Chapter Three: Reunion
It was a mountain range that Bulma Briefs had not been in years.
Vast mountains, far taller than thick, rose around them like a forest of stone. The mountain path led through the highlands into forested areas. Now and then, the group would see vast waterfalls descending into foaming pools.
A long time ago, Bulma had driven past all this stuff without a second glance. All she'd cared about was getting the dragonballs so she could wish for the perfect boyfriend. Now that she had it, or rather knew there was no such thing, she admired the sights.
"Look at this place," said Bulma. "I can't believe I didn't see it before."
"I guess," said Yamcha.
"Don't you find it pretty?" asked Bulma.
"Maybe," said Yamcha, continuing to fly. "But we've got to meet Goku, so we can't stop for sightseeing." He looked down. "Is that the place?"
Bulma looked down to see a familiar house. And also a much larger, not so familiar house made of stone. "Yeah, that's it."
Yamcha descended and landed. Setting Bulma down, he opened his pack, and Puar came out of it looking woozy. "So, this is Goku's house, huh?"
"Yeah, haven't you been here before?" asked Bulma.
"Not really," admitted Yamcha. "He basically disappeared off the map after the Tournament with Piccolo. I spent the year after he died with Kami, then I died and, well, since then, I've been training."
"Wow, I never even realized you'd never been here before," said Bulma.
"We're talking about a guy who can teleport across the universe in seconds, Bulma," said Yamcha. "It's usually much more convenient for him to come to us." He halted as he looked at the place. "Wow, this place is pretty uh... nice."
"Yeah," said Puar. "Kind of reminds me of our old hideouts."
"A bit smalltown for my liking," said Bulma. "I will never understand how Chi Chi makes shopping trips.
"Come on, let's knock and see if they're home."
Moving forward, Bulma knocked on the door. "If I know Goku, he and Gohan are probably out training a long way off."
No one answered. They waited a little while, and Bulma knocked again.
"Huh, you think maybe no one is home?" asked Bulma.
"I don't know," said Yamcha. "Chi Chi is usually here, isn't she?"
"I don't get in contact with her often," said Bulma. "Didn't um... didn't you promise to marry her once?"
"I saw her turn a T-rex into chopped meat when she started crying," said Yamcha. "Then she looked like she was aiming it at me.
"I panicked and made up a lie.
"I didn't actually expect her to remember it ten years later."
"Way to play with a girl's heart, Yamcha," said Bulma in amusement.
"This coming from someone who flirted with every single attractive guy we came across?" asked Yamcha.
"I..." Bulma paused. "Alright, fine, I'll give you that. But only because I'm in a good mood."
Puar shifted. "Um, Bulma, I've been thinking."
"What is it, Puar?" asked Bulma.
"Well, you said this was a reformed Dragonball Gang, right?" asked Puar.
"Yeah, what about it?" asked Bulma. She hadn't been aware anyone had taken that seriously.
"Well, aren't we missing a few people? I mean, Goku and Oolong aren't here?" asked Puar.
"Oolong is a lazy pig," said Bulma. "He'd never get caught dead going on another adventure. Not since he met up with Roshi."
"Well, what about Goku?" asked Puar.
"That's why we're here, isn't it?" asked Bulma.
"Yeah, but if Goku's on the Dragonball gang, it makes everyone else irrelevant, Bulma," said Yamcha.
"Well, so what?" asked Bulma. "The Dragonball Gang can be just the three of us."
"I dunno," said Puar. "It's not much of a comeback if you don't have the same number of people. Maybe we could add someone else to the group with a connection to Goku. Like Gohan, or-
"Well, I'm not sure she'd be interested but-" began Bulma. Then she noticed the others were looking past her shoulder. She turned around and saw Chi Chi. "Oh?"
Chi Chi was trudging up the path with two bags of groceries in each hand. Her dark hair was tied behind her head, and she had a bag wrapped around one shoulder. The beautiful Princess was clad in her usual purple and looked in a foul mood.
She stopped suddenly as she saw them. "Yamcha? Bulma? What are you doing here? You're not here to take Gohan off on one of those damn training exercises or fight monsters, are you?"
"No, no, of course not!" said Yamcha quickly, trying to control his terror. "We're actually uh... here to visit you."
"Visit me?" asked Chi Chi, sounding suspicious. "Why? I mean, I'm certainly not angry or anything, I just... well, most of you only really seem interested in Goku and Gohan."
"Well, we need a guide," said Bulma.
Chi Chi halted and set the bags down. "A guide? What are you talking about? This is a plan to get Gohan to go fight, isn't it? I'll bet you're trying to use him as a soldier against another alien invasion!"
"No, no, quite the opposite," said Yamcha. "We're trying to stop Goku from training him!"
Chi Chi halted. "What do you mean?"
"Well, I mean... it can't be healthy for Gohan to be in nonstop war," said Yamcha quickly. "He's like, eight or nine, and he's fought, intergalactic tyrants. We're hoping to make it so he won't have to fight at all. And we were hoping you could help us with it."
Chi Chi eyed them, and then suddenly was all smiles. "...Well then, why don't you come in, Yamcha, Bulma. I'll get you both some tea and refreshments." Then she handed Yamcha her shopping. "Hold this while I get out the key."
Chi Chi quickly unlocked the door and opened it into a cozy, two-story house. "Could you two help me with the unpacking? I'll direct you where to put those things."
Chi Chi did just that, and nobody had the guts to do a refusal. Bulma wasn't quite sure why everyone was terrified of Chi Chi. But even Piccolo trod carefully around the woman. Vegeta had flinched at her presence once or twice. So Bulma was inclined to help out.
"Thank you all," said Chi Chi, with a sweet voice.
"So, um, where's Goku?" asked Puar.
Instantly Chi Chi scowled angrily and crossed her arms before looking away. "I don't know or care.
"Probably off in some godforsaken continent, forcing my little boy to train for war. Meanwhile, I just got back from a supply run. At least Piccolo is with them."
"Supply run? Shouldn't Goku transport you?" asked Yamcha.
"Well, I did want him to get a driver's license, but he and Piccolo ended up drag racing," said Chi Chi.
"Well, why would he even need a car?" asked Yamcha.
"How else could he transport me?" asked Chi Chi. "I can fly on my own."
"Well then, why do you-" Yamcha halted at her look. "I mean to say, Goku has the ability to instantly teleport anywhere in the entire universe, Chi Chi. As long as he's been there before, he can transport you."
Chi Chi went very silent. Bulma suddenly heard every bird chirping stop as darkness fell over the sun. Chi Chi ground her teeth. "...You mean to tell me that I've been moving miles to the nearby towns, braving wild animals and getting chased by wild boars and... and he could have been teleporting me where I needed to go every time!"
"Um... yes?" said Yamcha.
"That... that... I'll..." Chi Chi reverted to her normal smiling self and went a bit nearer to Yamcha than Bulma would have liked. "I'm sorry to lose my temper, Yamcha. Please sit down; I'll get you and Bulma some snacks."
"Um, right, yes," said Yamcha.
And that was how they ended up sitting in the living room, while Chi Chi busied herself in the kitchen. Bulma and Puar looked at one another before looking at Yamcha. A major threat was growing on her mind now.
She'd known that Chi Chi was having some conflicts with Goku, but she'd never thought it this bad. "Are you sure we should be lying about this, Yamcha?"
"I'm not lying," said Yamcha. "If we stop Gero now, there's no reason for Gohan to do any training. Yeah, we have our own reasons. But nothing I said wasn't true."
"Well, what if Chi Chi gets angry? I mean..." Bulma eyed where Chi Chi had begun to hum while cutting cellary.
"Relax, we're helping her remember?" asked Yamcha.
Chi Chi soon came back with sliced salami, crackers, vegetables, and dip. She set them on the table and also provided some soft drinks with a too cheerful smile. Then she sat down.
"Here you both go," said Chi Chi. "So, my friends, how have things been going since last we met?"
"G-great Chi Chi, really," said Bulma. "We've uh... been dating on and off since, well, I died and all. How have you been?"
"Well, there was a brief harmonious period after Namek. My son was at home. At the same time, Goku wasn't taking him off on suicide missions," said Chi Chi. She looked up with eyes of obvious nostalgia. "Everything was going quite splendidly. After all, there was no meatheaded martial arts master to steal my son."
"So uh, I guess you've been having marital issues with you hus-" began Bulma. She stopped, catching a strange look from Chi Chi. "With Gohan's dad, then."
"I'm not married to Piccolo, Bulma," said Chi Chi flatly.
Dead silence followed.
"Are... are things really that bad here?" asked Bulma.
Chi Chi opened a soda and drank from it. "Probably worse.
"There was a few year period where everything was perfect. I mean, I had to instruct Goku in what it meant to be married and to be a father and all that. But we slept in the same bed, and I cooked his meals, and he hunted.
"Then he went out to visit his old friends with my son. Then I found out that my husband was dead, and my son had been kidnapped by his worst enemy. So I spent an entire year completely alone in the wilderness. And the next time I see either of them, my son has been beaten to a bloody pulp.
"Then Gohan and Goku leave to go off to Namek for months, where he fights intergalactic tyrants. And once again, I'm left completely alone in the wilderness for who knows how long. Gohan finally gets back, but Goku decides to spend the next few years traveling the cosmos. This instead of coming home.
"So I finally get the chance to spend some time with my son, who I hardly recognize at this point. And I begin to connect with him, and I help him with his schoolwork and such. Then one day, Goku comes back.
"And the first thing he does is start taking my son away to faraway wildernesses. But they show up every now and then where I have to cook for them, and I get to see Gohan get all of Goku's bad habits. And all this time, I am taken for granted. Gohan thinks of me as a killjoy because I'm trying to give him a normal education.
"No one ever even thinks about how I might feel about all this.
"My marriage isn't bad, Bulma. It's nonexistent."
"Well... I could talk to Goku about this if you want," said Yamcha. "I mean, I know he's always been a bit obtuse, but I don't think he ever wanted to hurt you."
"I know he doesn't," said Chi Chi. "I'm not hated; I'm just not a priority to him.
"So, what's this plan to ruin Goku's little training days and get my son back?"
"We're planning to kill Dr. Gero before he can make the androids," said Bulma, only too glad for the distraction.
"I see," said Chi Chi. "And how can I help you with it?"
"Well, um, we have been running some numbers, and we've found um... indications that there might be a Red Ribbon Army base somewhere around here," said Bulma. "I was hoping you could help us find it." Hesitantly she took some cellary and dipped it into the dip before taking a bite. Yamcha put some salami between two crackers and ate it.
"Do you have a map?" asked Chi Chi.
"Yes, um, we've got the approximate location here," said Bulma, finishing the cellary. Drawing out her map, she unrolled it and showed it to her.
Chi Chi looked at it and smiled. "Oh, you'd never get anywhere with this thing. This map is years out of date. The lake here has grown since, and the waterfall got larger. Also, there are some bandits who dwell out here."
"There are bandits out here?" asked Yamcha.
"They know better than to come near here, obviously," said Chi Chi. "Goku gave them a major thrashing when they tried to trouble the locals. But he didn't kill any of them, so they left.
Well, why don't we get going after we finish eating?"
"Uh, you want to go with us?" asked Bulma.
"Oh, of course," said Chi Chi. "This seems like a far better use for my time than cleaning up for a man who's never here."
Well, it looked like Bulma and Yamcha were going to be walking on eggshells for a long, long time.