I'm surprised at the amount of appreciation my last G/V drabble got - thank you guys so much! Here's some more, with Chi-Chi and Videl bonding in the background.
I'm not sure how much Goku or Gohan has shared with Chi-Chi, but I'd like to imagine that she'd be the kind of mother who wouldn't pry.
be at ease
Gohan has a lot of trouble holding things. Videl hadn't given it too much thought, early on - she'd had much more important things to worry about, like how a black-haired man could have so much in common with a gold-haired man - and so it wasn't until several weeks after she met him that she started to notice his strange little quirks.
Like his trouble holding things. It started with a pencil. They were in a history lecture, and she was watching Gohan. He seemed agitated. He was holding his pencil loosely, deep in concentration as he scratched out notes on the Amenbo Island Disaster, and she was wondering if there was something she should say.
"Gohan," she whispers, through gritted teeth. He doesn't turn. "Gohan." Slightly louder. He looks up, eyes dark.
"Videl, what -"
"-Son Gohan, is something the matter?" Gohan's hand clenches, his shoulders shoot up at the sound of his teacher's voice, and the class has a laugh at the squeaking sound that comes out of his mouth. Videl is stuck on what is left of the pencil in Gohan's right hand, shards of wood and powdered graphite.
She inquires about it that afternoon, when he allows her to take a break in the shade of a tree. He'd pushed her harder than usual, that day - had her chase him through the woods as he flew in front of her, always just out of reach - and she is lying on her back, taking hard breaths and tasting the salt of her own sweat, as he settles down beside her, sitting up, cradling his knees.
She waits for her breathing to slow. "Hey, Gohan." Something about the way he holds his knees reminds her of the pencil. "About what happened, in History today."
He turns towards her. "Huh?"
"Do you, uh," She swallows, tastes blood. She must have bit her tongue at some point. "Do you normally break things?"
He looks away; she'd stumbled onto rough ground, again. Gohan is filled with potholes and dark places, product of a childhood he doesn't like to talk about. "Sorry," she mumbles. "Didn't mean to pry."
"It's okay. Maybe we should stop, for the day."
She wants to keep going. She pushes herself up on burning legs, brings up her hands into a fighting stance. If Gohan was afraid of hurting her, well, he'd never had to fight her before - she could take care of herself. "Come on," she says. "Let's fight a little. Hit me with everything you have."
She smirks. "You afraid of being beaten by a girl?"
His eyes flash green. "I said, that's enough!" His left hand sparks white, and he slams a fist into the tree beside him. The tree is gone, just a few chunks of wood and fluttering leaves. She stumbles backwards. His eyes are black again. "Videl, I-"
But she's gone, her legs carrying her back to her airship, back to the city where she was born.
Videl had always seen the world in black and white: there were strong people (her father) and weak people (everyone else). To her perfect world, the strange figures at the Cell Games added shades of green. She had never seen someone with green eyes before - all humans have black eyes, of course - and the momentary flash of green in Gohan's eyes sets off something in her.
She starts to notice the little things: Gohan cradles his pencils gently, opens his locker slowly, and never, ever shakes anyone's hand. There's a pained expression on his face in gym class, and a worrying precision with which he forces himself into second place. She'd thought he was a chronic underachiever, but now she was starting to realize how much effort it took to reign himself in.
After his single outburst they continue her training, but things are awkward, and she worries that things will never be like they once were. Gohan warms up to her, slowly. She warms up to Gohan, slower. Majin Buu comes screaming into their lives with the wrath of a god, and Videl learns that death glows green, and that what she had been told was smoke and mirrors was actually a rare kind of skill laughed about among friends. She also learns that the feeling she had thought was a drive to get to know someone better to surpass them was actually, in a stupid sort of way, love. Her father would kill him, if he could.
She makes a choice.
After she's done talking to his mother, she wanders up to Gohan's room, leans against his doorframe as he sets out his books and homework. It's late. She snuck in after dinner, hoping to avoid the brothers and find their mother instead; Chi-Chi had put on a pot of tea, got out the family photo album, and answered Videl's questions in a matter-of-fact sort of way. In any other situation Videl would never have guessed that Gohan was his mother's son, but Chi-Chi assured her that there was much he had inherited from his father. She waits until his hands are empty to clear her throat.
"I'm sorry," she says, when he looks to her, and she hopes that he misses the redness in her eyes. "About everything. I, um, talked to your mom about some stuff." Gohan's eyebrows shoot up. "I'm sorry about that, too."
To his credit, Gohan smiles. His shoulders relax a little - and she realizes how tense he is, at all times. "No, it's all right. I guess I'm just not used to having to explain myself to people. But, uh, exactly how much did my mom tell you?"
Videl steps into the room. "Not a lot," she says. "And there's a lot I still don't really understand. She started with this guy named Ra-"
"-Hold on. Let's go somewhere else, yeah? Let me show you something." He stands, holds out his hand. When she reaches for it, his eyes go wide as though he has remembered something, and he motions for her to climb onto his back, instead. She does, despite the fact that she can fly, because it feels important to him. He allows her to wrap her legs around him, opens the window and takes off into the night.
He flies slowly, glows soft and warm in the pale darkness of a recently full moon. "Did my mom tell you about Vegeta?" Videl gives the affirmative. "I mean, it's not an excuse, but Vegeta once told me that we act a little weird during the full moon. Back then - when I got mad at you…" His voice trails off. "...I never said I was sorry." He takes her to a meadow where white flowers grow in such profusion that the green grass looks snow-covered, and she could almost pretend that the sky and the earth were the same thing, green and black and white all at the same time.
He lets her down. "My parents took me here, when I was really little. Two, maybe three years old." He motions towards an apple tree in the centre of the meadow, a six-foot hole in its trunk. "I did that, by accident."
"That's ridiculous," Videl murmurs, and Gohan opens his mouth, closes it, and shrugs. He sits down cross-legged, motions for her to do the same, and holds his hands out. A small orb of energy comes to life between his palms. He passes it to her.
She takes it. It feels warm, like a candle. "Pass it back," he says. She does. They spend a few moments like that, in near-silence, passing the orb back and forth. "Piccolo taught this to me, when I was little. Did my mom tell you about Piccolo?"
The orb is growing warmer. "Yeah."
"Tell me when it gets too hot to touch."
There's another silence, and she realizes he's waiting for her to speak. "She told me about a guy named Radditz, and that your father died fighting him, and then you were kidnapped by a guy named Piccolo and spent a year with him in the woods. She said there were two guys - Saiyans - who destroyed East City, not an earthquake, and that you went to fight them. And then Piccolo died, and you had to go to another planet to save him, and then you came back here, and…" She's fighting to place things, in the right order. "...A year later your father came home, and three years later you were there for the Amenbo Island Disaster, and then your father got sick and Cell showed up." She avoids eye contact. The orb's temperature spikes. "You went with your father for special training, and you came home with gold hair and green eyes. And then you went to the Cell Games." She bites the inside of her cheek as he passes the orb back to her. "Your father, he - ow!"
The orb vanishes; both palms of her gloves are burned through. He leans over to look, but she snatches her hands away. "They're fine," she says, quietly.
"You can't say that, around me," he says. "There's a spring nearby. Follow me."
She washes her hands slowly. He kneels next to her, dips his hands into the water, too. "I guess there's a lot she doesn't know, my mom. I love her, really, I do, but I want her to be happy, and sometimes I get caught between making her happy and telling her what's really happening."
"And here I thought you were a momma's boy," she says. He chuckles, she snorts, he laughs at her snorting, she laughs because he's happy, and they both fall asleep in their first-period class the next morning.
"Milk and sugar?"
"No, thank you." Videl has been on a strict diet since childhood. " – Actually, milk would be nice. Sugar as well. If you wouldn't mind."
She hears Gohan's mother laugh from the kitchen, which she takes as not minding. Soon the sound of boiling water and the smell of fresh tea waft into the living room, where Videl is sinking into a worn couch and staring at her folded hands in her lap.
A few moments later, Gohan's mother enters the living room with two steaming mugs. She places one in Videl's hands, who immediately notices its cracked handle and not-quite-scrubbed-off crayon marks, but chooses not to say anything. Gohan's mother takes a seat to her left stares at her over the rim of her mug. Videl clears her throat.
"I'd like your permission, I guess. To, um, date Gohan."
There is a short silence. She doesn't dare look up; her face is burning. "...What?" She suddenly wishes she could sink into the couch and disappear completely. "You want to date my Gohan?" Yeah, disappearing sounds good right now. "Well, why didn't you say so earlier! And here I thought you were pregnant!"
"Ma'am, I'm – what?"
"Oh, don't be so coy." Gohan's mother laughs and slaps Videl on the shoulder. "And for goodness' sake, call me Chi-Chi. Is that really all you wanted to ask?"
It really was all she wanted to ask, but Gohan and Goten are still out fishing up dinner, so they start chatting about men, Chi-Chi recounting in embarrassing detail how she romanced Gohan's father. After dinner Gohan and Goten go to their rooms, and the women continue the conversation. It's very, very late when they start sharing stories of the week leading up to the Cell Games; Videl talks about an abnormally absent father, and Chi-Chi talks about an abnormally normal birthday party. Chi-Chi passes her a framed photo. In the picture in her lap, Gohan smiles up at her, a moment frozen in time, unaware of what is to come.
This child is scarred, years later, even as an adult.
Gohan recounts the year in the time chamber, the hot days and the freezing nights, the terrible nightmares, the struggle to retain the will to live. And through it all, his father's voice echoes:
The power comes in response to a need, not a desire. You have to create that need. Use the pain of loss.
Sometimes Videl finds him standing still, looking up at the sky, barely breathing. (Bulma once told her over lemonade and small, delicate cookies, that Saiyans can hold their breath for hours. Thousands of years ago they were carnivores and cannibals who buried themselves in snow for months during the starving seasons. Then there was an explosion in the backyard, and Vegeta and Trunks dragged themselves sheepishly to where they were still eating, asking for repairs.) She'll say something, and sometimes he'll come home. Other times the air will spark, and something in her will surge, and she knows he's reaching out into space for something, or somewhere, or somewhen, or someone. He said once:
The android turned to me, and said it is not a sin to fight for what you believe in. I believed him. The power came in response to a need, and the pain of loss. My father died because I was arrogant.
So a tyrant blows up a planet and a Saiyan wakes up on Earth. A wife abandons a husband, leaving him to figure out how to raise a daughter he has no time for on his own. Leave it to her and Gohan to take a tragedy and turn it into a love story.
"It's hard to explain," he says one evening, as they sit atop an apple tree and pass an orb of her energy back and forth. "I always had all these - expectations, I guess. People kept telling me that I had all this hidden potential, but I could never see it."
Videl wants to say, I can see it. "I think you underestimate yourself, Gohan. Most people can't break pencils just by gripping them too hard."
"It's why I've always liked studying. Nobody put any pressure on me - except my mother, but I think she understood. I can't accidentally hurt someone with knowledge."
"I get it," she whispers. "It's sort of been like that for me, too. -With my father being who he is."
Gohan looks at his hands. Videl raises her ki, warms the orb a little. "There's more to it than that, though." His mouth turns down, and it makes her heart ache. "I've always felt like I couldn't get close to people, because when you're like me, there are so many different ways to hurt someone, without meaning to."
"Gohan." He looks up; there's green in his eyes, and Videl realizes that the more she's gotten to know him, the more she's become afraid of him, and that is no way to be in love. She lets the orb evaporate. "I want to try something. Can we go back on the ground?"
They fly down together, into the meadow. "Lie down next to me," she says, settling down.
He does, on her left side. The sun is sitting low on the horizon, and her heart speeds up. She holds out her left hand. "Hold my hand."
"Videl, I -"
"-For me, Gohan. Please."
He does, reluctantly, gently. His hand is hot and dry, and she feels a spark - an actual spark, like static electricity. It's not quite like a human hand, but it's Gohan's hand. After a few moments, he speaks. "Is this okay, Videl?"
He lets out a long breath of air, and she can feel the air grow warmer between them. "I could get used to this," he says. It sounds less to her and more to himself.
"Be at ease, Gohan."
He rolls over onto his side, her hand still in his. "But what if I hurt you?"
"Then we'll work it out, one step at a time." She rolls onto her side, pulls herself a little closer to him, and he carefully arranges his arms around her. The world is black and white and green. "I'm strong enough for you. I promise."
They stay like that for a long time.