Chapter 8: The Limits of Human
"Helping people out is kind of what we do." -
Early the next morning Trunks returned. He let himself in the house and was pouring himself a glass of juice when Chelsia noticed that he was there. She froze in the doorway between the kitchen and living room and stared at him in shock, but she didn't scream and was very proud of herself for not doing so.
"Do you always do this?" she asked curiously as she also got something to drink.
"Hai. Goten and I have known each other since we were little kids. Usually he's always at my house, but lately my mother's been pretty pissed off so we decided that I'd better come over here." He sat down across the table from her. "It must be pretty rough knowing that so many people are counting on you."
"Well, me and three others, actually. We all went off in different directions and I hope one of them found someone and will be back before I get there. I think I traveled out the farthest." She stared down at the table, hoping that the young man nearby didn't notice the tears forming in her eyes. "I also hope that there will be people still left when I return."
"On the bright side, I have an idea. We might just be able to get you back home in fewer than eight weeks if I take a few of the ideas people have been tossing around lately and make them reality. There will be a few trials, of course, just to make sure that everything's safe, but the entire process should take no more than a week. In no time at all you can see your home again."
She was happy, and she tried to smile, but it trembled around the edges. "I don't know how to repay you. This is far more than most people do for strangers."
"Helping people out is kind of what we do," he assured her. Patting her shoulder gently, he left the room.
Chelsia sat in the dark kitchen, sipping her juice, happy that everyone seemed to be sincere, but also half afraid that everything would come tumbling down.
"I loaded several blueprints into the computer and I modified a few of them to suit our needs. So far, Ship C seems to be the best, but Ship B would do in a pinch..."
While Trunks, Chelsia, and Vegeta stared avidly at the monitor, Goten and Goku were bored beyond belief. They couldn't understand most of what Trunks was saying, so they'd tuned him out somewhat early on. Now, the two of them sat at a small table in the corner and chatted idly.
"Was Vegeta right?" Goku asked in the middle of a conversation about pizza toppings.
Goten blinked at him while his brain switched gears. "Huh?"
"About Chelsia. Do you like her?"
Blushing, he muttered, "I think she's attractive, yeah, but that might be because she's so androgynous." He was proud of himself for remembering the word. "Didn't you say that you and Vegeta-san thought she was a boy at first?"
"So, if Chelsia really was a boy, would you want to date her?" His cheeks flamed. "Ah ha. Goten, there's nothing wrong with dating boys. I used to think that it was strange that someone would want to be with someone else of the same sex, but you can't help who you like. I feel more strongly about Vegeta than I ever felt about your mother. For the most part, we're equals. He's learned not to underestimate me."
"Okay, so maybe I don't mind the thought of liking another male. But this is sort of complicated."
"It's Trunks, Tousan. We've always been close and I don't want to ruin our relationship if he doesn't like me the way that I like him."
He smiled, but it confused his son. Goku knew that he would have no problem taking their relationship a step further. In fact, he'd always thought that Vegeta's son and his youngest were a perfect match. "Well, you have a few options. One: you could do nothing. This way you wouldn't lose him as a friend, but you might lose the chance to have him as a lover. Two: you could show or explain to him how you feel. You might lose a friend but, then again, your relationship with him might grow even deeper. Three: you can have someone else test the waters and see what his reaction is before you talk to him."
Goten nodded and thought about it. He couldn't imagine life without Trunks by his side and had felt horrible those few times his friend had gone out on dates with other people. He himself had never been able to do so because he felt like he was betraying a young man who had no idea how he really felt about him. "I can't just pretend that I'm alright with just being friends, Tousan, I just can't."
"Then pick the time you think is best and let him know. I had an excuse; if Vegeta hadn't gone into heat I might not have ever told him how I felt about him."
He couldn't help it, he blushed again. "Please don't mention that again."
"What? The Second Change?" He chuckled. "You do know that it's only a few years until I go through that, right?"
"Tousan!" He buried his head into his arms, unable to look at him any longer.
"Well, it's the truth. Luckily we have more information to go on and my mate is already right by my side. I don't know what would have happened to Vegeta if he and I had never met, and I'm afraid to think about it."
Vegeta's voice startled Goten (whose back was to the others). "Oi! What are you doing to the boy over there, Kakarotto?"
"Oh, nothing..." He smiled serenely while explaining to his mate mentally what they'd talked about. Vegeta snorted and said something to the effect that both their sons were wasting valuable time and Goku agreed wholeheartedly.
Around one o'clock, Trunks and Chelsia took a break. In the time they spent studying plans and making alterations, no one else had entered the lab. Trunks explained that they were in one of the smaller, older labs that no one save him used anymore. Buruma had long since graduated to a larger space and the official Capsule Corporation labs were on the other side of the building. So he'd appropriated it for his own use and people seemed to respect that.
As a group, they decided to head downtown and find a nice restaurant. It was risky dining in the Capsule Corp. with the possibility of Buruma finding Goku and Vegeta in her home. She was still just as angry as she'd been a few days before -- in fact, she seemed to be three times as angry. It was as if she blamed them for gaining the sympathy of most of their friends and family and turning her into the Wicked Bitch of the East. Of course, the fact that she hated to be wrong about anything played a large role in her anger.
So when the group bumped into her on their way out the door, an inevitable argument ensued.
"Why are you in my house?" she asked heatedly, a scowl on her face. "I don't want you here! Trunks, get away from them."
Everyone stared at her, most of them thinking that she'd lost her mind. Chelsia simply thought that she was a very angry woman who should be avoided at all costs. "Kaasan, what are you talking about? This is Goku-san and Papa for Kami's sake!"
"Your 'papa' is a man not to be trusted. And Goku proved to me recently that he shouldn't be trusted, either." She turned her back to them and started off in the opposite direction. "I want you both out of my house in five minutes or I'm calling the police."
The small group watched her retreat. Goten and Trunks exchanged looks and simply shook their heads in incredulity; Chelsia, having been a little frightened, was quite happy when Buruma went away; Vegeta growled in anger, wishing that he could teach the "onna" a lesson and get away with it; and Goku looked as if his heart was breaking for a second time. All his mate could do to comfort him was wrap an arm around his waist and hold on.
"There's not much you can do," he said softly. "The onna is as stubborn as a mule."
"I don't care, 'geta, she's my friend. How many more people am I going to lose?" Vegeta could feel him intake a quick, rapid breath, and was astonished to see a lone tear carve a path down his cheek. Goku did a lot of things, but crying had never been one of them.
So he just held him as long as was necessary, communicating through murmured words and soothing touches that he would always be there right by his side.
Things progressed slowly as Trunks went to work on the fusion reactor. Chelsia led the others in the actual construction of the ship in the meantime so that no time was wasted and they were able to complete majority of it in half a week by working nearly non-stop. Goku and Vegeta didn't run into Buruma again, but, then again, they made sure to teleport in and out of the lab instead of walking through the house. Her hostility was something Goku could not endure without completely falling apart for a long time afterwards, which then caused him to question the nature of his relationship with Vegeta. That, in turn, made his overprotective mate angry to the point that he wanted nothing more to kill the mother of his children, not that it would have solved any of their problems. So, it was best for everyone involved if the two Saiya-jin went out of their way to avoid all contact with her.
Trunks' trials were both a success as well as a failure. While it was good that he was able to construct an engine faster that anyone on Chikyuu had ever used before with a little help from a few scientists from Capsule Corp., it wasn't fast enough to get Chelsia home in under a month. As they all quietly let this sink in, Goten was struck with an idea.
"What about her ship? Didn't Buruma-san and her otousan modify both Kami-sama's ship as well as Tousan's space pod into usable ships? They both had advanced technology that the people here hadn't seen before."
His friend slapped him happily on the back. "Chibi, you're a genius! We'll just have to find where it crashed and haul it back here. Goku-san, do you know where you were when you saved her?"
He shrugged. "Uh, iie. Gomen."
"What do I look like, a global positioning system? I was just along for the ride. Kakarotto could have teleported to the North Pole and I wouldn't have ever realized it."
The three youngsters deflated. "Oh," Chelsia whispered.
"Do you know what you were over?" Trunks asked her gently.
She shook her head. "I know it was a large body of water, but beyond that I have no clue. My systems were going haywire from the attack that hit me in the atmosphere." She stared at the floor for a few seconds before her head jerked up in fear. "Are they still out there? Did they land down here to search for me?"
"Not that I know of," Goku said, "and my senses are pretty attuned to that sort of thing. If they weren't, I probably wouldn't have gotten to you in time."
The thought of sinking into the depths of an ocean, her body never to be found, made Chelsia shiver. "I'm open to suggestions, guys. If it takes me three years to get back home, I still want to go. There might still be something left to save even then, you know?"
"I'll do what I can," Trunks promised.
Things didn't get better. Trunks continued to work almost non-stop on the ship's engines, but still could not get the technology up to the same level as Chelsia's old ship. Finding her spacecraft without a better starting point (instead of one that could be anywhere in roughly 78% of Chikyuu's total surface area) would be next to impossible. Goku tentatively proposed an idea of his own when he saw the devastated look on his new acquaintance's face. He could probably probe Chelsia's mind and find a place to teleport them to, but doing so might be dangerous enough that she refused to let him try. She wasn't too thrilled by the idea, but admitted that she would do it if there were no other options. The thought of being so vulnerable to someone, no matter how kind they were, scared her almost as much as the thought of losing her homeworld to the Naghani.
Eventually, however, it became apparent that Goku's mental probe was the best chance they had to make it in time. Trunks was both physically and mentally exhausted from his research and labor only to realize that what they needed wouldn't be invented quickly enough. There was a limit to his knowledge and ability and he had finally reached it.
"Thank you for all that you've done, Trunks. Just thinking about how much you were willing to help me cheers me up." Chelsia smiled at him, but it was filled with heart-wrenching sadness. She hugged him and stepped back quickly before the comforting feel of his arms around her caused the dam holding back a flood of tears to burst.
"Please don't cry," Goku said somewhat desperately, seriously hoping that she didn't. He hated the helplessness and panic he always felt when someone was overwhelmed by emotion. "I'm going to see what I can do. Unfortunately, I've never teleported as far as your planet seems to be, but there's always a first time for everything." He grinned encouragingly and motioned her to sit down on the sofa in his living room. "She might be more comfortable if you guys weren't here while I do this."
She looked hopefully at them. "Please?"
As Vegeta, Trunks, and Goten filed into the kitchen, Goku kneeled in front of Chelsia and explained exactly how the process would work. "I've done this before so don't worry. Although, I was trying to extract memories instead of locking onto a specific place. But this should be a lot easier since you're going to help me."
"What do I have to do?"
"Focus on a place that you know is safe, or at least was safe when you left home. Think of how it looked in detail, how it felt to be there, how it smelled. The better you're able to recreate your experience there, the better the chance I have of getting us to the right place. Don't allow your mind to stray from it at all. I'm going to take us there by using the image in your mind and we'll see if everything's okay before taking the others along with us. Are you ready, Chelsia?"
The young woman nodded, biting her lip slightly in nervousness. "Will I feel it?" She blushed and tried to voice her concern in a better way. "I mean, will it hurt?"
"You shouldn't feel a thing. Just lean back and relax as much as you can. Remember to only think of the place you want us to visit or I might get confused."
Goku went around to the back of the sofa and placed both his hands gently on her head. "Do you have a place in mind?"
"Okay, here we go." He closed his eyes and reached deeply for an ability he hadn't needed to use since Furiza was still alive.
The instant his mind touched Chelsia's own, he was engulfed in all manner of sensations. He saw a large room encased in darkness except for soft orange light coming from a large fireplace that he knew sent warmth across his skin wherever it touched. An impressive desk of dark wood sat parallel to one wall covered in bookshelves that went all the way to the high ceiling. Two comfortable chairs with low backs and thin leather-covered wooden arms sat opposite a single high-backed chair of black leather while two more leather chairs sat before the fire, a furry rug covering the floor between.
Above the mantel hung a large painting of a family of three: mother, father, and child. The woman, who sat in a chair, had long blonde hair that flowed around her face in soft waves, bright blue eyes, and a gentle smile. Behind her stood a tall man dressed in a green turban and matching tunic complete with a cape fastened around his shoulders with two golden buttons. The hair that descended below the head covering was black and he possessed startling purple eyes. He rested a hand on the woman's shoulder and gazed down at her and his child with a subtle adoring look.
On the woman's lap sat a child of about three or four years with her mother's hair in two pigtails on either side of her head and her father's eyes. She wore a grin so large it threatened to split her face in two and a little blue dress with short puffy sleeves. The more Goku focused on the family portrait, the easier he could see Chelsia in the little girl.
The words "My father's study" echoed through her mind and Goku mentally gave his approval. Removing one hand from Chelsia's head, he placed his index and middle fingers against his forehead. A moment later they were gone.