My second fanfic here, and I'm already editing it. Geez. Anyway, I'd like to thank the people who reviewed its first version: Fan-of-COOLNESS, Trunksluva14, Pyro G.I.R., Just Curious, The Other Kate, XZanayu, Jewels, and Bulma. I'm especially indebted to Pyro G.I.R. and The Other Kate, who both suggested ways that I could improve my story. Hey, that's what I like reviews for: feedback. Thanks to the both of you, and please let me know if this one's better!
I only made some minor changes to the story. I added some more detail (the dream especially) and changed a few sentences – nothing major.
Disclaimer: No, I don't own DBZ. Again, if I did, I wouldn't be writing a fanfic about it.
Just A Day
The mighty predator stalks his prey silently, padding through the underbrush as if it were nothing. Son Gohan hid in the bushes on the other side of the yard, glancing thoughtfully at his mentor, Piccolo, who meditated under the tree next to his house. He looked back down at his seven hundred page volume on the saber-toothed tiger. They live in untamed lands and can often be found in the forests near Mount Paozu, he read silently. He looked back up at Piccolo and grinned to himself. This will be too easy! he thought. Then he slowly lowered his ki and faded back into the surrounding trees.
Son Goku watched his only child with interest from the "bathtub," a barrel large enough to hold two people at one time. He was careful not to think to loudly; Piccolo was telepathic, and he could read thoughts just as easily as he could fly. So Gohan was going to try to sneak up on Piccolo, was he? This should be good, he thought as he relaxed in the steaming bath.
Of course, neither of them realized that the green alien in question was no longer meditating. He had already "overheard" them and was in the midst of preparing a counter-strike.
Piccolo smirked to himself even as Gohan crept up behind him. So the boy thinks he can catch me unaware…how nice of him to believe so. I suppose I should teach him a lesson, remind him who his sensei is. Heh. This might even be fun. He located Gohan swiftly, just off to the left and making headway through the bushes towards him. Not that he needed to track the boy by his ki; he was making so much noise as he crawled through the undergrowth that an infant would be able to spot him. But he doesn't need to know that just yet, the Namek amended.
Predictably, Gohan froze an arm's length away from his intended victim. Any second, he would leap, and Piccolo would be trapped between the ground and a bouncing demi-Saiyan. He gathered himself into a ball, counted to three, and launched himself at the unsuspecting Namek with a blood-curdling cry.
There was only one problem: the unsuspecting Namek wasn't as unsuspecting as he had first thought, and Gohan ended up sprawled out on the ground with a mouthful of dirt as his father laughed.
"Hey, that's not fair, Piccol-oomph!" Gohan grunted as the full weight of the other alien came to rest on his back, pushing him farther into the ground. He lifted his head out of the earth and spat out grass. He was about to say more when he felt something moving in his mouth, and with a groan he pulled a worm from somewhere by his tongue.
"Bleah!" Gohan exclaimed as he held the worm in the air. Above him he could hear Piccolo chuckling, and from somewhere near the house his father was roaring with laughter. "That's not funny, Dad! Stop laughing!" he said as he tossed the worm into the bushes.
"You will need to do better than that if you want to sneak up on me, Gohan," Piccolo said, with his customary smirk on his face.
"That was a good one, Piccolo! Who would have thought that you were so good at playing hide-and-seek?" Goku continued to laugh. Then Piccolo stopped laughing and glared at the Saiyan before he zapped him with his eye beams.
Needless to say, Son Goku squealed as he felt his hair standing on end. Then it was Gohan's turn to laugh as his father gingerly felt his hair. Which really was standing on end. "Great, Dad," Gohan laughed, still trapped underneath Piccolo. "Now you look like Vegeta!"
Goku mock-pouted. "How dare you insult the oh-so-mighty Prince of all Saiyans!" he said in a high-pitched voice. He even folded his arms across his chest Vegeta-style and tried his best to mimic his pinched face. This caused the two observers to laugh even harder. "Now I must teach you a lesson!"
Much to Piccolo's and Gohan's surprise, Goku leapt out of the barrel and struck a classical Ginyu-like pose before them. He didn't think anything of it until Gohan dropped his face back into the dirt and Piccolo shook his head, looking down at the child below him instead. "Good Kami, Son, put some clothes on before you do that," the Namek groaned.
"Oh, yeah," Goku replied, grinning sheepishly and rubbing the back of his head with one hand. "I forgot…hang on a second!"
"He's your father, kid. Just remember that," the Namek told the snickering child below him. Piccolo paused while he lifted his head, and he was suddenly attacked by a peach-and-white blur. He was completely knocked off his feet and away from Gohan, who stood up and brushed off his clothing. The force of the attack left him sprawled on the ground. A split-second after his vision cleared, he felt a pressure settle on his stomach. He sighed, knowing who it was but hoping he was wrong, and lifted his head.
"You weren't ready for that one," Goku exclaimed smugly. The towel-clad man was sitting on Piccolo's chest and keeping him pinned to the earth, and the Namek's pride simply could not tolerate such humiliation. He did the only thing he could at the time…he snatched Goku's hair with both hands and began to pull as hard as he could.
"Ow ow ow ow ow watch the hair!" Goku cried, trying to detach the Namek's hands from his hair.
And this was the scene Son Chi-Chi encountered when she walked outside to call the men in for dinner.
Several bruises and ten minutes later, Piccolo and Goku had yet to satisfactorily explain to Chi-Chi the reason why Gohan was covered with dirt and why Goku and Piccolo were having a tug-of-war with Goku's hair over Piccolo's chest. Not to mention the fact that Goku had only been wearing a towel. At the moment, they were seated around the kitchen table while Chi-Chi berated them for their behavior.
"What were you three thinking?" Chi-Chi yelled. "You men have no decency at all! I sit in here all day cooking your meals and cleaning your clothes, and instead of cooperation I find you at each others' throats! You should be ashamed of yourselves."
Goku shrunk lower into his chair at her stinging remarks. "We were only having fun, Chi-Chi," he mumbled.
To his surprise, his wife just sighed. "That's my Goku. All right, you can eat now."
The two Saiyans began shoveling food into their mouths like a pair of garbage trucks. Both Piccolo and Chi-Chi looked away, unable to tolerate watching such disgusting table manners. Piccolo even had to use a small amount of ki to form a shield against the flying table scraps. It took no small amount of self control to prevent him from smacking the two upside the head.
And to think that I have to deal with two more years of this…if I didn't know any better, I'd make a wish on the dragonballs for the Androids to appear tomorrow just so I wouldn't have to put up with their abhorrent eating habits, Piccolo growled to himself. One day down, eight hundred more to go.
The meal was finished in no more than ten minutes, and with a burp Goku pushed his chair away from the table. "I'm goin' go bed now g'night all you guys," he murmured as he disappeared down a hallway.
Chi-Chi was nearly done washing the dishes, an inhuman feat considering the amount of dishes her husband and son could go through in one meal. Of course, she has had plenty of practice…she's dealt with these two for years, Piccolo mused. The woman was finished in record time, and she walked rather than stumbled down the hallway to the bedroom she shared with Goku.
The Namek looked across the table at his student. "What, kid?" he asked gruffly. "You know you should be going to bed, too. It's late."
"Will you sleep in my room with me? I don't want to be in there by myself." The eight year old boy stood up and stretched before glancing pleadingly at his mentor.
"And why is this, Gohan?"
"Um…I don't want to have a nightmare tonight. I'm afraid of them."
Piccolo rolled his eyes and cursed silently. A boy bordering on the level of power known as Super Saiyan, capable of destroying the whole planet with a simple motion of his hand, was afraid of having a simple nightmare? Unbelievable! Piccolo came to the Son house so he could train in anticipation of the battle with the Androids, not to baby-sit a boy who couldn't sleep! He narrowed his eyes and just glared at the fidgeting boy before him.
"Please, Piccolo-san? Just this once?" the child asked again, this time with tears in his eyes. His voice wavered as he spoke.
Wasn't it "just this once" last week as well? Piccolo asked himself. Then he sighed heavily. The things I do for this kid. "All right," he growled. "But this is the last time I am doing this, do you understand?"
The response was an instant attachment to his leg by Gohan. "Oh, thank you thank you thank you," Gohan babbled until Piccolo's warning growl cut him short. He hastily released the Namek's leg and retreated up the stairs to his own room. Piccolo followed at his own pace.
When he finally walked in the door to Gohan's room, the young boy was already in his pajamas and under the covers. "Thank you, Piccolo-san!" he gushed.
"Sure, kid. But this is the last time I am doing this, got it?" he hissed back.
"Okay. Goodnight, Piccolo-san!" With that out of the way, Gohan promptly fell asleep.
Piccolo drifted over to the corner of the room closest to the window and began his own meditation. I must have hit my head harder than I thought on the day I accepted Son's offer to stay here until the battle. I must recharge my energy, though, because tomorrow is going to be rough. I intend to make it that way…we have a lot of training to catch up on.
Piccolo awoke from his meditative state some time in the early hours of the morning to the sound of moaning. He opened his eyes and glanced over at Gohan. The boy was clearly having a nightmare of some sort; his brow was drenched with sweat and his blankets were tangled around his body as though he had been thrashing about in his sleep. Piccolo then reached into Gohan's mind to see what was causing the fuss, and he regretted dismissing the child's fear of nightmares as he was sucked into the darker realm of the boy's sleep…
Gohan whimpered as he felt his back hit the rock behind him. He knew that Frieza was coming for him. He could see the evil being advancing on him, feel his dark ki closing in on him. There was no one left to help him on Namek, and he knew it. He had given it his all, even managing to go head-to-head with Frieza for a short time before the other being gained the upper hand.
Blast you, Frieza! the boy screamed silently as tears flowed down his cheeks. I can't even fight him! I'm not strong enough for this…Dad, Piccolo-san, please wake up! I need you here with me! Gohan alternated between clenching and unclenching his fists. Frieza was forming a ki ball now, and it would only be a matter of time before Gohan would be little more than dust on the surface of the planet. Just like Krillin…whose only legacy was a piece of the armor he had worn during the fight. It had survived the blast that had killed him, and its presence seemed to accuse Gohan of life. A life that he should have been able to save.
"Do you have any last words, boy?" the monster snarled as he stopped a mere arm's-length away from him.
The demi-Saiyan looked past Frieza at the still forms of his father and Vegeta, the last two full-blooded Saiyans in existence. They had been beaten down mercilessly and were left bloody and unconscious. Vegeta had been trying to attack Frieza. Goku had been trying to protect his son. Neither one had been successful.
Krillin had been vaporized after Goku had fallen.
And Piccolo-san? The Namek was lying on his stomach on the ground, much like he had after he had warded off Nappa's attack months ago. One arm was outstretched, seemingly reaching for Gohan, and the other was bent by his head. Try as he would, Gohan could not get a ki reading from him. It looked as if he would be out of the fight permanently. He, too, had been trying to protect Gohan as he had promised, but his efforts were fruitless. Frieza was going to kill the boy.
Well, then…perhaps I can fix this for him, Piccolo thought as he inserted a projection of himself into the nightmare. This should change things a bit.
In the dream, then, came a new scene, a new act in the play.
"Well, then, boy, it's time for you to die," Frieza cackled as he held up the ki ball. "It was such fun playing with you." Frieza readied himself to throw it, enjoying the expression of fear on Gohan's face…and he did not notice the movement of a supposedly dead warrior behind him.
However, Gohan did. His eyes nearly bugged out of his head as he watched the "dead" man stand up and flex his arm muscles. "Piccolo-san?" he whispered disbelievingly. "Is it really you?" Then he stared at the Namek as he powered up, causing the very earth beneath his feet to crumble.
This, however, Frieza did notice. He turned around and started to laugh when he saw exactly who it was powering up, but his laugh turned into a scream as the Namek loosed an enormous ball of ki at him. He didn't even have time to block, and he was disintegrated completely.
"Piccolo-san! How did you do that?" Gohan asked in wonder. "He killed you!"
"Gohan," Piccolo added into the dream, "you must never give up in battle. Even when you are frightened, you must remember that you are strong, that you can win. No matter what, there is always a way to win, even when all seems lost. Remember this."
Gohan smiled as his mentor spoke. "Yes, Piccolo-san, I'll remember…"
The dream faded away as Piccolo lifted the sleeping boy from his bed. That should keep the nightmares away for the rest of the night. Sleep well, Gohan. He distinctly remembered promising that he would never let anything happen to the kid, and this was no exception, he told himself as he cradled the boy in his lap in a completely uncharacteristic display of affection. Then he, too, returned to his meditation, knowing that Gohan would sleep peacefully with his strong aura wrapped around him.
"Hey, Piccolo!" a voice called softly from the doorway.
"Wha-?" Piccolo's startled exclamation was cut off by a bright flash of light. When he was able to see again, he could make out Son Goku's form standing in the door, grinning hugely. Then he caught sight of the offending object.
Son had a camera, and that camera had just produced an instant picture of Piccolo being, well, un-Piccolo-like.
Not caring that he would wake up the entire household, Piccolo bellowed: "SON!"
And the ever-childish Saiyan ran like mad out the door, photograph safe in his clutches, immortalizing an all-too-rare moment of affection in the Namek's life.
Won't the gang love to see this! Goku thought as he flew away with the picture.