|A Brother's Truth
Author: Candyland PM
In A Price Paid in Blood, Gohan said that he would tell Goten what had happened when Goten was older. Well, did he? Or did Goten somehow manage to stumble across his brother's secret on his own?Rated: Fiction M - English - Angst/Drama - Goten & Gohan - Words: 7,028 - Reviews: 39 - Favs: 35 - Follows: 5 - Published: 04-23-03 - Status: Complete - id: 1317954
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AN:I swear on the toaster, this is the absolute last thing I will do with APPIB!! This popped into my head for no real reason, and I don't often ignore my muse. I don't own DBZ, but I do own the plot line of "A Price Paid in Blood." And, featured in this story, at no extra cost to you, APPIB through ChiChi's eyes.
I'll explain briefly for anyone who hasn't read the original APPIB. Gohan is cutting, but he's discovered, and runs away, except that he's hunted down by Piccolo and Vegeta. Not the best summary, but it covers the basic gist of the story. A lot of it is explained in this one shot, so hopefully it won't be too confusing. Also, this story follows the alternate ending and my extremely short sequel in which Videl knows about the whole ordeal (that's Chapter Four of "Confessions").
A Brother's Truth
At the sound of the front door slamming shut, Goten grinned. With the parents gone, he could do what he did best. That is, goof off!
The seventeen year old demi Saiyan flipped the textbook shut and got up. Math was boring, anyway. Time to find something much more interesting to give his attention to. And he had just the distraction in mind.
A week earlier, Goten had been digging around in the attic (AN: I don't know if they have an attic, but bear with me, okay?), and he'd stumbled across a few old, crumbling boxes with some old pictures and albums and the like inside them. He'd already managed to figure out that the contents dated back to when he was about two years old, and he thought that it might be interesting to flip back through the old photos.
His parents had just left to go out for the day. On her way out, his mother had called back over her shoulder that if he needed anything, Gohan was at home next door. He had sighed and rolled his eyes. Even now, she thought of him as a baby.
Maybe after I dig through those pictures, I'll go bug Gohan for a while,Goten grinned mischievously. He's probably working. That'll be fun.
He tiptoed up into the attic, though he really didn't need to tiptoe. He was home alone, after all. But the house was silent, and he just felt like he had to be sneaky for some reason.
It didn't take him long to locate the deteriorating cardboard boxes, and in a short amount of time, he was up to his elbows in old, slightly yellowed photographs…and dust. Lots of dust.
Goten laughed out loud at some of the pictures. There were a ton of shots with him and Gohan, and he personally thought that his brother looked kind of weird at age…he would have been fourteen in these shots, Goten figured out after a quick mental calculation. Truth be told, Gohan didn't look much different in the photos. It was probably just that Goten wasn't used to seeing his older brother look so…young. Gohan was twice this age now. Hard to believe.
The demi Saiyan laughed at a particularly amusing shot of himself as a spiky haired toddler, trying to eat a paper plate. He was staring at the camera with wide eyes, the same eyes that always stared back at him from the mirror, as though trying to figure out what was happening.
Still chuckling, he reached back into the box to grab another handful of photos, but his fingers closed around a book instead. Naturally, he assumed it was an album of some kind, but when he withdrew it from the box, he discovered that, in fact, it was not a photo album.
It was a book, fairly nondescript, bound in simple brown leather. It was worn and obviously much beloved and handled. The pages were slightly yellowed from age, so he figured it to be an old book as well. His first thought was that it was one of his brother's old textbooks, packed away for later, but when he opened it to the first page, he was immediately proven wrong.
The pages of the mysterious book were filled with line upon line of neat, hand written words, scrawled in blue ink. At the top of the page was a date.
Goten read the first few lines, and gasped. This wasn't a textbook. It was a diary! And then he took a closer look at the handwriting. It wasn't Gohan's, and his father's wasn't anywhere close to that neat. And he couldn't imagine why anyone else's journal would be in their attic. So by process of elimination, he guessed that the leather-bound diary had belong to one Son ChiChi, his mother.
He read a few more lines, and his guess was confirmed, as the first entry was all about her "precious baby, Goten" and how "Gohan was such a wonderful son." Curious as a kitten, Goten replaced the photos back in the box and left the attic to read in the relative comforts of his own bedroom.
As he flung himself onto his back on his bed, he felt a twinge of guilt at reading back through his mother's private thoughts and things. But intent curiousity overrode the tiny spasm of guilt, and he opened the book and started reading intently. After all, this had happened, what…fifteen years ago? ChiChi had probably forgotten about it by now, so it was probably safe.
At first, the entries were fairly normal and low key. She spoke of her beloved children, and how they were growing up, and how much she missed her deceased husband. Goten actually laughed a couple of stories she had documented about the silly things the two Son boys had done in their younger years.
The first inkling that something was wrong came in a short entry.
I have this feeling that something's wrong with Gohan. I don't know exactly what that something is, but it's been bothering me for a while now. I mean, he's acting perfectly normal, helpinig out with Goten and doing things around the house. He spars with Piccolo and the guys every once in a while, and goes to visit Master Roshi on that island, to 'pay his respects to the old guy,' as he puts it. But I don't know. It feels like he's hiding something. Maybe I'm just an overprotective mother. I'm probably just imagining things that aren't there.
Goten raised an eyebrow, but shrugged it off. After all, Son ChiChi was the personification of the overprotective mother. She had loosened up a little, but it was still a simple rule in the Son household that the mom was the boss. The Son matriarch ruled her family with an iron fist, and truthfully, they would all probably have been lost without her.
He went on. The next few entries were once again fairly routine. But then he turned a page and beneath the 'Dear Diary' heading, he came face to face with three words.
I was right.
Goten blinked. Right about what? He read on in confusion.
I was right,she repeated. Gohan was hiding something from me. I found out by accident, of course. Not that he would ever tell me something like this. But I went into his room while he was outside running Goten around the yard. I only went in to pick up some clothes he'd left scattered around his room. I can't count how many times I've told him not to leave his dirty laundry on the floor. But instead of just clothes, I found some razors. They were just sitting on the bed, as obvious as you please. One of them had a stained edge. If I didn't know better, I would have sworn it was blood.
Now, I didn't know what to think. I assumed that they were there for a reason, of course. I mean, this is Gohan we're talking about! So after he finished telling Goten a bedtime story, I asked him about it.
I knew right away that I'd found out something he didn't want me to know. I knew it when his expression went blank, and he swore at me. He swore at me! Gohan never talks like that. Then he stormed out of the house in a rage. And…he took the blades with him. I don't know where he went. But he made so much noise on his way out that he woke Goten up. I sent him back to bed.
I just got off the phone with Bulma. She and Vegeta are going to come over right away. Oh gods, I hope Vegeta can help. Between him and Piccolo, they should be able to find my son. If they can't track Gohan down…I don't think anyone can.
The book fell out of Goten's hands and landed soundlessly on the comforter on his bed. But Goten's eyes stayed staring forward, wide in horror. He couldn't believe what he had just read. This was impossible! But why would his mother lie in her diary?
Swallowing hard, Goten picked the book back up and began reading, not at all sure if he was going to like what he was about to read. He had a feeling he wouldn't. And he was right.
They brought him back. How they found him, I don't know. But Vegeta and Piccolo brought my baby back today. But…oh gods, I can't believe the state he was in.
According to Piccolo, they searched all night, and finally caught up to him by morning, when the rain started. Well, when Gohan realized they'd found him, he panicked, and…dear gods. How desperate was he to get away from us? But he said a bunch of things to Piccolo and Vegeta, and…he slit his wrist. Right in front of them. When they brought him home…there was blood everywhere. He was barely alive.
Goten's blood ran cold in his veins.
Thank the gods for Dende's healing gift. How they saved him, I'll never know. But Dende stopped the bleeding and healed him up. There's a scar on his arm, though, that not even Dende's healing could get rid of. But then he wouldn't wake up. Dende said that something about darkness, and calling him back. I didn't really understand it. But he said that they needed someone with a strong emotional tie to him to call him back to himself. There was only person who stood even a chance of succeeding.
The teenage demi Saiyan dropped the book again in shock. Him? Now ravenous with a mixture of curiousity and fear, fear over things that had happened fourteen or fifteen years ago, he picked the leather bound journal back up and dove back into his reading.
I don't understand how Goten got his brother to wake up. I probably never will. But sure enough, Gohan woke up and jumped across the room in a panic. He was scared to death.
Dende left, so it's just Bulma, Vegeta, Trunks, and Piccolo still at the house. And Goten and I, of course. We're letting Gohan get a little rest. He's so exhausted. But soon…soon we'll get answers.
Goten flipped the book shut, keeping one index finger between the pages to mark his place. His head was spinning, and the room was literally reeling around him from shock.
There had to be some mistake. Gohan? Son Gohan? His beloved older brother? Tried to kill himself? No way. This had to be some really big mistake, or a really big joke or something. But the question still stood: why would his mother write something like this in her diary if it wasn't true? Chances were that she wouldn't.
Picking up the diary, Goten stood up and walked downstairs. There was no danger of him being discovered. His parents weren't due back until evening, and it was only one o'clock in the afternoon, so he had plenty of time. He curled up in a chair in the living room and opened the book up in his lap to resume his reading. He didn't want to know, but at the same time, he had to.
Things keep getting stranger and stranger. We had a storm tonight. A bad one, the kind Goten and Trunks are still afraid of. And who does Goten run to when he gets scared? Gohan, of course. Normally, that's fine, but we were trying to get Gohan to tell us exactly what he's been doing and why, and the disruptions were terrible. We tried to send the kids to bed, but Goten refused unless he got his story. That boy is so devoted to his brother, it's amazing. But we let Gohan go up and put the kids to bed, figuring we'd get the answers when he came back down.
Well, we're sitting around, waiting for Gohan to come back, when there's this burst of light in the middle of the room. The couch Bulma and I were sitting on actually flipped, so we ended up on the floor. Naturally, both of us screamed. I think Gohan heard, because he was in the room in a heartbeat. But he wasn't needed. It was…Goku. Goku was back.
He has twenty four hours to spend on Earth with us. One day. He didn't say why he picked now to come back for this visit. Diary, I don't know for sure, but…I think he knows. I think he knows what's happening to Gohan, and I think he came back to try and help iron everything out, if it can be. And I say praise the gods. Gohan's being so…unGohan-like lately, it'll take all the help we can get to get this whole terrible mess straightened out.
Well, I have to go alert everyone. No matter what the reason for Goku's return, all of his old friends don't deserve to be left out in the cold. They'll want to see him, too. And who knows? Maybe they can help us help Gohan. At this point, I'll try anything.
Goten stopped reading and closed his eyes against words that seemed to burn right through his eyelids. He could still see the words.
He had been mentioned several times throughout this whole ordeal. Why hadn't anyone ever told him about this? This was his brother they were talking about! He had a right to know!
His heart was aching as he picked up the book and continued reading out of an uncontrollable need to know something he didn't want to know.
The whole group's together again. This is probably the first time we've all been together since the Cell Games. Everyone's so thrilled to see Goku again. But at the same time, he told us exactly why he'd come back. It was just as I'd thought: he was here about Gohan. We filled everyone else in, and they were stunned. None of them had noticed either. But they promised to help in any way they could. And may the gods bless them, all of them.
Goten met his father today. Two years old, and he's meeting his dad for the very first time. It was adorable. Well, actually, at first Goten was scared to death. He took one look at Goku and ran out of the room screaming. Gohan brought him back down. I think he realized that everyone was giving him strange looks, and he used Goten meeting Goku as a distraction to slip away. He went outside, and a few minutes later, Goku stood up and said he was going to go talk to Gohan. At his request, the rest of us stayed put. We just stayed in the kitchen, hoping that this father to son chat would go well, and maybe clear a few things up. I just want my baby to be okay again.
Then we heard a loud sound. I don't even know what it was, but it was following by a bang, and then yelling. But by the time we heard the yelling, all of us were already outside. We got there just in time to see Gohan punch his father in the face. He was so angry. He went Super Saiyan, and I don't think he even realized that he did. Then he started yelling. Dear gods, I've never heard my son talk like that. He was so angry. And he kept saying he wished he was dead. I think I was crying, but I don't really remember. I just remember being terrified. Terrified of my own son!
Things went from bad to worse when Krillen and Yamcha told Gohan that everyone knew. He was startled at first, but then he only got more angry. And he formed a ki blast. He was honestly ready to kill himself with it! Oh, Diary, I've never been so afraid in my life.
And then, Goten ran forward. He latched onto his brother's leg, since that was all the higher he could reach. And Gohan started yelling at Goten to let go. Goten said no. And nobody could believe what happened next. Gohan, who has never even raised his voice to his brother, raised his hand. He was actually ready to hit his brother! I've never felt so helpless. I tried to run to my sons, my babies, but Yamcha held me back. He said there was nothing I could do, and that I might get hurt. But I didn't care. I just wanted to hug my sons and tell them it would be all right. I wanted so desperately for it all to be a nightmare that I would wake up from, but it wasn't.
I don't know what made Gohan stop. There's so much that's happened lately that I don't understand. I don't understand why Gohan was doing that to himself. I don't understand why he would try to kill himself. This was just one more thing that I don't get. He stopped. He stopped, with his hand raised and ready to strike Goten, who was still holding onto his leg, and that goddamn ki blast still in his hand, just waiting to be fired.
First, Gohan pried Goten off his leg. Then he got ready to fire that death shot. But Goku stepped in. Dear Goku. He just started talking to his son, trying to get through to him. And somehow, he did. Gohan let the blast fade, and he started to cry. But he wouldn't look at anyone. He completely lost control of himself when Goten ran back up to him and grabbed his hand and asked if he was better. He tried to leave again, but Goku wouldn't let him.
Right now, Gohan's out in the living room, staring out the window. He's just watching the rain fall. The storm had picked up again, I guess. But he won't talk to anybody but Goten. I don't think Goten understands anything that's happening, but he's scared. He doesn't know what's happening. All he knows is that it concerns his beloved 'big brother.' And he's the only one Gohan responds to anymore. Maybe Goten can help us bring Gohan back around.
I don't know what to do. My son is in trouble, and I can't do anything to help him. He's the only one who can really, truly pull himself out of this. I feel like a failure as a mother, but I can't tell anyone that. Everyone's too busy worrying about Gohan and his very real situation. His problem is a lot bigger and much more threatening than my self doubts. That's why I snuck away to write this entry to you, Diary. I need to confide in someone, just to get this off my chest. I feel like this whole thing is my fault. I should have seen what was happening, but I didn't. But at least I'm not keeping it all locked up, even if my sounding board and crying shoulder is a book of blank pages and a pen.
Thus ended another entry. Goten sighed and flipped a page. He had a picture in his mind of his mother sitting at her desk, huddled over the book, silently sobbing out her own doubts and heartache onto the blank pages through the blue ink of her ballpoint pen.
Goten didn't know why, but he had a feeling that the worst was yet to come. As he already knew, he'd been two when this happened. And he didn't remember a thing of it. He was still a little angry as to why he hadn't been told of this, but he pushed it aside and resumed his reading.
The next entry made the blood freeze again in his veins. After the first few sentences, the book tumbled from nerveless fingers and clattered to the ground. His mind just refused to comprehend the words on the page. After a long moment of not moving, he picked the diary up with shaking hands and opened it back up again. He reread the first few lines again with disbelieving eyes, yet they stayed the same.
I think we reached a turning point, but what it took to get there…it happened a few hours ago. Gohan and Goten are in bed now, Goku's gone back to Otherworld, and everyone else went home.
Gohan snuck away, back up to his room. He'd been in the living room alone, but he managed to get by us. He went to his room, and he started cutting again. He sliced up his arm.
Goten saw. My two year old saw his older brother cutting himself. I don't think Gohan had planned on that at all. Goten had noticed Gohan leaving, and he followed his brother, probably trying to find out why everyone was so upset. And he saw it. We only found this out when Goten came running downstairs screaming something like, "Brother doing bad!" at the top of his lungs.
We managed to figure out what had happened, and a lot of the guys were furious that Gohan would let Goten see that. I didn't want to believe that Gohan would knowingly let Goten see that kind of thing, but at the time I didn't know what else to think. We all stampeded out of the kitchen in time to see Gohan dive into the bathroom and slam the door behind him. By the time we got up there, he'd locked himself in, and he wouldn't open the door.
I don't know why he went in there, truthfully. He had to have known that almost any one of us could have knocked that door down, as easy as breathing. Maybe he just didn't have time to get away to anywhere else. But he'd only cornered himself. My heart wept, and still weeps, for my poor, misguided child. My baby. Why won't you just talk to us? We just want to help you.
But it ended up that Goku did rip the door out of the wall. Normally, I would have thwapped him over the head with a frying pan for that, but I didn't even really realize that he had just made a huge hole in the wall. All I could see was Gohan.
He was curled up in a little ball in the middle of the bathroom floor, shaking all over. His arm was still bleeding, and he wouldn't look at anyone. Then Goku asked him why he had let Goten see that.
I knew that Goku didn't believe Gohan would actually have let that happen on purpose. There's just no way. It was just a cruel ruse to get Gohan to talk. And it worked. Just not exactly how we wanted.
Gohan got angry again. He went Super Saiyan, and punched his father for a second time, right in the face. Goku actually went flying backwards into the hallway. Gohan was yelling again. I almost thought he had lost his mind.
And then he fired a beam through himself. He was ready to die.
I thought I was going to lose my son. I really did. I've never felt so much like a failure. My baby was dying on the floor in front of me, and in some subliminal way, it was my fault he was there because I had failed as a mom. I know that's not true, but that's how I felt. I hadn't thought my heart could break any more, but the tiny pieces it was already in shattered into even smaller shards.
But he wasn't dead. He was still conscious. Just barely, but I'm grateful for small favors.
Krillen produced a senzu and tossed it to Goku. I privately wondered if a senzu would be able to fix that kind of damage, but I didn't say anything. I couldn't say anything. All I could do was cry.
Gohan started talking to us. He said a lot of things, about how we'd be better off without him and things like that. And I finally lost it. I grabbed him and I shook him and I screamed at him. He just smiled and told me it was all for the best. Then Goten ran forward and threw himself on top of his dying brother. I couldn't help but notice that my younger son was immediately covered in Gohan's blood.
Then Goten started to cry. And by the gods, my two year old made the single most eloquent speech I've ever heard in my life. From anybody, ever. He basically said that if Gohan wanted to die because it would make Gohan happy, then that was okay with him because if Gohan was happy, then Goten would be happy. I know it nearly killed Goten to say that. We all knew it. Gohan knew it. Goten adores his big brother. It would tear Goten apart if Gohan left. But that's how much he loves his brother. If Gohan wants to "go away" to be happy, then Goten wants him to go to, just so he'll be happy.
I truly believe that Goten's speech, spoken in a two year old's dialect, was what made Gohan change his mind. I really believe that. Gohan waivered for a minute more, than took the senzu. And sure enough, that little bean did it's trick. Gohan was healed. I cried even more, from relief. Goten cried too, right into Gohan's shoulder. It was hours before we could get him to let go of Gohan again.
We finally got our answers. Gohan stopped running and stopped holding out. I could write down everything that was said and every emotion that ran through me during that half hour discussion, but it would take far more pages than this little diary holds. But there were a lot of apologies passed around, and things just felt better.
Then Goku left. His time was up, and Baba came to fetch him and take him back to Otherworld.
There was a big goodbye, but Gohan didn't seem to react at all to losing his father again. I don't understand, and somehow, I don't think I need to. This whole problem actually stemmed from some issues that had been left unresolved between them when Goku died at Cell's hands, and since it was between Gohan and Goku, they were the only ones who could resolve it. I would like to believe that they actually solved this problem, and that everything will be perfectly normal again, but somehow I know that it's just not true. It's going to take a long time before everything is back to normal. But I do know this—Goku and Gohan did manage to work out something. I don't know to what depths, but I truly believe that things will improve, at least a little.
There's something else I believe, Diary. I honestly believe that Goten saved his brother's life. He's so young, I don't think he'll remember this when he's older. I imagine we'll tell him someday, but in the meantime, he doesn't need to know exactly what happened over these past few days. Has it only been three days since this whole thing started? I can't believe it. But Goten is really the hero of this story. He saved his brother, and he won't even remember it.
It's been such a long, terrible day, Diary. I think I could sleep for a week and still be exhausted. But I can't do that either way. My sons have Saiyan appetites, and they'll be wanting breakfast in the morning. Oh joy. So I had better get some rest, and thank the gods that this day is over, and everyone is still in one piece. Goodnight, Diary. I'm going to bed.
Goten slammed the book shut in his lap. He'd only gotten about halfway through the diary, and he was ready to stop. He never should have read the thing in the first place. But if he hadn't, then he might never have known what had happened during those—what, three days?—so long ago. It had been, what, fifteen years since his mother had written these words across pages that were now yellowing with age. Such a long time since the emotions she had so carefully described had been running through her.
Suddenly, an unexpected emotion rose in the back of his throat and consumed him. Anger.
Anger at never being told. Anger at Gohan for doing that to himself and everyone else. And anger at Gohan again for nearly dying.
He surged out of his chair and across the room practically in one movement. He flung open the front door and walked outside into the sunshine. The brown leather bound book was still clutched tightly in his hand. He blinked several times to let his eyes adjust to the brightness outdoors. As soon as his vision was clear, he stormed down the walkway that connected his house to the one his brother lived in with his wife and daughter. He nearly knocked the gate off of its hinges in the course of his march.
Without bothering with manners or courtesy, Goten pounded hard on the front door.
"Just a minute!" a familiar voice said from inside
Fuming, Goten waited.
Finally, the door opened, and Gohan's face peered out. A huge grin broke onto his face when he saw who the visitor was. "Hey, squirt," he said cheerfully, using his old nickname for his little brother. He pulled the door the rest of the way open to let the guest in. "Come on in."
Goten stepped in and pushed the door closed behind him. "Are Pan and Videl here?" he asked, setting the diary on a table by the door.
"Videl is, but Pan's over at Capsule Corporation," the older brother replied. "Bulma's taking her to the park with Bra for a while. Why?"
"I'll tell you why," Goten said, suddenly even more angry. How could his brother just stand there and smile when there was this huge, awful secret between them? They usually told each other everything! How dare Gohan keep something like this a secret!
In two large steps, Goten was standing less than six inches away from his brother. Remembering that his brother was right handed, he grabbed Gohan's left arm. Gohan was wearing his work clothes—a button up shirt, tie, and the like. Without hesitating, Goten grabbed the white fabric of Gohan's shirtsleeve and pulled as hard as he could, sending the two buttons clinking to the floor.
"Goten, what are you—" Gohan yelped, trying to pull his hand away, but Goten held tight. He was vaguely aware of Videl, who had come into the room and was watching the scene in confusion, but he paid her no attention at the moment. He yanked the sleeve up further on his brother's arm and flipped the arm over, so he was holding onto the back of Gohan's hand, and his underarm was up.
Gohan suddenly seemed to realize exactly what his brother was doing, and froze.
Goten stared down at Gohan's arm. Sure enough, a thin white line ran from Gohan's wrist halfway to his elbow. If Goten hadn't been looking for it, he might not even have noticed it. But there it was, glaring up at him, gloating over his shock.
"What is this, exactly?" he snarled, wrenching his hand up to shove the scar in his brother's face. Gohan winced and looked away. Videl was across the room and at their side in an instant, but Goten still ignored her. "What is this, Gohan?"
Goten let go then, and Gohan wrenched his arm back and started rubbing at his left wrist with his right hand. He stumbled backwards a few steps, then took his glasses off and dropped them onto a table before collapsing into a chair and putting his face in his hands. Videl still looked stunned, but she ran to her husband's side, shooting questioning glances at Goten.
Goten wasn't finished, though. "Where you ever going to tell me about this, Gohan?" he spat furiously, as though the words had tasted bitter in his mouth.
"I don't know," Gohan replied in a barely audible whisper.
"Oh, well, that's just great!" Goten roared. "Let's leave poor ol' Goten out in the cold. Not like it concerns him or anything…oh wait…it does concern me!"
Gohan still didn't look up. He just said, softly, "How did you find out?"
"This," Goten grabbed the journal off of the table he'd dropped it on and threw it on the coffee table in front of his brother, though Gohan didn't lift his head to look at it. "Mom's diary. I found it in the attic. The whole story's in there, Gohan. Maybe you should read it, big brother. Maybe you'd like to know what she went through."
"Goten, that's enough!" Videl snapped suddenly, coming to her husband's defense.
As he looked at her, it hit him. "You knew too?" he asked incredulously.
"I saw the scar by accident, and I made him tell me," Videl replied, lifting her chin defiantly. "He didn't want me to know any more than he wants you to know. So calm down."
"Calm down? I didn't think we kept secrets, Gohan. Not you and me," Goten said sourly. "I thought we told each other everything."
It was only then that Goten noticed something. Gohan hadn't looked up. Not once. His face was still in his hands, and, though he didn't make a sound, his shoulders were shaking. As though he was…crying? Goten had seen his brother cry maybe once or twice. Growing up, he had always believed that his brother was the strongest guy alive, harder than steel, too tough to cry. And now, here he was, Son Gohan, the greatest guy on the planet, reduced to tears by a few too-harsh words from his little brother.
Goten's anger was slowly ebbing away, to be replaced by worry, fear, and a whole truckload of other emotions he couldn't even identify. And suddenly, he felt terrible for yelling at Gohan; suddenly, he felt very, very tired.
The teenager staggered over to the couch and sank down on the other side of Gohan, opposite Videl. She looked at him entreatingly, silently pleading him to do or say something to make things right between them. Goten was her "little brother," but Gohan was her husband and best friend, and she hated seeing them at odds with each other.
"Gohan?" Goten said softly, but he got no reply. "Come on, Gohan. Talk to me, please."
"Gohan, please," Videl urged. "He knows. You two need to talk this out."
Goten was about ready to just give up at this point. He had actually stood up when he heard Gohan murmur, "You saved my life, you know that, squirt? You saved me."
He sat back down with a thump and put an arm around his brother's shoulders. "That's what Mom wrote too, but I didn't know if I should believe it or not."
"Well, it's the truth," Gohan finally lifted his head. He was indeed crying, or rather, he had been. His eyes were red, but there was nothing coming out of them.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Goten practically begged. He had to know.
"What was I supposed to say?" Gohan retorted, a little angrily. "'Guess what happened a while ago, Goten? When I was a little bit younger than you, I was cutting myself up daily to try and make myself feel better, and then I tried to kill myself a couple times?' Yeah, right. Goten, there just wasn't an easy way, so I guess…I just thought that maybe what you didn't know wouldn't hurt you."
"Until I found out," Goten said bitterly, angrily. Then he looked at Videl.
She answered before he asked. "I found out before we were married. I saw the scar, but I still had to beat the rest of the story out of him."
Goten nodded. "I want to know what happened. There was a lot Mom said she didn't understand. Maybe you can fill in the blanks for me?" he asked. When his brother didn't reply, he resorted to pleading. "Gohan, I need to know. This concerns me too."
Gohan's eyes were fixed on the floor. "Goten, I think we need to talk."
"Goten, we're home!" ChiChi called, stepping through the front door into her house. Goku followed her in, closing the door behind him. "Goten, sweetie!"
"I don't think he's here," Goku supplied.
ChiChi frowned. "Well, if he was going to go somewhere, he should have at least left a note or something—" She stopped as she walked into the kitchen.
On the table was a plain book bound in brown leather. On top of it was a small piece of paper.
"My diary," ChiChi said in surprise; it had taken her a few seconds to recognize the book. "How did this get down here? I thought I packed all these away." She picked it up, then noticed that there was a bookmark stuck between the pages. "What in the world…" her voice trailed off as she opened the book to the marked page. After reading for about ten seconds, she let out a little cry and dropped the diary back onto the table, where it lay like a silent accusation.
"What?" Goku asked, poking his head into the room.
ChiChi didn't answer; she had picked up the piece of paper on top of the book, and was reading it. Her eyes widened even more. "Goku, you might want to hear this!"
Hey, Mom,the note read. I found this in the attic. I figured you wouldn't mind if I took a peek, since it's been so long. Well, I only got about halfway through. I know what happened. The page is marked if you don't know what I'm talking about. But don't worry about it. And don't expect me home tonight. I'm staying over at Gohan's for the night. Don't try to come over. My brother and I have some things to talk about. See you in the morning. Love, Goten.
AN: Wow…this was originally intended to be a fairly short story in which Goten finds out about what happened to his brother. The idea of ChiChi's diary came up when I needed a way for Goten to discover that something had happened, and from there, the story just took on a life of its own. I honestly didn't think when I was writing this. It just wrote itself, and ended up being a delve into ChiChi's mind as well as Gohan and Goten's relationship. And like I said, this is the absolute last thing I'm going to do with APPIB. This idea's just been bugging me for so long that I had to write it. Thanks for reading.