Samui pulled at her jacket. “So, Bulma,” she began, trying to work up the courage to continue.

“Well,” Bulma was just as reluctant. “It’s certainly possible, but it’s difficult to say for sure unless you actually try.”

Samui turned pink at that. Recovering, she posed the second question which had been plaguing her. “And if I had children—”

Bulma anticipated what Samui was implying. “They might inherit some of your genetically programmed abilities, but otherwise, they would be fully human.”

Relief washed over Samui’s features. “As I thought. The situation would be the same as with Eighteen.”

“Mind you, I’m not really the authority on these things,” Bulma reminded Samui. “You should really talk to someone more qualified.”

Samui shook her head. “No dice. I tried asking Eighteen, but she didn’t really understand how it could have happened.” Her eyes went to the floor. “The only other person I know who might have the relevant information is Washuu, but she would only take it the wrong way.”

Bulma arched an eyebrow. “And I wouldn’t?”

Samui’s eyes widened with mild alarm. “Bulma?”

Bulma sighed. “I’m not getting any younger, you know, but Trunks doesn’t seem to understand his mother’s feelings.” she gave Samui a significant look. “And I’ve always thought of you as family.” she grinned. “So, ‘daughter’, met anyone you like yet?”

Samui’s cheeks blossomed again. “If I hadn’t, would I come to you with such a question?”

Bulma softened and approached Samui. “He really means that much to you, hm?”

Still blushing, Samui nodded. “He sincerely cares for me, the real me. We’ve already shared so much more than our jobs and our friendship, but,” her face further reddened as she continued, in a whisper. “I—I want—”

Bulma put an arm around Samui. “I know. I felt the same way about Vegeta, although it took me a hell of a lot longer to get around my stubborn pride.” She gave Samui another grin. “So have you told him yet?”

“No!” Samui answered at once. “I mean, I’m not sure how he feels.”

“You won’t find out unless you ask, right?” Bulma pointed out.

Samui became very interested in studying the floor.

Bulma sighed again. “Once, I met my counterpart from the other world, where Goku-san didn’t die, and she asked me how the two of us could be so different. At the time I didn’t have an answer for her, but later on, it came to me.” she looked distant. “In that world, the Dragon Balls still exist, so they take things very lightly. After all, if anything happened, the Dragon Balls could be used as some sort of Cosmic Eraser. But here—” she closed her eyes, fighting back the tears that were threatening to overwhelm her again. “Twenty years of knowing that every breath you take could be your last really changes your priorities. You have to be absolutely certain of what you hold dear and hang on with every bit that you got.” Bulma took a deep breath and continued, her countenance returning to normal. “You don’t know how long you have, either. You, of all people, know how dangerous your line of work is, and you don’t really know the upper limits of your body. Even if you have an eternity, if you miss the chance that you have right now, you may end up spending it alone.”

Samui didn’t answer right away. Instead, she went back to playing with the loose threads dangling from her jacket. Shelly said something to that effect once, although she was a lot more blunt about it. She smiled at the memory. I didn’t understand what she meant, then, but now—

“What do you have to lose?” Bulma wanted to know. “If he feels the same way about you, then at least that part of your worries would be over. If he doesn’t, I’m sure he would still care for you enough to remain your friend.”

“I suppose,” Samui stood up. “It’s worth a try.”

Bulma patted Samui. “There’s my brave girl.” she winked at her. “Go get him!”

Samui was running out of adjectives with which to describe her state of embarrassment. “Bulma, you can be almost as bad as Washuu sometimes.”

***

“Do you like children?”

Talon just about fell over. The question had come out of the blue as the two of the walked to work together the way they had done so many times that it was almost second nature.

Why is she suddenly asking me about kids? he wondered. Is she implying something, or is she just curious?

Samui had not ceased to surprise Talon since—well, since the day they met. But over time, she had changed with such subtlety that he didn’t notice until he looked back and saw how different she was from the woman he thought he knew. She smiled a lot more, for one, and even showed a spontaneous side that could be rather mischievous. She was also expressing herself with much more abandon, at least around people she was comfortable with.

As far as the two of them went, though, Samui could be reticent to the point of frustration. Until now, she hadn’t shown any indication of wanting a deeper relationship, but then again she hadn’t discouraged his attempts at getting to know her better, either. He knew that she would do everything in her power to protect him, but Samui was the kind of person who would give her all to everyone she cared about.

Worse, Talon didn’t know what he wanted. Was he attracted to Samui? Sure. Even though she wasn’t the most ravishing woman he had ever met, she had a soft, graceful femininity that he never got tired of looking at. But what he found beautiful about was her inner strength. For someone who had gone through so much, yet still be able to believe that the world was good…Talon’s mind boggled at the feat. And yet Samui also had a fragile, delicate side that he had seen, and wanted to protect.

But…marriage? Was he ready for that? Talon wasn’t sure. Even though he was now content to live in Capow, commitment remained an alien concept. Could he handle that sort of responsibility? Even if he had forgiven himself for what happened in Rodick, he wondered if he could ever live up to being the kind of man Samui needed: a man who loved her no matter what.

And children? Hoo boy. Could Samui even have children? Of course Washuu would have some sort of viable alternative, and there was always adoption, but it just wouldn’t be the same. During his travels, Talon had always ached for a family of his own, even if that meant giving up the vagabond life for good.

Samui mistook his contemplative silence as chagrin. “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”

“Huh? Oh, that’s all right, I was just thinking.” Talon drew in a deep breath, trying to sort out all of the things that were going on in his head. “But yeah, I really like kids. I suppose I’d like to have some of my own someday…” he trailed off and shrugged. “I guess it’ll happen when it happens.”

“I see.”

Was it Talon’s imagination, or had Samui seemed disappointed? He decided to take a leap into the dark. “What about you?”

This time, Samui registered definite surprise. “Me?”

“Yeah, you, unless there’s somebody who happens to be listening to us.” Which, of course, was not very possible. Nobody cared to look out their windows these days: there was too much risk of getting shot, and the weather was much too hot anyways.

“I—I like kids, too.” Samui stretched and walked a bit faster. “They’re so full of life and faith.”

“Faith?” Talon repeated, not quite understanding.

“The faith that the world is a place full of potential friends. That the good guy will always beat the bad guy, sooner or later.” Samui’s smile turned wistful. “That we adults always know what the right thing is, and will always do it.”

Another impulse seized Talon, and once again he grabbed it without understanding why. “Well, I think you would make a great parent, if you ever get the chance.”

Talon was rewarded with a very cute blush from Samui, and a slight cough. “Thank you.” she smiled at him, for real this time. “You too.”