Things Behind The Sun

The Clearing

THAT NIGHT, AGAIN

They kissed and kissed, grasping at each other, over and over and over again, as if they were thirsty and the other's breath was cool water; clinging to each other as if they were drowning and the other was a life preserver – gifting air, gifting life.

She snaked her arms on his chest and around his neck, holding him close, and he took her face in his hands, letting his fingers wander through her hair – the balloon, free from Goku's grasp, fluttered away in the night.

They kissed desperately, urgently, until they were lightheaded – and Bulma pulled away, breathing hard.

She leaned her forehead against Goku's shoulder for a moment, gasping for oxygen, and Goku kissed the top of her head in a natural gesture. As if they'd been doing that that for the past eight years. As if they'd never left each other's arms, each other's mouth. But they had – for a reason that Bulma couldn't remember, but that had sense. Bulma had made sure they could never be more than friends and for a moment, that morning of all those years ago, it had made sense – but Bulma had yet to learn the lesson.

Some things didn't have to make sense.

She slowly raised her head.

Goku wasn't smiling like he had been doing a few moments before. His eyes were enormous – warm as always – but full of questions. They were flickering over Bulma's face, shining brightly, impossibly so, piercing through the night. Piercing through her. They were examining her face for some reason, lingering on her lips, on her nose, on her eyebrows… as if he had never seen them before.

He slowly brought up a hand a touched the side of her face. It was as though he was studying her. As though she was a sculpture and she was being assessed – but his stare held no judgement at all. It was clear, filled only with infinite curiosity, interest and wonder. Bulma felt her breath itch in her throat – she concentrated on the twinkles dancing slowly in the back of Goku's eyes, willing herself not to look away like she had done a million of times – too many.

She held his gaze – and slowly sank into it.

She had been waiting for that kiss her whole life – except she didn't know it.

And that wasn't in the yellow balloon plan.

She swallowed against her dry throat. "Goku, I…"

She trailed off.

I what? Goku, I am sorry? In all honesty – she wasn't. She was feeling a lot of things, a lot of conflicting stuff was agitating wildly in her chest but – sorry – just wasn't one of those things. And she was getting a little bit tired of lying to herself.

Goku's eyes lingered on her for a long second.

"Wanna go for a walk?" he said and for a moment they were both kids again – forever wild, forever free.

Bulma's eyes sparkled through the darkness. She gave him a knowing grin.

"Sure," she said and Goku didn't waste any time. With a last caress on her cheek, he took her in his arms, holding her tight against his chest and they trailed off once again in the sky, once again they were shooting stars.

She knew exactly where they were going.

Bulma exhaled slowly – the wind was cool on her face, but being pressed against him felt… right. She closed her eyes and concentrated on him. On his scent, like a day of fun in the woods. On his heartbeat and on his breath – she focused until their breathing was even. Until they matched, till their breaths were synchronized.

When they touched the ground, the clearing was waiting for them – barely changed in those eight years – still untouched by humanity, still virgin. The way the water of the pond was glittering was exactly the same. Sparkles of silver.

Bulma had thought about it. She had dreamed about it. She had dreamed about sliding under the silvery surface with him to kiss him endlessly away from judgmental eyes.

She had longed for it.

And, unexpectedly, or maybe not, Goku echoed her thoughts out loud.

"I've thought a lot about this place," he mused, looking around. "Have… have you?"

Bulma paused. "Yes."

Goku chuckled under his breath for some reason. He absent-mindedly kicked the grass. "I've never been back since."

Bulma didn't know what to say. Goku, who didn't have a habit to, not even when facing life or death scenarios – seemed nervous. On edge. She remained silent as he finally turned around and looked at her. Still not smiling – which was weird.

Bulma felt her stomach tighten a little.

"What is it?" she said, in a hoarse whisper.

Goku's expression didn't change when he again cradled her cheek in one hand.

"Nothing," he said. "I just want to look at you."

Bulma felt her own smile fall as she allowed the scrutiny once again, but she leaned slightly in his touch – she couldn't help it.

"Why?" Goku said suddenly.

Bulma blinked. For once, she was the one not keeping up with his thoughts.

"Why do I feel like this?" he asked and it wasn't clear to who the question was directed.

Bulma swallowed. "What do you mean?" she said after a small hesitation.

Goku's hand left the side of her face. He scratched his head for a moment and finally he explained.

"I can't sleep."

Bulma furrowed her brow.

"You can't sleep," she repeated blankly. Yeah, that probably was a big issue for Goku, but it wasn't exactly the grand confession she was expecting. She opened her mouth, ready to berate him for being so tactless when he spoke again.

"Yeah," he said softly. "If I do, when I wake – I think about you."

The argument died immediately on Bulma's lips.

She felt all the air leave her lungs at once and then coming back in a new, unexpected, thrilling way – it was like breathing sparks and electricity and life itself. As she watched him squirm – she couldn't believe her eyes. Goku did not squirm. She couldn't believe her ears – yet she knew very well he was telling the truth. It was a truth she knew herself, a truth she had always known – since that night of eight years ago – but that she had fought madly to keep buried inside and forget for good.

It occurred to her – it had been like trying to deny her own being.

And now Goku was saying exactly what she didn't know she'd always dreamed of hearing from his voice. If she was crazy, he was crazy too. If she'd been cursed, he had been cursed too.

He felt the same.

And with a single, awkward sentence he had dispelled her fears like he always managed to do somehow. Yes, he was still her oldest friend. Yes, he was still married – and that was Bulma's… fault? For some reason, she fleetingly thought about Gohan, but then the frenzy his words had put her in prevailed.

She felt her cheeks burning madly, as though she was a sixteen years old girl, and she certainly felt like one.

"If," she started, then cleared her throat. "If it makes you feel any better, I think about you all the time too," she finally pushed out, blushing furiously.

There. She had done it. She had said it and – she was surprisingly still alive. She hadn't been hit by instant lightning. The earth wasn't swallowing her. And not only she was alive – she was floating. She was weightless like their little, sacred yellow balloon.

"I don't know if it does."

Goku's soft voice hit Bulma like a cold shower. She stared at him, her mouth opening and closing soon after, at loss for words.

"Coming here was your idea," she snapped at last.

Goku's shoulders were sagging. "I know."

Bulma's face was blank as she gaped at him. Of course.

She was so stupid – she wanted to kick herself, and hard. Obviously he was more confused than she was. Obviously – there was more. Obviously, Bulma found herself thinking, you don't live with a woman for eight years, or six, or whatever the hell it was, without some… measure of love. You don't raise a wonderful kid out of nowhere. Of course there had to be love.

But then again it was safe enough to say that – in his own way – Goku loved everyone. And even if he didn't fully understand what was going on, he wouldn't hurt anyone.

Bulma felt like crying – but she sure as hell wasn't going to cry over him again. She had humiliated herself enough already. It had been all wrong from the start and it was time things started to make sense again. She shook her head.

"You're right," she said. "We're screwing up."

Goku raised his eyebrows. "Bulma..." he began, but she cut him off.

"We are," she briskly said. She nodded her head frantically. "I am."

Goku was looking at her in silence, a weird glint in his eyes and she continued before he could say anything and fill her and empty her all over again.

"We should just… leave it in a good place," she said in the most reasonable and convincing voice she could muster. "It's no big deal," she continued, not looking at him. "We'll always have the yellow balloon, and the truce, we'll always be good friends, we still –

Goku stared as he listened to Bulma's rant. It was all so confusing and confused. Going to her house that night had been easy – the reason was simple. He missed her – he wanted to talk to her. Easy. But then, seeing her – having her electric blue irises pointed at him at such a short distance – at that, the easy had thrown itself out of the window. Or down the tree, to be more specific. Glancing at her and having the urge to kiss her and actually kissing her – it had been almost simultaneous. A fluid chain of events – a rushing flow – or rather a flame eating the fuse away in less than a millisecond.

And that kiss – that kiss had been everything.

Goku wasn't sure how to put it into words, into thoughts.

There was Chichi and Chichi was… great. She was a good person – well-meaning, always standing out for those she cared for. She screamed a lot, sure, but yeah, Goku had become immune to that over time. He cared deeply for her – they had shared a lot of things over the years and he had tried to love her at the best of what he thought were his possibilities.

But she didn't drive him crazy. She didn't keep him up at night thinking about her eyes electric and her skin like snow – she didn't make it impossible for him to breath.

He just didn't know what to make of it – 'cause it wasn't easy at all.

"...and everything will go back to normal and –

"Bulma!"

The exclamation rolled off his tongue without checking with his brain first. Bulma stopped talking so fast she swallowed her breath and bit on her own tongue. She looked up, scowling at his interruption. He raised his eyebrows.

"You're talking crazy again," he said.

Bulma's scowl deepened. Goku didn't know it was possible for those eyes to burn, blue than ever – to look more hard and fiery than ever. They were flashing furiously.

"But what do you think can happen now?" she retorted hotly.

"I don't know! Do you?"

"I don't know!"

Goku raised his eyebrows, trying to make a point. "Then why are we arguing?" he exclaimed.

Bulma held his gaze for a moment, then, with an indignant huff she turned on her feet and began to stalk away from him with large, angry, purposeful steps – leaving him in the middle of the clearing.

"Bulma… wait, it's too dark!" he called to her and she scoffed.

"It's dangerous!" he insisted and Bulma ignored him. She kept on marching towards the edge of the clearing that mellowed into the woods but then, suddenly, she stopped. Goku exhaled in relief – maybe in her stubborn thick head she had finally reached the conclusion that getting lost all by herself in the forest wasn't going to do any good to neither of them. He was about to say something when she turned around – and he got stuck.

Bulma's eyes had never been more lucid.

"Can I ask you something?" she yelled.

Goku threw his arms up. "Shoot!"

"What do you see?" she said. Goku raised his eyebrows in question.

"You looked at me," she explained. Then she swallowed, as though she was making the greatest effort in the world and it took a lot of strength to even push a sound out. But she did, nevertheless. " What did you see?"

The answer came to Goku in a second and a half as he gaped in amazement at her blue irises, as he felt the dryness in his mouth, as he felt his clothes too heavy on his skin.

He closed the distance between them with a couple of long, urgent, deliberate strides and took her face in his hands. He leant down as Bulma tilted her head backwards a little and he found her lips with his lips.

Their lips always found each other.

Softly this time – they kissed. Slowly – it was not rough, or desperate and grasping as it had been before. They were swimming into each other – their mouths belonged to each other. He felt her hands going to the sides of his face, then up, through his hair, her fingers tangling in it, grasping at it. He mirrored her movements letting his fingers twist through her turquoise hair for a moment, before his hands went down the back of her neck, then down, and he wrapped his arms around her waist bringing her closer to him, deepening the kiss until Bulma, gasping, pulled her mouth away, less than an inch from his, just enough to let out a dizzy murmur.

"You really want this?"

Goku kissed her again.

They fell down on the soft, high grass. Their mouths and tongues always tangled together, dancing together – Goku's hand slid down to feel, to touch, to grasp one of Bulma's legs, he pulled it up from behind her knee and Bulma was receptive – she rolled around and climbed on him, her tongue still exploring his mouth. Goku had a hand lost deeply in her hair and the other found its way to the hem of the back of her shirt, pulling it up a little, he sensed for a second her soft skin – he had dreamed about that white skin for endless nights – he sat up and Bulma went up with him, her knees on each side of his lap.

A moan escaped Bulma's throat, but they never let the kiss go – he felt her fingers dig into his scalp – her hot breath quivering in his mouth, and he let his hands wander on her back, pulling at the shirt, wanting it gone – he blindly grabbed the back of her collar and yanked it down, their bodies trembling in synchrony – caught up in the ecstasy, losing themselves into each other's breath, into each other's scent and sweat – sinking, surrendering to each other because it was senseless to put up a fight against their very own essence.


In those long eight years, Bulma had often wondered if it had been all in her head. If the depth, the completeness, the sheer perfection of the erotic moment she and Goku had shared the night before his wedding had been manufactured – she'd wondered if she had somehow ended up to idealize it.

But now, laying exhausted on the top of Goku's body, feeling blissfully happy, she knew it was all real. Their legs intertwined, her head was resting on his chest where she could feel his heart thumping steadily – one of his arms was draped around her and he was absent-mindedly stroking her back.

She knew they had screwed up – that they eventually had to leave their clearing and face daylight – but she didn't want to think about that. She didn't want to move – this time she didn't want to run away. Because Goku's chest felt warm and solid under her cheek, and his heartbeat was lulling her into a quiet, enchanted daze. She wanted to lay there forever – maybe they could. If there ever was someone who could say that impossible things happened – that miracles and magic actually took place sometimes – it was the two of them.

She tried to shrink onto him, to make their bodies stick even tighter.

Goku's slow caresses stilled. "Are you cold?"

Bulma closed her eyes and smiled. "No," she said. "I just like it in here," she replied, laughing faintly.

Goku sighed deeply and, once again, he voiced her thoughts. "I wish we could just sleep here," he said and Bulma raised her head up a little to look at him. His face seemed very young – there were slight changes here and there, and a small line to the side of his mouth, but that was all. He was so tenderly quiet that she had to kiss his lips again and again. He kissed her back, his lips warm and a little bit slack.

"Are you freaking out?" she asked in a low, intimate murmur.

Goku smiled, apologetic. "A little bit," he said.

She trailed a fingertip on his jaw. "Me too," she said and they chuckled together like little kids.

"Well," Bulma said, when she could speak again, "at least this time around you didn't sleep for a very good reason... friend," she concluded, stressing out the last word. The die had been cast – they didn't know what was going to happen once they left the clearing –and she was so doped up with euphoria that she thought they might as well get a laugh out of it. Aside from… other things.

And Goku did laugh at her joke, swatting her hand away playfully. "What? You're crazy."

Bulma smiled, thinking of all the times they had accused each other of insanity. That had happened a lot of times, not to be at least a little bit true.

"I fit right in, then," she said, brushing the bangs away from his eyes. Goku chuckled and kissed her bare shoulder. He looked at her sky-colored eyes thinking he really wanted to stop there - never go back, lay forever on the lawn with her. And he wanted her forever – if only he could have her forever, have forever their perfect unity of mind and soul and bodies, their perfect pattern, their perfect rhythm. Their perfect connection.

He tried to think about tomorrow, or next week, or the future – and nothing came up. It was an eerie, weird sensation –but he quickly dismissed it, thinking it was just because he was holding Bulma close and he didn't want to let go and envision days without her.

He loved the flickers of her eyes – the crease between her eyebrows, the unmistakable signs of something very convoluted getting into gear in her beautiful head.

"What are you thinking about?" he said after a while.

Bulma lowered her eyelashes for a moment, then she looked up again, a pensive expression in her big eyes.

"You know," she said finally, her voice going to the octave it found when she tried to conceal some inner turmoil. "There is a theory in science… about time."

That was unexpected, to say the least. But Goku raised his eyebrow and nodded for her to go on. "Uh-uh."

Bulma chewed for a moment on her lower lip – then she rested her head on his chest again.

"It says," she continued, as she listened to the soft thump-thumping of his heart, "that if you somehow manage to travel back in time and change one single decision in your past… you know, this life would go on the same as it is," she explained, "but… at the moment of that different choice… another life splits off into another universe. You know, like separate branches of a tree."

Goku fell silent. Talk about very convoluted. He chuckled under his breath.

"What?" Bulma inquired.

"Nothing," Goku replied quickly. "I get it… I think. Would you?" he asked, his fingers trailing up and down slowly on her back.

"Would I what?" she said.

"Would you make different choices?"

He felt her hold her breath for a moment. "It's just… a theory," she said at last, lowering her voice. "You know, numbers and symbols."

Goku tickled her on her side. "That sounds boring," he said, and he giggled as Bulma wriggled away from his fingers. She sat up and half-heartedly hit him on a shoulder.

"No, dummy!" she exclaimed. "It's fascinating. It's fun if you think about it."

Goku sat up as well and suddenly kissed her on the lips, on her nose, on her forehead. And again he worked his way down to the chin, her white neck, to the collarbone. Bulma let her breath go out as an amazed laughter.

"Goku, what –

"I know something funnier," he said and Bulma didn't have the time to register anything, because he had hauled her up in his arms and – ignoring her little shrieks of surprise – with a small run he reached the bank of the pond and jumped in.

"Woo-hoo!"

They went down together.

It took them a moment to regain their bearings through the dark waters under the surface, but their mouths found each other – they always did. They kissed as she'd always dreamed to do – letting the water shield them and absolve them – leaving only the beauty of what they felt.

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