|Nobody Cries In Heaven
Author: Universe PM
After Piccolo passed on, but before Gohan made the phone call...you don't know how lost he really was until you've read this. (Gohan's POV)Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Angst - Piccolo & Gohan - Words: 3,180 - Reviews: 14 - Favs: 8 - Published: 11-13-03 - id: 1598926
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Nobody Cries In Heaven
A moment ago he was still alive. Still breathing. Still talking to me. A moment ago...less than that even...his breath stopped. I felt his chest cease all movement. I heard him breathe out. I felt his life end.
But he still looks the same, feels the same and smells the same. Yet everything is supposed to be different now because he's "dead".
No...he's just sleeping, really, he's just sleeping deeply.
Somewhere through this I hear myself babbling. Begging him to take another breath. To blink his eyes. Anything...my mind refuses to believe he's gone. How can he be gone when he's right here in my arms? So precious and fragile. I pull him closer and hug him tightly, letting his head fall on my shoulder. It's limp and heavy...so heavy...maybe if I hold him enough, he'll get annoyed and push me off the bed.
How foolish I am.
I'm holding an empty shell. The being that occupied it doesn't live there anymore. Yet I hold him tighter. Praying that somehow my embrace will call his spirit back. I'm not ready to let him go yet. Not now, not ever. I feel like death robbed me of his spirit, his vitality and him...
My arms are hurting him. I loosen my grip a little and turn my head to see his face. Lifeless, half closed eyes stare back at me. They've faded from bottomless black to...I don't know...dull soot. They lack the dangerous luster that, with one quick glare, used to always take my breath away. The stoppage of blood flow turns the vessels under his skin a dull purple-gray. Like fractures in priceless porcelain. So eerie.
I know his face as well as my own...perhaps even better. Every line, curve and hollow. He used them all to display subtle expressions. Glimpses from inside his mind. The look on his face now isn't him...it's foreign. I can still clearly see his awed look when he stared out the window. His dying mind made him hallucinate a glorious sunrise - perhaps it comforted him, sunrise was always his favorite time of day. Once he came to live with me I'd keep my curtains open so he could always watch it from my room.
He was my life. Now he's gone. Where do I go from here?
I cry more tears onto his pale skin. Like dew, they speckle his face. His cheeks and his lips. Maybe my pain will rouse him.
Piccolo doesn't move.
...he's gone. He's gone. He's gone...I'm so lost.
I keep holding him close to my heart. Rocking back and forth, rubbing my hand from the top of his head down to his shoulder blades and back up again. Memorizing the texture of his leathery skin and how his cheek feels against mine. Until now I never realized how delicate he'd become. He used to be so strong...and then he was so weak.
But the fire in him never weakened. Batter it with rain, wind and dirt and it would only burn hotter. Only death's vacuum had the power to extinguish him.
His body is getting colder without that inner flame. I wrap a blanket around us both. Maybe keeping him warm will bring him comfort.
Mother wakes up. She takes Piccolo's hand, then puts it down again. "He's gone, Gohan."
I shoot her an angry look. She just destroyed the illusion I'd worked myself into. Pretending Piccolo was only sleeping. My fingers tighten against his loose gi top. His shirt has fallen part way off again. The same part I fixed earlier. I fix it again, but more gently than last time.
I want to die too...I can't stand this. There's no life without Piccolo there to guide me. He was the one person who kept me sane through losing my father. He was more of a dad to me than my own father...maybe that's why this hurts more than any loss I ever suffered in my life. I loved him as much as it was possible to love a friend. I never told him enough, but I know he knew.
He always read me like a book. He was the one that held me when I cried for my dad. Outwardly I looked happy, but deep inside I missed him. Once the rush of winning the fight with Cell went away...I felt my father's absence.
Piccolo, I wish you could comfort me like you did when I was little.
How I long to hear his voice again...even if it's just a low rumble that can mean anything from "shut up" to "I'm listening". Or to see his ever changing eyes swing my way and fix me in their stony gaze.
He died just as quietly as he lived. It happened in my arms. I...I feel honored that he shared his last moments on earth with me.
I still can't believe he's gone. My brain won't accept it.
Carefully, I let Piccolo's body slide away from my arms. He falls too fast, so limp. More flaccid than when he was merely unconscious. I catch his upper torso and, with the same care I use when putting Doramu down for a nap, guide him to recline once more. My gentle hands again helping him avoid harm. I fear that I'll damage Piccolo's soul if I damage his body. My throat clutches when I see his head roll sideways on the pillow.
His face is still frozen in that...expression...his mouth is open and his eyelids are lowered like he's looking down, but his eyeballs are pointed straight ahead. Dark irises only half visible. So unnatural. His mouth makes him look like he was gasping for breath when he wasn't even struggling. His fangs still glisten. Moisture still resides on his teeth, gums and tongue, but not for long.
Doramu stirs. I walk over and lift him from his crib. Like me, he is fatherless.
God, his little face is identical to Piccolo's. He'll be a spitting image when he grows up. At least...in appearance...Piccolo will return to me.
I see mom holding Piccolo much like I did earlier. Only she strokes his face and hands. She does that for me whenever I'm sick and suffering. It always calmed me. Maybe it comforts Piccolo as well.
She'd closed his eyes and mouth. He looks peaceful now...he's only sleeping. That's all...he's resting. Maybe if I believe it hard enough it'll come true.
The baby stares at his father. A smile curls his tiny mouth. He says his first word - and I break down. Piccolo would've loved to hear that.
"Gohan," Mother calls to me. I look over. Her face is streaked with tears. She has accepted what I can't. "Gohan...we need to clean him before his body stiffens. I can sponge him down or we can take him outside to the basin."
No thought necessary there. I kiss Doramu's forehead and sit him down in the crib again. He watches me curiously.
"The sponge bath, mom, it's more dignified."
She nods and heads out to get the supplies we need to bathe Piccolo's body. While she leaves, I undress him.
I once heard that when people die, they lose control of their bodily functions. Some part of me hoped Piccolo would avoid that...but he didn't. The diaper is full of foul smelling diarrhea and blood....so much blood. It makes the diaper cling to his penis and hips. More tears sting my eyes. I hope it happened after he passed away...at least then he wouldn't know he soiled himself.
Discarding the diaper quickly, I wet a rag and wipe Piccolo's nether regions off, then turn his hips sideways and clean his bottom as best as I can. It's like changing a giant version of Doramu. The bath will do better, I know. But I don't want him to lay there in his own mess. The smell is still there, horrible, it masks his desert scent. It's even worse that the time he had a movement while we were changing him a few days ago...it's disgusting. How can it stink so bad when he doesn't even eat?
Cleaning him off seems to take forever, but I've done the best I can. Time to stand back a moment.
I've seen him naked a million times. We used to bathe together under his waterfall. I'd watch him when he wasn't looking. Hoping that someday I'd have the same physique as he did.
He looks so different now...his bare body fragile and exposed on the white sheets. I can see his ribs through his sides. His collarbones stand out in sharp relief, as do the bones of his hips, wrists and ankles. His neck and legs look longer than I remember. He's so thin...I never really paid attention until now. The sickness drained his life away a little more every day. It finished its job.
Damn cancer, it steals everything.
Mother returns with towels and a basin full of warm, soapy water. I lift Piccolo out of the way while she drapes the entire bed with towels. Her eyes tell me when it's time to lower him again.
The tears have finally stopped falling down my face. I can't get rid of the lump in my throat. It chokes my voice. "Be gentle with him, mom...don't hurt him."
Doramu babbles. I glance over. He's watching us through the bars of his crib. Smiling, not understanding this is a sad day. How I wish I was a baby again. I don't want to deal with this aching wound in my soul.
Mom dips the sponge in the soapy water. She looks at me with red-ringed eyes. "I'll do the washing. You turn him when I tell you to."
I nod my head. My voice won't work. I'm so surprised to see my mom...a woman who loses control at the slightest provocation...act so reserved. When dad died she was hysterical. With Piccolo, she's calm. Accepting.
She also had the time to say goodbye. She was ready for it.
Water sloshes gently in the plastic basin. I watch a few droplets land on Piccolo's face. Soap bubbles leave glistening patterns on his pale skin. Her hands pass it gently over his shriveled antennae...they've shrunk so far into his head that only the tips protrude. But one gentle tug draws them back out to be gently cleaned. They droop lifelessly against his scalp. She turns his head and sponges behind his ears.
I just stand back and watch her work. She bends his knees to spread his legs and sponges between them without hesitation. He used to watch her curiously when she'd wash him down there, a brow raised. I half expect his head to lift and his face to do just that.
Different parts of him glisten as he's washed and dried. He never moves.
"Okay, let's turn him on his side."
We turn Piccolo together. Mom pulls his legs over while I hold his shoulder. He used to be able to help us...first he'd just roll over onto his stomach. Then, as he weakened, he'd grab the bars or my arm to pull himself over onto his side. Towards the end making him move his hips and legs caused him such agony. He never made a sound to express his discomfort, but his pained face always betrayed him. Once, when I moved him, he hurt so badly he dug his nails into my skin. We weathered the agony together.
The scars are still there on my forearm.
At first he hated the idea of being sponged down like a baby. Once we got started...he relaxed into it. When I watch mom rub the sponge across his back and neck, I remember how he used to rumble in quiet pleasure. Arching his neck and squirming contentedly.
Mom would give him a long backrub after every bath...it always put him right to sleep and I had to wake him up to get him dressed again. She even did it after he was unconscious.
And he'd still rumble deep in his throat.
...I miss those little noises he used to make. The sound of him breathing. Occasional sighs. Yawns. Moans. Sometimes angry muttering. "Mmmraaah....Gohan, open this damn bottle, would you?" or "Hey, kid, you awake? I can't sleep. Talk to me."
His voice and those other Piccolo-ish vocalizations are forever locked in my mind. I never knew about those little things until he started sleeping next to me, his bed only a foot from mine. By his breathing I knew whether he was asleep or just resting.
He'd talk to me when he thought I was sleeping. Telling me secrets, what scared him, what pleased him...things he'd never say if he knew I was awake. Sometimes I felt him sit down next to my bed and rest a hand on my chest. As if my presence, my heartbeat, comforted him.
Then there was just breathing. When he became comatose, he'd snore. Sometimes I had to turn him on his side because I feared he'd choke on his own tongue. But most of the time he just breathed softly. More so each day.
And now it's silent.
I look down at Piccolo's bare back. His spine and shoulder blades are easily visible under the green skin. I look away. Tears form again. I help mom turn him onto his other side. She washes his upturned shoulder. Then she draws his knee to his chest and gives his bottom a real good cleaning. She scrubs until the sponge is filthy and the odor is gone.
He smells like Piccolo again...desert dust and rain.
The bath is finished. Mom dries Piccolo's skin. We take all the towels off the bed. Then I watch mom curl up behind Piccolo and start rubbing his back. Tears pour down her face - and mine.
I find myself unconsciously watching Piccolo's thin hands. They used to bunch up the sheets in delight. Now they're inert. His left arm is draped down and curled inward, the hand turned palm up like he's holding an invisible baby. I can't see his other arm from here.
Mom stops rubbing Piccolo's back. She wraps an arm around his shoulders from behind. Weeping silently against his neck. It's sunk in to her consciousness.
But not mine.
I watch mom hold my green friend's body. She rolls him softly onto his back and hugs him tightly. Gently kissing his lips and his cheek. Then she looks up at me with warm eyes. She gestures down at his naked body. He looks like Doramu did before he took his first breath. So vulnerable.
"He...he's so beautiful."
He is beautiful. Always was, always will be.
Together, we get him dressed in his gi. Getting his shirt, pants, shoes and belt on are easy...though I miss having him help me. The turban is simple. It's his majestic cape that takes the most work. Mom holds him in a sitting position - supporting his head - while I slip the heavy mantle into place. Then it's just a matter of sliding the cape down to his ankles. Making sure it's smooth so it doesn't wrinkle.
Mom bends down to study him one more time. He doesn't fill out his clothes like he used to, but he looks more like himself in them. Like a regal king in his finest robes. She smiles sadly. Gathering the towels, she walks out quietly. I hear her come in once more, the rattle of Doramu's diaper, and then she's gone again. Doramu's soft "da-da's" disappear down the hall.
I'm alone with Piccolo again. The darkness of night is turning to a lifeless blue-gray.
...I just can't believe he's dead. Piccolo and dead don't belong in the same sentence. Yet here I am, staring down at his lifeless frame. I watched him die.
Some foolish part of me still believes he'll wake up in a few hours. I sit on the edge of the bed and lay my head down on his chest.
No heartbeat. No breath rushes in and out. His chest doesn't rise.
Tears enslave me again. I give in to them, clutching at Piccolo's cape as I did while still a child. My pain soaks into the front of his shirt. A shirt that absorbed many of my tears as I grew up.
My only source of comfort is gone. I'm a boat that lost its anchor in a choppy sea. I wonder if he knows how torn up I am inside. Probably not. Nobody cries in Heaven. Looks like I'm crying for the both of us. For what we lost...what could've been.
Somewhere during my tears I embrace Piccolo again. When I come out of the fog I realize I've pulled him close to my chest. Protecting him. From what?
I lay him down once more. Gently so he won't break. I fold his delicate hands on his chest and draw the sheets up to his waist. Until now I didn't realize how lovingly mom and I took just took care of his body. He would've wanted it this way.
The sun's first rays stab into the room. Draping the darkness in shrouds of gold and red. I turn Piccolo's face towards the light. Perhaps, wherever he is, he'll feel its warmth. I watch it outline his face, letting me see the true extent of his pallor. I feared he'd lose his green hue. It's still there. Faint, but still there, he isn't wholly white.
I'll cremate his body at noon. That way his face will be to the sun.
This is getting impossible...can't keep this quiet anymore. Somebody outside the house needs to know what happened. Another voice...anyone, I don't care who.
Sitting down, I pick up the phone and start dialing.