"I could use a hand with the dishes, Videl," said Chichi. She cast a meaningful glance at Goku, then her older son.
"Oh sure, of course!" Videl nodded. She seemed eager to have something to do with her hands. Quickly she got up and started clearing the plates away.
"Gohan, why don't you and I get freshened up while your mom and Videl clean up?" Goku suggested. Taking Gohan's arm, he led him away while Chichi shooed Videl into the kitchen. Together, they carried the massive stacks of dishes towards the huge sink basin. Like she had before, Videl automatically tied on a borrowed apron and pushed up her sleeves.
Chichi nudged her over, reaching for a dish. She stated, "You look like you've seen a ghost... are you all right?"
"Um yeah... I mean um... I guess I'm just nervous about what my dad will think. I appreciate you going to talk to him, but he's really hard headed," Videl admitted, pushing dishes back and forth under the water.
"I've had PLENTY of experience dealing with stubborn men, and boys. Don't you worry, dear," Chichi reassured her. Handing Chichi the dish she'd washed, Videl then picked up another and rapidly scrubbed it.
"I'm not surprised. Gohan, Goten and Goku seem like a real handful. But sometimes it's a nice change from hanging around at my place. It's so quiet compared to here," Videl commented.
Chichi reached over to catch the dish that Videl almost dropped. "Your father's just like any other man. You have to know how to stand up for yourself without being overly so. And when they don't get it, that's when you get tough."
"I don't think he'd say no to you, Chichi. No offense," Videl laughed.
"None taken," Chichi nodded. For a few minutes the two women continued their detailed work. Occasionally Gohan or Goten would wander in with a fresh stack of dishes from the table, and add to the pile. Quickly they'd dart out again to the main part of the house. Although some would regard this division of labor as sexist, there was a very good reason for them to be afraid. Chichi had made it clear that 'washing dishes' with Videl meant it was time for a little "girl talk". This roughly translated as no boys allowed. However, help carrying dishes was more than welcome. She could hear the whine of the vacuum cleaner in the living room, and guessed Goten or Gohan were pushing it.
Videl felt Chichi's eyes on her and flinched when the older woman asked, "Isn't that Gohan's shirt?"
"I um... yeah my clothes weren't clean and..." Both women regarded one another, especially the odd way in which they were standing on shaky legs with a certain obvious stiffness.
"It's quite all right. I'd expect him to be a gentleman and offer you a change of clothes. But you could have asked me dear. I'm sure I have something that would fit," Chichi said, pacing around Videl a half circle.
"Um that's nice of you but..." Videl trailed off.
"I'm sure your daddy would be even MORE easy to talk to if he saw his little girl coming home in women's clothes instead of Gohan's," Chichi winked.
"Oh yeah, good thinking!" Videl breathed a sigh of relief. Chichi glanced oddly at her neck, and Videl shivered.
"Videl, what's that on your neck?" Chichi asked, and Videl winced.
"I... it's nothing I mean..." Videl babbled. Suddenly a loud crash shattered their train of thought and Videl leaned over to pick up the broken shards. Chichi marched over to grab a dustpan and broom.
"Is that son of mine behaving himself? I told him to wait for the wedding after he was married," Chichi mumbled.
"It's nothing... we were just kissing, and it's not what it looks like!" Videl protested. Chichi gave her an odd look, while Videl held the dustpan and she swept the pieces into the metal container.
"It's nothing to be ashamed of. Goku did the same thing to me after we met at the Budokai. I was wondering if Gohan was going to act similarly," Chichi shook her head. "Honestly, like father like son."
Videl's heart pounded when she whispered, "You mean Goku and you... when you..."
"Oh yes, when we were first alone, and traveling to find the Bansho fan, Goku got a little... frisky, and before I knew it he'd leaned over and..." Chichi started. Videl watched the telltale rosiness spring in Chichi's face, her dark eyes a million miles away. Shards of dishes clattered into the trash can, and the lid slammed down with a definitive clang.
"So you and Goku... I mean this was when you first kissed?" Videl asked.
"It was so strange. When I first kissed his cheek, he acted like he didn't know what to do. And then as we spent more time together he got less shy. It's as if something possessed him. But then, when he came to his senses I found my neck bleeding! It was the oddest thing. Of course I wasn't too happy, but something inside me realized that it must be because he grew up in the woods. It's almost like what an animal would do to claim its mate," Chichi murmured, rubbing her chin. "But to see that Gohan did it to you makes me wonder what's gotten into him!"
"I... so you and Goku... I mean you waited till you got married before you... um..." Videl blurted out. "I'm sorry I shouldn't have asked that! How rude of me!"
Chichi inhaled deeply, and rested her hands on her hips. "Well, you might as well know that Goku and I got `married' in the tournament ring. But he didn't actually do anything after I yelled at him for biting me. I realized I must have scared him off."
"I see. But what's this about a fan?" Videl blinked at Chichi.
"I never told you about the Bansho fan, did I dear?" asked Chichi, with a chuckle. "About how my pa's castle was almost burned to the ground... in fact it was looking for that fan that first brought me and Goku together... it was fate..."
"A fan? Brought you and Goku together? Must have been some fan," Videl stared disbelievingly.
"It was an enchanted fan that could put out any fire... my pa and I lived on top of a mountain, but it caught fire... and well..." Chichi trailed off.
Soon the memories spun out through Chichi's tale, and all talk of Videl's bruise was forgotten. She couldn't believe her narrow escape. Something told her that Chichi was hiding something, because it seemed odd that Chichi had not pressed her harder for more information. What was Chichi holding back, and was it an odd parallel to what had transpired between her and Gohan? Had Goku and Chichi really been together before getting married?
Gohan had said his parents were `married in a Budokai ring'. So if Chichi considered them married, and then a bit of fooling around wouldn't be out of the question. Yet she had just admitted Goku was clueless when it came to what a man and woman did in bed. Something didn't add up. Just why would Goku suddenly bite Chichi and then stop? The whole thing puzzled her. Till she realized that Chichi's forceful protest could have easily scared Goku off from pressing his advantage. Nobody wanted to mess with the Ox Princess when she was angry for long.
Goku was struggling to wrap the vacuum cleaner cord around the machine once more without busting the appliance. Biting his lip, he managed to put it away just as he sensed Gohan's ki approaching. Goku brushed his hands off on his orange training pants.
"So you're you were going over to take Trunks back? And then drop by Videl's home?" Gohan asked, as he wandered in, tugging on his sweatpants. Still damp, his spiky hair stood up on end. Goku smelled the clean uncomplicated scent of Chichi's homemade soap and wished he'd thought of taking a bath after he'd finished straightening up the living room. Still, he figured he must not smell all that unpleasant considering he had bathed just that morning with Chichi behind the house.
He smiled to himself at the thought of sneaking out in the wee hours of dawn to the bathing barrel with a nervous Chichi clinging to his shoulder. Knowing that the house was filled with young men they had become stealthier regarding their trysting. What had almost happened in the kitchen was dessert to a playful night. Both had learned the art of lovemaking in strange places that would blow Gohan's mind if he knew. For all Chichi's bluster about improper actions, she was very creative suggesting alternatives to their own bedroom for lovemaking. Goku recalled the crisp cool air chilling her body in his arms when he used his instant transmission to zap them behind the house. She had not protested after he used his ki to heat up the frigid water so both of them could take a luxurious soak in the soft light of the rising sun.
"I figured you and Videl could use the moral support. And Chichi's all set to defend your choice to Videl's father," said Goku. "As long as she does the talking."
"Sounds like Mom," Gohan chuckled. He thrust his hands into the pocket of his jacket and shuffled his feet.
Sensing his son's awkwardness Goku knew he had to continue to clear the air. So he said, "Look, just so you know and you hear it from me, I'm not mad or anything. I think it's GREAT that you found someone to make you happy... I just want you to know that."
"Are you sure?" he asked awkwardly. "Videl's still scared to death about what Mom and her dad will think. If I can't be with her, I don't know what I'd do, Dad."
"But you know we're gonna have to face up to her sooner or later Gohan," said Goku. "That's why you have to trust me on this. As long as we play our cards right this will all work out for the best."
"Yes I know. That's why I've been holding off for so long. I didn't want to make anyone... angry at me," Gohan said seriously. "I love her, and I have no regrets. The last thing I want to do is make her life even more difficult living in her dad's shadow."
Goku reached over and patted his son's shoulder. Both of them sat down on the sofa for a moment, regarding one another. "That's why it's good to have Chichi in on this. You and I both know how forceful she can be when she's made her mind up. The thing is to work it to our advantage. I doubt Hercule could refuse her after she's found the best way to break the news."
"So all she has to do is find some way of saying that Videl's found someone special?" Gohan sighed dubiously. "Her dad's going to throw a fit. He's had this thing about her only being with someone stronger than him. The last thing I want to do is have to fight him and pull my punches. I don't' want to have risk hurting him!"
"Which reminds me," Goku said quietly. "It's been kind of bugging me a while and we didn't really talk much about it."
"What's that dad?"
"Well I just couldn't help but wonder sometimes," Goku trailed off, and then glanced at the ceiling. After a tense moment he asked, "Are you still angry with me for..." he asked.
"For being away so long?" asked Gohan quietly.
Son Goku nodded seriously, looking his son directly in the eye.
"I always am Dad. Sure part of me is still sore about it, but you're here with us now," said Gohan, sitting down at the table opposite his father, whose shoulders slouched in sadness.
"I still blame myself. If I'd been there... if I'd known how upset it made her whenever I was gone... I know how selfish it was, but at the time..."
"You did what had to be done. You don't' have to justify it to me, Dad, I get it. But beating yourself up isn't good either. If I was still mad I wouldn't be asking for your advice about this," Gohan coughed.
"I know. Your mom knows I'd do everything to make it right, and I have... I've done the best I can... at least I hope I did," said Goku quietly, looking for a moment like a lost boy. "I can't make up for the time I lost... but I can at least try to make sure I don't' make the same mistake again. I want to be here for you and Videl."
"I know that Dad. And it really helps to have you here now," said Gohan with a slow nod. He got up and went over to hug his dad, slapping him on the back.
"I'm glad," said Goku, getting up and walking over to pick up the phone. "You and Videl get ready. I think the car's got gas."
"Okay Dad, I'll just see if Videl's ready. Mom's probably talked her ear off now. I'll also round up Trunks and Goten."
"All right. I'll just call Videl's Dad to let him know we're coming," Son Goku nodded as he dialed Mr. Satan's residence.
Outside, Trunks and Goten had piled their belongings. While waiting for everyone to get ready they sparred quickly under the shade of the thick trees. Dressed in his black pants, white T-shirt and a sports jacket, Gohan motioned them both over.
"Okay guys, we're gonna take Videl back now after we drop you off," said Gohan.
"Mr. Satan? He's so funny!" laughed Goten. "Almost as funny as Daddy!"
"He's LOTS more entertaining than that, he's a million laughs," Trunks winked.
"Now mind your manners, he's going to be my father in law!" Gohan cautioned.
"Yep, and he's gonna flip when you bring your girlfriend home," giggled Goten.
"Oh please, he's just taking Mom and Dad with him so Mr. Satan doesn't try and fight him and get himself put in the hospital!" Trunks whispered, and then shut up.
Out of the rear of the house strode Videl and Chichi. The latter's hands gesticulated eagerly along with the excited note in her voice. In direct contrast, Videl stuffed her hands into her jacket pockets, her shoulders tense despite the cheerful smile on her face.
"Gohan, there you are!" Chichi shouted. "You're all ready to go? Where's your father?"
"He's calling Videl's dad to let him know we're bringing her home," Gohan announced.
"Oh man," Videl groaned. Chichi reached over and rested her arm around Videl's slumped shoulders.
"Now dear, we've talked all about this. We'll be there right with you, Goku-sa and I. There's nothing to worry about!" she reassured.
"Yep, my dad's got some sort of plan... you're dad's a sucker for new fans... so maybe he'll not kill me if I have Goku ask for his autograph?" Gohan asked.
"Very funny... and not very nice... but clever," Videl tapped her foot.
"Trunks, Goten, you guys ready to go?" asked Son Goku, striding out of the house. He wore his usual orange training ensemble, but he'd also thrown on a loose blue windbreaker.
"What did my dad say, Goku-san?" asked Videl, zipping up her coat and shouldering her book bag. Gohan took the bag filled with his and Videl's schoolbooks. Moving over he pressed a soft kiss to her ear while his mother wasn't looking.
"I told him that Chichi and I just were DYING to meet him, and that we were bringing Videl over when you came home," Goku winked.
"Ohh, you're clever but I don't know if my dad's gonna buy it!" Videl groaned. Instantly both Trunks and Goten chorused the famous Satan chant.
"They've got THAT part down right," Trunks whispered to Goten. "That silly chant's perfect, even if it is lame."
"Shh, Videl's got sharp ears," Goten said, giving him a kick in the shins.
"Ow, I'm so hurt," Trunks rolled his eyes, smirking.
"Ready to go?" Goku interrupted. Closing the door behind them, Son Goku locked and secured everything. Behind him, the two half Saiyans walked into the middle of the clearing where both houses nestled on the mountainside.
"Yep, let's fly!" called Trunks, waiting for the young couple to walk over to the parked car under the watchful eye of Chichi.
She waved and then turned to Goku. He handed her a long silk coat, and helped her on with it while Trunks and Goten gathered their things into their multicolored backpacks. The engine of the white car roared into life as Goku pulled out and onto the main hover car road leading down Mt. Pauzo.
Everyone hung on while Chichi kept a careful eye on her husband behind the wheel. Gohan remembered how thankful he was when his father finally learned to drive a car properly. Only under Chichi's continued insistence had Goku finally achieved his license. No less than two years had passed and Goku had received the license in the mail just two months before fighting Cell. Little did they know he'd be dead to the world and not able to use it till just a few months later. Catching the look in her boyfriend's eye, Videl reached over and clasped his hand.