Chapter 1: The first wish
If someone were to ask Yamcha what he thought his life would be like at 16 he probably wouldn't have said "Trying to escape from a prison cell with a shapeshifting cat, a perverted pig, an overpowered child with a tail and the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen so they could stop a small blue elfish creature, his bodyguard, and a ninja dog man from making a wish on a giant magical dragon."
And yet there he was, looking out of a small hole in the wall and hoping that Puar made it to the dragon first. They could steal one of the Dragon Balls before Pilaf made a wish, right? It had to be possible. His cell mates weren't all as optimistic.
"I can't die here! I'm too young! I'm too pretty! I haven't gotten my wish!" Bulma rambled. She was right on a few of those points, Yamcha knew, but dying was not one of them. He turned his gaze away from the darkened sky outside to look at her.
"It's gonna be okay. We'll survive this. I'm sure of it." he tried to reassure her. She looked over at him with tears welling up in her eyes.
"Promise?" she said quietly. Yamcha gave her his best smile.
"I promise." he said. Before he could say anymore there was a huge flash of light from outside. The sky started to lighten again as the dragon disappeared. He moved out of the way as Puar and Oolong came flying back thought the hole and transformed into their normal states. They both looked exhausted but for some reason Puar was smiling.
"I made the wish! I did it!" they proclaimed proudly.
"Cool! What did you wish for?" asked Goku, the previous danger quickly forgotten. Puar grinned.
"I wished for Lord Yamcha to have the voice he's always wanted! I was going to wish for him to have the body he wanted but the last time I heard him talk about what he wanted to change the most it was his voice. Did I make a good wish?" they rambled as they floated over to Yamcha, looking concerned, waiting for a response.
"YeaAAAAAGGGHHHHH!!!" Yamcha's agreement turned into a startled scream as he discovered that his voice was at least a few octaves lower than it was before.
He started to laugh, overjoyed with the change, and the laughed some more at how his laugh now sounded. The others were looking at him with mixed emotions. Puar was beaming from ear to ear while Oolong, Goku, and Bulma all looked confused.
"Holy... wow - this is my voice? Aaaaaaa I'm not used to this yet it's so cool! I love it! Thank you!" Yamcha exclaimed, hugging Puar and laughing some more.
"Can one of you explain what's going on?"
Yamcha and Puar turned to see Bulma standing with her arms crossed and eyebrows raised. Puar floated towards her a little.
"Yamcha didn't tell you yet?" they asked.
"Why no, she hasn't told me why she wanted a man's voice, although she doesn't talk much to begin with." Bulma huffed. Puar turned back to look at Yamcha with concern. Yamcha hung his head slightly and looked at the ground. He already had enough problems just trying to stay in the same room as Bulma, let alone hold a conversation with her. Puar sighed and cleared their throat.
"Yamcha wished for a man's voice because he IS a man. He may not have been born as one but he's one now. He's also super shy around women so I'm not really too surprised he hadn't told you yet. As his best friend I'd like to ask you to respect him for who he is." Puar explained.
Yamcha continued to look down. His heartbeat was rapid. He was scared before, imminent death will do that to you, but now it was even worse. That fear was coupled with a sick feeling in his stomach and a light feeling in his head. They were going to hate him, he was sure of it, and all he could do was wait for the silence to break.
Yamcha smiled slightly. Of course Goku had no problems with it. Nothing phased that kid
"What? You don't think that's at least a little weird?"
And there was Oolong. Nothing shocking about his response.
"It's not weird!"
Puar at his defense, as usual. They were a great friend. Yamcha felt a light touch on his arm and finally looked up. His face promptly turned bright red as he saw Bulma looking at him with more emotion then he thought was possible.
"Why didn't you tell me? I've been calling you she for weeks. That must have been horrible!" Bulma asked. Yamcha took a deep breath.
"I... uh... I was s-scared. O-Of what you'd t-think of me...." he stammered, every fiber of his being screaming at him to get as far away from Bulma as possible. How was she so pretty? It wasn't fair.
"You're my friend, Yams. You being a man won't change that." Bulma assured him with a small smile. Was she pink in the cheeks or was that just his wishful thinking? Yamcha attempted a grin in return.
"O-okay." was all he managed to squeak out before Pilaf and his goons stormed in angrily. Now this was happening. Great.
The rest of the night followed in a similar fashion to the rest of the day. Meaning it was full of insane things happening with no warning.
He'd have to apologize to Goku later about cutting his tail off.
Things somehow worked out in the end, it seemed, as Bulma insisted he come to the city with her. He wasn't about to argue with his new and first girlfriend so off they went, wishing Goku and the others good luck.
Chapter 2: Boobs be gone
Bulma, being the wonderful girlfriend she is, helps Yamcha recover from top surgery.
Capsule Corp had the best pillows. Yamcha had decided this fact as he lay face up on his bed. One of the guest rooms had been rearranged to accommodate him. There was water and snacks on a nearby bedside table and the bed itself was covered in small pillows that he could adjust as needed. It had already been a few weeks since the operation and Yamcha was slowly getting used to all the things he needed to keep in mind as he recovered. Staying in his bed was one of them.
"How do you feel?"
Yamcha looked up to see Bulma standing at the doorway with a smile. He grinned back and gave her a thumbs up.
"A lot better than I was before, that's for sure, but it'll be a while before I'm back to one hundred percent." he said. Bulma walked over and say on the edge of the bed. She held his hand gently.
"And you're going to stay right here until you are. Security caught you trying to sneak in a workout last night." she said. Yamcha sighed, defeated.
"Okay, you caught me. I'm getting tired of doing nothing. My chest is ethier sore, itchy, numb or all three." he admitted. "I'm a fighter, Bulms, and I'm sick of not being able to train."
"Maybe so. I'm sure you'll be an even better fighter once you're fully healed up." Bulma said. She winked playfully. "You really got a load off your chest."
"Dammit Bulma, I was gonna use that joke!" Yamcha exclaimed, trying to reach up and ruffle her hair. Bulma giggled and dodged his hand.
"I've been coming up with puns since you got out out of the operating room. I'm prepared for anything." she proclaimed triumphantly. Yamcha scowled and threw a pillow at her. She caught it with a smirk. "Don't be a grump about it."
"You're too late. I am incapable of calming my tits anymore." Yamcha pointed to his chest. Bulma laughed.
"Speaking of, what's that like?" she asked. Yamcha took a moment to think about it. He turned to her with a serious expression, looked her dead in the eyes, and said -
"Is Bulma okay?" Puar floated in with an extra water bottle. "I heard a weird noise."
"I think she'll be fine." Yamcha said, looking at his girlfriend who was currently laughing so hard she wasn't making any sound. He gladly accepted the drink from Puar and waited for Bulma to catch her breath.
"Alright, you win the pun war, congratulations." Bulma said after a while. Yamcha grinned.
"I'm a master of comedy." he said. Puar looked confused.
"Did I miss something?" they asked. Yamcha scratched them behind the ears.
"Not much. Just some boob jokes." he said. Puar rolled their eyes but purred none the less and settled down next to Yamcha. Bulma moved a bit closer.
"For real though. What's it like?" she said. Yamcha thought about it as he pet Puar. Eventually he came to a conclusion.
"It feels right. Like, this is how I'm supposed to be, how my body is supposed to be. I'm not used to having such a flat chest but I'm looking forward to the day when it's just another normal part of me." he explained. He looked over at Bulma. "Just out of curiosity... would you still want to date me it I didn't do this? If I was using a binder or nothing at all?"
"Of course I would, you idiot. Why wouldn't I? You'd still be you." Bulma assured him with a small kiss on the forehead. Yamcha immediately turned red. He still wasn't quite used to dating Bulma yet, even after almost half a year. "I have to go now so you get some rest, okay?"
"Can do." Yamcha said, settling back onto the bed. Bulma smiled and walked out of the room.
Yamcha spent the next hour or so petting a sleeping Puar and staring at the wall. The recovery was boring and painful but he knew it would be worth it. He had already seen the scars and so had Bulma. She said they made him look tough. He liked to think the same. Hopefully that toughness would come through for the Tournament coming up.
Chapter 3: Lifelong dream
The first tournament of Yamcha's life and he's nervous but some familiar faces help. ( Note - the tournament goes the same as canon after this chapter ends. )
The Strongest Under the Heavens World Martial Arts Tournament.
Entering it had been one of Yamcha's goals ever since he was young. Now he was standing under the gateway to the fighting grounds, holding the hand of the woman he loved, and feeling absolutely terrified.
"You'll be fine. I've seen you fight, you're way better than these smucks, and you're back to one hundred percent." Bulma assured him, squeezing his hand a little tighter. He gave her a nervous smile and took a deep breath.
"You really think I'm ready?" he said, much quieter than he would have liked. Puar chimed in.
"Of course you are! You're the best, Lord Yamcha!" they announced proudly. Yamcha pet them with his free hand.
"Thanks Puar." he said. He took another deep breath and tried to calm his nerves. "I'll be fine. There's nothing to worry about. I can do this."
"I can't do this."
"Yes you can! It's just a physical." Bulma said as she rolled her eyes and pulled him towards the medical tent. "The officials wanna make sure no one is gonna drop dead from outside causes. You told me that yourself. You'll be fine."
"Physically, yes. Ever consider mentally and emotionally?" Yamcha pointed out. He managed to pull Bulma aside. "Look, no one but you, me, and Puar have seen my scars, okay? I'm not exactly comfortable with showing my chest to a complete stranger. And there's probably gonna be other fighters in there too. It's too much!"
"I know you're nervous, and I know this is scary for you, but being in this tournament has been all you've talked about for months!" Bulma said. "What happened to the Yamcha so eager to fight that he snuck out of bed to train?"
"If you're truly uncomfortable then we can go." Puar added. "We'll wait right outside the tent for you. If it's too much then you can walk away and we'll support you. We care about you Yamcha. We want to see you succeed. Just.... not if that success comes from a place of hurt."
"You promise?" Yamcha mumbled weakly. Puar nodded and looked at Bulma. She sighed but still gave a thumbs up. Yamcha did his best to square his shoulders, stand tall, and smile. "Then I won't let you down."
"We know you won't. No matter what." Puar said. Yamcha smiled a bit wider. He turned to Bulma. "Wish me luck."
"Of course. You've got this, tough guy." she said. She kissed him on the cheek and gave him a light push forward. He let go of her hand with a slight blush and made his way over to the medical tent.
The first part of the examination wasn't too bad. They checked for any hidden weapons and asked him about his medical history. Then came the second part. Yamcha steeled his nerves and took off his shirt. The doctor raised an eyebrow but said nothing and continued his work. Yamcha looked around the tent nervously. There were a few other fighters in with him and he could tell they were staring at him. After a while he realized they were actually staring past him. He turned to see what they were looking at and beamed as he recognized a friend.
"Hey, Goku!" he exclaimed. The child with the tail looked at him in confusion.
"Who're you?" he asked. Yamcha dropped into a fighting stance and smirked.
"Fist of the wolf fang!" he declared triumphantly. The kids face lit up.
"OH! YAMCHA!" he shouted. Yamcha laughed.
"Now do you remember?" he said with a grin.
"Wow! Neat! Long time no see!" Goku chatted happily. "I didn't recognize you cause your hair's different!"
"Yeah. Bulma said long hair isn't really "in" right now and I kinda wanted it short anyways." Yamcha explained, fiddling a bit with his bangs.
"What happened to your chest? Did you fight a bad guy?" Goku asked.
"Uh... well... kinda?" Yamcha stammered. Dysphoria was a villain, right? It should count. Goku just kept smiling.
"Cool! Oh, you should meet my new friend later. His name's Krillin." Goku continued. Yamcha noticed the doctor behind Goku was trying to get a good look at his tail.
"How about we talk later, okay?" Yamcha said.
"Okay! I'll let Krillin and the old man know you're here." Goku said. He started to walk out of the tent without grabbing his clothes and was quickly surrounded by doctors again. Yamcha smiled and turned back to the medic who was examining him.
"That should be all. Thank you for your cooperation." said the medic, handing Yamcha his clothes back. "And for your bravery."
"Huh?" Yamcha looked confused. The medic gave him a wink as he motioned for the next fighter to come forward.
"I don't often see people like myself at this tournament. Wish it happened more often." the medic said. Yamcha caught his meaning and gave him a smile.
"I hope it does." he said. He headed outside once he got dressed and was promptly met by a worried Puar.
"How did it go? Anything bad happen?" they asked. Yamcha patted their head lightly.
"Nope. Like you said. Everything went fine." he said. "Plus, Goku is here."
"Really?" said Puar, mood brightening. Bulma joined in the conversation.
"How is he doing?" she asked.
"He's doing well. It looks like his tail grew back too." Yamcha replied. "But we're not due for a full moon for a while so we shouldn't have to worry about that."
"Good. I never want to see that giant monkey form again." Bulma said with a scowl. Yamcha put an arm around her.
"Don't let a bad memory get you down. Besides, if it did happen, I'd save you again." he said. Bulma gave him a small smile.
"Of course you would." she said. Yamcha smiled back at her and looked at one of the directional signs.
"Let's go see who I'm fighting, okay?" he suggested. His confidence was back. This would go well, he thought, and off he went.
Chapter 4: Love at first fight
Everyone's favorite triclops makes his appearance.
The Strongest Under the Heavens World Martial Arts Tournament.
With a new year, came a new chance to win. Yamcha had told himself that for the entirety of his training. It hadn't been easy. He knew that Goku and maybe Krillin were stronger than him. Hell, even LAUNCH could be stronger than him but she had a lot of firepower to back herself up with. Yamcha knew he was going to win something this time. He was confident. That confidence lasted for the whole trip to the tournament, through the preliminary rounds, all the way up to when he met the students of the rival school.
That's when his confidence took a sizeable hit.
The Crane students were an odd couple to say the least. One looked like a doll, for God's sake, and he was a stubby two feet tall at the most. The other one was the problem. He was easily the same height as Yamcha, maybe taller, and looked as if he had spent his whole life training. Pretty hot too.
"Where the hell did that come from?" Yamcha thought to himself as he turned his gaze away from the Crane students. He was dating Bulma and he was NOT attracted to other men. Right? He put the idea aside as he realized that the Crane student he was thinking about was walking towards him and his friends. He put on his best scowl and looked at the man. He tried to maintain a glare but its effectiveness was lessened by the fact that Yamcha couldn't pick which eyes to look into. He wasn't used to people who had more than two yet he didn't waver. This would be easy. He'd teach himself to hate this man so much that all his nagging feelings would just go away.
The feelings had not gone away.
Yamcha had seen a demon King kill a giant dragon, Goku kill that demon along with his spawn, plus all manner of weird and dangerous things over the past few months and yet he still couldn't get that damn triclops out of his head. They were on good terms now, sure, and Yamcha had already seen just how much Tien had changed in such a short time.
The one thing that hadn't changed, much to Yamcha's dismay, was how damn attractive Tien was. Now that his personality was coming through his quiet facade more often Yamcha had learned a lot about Tenshinhan.
He was stoic yet easily flustered. He was blunt yet kind in his own way. He didn't have much of a sense of humor but smiled at the group when he thought no one could see him.
In short - He was adorable and Yamcha had no idea what to do about it.
He was still dating Bulma and did his best every day to remind himself why he loved her, because he did. Bulma was his first and, as far as he was concerned, only love. None the less he failed to ignore the small part of his brain that was telling him to go after Tien.
He didn't do it, of course. He had Bulma and he was pretty sure that Launch was close to a romantic breakthrough with the three eyed man. Yamcha just had to wait it out.
All these feelings meant? They meant he had a crush. And a crush meant nothing.
Chapter 5: Training Daze
Training at Kame house takes a turn for the uncomfortable as that time of the month hits.
This was the worst.
Bulma was out grocery shopping for the day and had taken Launch with her. She had decided early on that if Yamcha was going to train at Kame house he and everyone else needed proper food, despite Roshi's complaints that "The food here is just fine." While Yamcha agreed with her about the nutritional value of what Roshi had in his kitchen he also wished she could have waited a few more days. Sadly, she could not.
So there he was. Curled up on a mattress in the upstairs bedroom of Kame house in enough pain to warrant a day off. All because of his stupid biology. He hadn't gotten up yet to check if Roshi stocked any painkillers in the house. Everything just hurt too much.
"Hey, you awake?"
Yamcha looked towards the door and saw Tien standing in the hallway. He tried and barely succeeded in manuvering himself into a slouched yet technically upright position.
"Yeah, I guess. Why?" Yamcha mumbled.
"Well you've been up here all day and I was wondering if something was wrong. Normally you would have tried to punch me in the face hours ago." Tien said. Yamcha laughed weakly.
"If you wanna get punched then come a little closer." he said with a small smile as he fixed his posture. He quickly realized this was a mistake when Tien's eyes widened.
"What happened to your chest!?" Tien exclaimed. "Are you wounded!?"
Yamcha realized several things in that moment; Tien had no idea that Yamcha was trans, Tien had never seen Yamcha shirtless before, Yamcha's scars probably looked rather new to Tien considering their dark color, and lastly, Tien moves very fast when he's concerned as he was now in the room and kneeling next to Yamcha.
"Calm down, I can explain, I'm not hurt." Yamcha said hurriedly. Tien looked like he considering saying something but decided against it. Yamcha took a deep breath as he tried to organize his thoughts. "What I'm about to tell you isn't exactly a secret but I'd still prefer if you kept quiet about it."
"..... Alright. I will." Tien said.
"I know you will, you're quiet about everything, I'm just nervous." Yamcha admitted. "First of all..... these scars. They're a few years old now so there's no need to worry about my health."
"That's a relief." Tien said.
"I didn't know you cared about turtle school trash like me." Yamcha said with a smirk. Tien smiled back at him.
"As your rival I don't but I do care about you as a friend. You're a good person Yamcha. If something's wrong I wanna know." he said quietly.
".....Thanks. That means a lot to me." Yamcha said. "Back to the topic at hand.... you're probably wondering why I have these scars in the first place."
"I am.... interested... but I won't push you for information." Tien replied.
"Maybe not but you're still gonna want to know anyways so I might as well share the story." Yamcha said. "Just... don't freak out. Please."
"I won't. Promise." Tien said.
"Okay. So... I was born female. When I got older I realized that I felt... wrong. The body I had wasn't the one I was supposed to have. After a while and a little research I realized that I am, in fact, a man. I just didn't look like one yet. A year or so after that I met Goku, Bulma, and Oolong. We got captured by some crazy evil gang and they summoned Shenron. Puar managed to fly out to the dragon and used their wish to give me the voice I wanted. The one I have now. After we got out of that mess I started dating Bulma. She was the one that suggested I get top surgery. That means I got my breasts removed. I recovered, the scars healed, and the rest is history." Yamcha explained. He waited anxiously for a response.
"Why would I freak out about that?" Tien asked. Yamcha looked at him with surprise.
"You're not going to?" Yamcha said.
"Of course not. It doesn't change who you are." Tien pointed out.
"Most people don't see it that way." Yamcha said.
"That's their opinion." Tien said with a shrug. Yamcha smiled and Tien did his best to smile back. Dammit he was acting cute again.
"Is there anything you need right now?" Tien asked. He pouted slightly when Yamcha raised an eyebrow. "I'm not naive enough not to notice what's going on."
"Someone took on the horrible task of teaching you how the world works?" Yamcha teased. Tien punched him on the shoulder lightly.
"My old teacher did. Although my knowledge is.... sparse." Tien said.
"That means you at least know a few things." Yamcha said. "So tell me, what do you know?"
"I think you're supposed to have something warm to put on your.....?" he gestured to Yamcha's lower stomach.
"You can stop pointing at it." Yamcha said. Tien lowered his hand with a small blush. Yamcha tried not to laugh. Tien blushing? That was new.
"Am I correct?" Tien mumbled.
"Surprisingly yes." Yamcha said. "I doubt Kame House has any heating pads or bags though."
"A heating bag?" Tien said, confused.
"It's like a pillow filled with dry rice and then heated up." Yamcha explained. "I used to call them magic bags. Anyways, I think the best thing would be to search the place for painkillers of some kind."
"I'm on it." Tien said. He stood up and was out the door quicker than Yamcha could blink.
He lay back down and stared at the ceiling for a while. The pain hadn't changed but somehow he felt better knowing that Tien was looking out for him.
"If I wasn't dating Bulma I'd probably go after him." Yamcha realized. He spent the next ten minutes or so coming to terms with this thought. So he was bisexual. Not really a surprise when the thought back on it but it was nice to discover another aspect of himself. After maybe another ten minutes of Yamcha laying down in a sea of self reflection and cramps, Tien appeared at the door again holding a glass of water and a small container.
"I found a bottle of painkillers in a first aid kit Bulma brought in a while ago." he said. He walked over to Yamcha and knelt down. "Will they work?"
"They'd better." Yamcha said with a small smirk as he took the offered pill bottle and water. He took two of the capsules and finished the drink. "Thanks for finding them for me."
"It's no trouble. The important thing is that you feel better." Tien said. Yamcha found himself smiling again. A few loud noises from outside derailed any further conversation.
"Sounds like they're training without you." he observed. "You should go join them."
"Will you be alright by yourself?" Tien asked. Yamcha returned the earlier shoulder punch.
"I'll be fine.You could train all day and I'd still be able to beat you." he said. Tien gave him a smirk of his own.
"We'll see about that." he said. He stood up and started to leave but paused when he reached the door. "Want me to check in on you?"
"....Maybe in a few hours?" Yamcha said after a few seconds.
"I'll see you then." Tien said with a small grin. Then he was gone and Yamcha was once again alone with his thoughts.
It wasn't as bad now, he decided, as he tried to relax. It was nice to know there was someone nearby who cared about him. Then he curled into a ball as another cramp flared up. Nope, it was still as bad.
This was the worst.
Chapter 6: Into, and back from, the wild
(( I know it's super short I'm very sorry about that. This is where the timeline starts hitting the AU ))
"Are you sure you have everything?"
"Yes, I'm sure, you've checked three times." Yamcha smiled as he watched Bulma go though the bag she was packing for him. It had taken a while to convince her that him going off to train alone was a good idea. Now she was obsessively double checking that Yamcha had everything he'd need.
"Make sure to call me, okay?" Bulma said. She handed the bag over to Yamcha and pulled him into a hug. "I wanna make sure you're safe."
"Don't worry. I'll be fine." Yamcha assured her. Bulma hugged him a little tighter and let go. She smiled.
"Alright. Come back to me soon." she said. She gave him a kiss on the cheek and one last hug.
"And me!" Puar added. They joined in the hug. Yamcha laughed softly and returned the embrace as best he could to both of them.
"I'm ain't hugging ya, so scram." Oolong grumbled. Yamcha rolled his eyes but pulled away from the growing group hug.
"I'm off." he declared, a little nervously. He waved and shouted a few more goodbyes as he walked out of sight.
It didn't take long to reach the forest of his choosing. It wasn't too far from the city but it was rural enough that he could get in some good training without being interrupted. It also didn't take long for him to trip over a rock.
He groaned and sat up slowly. He had heard a crunch but he wasn't sure if it had been his bag or his body. A few minutes later he confirmed it had been his bag. Specifically the phone Bulma had given to him. Well, it was too late to turn back now. She'd be okay if he didn't call her, right?
3 months later
Bulma was not okay.
She had been absolutely fuming and refused to talk to Yamcha when they got back to capsule Corp. He had saved her from a truck, for god's sake, and she was still pissed at him. He had tried explaining that the phone had broke but Bulma was having none of it. The mixed signals continued as he thought about her declaration "You're gonna make it up to me and you're gonna enjoy it." He slumped onto his bed. At least his room was still welcoming.
"Bulma will be fine. She's just grumpy." Puar assured Yamcha. He gave them a pat on the head.
"I know. I just hate when she's like this. She never talks to me about why she's mad, just how much she's mad." he said with a sigh. He looked into a nearby mirror and traced his new scars lightly with his fingers.
"How did you get those?" Puar asked.
"Fought with a wolf." Yamcha said proudly. He was glad for the subject change. Soon he was chatting with Puar and had nearly forgotten his wrathful girlfriend. He would talk to Bulma later, he decided, when she had calmed down a little.
Chapter 7: Reflections
Extra long chapter to make up for the recent delay. Happy coming out day!
The stars were a lot harder to see from the city.
Yamcha sat on top of one of the Capsule Corp buildings as he stared up at the sky. He spent a lot of time up there. He still wasn't used to all the noise of the city, even after all this time, and often had trouble falling asleep. When that happened he'd quietly make his way outside to stargaze. The night was never quiet but sometimes the clouds cleared and the faint glow of the moon shone down on the city. These were the times Yamcha liked to use to reflect.
His life had gotten crazy ever since he met Bulma, Goku, and everyone else. He didn't really have any regrets about it though. Sure there were things he wished had turned out differently but overall his life was pretty good. He had been fighting more with Bulma recently but they always worked it out in the end. The next Tournament was coming up within the year and that meant he'd get to see a lot of his friends again. That included Tien.
Yamcha would admit only to himself that he wasn't quite over his crush on Tien. They didn't get to see each other a lot outside of the tournaments and they hadn't even spoken since they left Kame House. Yamcha had hoped the distance would make his nagging feelings go away but it seemed he was having no such luck. If anything his crush had gotten worse. After a particularly bad fight with Bulma he had even considered going out to find Tien and... well Yamcha hadn't thought that far ahead. He knew Bulma had crushes on a lot of people but he never had a problem with it. Maybe he would ask her for advice.
He shivered as a cool breeze hit his skin. He reminded himself to grab a shirt the next time he went rooftop stargazing. He crossed his arms to combat the chill and found himself tracing one of his scars lightly. He knew he would be forever grateful to Bulma for helping him feel comfortable with his body. The same went for Puar and the wish for his voice. Nearly all of his friends had helped him somehow with his identity. Yamcha realized he'd never properly thanked a few of them. Something else he'd have to do at the tournament.
"I knew I'd find you here."
Yamcha turned his head to see Bulma standing on the balcony just below where he was sitting. He smiled and jumped down. "That's why you're a genius."
"Damn right." Bulma said proudly. She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Carry me up there. I wanna look at the stars too."
Yamcha lifted her and carefully jumped back onto the roof. He set her down and sat again. She settled in next to him and nestled closer to his side. They stayed like that for a few minutes.
"Are you doing okay?" Bulma asked after a while. She looked up at him with a concerned expression. "You've been acting a little distant lately. It's not because of me, is it?"
"No, it's not you, don't worry. I've just been thinking about stuff." Yamcha assured her. "I've been meaning to ask.... you still get crushes on people, right?"
"Yeah, of course, but I don't act on them. I have you." Bulma said. She kissed his cheek lightly. Yamcha was glad the night hid his blush.
"I feel the same way. I just wondered... how do you get rid of a crush?" Yamcha asked. Bulma raised an eyebrow.
"You see a cute girl lately?" she said.
"Besides you?" Yamcha said. This earned him a laugh from Bulma. He laughed a little himself before continuing. "Don't freak out, okay? Like you said, there's no need to act on a crush when we have each other."
"Then what are you worried about?" Bulma said. Yamcha took a deep breath.
"I thought the feeling would go away with time but it hasn't. It's been a couple of years and still... it's there." Yamcha explained. "Since I'm going to see him again soon I don't want things to be awkward."
"Him? You have a crush on a guy?" Bulma said. She leaned away from Yamcha to look at him properly. She had a sly twinkle in her eyes and was beaming. "It's Tien isn't it?"
"Wha - How did you know?" Yamcha exclaimed, a little shaken. Bulma laughed.
"You said you've had this crush for a few years. That's about as long as you've known Tien. Plus the next tournament is coming up so you'd see him there. I knew you two were close but this... wow." she said smugly. Yamcha laughed nervously.
"You're not upset?" he said. Bulma shook her head.
"Why would I be? You've got a crush. That's all it is. It may have lasted a while but I'm sure it'll go away once you see him with someone else. Remember, Launch was pretty determined."
Yamcha had to agree there. Launch was relentless. Yet a small part of him didn't want to see Tien with anyone. Not anyone who wasn't...him. He decided to ignore that for now. Bulma was probably right. Once he knew Tien was happy dating someone his crush would disappear. He pulled Bulma back to his side and kissed her forehead.
"Thanks for the advice Bulms. I'm sure you're right." he said. Bulma happily cuddled back up to him again.
"I always am." she said. "By the way.... why didn't you ever tell me you're Bi?"
"Never came up." Yamcha admitted. "You still love me?"
"Of course I do you dork." Bulma said. They stayed out on the roof for a while longer before they finally headed back inside.
The stars were a lot harder to see from the city. Yamcha liked to believe they shined a little brighter when you had someone to share them with.
Chapter 8: Deja Vu
It's tournament time again and things seem oddly familiar.
The strongest under the heavens martial arts tournament.
Once again Yamcha found himself walking through the front gates. The whole area gave him a rather nostalgic feeling. Banners fluttered from on high and one was likely to be covered in confetti by the time they reached the arena. Warriors from around the globe milled about, sizing each other up, while families roamed the grounds with smiles. It was exciting and at the same time reassuring. Before he met Goku and the others going to the tournament had been a distant dream. Now he was there for the third time, holding hands with his girlfriend, and so much stronger than he ever could have imagined. Things had changed so much and yet the tournament remained the same.
"Do you think everyone else made it?" Bulma asked. Yamcha shrugged.
"I hope so but you can never tell with our friend group." he said. "They tend to wander."
"That's true. I still hope we see them." Bulma said.
"I'm going ahead to see if I can spot anyone familiar." Puar said. Yamcha pet their head lightly.
"Great idea, Puar, just make sure you can find us again afterwards." he said. Puar thought for a moment.
"How about we meet up by the entrance later today? That way we're all in the same place." they suggested. "Maybe sunset? The tournament doesn't start until tommorow and that way there's plenty of time to catch up with everyone."
"Sunset it is then." Yamcha agreed. "See you then."
"You two have fun!" Puar said with a wave as they flew off.
"Fun? Last I checked there wasn't much to do at these things except wait for the fights to start." Bulma said.
"They've started adding stuff to it. There's food stalls now and it looks like some games too." Yamcha pointed out. He started leading her towards the stalls in question. "C'mon Bulms, you'll enjoy it, I promise."
"You had better win me something." Bulma said with a smirk.
By the time sunset arrived they hadn't done much of note besides win some earrings at a ring toss. Bulma was happy with them so Yamcha felt happy too. He hated to admit it but their fights hadn't lessened in frequency. If anything there were more of them. He hoped it was just a bump in their relationship and nothing more. They'd made it though years of crazy stuff happening together and he didn't want it to end. It was still his dream to have a family one day.
"Hey! You made it!"
Yamcha looked towards the source of the shout and smiled as he recognized who it was. "It's good to see you two again."
"You as well! It's been too long." Launch said with a grin. She was in her blue haired mode and Master Roshi stood next to her.
"I see you two have been having a fun day. Have you spotted any of the others?" Roshi asked. Yamcha shook his head.
"You're the first people we've met here that we already know." he said. Roshi looked worried.
"Registration is ending in an hour or so. If Goku and the rest of them plan to fight they had better get here soon." he said.
"When have they ever let us down before?" Yamcha said with a nervous laugh. He was staring to feel anxious himself. "They're probably planning on making a grand entrance later."
"You think? That'd look pretty cool." remarked a man nearby. Yamcha stared at him with confusion. He hadn't noticed this guy before. Somehow he seemed familiar.
"Uh... yeah, it would... Do I know you?" Yamcha said. The man now looked as confused as Yamcha.
"What do you mean? Of course you do. It's me, Goku." he said. He reached up to his head wrap and removed it to reveal his signature spikes. "I mean, who else but me has hair like this?"
"Goku? Wow, I didn't realize it was you! You're so much ...taller." Yamcha said. Goku was only a little bit shorter than him now. The rest of the group finally noticed and greeted Goku. Yamcha laughed along with them as someone made a comment on Goku's personality staying the same. Things were looking up. They all finally made their way to the front gates as Goku registered and, to everyone's delight, Krillin arrived. It was a good while later when Yamcha started to feel nervous again. Tien and Chiaotzu still hadn't shown up and registration was nearly closed. He sighed and looked up at the orange sky. He couldn't do anything to hasten his friends appearance and it bothered him. He felt helpless. Luckily the feeling didn't last for too much longer.
"There they are!" Krillin declared. Yamcha felt a wave of relief wash over him. With under a minute to spare Tien and Chiaotzu had finally arrived at the tournament. As soon as they finished registering Yamcha walked over to them.
"It's about time you two got here." he said. He firmly ignored the warm feeling that grew in his chest the moment Tien smiled at him.
"We may have gotten a bit lost on the way here." Tien said, looking a little sheepish. Yamcha laughed and playfully punched Tien's shoulder.
"You had three years to figure it out." he said. Tien rolled his eyes.
"We were busy training. Speaking of... you've got new scars." he noted.
"Yeah, and I see you still look flawless." Yamcha said, realizing a few seconds to late that the second part of his sentence may have been better off as a thought. Luckily Tien either didn't notice or didn't care. The rest of their conversation on the way to the groups hotel didn't bring it up. Yamcha noticed Launch attempting to flirt with Tien, as she usually did. He remembered what Bulma had told him and smiled bitterly. Right. He had Bulma and Tien would probably end up with Launch. His little crush didn't mean anything and it never would.
Chapter 9: Observations
When you really take the time to look at things you may see details you never noticed.
"Please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks "Junior" looks exactly like Piccolo." Yamcha said while observing the tournament roster.
"That makes two of us." Tien grumbled.
"They're definitely similar." Goku added. He looked serious, a rare expression for him. It made Yamcha a little nervous. When Goku was worried it usually meant everyone else should be as well. He had good reason. Everyone who saw Junior should have been able to see it. Green skin, pointed ears, even the same kind of clothing. It was obvious.
"Should we warn the others?" Tien asked.
"I don't think we need to. This guy isn't exactly the same as Piccolo, after all." Goku said.
"I'm siding with Tien on this one." Yamcha said. "Everyone else will see the resemblance and panic. We have to tell them something."
"Exactly. Considering what happened last time we can't stay silent now." Tien said. He walked away from the group with a short comment about "Letting Chiaotzu know." Yamcha noticed Goku staring at him soon after.
"What?" he said. Goku tilted his head slightly.
"You've been looking at Tien kinda funny since we got here." he said with a wide eyed innocence reminiscent of his childhood. "Is everything okay between you guys?"
"Of course it is." Yamcha said. He tensed up a little. "What do you mean, I was looking at him funny?"
"There's just this look to ya." Goku said. "Are yer sure you ain't sick or something? Yer face keeps turning a darker color around him."
"Wha-? It does not!" Yamcha snapped. Had he really been blushing hard enough for Goku of all people to notice? "I'm not sick and everything is fine between Tien and I."
"If ya say so." Goku said with a shrug. He walked off to find Krillin. Yamcha took a few more seconds to consider Goku's words and decided he needed some fresh air. He left the main building and managed to climb up on the rooftop. Not a very busy place to be sure. He stepped carefully across the tiles as his mind raced. What had gotten into him? He already knew he had a crush on Tien. Something like blushing shouldn't be a big deal. He was so wrapped up in his thoughts he nearly tripped when he heard Tien's voice from nearby.
"I've got my answer."
Any other time in his life Yamcha would most likely be opposed to evesdropping but for some reason he made an exception now. He stepped closer towards where he had heard Tien speak and listened in closely. What did he mean, he had an answer?
"What is it?"
Launch. Of course. Of course it was her. She had asked Tien about his feelings and now he made his decision. Yamcha felt a knot in his stomach start to form. This was the moment. Once Tien confessed how he felt then Yamcha's stupid crush would dissappear.
"I'm... flattered by your interest and I know anyone else would be honored to be your partner.... but I'm just not interested in you in.... that way."
He was what? Yamcha shifted a little bit closer to the edge of the roof. Was he hearing things correctly?
"... I see. I'm sorry for bothering you then." Launch said, sounding downtrodden.
"Please don't misunderstand, It's not because of you." Tien continued. "I'm not really attracted to women in general. There's nothing personal about it."
"Not attracted?" Launch said. "So... you'd rather date a man?"
"I... suppose so." Tien said. "I hadn't thought about dating anyone until recently. I do think that if I was dating someone... they'd be a man."
"That makes sense!" Launch said. Her usual pep had returned and Yamcha could almost hear the smile in her voice. "I know how you feel. Sometimes I like to imagine that I'll find a wonderful girlfriend one day. There's no need to worry."
"... thank you. I haven't really told anyone else about it." Tien said with a sigh. "I've been dealing with some.... feelings, recently, that I've had trouble understanding."
"If you're comfortable telling me you can." Launch said. "We are still friends. Although... why haven't you spoken to Yamcha about it? You two are some of the closest friends I know. "
"I have.... reasons." Tien said it so quietly Yamcha could barely hear him.
"Oh, I get it." Launch said. "Those feelings involve him, don't they?"
Yamcha didn't stick around to hear Tien's answer. He snuck away as silent as he could and got off the roof. The whole time he was trying to sort out his thoughts. So Tien wasn't interested in Launch, or any other women for that matter, that was fine. Yamcha was still with Bulma so he shouldn't care. Except he did. He cared and he hated it. After stewing in his own negativity for a while he finally ran into Bulma.
"What are you doing out here? Aren't you supposed to be at the preliminaries?" she asked.
"Uh.... there's a guy here I needed to warn you about." Yamcha said, remembering the Piccolo look-alike. "He looks just like King Piccolo and you should avoid him if you see him."
"That evil green dude? Consider it done. I'll be far enough away that he'll look like a pea." Bulma assured him. Yamcha attempted a smile but Bulma noticed how tense he looked. "What's wrong? Is this guy that big of a threat?"
"We don't know yet. I just wanted to make sure you were safe." Yamcha said. Bulma grinned and kissed his cheek lightly.
"You softie. Go kick some ass." he said. Yamcha gave her a weak thumbs up and walked back to the preliminary area. He headed to his first match and tried to put all his other thoughts aside. Now was the time to fight. Feelings could come later.
Chapter 10: Rooftops
* shameless timeskip to right after the Tao and Tien fight * I forgot some of the tournament and don't have the time to re-watch it at the moment but I want to get a new chapter out so take this. I've probably already fucked up the DB timeline beyond belief by now but IDK it's time for FEELINGS
"He needs some time alone."
"Then what the hell am I doing?" Yamcha grumbled to himself. He told Goku and the others to leave Tien be after his bout and yet here he was making his way to the medical tent to see him. What would he even say? It wasn't like he had a plan when he left. Just a feeling. One he'd rather repress for a later date. He didn't have much time to dwell on the topic as he nearly ran into someone who walked in front of him. Tien. Wonderful.
"Hey." Yamcha said, mentally backpedaling though half planned conversations he hadn't realized he had been making.
"Shouldn't you be watching the fights?" Tien said. Yamcha shrugged half heartedly.
"Yeah, probably. I just... wanted to make sure you were okay." he said. It was half true. He did want to confirm Tien was alright. That among other things.
"The wound wasn't very deep. There's no permanent damage besides a scar." Tien said, lightly touching the bandages.
"Maybe it'll make you look a cool as mine do." Yamcha said, teasing his friend lightly. Tien had no response. Yamcha shifted in place awkwardly. "So.... I was wondering..."
"What?" Tien said curtly. Yamcha took a deep breath. He had to at least try.
"Do you want to talk to someone about what happened?" he asked. Tien was silent for a few moments.
"...Why?" he said quietly.
"Everyone needs to vent sometimes. I don't know exactly what your relationship was with those brothers besides teacher and student but it didn't look happy. I'm not asking you to tell me any of that, though, I just.... thought you might want someone to listen." Yamcha explained. More silence. He sighed and turned to walk away. "Offer's open anytime. Just in case."
A hand reached out to grab his arm. Yamcha turned back to see Tien staring down at the ground.
"... I'll take you up on that offer." he said softly.
After debating a good place to sit they settled on one of the many rooftops. It was easy enough to get up to, for them at least, and was the most privacy one could get at a public event outside of a hotel room. They settled into place and kept the quiet for a few minutes. Eventually Tien spoke.
"I haven't told anyone about my past. The only person who I could talk to for a long time was Chiaotzu and he was in nearly the same position growing up. Not much to discuss." he said. "I suppose it could be a good thing to rant a bit."
"Go ahead, you don't have to share anything you're not comfortable with." Yamcha encouraged him. Tien nodded and fiddled a bit with his hands.
"Masters Tao and Shen took me in when I was very young. I don't remember much of my family from before I went with them... I like to think they were nice to me." he said quietly. "After that I was taught the ways of the Crane school. The training was...."
"It's alright, take your time." Yamcha said as he noticed Tien trailing off. Tien nodded again. Then his hands clenched into fists.
"It was horrible. They taught me everything they knew but no one should be taught the way I was. I was constantly losing battles that I had no chance of winning in the first place. I was beaten, bruised, and kicked into the mud every day. All I learned from that was fear. If I feared them then it meant they could control me." he rambled. Yamcha wisely decided not to speak up until Tien was done. He had never heard his friend talk this long or with such anger before. Tien took a second to breathe and then continued.
"I didn't know until after Chiaotzu and I left them just how wrong their training method was. I've tried to move on from it but during the fight.... I couldn't help it. For a few seconds I wasn't fighting Tao in the ring. I was a sacred little kid tossed to the ground like nothing. It didn't last long but it threw me off." He sighed and put his head in his hands. "I can't forget it no matter how hard I try."
"..... that's okay. No one would expect you to put a past like that behind you entirely. It's not a bad thing if you remember it. What's important is that you don't let it control you." Yamcha said after a few moments of careful thought. "And you haven't. You've come so far. What happened today won't change who you've become."
"... I know." Tien said, his voice slightly muffled as he curled himself up even more. "It's the emotions that get to me. Being helpless and scared... I don't want to feel like that anymore."
"No one does. We can't stop it, but... we can be there to support each other." Yamcha said. He gave Tien a light pat on the back that he hoped came across as reassuring. Tien raised his head at last and sat up.
"Thank you. For listening." he said with a faint smile.
"Like I said earlier, offer's open anytime you need it." Yamcha said, returning the smile. "Look at you, talking about your feelings and emoting like a normal human being."
"You must be so proud." Tien said with a chuckle. Yamcha laughed with him.
"Of course I am. I discovered you're not made of stone." he said. "Seriously though, I'm glad you could talk to me about this."
"So am I." Tien said. He looked away for a moment and when he faced Yamcha again his complexion seemed pinker than before. "....Would it be too out of character to ask for a hug?"
"You? Most of the time, yeah, but if you want one... I won't complain." Yamcha said with a nervous laugh.
Mentally he was complaining a lot. He didn't think he'd hugged anybody in his life besides his parents and Bulma. Then there was the added problem of his stupid crush flaring up and the conversation he had overheard earlier. Of course he couldn't let Tien know about any of that so he put on his best supportive smile and extended his arms. For the first few seconds it was like hugging a rock. Tien was stiff and didn't seem to know what to do with his arms. After a while he seemed to sort it out and relaxed a bit.
"Feel better now?" Yamcha asked. Tien pulled him closer in response. Yamcha tried to keep his heart calm. He didn't think a single hug could last this long. By the time the two released each other Yamcha was about ready to leap off the roof so Tien wouldn't see him blushing.
"Thank you." Tien said. He looked away sheepishly. "I guess.... I didn't know how much I needed that until it happened."
"I know what you mean." Yamcha said, remembering the first time he had hugged Bulma. He took what had to be his hundredth deep breath that hour and attempted to smirk. "If you ever need another just say so, okay?"
"Okay. Thanks again for.... everything." Tien said. Yamcha stood up and stretched.
"No problem. Friends have to be there for each other, right?" he said. He reached out a hand to help Tien up. Tien took it and stood.
'Right." he agreed. Their hands stayed together for what Yamcha realized was much too long a time for just friends. They both let go and directed their gazes elsewhere.
"I'm gonna go watch the fights. You?" Yamcha asked.
"I don't have anything else to do." Tien said with a shrug. They got off the roof and made their way to the arena. Yamcha had to remind himself not to hold Tien's hand on the way there. He was also shocked he had to do that in the first place.
"This day can't end soon enough." he thought to himself as he rejoined the crowd.
Chapter 11: Like a blur
Yamcha reflects on recent events with a friend.
"Today has been the weirdest my life will ever get."
Yamcha had said this particular line to himself in his life more than he thought was healthy.
The list of dangerous, supernatural, and just plain weird stuff that had happened to him just kept getting longer. The rest of the tournament had been no different from that list. Sure, things had worked out in the end and everyone was okay now but the impact of the events was still settling in. The days following the end of the Budokai had been almost like a blur. Yamcha felt that he was in a daze of sorts, still not quite comprehending everything. It didn't take long for him to grow sick of the feeling. He had to talk to someone about it. He was walking his now usual route around Capsule Corp when he was joined by an unlikely companion.
"So are ya gonna pace a trench in that concrete or spill your feelings?"
Yamcha looked to the voice and saw Launch leaning over the fence nearby. She was in her blond hair mode and was staring at him expectantly.
"Uh... if you're offering to listen then I won't complain." he said. Launch vaulted the fence and started walking with him.
"Why not? Ain't got nothing better to do around here." she said with a shrug.
"I suppose you have a point." Yamcha said. He sighed and let his shoulders slump. "So, where should I start?"
"Wherever feels best I guess." Launch said with another shrug.
"The tournament wasn't exactly filled with "best" feelings." Yamcha pointed out. "Although... I suppose Goku getting engaged is a good thing."
"I'll say. It feels crazy to see him all grown up and gettin' married." Launch said. She chuckled quietly. "I'm gonna miss the guy."
"Same here. He really grows on you." Yamcha said. "I wonder how the married life will treat him."
"I'm sure he can handle it. He's a tough guy." Launch said. "Speaking of tough, let's not forget how you literally fought god."
"Ugh, don't remind me." Yamcha said with a wince. "Things didn't exactly go well."
"Maybe so but he did praise ya, didn't he?" Launch said. "That's gotta count for something."
"I suppose so, but I don't think anyone besides our friend group would pay any attention to it." Yamcha said. "The general public probably remembers the giant green demon man a smidgen more."
"I'm trying to cheer you up, dumbass, so at least act a little positive." Launch said. She punched his shoulder lightly. "I'm sure someone will remember all the fights. Like Tien. We both remember his fight with Goku, right?"
"It's hard to forget something like that." Yamcha agreed. "To be honest I was hoping he'd win. No offense to Goku."
"Don't worry, I felt the same. Goku means a lot to me and all but after that bout with Tao... Tien needed a happier win to remember the tournament by." Launch said. She looked down as a bittersweet smile formed on her lips. "He deserves to be happy."
"You're right. He does." Yamcha said. He gave a smile of his own.
"And so do you. Don't forget it." Launch added with a second light shoulder punch.
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Thanks." Yamcha said.
The rest of their walk passed by in silence. By the time it was over and Launch waved goodbye Yamcha was feeling a lot better than before. Talking about things had helped after all. He headed inside with his smile still intact. Things could only get better from here.
Chapter 12: Witness
Goku and ChiChi are getting married. Yamcha and Co are there to witness the event, among other things.
"Calm down, you look amazing."
Yamcha sighed as Bulma checked over her dress for what had to be the fifth time in ten minutes. She had been an excited mess all morning. He understood why, of course, as ChiChi had asked Bulma to be her head bridesmaid back when the planning began. It was safe to say that Yamcha hadn't seen Bulma this excited for anything before. After months of planning the big day had finally arrived. Of course Yamcha was excited as well. Out of any kind of special event weddings were his favorite. Sure, he had never actually attended one but the idea alone was enough to secure its place. People who love each other showing that love by agreeing to spend the rest of their lives together while their closest friends and family bore witness to the moment? It was a dream he hoped would come true for himself someday. Perhaps attending a wedding with Bulma would help mend their relationship. It had taken him a while to admit it but they were definitely having issues. Bulma didn't trust him as much as she used to and tended to act jealous over the smallest actions. He hadn't really had too many people to turn to in those moments so most of their fights ended after he apologized for whatever happened and Bulma ran out of steam.
"That's easy for you to say. You look perfect already!" Bulma said with a huff as she applied last minute touches to her makeup.
"You think so?" Yamcha asked. He took a look in the mirror. He had a rather simple black tuxedo on with a white flower pinned to it to match the rest of the groomsmen.
"Of course! You don't have to worry about all this stuff!" Bulma said while gesturing to her outfit. "I swear, at next wedding I go to I'll be wearing pants."
"I'm sure you'll look great then too. For now though I think we should get going. We don't want to be late." Yamcha said. He allowed himself a second to picture Bulma walking down the aisle in a tux of her own, holding a bouquet, with a smile on her face. It was a beautiful image that vanished all too soon as Bulma grabbed his arm and dragged him towards the door.
"Move it then, Mr. We must be on time." she said as she quickly led the way to their waiting vehicle outside.
"Not many people would take a helicopter to a wedding." Yamcha reflected during takeoff. "Then again I don't think most weddings happen out in the middle of nowhere."
After a short flight they touched down and were immediately swarmed by people. There were several members of ChiChi's family that he didn't recognize and a few friends that had to be Goku's. Bulma rushed over to the other bridesmaids and started chatting while Yamcha tried to weave his way through the crowd to where the rest of the groomsmen were.
"Hey! You're here!"
"Wouldn't miss it for the world." Yamcha said with a grin as Goku jogged over to him.
"Man, there's a lot of people here! ChiChi invited most of 'em so I'm not completely sure who everyone is." Goku said with a laugh. "I am glad you and Bulma made it though."
"So am I. We were almost late." Yamcha said. "On that note, aren't you supposed to be at the front?"
"Oh! Right!" Goku exclaimed. He waved as he made his way over to where the wedding arch was. Yamcha waved back and got into place with the other groomsmen.
"Hey there best man, how's it going?" he said as he noticed Krillin standing in front of him.
"A little nerve wracking to be honest. There's a lot that could go wrong." he said. "Did you know I had to buy this suit from the children's section?"
"I do now. Calm down, Krillin, everything will be fine." Yamcha assured him.
"Yamcha's right. Just enjoy the moment."
Yamcha turned around to see who was speaking and immediately regretted doing so. He knew Tien would be here. He knew that Tien would be dressed for a wedding and yet. His damn crush kicked him in the heart the moment he saw his friend. Tien's outfit was a beautiful deep blue with silver details. Intricate flowered designs covered the sleeves. It was probably the most formal Yamcha had ever seen Tien look and damn if it wasn't attractive. He tried to relax all the muscles that had tensed up when he saw Tien and put on a wobbly smile.
“Well, someone’s looking sharp.” Yamcha said with a weak laugh. Tien smiled and Yamcha swore some part of him melted inside.
“Thanks. It’s the only formal wear I have.” Tien said as he looked down at his attire. “There’s really not too many events one can wear a changshan to.”
“We’ll have to find more then. It’s a good look on you.” Yamcha assured him. He looked away quickly so he wouldn’t say anything else stupid. He scanned the area and waved at Bulma when she made eye contact. She smiled brightly and Yamcha felt his heart warm. Once again he reminded himself that he had Bulma. There was no need to pay his silly crush any attention.
Soon the ceremony started. It was short, sweet, and simple. Yamcha was honestly surprised Goku remembered all his lines. The vows and rings were exchanged with many tears and the kiss with applause. The reception was the real meat of the event. Nearly a dozen people made speeches, including himself, and ChiChi had to put in some work to convince Goku to have the first dance before he headed to the buffet. Of course once the dance floor was open to everyone Bulma had immediately grabbed Yamcha and pulled him onto it.
They danced for a while and eventually found themselves pulled into a group dance. Luckily the moves were simple enough to remember and everyone changed partners when the song switched. Yamcha found himself politely dancing with a few elderly relatives of ChiChis’ and happily teaching a few young cousins where to put their feet. Quite a number of songs went by without much notice. The next one came on and Yamcha handed off his partner to the next person. His cheerful mood screeched to a halt as soon as he saw who he’d be dancing with.
“Hey.” Tien said.
“Uh... hi.” Yamcha replied. They stood for a few moments in awkward silence waiting for the music to start. Of course when it did it was the cheesiest love song Yamcha had ever heard. He let muscle memory take over dancing duty as he focused all his energy on trying to not look as red as a radish. Why Tien of all people? Despite the slow pace of the song Yamcha’s heart was racing. He spend a solid minute looking anywhere but at Tien.
“You’re, uh, pretty good at this.” Tien commented. Yamcha forced himself to look at his friend and was surprised to see him pink in the face.
“He must be embarrassed because he doesn’t dance well.” Yamcha reasoned. He really didn’t, as Yamcha had noticed a few stepped on toes ago, but he wasn’t the worst. Yamcha gave Tien what he hoped looked like a confident smile.
“Thanks. Bulma likes to go out dancing a lot so I have lots of experience.” he explained.
“Is that so? You’ll have to teach me sometime.” Tien said with a small grin.
“Uhhh.... sure.” Yamcha said. He desperately hoped no one noticed his now rather red face. How the hell could Tien be so attractive sometimes? Yamcha was relieved to hear the song starting to fade out. He couldn’t handle much more of this. Everyone switched partners and he tried to forget about the whole thing.
By the time everything was over and he left with Bulma he had almost done it. Yet during the flight, with Bulma dozing against his shoulder, he looked out the window and prayed to any god listening to get rid of his crush. He had been with Bulma for years and didn’t need all these extra feelings floating about in his mind.
”Don’t worry about it.” he told himself. “It’s not like anything will happen anyways.”
Chapter 13: Alone in the rain, of course
The big break up finally happens.
The mornings of the bad days are never different than the good ones. Yamcha had learned this over several years. You could wake up to the most beautiful sunrise in the world and still look back on it with resentment. For example, the sky that morning had been a fantastic pink and purple with steaks of orange across the horizon. It didn't make any difference to how the rest of the day played out. He should have known this was the day things finally ended, it had been coming for a long time, yet some small part of him had hoped beyond reason that everything would work out. These hopes were dashed as soon as that afternoons fight turned personal.
"I told you I wasn't flirting with her!" Yamcha said for what felt like the hundredth time. He had already been arguing with Bulma for the past ten minutes nonstop and he was running out of words to say.
"Like I'd believe that! I saw the way you were looking at her!" Bulma shouted back at him. It was their usual topic of dispute. Yamcha would be nice or smile to a girl and Bulma would immediately leap to the worst conclusion. Maybe it was because it had happened so very often before or perhaps the length of the fight that had Yamcha more riled up this time.
"You mean the same way you look at any man that you walk past?" Yamcha said, crossing his arms. "Don't think I haven't noticed, Bulma, and don't think I'm not upset about it."
"That's different! Girls can flirt all they want and it doesn't matter." Bulma huffed.
"Except it does!" Yamcha snapped. "Just because you're a girl it doesn't excuse your behavior. God, you're acting like a child! You should know better, Bulms."
"Don't you "Bulms" me! You can't sweet talk your way out of this one! This is where I draw the line!" Bulma rambled. "Am I not good enough for you?"
"You're ALL I have EVER had! If I wanted to leave you I would have done it years ago! All this time I've put up with your petty jealousy and the constant fights because I love you!" Yamcha pointed out. He could feel himself starting to tear up. Bulma just wasn't listening to him. Why couldn't she get it?
"We only fight constantly because you keep eyeing other girls! And guys!" Bulma yelled.
"Oh don't you DARE bring that into this!" Yamcha said. He let his arms drop to his sides and his hands curl into fists. "I haven't flirted with anyone since we got together! Even when the feelings were there I did nothing! For you!"
He could feel his hands shaking and his voice start to crack. The tears that had formed were starting to journey down his face. Something in his chest hurt and his throat was closing up. He looked down at the floor with slightly blurred vision. Bulma was shouting at him again but he couldn't care less what she was saying. All he could focus on now was the one question that had been in his mind since he started dating Bulma in the first place
He barely whispered the word but it still made Bulma stop talking. Yamcha took a deep breath and raised his head up.
"Why?" he repeated. He knew he was crying but let it happen. "Why do you keep doing this to me? You always talk about other guys like I'm not even here. It's like I'm not your boyfriend anymore. Is it because...."
He took a shuddering gasp as he tried to get the words out. The words that held the one idea that had never left him even after all these years.
"Is... is it... because..."
"Because of what!?" Bulma exclaimed, frustrated.
"BECAUSE I'M NOT A REAL MAN!!!"
"Is that why? Why you keep looking at men like you want to be with them? Because I'm not one? Is that it?" Yamcha said. He tossed his arms up in defeat. "Fine then! Go ahead! Go and get any man you want! If he was born one then it's no problem, right!?"
"Yamcha, I didn't... that's not..."
"That's not it? Bullshit! If that was true than you wouldn't be throwing yourself at every man on the planet for the past eight years! All except me!" Yamcha yelled. He turned away from Bulma and quickly walked towards the door. "I don't care anymore. Go find your dream boyfriend.... go find your wish."
And with that he was out the door and running.
Yamcha wasn’t sure how long he ran. He just needed to get away from the city, away from Capsule Corp, away from Bulma. He only stopped when he ran out of breath. He had made it all the way out to the mountains. He noticed a wet feeling on his face that wasn’t from his crying.
“Of course it’s raining! Why the fuck not!?” he shouted at the sky. “Today just can’t get any better, can it!?”
He kept yelling at the heavens until he was out of things to say. Then he just screamed. Screamed until his throat and lungs felt raw. It was all he had left. After nearly ten years of hope the one dream he held above all others had shattered. For so long all he had wanted was a family, people to love with everything he had, and now he stood in the rain far away from anyone else. He was alone. Screaming his heart out in the mountains with no one to hear his cries. He took a few shaky breaths as he tried to calm himself down. It didn't work.
There was so much anger in him and he couldn't even tell if it was towards Bulma or himself. He let out one final wail as he thoughtlessly slammed a fist into a nearby cliff. The rock cracked in a circular pattern around the impact but didn't collapse. Yamcha let his now bloody fist drop as all his energy left him. He leaned against the cliff-side and did his best to breathe evenly. He shouldn't have any tears left and yet he kept on crying. Everything hurt. He couldn't get enough air into his lungs. His howls slowly turned to whimpers.
"Yamcha? What are you doing out here?"
Yamcha lifted his head and stared at the person who had just shown up. They were standing only a few feet away on the rough mountain path. They were wearing simple robes with an instantly recognizable symbol on the chest. A plain paper umbrella kept them dry and from underneath three eyes looked out with concern.
"Tien...." Yamcha barely got the word out before he got choked up again. Of all the people to find him.
"I was training with Chiaotzu when I felt an energy spike. I came to see what it was." Tien explained. His brow was furrowed with worry and he took a few steps closer. His eyes widened slightly when he saw the blood dripping from Yamcha's hand. "You're injured. What happened?"
"I..... Bulma.... we, we had a fight and..." Yamcha said slowly. He had trouble speaking through his sobs and soon gave up. Luckily for him Tien seemed to have gotten the idea. He walked up to Yamcha and put his umbrella over the both of them. Yamcha looked up to see him reach out his free arm.
"C'mere." Tien muttered. Yamcha only spent a moment thinking about it before throwing his arms around his friend. He buried his face in Tien's shirt and held him close. Tien returned the embrace as Yamcha wailed. The two stood there in the rain for quite some time. Yamcha let the rest of his sorrows leave him as he gradually relaxed into the hug.
"We need to get you out of the rain." Tien said after a while. He gave Yamcha a final pat on the back and released him. "Chiaotzu and I set up camp in a nearby cave. Come with me."
Yamcha sniffled and nodded. He followed Tien down the path and wiped at his eyes to no effect. He was tired and sore and cold. He barely even cared when Tien lifted him up so he could fly them to the cave. Yamcha wearily changed into the dry clothes Tien offered him and curled up on the cave floor. All he wanted to do now was sleep and hope that things would be better when he woke up.
Chapter 14: What you know ( and what you don't )
Waking up in a cave after his break up Yamcha takes a moment to remember how he got there in the first place.
Nightmares you can't remember are sometimes worse than the ones you do. Rather than recalling exactly what you saw you awaken with a vague feeling of sadness and distress without knowing why. This feeling wasn't anything new to Yamcha. After everything he had been through in his life a few bad dreams were to be expected. It had never been this bad though. He'd woken up in a disoriented panic with no memory of why. It didn't help that he was in a cave for some reason. After a few seconds reality set in. He was in the cave because Tien had brought him there. Tien had brought him there because he found Yamcha wandering the mountains in the rain. Yamcha had been wandering the mountains because.... right. Bulma. The fight. Yamcha slumped and put his head in his hands as everything came back to him. Then he raised it again. He might as well see where he was before anything important happened.
A quick look down revealed he was indeed on the floor of the cave. He was covered in what seemed to be a light blanket at first glance but upon a closer look it was a coat of some kind. He confirmed this as he lifted the fabric up and saw sleeves. He also saw the symbol sewn onto it. It was Tien's for sure. That meant the borrowed clothes he was wearing belonged to Tien as well. Yamcha ignored the warmth this fact brought to his cheeks and looked around the rest of the cave. His own clothes were drying on a nearby rock. There was evidence of a fire and still asleep close to it was Chiaotzu. The rest of the cavern was barren save for a few bags. He glanced down at his hand, sore from punching the cliff the day before, and noticed it was bandaged.
Yamcha jumped slightly and quickly turned to look behind him. Tien was sitting a few feet away. No, not sitting, Yamcha realized. Levitating. Tien lowered himself back down to the ground and then stood up. "How are you feeling?"
"How do you think?" Yamcha grumbled. He hadn't meant to sound rude but he wasn't in the best of moods. Tien knelt down next to him. After a few seconds of silence between them Yamcha sighed. ".... I'm better than last night. Not by much but I think getting some sleep helped."
"That's good to hear. You scared me, y'know." Tien said. Yamcha raised an eyebrow.
"I did?" he asked. Tien raised his own brow in response.
"I find one of my closest friends alone in the rain bloodied and crying in the middle of the mountains. How should I feel about that?" he said with the smallest hint of sarcasm. His expression shifted to a more serious one. "I know whatever happened to you wasn't good and I won't force you to tell me what it was. I just need to make sure that you're not hurt."
"Well, physically I'm fine." Yamcha said. He lifted his bandaged hand and attempted a smile. "You didn't do a half bad job with this."
"Is there anywhere else you're injured?" Tien asked. "I didn't see any obvious wounds yesterday but I wasn't sure."
"Just my hand." Yamcha told him. His weak smile got a little stronger. "That's what I get for punching rocks, right?"
"That would do it." Tien agreed. He paused a moment. "... do you need anything?"
"Right now or in general?" Yamcha said with a small laugh. His attempt at humor fell flat as Tien had no reaction beyond a concerned stare.
"Yamcha, don't joke around right now, okay?" Tien said quietly. "I want to help you. I can't do that if you don't tell me how. Even if it's just leaving you alone."
"No! I, uh, I mean...." Yamcha stammered, surprised at how loud his initial reaction was, "I... don't want to be alone."
"Alright. That's a start." Tien said. He smiled softly. "I'll keep you company."
"Thanks." Yamcha said. He looked down at his hands as his cheeks warmed again. Even at a time like this he still found Tien cute. Just his luck. He took a deep breath and mustered the courage to face Tien. "It... means a lot to me."
"..... I know." Tien said after a few seconds. "You've always liked being around people. Judging by the way I found you last night... I'd say the last thing you need right now is solitude."
"You sure you're not psychic?" Yamcha teased him. He could feel a trickle of his old self start to come back to him. Bantering with Tien was definitely something he knew how to do. It also seemed to finally lift the mood as Tien smirked back.
"Turtle trash are easy to read." Tien remarked. Yamcha playfully punched his shoulder.
"Big talk for a bird brain." he said. "I can still take you on any time."
"I doubt that an out of practice puppy like you could do anything to me beyond causing a few laughs." Tien retorted.
"Oh please, you're just worried you can't remember how to counter me anymore. Who's the out of practice one here?" Yamcha said.
"It's still you." Tien pointed out. "I haven't seen you train properly for years."
"That's because I got a life outside of martial arts. You should try it sometime." Yamcha said. He felt his mood drop a little. This friendly back and forth was starting to turn a tad too personal. "I don't have time to be running around the mountains like a battle crazy hermit."
"Yet you were out here." Tien said. An awkward silence fell over the cave.
".... yeah, I was." Yamcha mumbled eventually. He had returned to looking at the ground.
"I shouldn't have brought it up. I'm sorry." Tien apologized. "I know you don't want to talk about it."
"It's okay. You're gonna have to find out eventually but for now.... I need some time to sort myself out." Yamcha said.
"I understand. Take all the time you need." Tien said. He stood up and started walking towards one of the bags. "I'm not as good of a cook as Chiaotzu is but I'm sure I can make you something edible."
"I'm not really that hungry but thanks." Yamcha said. Tien paused and walked back over.
"Are you sure? It's fairly late in the morning." he said. Yamcha shook his head.
"I'm just not feeling it. Maybe later." he said. He tried to smile again. "It'd probably be better to wait for Chiaotzu to wake up from what you've told me."
"You have a point." Tien said. "Is there anything else I can do for you? Other than being here?"
"I don't think so." Yamcha said. "I mean, if I HAD to complain about something then I am a little cold."
"I don't think we have anything warmer in way of blankets..." Tien mumbled, mainly to himself.
"It's fine, you don't have to -" Yamcha started to say but he was cut off when Tien suddenly sat down next to him and moved in close.
"It won't be dry enough outside to get supplies for another fire anytime soon. Until then I, uh, thought that, maybe, body heat would be the, uh, best option." Tien said while looking firmly in the direction furthest from Yamcha. He cleared his throat and matched Yamcha's stare for a second or two. "If that's okay with you."
"Uh..." Yamcha sat in stunned silence for a few moments more. He hadn't expected anything like this. Then some part of him gave up. Whatever was keeping him from taking Tien up on his offer left and he sighed as he leaned onto his friends shoulder. "Sure. Better than nothing."
"I suppose it would be." Tien agreed. He was as stiff as usual at first but soon relaxed. He gingerly reached out an arm and placed it around Yamcha. Yamcha continued to ignore the bit of his brain shouting at him to get off and curled up as close as he could. Soon he was resting most of his weight on Tien. Not surprisingly, Tien was right. He was decidedly much warmer than the cave floor. It wasn't too long before Yamcha found himself drifting off to sleep again.
There were no dreams this time, just a welcome darkness. When Yamcha opened his eyes he found himself back on the cave floor. However this time it seemed he had wrapped himself around Tien while he slept. Once his brain had fully registered the situation he immediately started to feel his face heating up as a blush rose upon it. He started to apologize and sit up but stopped when he saw that Tien had also fallen asleep. Yamcha took a moment to collect himself and slowly released his hold on Tien. After fully untangling himself he stood up. He then proceeded to nearly fall back down after be noticed Chiaotzu was awake.
"Did you sleep well?" Chiaotzu asked. He was sitting by a now live fire.
"Yup, super well. Never better." Yamcha rambled nervously. Chiaotzu had to have seen what happened, right? Would he say anything about it?
"I won't pry. Just sit down and have some food." Chiaotzu said. He prodded at a pot of something he was preparing and smiled. "I'm the psychic one, remember?"
"Yeah, guess so..." Yamcha said. He followed Chiaotzu's instructions and joined him next to the fire. He soon found himself holding a small bowl containing a soup of some kind. As usual with Chiaotzu’s cooking it was delicious. The smell also served to alert Yamcha to how hungry he was. He opted out of conversation and focused on the food. Within minutes the bowl was empty and Yamcha was feeling considerably better than before. “Thanks for the meal, Chiaotzu.”
“Don’t mention it. You really needed it after all.” Chiaotzu said. He filled another bowl and used his powers to float it behind Yamcha. He turned to see that at some point Tien had woken up. He almost wished he had a second bowl of his own to hide his face in. He settled for cozying up to the fire instead. As much as his crush was flaring up he didn’t want to deal with it. He couldn’t. Not with everything else he had going on internally today. He retreated into his thoughts as his friends tended to various clean-up duties around the cave.
Of course his internal monologue was mainly focused around Bulma. His relationship with her and their subsequent break up. The years he spent thinking for sure that she was the one. All the little things that he should have seen as red flags. The moments when he had considered leaving her, however brief they were. Hindsight is twenty twenty and Yamcha felt like he had binoculars on. Everything seemed so obvious now. There was also a small part of him, growing larger, that had been the catalyst for the fight. The idea that he wasn’t a real man. No matter how hard he tried to suppress it the thought just wouldn’t leave.
"....... hey, Tien?" he said after a few minutes. He didn't need to look up to tell that Tien had turned to face him. "... you told me once that being trans didn't change who I am. That people who thought otherwise... it was just their opinion."
"I did. What about it?" Tien said. Yamcha pulled his legs closer to his chest and ducked his head down even more.
"What if... one of those people... was me?" he said quietly. "What if I felt like I wasn't.... a real man?"
"Well...." Tien started as he sat down next to Yamcha and put an arm gently over his shoulders, "I'd say that someone must have shapeshifted into you to trick me because I know that's not true."
"You're a man and always have been. The snarky, overconfident, turtle school brat I met six years ago was a man. Not a very strong man, mind you, but no one would question him about who he was." Tien continued. Yamcha laughed a little and saw Tien smiling at him.
"I suppose you have a point." Yamcha admitted. "About the man thing."
"I usually do." Tien said. They share another laugh and Yamcha found himself smiling.
".... thanks Tien. For everything." he said quietly. He leaned into Tien's side and rested his head against his neck. "I really needed to hear it."
"That's what I'm here for. We're eternal rivals, remember? I can't fight you if you're not around anymore. Remember that." Tien replied softly. There were a few seconds of silence again as the two of them simply enjoyed each others company.
"If you two are done cuddling the rain has stopped. We can move camp now." Chiaotzu said from behind them. Both men turned bright red and awkwardly seperated. Tien stood and offered a hand to Yamcha.
"Ready to face the world again?" he said with a small smile back on his face. Yamcha took his hand with a grin of his own.
"Ready as I'll ever be." he said. Tien helped him up and they walked towards the cave entrance where Chiaotzu was waiting.
"You do know I can't fly like you guys?" Yamcha said. The cave dropped off right away into a rather large cliff.
"You're also not dressed." Chiaotzu pointed out. Yamcha looked down at his borrowed attire and blushed.
"I don't think his clothes were dry yet, Chiaotzu." said Tien.
"I guess so." Chiaotzu said. "Anyways, just carry him out like you did on the way here."
"Uh.... alright." Tien said. He held out his arms awkwardly.
"Truly, a five star transport method." Yamcha teased him as he situated himself in Tien's arms. "Okay. Let's get moving."
"Where to?" Tien asked. Yamcha sighed.
"Capsule Corp. I left my phone behind and Puar is probably freaking out." he grumbled.
Tien took note of his tone but made no comments. Instead he took off towards the city. Yamcha wrapped his arms tight around Tien's neck. As much as he trusted Tien he didn't trust flying quite yet. It didn't take long before Tien touched down on the Capsule Corp front lawn. He set down Yamcha gently and turned to leave.
"Wait." Yamcha said impulsively. He grabbed Tien's hand. "I... uh... don't want to go in there by myself."
"... okay. I'll stay with you." Tien said. Yamcha looked at him sheepishly.
"Really?" he asked. Tien smiled softly at him.
"Really. For as long as you need me." he said. Yamcha smiled back and then steeled his nerves.
He turned towards the doors and approached the building. Despite the need for it being gone he kept his grip on Tien's hand. It was a reminder, of sorts, that everything was going to be okay. The receptionist at the front desk recognized him and quickly contacted Bulma and Puar. Yamcha took a deep breath and felt Tien squeeze his hand gently. When he looked over at him he found a reassuring smile. A noise down the left hall caught his attention and he soon found himself with a bundle of blue fur and tears in his face as Puar happily greeted him. Tien let go of his hand but stayed next to him as a comforting presence as Yamcha tried to calm Puar down. Bulma stood at the end of the hallway and watched with crossed arms that were offset by a relief filled expression. Yamcha gave Puar a hug with one arm and waved to her with the other. This was going to be a long day.
Chapter 15: Moving on
Yamcha finally moves into his own place and while the future is scary it’s not all bad.
"You're really leaving?"
”It’s been a month Puar. I can’t live at Capsule Corp forever.” Yamcha said as he packed his bag.
“I’m coming with you.” Puar declared, crossing their arms.
“I never said you couldn’t.” Yamcha pointed out. “Fair warning, it’s not the biggest apartment in the world.”
“And I’m not the biggest person in the world. If I could handle a desert hideout I can handle an apartment.” Puar said.
“Then get your stuff together because we’re going today.” Yamcha said. Puar floated off to locate their belongings.
“It’s about time you left anyways.” Bulma added from the doorway.
“I know, I’m a freeloader. You’ve told me many times.” Yamcha said. Bulma huffed and placed her hands on her hips.
”Of course I have. If you’re not dating me then you don’t need to live in my house.” she said. There was an awkward silence for a few moments.
”Anything else to say before I go?” Yamcha asked her. He zipped up a bag and slung it over his shoulder. “It’s your last chance to yell at me some more.”
“Very funny.” Bulma grumbled. Her expression softened slightly and she let her arms drop. “Are you sure you can afford the place you’re moving to? If you get kicked out...”
“I lived in the desert for a fair part of my life, Bulma. I can handle whatever happens.” Yamcha said.
“Yeah, I know. You’re Mr. Tough guy after all.” Bulma said. “You may be my ex but I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
“That’s sweet of you. Wonder where that was the past eight years.” Yamcha said. He sighed when Bulma glared at him. “Sorry. I’m just.... bitter, I guess. Not a hundred percent healed yet.”
“Neither am I, to be honest.” Bulma admitted. “Things will probably get better when we’re not under the same roof.”
“Agreed. It’ll be nice to wake up and not get sniped at.” Yamcha teased. Bulma’s eyes narrowed.
“Careful mister. You’re not in the banter stage yet.” she warned.
“Noted.” Yamcha said. He grabbed a few more bags. “Now if you’ll excuse me it’s time I got going.”
“Be safe out there. And don’t break any more hearts.” Bulma said. Yamcha gave her a small smile.
“Same to you. Keep in touch?” he said. Bulma smirked.
“You’ll be invited to my birthday party. Don’t count on anything more than that.” she said. Yamcha shook her hand briefly and headed down the hallway. He met up with Puar and walked out the front door.
“A free man at last. How does it feel?”
Yancha grinned and turned to see Tien standing nearby. He tossed a bag at him and laughed.
“A lot better knowing you’re gonna help carry all this.” Yamcha said. Tien smiled and tucked the bag under his arm.
“It’s the least I can do for my eternal rival. Besides, Chiaotzu was going to go shopping for supplies soon anyways.” he said. Yamcha playfully punched his shoulder and started walking down the road with Puar in tow.
“Considering it’s a bit of a walk I thought you’d appreciate the training.” Yamcha said.
“It’d be a faster flight.” Tien said as he fell into step with the others.
“He’s right. Maybe he should teach you how to fly sometime!” Puar suggested.
“When I feel like falling to my death constantly I’ll ask him.” Yamcha said. Tien laughed softly.
“I’m sure you’d be good at it.” he said. Yamcha gave him a light jab with his elbow and continued onwards.
He had meant it when he said it was a bit of a walk. Nearly a half hour later and his new apartment building was nowhere in sight.
“So... how did you afford this place?” Tien asked after they walked a bit more.
“Had a job for a while. Long enough to pay off the first few months rent.” Yamcha said.
“What kind of job?” Tien said. Yamcha felt a blush coming on and turned his face the other way.
“Well, uh, it didn’t last too long so it doesn’t really matter...” he said nervously.
”He worked at a Host club.” Puar said. Yamcha scowled as they waited for Tien to stop laughing.
“You? A host?” he said once he got his breath back. “Never would have guessed.”
“Shut up.” Yamcha growled. He was starting to wish he could fly after all. Then he could leave the conversation.
“It turns out he’s still shy around women.” Puar said. “You’d think he’d be over that by now.”
“I’m not one to comment on the subject.” Tien said. “Ladies aren’t exactly my forte ethier.”
“And everyone knows it.” Yamcha commented. He felt a part of him squirm when Tien stared at him quizzically. Whoops. He probably shouldn’t have said that. “I mean, it’s pretty obvious you’re gay.”
“......it is?” Tien said after a pause.
“Well, yeah, how could it not be? Launch was flirting with you for how long?” Yamcha said with a slightly forced laugh. He couldn’t tell Tien he had learned about it from eavesdropping.
“.... I suppose you have a point.” Tien said. “I should have talked to her earlier...”
“Don’t worry about stuff like that. You’re happy where you are now, right?” Yamcha said. He was desperately hoping to change the topic.
“I guess you’re right.” Tien concluded. He smiled that one damn smile that made Yamchas heart skip a beat and his face heat up. Thankfully any small talk ended when Yamcha spotted the apartment building on the horizon.
“There it is! Should only be a few more minutes.” Yamcha said.
"Which balcony is yours?" Tien asked.
"Top floor and on the left corner. We're facing it." Yamcha said. ".... why?"
"Just making things go faster." Tien said as he started to rise off the ground. Before Yamcha could blink Tien was already flying up towards the apartment.
"It's easier then taking the bags up the stairs." Puar said. Yamcha sighed and continued walking.
"There is an elevator, you know." he said.
"Maybe he just wanted to leave for a bit. You did make things kinda awkward." Puar pointed out.
"I didn't mean to. It just kinda.... happened." Yamcha said weakly. Their conversation ended as Tien landed nearby.
"Want me to take your bags up too?" he offered. Yamcha shook his head.
"It's fine. I can handle them myself." Yamcha said. Tien acknowledged his statement with a nod and fell into pace beside him again. When they reached the doors of the building Yamcha turned to face him. "Thanks for the help. I can take it from here."
"Of course. Anytime." Tien said with a smile. Yamcha grinned back and stepped into the building.
"Have fun training in the middle of nowhere, crane bastard." he said. Tien rolled his eyes but kept his smile.
"I'll bring you with me sometime, turtle trash." he said. Yamcha laughed and waved at him as the doors closed behind him. Then he relaxed. Now he could focus on the whole new chapter of his life thing.
Chapter 16: Take off
Yamcha finally learns to fly. He also gets a proper job, if you consider baseball proper.
"So, when can I buy your trading card?"
"C'mon Puar, it's not that big of a deal." Yamcha was tempted to roll his eyes but settled for ruffling Puar's fur instead. They huffed and floated away from him.
"It is! You have a job! One you're good at! And baseball is fun!" they squeaked.
"I know you have a point, but still...." Yamcha said. He flopped onto his bed and stared up at the ceiling. ".... what if I'm not good enough?"
"Yamcha, compared to all the other players you're like a superhero." Puar assured him.
"Another good point." Yamcha admitted. He was a lot stronger than the others in pretty much every way. He hadn't even thought about it much until he realized he had hit a home run every time they put him at bat during his tryout. After that the coach had practically begged him to join the team. Yamcha glanced over at the Taitans jersey currently sitting on his dresser. If he was being honest with himself he was glad to have a job that involved other people. He'd been feeling a lot more isolated than he liked as of late.
"Why don't you practice? It might make you feel better about it." Puar suggested. Yamcha mulled over his options for about three seconds before concluding that he didn't really have anything else to do.
"I guess. I'm sure I can find somewhere to toss a ball around near here." he said. Puar smiled and grabbed Yamcha's team hat.
"Of course you can. You can do anything." they said as they plopped the hat onto Yamcha's head. Yamcha gave them a grin and a grateful scratch behind the ears.
"Thanks Puar. You wanna come with? Someone's gotta catch what I throw." Yamcha said.
"Sure!" Puar said happily. They floated off to pack some snacks, just in case, and Yamcha went to grab his equipment. About an hour of walking later they hit the edge of the wilderness.
"You'd think we'd have forests or something around here but no. We get wastelands." Yamcha commented as he dropped his bag near a rock pillar. He grabbed a baseball from the bag and started warming up.
"At least that give you plenty of space." Puar said. They flew a few dozen feet away and shapeshifted into a catchers mitt. "Now throw one here!"
"Will do." Yamcha said, winding up.
The next half hour or so was spent playing catch and talking about baseball in general. Puar had been right. The relaxed pace and conversation really helped Yamcha feel like he made the right choice, going into baseball. Then he had a ball go way off target and past several of the stone pillars in the distance.
"Uh.... oops?" he said sheepishly. Puar sighed and turned to follow it.
"I'll get it." they said. Yamcha waited awkwardly for a while as he waited for Puar to return. When they did, however, they looked puzzled.
"I couldn't find it..." they said. "I could have sworn it went that way."
"Don't worry about it. There's always more baseballs where that came from." Yamcha said. "What's one bad throw?"
"I'd say it's an indicator of how sloppy you've gotten."
Yamcha instinctively dropped into a fighting stance and Puar flew behind him for shelter. His gaze darted around the area but he couldn't find the source of the voice.
"Once turtle trash always turtle trash, it seems."
Yamcha felt a smile grow on his face as he caught onto who was speaking. He looked up to a figure he spotted standing on a nearby cliff.
"You're one to talk. Why don't you say that to me face to face, crane bastard?" he called out. Within seconds the figure landed in front of him and held out the baseball he had thrown.
"Like I said. Turtle trash." Tien said with a smirk. Yamcha dropped his stance and grabbed the ball back. Tien laughed softly and crossed his arms.
"So, what brings you to my neck of the nowhere?" Yamcha asked. Tien shrugged.
"Training." he stated. From behind him Chiaotzu appeared and waved.
"Hi Yamcha! Hi Puar!" he said. Yamcha gave him a small wave in return and Puar did the same. He then turned back to Tien and mirrored his crossed arms.
"Considering your default activity is training I'm not surprised." Yamcha said. "You sure you didn't just want to come visit me?"
"You wish." Tien said. He then shifted his stance awkwardly and looked away. "But, uh, that... is why I'm here, actually."
"Really? What brought this on?" Yamcha asked. With Tien's tendency to disappear for years at a time Yamcha hadn't expected to see him again for a while.
"Well, it's been a while since you moved out...." Tien said. He trailed off and continued looking at the ground.
"He was worried about you." Chiaotzu finished.
"..... I thought it would be a good idea to check in on you." Tien said.
"Aww, that's so nice!" Puar said.
"It sure is. Didn't think you had it in you." Yamcha teased.
"Keep talking like that and I won't." Tien said.
"Don't give me sass, Tenshinhan." Yamcha said. He smiled and held an arm up against Tien's chest. "Save it for the fights. We're still eternal rivals, after all."
"Right. Don't want to waste all my good material now." Tien replied with a grin. He returned the motion to Yamcha. This was more like it. Bantering just like the olden days. Yamcha caught himself in that particular train of thought and stopped it. Since when did he have olden days?
"As you can see I'm doing okay." he said. Tien nodded.
"Better than that. You finally got a hobby." Tien said, gesturing towards the baseball equipment.
"I should be the one saying that to you." Yamcha pointed out. "But you still don't do anything besides training. And it's not a hobby. It's a job."
"You're on a team? Congratulations." Tien said. Yamcha dismissed the praise with a hand wave.
"It was almost too easy." he said. Then he got an idea. "Speaking of hobbies... how about I teach you how to play?"
"Thank you for the offer but I'll have to decline. I'm not one for sports." Tien said.
"That's not true. You love volleyball." Chiaotzu pointed out. He turned to Yamcha and Puar. "He does."
"Believe it or not I knew that already. The Kame house beach tournaments proved it pretty well." Yamcha assured him. He gave Tien a quizzical look. "Why don't you want to learn baseball? I thought you loved using new techniques. Trust me, some energy and a good pitching arm can come in handy."
"It's not that. I just... don't have anything to give in return." said Tien.
"I'm not charging you, you dork. It's a friendly offer. You don't need to do anything for me." Yamcha said.
"He can teach you something though!" said Chiaotzu. After a silent pause from everyone else he sighed. "He can teach you how to fly."
"He's right. That could come in handy!" Puar said. They floated around to face Yamcha. "You should do it!"
"Tien's the one who's teaching. It's his call." Yamcha said. If he was being honest he wasn't sure if he was ready to learn to fly. Sure, it sounded amazing but there were a lot of things that could go wrong.
"If you learn to fly then I'll let you teach me how to play baseball." Tien offered. "Unless you don't think you can do it..."
"You're on." Yamcha said. It was more out of habit than anything else but the decision was made. He offered a handshake. Tien took it.
"Glad to hear it." he said with a warm smile. Yamcha stubbornly quashed the butterflies that had risen in his chest. Now was not the time to be blushing at his friend. Nor was any time as far as he was concerned. Even if he knew they were both single and into guys he couldn't assume Tien returned any feelings beyond friendship. A friendship Yamcha refused to ruin with the possibility of a romance that would probably fail. He had to stay his usual self. He put his hands on his hips and tried to look smug.
"So, what's the first lesson?"
As it turned out the first lesson was meditation. Despite initial complaints Yamcha soon found that it actually helped. He thought he had been in touch with his Ki before but this proved that he still had a lot to do. After a few weeks of baseball practice and the occasional session with Tien Yamcha felt like he was finally getting the hang of things. He was taking a break from meditating one day and noticed Tien staring at him.
"What? Have I started floating?" he said.
"Not yet but you could." Tien said. "I think you're ready to try."
"If you say so?" Yamcha said nervously. Now came the part where he was off the ground then. The familiar, solid, and safe ground. He stood up and tried to reach into his energy. Easier said than done even after weeks of preperation.
"Don't force anything." Tien said. He walked over and stood next to him. "Just relax and focus."
"I thought I was already doing that." Yamcha said.
"I know that look. You're scared." Tien said. He chuckled softly when Yamcha scowled at him. "It's not a bad thing. I'll make sure you don't hurt yourself."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence." Yamcha grumbled. Never the less he took Tien's advice and closed his eyes. The tight feeling in his chest slowly unraveled and he let out a long breath. He definitely felt like something was working. The mental image of himself flying through the sky with confidence was a solid motivator. After around a minute he opened his eyes expecting to find himself unmoved.
A quick look down proved him wrong. He was floating around four feet clear of the ground. As soon as he saw it he started to wobble. He mind was now less relaxed and more screaming in regret. Before he could fall completely he felt someone's arms supporting him. Tien held him up with a patient smile.
"I got you." Tien said gently. Yamcha gave him a shaky nod and tried to regain his balance. After a few tense seconds he stopped looking like a bobble-head and hovered in place. Once the immense fear of instant death faded Yamcha found that it wasn't too bad. He held his grip on Tien all the same. It couldn't hurt to have some extra security. Tien stayed in place until Yamcha had stabilized himself.
"If you let go now I'm going to kick your ass." Yamcha warned.
"I said I got you. Have some faith." Tien assured him. "And you can't kick my ass if you can't get to it."
"You can't stop me from trying." Yamcha said. He ignored Tien's laugh and focused on staying upright. Eventually he was stable enough to relax his grip on Tien.
"See? It's not that bad." Tien said.
".... I guess." Yamcha said hesitantly.
"Think you can do it by yourself now?" Tien asked. Yamcha nodded slowly.
"Don't go too far." he said. Tien gradually floated backwards until he was holding Yamcha at an arms length. Even with the small wobbles that came with it Yamcha didn't fall. He took a deep breath and let go of Tien. Then he was hovering by himself. After a few seconds of pure nerves he started to calm down.
"How is it?" Tien asked. Yamcha did his best to smile.
"Not quite as traumatizing as I excepted." he said.
"Good to hear." Tien said. "Feel like moving yet?"
"Gimme a minute would ya?" Yamcha said.
Tien stayed silent and Yamcha took it as a yes. He looked around him and the longer he was up in the air the less scary it seemed. A glance past the stone cliffs revealed the sun was starting to go down. Yamcha turned back to face Tien and felt his breath catch in his throat. The pale orange light almost made it look like he was glowing. The patient smile and soft look in his eyes wasn't helping either. Yamcha did his best to resist all the urges his brain was trying to tell him to give into.
"Looks like you've got the hang of it." Tien said. Yamcha realized all at once that he had unknowingly flew towards Tien.
"Well I'm a fast learner." Yamcha offered. He tried to back up but in his panic started to flip backwards. Tien grabbed him again and helped him adjust.
"Maybe we should focus on just keeping you airborne for now." Tien suggested. "It's getting late."
"Yeah, I can't argue with that." Yamcha said. He really could argue with it but currently felt like he needed to get as far away from Tien as possible before he did something stupid. Luckily for him the lesson only lasted a few more minutes. When he touched down he breathed a sigh of relief.
"Usual time tomorrow then?" Tien said. Yamcha nodded.
"Of course. I'll see you then." Yamcha said quickly. He started to walk off when he was suddenly grabbed from behind.
Before he knew it he was off the ground again and traveling much faster then before. He screamed and instinctively threw his arms around the nearest thing. That thing, as it turned out, was Tien. Yamcha would have yelled at him if he wasn't already busy hanging onto him for dear life. He closed his eyes and prayed for it to stop. His wish was granted a moment later and when he opened his eyes he was surrounded by clouds. As much as he wanted to be angry he found he couldn't. The sunset looked even better from up here. The fact that he could barely see the ground hardly registered.
"Soon enough you should be able to do stuff like this. Just don't give up." Tien said. Yamcha looked at him and tried to crush all those damn feelings again. He decided to dig into some of his earlier anger.
"That's nice and all but I could do without the sudden flight of horror." Yamcha said. Tien looked sheepish.
"Sorry. It was an impulsive idea." he admitted. "I shouldn't have acted on it."
"It's okay. I'm glad you did." Yamcha said without too much thought. He regretted doing so as the shy smile Tien gave him in return caused quite a few impulsive thoughts of his own to rise. He looked at the sky instead. "Make sure to warn me next time."
"Uh... ideally you'd be flying on your own next time..." Tien pointed out. "But if you want to do, uh, this again... then I will."
"You'd better." Yamcha mumbled. He was very purposely looking anywhere but at Tien. After a few moments of hovering Tien spoke up.
"So.... want me to fly you home?" he said.
"Might as well." Yamcha said. "You already got me up here. Go slower this time, okay?"
"On it." Tien said, his smile widening.
Thankfully he stuck to his word and the flight back to Yamcha's apartment was a gently paced one. They didn't talk on the way there but it didn't feel awkward. Yamcha took in the view and felt a little at peace. Not fully, he still had way too many things to sort out mentally for that, but for now it was enough. By the time they touched down in front of the building Yamcha was feeling comfortable enough to playfully punch Tien's shoulder.
"See you next time, crane bastard." he said with a smirk. Tien returned the gesture.
"Looking forward to it, turtle mutt." he said. He waved and took off again towards the mountains.
Yamcha headed inside and started to make his way upstairs. On the way he realized why his chest had been feeling warm the whole flight back. He sighed and leaned against the wall of the elevator.
"Why does it have to be him?" he whispered to himself. Whatever he had was definitely stronger than a crush and he didn't want to deal with it. When he reached his apartment he declared "I'm home" and immediately flopped onto his bed. Puar floated in and sat next to him.
"How did it go?" they asked. Yamcha reached out and pet them lightly.
"Pretty good. I actually got off the ground this time." he said. Puar nuzzled into the petting and smiled.
"That's great!" they said happily. "So... why do you look upset?"
"I... kinda figured out some stuff." Yamcha mumbled. Puar twitched one of their ears.
"What kinda stuff?" they asked. Yamcha covered his face with his free hand. Saying it out loud would make it official, make it real. Doing that meant he had to deal with it. He took a deep breath and decided it had been long enough that he had no choice but to face it.
"I think... no, I know.... I'm in love with him." he said with a shuddering sigh. There. It was out loud and known. Puar rolled over and floated up.
"I know that, Yamcha. I think everyone does." they said. "Except Tien. He's never been too good with picking up hints."
"It's that obvious?" Yamcha said weakly. He had hoped he'd done a half decent job at hiding it.
"Has been for years. You need to tell him." Puar said.
".... I can't do that. It could ruin what we have already." Yamcha said.
"Or maybe he feels the same way you do." Puar said. They sighed. "The only way to know is to talk to him about it."
"... I know." Yamcha said. "I'll do it someday. Just... not now."
"It's been nearly ten years." Puar pointed out. "But, take all the time you need. Just remember that the longer you wait the more you risk the feelings fading. Yours and his."
".......... I know." Yamcha said quietly. Puar left him by himself and he tried to think of when and how he could bring it up. He decided to sleep on it. No point in trying anything now. He had the flying lessons to focus on anyways.
It had been four years since the last time they met.
After their deal was done, with Yamcha flying on his own and Tien learning how to play baseball at a decent level, they had said their goodbyes. Then Tien had disappeared. It wasn't surprising as he'd made a habit of it. Like always Yamcha had hoped the distance and time would make his feelings fade. He knew by now that he was in love with Tien and, despite his desperate tries to forget, the emotions had failed to leave. So there he was. Four years of pining eating away at him with no way to fix it and then Tien had returned.
The initial pleasantries had gone quickly and now they sat in those same mountains from before catching up with how the world had changed. Chiaotzu and Puar were having their own talk a little ways away. Tien was doing his best at small talk. All the while Yamcha fought the urge to confess with everything he had.
"I hear you're famous now." Tien said. "I didn't know baseball was so profitable."
"It's okay. More to pay the rent than anything else." Yamcha said. "Hate to say it but things got boring after a while. I'd rather be training."
".... even that gets repetitive eventually." Tien said.
"For you. How many years have you spent hermiting yourself in the mountains?" Yamcha said.
"Maybe too many." Tien admitted. "Sometimes I envy you."
"Really? It must be pretty bad then." Yamcha said with a laugh.
"Very funny." Tien grumbled.
"C'mon Tien. You've been gone for four years. I gotta catch up on all the teasing I missed." Yamcha said. Even with his feelings nagging at him he still found himself having fun. Bantering with Tien was easy and he really had missed the guy. Tien responded by standing up and flying a few feet away.
"You'll have to earn it." he said. Yamcha smirked and matched Tien's height.
"Really, it's not that hard." he said.
"I'm glad to see you paid attention to your lessons." Tien said. He rose a few dozen feet and Yamcha followed. "To think you were so scared to fly."
"I had a good teacher." Yamcha said. The warm smile Tien gave him in return made him immediately regret getting in too close. He flew a few feet back and tried to keep up his bravado.
"Speaking of teaching, did you hear Goku had a kid?" Tien said.
"He what!?" Yamcha exclaimed. Now THAT was new. "How do you know?"
"I found his place while I was traveling and Chi Chi insisted I stay for tea." Tien explained. "They have a son who's about four. Gohan."
"Well, ain't that something. Goku barely knew what marriage was and now he has a family? He's really grown up." Yamcha said.
"I know. My point is, what do you think he'll be taught? Martial arts like his dad? Or will Chi Chi win the argument and make Gohan into a scholar?" Tien said.
"Knowing Chi Chi I'd give her a fair bit of credit on that one." Yamcha said. "Although I'm sure the kid will learn to fight at some point. I mean, his dad's one of the strongest people on the planet."
"True. I wouldn't be surprised if his kid surpasses him." Tien mused. Then he raised an eyebrow. "Who would you say the other strongest people are?"
"Goku let Piccolo go so we know he's out there somewhere. I haven't seen Krillin in a while but I'm sure he's kept up. He always was a go-getter. There's Roshi, of course, and maybe a few others....." Yamcha mused. His smirk grew wider every time he refused to mention Tien in the lineup. "Of course I'm included. Even if I haven't trained for a while I'm definitely stronger than your average person. As for you...."
"What about me?"
"Well, we haven't sparred for a while so I don't know how strong you are." Yamcha concluded.
"I could fix that." Tien said.
"I thought you might. After all, what kind of rival would you be otherwise? This place is a good battlefield anyways. It's pretty deserted..." Yamcha said as he started to fly to the ground. His reasoning got cut off with a jolt of pain as he suddenly found himself approaching the ground much faster than he had planned. He stopped a few feet short of crashing and realized that Tien had gotten the first hit in. He rubbed the back of his neck and scowled at him.
"You might have a point.... if you're worth the energy." Tien said smugly.
"Why don't you come down here and say that?" Yamcha said. He planted his feet firmly on the ground and dropped into his usual fighting stance. "Unless you're scared to?"
"You wish." Tien said. He flew down and settled into his own stance. "I could beat you in clouds or the dust, no problems."
"Seems like you're the one who's wishing." Yamcha said.
He lept forward and took a swing. Tien dodged it easily and threw an elbow at Yamcha's head. He dropped down to avoid it and tried to use his arm to sweep Tien's legs out from under him. Tien jumped up and flipped over Yamcha before the hit could connect. They both sprang back and took up their stances again. There were a few seconds of waiting, calculating what the other was going to do next, and then they went right back to it. Tien led with several rapid palm strikes that Yamcha barely dodged. Yamcha grabbed both of Tien's wrists and a momentary power struggle ensued. Tien won out and knocked the wind out of Yamcha with a well placed knee to the gut. Yamcha went down wheezing.
"Guess that was one wish that couldn't be granted." Tien said smugly as he knelt next to Yamcha. Yamcha glared at him and tried to get his breath back. Tien’s smug looked faded a little. “.... are you okay?”
“Just gimme a second.” Yamcha managed.
“You should have told me to hold back.” Tien said. With no warning Yamcha launched himself at him and knocked him over onto his back.
“And you should have told me that you were underestimating me.” Yamcha said with a smirk of his own. Tien took a few seconds to process his position and then smiled.
“I guess so.” he said. “We’ll have to spar more often.”
“You’d have to actually be around for that.” Yamcha said.
“Well.... no one has ever asked me to stay.” Tien said.
"They shouldn't have to ask, you dork. Friends stick together." Yamcha said. After a moment he realized all at once that he was currently on top of Tien and while pinning your opponent was a good strategy keeping them down and holding a conversation was decidedly not. He got up hastily and dusted himself off. “My point is, you don’t have to keep running off to the middle of nowhere. Hell, I was pretty sure I’d never see you again before today.”
”..... really?” Tien asked quietly. Yamcha offered him a hand.
“Really. When it comes to you every goodbye could be the last. Everyone just kind of expects it by now.” he said. Tien took his hand and stood up.
“I suppose I never thought about it that way.” Tien said. “I always intend to return.”
“It would have been nice to know that about, let’s say, four years ago, for example?” Yamcha said. Tien looked a little sheepish.
“Yeah... I’ll make sure to tell anyone else I visit that from now on.” he said. Yamcha smiled and looked into the gradual sunset creeping across the horizon.
“I guess that means you’re about to leave again? You do have a knack for waiting until dark.” he said. Tien glanced up at the sky and chuckled.
“You know me too well.” he said. “Chiaotzu and I will need to make camp before nightfall. That’s why we leave when we do.”
“You could always go earlier.” Yamcha pointed out.
“And spend less time talking with you? I couldn’t imagine.” Tien said sarcastically. Yamcha jabbed him with an elbow and got a laugh in response.
“Glad to hear I’m such an important person in your life.” he said with a level of sarcasm he hoped matched Tien’s. He didn’t want his damn feelings twisting his words. Even with that in mind he couldn’t stop himself in time to prevent his next sentence from slipping out. “You could always just stay over for the night, you know.”
“I wouldn’t want to impose on you anymore than I already have.” Tien said. That stupid soft smile returned to his face and Yamcha tried desperately to not look like he was head over heels as much as he was. “But, thank you for the offer. Maybe someday I’ll take you up on it.”
“My floor is always open to you.” Yamcha said. Tien laughed again.
“The floor? Is the couch occupied?” he said.
“Of course, that’s where Puar sleeps.” Yamcha said with a smirk.
“I can always sleep somewhere else!” Puar shouted over at them from atop the rock pillar.
"Noted!" Yamcha called back. He tried to ignore the persistent warm feeling in his chest as Tien laughed.
"Anyways... we really should get going." he said. He held up an arm against Yamcha's chest in a familiar gesture. "See you again sometime, turtle trash."
"Catch ya later, crane bastard." Yamcha replied with a smirk as he returned the motion. "Just don't take four years to visit next time."
As soon as Tien and Chiaotzu had flown out of sight Yamcha sighed and leaned against a rock. Puar floated down next to him.
"Feelings still there?" they asked. Yamcha looked down at the ground and absentmindedly kicked a pebble.
"Still there and stronger than ever." he mumbled.
"You have to do something soon, Yamcha. You could lose him." Puar said.
"I know." Yamcha said, quieter than before. He finished watching the sunset with Puar in silence. He knew they were right. Maybe next time he'd say something. Do something. Anything. It would probably be a year at the least before Tien came by again. That gave Yamcha plenty of time to plan out what to do. With his decision made Yamcha began to fly home.
Next time he saw Tien, he swore to himself, he would confess.
AN- This chapter marks one year of JOW!
( Technically one year and 10 days I'm a little late with this )
Thank you all for sticking around for that long!
I promise we'll get to the good stuff soon.
Chapter 18: Looming
Goku is dead. Aliens are coming. What else can happen?
In fairness to Yamcha he thought the next time he saw Tien would be a nice casual visit.
His day so far had not been casual or nice in any capacity.
Considering that his current situation had him climbing a tower for what seemed like an hour already he had plenty of time to reflect on the revelations he'd been privy to in the last few days. Goku's death, these "sayians" coming to destroy them, Gohan being taken by Piccolo of all people, being brought to the aforementioned tower to train with Kami, and the knowledge that they only had a year to prepare for what could potentially be the end of the world. Lots of things that took precedent over any inklings of romantic intention.
It didn't help that Tien was right in front of him on their trip up the tower. That was enough of a distraction to cause Yamcha's grip to fail at least once so far. The sooner they got to the top of this damn tower, and the sooner he didn't constantly have Tien's ass in his face, the better.
When they at last reached the end of their trip Yamcha internally thanked every god he could think of as he pulled himself onto the cold tiles of the lookout. He took a moment to breathe and stare up at the pure blue sky. He was surprised he wasn't more winded. They were literally above the entire earth. A sobering thought.
"Done cloud gazing down there?"
Yamcha shifted his line of sight and spotted Tien standing nearby. He sat up casually and smirked.
"Yeah, just spotted one that looks like an asshole." he said. Tien rolled his eyes and crossed his arms.
"Well, I was going to offer to help you up but if you're gonna to be rude about it..." he said.
"Who said I needed your help?" Yamcha said. He stood up and took a confident step forwards. Then, like a tree falling in the forest after years of bending, slowly began to tip over. He had around half a second to register that his legs had given out on him before the more immediate realization of exactly how close those cold tiles were to his face won out. Thankfully the contact never came as someone grabbed his shoulders and lifted him upright.
"Apparently, you. Even if you won't admit it." Tien said smugly. The self satisfied look he had faded into one of mild concern. "You okay? Sure you don't need more time to stare at the clouds?"
"I'm fine. Thanks for saving me a broken nose, I guess." Yamcha said. Tien smiled and patted his arm before letting go. Yamcha tried to regain his focus. They were here to train. To get stronger. To save the world. They were not here to deal with any romantic prospects.
This fact became evident as their training began under Mr. Popo and Kami. There was scarcely time to think about anything other than the upcoming battle. Most days he trained with Tien as their power was nearly equal. Yamcha was honestly surprised he kept up so well. He hadn’t exactly been slacking before but it wasn’t like he’d taken up a fighting hermits lifestyle like Tien had. Sometimes he’d spar against Krillin or Yajirobe for some variety. Even Chiaotzu managed to trip him up a few times. Everything was going well.
Then the simulation came.
A clash against “ancient sayians” with power well beyond their own. Made with a magic of some kind, he was sure, by Mr. Popo. It was the ideal set up to prepare them for their bout. But....
The death. None of them had been ready for that. Even after they’d been pulled out of the vision the feeling of being killed followed them. It was haunting, to be morbidly accurate. Sometimes Yamcha would find himself in the simulation during his dreams. Everyone else dying before him while he did nothing but watch. Their desperate cries for help rang in his ears for hours after he woke. The rest of the night would be sleepless and always filled him with a sense of dread.
It was after one of these nightmares that he found himself sitting on the edge of the lookout. Legs swinging slowly below while he stared at the multitude of stars above. It was cold but he didn’t bother to put on a sweater. He’d consider it a part of his training and not what it really was. The biting cold against his skin kept him grounded.
“Got room for one more over there?”
Yamcha knew who it was by their Ki alone but turned around to smile anyways.
“Always will.” he said quietly. Tien returned his smile and walked up beside him. He sat down slowly and looked out over the sky.
“It’s nice up here.” he said. “Peaceful.”
“A nice change of pace for us.” Yamcha agreed. “But I wouldn’t want to live here. No offense to Kami or Mr. Popo.”
“I know what you mean. There’s loneliness and then there’s... this.” Tien said. “Isolation.”
“Of course you’d know the difference.” Yamcha said. Tien smirked slightly at the teasing.
“Yeah, I would.” he said. The lookout fell silent as they sat looking at the stars.
Yamcha suppressed a shiver as the wind picked up. He glanced over at Tien. He gave no signs of being cold but Yamcha knew that he was only acting tough for the sake of his own pride. Even in private moments like this he didn't let his guard down. It was frustrating, in a way, and Yamcha couldn't quite pin down why. Maybe if he'd made more of an effort to get closer with Tien he'd be more open. Granted he was already a lot more honest and comfortable with Yamcha than he was with most of their friends but there was still one last barrier between them. Yamcha decided that while he wasn't quite ready to bring up anything remotely close to love he was prepared to try to make things better, as friends. He let his own unbothered facade drop and felt himself tremble as he embraced the brisk temperature. He could tell Tien took notice.
"For all your talk of being prepared I'd expected you to have a sweater or something." Tien said. Yamcha shrugged and tried to give off his best casual vibes.
"Any other time I would. Tonight.... it's a reminder. That I'm still alive." he said. He drew his legs up against his chest and leaned into them.
"..... it is." Tien said after a moment. "After all that training... it's good to just take in the world for a while."
"Is that why you're out here?" Yamcha said.
"I'd love to say it was." Tien said.
"So... what is?" Yamcha asked. Tien sighed and looked down at his hands.
"I... wanted to talk." he said softly. "I had... a nightmare. When I got up I felt your Ki out here I thought maybe... you'd be willing to listen."
"Of course I am. Now and forever and all that junk." Yamcha assured him with a grin. Tien returned the expression weakly.
"I know you are." he said. He looked back down. "In this dream... we were back in the simulation training. No matter what I do my attacks won't hit or cause any damage. Then everyone else gets killed. Krillin is always first. From some shitty ambush. Once he's down I know...."
"I'm next?" Yamcha said. Tien nodded.
"You're trying to protect Chiaotzu and I but... they get you. I can't stop it. No matter how hard I try I can't do anything but watch. When I call out to you... you don't get up. Then... then they go after Chiaotzu. I try so hard to protect him but no matter what I do... he's gone, again, and I know... there's no coming back for him this time." Tien continued. He clenched his fists and glared at nothing in particular. "I'm always the last to go. I do nothing to save everyone else and then I'm finished. Just like that."
"..... I know this'll sound odd but my dreams have been pretty much the same thing." Yamcha said. "Not exact copies, obviously, but you're not the only one dealing with it."
".... I guess we're all pretty scared." Tien said.
"Of course we are. How could we not be? Goku's gone and a couple of aliens are due to arrive any day now to wipe out everyone." Yamcha said. "... it's okay to be scared."
"... it never was before. Not for me." Tien said.
"Well, I'm telling you that it is. Here and now, in this exact moment, it's perfectly fine for you and I and everyone else to be terrified." Yamcha assured him. He reached out a hand and placed it on Tien's shoulder. "What's important is that we're all terrified together and we know it's alright."
".... you're sure?" Tien said. He turned to look Yamcha in the eyes. "If we're all that scared what's to keep us from breaking down?"
"C'mon, you dense crane bastard, I've said the important thing is that we're all together like three times." Yamcha said. His attempt at a smirk was ruined by the sudden wave of sorrow that hit him. "I promise. It's okay for you to be scared and upset and angry. It's okay for you to show it."
He then found himself wrapped in a hug in lieu of a response. After a moment of surprise he hugged back.
"Thank you. For everything." Tien whispered.
"Don't worry 'bout it. I'm glad you can talk to me about this kinda stuff." Yamcha said. A strong gust of wind went past and he felt Tien join him in shivering. He smiled and pulled back from the hug. "We should probably head inside before we freeze to the tiles."
"Good idea. I'll make some tea." Tien said. He stood up and offered a hand. "Feel like staying up with me for a little longer?"
"Of course I am." Yamcha said. He grabbed Tien's hand and stood up. "It's my turn to be emotionally vulnerable."
"Can't wait." Tien said with a sarcastic grin. Yamcha gave him a light jab in the side and joined him in laughing as they walked back to the lookouts main building.
He knew things would change soon. They'd finish training and fly their separate ways until the sayians arrived. The time spent before then.... he'd keep it the same as it was now. Friendship that kept him going. The bond he didn't want to risk.
Chapter 19: Invasion
The sayians have arrived
“Of all the times for them to get here...”
Yamcha grumbled his way through a few similar grievances as he hastily pulled on his gi. Deciding to get one last solo training session in had seemed like a stellar idea. Then the sayians arrived when he was halfway through. Yet another thing to add to his mental list of reasons to kick their asses. Even after a year of training to do exactly that he was still nervous enough to look for more reasons to fight. Dammit.
He began the anxious flight to where he felt the sayians ki. Along the way he tried to calm himself down. He was ready for this. He’d trained just as hard as everyone else. He could do this. It’d be easy. They’d defeat the sayians and when Goku showed up they’d tell him all about the great fight he'd missed. They’d laugh and celebrate together just like old times. As much as he wanted to keep that hopeful image untarnished a nagging fear just wouldn't leave. He felt like something bad was bound to happen. That one or more of them wouldn't come home. No matter how hard he tried to ignore it the rolling unease in his chest stayed put.
The longer he flew the harder it was to keep his composure. Gods, he was terrified. Partly for himself, how could he not be, but mostly for his friends. Sure they had the dragon balls but those weren't guaranteed. They'd been useless in the past and nothing was certain for their future. Any one of them could die and that would be it for good. The knowledge that even with the dragon balls a death for Chiaotzu meant permanence made everything even worse. The same went for Krillin. If Yamcha himself died... well, he'd sure as hell be mad about it but it was less concerning in the moment. Then there was Tien. If Tien were gone... Yamcha didn't even want to consider it. He wouldn't think about any of it, none of the death.
When he finally arrived where he'd felt the monstrous Ki touch down he felt a wave of relief. At least one of his friends was there already. He landed next to the familiar face with a grin.
"Hey, Yamcha! You made it!" Krillin exclaimed with a smile.
"Of course I did. We didn't spend a year training just to be no shows." Yamcha said. He gave Piccolo a cursory glance. "How's the kidnapper doing?"
"Hmph." The demon grumbled and glared at him. "Better than you."
"Of course you are." Yamcha said. He turned his attention to the child standing next to Piccolo. "You're Gohan, right?"
"Yessir." said the boy. He bowed slightly. "It's nice to meet you."
"Don't be so formal, kid. I'm an old friend of your pops." Yamcha said with a small laugh. "Name's Yamcha. Wish I could have stopped by to see you before all this."
“Don't blame yourself too much. We were all pretty busy.” Krillin said. “Even I didn’t know about him before Goku brought him over to Kame house.”
“If you two are done, can we focus on the fight ahead of us?” Piccolo snapped. Yamcha shot him a dirty look before finally taking in the sight of their enemies.
One of them was huge. Almost as tall as Piccolo, if Yamcha had to guess, and he was already damn tall. The sayian also seemed to be pure muscle mass. Yamcha already dreaded the thought of throwing down with him. He directed his attention to the second alien. He was much smaller. Maybe five foot and a bit plus his excessive hair. Despite his stature it was clear he was also considerably buff. He gave off an unsettling vibe. Yamcha couldn’t place why but this little sayian was scary. Then there was... well, he didn't know if they were Sayians or not. About five or so little green things. They hissed and Yamcha felt a shiver run down his spine. They were expecting two enemies. Not seven.
“Ugly bastards, aren't they?” Yamcha said.
“You can say that again. Even after all our training I’m not sure how I’d fare.” Krillin said.
“We'll see about that.” Piccolo snorted. Yamcha resisted the urge to punch him. They might be fighting together for the moment but that didn’t mean he was happy about it. A spike of familiar Ki nearby soothed his nerves.
“Welcome to the party.” he shouted up at the newcomers.
“Hope you saved us a spot.” Tien said as he touched down nearby. Chiaotzu floated close to him and gave Yamcha a wave.
“Tien! Chiaotzu! It's good to see you guys.” Krillin said.
“That them?” Tien asked with a nod towards the sayians.
“Them indeed. Wanna call dibs?” Yamcha said. Tien chuckled.
“You got here first. I'll let you make the first call.” he said.
“C'mon man. I’m being polite here.” Yamcha said. Tien rolled his eyes and stepped forward.
“If you insist.” he said. The sayians must have had a similar idea and one of the green things walked out to match him. Tien took up a fighting stance. Yamcha watched with a cold feeling running through him. So. The fight begins.
With a small shout Tien rushed towards his opponent and slammed the base of his palm into its chin. The thing went flying. When it landed it squealed angrily. To Yamcha's horror the top of its head split down the middle. Something came shooting out of it and on instinct Yamcha leapt out of the way. It was a good thing he did because as soon as the stuff hit the ground it burned a chasm into it. They had acid. Great.
A quick look to his teammates revealed everyone had made it to safety. Piccolo was putting down Gohan. He must have grabbed the kid. Yamcha spent about half a second appreciating that before he went back to watching the battle. Tien had hit the creature into the air and jumped to follow. A quick elbow strike sent the thing crashing into the ground. It made no indication of getting back up.
“What!? That's impossible!!” exclaimed the larger sayian.
“Way to go Tien!” Krillin shouted. Chiaotzu and Gohan joined in the cheers. Yamcha smiled. So far so good. It seemed their foes were thrown off as well. They were arguing with each other.
“I swear Vegeta, these are the strong ones! Every one of these Saibamen has a power level the same as…” the larger sayian trailed off his sentence and looked sheepish. The smaller one, Vegeta, looked smug.
“As strong as what, Nappa?” he asked. The other sayian, Nappa, shifted his gaze.
“As Raditz.” he mumbled. Vegeta scoffed.
“Exactly. They're nothing compared to us.” he said.
“Look! That one's getting back up!” Nappa said. Everyone watched as the monster, a saibaman if Yamcha had heard correctly, slowly pushed itself into a standing position. Tien readied himself again. Before he could attack something happened. Vegeta shot a beam of ki at the saibaman which promptly killed it. Nappa looked upset. “Vegeta! It… it was alive.”
“It failed. Let's hope the rest of them do better.” Vegeta said with a sinister grin towards the remaining saibamen. He turned his gaze to the Z warriors. “Who's next?”
“I've got this one Tien.” Krillin said. Before he could approach the saibamen Yamcha held out an arm to stop him. That bad feeling was back tenfold.
“Let me handle this.” he said.
“Are you sure?” Krillin asked.
“I'm sure. I've had this feeling all morning that… something's gonna happen. You've already been brought back once. I haven’t. So let me take this one.” Yamcha said. He gave what he hoped looked like a confident smile. Krillin nodded and backed up. He looked worried but didn’t object.
“Whoever it is doesn't matter to me. Just get this over with.” Vegeta said. Yamcha squared his shoulders and stepped forward.
“Kick its ass.” Tien said as he walked past. Yamcha gave him a quick thumbs up.
“Can do. Start keeping a tally for me, will ya?” he said. He took a deep breath and got into his usual stance. One of the saibamen approached.
The next few seconds were a blur. Throwing punches and blocking blows at a speed no normal human would be able to see. As soon as the first hit connected Yamcha knew he couldn't take this lightly. He was definitely stronger than the thing but, the acid incident from earlier still fresh in his mind, he wasn't about to test it. After a few more exchanges of fists the saibaman started to jump further away.
“Oh no you don’t.” Yamcha spat as the thing leapt behind him. He joined it in the sky and launched a kamehameha towards it with a shout. After a few seconds he landed and surveyed the damage he'd done. The saibaman lay unmoving in a shallow crater. Yamcha caught his breath and turned to face the sayians. He felt a surge of confidence and fear. He'd taken one of their minions down but it had been trickier than expected. He'd used more energy than he would have liked to on that kamehameha. He wasn’t about to let them know that, though.
“Man, that was easy. I guess Tien made it look like a challenge on purpose.” he proclaimed loudly. Nappa scowled at him.
“You cocky-" he started to say but Vegeta stopped him.
“Why don’t I just take on the rest of them by myself?” Yamcha continued. He regretted the offer as soon as he said it. Acting like things were no problem to reassure his teammates was one thing. Issuing a challenge he probably couldn’t handle to his enemies was another.
“Are you nuts?” Krillin exclaimed. Yamcha felt like he was right. This was crazy… but maybe he could swing it.
“Now that I'd like to see.” Vegeta said. “Too bad I won’t get the chance.”
“Oh yeah?” Yamcha said, feeling a swell of rage. “Bring ‘em on!”
Something was wrong.
As soon as the words left his mouth Yamcha felt it. A sense of dread that skyrocketed within seconds. Unfortunately it was justified. The saibaman he had taken down was back up. Yamcha barely had the time to turn around before the thing had grabbed onto him. A sharp pang of fear hit him. This was not good. The thing had a strong grip. No matter how hard he struggled he couldn’t shake it off.
“Let go!” he exclaimed. The thing looked up at him and smiled widely. Gods, that was so much worse than it looking angry.
Then the heat began.
The saibaman's entire body started to burn. Even more alarming was the sudden boost in energy that Yamcha sensed. It was doing something. It was…. Oh Gods. It was self destructing. Of course. It had seen what failure meant and was going out fighting. Yamcha might have found it honorable if the thing wasn’t currently attached to him.
He didn’t even have time to scream before the blast hit.
Unimaginable searing hot pain shot through every part of him. His ears were ringing and he couldn’t see anything. He was vaguely aware of his body hitting the ground. The smell of smoke and charred flesh filled his nose. Someone nearby said something too quiet to make out, maybe his name, and then everything faded away. The pain, the smell, all feeling, just… stopped.
Then it was dark.
Chapter 20: Reunion
Yamcha is surpised to find that he is, in fact, awake. Not alive per say but it's the little things that count.
The darkness faded slowly.
Almost awake, almost at the light, but not completely. Yamcha struggled to open his eyes. Everything felt fuzzy from his head to his limbs. Judging from the weight against his back he was probably lying down. He managed to raise a hand up to his head. It didn't hurt but it was reassuring to feel none the less. When he lifted his hand it brushed against something above him. It gave a small shock accompanied by a surge of energy. It was enough to get him to open his eyes. He was... in a building? Wooden slats created a roof and from what he could see it wasn't cheap. Maybe he was in a hospital of some kind. But why would he be.... right. The battle.
He groaned and sat up slowly. Every part of him felt tired, like he'd just run a marathon. Not entirely unfounded given the fight he'd just put up. Hadn't his foe self destructed? He would have thought that he'd have some notion of damage on him. When he looked down at himself he seemed none the worse for wear. He was in his gi, clean and whole, and didn't appear to have a single scratch. Something wasn't adding up here.
"I see you're awake. Good show. Shame you didn't last longer."
A deep booming voice caught his attention. He glanced towards the source and did a double take. Was that... a demon? He sure as hell looked like one. He was also seated at a giant table. Yamcha managed to get on his feet and stand. He definetly wasn't in a hospital. Floating next to him was a pale white ball of light but it didn't feel like ki. Behind it was a seemingly unending line of more of them. Yamcha looked up at the demon once more.
"Where... am I?" he asked. The demon's expression shifted to one of slight melencholy.
"Welcome to the otherworld, kid." he said.
"The... otherworld?" Yamcha said. He'd been sent somewhere? But he'd just been on earth... What was going on?
"The afterlife. What lies beyond. Purgatory." the demon said. "Hate to say it but you're dead, my friend."
With an stomach turning sense of anxiety brewing Yamcha raised a hand to feel whatever it was he'd touched eariler. Sure enough a further inspection revealed it to be a ring shaped light floating several inches above his head. A halo. A chill ran through him. So this was death. He hadn't made it after all. After all his training...
"... what happens now?" he said shakily. Was he about to be sent to Hell? Based on his bandit past he doubted he was going to heaven. After all he'd done to try and redeem himself...
"You're going to be waiting here for a while longer." said the demon. "Since you got to keep your body Kami obviously has a plan for you."
".... alright." Yamcha said. He didn't have any other choices. "... who are you, by the way?"
"I am King Yemma. I judge souls. Now let me get back to work." the demon said. He was obviously getting tired of entertaining Yamcha's questions. Yamcha opted to listen to him and stood awkwardly next to one of the desk legs. There was no telling how long he'd have to stay there. He let himself reflect a little. At least he'd managed to get in Kami's good graces before he got offed. He supposed it was inevitable. He had always been the weakest of the human warriors. He had almost gone into the battle expecting it. He was glad he wasn't being sent to Hell. At least not at the moment. Just his luck. A drawn out wait before damnnation.
A flash of light nearby caught his attention and with a horrible sinking feeling he realized he wouldn't be waiting by himself.
"...... Yamcha? Is that you?"
He looked so damn small. Too small to be gone again. His Halo was nearly as big as he was. With an expression that made it all too clear he was familiar with this place Chiaotzu floated over to him. He took a deep breath and tears welled up in his eyes. "Well... at least I'm not alone this time."
"Never will be, buddy." Yamcha said. He was almost crying himself. He'd hoped so bad that Chiaotzu would make it through. Now there was no going back for him. No second chance.
"At least I did my best, right?" Chiaotzu said. He sniffled as despite his best efforts the tears started to roll down his cheeks. "Right?"
"Damn right. We both did." Yamcha assured him. He reached out his arms. "C'mere."
With that Chiaotzu was in his arms and sobbing into his shirt. He hugged his tiny friend as tight as he dared. Damn those sayians. Damn them both. He could feel his own tears threatning to fall. No matter what happened now Chiaotzu could never go back. Yamcha could only pray that he ended up in heaven. He'd give up his own place there if he had to, if he had one. It wasn't fair. Nothing was fair. With a few gasping breaths Chiaotzu pulled back and wiped at his face.
"I'm glad... that you're here..." he hiccuped. "I know it's 'cause... you're dead too... but... I don't wanna be by myself here... not again..."
"I know. It's okay. I'll stay with you until whatever comes next. I swear." Yamcha said.
A second flash of light had them both distracted for a moment. Then the sinking feeling returned. Chiaotzu flew towards the new arrival with renewed cries.
He was half on the floor like Yamcha had been earlier. A ring of light above his head and a confused look on his face. Then Chiaotzu grabbed him in a hug and he realized. Yamcha walked over to them slowly. He watched as Tien tried to comfort Chiaotzu with quiet words and promises. He clenched his fists. Damnit. Not Tien too. Was anyone going to live through the day? Eventually the sobs died down and Tien got to his feet. He looked up from Chiaotzu and spotted Yamcha. Despite a face full of sadness and bitter regret he tried to smile.
"Fancy meeting you here, turtle trash." he said in a horase voice. Obviously he'd been crying too. Yamcha attempted to return the gesture.
"Same to you, crane bastard." he said. His own words were choked and just hearing them was enough to bring his tears back. Tien held out the arm that Chiaotzu wasn't attached to. Yamcha gave a shuddering sigh and stepped into the embrace. He couldn't hold it back anymore. He broke.
As far as Yamcha could tell everyone in the hug was crying. He hadn't let himself cry like this since his breakup. It was warrented for sure. They had all failed and one of them wasn't coming home. If they still had a home to return to at the end of it all. There was always the chance that the planet would be destroyed. He wouldn't be suprised if it was. Those sayain bastards had proven they had the power to do so. He supposed they'd find out soon enough if it was. Another light flash came and went but they ignored it. They had to have a moment to take it all in before they reconciled with yet another death.
"How touching. Don't worry about leaving that small one behind. None of us can go back now."
That got their attention. Yamcha swiped at his eyes and stepped back from the group hug. He knew that voice.
The demon huffed and looked the other way. He was back in his usual attire, cape and turban included, and his usual attitude. King Yemma chuckled and looked over at him.
"Interesting way to go. Don't think you're getting into heaven based on one self sacrifice alone." he said. Piccolo gumbled and kept his gaze squarely in an empty corner of the room.
"..... did it work?" he said. It was almost to quiet to hear. King Yemma laughed again.
"The kid's safe, thanks to you. Just hope he stays that way" he said. Piccolo's posture loosened.
"..... he'd better." he mumbled.
"The kid... Gohan?" Tien said. "You saved him?"
"So what if I did?" Piccolo snapped. He glared at the humans. "It's none of your buissness."
"Wait.... if you're dead..." Yamcha said. He vaugley remembered something from years ago. "Then that means..."
"Kami is gone too." Piccolo said. He sighed. "That means the dragonballs are gone as well."
"Damn. What I am I supposed to do with all of you now?" King Yemma exclaimed. Several half finished swears followed as he shuffled through his paperwork. "Can't judge you while you still have your bodies.... don't know what Kami was going to do with you... certainly can't have you just stay here...."
So. They weren't going back. Any of them. As soul crushing as that was Yamcha felt the tiniest flicker of relief. None of them would be left behind.
"Sounds like we're stuck with each other for a bit longer." Yamcha said. No one really had the mental capacity to respond properly. They were dead for good. How does one process that? Especially when they thought they might be able to go back?
"Guess so." Tien said. As he spoke something about him drew Yamcha's eye. He hadn't noticed it before, what with all the sobbing and such, but now it was clear something was missing.
"..... all of us got here with no injuries. Right?" Yamcha said. He glanced up to where King Yemma was complaining away. "Our bodies are all undamaged? Even with how we died?"
"Yeah, that's how it works. Now shut it and let me focus." King Yemma said gruffly.
"That's what I thought. So if we're not supposed to be hurt...." Yamcha continued. He pointed at Tien's left arm. "Then where's your hand?"
Everyone who cared glanced over. Tien was indeed missing his left hand and around half his forearm. The stump was a clean circle and instead of flesh showing there was a pale yellow glow. Tien raised his arm to look at it closer.
".... this happened before I died." he said quietly. "Maybe... it was long enough before I died that... it doesn't count?"
"Exactly. Your bodies were recovered to what they were prior to your passing. If you lost a limb before you went then it's gone. Even if you went back it wouldn't come back." King Yemma interjected.
".... great." Tien said flatly. Chiaotzu floated closer over to him with concern. Yamcha tried to come up with something to say.
"Look at it this way. You're..." Yamcha started to say. He realized that a joke was a bad choice but it was already halfway out. Damn his snarky nature.
"I'm what?" Tien asked.
"You're... all right?" Yamcha finished weakly. He threw in a wobbly smile and half assed finger guns. Might as well fuck this up all the way.
Silence. A pause. Then laughter.
"The fuck was that, you asshole?" Tien said between giggles.
"Look, this whole situation is pretty shit. I'm just trying to lighten the mood." Yamcha said. He shrugged. "I didn't have too many options left."
"Stop, stop. We should be serious about this." Tien said as another chuckle escaped him.
"What? I'm just doing what I feel is right." Yamcha said. He could feel some mirth of his own rising and a tiny smirk made it's way onto his face. "Besides there's not too many jokes left. You should really give me a hand."
By now they were both doubled over laughing. Chiaotzu had joined in with some giggles of his own. It seemed fitting for their weird ass life. Making jokes about horrible things while loitering around the afterlife.
"That's enough noise out of all of you." King Yemma snapped. "Since we can't have you here but have no where to place you I'm sending you to King Kai. Your friend Goku trained with him. He can hang onto you until we sort something out."
"Speaking of Goku... how is his battle going?" Yamcha asked. King Yemma snorted.
"Does it look like I can tell?" he said. He jerked a thumb towards a doorway behind him. "Now grab your green friend and go. By the time you finish snake way King Kai can tell you what happened. If you finish it."
With a few final grumbles from Piccolo off they went. Despite the situation they were in Yamcha felt a surge of comfort. He was glad he wasn't making this trip alone. When it was over they'd learn how Goku fared. And what happened next for them.
Chapter 21: Confession
Happy Valentines day y'all
It took an entire month for a solid plan to form.
Of course, most of that had been the trip down snake way.
The rest had been finding out that Namek existed and figuring out how to get there. Now Bulma, Krillin, and Gohan were on their way to the alien world to retrieve a new set of Dragon Balls. Even better was the reveal that since they were different from earths Dragon Balls it was possible for Chiaotzu to be resurrected along with the others. Goku had saved the planet and they were all going home. Things were working out perfectly.
So why did Yamcha sense something was off?
Despite everything going right for once he couldn't help thinking about it. He'd been training with Tien and Chiaotzu but he was always little out of it. His hits didn’t land as hard as they used to. He felt.... wrong. It took him the entire month to nail it down.
It was his damn feelings again.
Everything that happened recently distracted him well enough but now that things had calmed down they had flared up again. Plus, he was stuck on a tiny planet with Tien every day. How could he ignore it now? As much as he wanted to push it away, get rid of it, he’d already come to terms with its permanence ages ago. He knew damn well he was going to be infatuated with Tien until the end of time if he didn’t say something about it. Perhaps confessing would make the feeling finally fade. The possibility of something between them, beyond friendship, was the glue keeping this stupid love attached to him.
Still the fear, not of rejection but of ruining one of his only good friendships, kept him silent. So he trained and laughed and played games with the others. All the while his chest ached with a pain no senzu bean could heal.
He’d excused the sloppy sparring as not being used to the gravity of the planet. When that explanation was no longer plausible he said it was because of the knowledge he was dead. By all means that second one shouldn’t have worked but everyone was dealing with the afterlife differently. Chiaotzu chased Bubbles and Gregory on the regular and Piccolo meditated. Yamcha didn’t know what Tien was doing to cope.
He’d been avoiding him.
From telling endless puns to King Kai to even trying to meditate next to Piccolo Yamcha dodged the object of his affection every chance he had. He could barely handle their training with each other. Spending his downtime with Tien would just make things worse. Even with all his efforts he was still head over heels for the three eyed bastard and he couldn’t fix it.
So he sparred and meditated and everything in between with the knowledge that things weren’t going to get better by themselves.
“That’s it. Stop the match.”
Yamcha paused, half his body on the ground, and looked over at King Kai. Tien, a few feet away with his fists raised, did the same.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. He didn’t think he’d been doing that bad this time. The god had furrowed his brow and his lips were turned down in a scowl. Chiaotzu floated behind him with a shockingly similar expression.
“We can’t take this anymore. It’s too hard to watch.” Chiaotzu said. He flew a bit closer and jabbed a finger at both fighters. “Even if I couldn’t read minds it’s clear you two need to talk.”
“About what?” Yamcha said. He hoped he didn’t sound nervous. An intervention from Chiaotzu wasn’t how he envisioned things going down.
“Don’t try to bullshit your way past me, Yamcha. You know damn well what about.” Chiaotzu said. He ignored the stern look Tien gave him for the swear and kept going. “You’re keeping secrets and it’s throwing you off your game, both of you.”
“I don’t think -“
“Tenshinhan, I know for a fact that you’re hiding something. You can’t run away from it anymore.” Chiaotzu snapped. Tien shut his mouth and looked sheepish. It was of little comfort to Yamcha to know he wasn’t alone in his secrecy. If anything it made him even more upset. Now he had to worry about what Tien might be keeping from him along with his own feelings.
“Whatever is going on has ruined your training. This childish behaviour will not stand.” King Kai chimed in. “Stop being cowards and talk to each other like adults.”
“.... can we at least have some privacy?” Tien mumbled.
“Of course you can. Take all the time you need.” Chiaotzu said. His expression softened a little. “Just work this out for everyone’s sakes.”
“I’ll meet you on the other side of the world then?” Yamcha said weakly.
“Yeah. I’ll come around.” Tien said. With a muffled snicker from King Kai they started walking.
Yamcha kept his eyes on the ground as he went. There was so much that could go wrong. Chiaotzu had been right, calling them out, but it was still nerve wracking to consider. That plus whatever Tien was hiding didn’t help. Before long they were on the complete opposite side of the planet from where they started.
“Well, King Kai said this wouldn’t stand so...” Yamcha said. He sat down and patted the grass next to him. “Ready to talk?”
“I suppose I have to be.” Tien said curtly. He knelt down beside Yamcha. His body language was stiff and he kept his gaze trained on a distant cloud.
“Look, I wasn’t exactly happy to be dragged into this either.” Yamcha said. That ache in his chest had turned into a burn and every part of his insides seemed to be doing a flip. The fact that Tien wouldn’t even meet his eyes made things worse. “..... at least look at me.”
Tien said nothing but did as he asked. Yamcha couldn’t read his expression.
“Neither of us wanted to do this, obviously, but we have to.” Yamcha continued. “Things will only get worse if we do nothing.”
”..... I know.” Tien whispered. “I just wish it didn’t have to come to this.”
“You and me both.” Yamcha said. He attempted a laugh and promptly failed. His heart was beating so hard he thought it would burst. Not like that would save him with his being dead already. That’s when it struck him.
Even death hadn’t gotten him to tell Tien. No deathbed confession, no spur of the last moment choices, or message before he went. He’d managed to put off revealing his feelings to beyond the grave. Of fucking course. It was just like him to shuffle off the mortal coil with no more than a longing look in Tien’s direction. Years of falling ever deeper in love with the man only to up and kick the bucket.
It was almost funny.
With a newfound surge of confidence he took a deep breath and clenched his fists. It was now or literally never. He had to do this, in this exact moment, before all his strength left him. It was time to stand his ground and tell the truth.
“I love you.”
His thoughts but not his words. He hadn’t realized he’d been staring at the dirt again but his head snapped up as soon as he heard it. A cold rush ran through his body. Tien was looking at him with a face full of more pain than he thought possible. His hands trembled slightly and his breathing was fast. His cheeks were a deep red as whatever had been holding back his secret broke.
”I couldn’t say anything before but... it’s been this way for years. I didn’t want to wreck what we have, what we had. I couldn’t handle the thought that I would ruin this, ruin us, all for some stupid crush, but.... but then it didn’t leave. I’ve felt like this for so long and every time I left I thought it would go away.... but then I’d see you again and everything would come back.” Tien rambled. His voice began to waver.
“I’m so sorry, Yamcha. I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear from me. I really wish it wasn’t. I don’t want to hurt you but I don’t want to lie to you. You deserve better than that. Better than me. I can’t.... I can’t stand it any longer. I’m sorry, sorry I fucked things up. I’m so sorry.” he continued. His voice hitched and for the first time Yamcha could remember tears started to form in all three of his eyes. “I’m sorry I fell in love with you.”
“I know you don’t feel the same way. I’ve always known.” Tien said with a sniffle and a bittersweet smile. “You deserve someone so much better than I am. Someone as good as you. Someone who makes everyone around them happy. Someone who can love you as much as you love them. Someone to be the family you’ve always wanted. You deserve-“
“What?” he mumbled miserably. Before Yamcha could think about it he had reached out and grabbed both Tiens shoulders.
“That someone is you.” Yamcha said. All his worrying, years of it, for nothing. Tien felt the same way he did. Tien loved him too. His own body began to shake as he started to cry. There were too many emotions in him right now to hold back. Gods, why hadn’t he spoken up sooner? Tien looked at him with cautious curiosity. Yamcha let out a small laugh that ended halfway through when his voice caught. “Everything you just told me.... I was gonna say all of it. To you. Because I love you.”
“.... you were? You do?” Tien said slowly. His expression started to shift to surprised as he took in everything Yamcha told him.
The next thing Yamcha knew he had been pulled into a tight hug. He returned it with all he had. He could hear Tien laughing despite his tears and joined in. This was it. After everything. All this time. Against all odds. Things had worked out. He had never been so happy to be so wrong about something.
“You could have saved us both a lot of time by speaking up sooner, crane bastard.” Yamcha said with a tiny hiccup. Tien pulled back from the embrace and looked at him with the biggest smile Yamcha had ever seen.
”You’re one to talk, turtle trash.” he said. Yamcha reached up to dry his face.
“Guess we’re both pretty hopeless, huh?” he said. “Waiting until we’re dead to confess.”
“Of course we did” Tien said. He swiped at his own tears. “A perfect match.”
“A match made in heaven.” Yamcha added. Another laugh from Tien.
“Yeah. Exactly.” he said. He took Yamcha’s hand in his, almost hesitantly, and held it. “.... how long have you known?”
“Honestly? Since we were training at Kame House.” Yamcha said. “What about you?”
“Around the same time, actually. I didn’t really realize that’s what it was until just before the next tournament.” Tien said.
“Wow, nearly ten years and neither of us did anything.” Yamcha said. “Imagine if one of us had said something about it back then.”
“I know. So much time... gone.” Tien said. His grip on Yamcha’s hand tightened briefly. “But we’re here now. Together.”
“Damn right we are.” Yamcha said. A thought occurred to him. “.... I know we just finished our whole dramatic confession of love...”
“Truly, TV drama worthy.” Tien said. Yamcha bit back a laugh.
“Indeed it was. I wanted to know if....” he paused. He knew Tien wasn’t one for displaying affection but damn if he didn’t want to ask this.
“If you can kiss me?” Tien said with a shy smile. Yamcha nodded.
“Yeah. I know it’s a lot right away but...” He trailed off as Tien let go of his hand so he could cup one of his cheeks.
“We’ve waited long enough.” he said. “I know I’m not experienced but... please do.”
With that Yamcha leaned in to gently press their lips together. It was short and the most basic kiss one could imagine but for him it was the best he’d ever had. He had imagined what it would be like to kiss Tien before and he was delighted to find that despite most of his skin being rough his mouth was soft. He’d wanted this for so damn long. It was perfect. When he pulled away he couldn’t resist adding one more quick kiss to Tien’s forehead, just above his third eye.
“How was that?” he asked. Tien looked at him with such tenderness that Yamcha felt a part of his heart grow bigger.
“Everything I’ve ever hoped for.” Tien murmured. Yamcha rested his head against Tien’s shoulder.
“You’re setting a high bar for future me.” he said as he snuggled up to Tien. Tien wrapped his intact arm around him and relaxed into the contact.
“Don’t worry. You’ll always meet it.” he said. They sat there in silence for a minute. Enjoying the comforting weight of the person next to them and the knowledge that their love was returned.
"The others are probably wondering what happened." Yamcha said after a while. He made no motion to get up. All he wanted right now was to stay here in this moment. He'd been so scared for so long. He wanted to make every second count.
"I guess you're right." Tien said. He also stayed put. A few seconds passed.
"Well, if we can take any lesson away from this it's doing nothing won't help you." Yamcha said. He sighed and began to shift. "They're gonna come over eventually anyways."
"A fair point." Tien agreed. He untangled himself from Yamcha and stood up. He offered a hand with a smile. "They might think we killed each other or something."
"I don't think that's possible." Yamcha said. He took the hand and joined Tien. "But if it was I hope you'd be in that afterlife with me too."
"We could confess all over again." Tien said. Yamcha grabbed his remaining hand.
"True. I think I like this better though." he said.
"Me too." Tien said. With one more gentle hand squeeze and loving smile they started walking back.
They had a lot of explaining to do.
Chapter 22: Revival
Time to go home
Being brought back was something one had to experience to fully understand.
The tugging feeling on something deep inside you, your soul prehaps, accompanied by a warm sensation through your body. Every sense overwhelmed by light and sound and smell as you travelled instantly from the afterlife back to the world you left behind. There was no proper way to prepare for it.
Even after you think it's over there's more to come. A flash of the planet from far away followed by a close up view of wherever you were returning to. A feeling of vertigo, however brief, that made you fully realize the gravity of your resurrection, no pun intended. As soon as you materialize everything comes flooding in as your mind and body catch up with the rest of you.
So there Yamcha was scrambling out of a river all at once very aware of how not-dead he was. He spat out some water and shakily got to his feet. He felt lighter but that was likely due to the difference from King Kais place. The river water was salty, gods he hadn't tasted any kind of flavor for what felt like ages, and chilled him to the bone. The darkened sky slowly shifted back to blue as he spotted the golden glint of a Dragon Ball soaring through the clouds.
He was alive.
He was also very wet, cold, and grumpy about the whole fiasco.
Of course he was glad to be back. So many times during the battle of namek he'd nearly lost all hope. The only good thing to come out of that was the new Dragon Balls. ( Though the fight with those Ginyu Force guys had been a fun exercise. ) Then the news about the wishes. Four months they'd waited in the afterlife to come back knowing only two of them could go first. Rebuilding namek was the top priority, of course, and Yamcha understood why they'd done it first. Bringing back Krillin right away had also been important. He deserved it more than anyone. It had been the part about leaving the others behind for four more months that had gotten to him.
At first he'd asked to stay with them. He and Tien and Chiaotzu could all wait together. Everyone on earth could make the wish for Goku first. Yet he'd been talked down. Tien pointed out he was really the only one with a life directly affected by how soon he returned. Getting his apartment and job back would take time, assuming they didn't think he was a ghost. He'd also been the first to die. The one dead the longest. He should be the first to return out of all of them.
So he'd folded. Agreed to go back with the promise of rebuilding his life on earth. He hadn't exactly been happy about it but he couldn't ignore the points everyone had. The wish was made and he'd landed squarely back into the world of the living.
Yamcha picked a frog off his head and set it down. Not exactly the kind of grand entrance he liked to make. It didn't take long to walk over to the Capsule Corp building he saw nearby. As soon as he stepped out of the woods he spotted the crowd of people surrounding where the dragon had been moments prior. Despite his reservations on coming back he couldn't hold back a smile as his friends saw him.
"YAMCHA!" A small blue blur of fur just about smacked him in the face.
"Good to see you too, Puar." he said. Puar sniffled and buried their face in his gi.
"I missed you so much..." they said. Yamcha raised a hand to pet them and held back tears of his own.
"Me too, lil buddy." he said. Once Puar had calmed down he looked at everyone else.
"Welcome home, dumbass." Bulma said with a tiny smirk.
"Did you wish for Shenron to throw me in the river when he revived me?" Yamcha said, returning the expression.
"No. That was just a bonus." she replied.
"Good to have you back, bandit boy." Blonde Launch chimed in.
"Good to be back." Yamcha said. He knew it wouldn't feel right until Tien, Chiaotzu, and Goku had returned. For now, however, he was happy to be there. All he had to do was wait.
It hadn't even been another month before Yamcha felt himself losing his patience.
Once the magical resurrection via dragon had been explained it had been fairly easy to get his apartment back. He let his coach know he wasn't dead anymore but put off returning to the sport. Recovery time, he'd said. Truth be told he didn't think he even wanted to go back. He'd made enough money to support himself for at least a decade, once the bank paperwork cleared, so it wasn't like he was pressed for options.
He'd started channelling his frustration into productivity by starting to plan a new hand for Tien with Bulma. It was obvious he'd need a prosthetic once he came back. Sadly not much could be done without Tien there for measurements. So Yamcha scribbled plans and learned all he could to be ready.
With every month that passed Yamcha's anxiety and excitement grew. During the lonelier nights he'd wondered if the time away would dull his feelings, or Tiens. Then he'd remember the time they spent together in the afterlife and take on the day with renewed vigor. It was a hard wait especially with barely anyone to talk to about his feelings.
He'd been keeping the change between him and Tien a secret from most just in case the worst happened. Of course, Puar had known the second Yamcha spoke about Tien after coming back. He felt like Bulma had put it together as well. He talked to Krillin about being dead and the experience of resurrection but that was a topic he soon grew tired of. There was only so much to talk about when you both knew everything about it. So he kept waiting.
At last four months had passed. The Dragon Balls were gathered again and this time he was part of the anxious crowd. Surprisingly his first thought was "That is a very buff dragon." This was followed by "It's finally happening." He bounced on his heels as the dragon introduced himself. The small namekian, Dende, made the first wish. Chiaotzu suddenly appeared in front of the dragon. He blinked and glanced around. Tears welled in his eyes as he realized he was back. Next was Tien. He arrived next to Chiaotzu. Even from the distance he was standing at Yamcha could hear what they said.
"We're back, right?" Chiaotzu asked. Tien smiled down at him.
"Yeah. We're back". he said. Chiaotzu grinned and flew up to hug Tien. Yamcha found it hard not to do the same. He had to let them have their moment. Then Tien turned and looked at him. That did it.
Whoever took the first step didn't matter. What matter was that it only took a few seconds for them to be in each others arms. The wait was finally over.
"You sure took your time, crane bastard." Yamcha whispered. He held on to Tien as tight as he could. Gods, he had missed the man. Tien returned the embrace with equal enthusiasm.
"I knew you'd wait for me, turtle trash." he murmured. They pulled apart just far enough to make eye contact.
"Is it okay if I kiss you?" Yamcha said. He currently didn't care that they were in front of everyone they knew. All he cared about was Tien.
"I was hoping you'd ask." Tien said. Yamcha could feel his smile as he leaned in to make contact. It was a short kiss, much like their first, but they both knew there'd be more to follow later.
"Feel like sharing with the rest of us?" Krillin called out from the crowd. Yamcha stifled a laugh.
"Give us a minute." he said. He looked at Tien and was struck by the pure amount of admiration coming from him. Every second of the wait had been worth it. "Shall we tell them?"
"I guess we have to." Tien said. He grinned and used his intact hand to brush some of Yamcha's hair out of his face. "So long as we do it together."
Chapter 23: A little different
Life is good, even if things have changed.
Yamcha didn't cut his hair often.
It had been long for so many years now he'd gotten used to it. It was a constant in his rather unusual life. Now things had finally seemed to stabilize. Nearly a month after being revived and his life was better than ever. He had a boyfriend for the first time, one he loved dearly, and so many friends supporting him. Nothing was in danger and it seemed the earth was finally at peace. He'd looked in the mirror one morning and realized his long hair reminded him of how things used to be. So he decided to cut it.
Granted he was no barber and the final product drifted much to far into bowl cut territory for his liking but it was refreshing. A sign he'd changed along with the world. He wasn't the only one either.
He walked out of the bathroom, making sure all stray hairs were corralled into a trash can first, and into the bedroom. Their bedroom. It had been an obvious choice for Tien and Chiaotzu to move in after they came back. It wasn't like they had anywhere else. As per usual Tien was already awake. He stood at the window and stared off into the distance. Yamcha approached him and was greeted with a warm smile.
"Good morning." Tien said. Yamcha pulled him into a quick hug and kiss.
"Good morning to you too." he said.
"You cut your hair." Tien observed. He ran a hand through it. "It looks good on you."
"Thanks. I thought it was time for a change." Yamcha said. He let himself relax into Tien's touch. "Wanted to keep things fresh, y'know?"
"You'd look amazing no matter what you do." Tien said. Yamcha smirked up at him.
"Easy for you to say." he said. "You don't have any hair to worry about."
"True. And I love you." Tien pointed out.
"Right. You do." Yamcha said. He snuggled up as close as he could to Tien while staying standing. The warm glow of the sunrise coming through the window had nothing on the internal warmth he felt every time he was with Tien. It had been nine months since they'd confessed and even if only five of those had them together it was still amazing to Yamcha just how in love he was. Making up for lost time, he supposed, in the best way possible. He noticed Tien had gone quiet again, not unusual for him, but it felt different from the comfortable silences they'd gotten used to. Yamcha pulled back slightly and glanced up at Tien. "What's wrong?"
"Tien, I thought we learned our lesson about keeping secrets from each other." Yamcha said. He released his hold on Tien and backed up enough to look at him face to face. "What is it?"
"..... it's stupid. Don't worry about it." Tien mumbled. He diverted his line of sight to the window once more. Yamcha placed a hand on his cheek to bring him back.
"Hey. Whatever it is isn't stupid. Because this is you and you're not stupid." Yamcha said. He gave his best reassuring smirk. "No matter how much you try to prove otherwise."
"Pfft. Thanks." Tien said with a small laugh. The fact that he'd managed a smile was encouraging. Yamcha let his hand drop but not before getting in one more quick kiss.
"I do my best. Now...." he said. He took Tien's hands in his and smiled. "What's bothering you?"
"Well, it's...." Tien trailed off and looked down. Yamcha followed his gaze and found it fixed on the shining surface of his prosthetic. Yamcha gently squeezed both hands.
"Take your time. I won't rush you." Yamcha said. After a few more seconds of nothing Tien continued.
"I know it's only temporary. To get me used to having it and maintaining it and all that." Tien said. Yamcha ran his thumb over the cold metal. He could already tell what was making Tien upset. He'd been worried about it himself since the temp was finalized.
"..... it keeps reminding me." Tien finished. "Of him."
".... I know." Yamcha said. He let go of one of Tiens hands and raised it up to his chest. His fingers lightly traced the scar Tao had left all those years ago. The one that had never healed quite right. "I'm sorry we couldn't get a different one for you."
"It's okay. I know it's not permanent." Tien said. "... I'm just not used to it yet."
"You won't have to be. Bulma said she'll have the final version completed by the end of the year. And besides..." Yamcha said. He took Tien's prosthetic hand and entwined their fingers together. "Could Tao do this? I don't think so."
"Gods forbid he had someone to try it out with." Tien said. Yamcha grimaced.
"Ugh. Don't make me imagine that." he said. Tien chuckled softly.
"You've made your point." he said. He lifted their hands and pressed a kiss to Yamchas. "I'll be fine."
"And I'll be here if you're not." Yamcha said. He had to fight to keep a blush off his face. He wasn't sure if he'd ever get used to Tien being romantic.
“I know.” Tien replied. He was so ernest. Not just now but anytime it came to him and Yamcha. Another thing to love about him. Yamcha noticed he'd been finding more of those lately.
About a week later...
"I'm so glad you guys could come over."
Yamcha smiled over his cup of tea at Bulma. A modest collection of pastries covered the table and the weather was perfect for eating outside.
"Thank you for inviting us." Tien said. He matched Yamchas smile with his own. "Things have changed so much lately it's nice to sit down with an old friend."
"Just who are you calling old, mister?" Bulma said. Her tone made it clear she was joking but the words were something she likely would have said years ago without a second thought.
"C'mon Bulms, none of us are getting any younger." Yamcha said. He placed his cup down with a smirk. "But if you insist I suppose I could start counting wrinkles."
"Don't you dare." There was serious Bulma.
“She’s right. We’d be here all day.” Tien added. He was lucky not to have a croissant thrown at his head.
“Is everything alright out here?” a voice from the doorway chimed in. Launch stood with what looked like a small plate of sandwiches. “Do I need to get Blonde out?”
“It’s fine. Just the boys being assholes.” Bulma said. Launch smiled and walked over to put down her plate.
“So, their usual selves?” she said as she sat down next to Bulma.
“Exactly.” Bulma said.
“It’s good to see you too, Launch.” Tien said.
“Same here. I didn’t expect it though. What brings you here?” Yamcha said. Launch averted her eyes shyly and fiddled with a strand of hair.
“Well, it’s a little sudden but....” she started.
“She’s living with me.” Bulma said.
“Congratulations. You two must be very happy together.” Tien said as Yamcha tried to stop choking on his tea.
“We are and thank you.” Bulma said. She glanced at a still recovering Yamcha. “It’s not THAT surprising.”
“In my defence we haven’t seen you in months.” Yamcha said hoarsely.
“Sorry we didn’t tell you earlier. We’ve been so busy lately.” Launch said. “Bulma’s been working nonstop to research what technology we have left from the Namek incident.”
“I’m guessing that was slowed down by Vegeta fucking off to Kami only knows with the one intact spaceship?” Yamcha said.
“It has been.” Bulma said with a scowl. “As soon as I find out where that bastard landed I’m giving him an earful.”
“If you can do that.” Tien said. “Who’s to say he didn’t crash into a meteor or planet?”
“My instincts, that’s who. I know he’s out there somewhere. I can feel it.” Bulma snapped.
It appeared her feelings were about to be validated as a sudden screech and crash shook the ground of the adjacent courtyard. Everyone at the table stood up battle ready. Through the plume of smoke a familiar craft could be seen.
“..... you ready to yell?” Yamcha said. Bulma grabbed Launch’s hand and glared towards the crash site.