Chapter 7

The Trip to the Past

Bulma stood in front of the regeneration tank, checking on the process of Trunks' recovery. Through the glass and the thick fluid, Bulma could see the gashes and cuts that were visible earlier had slowly healed. Satisfied and reassured of Trunks' condition, Bulma left the room and retired to her own chamber.

Bulma laid on her bed, her backbone cracked slightly. A few days without sleep and rest had left her aching and weary. Her eyes slowly closed and her body relaxed more under the coziness of her soft bed. Soon. She thought. Trunks will recover and then he could start his journey to the past once again. She didn't know what had possessed her to build the time machine, nor does she know if it will works. Going back into time was one thing, but going through dimensions? Even as a genius, she had her doubts in her ability. For now, she could only hope for the best.

Bulma could feel her eyes growing heavier and heavier. No. She thought suddenly as she bounced off the bed. She could not sleep yet. Not now. There was more preparation need to be done. Bulma quickly left for the bathroom and washed her face. She looked into the mirror. The dark circles beneath her eyes were more visible than before. Her face matched the color of her white walls. Her vision suddenly blurred and a wave of dizziness washed over her. Bulma held on the sink for support. She knew her body was begging to get some rest. But she couldn't, not until after Trunks fully recover and leave on the time machine. Bulma took a deep breath and slowly walked out the bathroom.

Chi Chi slept uneasily on her bed, rolling side to side every minute. The brief conversation with Bulma and the things she saw on the news had troubled her the whole night. Something was really wrong. She could tell by Bulma's voice. It wasn't just Cell's appearance that had troubled Bulma, there was something else, but Chi Chi couldn't put her finger on it.

Giving up on the fight to fall asleep, Chi Chi went to the closet and picked out a long Chinese silk dress, a dress she hadn't worn ever since Gokou departed from this world. She tried the dress on. To her surprise, the garment fitted loosely on her body. She hadn't realized how thin she became for the past years. Frowning, Chi Chi decided to wear something else.

A weak wail came from the adjacent room. A cry Chi Chi had gotten used to ever since Goten showed up in her life. Before leaving to Goten's room (used to be Gohan's room), Chi Chi stopped by the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of milk. Goten is always on time when it comes to feeding. Chi Chi smiled at her thoughts. Just like Gohan.

After feeding Goten, Chi Chi sat on her rocking chair and decided whether to call Bulma now or later. She doubt that Bulma had any sleep or even went to sleep. Chi Chi stared out the window. A dim but visible light slowly covered the quiet land. It's only an hour until the sun fully rises. Should I bother Bulma at this time, or should I wait until later? Her curiosity tormented her to no end, then she finally decided to give Bulma a call, despite the possibilities that Bulma and her family might still be sleeping.

The phone rang repeatedly with no answer. Chi Chi was about to give up until Bulma finally picked up the phone.

"Gomen Bulma. I didn't mean to wake you up." Chi Chi apologized.

"Don't worry about it. I wasn't sleeping." Bulma assured. "What's the matter?" Bulma asked concernedly.

"I was wondering if you are not sleeping, maybe I can come over your house now." Chi Chi replied.

Bulma paused on the other line. She was planning to wait until Trunks recovered before inviting Chi Chi to her house. But maybe it's not a bad idea to tell her beforehand.

"Bulma? If it's inconvenient, I can go later." Chi Chi said, feeling a little guilty for the trouble she might had caused.

"Oh..o…come over now." Bulma said.

"Are you sure?" Chi Chi asked uncertainly.

"Uh-huh." Bulma replied.

"Okay, I'll be over in half an hour." Chi Chi said. "Sorry again to bother you." Chi Chi apologized again.

"It's no problem. See you later." Bulma and Chi Chi exchanged goodbye and hanged up.

Chi Chi looked down at Goten who is sleeping soundly in her arms, "I guess we going over Aunt Bulma's house." Chi Chi whispered.

Bulma jumped up, startled by the doorbell. Have I fallen asleep? Bulma wondered. The doorbell rang again. Who is here so early in the morning? Then she remembered she invited Chi Chi over earlier. Bulma stretched her tight muscle and headed to the door.

Chi Chi stood in the front shivering from the morning coldness. Her hand wrapped tightly around Goten.

"Sorry to keep you waiting, Chi Chi." Bulma said as she opened the door. Surprised to see Chi Chi with a child in her arms. "Come on in." Bulma said.

Chi Chi stepped into the house. She looked around a bit. It had been a long time since she paid Bulma and her family a visit. It was usually them who came and visited her. "Good morning, Bulma."

"Same to you." Bulma replied.

Chi Chi took a glance at Bulma. Her mouth almost dropped open until she caught herself in time. Bulma looked like a ghost. Chi Chi estimated that she lost about ten or more pounds after their last encounter, not to mention her skin color. It was so sickeningly pale; it seemed unreal. Chi Chi's gaze moved up to Bulma's face. Bulma's eyes were deepened with dark circle; her hairs grew thin and covered with gray hairs.

"What happen to you, Bulma?" Chi Chi exclaimed.

Bulma showed Chi Chi to the couch. "Nothing. Do you want any coffee?" Bulma asked tiredly.

"No. Thank you." Chi Chi said politely.

"Just have a seat. I'll be back soon." Bulma exited the room.

Chi Chi waited patiently for Bulma to return. At the meantime, she wondered what had caused Bulma to change dramatically. Not only her appearance had changed, but her attitude as well. She always used to be active and lively. But today she seemed tired, weary, and old.

"So who's that baby?" Bulma asked as she appeared into the living room.

"He's an orphan whose parents had deserted him. Didn't Trunks told you about him?" Chi Chi questioned curiously.

Bulma shook her head. "Too much had happened. I didn't really talk to Trunks."

"What happened?" Chi Chi finally asked.

Bulma walked toward Chi Chi and sat down next to her with the coffee in her hand. "A lot."

Bulma stated. "I assume you didn't know about Cira?"

"What about Cira?" Chi Chi asked, while rocking the stirring Goten back to sleep.

"Cira dead." Bulma turned away slowly. She didn't want to show Chi Chi her pain.

Chi Chi was shocked at the news. She expected to hear something bad, but she hadn't expected this. "How?" Chi Chi murmured.

"It was Cell." Bulma said quickly. She started the tales beginning with Cell's arrival.

Chi Chi listened attentively. Sometimes she gasped at the horrible events.

When Bulma finished, she checked her watch. Fifteen more minutes until Trunks can come out the regeneration tank.

"I have no idea all these things happened." Chi Chi said shockingly. "Why didn't you tell me earlier, I could at least help with watching Miko."

"I apologize for not warning you beforehand." Bulma apologized.

Chi Chi shook her head. "Don't apologize. You have your things to do."

Bulma deliberately left out the part about the time machine in her tales. She wanted to save it for the last. "Chi Chi. I made a time machine, which can hold up to ten passengers. I was wondering if you wanted to go with Trunks back to the past."

"Nani?" Chi Chi was confused at Bulma's suggestion.

"Trunks is going back to the past after he healed, so he could gathered the Dragonball and Dende back to this time. This is probably the only way to save the world from Cell. And since I've made extra space, maybe you might want to go back and pay Gokou and Gohan a visit?" Bulma finished and waited for Chi Chi to respond.

Chi Chi felt herself grew with excitement. She could feel her body surged with anticipation, but suddenly her excitement dies. "I can't."

Bulma was surprised at the respond. She thought Chi Chi would be more than happy to accept her proposition. "What do you mean you can't? Don't you missed Gokou and Gohan? Didn't you spent the last three decades mourning for Gokou and Gohan?" Bulma asked with a tone a little too harsh.

Chi Chi lowered her head. True, all Bulma's predicament was right. She missed them too much, which makes it even harder to accept the proposition. "You don't understand." Chi Chi said softly. "No words can describe how much I missed them. And there are countless times when I wished I could see them again. But I don't know how I would react if I see them now. I'm no longer the young Chi Chi. I'm an old woman now. How will Gokou react if he sees me? He has his own Chi Chi and his own family. I think my appearance will make everything awkward." Chi Chi explained.

Chi Chi words stirred deeply in Bulma's mind. She never thought of that. Maybe that was the reason why she decided not to go back to the past too. Maybe she also feared seeing Vegeta living happily with his family. "I understand. If you decide not to go, I respect you decision. But you have to stay here with me, so we can keep an eyes on each other." Bulma concluded.

"You not going?" Chi Chi asked.

Bulma shook her head. "I didn't understand why I don't want to go, but your explanation sheds some lights on my decision." Bulma smiled weakly.

Bulma checked her watch again. It was almost time for Trunks to leave the regeneration tanks.

"Make yourself comfortable, Chi Chi. I need to check on Trunks." Bulma said as she got up.

Chi Chi nodded. "Don't worry about me."

When Bulma disappeared, Chi Chi suddenly felt a new respect for Bulma. She had been through so much and yet she still hadn't give up hope.

While walking to the laboratory, Bulma thought of the conversation between Chi Chi and her. Chi Chi was right. Vegeta from the past was not the Vegeta she had fallen in love with. He had his own family. Visiting him will only going to dig up unwanted pain. Finally made up her mind, she entered the second room where the regeneration tank is.

The heart beat monitor was beeping at a normal rate, which meant that Trunks' recovery proven a success. Bulma walked to the computer and typed in some commands.

The fluids started to drain from the regeneration tank and then the mask on Trunks' face was removed.

Bulma could see Trunks' eyes began to open. Bulma entered a few more commands and then the glass door began to open.

Trunks stepped out the tank slowly. He ripped off the cast on his left arm along with the others bandages applied on his body. "This is a miracle." Trunks said as he flexed his muscle.

"I'm glad you recovered Trunks." Bulma said softly and tiredly.

Trunks turned to his mother and noticed the weariness in her voice. "Okaasan, didn't you sleep?" Trunks asked with concern.

Bulma shook her head. "I have to make sure everything is alright with you."

Trunks felt guilty for all his trouble. "I'm sorry to make you worry about me, okaasan."

"Don't be silly. You are my son." Bulma smiled weakly.

"Since I'm alright now, you can get some rest." Trunks insisted. He walked over to Bulma and placed both hands around her shoulder, helping her to the door.

"No." Bulma responded. "Not until you safely leave."

"That can wait, okaasan. What's important now is your health." Trunks said sternly, then he paused. "Aren't you going with us, okaasan?" He hadn't realized until now that his mother never intended to go with them.

"No. I have to stay behind and speculate the process of your journey." Bulma said quickly, trying to avoid the subject.

Trunks could sense that his mother was lying. "I can't let you stay when Cell is here on his killing spree."

"Doesn't matter what you say. I'm staying." Bulma stated. Clearly she had made up her mind.

Trunks found it useless to argue with his mother so he finally gave up his persuasion.

"But you still need your rest." Trunks warned. "You might collapse and it will added to my guilty conscience."

"I promised to get some rest as soon as you leave." Bulma promised.

Trunks hesitated. His mother was the most stubborn woman he ever came across. Arguing with her will be useless. He finally agreed.

They entered the living room and found Chi Chi humming softly to the baby. "Chi Chi-san." Trunks greeted.

Chi Chi turned their way and smiled. "I see you recovered fully, Trunks. I'm not surprised though. All saiyajins seemed to have that ability."

Trunks helped Bulma to the couch. His eyes fell upon the baby in Chi Chi's arm. "Is he the one I brought over to your house?" Trunks asked.

Chi Chi nodded. "I named him Goten."

"He seemed to be fond of you." Trunks said.

"Hai." Chi Chi said as she adjusted Goten into a more comfortable position.

The way Chi Chi tenders the baby reminded Trunks how Cira used to take care of their kids. Trunks tried to shut away the painful memories, especially in front of his guest.

Bulma pulled out something from her pocket and interrupted their conversation. "Trunks, this is the capsule to the time machine." She handed over the capsule to Trunks.

Trunks took the capsule and examined it. Even though he worked in his mother's corporation and knows how things worked in there, it still amazed him how a huge object can be compressed to a small capsule.

"When do you want me to leave, okaasan?" Trunks asked.

"As soon as you give me the designated year so I can enter it in my computer." Bulma replied.

Trunks sat there thoughtfully. He hadn't given that much thought. What year should I go to?

"Ehh…I haven't thought about the year." Trunks confessed. His mother hadn't given him enough time to think about it.

"Just think of a time and place where Gokou and the others can train you to become stronger." Bulma said.

Chi Chi winced at the mention of Gokou's name. She really wanted this opportunities to see her family again, but she knew it was not possible.

Trunks got up and started to pace. Maybe I should go back twenty years in the past, like the other time. Otousan and Gokou should have grown much stronger by that time.

Trunks came to a conclusion. "Okaasan. I think I'll back twenty years. By going to the parallel dimension, do you think it will be the same past I once visited?" Trunks asked Bulma.

Bulma shrugged. "I can't be one hundred percent sure. I assume there are millions of different past, so if we take the dimensional leaps, the possibilities of reaching the designated place will be low. Unless we have the right coordination."

Chi Chi spoke up. "Does it really matter what past you're going to? Just as long as Gokou and the others are there, there won't be a problem, right?" Chi Chi asked.

Both Trunks and Bulma looked at Chi Chi. "I suppose you are right." Trunks said. The reason why it bothers him so much was because he wanted to use this opportunity to see his old friends again, the ones that remember him.

Bulma had a different insight. "What if he stumbles upon a even worst past? I have to make sure the coordination is right." Bulma stood up and hurried out the room.

Trunks' heart ached to see his mother burdened herself with his problems and he couldn't do anything to help.

"Bulma is a strong woman." Chi Chi said as if reading Trunks' mind. "It takes a lot to wear her down." Chi Chi reassured Trunks.

Trunks sighed. His gaze followed after his mother.

"If only I can help her out a bit." Trunks confessed his feeling to Chi Chi, who he considered his second mother.

"Knowing you grown up to be a strong and healthy man, Bulma feels content and happy." Chi Chi comforted Trunks. She knew she was proud of Gohan even if he hadn't become a scholar like she wished.

Trunks didn't speak.

Suddenly footsteps thumped loudly across the upper level of the house. Both Trunks and Chi Chi instantly looked up to see who was it. Torie appeared at the top of the stairs, panting heavily. "Otousan…disa…ppear.." Torie paused when she saw her father sitting on the couch. "Otousan?" Torie blinked.

"Torie, come down here." Trunks waved to Torie and motioned her to come down.

Confused Torie slowly descended from the stairs. "I thought you were injured, Otousan?" Torie asked as she scanned her father condition. Last night her father was half-conscious from his injury, but now her father seemed to be fully recovered. All the bruises, cuts and broken seemed to be mysteriously recovered.

"Your grandmother invented a tank that can healed someone in mere hours." Trunks explained. "Aren't you going to greet Chi Chi-san?" Trunks said when Torie seemed to be ignoring their guest.

"Hi Chi Chi-san." Torie said briefly. Torie didn't understand why she doesn't feel comfortable around Chi Chi, unlike Miko who was always very fond of her.

"Morning Torie." Chi Chi said in the same tone.

Torie turned her attention back to her father. "When are you going to fight Cell again, otousan?" Torie asked nosily.

"Not anytime soon." Trunks replied.

Torie lifted up her eyes. "Why not?" Torie was a bit taken back by her father respond. She thought the first thing her father wanted to do was to get rid of Cell.

Trunks remembered his mother told him to bring Torie and Miko along. This should be a good time to tell her about the trip. "Because we are going to take a long trip."

"Long trip?" Torie said confusingly.

Trunks smiled. This was going to be good news to Torie. She was always curious about his past.

"But what about Cell?" Aren't we suppose to get rid of him?" Torie asked. This was unlike her father. He couldn't be running away from his problems, can he? Torie thought.

Before Trunks can answer, Goten started to cry. Chi Chi excused herself and asked Trunks if she could used the bathroom.

Trunks nodded. "Chi Chi-san, treat this as your own house. You don't need to ask."

Torie stood in the background, annoyed at the interruption. She crossed her arms and stared rudely at Chi Chi. Unlike the rest of her family, she care less when she showed disrespect toward the people she doesn't like.

Chi Chi left the room with Goten.

After Chi Chi was out of sight, Torie began her questions again. Before she could open her mouth, Trunks motioned her to stop.

"Torie, if you will let me explain instead of asking me so much question at the same time, maybe I can get my point across." Trunks said.

Torie shut her mouth and nodded quickly. Like a child, she impatiently awaited for her father to speak.

"Your grandmother invented another machine beside the regeneration tanks. And this machine will most likely bring us to the past. There, we could meet all my old friends and hopefully with their help, I could train myself." Trunks explained.

Torie couldn't help but burst with excitement. She jumped up and down and cried out in joy.

At this particular moment, Trunks wished he had a camera. This was the first and probably the only time Torie let down her guard and acted like a kid, instead of forever camouflaging herself with a serious look.

"When do we leave?" Torie asked excitingly.

"Today." Trunks replied.

Her face was filled with more joy. This was the first great news she heard in weeks. An adventure of her own. This couldn't be real, could it? Is she dreaming?

"I'm going upstairs to pack!" Torie said enthusiastically.

Trunks smiled as he watched Torie happily skipped upstairs. When Torie was out of sight, he left to check on his mother.

Bulma walked out the room and bumped into Trunks. "Oh Trunks. I've finally finished with inserting the information into the computer. I think it's time." Bulma said enthusiastically.

"You really don't look too well, okaasan. Are you sure you want me to leave today?" Trunks asked concernedly.

Bulma stood up straighter and pretended to be offended. "I might be weak and old, but I know how to take care of myself. There is no reason for you to stay any longer and baby-sit me. You hear, Trunks-kun?"

Trunks chuckled as his mother called him Trunks-kun. The only time she called him by that name was when she meant business. "Hai. Okaasan."

"Now hurry up and pack your things and Miko's. I'll meet you in the front lawn when you're finished." Bulma ordered. "And tell Torie to pack her stuff too."

"Hai." Trunks said obediently. There was no arguing with his mother when she uses her authorize voice on him.

When Trunks was out of sight, Bulma collapsed against the wall. She couldn't keeps up with the charade any longer. What she needs now was to sent Trunks on his way as quickly as possible so she could get some rest. With great effort, Bulma gathered her remaining strength and headed for the front yard.

Trunks arrived in the front lawn in the next half an hour with Miko still asleep in his arms. Torie was standing excitingly beside Trunks with a backpack fastened to her back. Bulma and Chi Chi stood beside the time machine waiting patiently for their arrival.

"Ready?" Bulma asked when she saw Trunks stepping out the door.

Trunks nodded.

Bulma pressed the button on remote control that was in her hand. Everyone turned to the direction of the door as it hissed open. Stairs descended after the door was fully opened. Bulma led Trunks and his kid into the time machine.

Torie gasped as the interior of the time machine came into view. The size was enormous. It could easily be mistaken for a house if they weren't told otherwise.

"How in the world did you manage to build all these without anyone's knowledge?" Trunks exclaimed as he scanned around with the same amazement. True to Bulma's word, there were enough spaces for ten passengers. Two in front of the control panels and eight small passenger seats placed adjacently in four rows.

Bulma grinned mischievously. "That's my secret."

Trunks smiled back. "Like I always say, my mother is a genius, there is no limit to what that brain of yours can do."

Bulma blushed at her son playful compliment. "I think it's time to go." Bulma position herself in front of the control panel and motioned Trunks to her side. "When you are ready to leave, just pushed this button." Bulma pointed to the red button on the left. "And when you return, pushed the blue one on the right. I programmed everything, so there is not much for you to do. But a reminder…" Bulma said in a serious tone. "If you spend a day in the past, a day here will pass. So if you spend a year in the past, a year will pass here. Understand?"

Trunks nodded. "Understood. But there is no reason for me to be gone for more than a couple weeks."

"Just in case." Bulma sighed. "Well…you be careful. If the past in which I've programmed is dangerous, don't stay and come right back. You promise?"

Trunks looked into his mother's pale face. This departure was harder on him than the one before. Cell was capable of anything. What if by the time he returned, humanity is wiped out. Trunks winced at the thought. He couldn't endure thinking his mother as well as Chi Chi is left alone in this dreadful world without his protection. But tried as he might, he couldn't convince them to go with him. "Are you sure you don't want to come with us? Okaasan?"

Bulma shook her head. "I can't."

Trunks found it useless to convince his mother any further. He sighed and respected his mother decision. "Be careful, okaasan."

Bulma walked to the door and turned back to face her family. "Good luck." She waved.

Torie muttered a quick goodbye and fastened her seat belts.

Trunks walked Bulma out the door and waved goodbye to Chi Chi who patiently waited for Bulma to return.

When the door closed behind him, Trunks took a deep breath. This is it. In a few more minutes, he will be back to see his friend again. "Ready?" He asked Torie.

Torie nodded excitedly. Trunks handed Miko over to Torie and walked to his seat. He fastened his seat belts and lifted his hand to the control panel. His finger trembled as it slowly advanced toward the red button. This is really happening. I'm really going back to the past again. As his finger connected with the red button, the time machine vanished.

Bulma and Chi Chi continued to wave as the machine vanished into thin air. Finally they let their hands down.

"I think you should get some rest now, Bulma." Chi Chi warned.

"Hai." Bulma said weakly. "I think it's time for me to rest."

"Don't worry. I think they will be just fine." Chi Chi reassured.

Bulma forced a smile. "Hai." Bulma wasn't so sure. Somehow along the way, something will mess up. But she knows she could count on Trunks. For now all she could think of was her bed.

Chapter 8---The Z Reunion---Trunks is finally on his way to the past. Will it be a happy reunion like Trunks planned? Or...Read to find out.

AUTHOR"S NOTE: I'm terribly sorry for those of you who impatiently waited for this chapter. Me and my muse had been on a long vacation, and finally we decided to come back. I apologized again. =)

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