Chapter 1 - The Starting Line
Summary: The path to love is a twisted way, full of discoveries that occur in their own distinctive moments. Together, Gohan and Videl think it's worth following and taking on what lies ahead.
Disclaimer: I do not own Dragon Ball Z or claim any of it's characters. This is all thanks to the wonderful Akira Toriyama.
A super big thank you to Random Inspiration for being my Beta! I really feel your efforts brought this story up another notch.
'All's well that ends well…'
Gohan couldn't think of another proverb that could fit his situation any more perfectly. The universe was safe from another evil. His mother, brother and father – his father! – were together at home, all alive and happy. All their friends, who had to suffer temporary losses during their battles with Majin Buu, were also at their respective homes, all alive and together.
If anything, Majin Buu had been a blessing in disguise. Goten finally got to meet the father whom everyone had said he resembled. He hadn't seen his mother look so happy, so young, in years. As for him, Gohan and his father had several emotionally draining conversations that were long overdue. It was almost as much work as fighting the pink blob, but the long talks were just what demi-Saiyan had needed since he last saw his father teleport away seven years ago.
Yet… he was frustrated.
Gohan sat at his desk, drumming his fingers against the worn wood. It had been over a week since he had heard anything from Videl. Sure, he didn't make communication with him easy by not owning any type of personal phone or computer to communicate with. Also, he did lived in the middle of no-where, but that had never stopped her before. Even after their 10 days of training together, she would fly by every now-and-then to see how his progress was going. But now…
'Nothing,' he thought, his tapping on the desk starting to grow louder. 'I guess I got so used to her being around so much that it's weird not to hear from her. Then again… it has only been a week. I'm sure she's having a tough enough time having Buu move in with them, along with her father having to deal with the fact she was dead. And, I am sure the press is all over their house, wanting interviews with Mr. Satan. But, she dislikes that, so why not escape it and come visit?
He sighed. 'I don't see why this is bothering me so much. But this feels almost as irritating as sitting with Old Kai for more than 20 hours while he read comics—scratch that. Nothing will ever be on that level of exasperation.'
His inner rant was cut off by a light tapping at his door before it opened. His father and all the glory of his spiky hair popped out from behind.
"Hey buddy, what's up?"
"Oh, hey dad," the younger man replied. "Mom wanted me to review some homework before I start school up tomorrow."
Chichi, while very excited at having her husband and father to her children home again, still had her priorities. After allowing Gohan time to relax and be with his father, she felt he had missed more than enough school due to training and fighting. It wouldn't do well for a future scholar to have too many absences from school.
Goku chuckled, walking into the room and shutting the door behind him. "It looks to me like you're bored."
Gohan looked down only to realize he had been tapping his fingers so hard, they had completely worn away the table top of his desk. It looked as though he had taken an electric sander and stripped away at all the wood, leaving nothing but sawdust. His mother was not going to like this…
"Haha, I guess my study ethics have gotten a little rusty," Gohan joked. Goku, not saying anything, sat on Gohan's bed and stared at the desk. It still amazed him how much power his son had. "This isn't the first desk that has suffered a fate like this, though. There have been several desks that have lost their lives due to my daydreaming."
"What were you daydreamin' about?" Gohan felt his face flush from his father's innocent question. It hadn't been anything dirty, so he couldn't understand why such a question would bring that reaction. "I bet it was about your girlfriend." The younger man felt his face go full red.
"Videl's not my girlfriend, dad. She and I are just friends," he reasoned. Whether it was to his father or himself, he didn't know. Sure, he had called her his 'girlfriend' to his dad before, but that was to keep her away from the lecherous Old Kai… right?
"But you said—," Goku went to reply, but stopped when he saw the glare his son was giving him. "Okay, okay! She ain't your girlfriend, just your friend that happens to be a girl."
Content that he got that settled, Gohan decided to go easy on his dad and tell him his thoughts. "I was just thinking how I haven't seen her since leaving Kami's Lookout. I was wondering if I would see her at school tomorrow, or if she went straight back, or is staying home a while longer… I guess I will find out tomorrow."
"I'm glad you found a good friend, Gohan, especially a friend that is willin' to stand up for you." Gohan raised his eyebrow, not understanding what his father was getting at. "Well, I did have to hold her back when your power was gettin' drained at the Martial Arts Tournament. She was just as mad as you were back when she was getting' pummeled. Also, she was the only person who didn't think you were dead after Majin Buu was released."
Gohan blinked. He hadn't heard any of this. She didn't tell him any of these things… then again, they hadn't seen each other since leaving Kami's Lookout. And it wasn't like they had time to talk about it themselves while they were up there. After Goku and Vegeta made it back, most everyone wanted to go home. Mr. Satan had been the first to leave, dragging his daughter and two new tenants with him. Who could blame the guy? He had been exposed to things that no one in the world would believe, and then return to Earth only to be asked by a scowling 18 when she would get her money. Videl couldn't have talked with him, even if she wanted too.
'Why have I been waiting for her this whole time?' thought Gohan, finally coming to a conclusion. 'Clearly she agrees we are friends. Friends visit each other. I can visit her just as much as she can visit me.'
"Yeah, I am really lucky to have her as my friend," Gohan agreed.
After a moment of comfortable silence passed, Gohan looked to his destroyed desk and then to his father. The demi-saiyan knew if he was going to do this, he needed to do it now. His dad, the strongest fighter in the universe was afraid of three things in this world; needles, lack of food and his wife. Playing on two of them would help Gohan get out of studying."Oh no, mom is going to freak out when she sees what I did to the desk. Last time I destroyed my desk she took dessert away from me for a whole week."
"What?!" Goku gulped and looked at the desk. "Y-You can fix it, right?"
"Yeah, I've done it before. I just need to go get the same type of wood and I can create a new top. It'll look better than before, but it'll take a few hours. Do you think you can keep mom busy while I do this?"
The Saiyan's trademark smiled returned and gave a thumbs-up. "That'll be no problem, son. She's been wantin' me to go through Goten's baby-picture books, so this will be a good time for that."
"Thanks dad," smiled Gohan, while opening and climbing out the window. "I'll be back before dinner."
Gohan took off, looking back to see his father waving. After returning the wave, he increased his speed, not wanting to risk his mother seeing him. He felt guilty about playing on his dad's emotions like that, but he really couldn't take one of his mother's views of him doing this. She would either be singing of future-daughter-in-laws and grandchildren or scold him for not taking his education seriously. Neither of those were things he needed at the moment. He already had one issue on his mind he needed to take care of.
Focusing on that, Gohan continued on his several hundred mile journey.
After watching Gohan disappear into the sky-line, Goku snickered and walk out of his older son's room and back to the living room where he had left his wife. Goten was sitting on the floor, flipping through an old photo album. Chichi was sitting on the couch, looking up with a smug smile.
"So, is Gohan studying?"
"Nope," replied her husband, plopping onto the open space next to her. "He went to go see his girlfriend."
"Videl's going to be my sister!" Goten cheered.
"I knew it," she replied, but no malice traced her words. He nodded in confirmation, knowing his wife was up to something. Chichi had been the one to suggest he go upstairs and mention Videl. "It was obvious he was missing her from the moment I heard him beating that poor desk to death. Speaking of that, how did it come out?"
At this Goku felt himself break into a sweat. Keeping secrets was not one of his strong points. "Ah… N-Not good. He sure did a number on it."
"Oh well," she replied nonchalantly. "He needed a bigger one anyways, with college coming up and all," Goku relaxed and put his arm around his wife. She turned to face him. "But he still doesn't get dessert for a week."
Gohan had never been to Videl's house before, but he figured it would be the largest one he could find in the wealthy part of Satan City. It also wasn't hard to find, as the three largest power levels in the immediate area led him to that very mansion. He had to admit it was an impressive house. She was right when she said there had to be at least 50 rooms. The house was surrounded by a manicured lawn that sported several statues and busts of The World Champ, along with some gaudy water fountains. Beyond the lawn was a top-of-the-line security fence that was at least 15 feet tall, except for the entrance, which had a thick black bar gate and a couple security guards. What surprised him most, however, was the non-existence of any media personal. Videl had told him several times of the annoyance of never having a moment alone with the press always camped outside her home.
Taking it as good luck no one was around to ask him questions; his next obstacle was how to let her know he was here. After making sure no one would see him, he floated down next to the gate and began to go through his options. Should he talk to the security guards and let them know one of Videl's friends was here? Or should he jump the wall and just knock on her window? Would that seem creepy? Or, he could just sit here until she came out on her own so he could avoid the awkwardness of announcing himself. But then she'd think it was weird he was sitting outside waiting all day for her.
'I am no good at these kinds of situations,' he vented inwardly. 'I don't know how to talk with people, especially normal people, especially normal people that are your friends, especially normal people that are your friends that are girls, especially normal friends that are girls that are—'
"Gohan, what are you doing here?" a voice next to him asked.
Gohan about jumped out of his skin when he saw it was the very person he was look for right next to him. He had been so in his thoughts, he didn't even realize she had been standing right next to him. She had her arms crossed and her brows creased, but her word's hadn't been harsh, so he took it as a sign she wasn't mad.
"V-Videl!" he choked out, putting a hand over his heart. She must have scared him bad because his heart rate suddenly went up. "Wow, you startled me. All that training you've done has really improved your stealth, hehe..." Her creased brow disappeared, only to rise up in a questioning look. After getting his pulse back down and his brain back on track, he looked around. "How did you know I was here?" He was fairly certain he hadn't taught her how to sense power levels.
"I was trying to stop Buu from turning our couch into jaw breakers, when he suddenly stopped and said you were outside," she answered. She finally uncrossed her arms and smiled slightly. "Now it's your turn to answer the question."
Gohan chuckled lightly while rubbing the back of his neck. It was amazing how her face looked so different when she smiled. He didn't realize how much he missed her until just now. "I just wanted to see how things were going. It's been awhile since we last saw each, and the time before that was nothing but chaos."
"It was…" she trailed off, looking away. Gohan was about to ask what was wrong when a loud noise voice pierced through the air.
"BUU! WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU ABOUT TURNING MY STATUES INTO TAFFY?!," bellowed the unmistakable voice of Mr. Satan. A small yappy of a puppy also indicated Bee was also chiding the pink Majin.
Videl put her fingers to her sinuses, shaking her head. "I guess this is what it feels like to have a younger sibling. He's been at it all week. If there isn't enough candy or the particular type of candy he wants in the house, he'll just turn any object into it. I've already lost half my gym to gum drops and malted milk balls."
Gohan had to stifle the laugh that he felt coming on. Poor Videl.
"Would you like to go for a walk?" she asked, turning her head towards him. "There's a park near here that has a great walking trail. I mean, it's no Mount Paozu, but it's decent."
"A walk, huh? No more flying for you, then?" he teased.
"As if! I had to work hard for that. I just want to do something simple for a change. A nice walk and some time away from this candy shop is just what I need. Besides, I usually never get the park to myself. My dad banned all paparazzi from the neighborhood until we wish away the world's memories of Buu."
"Wow, you're dad actually did that?" Gohan asked, genuinely surprised. "That doesn't sound like something he'd do."
"Yeah…" again she trailed off, looking away. "C'mon, it's only a block away."
The walk to the park consisted of nothing but polite chit chat on how the others were doing post-Majin Buu. Bulma, Trunks and Vegeta seemed to be doing well. While Gohan hadn't seen much of the Saiyan Prince and the blue-haired heiress, Trunks had been to their home several times to be with Goten. Master Roshi and Oolong were happy back on their island along with Krillin and his family. At that, Videl mentioned that 18 had been to her home a couple time within the last few days. The blonde would never say anything to her, only smile and waved as her dad stood shaking as though he'd seen a ghost.
"So, from what I have heard so far, it's been a difficult transition taking in Buu?" Gohan asked.
"It hasn't been the easiest, but he's a sweet guy. It's mostly my dad who deals with him, and as long as he gets his candy he is no problem. I am enjoying the side perk of getting a puppy, though."
Gohan laughed. "Bee's a good dog alright! I figured you were busy with all your new occupants when you didn't come by Mount Paozu."
The demi-Saiyan immediately regretted letting that last sentence slip from his mouth. Videl frowned, crossing her arms against her.
"I-I wanted to visit you, Gohan," she began. "I just thought it was best to not. I wanted you and your family to have some alone time. It would have been rude to expect you to entertain me while you hadn't seen your dad in so long."
It was true that his family needed this week to themselves. But, it bothered him that she saw herself as a nuisance in his eyes. While he did think she was nosey, he had come to like having someone so interested in him.
"Thanks Videl, but I want you to know you are welcome any time," he smiled. "We are friends after all, right?"
That made her frown deepen, but she finally took her eye contact from her shoes to meet his. Her strides gradually slowed down, until she was motionless. Gohan stopped and turned to her.
"I'm sorry," she said, a slight quiver to her voice. Gohan's eyes widen in surprise. "I've wanted to say that to you for a while. I'm sorry for acting so entitled and thinking I had a right to force you to do things for me."
Of all the things he had every thought she would say, Gohan was most shocked by this apology. This was not the Videl he had come to know over the past few months. She looked submissive and down. He felt confused and… snubbed? Apologies were said to make amends, but she had nothing to apologize for. Was she saying she could no longer be his friend? Because, if not for making him teach her to fly, they never would have been this close… or so the demi-Saiyan thought. In his confusion, the one thing that had been plaguing his mind since the Tournament crept out of his mouth.
"Do you regret it?"
He looked away, not wanting to show the hurt on his face. He was never one to hide his emotions very easily. "Do you regret meeting me and all the odds and ends that came along with it?"
"Gohan…" he heard her whisper. A silence followed and he heard nothing but the wind through the trees. It felt like it had been forever when she finally responded.
"Hmph, only you would make an apology so difficult." He looked back over to see her arms now placed on her hips and a smirk on her face. He had not seen that look since they separated when heading towards Babidi's space ship. "…and nerdy," she added, taking a jab at his primeval expression.
"For being such a smart guy, you sure are dense. I don't regret any part of it. If anything, meeting you has changed me into something better. My dad, too. I think we were both knocked-down a peg… some more than others… and I got to see that our world is so small compared to everything else, but still worth saving. I can fly! I met some of the most interesting people on Earth, and… I get to have you as my friend," her smirk turning into a shy smile. "I just wanted to say I was sorry for how I treated you in the beginning."
"Videl…" He felt his face redden, both from over thinking her apology and her change in facial expression. He rubbed behind his neck, his inherited nervous trait. "If it makes you feel any better, I have never thought negative of you… maybe a little meddlesome and pushy, but I don't think you owe an apology for that. It's just your nature."
"Haven't you become the cheeky one?" she said while playfully punching his arm for the 'meddlesome' comment. "I guess it is true… however, Gohan, I don't recall apologizing for figuring out your identity."
"I thought you just did?" he questioned, going over it in his head.
"Nope, I made sure to leave that out. If anything, you owe an apology to me and all the other citizens of Satan City for thinking we were that stupid," she chided. "I hardly had to get any evidence to make you confess."
"Now who is the cheeky one?" he muttered. "I never thought anyone was stupid. I just did not think I'd be sitting in class with the one person in the whole city who would take offense to me helping people."
"Aren't you the lucky one, then? I guess you are just stuck with nosey, pushy me… or do you regret it?" she echoed.
"Nope, not at all," he answered without skipping a beat. They had started to walk again, but continued looking at each other. "Would I have come all the way out here and agree on this walk with you if I didn't want to be around you?"
"Well… you are the type of guy who can't say no, especially to a girl that has blackmailed you. Remember Angela?"
"Hey! That's a low hit," he shouted, as Videl started jogging ahead, laughing. He ran to catch up with her, grabbing her hand in the process. Both teens felt their faces grow hot with a blush, but no comment was made nor any attempt to remove the other's hand.
"I am glad you came," she said, hardly above a whisper. "I didn't know how to reach you other than showing up at your house and I didn't think you'd come to see me. I figured we would just meet up at school."
Gohan smiled. She would have been right before. This would have embarrassed him too much, but since Old Kai had released all his potential, he felt much more confident in himself. Also, the want of just seeing her made it an easy task. "Speaking of that, have you been back to school yet?"
"Not this week," she answered. "But I'm going tomorrow. What about you?"
"I'm also starting again tomorrow."
"It's going to be weird going back…"
"Yeah, it's been over a month since we were last there. Also, all the tests we're going to have to make up and the lessons we've missed—"
"Not that Gohan," Videl interrupted. "That's just going to be annoying. What I was talking about was the fact that everyone in school probably knows you are both The Golden Fighter and The Great Saiyaman. How are you going to deal with that?"
He stopped walking and stared at Videl with wide eyes. And then it hit him.
"I totally forgot about that!" he panicked. All his hard work to keep himself concealed, ruined!
Videl laughed but also squeezed his hand. "Don't worry, only six more months until we can gather the Dragon Balls and erase their memories. I think you can deal with a little attention until then."
Gohan sighed… school was going to be even more difficult than it was before. But, if the girl holding his hand right now was going to be next to him during it, it wouldn't be TOO bad. Gohan squeezed her hand back. He hoped these next six months would be fast and painless, but he also hoped she would be there, with him, at the end of those months as well.
There it is ladies and gentlemen, my debut into the DBZ world of fanfiction!
At this time, I have another 4-5 chapters plan, so please stay tuned. Thank you for reading!