AN:Ayiyiyi! I couldn't get logged onto the site! ARGH! I've been goin' bonkers over here! Ah, well, let's not live in the past, cuz it's already happened. My therapist says I need to move on. So I will, and put up Chapter Five. Hooray! I don't own DBZ, nor do I own the song "You're Still You." Akira Toriyama owns the former, and Josh Groban's got the latter, cuz he's da one dat singz it.
Chapter Five—A Chance Meeting
You walk past me
I can feel your pain
Time changes everything
I'm going to go crazy…and then they'll take me away to the loony bin…nice padded white walls…Videl thought bleakly. She was going out of her mind from boredom.
Ever since Goten and Trunks' visit the day before, she had remained cooped up inside her bedroom, and now she was starting to wonder if maybe it was time for a change of scenery. The idea of simply moving to a different room in the mansion was appealing, but it didn't quite seem to cut it.
She wanted fresh air. She wanted to be able to run or fly around for a while. She wanted sunshine as well, but the weatherman had been right, and there had been a steady series of small rain showers falling on and off all day. She couldn't get sunshine, but she could probably get away with fresh air and running around. If she could convince herself to leave her house. Quite frankly, for the mansion being as huge as it was, she felt like she was suffocating.
It was at that point in her thoughts that Hannah entered the room. "What's going on in your head that I'm interrupting?"
"Not much. Just focusing on how miserable I am, and wallowing helplessly in self-pity," Videl replied sardonically, not moving from where she was sprawled out on her bed.
"Oh. So…nothing important?" Hannah teased.
Videl felt extremely fortunate that she had Hannah around. Without that friendship, confidence, and crying shoulder, this whole thing would have been a whole lot worse. Hannah wouldn't leave her alone, nor would she let her spend all her time staring at the ceiling, feeling sorry for herself. At one point, Hannah had physically dragged Videl out of bed and made her get up and at least walk around.
All these were things that Videl wouldn't normally do, but then again, she wouldn't normally start shaking at the mention of Gohan's name, either. Nothing felt normal anymore.
"So…are you just going to lay there all day again?" Hannah asked innocently, but Videl wasn't fooled in the least.
"Why?" the teenager asked suspiciously.
"I think you should go out for a while," Hannah replied calmly, folding a shirt that had been thrown carelessly across the back of a chair. "Get some fresh air, move around, and maybe go see one of your friends, strange as that idea may seem."
"That's okay. I like my bed," Videl muttered.
"Now you're just being silly," the older woman turned to face the teen, hands on her hips in an 'angry mother' pose. "Those two blonde kids have stopped by a couple of times to see how you were. And there were those two little kids. You can't hide in here forever."
"Actually, I was planning to," Videl sighed. "I figure that if I got someone to bring my meals up to me, I could stay in here forever. It's quite comfortable."
"Sure. Then we'll see how long it is before we have to get you towed off to the loony bin," Hannah threw her hands up in exasperation as she echoed Videl's earlier thoughts. "You're going out whether you like it or not. If I have to throw you out that window to get you outside for ten minutes, I will."
"Anything but that…" Videl murmured, extremely subdued. When Hannah got like this, she might as well have been arguing with a brick wall for all the good it would do.
Why me?Videl wondered as she strolled through the rain. Actually, it was really more of a drizzle, but she didn't care. It was cold and wet; therefore, it was rain.
Once she'd gotten outside, it hadn't been too bad. She just stared at the ground mostly, and desperately avoided making eye contact with anyone. According to the deal she'd made with Hannah, she could go back inside after twenty minutes. She glanced at her watch and sighed. Only eighteen minutes left to go before she could retreat back to definite safety.
She was contemplating heading for the outskirts of the city. Once away from prying eyes, it would be safe to take flight. There wasn't any lightning, so there was no danger from that respect. And flying had always proved relaxing to her before. It seemed like a good plan, and it was the one she decided on.
Okay, so it wasn't so bad out here. As long as she didn't look at anybody—
Just then, someone came around a corner and plowed headfirst into her; she was sent falling backwards, where she managed to land on her behind in a puddle. The water was extremely cold, and she jumped up again almost as quickly as she had fallen.
The pedestrian who had run into her was concerned. "Are you all right?"
She looked up, and immediately had to exercise every ounce of self-control she possessed to keep from screaming. The face she saw wasn't the face of the poor man who had run into her. It was someone else…someone from her nightmares. Desperate to get away, she muttered a quick, "I'm fine," and took off across the street before the guy could say anything else. Her feet were doing the thinking now, and she kept moving without really thinking about where she was going.
Videl ended up in the middle of Satan City Park, hunched over, gasping for air. People milled by, casting confused, suspicious, or sympathetic glances at the daughter of the world's savior. But no one bothered her, which was just as well. Had someone walked up to her then, she wasn't sure how she would react. Chances were that it wouldn't be pretty.
Gods, what iswrong with you? she mentally chastised herself, clenching her hands into fists on her knees. You're stronger than this! Can't you hold it together for five minutes until you get home…no…
Suddenly, she noticed something strange. There was still rain falling a few inches away from her feet, but no raindrops landed on her. And there was a small, round shadow over her. She looked up, and was startled to see an umbrella being held over her head.
Whirling around, she found herself face-to-face with Gohan, who was holding the umbrella over her and watching her with a mixture of concern and amusement. He was balancing a very large bag of groceries in his free hand.
Momentary panic seized her, and she glanced from side to side in search of an escape route when someone said her name. She looked straight ahead and had only a second to brace herself for a very enthusiastic greeting from Son Goten.
"Hiya Videl!" Goten squealed with his everlasting cheerfulness. "We found you! Big brother and me are running errands for Mommy. Whatcha doing?"
"Getting wet," she sighed, returned the squeeze. She freed one hand and used it to shove her damp bangs back from where they had been nicely plastered into her eyes. So now instead of being stuck to her forehead, they were sticking up in unruly spikes.
Goten gave her a sardonic look as she set him back down. "You aren't supposed to stand outside in the rain. You'll catch your death of cold," he scolded with the most serious of expressions on his face, wagging a finger at her. "At least, that's what Mommy says whenever Gohan and me wanna go outside and play in the rain. She always says no."
"Your mother is a very smart woman," Videl nodded. "I'm probably going to get pneumonia."
"You're gonna get sick again?" Goten looked horrified, and she had to smile.
"Not as bad as before. I won't have to go to the hospital again. I was really sick then."
"But you're all better now, and my picture helped!" Goten chirped.
"Yes it did," she replied before looking at her watch. It had been sixteen minutes almost to the second. By the time she walked home, the twenty minutes would be up. "Well, I'd better be heading home before I really do get sick."
"We'll walk ya home!" Goten announced proudly, taking one of her hands in both of his own. "Right, Gohan? Mommy won't mind."
Videl nearly jumped out of her skin. She'd all but forgotten that Gohan was still standing there, holding an umbrella over her head so she didn't get more soaked then she already was. She shot a nervous glance at the elder of the Son boys.
He didn't miss it. "That's up to Videl, kiddo. If she doesn't mind having two bodyguards escort her home, then it's okay." He returned her glance with a more questioning look.
Goten tugged on her arm, and she looked down into a pair of expertly delivered sad-puppy dog eyes. Those eyes would have melted harder hearts and harder resolves than Videl possessed, and she sighed. "Well, what girl wouldn't want two handsome young men escorting her to her front door?" she said, feeling greatly daring at the joke.
A huge smile, bright as the sun, cross the chibi's face. "Yay!" he jumped up and down happily. "Let's go! I know where your house is!" He skipped ahead in excitement, leaving the two teenagers to walk at a more adult pace.
"So…how have you been?" Gohan began slowly after they had been strolling along in awkward silence for about fifteen seconds. He was still holding the umbrella over her head to shield her from the rain, and balancing the sack of groceries on his hip with his free hand.
This wasn't lost on Videl. Always the gentlemen, she thought to herself, noticing that he was getting drenched. Your mother raised you well. But she didn't voice those thoughts. Her verbal response was a short and simple, "Fine."
"Goten keeps asking why you were in the hospital," the demi-Saiyan commented, keeping his eyes straight ahead and focused on his little brother. "I told him that maybe you were sick."
"So that's where that came from," she answered without even thinking about it. Goten was convinced that her mysterious stay at the hospital had been due to some strange illness. Well, let the child think what he wanted. It was a million times better than the truth. "Both Goten and Trunks kept asking what kind of disease I had, and if it was contagious. I think the motive behind that was whether or not they could get a day off of school from it."
Gohan chuckled. "That sounds more like Trunks than my brother."
At that moment, Goten stopped skipping ahead and ran back to them. He spent the rest of the walk between them, holding Videl's hand and chattering obliviously about anything and everything.
Gohan kept his face straight forward for most of the trip, but watched Videl out of the corner of his eye. She had managed to look everywhere but at him. Peculiar, to say the least.
His thoughts were interrupted by a tug on his sleeve. He turned his head for the first time to look down at the pint-sized Goku walking beside him. "What's up, squirt?"
"I figured something out!" the chibi announced proudly. He was definitely and completely oblivious to the tension that filled the space between the two teenagers.
"Really?" Gohan asked, knowing that this was going to be bizarre from past experiences with his brother's revelations. A shifty glance told him that Videl was listening to this too. "What did you figure out this time, squirt?"
"Cars!" was the enthusiastic reply.
Gohan was confused. "Cars?"
"Cars," Goten repeated firmly. "Get girls!"
It was one of the few times in Gohan's life that he actually choked on his own breath. He very nearly dropped the groceries he was carrying, a misfortune that would have splattered the pavement with broken eggs and sent tomatoes rolling into the street. Videl wasn't faring too much better, and both she and Gohan dissolved into near-hysterical laughter at Goten's 'discovery.' They actually had to stop for the two teens to regain composure.
"Geez…" Gohan gasped, still trying to catch his breath. "It took him seven years to figure out something I've been working on for eighteen!"
Goten just looked at them in confusion for a moment, and then shook his head. Sometimes grown-ups were just plain weird.
A few moments later, they reached the Satan mansion. Gohan would have said goodbye at the gate, but Goten ran ahead, right up to the front door, and rang the bell.
"Goten!" Gohan hissed, but the chibi either wasn't listening or was just ignoring his brother. Finally, the teenaged demi-Saiyan ran up to the front door and grabbed Goten's arm. "We'd better get home before Mom starts freaking out."
The door chose that moment to open, and Gohan found himself staring an older woman in the face. Her eyes looked at him questioningly; then those eyes came to rest on Goten, and immediately the suspicion was lifted and replaced with a cheerful sparkle.
"Hello again, young man! We haven't seen you since yesterday!" the woman said, bending over to speak to Goten.
"Hi! I remember you!" Goten said happily. "You're nice!"
The woman flushed and waved a hand, as if batting the compliment away. Suddenly, she looked quite a few years younger.
"Are you flirting with Hannah, Goten?" Videl asked, stepping up behind Gohan.
"Uh-uh!" Goten shook his head fervently.
Videl quirked a brow. "Liar. I know you better than that, you little charmer."
"So you must be Gohan," Hannah said suddenly to the elder of the Son boys.
"Oh, um, yes, I am," Gohan answered, a bit taken aback. He shook the proffered hand. "Just walking this young lady home."
"I see…hmm…" Hannah was obviously thinking about something. "I believe we have some fresh cookies in the kitchen, if the young man is interested?" She shot a meaningful glance towards the chibi that meant she was speaking about Goten, not Gohan.
"Cookies? For me? Yeah!" Goten was all enthusiasm.
"I don't think you wanna do that," Gohan cautioned. "He eats a lot."
"It'll be fine," Hannah said firmly, taking the child's hand and escorting him into the house. "I've been around children for a while. I'll keep an eye on it." With that, she led Goten around a corner, the chibi chattering happily, and the two disappeared.
A sudden thought struck Videl as she stepped into the house, and she spun around. "Feel up to a spar? I need to beat something."
Gohan looked startled. "Okay…sure!"
After stepping inside and shedding his wet jacket and umbrella and leaving the grocery bag propped up by the door, he followed her down a few hallways, taking occasional turns until they finally came to a door. She opened it a crack, peered in, then pushed it open all the way, revealing a martial arts dojo.
"Just making sure no one's in here," she commented as she strolled in and walked to the center of the floor. "Come on in and close the door.
Gohan obeyed, stepping in and pushing the door closed behind him. He turned around in time to get a knee in the stomach and an elbow in the back. It actually hurt, which meant that she'd put a lot of force behind it. The surprise alone was enough to send him sprawling to the floor at Videl's feet.
"Come on, Son," she growled with a surprising amount of anger in her voice. He knew she was really upset about something; she only called him by his last name when she was extremely ticked off. "I know you can do a lot better than this."
The demi-Saiyan picked himself up off the floor and dusted himself off. "I thought this was going to be a friendly spar," he said calmly, strolling towards the center of the room. "Instead, you jump me when my back's turned. Was I mistaken?"
The response was a fist flying at his head. He dodged, and the match had officially began. Only this time, he was actually prepared with a defense.
It was fairly long, considering the differences in their strengths. Videl was attacking like a person possessed by some insane demon that was pushing her beyond what she normally would have done. Gohan never fought with her at his full power, but in order to get through this one without too many bruises, he was actually having to exercise a tiny bit of his potential. And that was definitely not normal.
When her fist made contact with his face at one point (just one of a large number of punches she had managed to land), he actually paused to make sure his nose wasn't broken. In that split second, Videl landed a swift upwards kick to his chin, sending him sprawling backwards. He found himself flat on his back on the mat, staring up at the ceiling.
A few feet away, Videl was panting and sweating. But she looked strangely satisfied. "Had enough? Or shall we continue?"
Gohan got to his feet. "I wouldn't mind going on, if you don't."
She smirked, and he found it positively unnerving. No one had the right to flash the trademark Vegeta smirk except Vegeta. But he didn't have anymore time to contemplate that. Videl was already flying at his head with another onslaught, and it took all of his attention to block her attacks. She was definitely angry about something, and if he'd been almost anyone else, he probably would have been unconscious, bruised, and bleeding on the mat after about the first ten seconds or so.
All of a sudden, he saw it. That elusive opening in her defense. Seizing his opportunity, he struck. She wasn't ready for it initially, but she managed to somehow hook her foot around his leg on her way to the ground. That threw him off balance, and both of them tumbled to the floor.
Gohan realized about halfway down that if he landed on her, it would probably kill her, and managed to do a half-turn in midair. She landed—hard—on top of him instead of the other way around. They were face-to-face; their noses were maybe an inch apart.
For a short moment, neither moved. Then, Videl let out a tiny shriek and pushed herself backwards. She scooted a few feet across the floor, and ended up sitting a couple yards away from where Gohan was still sprawled on his back. He sat up and had to wipe sweat out of his eyes in order to even look at her. She was doing essentially the same thing: panting heavily, and wiping perspiration from her forehead with the back of her hand. Her face was bright red from exhertion.
"Well…that was fun…" he panted.
"Yeah…it was…" she replied in an equally hoarse voice.
An extremely heavy and very akward silence dropped onto the room with a nearly-audible thunk. After about thirty seconds, Gohan remembered something. "Hey, let's call it a draw, okay? I think we'd better go check on Goten. I know your housekeeper said she could handle him, but I'm not so sure what would happen if she tried to take the cookies away from him. Hopefully when we get there she'll still have both of her hands. Trying to take food away from a Saiyan isn't a good idea, and unless you warned her, she won't know that."
Videl chuckled in spite of herself. She knew exactly what Goten's eating habits were like. "I think Hannah can take care of herself. But okay, we'll call this a draw and go check it out."
He followed her once again; they had to walk through the main hallway, and passed through just as Goten was coming back with Hannah. He had what appeared to be a chocolate chip cookie in his hand, and he and the housekeeper seemed to be enjoying a lively conversation.
"Hi, big brother!" Goten smiled happily. He pointed a finger at Hannah. "She makes really good cookies! They're almost as yummy as Mommy's!"
"As I was just saying," Hannah chuckled with dancing eyes, "I'm honored. Not many can ever measure up to a mother's cooking." For a moment, the housekeeper's eyes landed on Videl, and one of her eyebrows quirked to form a quizzical expression. Then she looked back at the two boys; Gohan was helping Goten get his coat back on, since the chibi had managed to get tangled up in the jacket.
Finally, Goten's head poked through the right place. He looked at his laughing brother in annoyance. "I can't do everything! I'm just a little kid!"
"Oh, you're just a little kid, huh?" Gohan said, pulling his own coat on. "Well, then, what am I?"
"You're a kid who's bigger than me!"
The two women in the room both choked on laughter as Gohan continued. "Well, then what would you call Mom?"
"Mommy's a grown-up."
"Then what's Grandpa?"
The chibi rolled his eyes in exasperation at what he took to be his brother's thickheadedness. "Grandpa's a grown-up who used to own our Mommy," Goten replied matter-of-factly, as though it was the most obvious thing in the whole world. "He's a very old grown-up."
The adults were all biting their fists to keep from busting a gut with laughter at Goten's innocence. Gohan seemed to be the most in control, since he was far more accustomed to his brother's quirky ideas than the others. He handed the chibi the umbrella, than scooped up both Goten and the groceries. "Well, thank you for everything. We'd better get home before Mom has a cow."
Hannah stepped around them to open the door. "Please come again."
"If you promise to have more cookies, I will!" Goten said loudly, swallowing the last bite of his cookie. "Those were yummy!"
"I hope you didn't ruin your appetite," Gohan said with the air of a long-suffering sibling. The two brothers said one more goodbye, and then they were gone.
Hannah pushed the door closed once they were out of sight and turned a very measuring look on the young Miss Satan. "Well?"
"Well what?" Videl grumbled. "I needed to beat something, so I challenged him to a spar."
"I hope you didn't hurt him!" Hannah cried, but Videl shook her head.
"Gohan's actually a better fighter than I am," the teen sighed. "He just holds back so I actually have a chance. He's the one that taught me how to fly, so things aren't too uneven."
"Ah," Hannah managed to make that single syllable speak volumes, though she didn't elaborate on what her exact thoughts were. "Well, if he's anything like that little brother of his, I say keep him around."
"Oh, for Kami's sake, Hannah!" Videl said in exasperation. "Look, we're just friends, okay?"
"All right, all right," the housekeeper held up her hands in a warding gesture. "Don't get so upset."
"I'll get upset if I want."
"Now you're just acting like a child."
"So sue me."
"Satan Videl, you do not speak to me in that tone of voice!" Hannah scolded angrily. "That Gohan is a nice boy, and he's obviously concerned about you."
"I could've told you that!" Videl snapped. "Remember what I told you about the mindlink and him calling me out of the darkness?"
"So it stands to reason that there must be something there," Hannah pointed out logically.
"And so what if there is?" Videl yelled. Half an instant after the last letter had left her mouth, she realized exactly what she'd said, and clasped a hand over her mouth, as though by covering her traitorous mouth, she could make the words disappear. She slumped down into a chair that stood in the hallway.
Hannah nodded knowingly, her anger gone. "I know you're still scared, dearling. But as my mother told me after I went through a major heartbreak, 'This, too, shall pass.' Just hold on." The housekeeper leaned forward to look the teenager straight in the eye. "You're scared, and that's all right. But don't push this boy away because of it. He cares about you, sweetheart. And this might just be an old woman talking, but I wouldn't let him get away. Give him half a chance, and I'd be willing to be that you won't regret it."
Videl nodded and rose. "We'll see." Feeling drained, physically and emotionally, she meandered up the stairs towards her own room.
"Videl was acting funny," Goten commented as the Son house came into view amidst the trees. "Maybe she's still sick or something."
"Yeah…maybe…" Gohan replied without much force behind his words.
Goten looked suspiciously at his brother. "You don't sound too good. Maybe you got sick too!"
"Yeah…maybe…" the teenager answered; his vocabulary seemed to have diminished to all but those two little words. As soon as they touched down, Goten ran into the house, loudly proclaiming that his brother had caught Videl's mysterious illness.
Gohan walked into his home a little more slowly and set the groceries down on the kitchen counter. After reassuring his mother of his continued good health, he retreated to the safety of the bathroom. With the door locked behind him, he stared at his reflection in the mirror.
In the kitchen, he could still hear Goten insisting that Gohan had been infected with the mysterious disease that had landed Videl in the hospital. A small sigh blew past his lips. Yeah, Goten, I'm sick. But not the way you think I am. I'm not physically ill. More…heartsick.
AN: *sigh* I have been waiting and waiting to put those Goten moments in a story, and this seemed as good a time as any, if only just to lighten the mood. Let's face it, the kid's adorable!
Next time, on "You're Still You," a panic attack in the middle of the night during a huge storm sends Videl on the run. I'm not sure how far the next chapter will go, but I'm fairly certain that it'll be nice and dramatic and angsty and all that fun stuff.
Just to warn everyone, I probably won't be updating this story again anytime before Sunday because I'm out of town on Saturday doing a big college scholarship thingamabobber. Yay. Fun. Woo-hoo. I hope you enjoyed my latest chapter. I think we're about half done with this tale. Looking at four, maybe five chapters to go, tops. Return to read them if you desire. I won't beg. It's your call. Thanks a mil. Toodles!