my years in college," Bulma drawled out with a turn on her heels, fully facing her bowl-cut headed dad. Crossing her arms over her chest, she leaned on her left foot while her brows knitted forward into a frustrated frown, "I'd rather not be confined to a claustrophobic space working on advanced formulas that may or may not advance society further."
"My lab is quite spacious," Dr. Briefs cheekily remarked with a mustached grin.
"Not every laboratory is as luxurious as yours, dad," The young genius said with a reluctant smile, laughing with her father for a few moments. Looking down at her feet, she shuffled on the soles of her shoes with indecision. When the words came to her, her eyes remained trained on the top of her feet while she explained, "I guess...I guess I felt most alive when I went adventuring across the world. I know you and mom weren't excited about me leaving, after Tights had left not too long before that, but I don't regret a single second. The hunt for the Dragon Balls was one of the best times of my life. Every quest after that just felt more rewarding and continued to fascinate me what I learned about the world. Back here I feel like I'm a bird in a cage, desperately trying to get back out into the sky."
Placing the pipe back into his mouth, the older man took a few puffs before exhaling noisily. Grasping the paper back up, he flipped through a few pages and stretched it out before his gaze. After a few long seconds, he chose to mumble out loud, "Perhaps a year without him can be a bit boring."
"What?" Bulma blinked, raising her head up with a query in her bright eyes as much in her words.
"If I didn't know better, it seems one of your only friends that seemed by your side was that boy, Son Goku," He suggested, batting an eye at his wife who circled around with a piping mug in her hands. Training his gaze sideways, he kept the paper at eye level while studying his grown girl's reaction. "you two seemed pretty close, even back then. I think most of the enjoyment you had back then came with the fact you met a strange yet very nice young man. Someone like that is rare to find in this world, even among a host of other acquaintances. I'd daresay he may be even be the kind of friend who would love to go adventuring with you if you only asked."
"Yes, that Goku was such a nice boy," Panchy agreed with a smile, handing the mug over to Bulma, watching her contemplate what was said to her. Giggling, the blonde woman clasped her hands to the side and leaned against it with a single cheek. "he was quite the energetic scamp. Had quite a healthy appetite too. Goodness, if he ever came out of the blue here he'd clean me out of all the pantries!"
"I highly doubt that'd be a problem," Dr. Briefs said with a chuckle as he looked at an article regarding the weather. As his eyes barely traced over it before looking at another collection of words, he mentioned offhandedly, "I've practically seen all of Bulma's friends in the news to some extent. But not once in a year since the Tournament have I laid eyes on him. Funny, I didn't picture the lad as a reclusive sort."
"Where do you think he could be?" Mrs. Briefs asked with a turn of the head, unaware of Bulma's chugging of the warm dark liquid.
"If he's not out gallivanting around the world making headliners in The Royal News, then I'd say he just went back to the mountains," Dr. Briefs stated with a shrug, looking at an article with an infamous blonde sporting a pair of ridiculously large guns. "but who can tell with all the fantastic things that have happened in the last few years?"
A loud exhale following the finishing of a cup of coffee, Bulma swiftly handed the mug back to her mother before walking quickly away. Before leaving the kitchen entirely, she looked over her shoulder and smiled excitedly as she shouted, "I've decided I want to get some fresh air for a few days. Just thought to let you know before I've headed out."
"Oh!" Panchy squeaked with wide blue eyes blinking with surprise. She had just gotten back and now she was leaving? She looked on enquiringly as her back shrunk with her exit around the corridor hall. When she disappeared, she looked over with a confused smile on her face, "that's peculiar. What do you suppose has come over her?"
Smiling with a glint of knowing in his eyes, Dr. Briefs puffed another cloud of smoke from his lips over the paper. Turning his gaze at his beloved, he made sure to grin reassuringly up at her, "She just needs to get out of the cage of society for a bit, honey. Don't worry about her. If our big girl was able to handle herself all those years ago, I'm sure she can handle another trip."
It didn't take too long for her to get everything she wanted. Various supplies meant for camping or long treks as she had years before were properly capsuled. Placed within the interior pockets of her purple high collared, unbuttoned Capsule Corps jacket, it made it easy to just pick and choose what she wanted to wear. A sleeveless grey tank top wrapped over a black sports bra was complemented by a pair of dark blue shorts that only covered the top of her thighs. Her cyan and white shoes were the best pair she could find on short notice, finishing her dress attire for the trip.
Taking the more off-road hover car for the quest she had in mind, she set her sights on Mount Paozu. So many years had passed since she had climbed that mountain, both figuratively and literally. She was a naive young child who only had a small assortment of tools to get a seemingly impossible task done when she went into the vast wilderness. It boggled her mind how things turned out the way they did, instead of the way she planned.
Her mind reeled with nostalgia as the sights of suburban houses and tall skyscrapers were replaced with woodland landscape to rolling hills. Hours passed as she drove further into the vicinity she had mapped out where she met the boy, long ago. Making extra sure not to hit a stray rock or a tree, the man-made trail placed in the mountain was hardly the best to drive uphill but she had little choice.
It wasn't until she thought she missed her goal that a passing deer raced by her car, missing the fender by inches. What she didn't miss was a blurring figure of orange and black, causing her head to nearly ram into the steering wheel as her whole body lurched forward with the car. The audible crack of metal meeting body caused her breath to hitch and her eyes to widen.
Unbuckling quickly, she stepped out of her vehicle in a mad scramble to see what she just struck. When she caught sight of a grown man on his haunches, laughing sheepishly, she couldn't help but gape then glare angrily.
"What the Hell is wrong with you, Son?!" She shouted, raising a hand up to shake at him while using the other to steady her racing heart. "I thought I killed something!"
"Hahaha! Sorry," Goku apologized lightheartedly as he stood upright, dusting himself off from hitting the ground. Pointing forward then to the dented hood of her car, he explained readily, "I was just racing this deer I found in the woods. I didn't figure anyone would drive up here so I was sticking lower to the ground in order to catch up. I guess I should have payed closer attention, huh?"
"Damn straight!" Bulma yelled again, but found her anger quickly dissipating. Had this been absolutely anyone else, a car crash would probably have killed them, or at least left them with some very nasty scars. Only Goku could walk such a thing off, and rather than be angry, she found herself laughing weakly in exasperation. Wiping a small, laughter-induced tear from her eye, she walked over to Goku, smiling. "Long time no see, eh, Goku?"
"Yeah, it's been what, a year?" Goku couldn't help but smile back at his old friend. Rather than be angry that he'd been hit by her car, he found it amusing; refreshing, even, given how they'd met like this for the first time several years ago.
"It's only been a year, but already you seem so...different," Bulma mused, walking over to Goku, her sapphire irises giving the spiky, ebony-tressed man a once-over. "Still training, I bet. Then again, you've never stopped."
"You know me. I always manage to squeeze some training in when I've got the time," Goku sheepishly chuckled. After a few moments of him looking to her, to the ruined vehicle, and down to the ground, his gaze slowly returned back to Bulma as he shuffled his feet apprehensively, "So, since you went through the trouble of coming up here...and I sort of ruined your car...why don't you come up to my place for a bit? We haven't seen each other in awhile, and I can give you something to eat."
Bulma cast a glance at her car; the entire front of the vehicle was totaled, bent inwards as if she'd collided with a tree instead of a human. Walking towards the mangled vehicle, she moved her hands along the sides until she found a button; pressing it, the vehicle reverted, with a loud POP!, to a Hoi-Poi capsule. Turning back around with the collapsed vehicle in hand, she nodded with sheepish agreement, though suppressed a smile for the thoughts that followed, "My car may be...ruined...but it is one of several, and this might be just the excuse I need to stay here a little longer!"
The strange duo proceeded to walk down the forested path that led towards the upper half of Mt. Paozu. Civilization was the furthest thing from this remote wilderness, but this had always been Goku's preference. Even after having garnered some social skills and intelligence during his training with Kami and Mr. Popo, Goku had to admit, he liked a hermit kind of life much better than that of the bustling city.
"Doesn't this bring back memories, Son?" Bulma inquired, smiling brightly. "Remember, back when we first met? It even started out like this, didn't it?"
"Life is a bit weird like that, isn't it?" Goku chuckled, though to be honest, he appreciate the nostalgia this little trek through the woods was giving him. But, despite the similarities, there were a few differences. Now, Goku was more than willing to welcome Bulma to come back with him, while he did it as a child out of obligation, and Bulma was walking alongside Goku now, acting like the friend she was, rather than keeping pace with him from behind, as if avoiding him.
They reached a small clearing, and Bulma recognized the building almost at once. Standing in front of her was a small, red-brick hut, with a pointed, blue-tile roof that could only have been the hut Goku used to live in with his grandfather.
"So he actually did return to it after the tournament?" Bulma smiled. This wouldn't be impressive for anyone else, but given Goku had won the Tenkaichi Budōkai just a year ago, he'd won all of the money that went along with it. "I bet you haven't even used a single Zeni of that, did you?" Then Bulma had to wonder if Goku actually knew how money worked to begin with. Figuring that he didn't, she came to the conclusion that his modest lifestyle was more due to ignorance than anything noble, but it didn't wipe the smile off her face.
"Well, here we are; home sweet home!" Goku pushed open the painted wooden doors, entering the small hut. Bulma followed, and noted it was more or less the same as it was when she first met Goku. The entire hut was still dimly lit, with only modest furnishings; Goku had made minor changes to the furniture after his return to the building, switching out the dresser for a larger one, and there even seemed to be a chair, a slightly longer bed, but this was the limit of Goku's feng shui.
Even in the dimly lit gloom of the hut, Bulma saw a familiar gleam that caught her eye — after all, it was a gleam that she and Goku had dedicated time of their lives to find. Walking over to the dresser, she gently picked up the source of the glowing light. "Isn't this..." (she quickly analyzed the number of stars floating within the orb) "...Sushinchū? You actually went back out and found your grandfather's heirloom ball?"
"Oh you better believe it." Goku exclaimed with a smile as he sat down on a chair near the window for a moment, resting his back from colliding with Bulma's car. While it didn't hurt, there was a sharp sting to remind him that the metal monstrosities her family creates still packed a punch. "Took me about three months to properly find it, even with the Radar," He gestured to the pocket watch-like device sitting next to it, the greatest invention Bulma had ever created. The Dragon Radar was a mechanical device that tracked the faint, electromagnetic pulse given off by the Dragon Balls, and gave the owner its precise location.
"I actually found Ūshinchū and Chiishinchū while trying to find that one," Goku explained, opening the dresser where the five and six star Dragon Balls were so casually discarded. "I would have just left them, but I figured who better to keep track of them than me? So, I keep them in the drawer."
"Hunting for the Dragon Balls...that definitely takes me back..." Bulma gently placed the Sushinchū back onto its purple velvet cushion, knowing how much the Four-Star Dragon Ball meant to Goku. To anyone else, it could be the gateway to immortality, riches (or as Bulma had hoped when she was a teenager, the perfect boyfriend) but to Goku, it was part of something much bigger. He considered his grandfather's soul to reside in that sphere, and even after having met his grandfather's soul during a tournament, he still kept the sphere for sentimentality.
Looking around the dimly lit, one-room hut, Bulma figured some renovations were in order. "You know, Son, I could lend you a hand in fixing this place up? I know you're comfortable with a moderate lifestyle, but you haven't done much in rearranging a hut. I think a woman's touch could help you brighten this place up."
"I can't make you do that!" Goku refused, waving it off. "You're my friend, and a guest, Bulma, I won't have you clean my house. Besides, it's nothing I can't handle when I get around to it." 'If' was the more likely word, but Goku had enough manners not to take advantage of his friends, no matter how generous the offer was.
"Then how about this?" Bulma was determined to help Goku in some way, whether he actually wanted the assistance or not. Persistence was, after all, her forte. "You invited me up here to eat, but you hardly seem to have any cooking skills — trust me, Son, a fox and centipede over an open fire don't qualify you as a culinary master — so why don't I lend you a hand with the cooking? I can show you the ropes."
Before Goku could so much as refuse this offer as well, his stomach spoke for him and gave its answer in the form of a large, squelching growl. Goku and Bulma were briefly stunned into silence before they doubled over laughing.
"I think your stomach agrees to my proposal!" The lavender-tressed girl decided, wiping away a laughter-induced tear. "So, what'll we be eating?" While she certainly had supplies for camping packed with her, it was Goku who promised her food, and she'd gotten less prissy when it came to the matters of eating in the wild. Because of that, Bulma would happily take him up on the offer.
Goku grinned. The proposal to go find a good meal always got him excited.
"Normal people use a rod and line!" Bulma shouted down the cliff-side at the top of her lungs. Just moments ago, she'd asked Goku what they'd be eating, and given she let his deer escape when she collided with him while driving, they had to opt for a different meal. True to form, Goku suggested fish, and Bulma had agreed wholeheartedly...up until he lead her to a cliff-side, proceed to strip down to boxer shorts, and took a swan dive off the side.
"Honestly!" She said huffily, her icy-blue eyes glaring down heatedly at the disturbed surface of the water, which Goku had cleanly broken through only moments before. "Although I guess I don't know what I was expecting..." Fuming silently, Bulma sat down, perched on the cliff side, as she waited for Goku to make it back up.
It didn't take as long as Bulma expected for Goku to make it back up the cliff. There was a sploshing sound as Goku broke the surface of the river, landing neatly onto the cliff, holding a giant, squirming fish above his head, chuckling in a very pleased manner. The water dripping down Goku's body drew Bulma's attention to his toned, muscular figure, and she couldn't help but blush a very deep crimson, shiftily averting her gaze, only to sneak glances back towards Goku again.
"That's a huge fish," She muttered lamely, unable to properly say an actual sentence in reaction.
"This one was a fighter!" Goku grinned, missing Bulma's rather dense comment entirely, thinking she was proud of his catch. Holding the squirming fish triumphantly over his spiky head, he laughed as his catch began to slowly stop squirming as it tired itself out. "Whaddya think, Bulma? This'll make for a good meal, won't it?"
"Y-yeah, it will," Bulma replied shakily, frantically trying to pick Goku's clothes up and toss them at him. They didn't budge. The gears turned in Bulma's head, clicking and turning as she remembered precisely why she couldn't lift the garments off the rocky ground; they were weighted clothing. Whatever material Kami had made Goku's gi from, it wasn't something Bulma would be moving even a centimeter off the ground. "What are these made of!?"
Seeing Bulma needed assistance, Goku dropped the fish — it feebly flopped again, as if still trying to make it back to the river — and knelt down to pick up the gi himself. Without bothering to think about controlling his strength, Goku lifted his clothes towards himself as if they were made of cotton. In doing so, however, Goku pulled slightly too hard. Rather than taking the clothes out of Bulma's grip as he intended, Goku had pulled Bulma directly into his broad chest.
"S-S-Son!" Bulma spluttered, her face deepening in crimson further, to the point that she resembled a very ripe tomato with a lavender-hued wig. Such proximity was highly mortifying; her arms and face were pressed into his torso, and Bulma could feel his warmth. She pushed herself away quickly, fidgeting, causing Goku to flash her a confused look.
"Bulma, something wrong?" He asked, clutching his gi and looking quite perturbed.
"Nothing, it's nothing" She replied hastily. "Just put on your clothes and we'll head back!"
Standing directly outside Grandpa Gohan's brick hut, Bulma was rolling up her sleeves as Goku dropped the fish onto the soft grass. Rummaging through her bag, she pulled out a thick, white and yellow case. Opening it up revealed multiple Hoi-Poi Capsules of differing numeric designations; each one of them was a capsulized camping supply. "Its not like I intended to rough it, looking for Son, but a girl can never be unprepared!"
"How're we gonna do this, Bulma?" Goku asked, looking rather curiously into her box of Hoi-Poi Capsules. He'd seen them multiple times before, but they'd always astounded him how city folk managed to fit things like cars and houses into such small containers. "Are you going to bring cooking material out of those magic things?"
"Son, it's been years, and you still can't call them by their proper name?" Bulma pulled out Capsule #4 with a touch of irritation in her voice. "They're Hoi-Poi Capsules. You could at least call them by their nickname, 'DynoCaps' if you can't pronounce the actual name." Perhaps it was her pride as the daughter of the inventor of Capsules that caused a slight edge to spark whenever Goku called her father's invention 'magic'.
Casually, she tossed the Hoi-Poi Capsule towards the ground. With a loud POP! that sounded more akin to 'POI', an elaborate spread of cookware appeared, laid out on a plaid cloth. Inspecting it, Goku found things he recognized; flatware, pots, pans, and things he didn't. but they still resembled how he cooked things, if he had to draw any quick comparisons.
"Those are propping tools and an adjustable spit," Bulma explained, reading the bewildered look on Goku's face. "I could hardly bring a stove out here, even if my Dad is working on one you can use out in the wilderness. I don't like being the one to test the prototypes. So we'll be combining my flavoring methods with outdoor cooking."
Goku eagerly accepted the offer; perhaps learning to cook wouldn't be so difficult, if it was going to use the methods he already knew. As Goku busied himself with setting the campfire, Bulma concentrated on the monster of a fish in front of her. While she hadn't done anything this grisly in awhile, her work in her dad's laboratory or various medical classes she took in college prepared her for this. Taking a sharp knife she began cutting away the scales, meticulous in shearing away the hardened exterior of the behemoth catch of Goku's.
After a handful of minutes passed when she felt content she scraped away the scales, she used another knife to cut off the various fins aligned on the fish's body to make the gutting process easier. After nearly six fins were piled next to her feet, she grabbed one gill and began gouging out the various parts buried within. Once finished doing the other side, she took an especially sharp knife and sawed open its underbelly, burying her hand into its gut to pull out the loose innards lying against the bone. By the time she finished removing the essentials, she sighed with relief, eagerly reaching for a towel she kept to clean herself of the grime and ichor of the whole process.
"I wish everyone could have seen that, because I am not doing that again." Bulma thought to herself, the smell of fish guts still lingering on her arms and hands. Casting aside the towel, she went to go check on Goku, and saw he'd completed his task already and had simply been watching her own progress. Next to Goku was a large fire proportioned in size to be able to sufficiently cook such a large fish — crackling in the middle of a circle of stones.
"You did pretty good there!" Goku grinned, despite Bulma's glowering stare.
"...Oh just come on," Bulma had no words to express any irritation, or perhaps she couldn't. Goku's simple attitude was part of his charm, and he might have just thought she was doing well enough on her own that watching was all he needed to do. "Here, you're the only one that can lift this behemoth, so I'll leave hoisting it onto the spit and over the fire up to you."
"Heh heh..." Chuckling at Bulma's indignation, Goku did as she requested, running the fish through with the adjustable spit as Bulma set up the props. After instructing Goku to meticulously turn the fish every few minutes to ensure even cooking on all sides, she collapsed next to the fire, placing her hands over it. It wasn't truly cold, but the action gave her something to do.
"Son, how do you manage this every day?" Bulma asked, a tired tone to her voice. Despite being a girl who worked with machinery for a hobby, dealing with outdoor cooking truly seemed to tire her out. "I can already feel my back aching from just gutting that monster."
A cheerful laugh escaped Goku's throat as he looked over at Bulma. "If you think this is something, try bear! You tend to get used to this, though. Grandpa used to do the cooking before he died; after that, I had to learn, so I'm used to it now."
"Oh..." Bulma trailed off meekly. "I didn't mean to bring up something like that..."
Waving her off with a smile, Goku shook his head. "No, don't apologize. Grandpa died when I was still a kid. I didn't really know what to think at the time. And I've seen him since then; he's doing pretty well — despite being, well, dead." The crackling of the fire filled their silence, before Goku spoke up again. "Y'know...it was a good thing I met you, Bulma."
At this, Bulma's eyes widened. "What do you mean?"
"Well, the more I think about it, the more I see how little I knew of the world as a kid," Goku explained, turning the fish as he did. "Because I got to meet you, I was able to have so many new experiences. I got to meet new teachers, new friends, and I was able to see the world. That's something Grandpa wanted for me for the longest time; at least, I think so."
"When did Son get so expressive?" Bulma was slightly slack-jawed at Goku's display of gratitude. He was far from rude, but he had always been simple. Words like those never usually left his mouth, but at the same time, they formed a smile on her face. "You could say the same about me, though. Going on that journey with you changed me forever. I started out as a prissy little girl who couldn't bear to be without the comforts of house and home for five seconds. I'd say I even had a selfish, arrogant streak, if only a little. Shove it!" (Goku had just raised a finger as if to make an objection.) "Now, look at me. I made it all the way to the mountains just to find you, and I'm fresh from gutting a fish."
Both Goku and Bulma started to laugh once they realized something they hadn't both noticed before; they were of mutual benefit to each other. Being around one another seemed to improve them in various ways they never noticed until it was brought up. Lost in their own little world, it was only when the smell of fish had truly filled the air that they aid attention to anything else.
On Bulma's direction, Goku removed the fish from the fire. Placing the mouth-water fish out on a cloth, Bulma cracked her knuckles. "Now's the time to do it differently than you would have done, Goku." Using a few utensils from her Capsules, Bulma and Goku began to work at removing the meat from the body, which was new to Goku, as he would have simply eaten the fish as it was. When savory slabs were lain out, Bulma grabbed a few sets of spices from another set of Capsules; Hickory, Chili, and Honey glaze, and lectured Goku in how to properly flavor the meat with them.
It didn't take long for them to dig into the smorgasbord that was the cooked Paozu tuna. While Bulma was satisfied with sampling a few different flavored slices of the aquatic meat, Goku took hearty helpings all for himself. She just hoped that it was a substantial amount of food for the man, as she was the one to bear witness of how hungry an eater he was when he was a kid; he had ate out the entirety of tournament's kitchens with ease, being compared to an army of one with how much his belly could hold.
But the spiky haired man did anything but complain. He thanked Bulma fervently at the delicious taste added to the dinner they shared, glad he could have it with good company. She too missed the opportunity of spending time with friends outside of her dad's coworkers within Capsule Corp. Even the slight chill the crisp mountain air and the natural descent into darkness the mountainside had was enough to tickle her nostalgia, making the trip all the more worth the effort of traveling here.
Sensing the light's diminishing rays peeking through the wooded horizon, Goku stood up after politely piling the dish he used next to the rest of the cooking utensils. Inhaling deeply, he rubbed his stomach with happiness, chuckling happily as he looked at his friend finish her helping's last crumbs, "Boy, Bulma! I've had a lot of fish over the years but that tasted incredible! You really should show me more how to cook like this; that way, I can always feel this great after an awesome meal!"
"If I should thank Kami for anything it's that you've become an excellent flatterer," Bulma said with a bemusing grin, placing her plate over Goku's as she rose to full height to look at her friend's eyes. Taking a glance at the orange rays bleeding through the woodland expanse, she knew that it was only a matter of time before night fully befell their midst. Reaching into her jacket, she fumbled for the right capsule as she said with resignation, "well, I'll take that offer up tomorrow and maybe we can try some other wilderness gourmet to be given the ol' Bulma touch. Just let me get out my sleeping bag and tent so I can be ready for that-"
"Actually," Goku responded readily, waving a free arm at the hut with a smile, "I think you can always sleep in my bed. It's spacious enough that I think you could be comfortable. And it beats sleeping under a tent, right?"
Bulma's face, for the second time in a single day, went a stark red beneath the head of purple hued hair. The implications of what Goku offered so casually struck a chord of embarrassment she had rarely had since she was much younger. Hands reached up to cover her face, her head shaking back and forth, causing a look of dubious confusion to cross her childhood companion's eyes, "I-I-I can't i-i-impose like that, S-S-Son! I-I-I mean...t-t-think about how...I-I-I mean...wouldn't it be c-c-cramped s-s-sleeping in the s-s-same b-b-bed?!"
"What? That's silly for you to say," Goku laughed it off, finding it funny how his friend acted so flustered at the idea of sharing the same bed. He was worried he might squash her or push her off the cot, knowing how he often was a bit of a restless sleeper. Let alone what he had been taught by Kami, it wouldn't be a very polite thing to do to a young lady. "I was going to use the spare futon I got to sleep on the floor. I don't mind, really. I just wanted you to have a comfy bed for a night, is all."
"Oh," Bulma mouthed, her fuming head defusing after a simple explanation from a simple minded man. She glared into her palms for a few seconds, a little angry at herself for assuming that such a thing would happen between them. She wondered whenever her helpless romantic side would learn to grow up. Pulling her hands down, she composed herself enough to smile appreciatively at Goku, causing him to smile back with relief.
As soon as their conversation was over, night had descended upon the forest of Mount Paozu. A hail of crickets and crescendo of other nocturnal sounds began to swell in the backdrop while the pair entered the hut. True enough to the Turtle Schooler's word, he had stashed a rolled up futon that almost doubled as a sleeping bag with how compact it was stashed within the large cabinet holding his clothes. As he unrolled it, Bulma took the opportunity to quickly unpack a capsuled batch of clothes she stashed away for changing. Despite being comfortable that Goku didn't possess a leering bone in his body, she still felt apprehensive of catching his gaze as her matured body was briefly unclothed for the moments she got into a Capsule Corp logo'd pair of pajamas.
By the time she was finished dressing up, Goku turned on his heel and smiled pleased at Bulma. For a moment, it looked like something in his eyes told her he wanted to say something, but it didn't take long for him to discourage the thought. Shaking his head, he almost whispered, "Good night, Bulma," as he laid onto his unfolded sleeping mattress.
"Good night, Son," She breathed out quietly, as she tentatively got into her friend's bed. The surprisingly clean quilt was quite comfortable, and she suspected that it was replaced to fit his larger frame; it practically smothered her as she pulled it over herself. Placing her head against the simple packed pillow, she squirmed as she tried to find a perfect posture for resting. When she settled on a spot, she found herself staring at Goku, back facing her while his body rose and fell gently with every deep breath.
"He looks so calm, you wouldn't think he's as energetic as the kid I once met," Bulma thought with a soft smile, admiring how quiet his breathing was in comparison to the rest of the night's inhabitants. She couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking at that moment that he didn't bring himself to say, but she guessed it was something he'd bring up sooner or later. Content with asking about it tomorrow, her bright blue eyes slowly closed as she attempted to attain some sleep after a considerably long day.
LastationLover:And it's done! This is the first installment of a new series I'll be working on with fellow author, Demodu20! This one centers around Goku and Bulma hooking up, as opposed to Goku and Chi-Chi, and it will retell Dragon Ball Z up to the end of the Freeza Saga (with more coming if Demod and I decide to go beyond that Saga). I've long since disagreed with Goku and Chi-Chi. I don't see Chi-Chi as a proper wife or even a proper mother. Don't think I'm character bashing, but I don't actually see her as loving Goku or Gohan. Goku's 'marriage' to Chi-Chi always felt hollow; as if she used Goku for sex, security, and the provision of a child, and nothing more. And even Gohan seemed to be more a project she wanted to tinker with, not a son she wanted to love. So I want to take the story in a different direction, and Demod agreed. But since we're both busy people, writing our own series, we came up with a wild idea.
Two heads are better than one, right? And yet, two is nice but three is better, no? So we brought in our friend, Firegod00, as editor-in-chief. Demod and I write a half of the chapter each (and in the case of being unable to finish, we'll pass it off one another) and thus, that way, it frees the other up to continue writing their own projects unimpeded, while Fire will handle all of the proofreading, a job Demod himself usually handles on my works. This is the first time I've done a project like this, and I hope it succeeds!
I also want to ensure everyone that reads the Erased Chronicles that this story won't interfere with it. Demod and I have settled on a "one-every-two-months" update for this story, so I can focus on my main projects as well.
As always, I have a few language related things to explain. The terms I use for the Dragon Balls are the terms provided by the localized English manga. Ūshinchū, Chiishinchū, and Sushinchū are all straight from the manga, and refer to the Five, Six, and Four-Star Balls respectively. I believe they're Chinese, but I'd rather not state it with such self-assurance I put my foot in my mouth.
Also, I'd like to extend a thanks to the DeviantArt user karoine for being a small part of this project as well, providing the story's cover art; a very generous accepting of my request. Her Deviant Home Page is located here; please check out her work and once again, thank you for the provision!
Demod20: Hello everybody! This is probably the first time I get to share my thoughts on another profile other than my own. Huge honor being able to be part of this project so I just want to take some time to thank my friend Lastation. If he wasn't taking part in this project, I wouldn't have been so enthusiastic for it.
Bulma, to me, has always been a very important part to the series Dragon Ball and its successor, DBZ. She provided a very human and relatable experience for us during her and Goku's adventures throughout both series. While her role sadly diminished in DBZ, I'd like to think if it wasn't for her, Goku wouldn't be a hero not just for Earth but for the whole Galaxy. They make the best pair and duo of either series, and this story is cemented proof that both myself and two others believe the same.
The things we have planned will definitely go beyond simply changing the romantic coupling. I won't spoil anything in case people want to be surprised, but I will say you'll be in for one wild surprise after another. When we're done, your perspective of DBZ will be changed (hopefully) in a radical and drastic way that will leave you in awe.
And until the next update, I'll see you all next time after we've written another amazing Chapter!