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A Way With Words

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Well, there she was. All 5 feet and 4 inches of her. Chi-Chi stared at herself in the mirror, stripped down to her underwear, hair hanging loose. She gave her reflection a cursory glance up and down, then started in on specifics.

Her stomach wasn’t flat, and hadn’t been for a long time. Gone were the toned abs she’d once been so proud of, back when she was younger and prettier and hadn’t had two babies. Her thighs had gotten bigger, too; she’d have to add more kicks into her training with Goten. Her posture left something to be desired (she quickly straightened her back), her breasts were sagging more than a little, her backside was jigglier than she remembered, and stretch marks covered more and more areas of her skin every day.

The one part of her old toned physique she’d managed to maintain was her biceps—they were still not as pronounced as her husband’s, but she’d kept them in good shape from training and cleaning. Hauling laundry for the Son family was surprisingly good exercise.

She poked and prodded and patted the various jiggling parts of herself and sighed. Getting older was the worst.

The bedroom door opened and Goku strolled in. “Oh! Chi-Chi! I didn’t know you were in here!” He closed the door behind him, and she smiled a little at the memory of how long it had taken to drill that little habit into his head. “Have you seen my tracksuit?” he asked, heading to the closet. “I’m going to Kame House to train with Krillin and 18 for a little bit. I’ll be back by dinner, promise!”

“It’s hanging towards the back.” Chi-Chi sat on the bed and pulled her knees to her chest, watching her husband rifle through his clothes. Time had been kinder to Goku than to her, although she supposed his Saiyan heritage was to thank (or blame, depending on her mood) for that. He still looked like he was in the prime of his life, with abs you could hurt yourself on and arms you could swing from. He still walked around shirtless a lot, still with his wild boy ideas of “clothing optional,” but Chi-Chi hadn’t minded that bad habit quite as much as not closing the door behind him.

She looked back to her own reflection and grimaced. It wasn’t fair, with or without the alien DNA. Quite frankly, she hated her body and the way it looked and how hard she had to work to even maintain this flabby form. It just wasn’t fair.

“Chi?” She blinked and Goku was next to her, wearing his tracksuit pants and nothing else. “Is, uh. Is that a new bra?” he asked by way of conversation. She could practically see the wheels in his head turning, trying to figure out what was so obviously bothering her.

“No, dear, I’ve had this one for a while now.” She slid her legs down so her knees weren’t up by her chest, then regretted it immediately because now she could see her stomach rolls. She was so gross. She pulled her knees back up again.

“Oh. It’s nice.” It wasn’t nice. It was a plain, solid colour bra that matched her skin tone and didn’t even give decent support anymore. Maybe that was why her breasts were sagging more now. But it was nice of Goku to say so.

“Don’t you have training to do?” Chi-Chi said, pushing Goku away. She didn’t really want to talk about this and she knew Goku would press the issue if she let him.

“Uh, right, yeah.” He shifted slightly on the bed. “Is everything okay? You seem upset. And, like, it’s a different kind of upset than usual.”

Her temper flared. “What do you mean, ‘usual?’”

“Nothing! Nothing at all forget I said anything!” He held up his hands to block some imaginary onslaught.

She just sighed and propped her chin on her knees.

“No, seriously, Chi-Chi.” A warm, strong arm wrapped itself around her shoulders. “Are you okay?”

Chi-Chi willed herself not to cry, but her bottom lip began to quiver. “I’m fine.” It came out much quieter than she’d meant, and she cleared her throat and said it again louder. “I’m fine! It’s nothing.”

Goku scooted closer to her. “You sure? Because you don’t look like it.”

“I said I’m fine, so I’m fine!” she snapped. She didn’t have the usual intensity that she had when she yelled and she knew it. “I just…don’t feel well, that’s all.”

He squeezed her shoulders. “Want me to make you some tea?”

Her eyes widened and snapped to look at his. “No! You stay out of that kitchen!”

But he was already on his feet and out the door, cackling like a madman. “I’m gonna mess up your kitchen!” he sang, bounding down the stairs.

“If you touch anything in there I will send you back to King Kai’s!” Chi-Chi hastily threw on a bathrobe and raced down the stairs. “Do you hear me, Goku? Don’t you dare!” By the time she got there, he’d already pulled half the dishes out of the cupboards and was whistling as he rearranged her meticulously organized spice rack. She stormed over to him and gave him a shove. He didn’t budge, but he did put down the small jars of ginger and her special homemade five-spice powder he’d been holding and beam down at her. “Don’t give me that face,” she snapped, propping a fist on her hip and shaking a finger at him. “You don’t get to charm your way out of—hey!”

He’d scooped her up bridal style and she clung to his neck so she wouldn’t fall as he bounced over to the couch. Dropping her on it rather unceremoniously, he plopped down next to her and settled on his back, his head in her lap. She folded her arms and glared down at him. “I hope you’re happy. It’s going to take me all afternoon to reorganize that spice rack while you and Krillin are off beating the living daylights out of each other.”

Goku reached up and patted her face. “Aw, it won’t take you that long, Chi. You’re good at all that stuff.”

Chi-Chi sighed and shook her head, but couldn’t help the small smile that broke out. She could rage and scream until the cows came home, but she couldn’t stay genuinely angry at Goku or her sons for too long. “You look comfortable.”

He wrapped his arms around her waist and sat up enough that he could bury his face in her stomach. “That’s ‘cause you’re comfortable.” Goku peeked up at her. “Your body is so soft; it’s great for snuggling.” His mouth found an exposed part of her belly and blew a raspberry against it. She shrieked and slapped his shoulder in retribution. “And you can do that,” he added, and she almost giggled. He pushed himself up so they were face to face, though he was still half-draped across her lap. “You’re so pretty, Chi,” he said, voice low. “You haven’t changed a bit.”

She swallowed the sudden lump in her throat. “You’re just saying that,” she muttered.

Goku cupped her face in his hand and she felt tears welling up. “Maybe,” he admitted. “But only the part about not changing. You’re real pretty; it’s just different pretty than before.” He kissed her forehead. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here to watch you change, or the boys grow up.”

And that did it; the waterworks were open and Chi-Chi threw her arms around Goku’s shoulders so she could bury her face in his chest. “I’m sorry!” Goku said. “What did I do? I’m sorry I shouldn’t have made you cry!” She could hear him starting to panic, but she couldn’t say anything around her tears. “Geez, Chi, I’m sorry!” One hand snaked around her back, the other shifting to her waist. “I thought I was doing the right thing, you know?” he continued. “I didn’t think too far ahead. It’s not something I’m good at.” He patted her back awkwardly, like he knew it was the thing to do but he wasn’t sure why. “So, uh. When did you get thighs that could crush a man’s skull?”

Chi-Chi let out a watery laugh. “I’ve always had these,” she said, voice wavering.

“I know. Just thought I’d point them out.” He propped his chin on her head. “You did a great job with the boys, you know.”

“Oh, I know.”

“Yeah, Gohan seems pretty happy in school now. And you trained Goten real good. You think he’ll ever want to be a scholar like Gohan?”

She took a few calming breaths. Crying took a lot out of her lately. “He’s too much like his parents for that.”

Goku laughed. “Ouch, Chi!” He turned his face so his cheek rested on her head instead. “Do you wanna come with me to Kame House? I know you’ve got stuff here to do but a good sparring match always makes me feel better!”

She shook her head, pushing him away. “No, I’d better be here when the boys get home.”

“Goten’s staying over at Trunks’s tonight, and Gohan’s probably going to Videl’s or the Lookout after school anyway.” Goku stood up and grabbed her hands. “Come on, Chi, it’ll be just like when we first got married! It’ll be fun! What do you say?”

Memories of how often they used to spar as newlyweds—before Gohan was born, before she was pregnant, even—brought a little smile to her face. “Well, alright,” she said, standing up. “But it means dinner’ll be late tonight.”

“That’s okay!” He scooped her up again and she shrieked. “I sure ain’t gonna leave you by yourself when you’re sad! I, uh,” he looked sheepish. “I’ve done enough of that.” He brightened again. “So do you wanna take Nimbus, or is this okay?”

Chi-Chi looked up at her husband, the man she’d fallen in love with when they were children, who’d agreed to marry her before he understood what it even meant, who had given her two wonderful sons, who always did what he thought was right or best, who had a hard time with words but sometimes found just the right ones. “No,” she said, wrapping her arms around his neck. “This is just fine.”