AN: I'm back! Thank you, wonderful reviewers! And now, let's continue! I'm ending every sentence with an exclamation point! I don't own Dragonball Z! I don't own the title song! Josh Groban does!

Chapter Three—Afraid

I look up to everything you are

In my eyes you do no wrong

I've loved you for so long

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

It was the day after the attack. Videl was in the hospital, and the media was in a frenzy that the daughter of the World Martial Arts Champion, the world's hero, had been attacked like that.

All this was unknown to a certain someone a long distance away.

Son Gohan had been experiencing a feeling of vague unease since the previous evening, but when he'd woken up that morning, he had been downright panicked. His dreams had been strange, as if he was experiencing something terrible through someone else's eyes. The images were foggy and unclear; he wasn't sure what to make of them.

So he'd tried to keep himself occupied by playing hide and seek with Goten. That hadn't worked to well, since he could just sense his brother to find him. So he'd finally given in and initiated a sparring match between himself and his younger brother. Sparring was a much better distraction. Goten's skills were constantly improving, so the match required not only intense physical focus, but complete mental concentration as well. It was much easier to keep his mind off things as long as the two brothers were duking it out.

It was during one of their breaks, when Gohan allowed himself to return to his jumbled thoughts, that Vegeta made his appearance. The Saiyan Prince touched down easily, just beyond the area Gohan and Goten had deemed to be their sparring space. Vegeta wasted no time, but strolled right up to Gohan; he grabbed the demi-Saiyan by the collar and dragged him rudely to his feet.

Gohan sighed, long used to Vegeta's mannerisms, and simply said, "Hey. What's up?"

"You don't know, brat." It was a question phrased as a statement. "I'm surprised."

"Well, I've been having a weird feeling since last night, if that counts," Gohan replied, realizing suddenly that he was very tense. "Why? Did something happen?"

"Yes," Vegeta answered shortly. "Come with me."

It was only then that Gohan realized that Vegeta was acting strangely. It wasn't like the Saiyan Prince at all to just appear at their house, for one, but then to speak with any of them without offering up sarcasm upon sarcasm was unheard of. Yet they had just had an entire exchange without a single scathing remark. How odd.

This realization was interrupted by Goten pulling on his arm. "Gohan, what's going on?"

The teenager balked for a second before responding. "Goten, go inside and see if there's anything you can help Mom with, okay?" Goten's chin quivered, and the chibi looked ready to burst into tears at being left out. But Gohan saw it, and averted the potential disaster. "I don't think I'll be gone very long, and we'll play more when I get back, okay?"

Goten immediately brightened. "Okay!" Satisfied, the chibi skipped off to the house to inform his mother of his brother's temporary departure.

With the younger Son gone, Gohan returned his attention to Vegeta, who had already lifted off and was hovering about fifteen feet in the air. Gohan pushed off as well, and the two Saiyans shot off in the direction of Satan City.

"So what's the big emergency?" Gohan asked after they'd been flying for about ten minutes. So far, they'd flown in complete silence, and finally, the teenager had ventured to ask something that had been bothering him since they'd left his house.

Vegeta was silent a moment longer, then replied, "Something happened to your girlfriend."

Whatever Gohan had been expecting, it definitely wasn't that. "What do you mean, something happened to her? What's wrong with Videl?" he asked anxiously.

"I think you should hear it from her," Vegeta answered shortly. "You won't like it."

Gohan bit his lip to keep from screaming in frustration. "So where are we going?"

"You are going to help her," the Saiyan replied, stopping suddenly in midair. After Gohan had skidded to a halt, he continued. "The woman has ways of finding things out. The human doctors can't wake your mate up. She's unconscious."

"In a coma?" Gohan said incredulously. This was impossible!

"Yes. Nothing's reaching her," Vegeta took off again, and Gohan had to play catch-up. "So that's what you're going to do. You're going to call her."

"Vegeta…she's not my mate!" Gohan protested, knowing that the argument would fall on deaf ears. He'd been getting this kind of crap for quite some time now, and it was getting annoying.

He got an eyeroll and a snort for his protest. By that time, they had gotten to the city limits, where they landed, and they walked the short distance to the hospital in silence. It had taken quite a while to beat it into Vegeta's head, but finally he had learned a little discretion!

At the hospital doors, Vegeta stopped. "You go alone from here. I'm going home to train." Apparently having done his job, the Saiyan Prince took his leave, and Gohan was left alone to face…well, he actually wasn't sure what he was up against in this case.

Pushing open the doors to Satan City Hospital, his eyes were greeted by the sight of Hercule making a statement to a cluster of reporters. Apparently, this was the first time the "World Champ" had spoken with the press about whatever terrible thing had befallen his daughter. Gohan could only catch bits and pieces of it above the ruckus the crowd was making, but from what he got, he knew he wasn't going to like it. But what he heard also confirmed what Vegeta had said: Videl was in a coma, and nothing the doctors could do could pull her out of it.

Fortunately, Gohan could get her back. He knew he could. The trouble was going to be getting in there to actually do it!

"Gohan!" a female voice called his name from across the room. He turned and saw Erasa and Sharpner moving towards him, climbing over a few reporters in the process. When they finally got to him, he was startled to see that Erasa actually looked serious. He'd never seen her like that before. "Do you know what's going on? They won't tell us anything!"

"I…don't know," Gohan shrugged. "That's what I'm trying to find out."

"Well, you're her boyfriend, genius," Sharpner rolled his eyes. "Maybe Hercule'll let you talk to her. Not likely, but it's worth a shot. Not that it'll do much. The only thing we know is she's—"

"In a coma," Gohan cut the other boy off. "I'm going to try and talk to Hercule. He doesn't like me very much, but maybe…"

Hercule had apparently wrapped up his speech, and half of the reporters were dispersing, having gotten what they needed for their stories. This gave Gohan his opportunity; he pushed through the remaining throng of people right up to Hercule.

The World Champ glared at him. "You're that skinny kid Videl's always hanging around. What do you want, kid?"

Gohan took a deep breath and said, "Sir, can they get her to wake up yet?"

"No, they can't. Now go away, kid," Hercule turned to walk away.

Praying he wouldn't sound too crazy, Gohan spoke again. "I think I can wake her up. If you'll give me a chance, I mean."

That stopped Hercule in his tracks. Slowly, the afroed man turned and bestowed a very measuring gaze on the teenager. "Is this some kind of joke?"

"No, sir. I think I can help. No guarantee, but if it works…she should be able to wake up."

Hercule Satan studied the tall, thin teenager in front of him. The kid was offering to bring his daughter back, when the best doctor's in the city hadn't been able to do anything. It was ludicrous! But…if he could actually do it…for all of his faults and shortcomings, numerous as they were, one of Hercule's most redeeming qualities was that he loved his daughter with all his heart.

After considering for a moment and deciding that it wouldn't hurt to try, finally, Mr. Satan nodded. "All right, kid. You can try. But no funny stuff. You put one toe outta line, and I'll have the police all over you. You understand me?"

"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir," Gohan sighed with relief and followed Hercule into the hospital hallways. He ignored the flashbulbs and questions from reporters as he walked past. They took many turns and walked up a staircase until they finally approached a doorway flanked by two uniformed police officers. They nodded to the World Champ as he walked by, and gave Gohan equally suspicious glares.

When Gohan got his first sight of Videl, he could have very easily gone SS2 from emotion alone. She was laid out neatly on the bed, swathed in sheets, with her hands folded on her stomach. Machines of every imaginable kind were hooked up to her on nearly every visible part of her. There was some kind of a tube sticking out of her mouth, which Gohan correctly assumed was to help her breath. A few locks of dark hair managed to peek out from underneath the dressing wrapped around her head.

The most terrible part was her face. Videl's face (which was, in Gohan's opinion, one of the most beautiful in the world) was marred by bruises. Her lip was cut, and there was a bandage on her right cheek that most likely covered another cut or some such injury.

Hercule carefully watched the kid's reaction, and for some reason, it satisfied him. He didn't know how he knew, but Videl would be safe around this guy. Not that Hercule wanted his daughter dating such a scrawny little punk, of course. But at least he was a safe scrawny little punk.

"So…what are you going to do exactly?" Hercule finally asked.

"Umm…could you maybe…leave us alone?" Gohan asked hesitantly, not sure of the answer he was going to get. "It'll work better if I can focus. I'll explain the whole thing after she's awake, if you want, but in order for this to work, I need to be alone with her."

Hercule thought about it for a minute, then nodded, slowly. "You got five minutes, kid." Then he left, pulling the door closed behind him. Gohan could sense him out there; the World Champ was standing not two inches away from that door. Probably trying to look through the door to see what was happening, and definitely listening for any signs of trouble.

Well, he had five minutes. It was time to get to work.

Gohan pulled a tall stool over to the bed, and took a seat. Up closer, he took a better look at Videl. He desperately wished her eyes would open so he could see them. With a little luck, what he intended to do would work, and Videl would open her eyes.

He'd known for quite some time that he and Videl were bonded, and he'd known for even longer what such a bond meant. Videl knew about the bond too, of course, though she didn't know what it meant, and together they had been working to strengthen and develop it. They could hear each others thoughts and read each others emotions quite easily now, which came in very handy during those boring math classes; they could have entire conversations without anyone ever noticing. Eventually, he was going to have to explain to her what it meant—that they were destined to be together—but for the moment, that mind-to-mind bond was going to be the instrument by which he reached her.

This wasn't the first experience he'd had with calling someone out of the darkness, only the previous time, he had been the one being called, and it had been Goten who had summoned him. He shuddered at the memory. (AN: Yes, this is the same thing as in APPIB, for those of you who have read that story.) He suspected that Videl's coma was more of the same thing that had happened to him that time so many years ago: it wasn't so much a coma as a self-imposed darkness. An body without a soul. Everything worked, but there just wasn't anyone home. She had been in danger, and to avoid death, her soul had just fled from her body into the darkness, leaving her hanging on the knife edge between being alive and being dead. Her soul was still tied to her body, and quite privy to whatever pain her body might be in while it was unconscious.

Wandering around, lost in that darkness, she wouldn't know that she was safe again, and in the hands of friends. Until someone with a strong emotional tie to her called her back, she would remain lost forever, stuck in between the living and the dead.

Gohan intended to use the bond—a very strong emotional link—to show her the way back. It was actually a stronger link than she knew. Gohan had never been able to admit to her (or himself, for that matter) that he might have fallen in love with Videl. But now, that strange stirring he felt whenever he saw her or talked to her or even thought about her could be the thing that saved her.

He took one of her pale, limp hands in his own, closed his eyes, and focused. It only took a minute to send himself into a trance that Piccolo would have been proud of. That was what he'd needed to be alone for; with others in the room, he would never be able to focus completely enough to get into this deep of a trance. In such a state, the building could have been blown up around him, and he probably wouldn't have noticed unless a piece of extremely heavy debris hit him on the head.

Once in the trance, Gohan reached with his mind, down the bond, prying open a link into Videl's mind. Since she wasn't in there, he had to force his way in, and call her. When he got into her mind, he could quite clearly see things there. Memories of Videl's that were just kind of lying around, since her mind was being used at that moment. And what he saw startled him; the fuzzy images floating on the top of Videl's memory were the same blurry images that had haunted his dream the nght before. It had felt strangely like the dream had been taking place through someone else's eyes, and now he knew. And in addition to that, he could finally see exactly what they had meant. And it horrified and nauseauted him. Was this was had happened to Videl?

With some effort, he shook the thoughts and emotions loose. They were threatening to overwhelm him, and he didn't have time for that. He sent his thoughts and feelings towards her, trying to use every bit of everything he felt for her to create a beacon to bring her back.

Come on, Videl, he sent desperately, hoping he could hold out until she got there. Come back.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Videl stumbled through the darkness. Her feet felt heavier and heavier with each step she took, as though she had training weights tied to her feet. She couldn't help but feel like she was tied to something. But that was impossible. There was nothing around her except darkness. And lots of it.

Finally, she sat down. She was lost, hopelessly lost, and she could barely move. And in addition to that, it hurt. The pain was near excruciating, and she didn't know why. All she really wanted to do was curl up into a little ball on the darkness that made up the surface beneath her, and cry. Not that it would do any good; her situation would still be the same. But it might make her feel better.

It came from behind her. The light appeared, shooting up from the ground, and sending the darkness fleeing before it. A bright beacon, like a searchlight, glowing from the ground and panning over the sky. The light was pulsing, dimming and brightening to the quickening rhythm of her own heartbeat. She stared at it with wide eyes and open mouth for a long moment.

Then the voice came. Gohan's voice, speaking to her. It was coming from the light.

Follow my voice, he was saying. Follow my voice and follow the light. It's the way out. What he said next confirmed what she'd been thinking—that he did know exactly where she was. You're in the darkness, and if you don't follow the light back, you'll be stuck there forever. You have to trust me, Videl. It's safe to come back now. And you'd better hurry, before your father decides to come after me.

In spite of herself and the pain she was in, Videl smiled. He knew she could hear him, and he was teasing her, just like always did. And besides, the prospect of being stuck in the darkness forever was far, far less than appealing.

Gathering her energy and her nerve, Videl did her best to ignore the searing pain, and stumbled towards the light and the wonderful, wonderful sound of Gohan's voice. And the light continued to lighten and fade in time to the cadence of her heart.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

When five minutes to the second were up, Hercule stormed back into the room, not quite sure what to expect. What he saw was the scrawny kid, who's name he couldn't seem to remember, sitting on a stool beside Videl's bed, with his eyes closed; he was holding Videl's hand.

"Hey, kid!" Hercule called. But he was startled when the kid didn't move at all. It was like he didn't even notice that there was anyone else in the room.

Behind him, Hercule could hear the doctors and a few police officers muttering; they were peering over his shoulder in an attempt to see what was going on. Apparently, whatever was happening was as much a mystery to them as it was to Hercule.

So when Gohan suddenly dropped Videl's hand and fell forward, very nearly toppling off the stool, all of them jumped a mile. One of the physicians ran forward; his instincts as a doctor had kicked in, and he wanted to make sure that the teenager was all right.

Naturally, Gohan was fine, if a little bit strained. His head was throbbing from the effort he'd put into that. And when he looked at Videl, he already knew he'd done it. She hadn't moved or made a sound yet, but he knew. A hint of color had returned to her face, quite obvious even under the bruises, and her breathing was far deeper. Of course, only someone with Saiyan eyes and hearing could have really discerned the difference without being right up next to her, but fortunately, Gohan had those senses at his full disposal.

Sure enough, after a few seconds, Videl moaned softly, and her face wrinkled in something very similar to pain or concentration. Her eyelids fluttered. The doctors, officers, and Hercule all shoved past Gohan to her bedside. Gohan sighed at the lack of gratitude, and stood behind them, leaning over a little so he could see better.

The breathing tube in her throat was making it near impossible for her to talk clearly, but she was making several noises that sounded like she was trying to speak. Her face contorted again. And finally, after about sixty seconds of this, Videl's eyes fluttered open and looked around.

Her eyes looked around the bed at the crowd gathered around her. They paused on her father, and brightened for a moment. Then they continued moving, and stopped again to focus on Gohan.

What she did next surprised him. Nobody else really seemed to notice it, but when Videl's eyes fell on Gohan, they widened, and only Gohan, who had seen that look in many eyes before, could have possibly read what was written there.

Surprise. Panic. And, most nauseating of all to Gohan…fear.

She was afraid. Of him. Videl was afraid of him.

It was almost too much for Gohan to comprehend. That, combined with the mental fatigue he was already under, made the room reel around him; he steadied himself before anyone noticed.

Videl started making noises again, which meant she was trying to speak. Gohan stepped back, still watching her, and observed while they calmed her down enough to remove the tube from her throat. He waited to see if she would say anything to him.

Surprisingly, she didn't. Instead, she gasped for a few seconds, then looked around again. Her eyes paused on him again, and again he saw that same…fear. But it was only for a moment, and then she looked at her father and said, in a soft, scratchy voice, "Daddy…where am I?"

"You're in the hospital, sweet pea," Hercule replied gently. He looked ready to cry.

"Miss Satan?" one of the police officers, a heavyset blonde woman, stepped forward.

She looked at her for a minute, then managed a weak smile and croaked, "Hey Michelle. Is your mother doing better?" Obviously, this was someone Videl had worked with before.

"Much better, Videl," the officer, Michelle, returned the smile. "I hate to do this to you, but I need to know if you remember what happened to you."

Videl's brow creased in thought as she struggled to make her thoughts work and tried not to remind herself that Gohan was still in the room. Finally, she managed to put everything in order. And she was amazed at how much she actually did remember, even though she had been unconscious for a good part of it. She remembered.

Biting her lip, Videl nodded. "I remember…most of it…" She dropped her head down, hoping and praying that no one would see that she was trying not to cry.

Gohan saw it, but he said nothing. Knowing that he wasn't doing anymore good here, and that he would probably end up just getting in the way, he tiptoed silently to the door and slipped out, drawing no attention to himself. Only Videl noticed that he had left.

Most of the reporters were gone, having left to prepare their stories for the papers or for the television studio news programs or whatnot. Sharpner and Erasa were on the other side of the room; they didn't notice him coming out of the hallway, and he decided not to draw any attention to himself. Instead, he walked quickly out the front door of the hospital.

Trying to get rid of some of his seething emotions, mostly anger at what had been done to Videl, he ran to the outskirts of the city and shot into the air the instant he was outside the city limits. He zoomed home, turning anxious loops in the air as he flew. He needed to burn off more of his anger, and he knew exactly how.

Sparring match. If he couldn't get rid of it on his own, he could take it out on someone else. And luckily, Gohan had just the person in mind.

It didn't take very long for him to get to the waterfall, where Piccolo was hovering in his typical pose of meditation. Normally, Gohan was very respectful of his old teacher and mentor, and would approach slowly, waiting for his presence to be acknowledged before speaking.

Right now, he was just too wound up for patience; he flew up to the Namekian and yelled right into Piccolo's ear. "Hey! Wake up!"

Obviously, Piccolo wasn't ready for that, since it was far out of the ordinary for Gohan to be that rude. He nearly fell out of the air, but steadied himself, clutching his ringing ears in pain, and trying to make his head stop throbbing. Once he was steady again, he gave his former student a very Vegeta-like death glare. "I assume an explanation is forthcoming."

"Spar. Now." Gohan's face was so coldly passive he might as well have been wearing a mask. Piccolo immediately saw this, but made no comment on it. Instead, he merely agreed to the idea of a sparring match. Once the okay was given, Gohan threw himself headfirst at Piccolo.

The Namekian realizaed exactly where this fight was going, and put up a defense. He held out until Gohan had worn himself out, and then flattened the young demi-Saiyan with a simple punch to the jaw, something not even a beginner would have gotten hit with or knocked over by. Gohan was knocked out of the air and landed in the water at the base of the waterfall. It took him a minute to climb out, and he sprawled out on his back on the riverbank, panting. Piccolo landed next to him.

After he stopped seeing stars, Gohan glared upwards into his sensei's narrowed eyes. "You already know what I'm going to say, so I won't even bother saying it. Now get up and take a seat."

By take a seat, that meant that they were going back into the air to talk. They floated cross-legged beside the waterfall. Piccolo looked expectantly at his student. "Well? Explain."

With a sigh, Gohan filled Piccolo in on everything that had happened, starting with the terrible feeling he'd had the night before, through the strange dreams, and onto the events of the past hour or so, from Vegeta's strange visit through his experience at the hospital, and finally his need to just burn off some emotions. That was why he'd demanded the spar.

Piccolo listened silently to the story, and quirked a brow at the end. "So do you feel any better?"

"Actually, I feel wet and stupid," Gohan complained, looking down at himself. His gi was soaked, and he had a feeling that his mother would NOT be happy about that.

"As well you should," Piccolo risked the joke, not quite sure of Gohan's mood.

Fortunately, the demi-Saiyan was pretty much back to normal. "Yeah. I know. So what do I do? I mean, she was afraid of me, Piccolo. Scared to death! I've never hurt her! Why is she scared?"

"You saw what was in her head. That's part of it, and I assume you've figured that out," the Namekian said thoughtfully. "Just give it time. It should work itself out. Whatever's got her so worked up, it didn't have anything to do with you. Let her work things out for herself, and realize that she has no reason to be freaked out by you." At least, Piccolo hoped that would happen. Even a blind man could have seen that Gohan was very much attached to that human girl, probably moreso than even Gohan himself realized. And until things got back to some semblance of normal, the kid would be just short of a wreck.

"How long do you think that'll take?" Gohan asked.

"Who knows? Might be tomorrow, might be next year," Piccolo answered in all truthfullness. He didn't know exactly how humans operated, but he knew they were all different. Better to tell the kid the blunt truth rather then soften the blow.

Sure enough, Gohan groaned at the mention of next year. "You know what, Mr. Piccolo?"

The Namekian smirked inwardly at the use of the old honorific, the only nickname he'd ever accepted being called in his life. "What, kid?" he answered, using the only pet name he himself had ever fallen into using.

Gohan rolled backwards in the air and unfolded his legs so he was just hanging limply on his back with his arms and legs hanging downwards. "This really sucks!"

The two exchanged a few more words, and then Gohan took his leave to head home, hoping for a few things to happen.

First, he hoped that Videl was really okay, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and if she wasn't, he hoped that she would be able to fully recover.

Secondly, he hoped that he'd mininterpreted those images he'd seen in her mind, and that he was wrong, that those weren't really Videl's memories of what had happened to her.

Thirdly, he hoped that Videl would get over whatever it was that made her so afraid of him. Just thinking about that look in her eyes when she saw him…she had been terrified. The thought sickened him. He didn't want her to be afraid of him! He didn't want anyone to be afraid of him, unless that someone was there to destroy the Earth and wipe out all life on the planet. Then they could be afraid of him.

Fourthly, he hoped that Piccolo was right, and that things would work themselves out. Videl was his best friend, his confidante…everything. Not being able to talk to her was just unimaginable. Especially with the strength of their bond. If things didn't work out, the bond could end up broken, and that had the potential to be very damaging to both himself and Videl. He would have rather sawed off his left arm then let that happen. Their bond was just too precious to him.

Lastly, he hoped that the fly home would dry his clothes off. He wasn't sure why, but he had a sneaking suspicion that if he walked into his house with wet hair and clothes, dripping all over the floor, his mother would be very likely to have a cat. No, no, scratch that. She wouldn't have a cat. She'd probably have a whole litter.

AN: Wow! This is the longest chapter I've ever written for anything ever! Like I said, this story is going to be fewer chapters, but they'll be longer. And I finally finished "And Then There Were None," so this story has officially become priority. With a little luck, I'll be able to put up the next chapter a lot faster then I did this one. Thanks for your patience, and thanks for reading. Later!