I went through so many drafts of this author's note that I'm just going to save everything for the end of the chapter.
Chapter 22 - School Days
Gohan sighed, scratching the back of his neck. "Well, alright then" he said.
A group of seven crooks kneeled on the asphalt before him, weapons and loot thrown to the wayside. Weird thing was, Gohan hadn't even had time to deliver one of his heroic one-liners before they had given themselves up. The second he landed on the scene, they completely gave up.
The cops moved in around him, grabbing them and slapping cuffs on each of them before loading them into the van. Gohan took a moment to tighten his turban and adjust his glasses while that was being handled. He never got back to Bulma about repairing his outfit, never seeming to remember the few times he was over, but he was making due. He had stitched up the various tears in the fabric from Janemba's… sharper attacks, and had a makeshift headpiece. His cape was abandoned in its entirety, as it was beyond saving and just a little impractical at times.
"Well so much for killing time before I head in" he thought. Of course, having an easy time getting crime off the streets wasn't nearly a bad thing, but it certainly left him with more free time than he had planned to have. "One thing's for sure, I'm not going in for school breakfast again" he thought, shuddering. "Trying that once was more than enough."
Videl had told him that eventually, people would be seeking him out for a challenge. And while they had moved past the stage of going underground at the mention of his alter ego's name, the crime in the city didn't really seem to be getting past its fear of him any time soon. It further annoyed him that the Saiyan part of him wished they'd at least try to fight back before surrendering…
He shook the thoughts from his head as he took back to the air, rising above the tallest buildings as he began his patrol anew. Honestly, in any other city, crime would be at a minimum, if any, so soon after a calamity the likes of which had struck Satan City during the incident with Hell leaking out. But here, people were WAY too headstrong for their own good.
He flew a few more slow laps around the city, keeping an eye out for trouble to no avail. With a shrug, he darted across the town, landing behind the school, making sure he was hidden before he disengaged his costume. He took a deep breath, letting the cool air run over his head before he slipped in the back door.
He walked through the halls, surveying the place he hadn't been in for the past month. After all the repairs the school needed, he had thought the place would be nearly unrecognizable, but it was all familiar. Of course, that made sense. The building hadn't been totaled, just a large part of the front wall of the school had been blasted away. There were places where he could see that some structural damage from the attack had snaked further inwards, but it had all been repaired as well.
He found his way to his locker, lost in his observations of the school's structure. A little too lost to recognize the reactions he was getting as he made his way through. He twisted the lock and opened the door, grabbing a few supplies for the day. His small book bag contained all the assignments that they had received over the course of the 'break,' ready to be turned in.
Closing the locker, he turned around, stopping short as he saw the crowd gathering around him. He raised his eyebrows. "Uh, what's going on?" he asked hesitantly, not quite sure of what was happening around him.
His question was met with dead silence, as he continued to garner stares for some unknown reason. Gohan swallowed heavily, feeling a little nervous from the attention. He focused on making sure his tail was wrapped tight around his torso, under his shirt, and sure enough, it hadn't become exposed.
Then someone took a small step forward out of the crowd. A petite girl with a bushy head of orange hair looked almost terrifiedly at him, a growing sense of unease bunching in his chest.
"You're… alive?" was whispered out from her.
Confusion replaced part of the unease as he scrunched his brow. "Uh, yeah, why wouldn't I be?" he asked.
"Because a classroom full of people saw you get caught in the explosion during the terrorist attack" someone else from the crowd chimed.
Gohan flinched, as it came back to him. He had almost dismissed the beginning of his engagement against the army from Hell from his mind. A foolish decision to ignore it and come back like nothing had happened. "O-Oh, that..." he stuttered out, put on the spot. "Yeah, I k-know it looked bad, but I made it out in one piece, that's the important part" he said, attempting to dismiss it, before turning on the spot and trying to walk away.
"How?" another voice called out, bringing him to a halt.
He looked back over his shoulder. "W-What?" he asked.
"How did you survive?" the same classmate asked. "I mean, not that any of us wanted you to not survive, but… how?"
He paled slightly, realizing he didn't have an excuse at ready. "Complete a month's worth of assignments in a few days, completely forget to account for DISAPPEARING IN A BALL OF FIRE!" he berated himself. "I… Well uh… You see…" he stuttered, coming up short. For all his book smarts, he was earning an F in a live test of social performance.
"Well duh, didn't you guys see Saiyaman at the scene?" a new voice called out from the end of the hall, one that almost made him deflate in relief. Videl strolled down the hall, walking up to Gohan's side. "Just because he was a bit late to stop the attack doesn't mean he couldn't have grabbed Gohan out of there before he got seriously injured."
"But the explosion-" someone started to say.
Videl waved a hand. "Burns are a lot easier to heal than crushed body parts" she explained. "I went to see him in the hospital, it was pretty bad before he had a skin graft to fix it up."
Words could not describe the gratefulness Gohan felt for the daughter of Hercule at that moment, as murmurs trickled through the crowd, and they began to disperse, satisfied with the explanations. Videl let out a short huff beside him. "I know we're a bunch of angsty teenagers being dragged back into a hellhole… well, I guess HFILhole is a more accurate term now…" she corrected, before continuing. "But you would think surviving something that left most people to think you were dead would at least be handled with more delicacy than people ganging up on you and tagging you with questions." Then she sighed. "Then again, I ought to know better."
Gohan, letting himself begin to relax, gave her a confused glance. "Why's that?"
"People suck, and teenagers suck more" Videl said simply, grabbing her book bag tighter. "Come on, let's head to class."
Outside of a couple stares, the first few periods of the day passed without incident. Not much happened in classes on the teacher's side either, as most of the classes focused on reintegration after the extended break, as well as turning in and going over the assignments that had been given over the course of said break. Gohan was rather surprised by the volume of assignments that hadn't been completed over the break. "They had more than enough time" he thought confusedly.
It was most obvious in Mrs. Jayce's class, only a handful of students (himself and Videl included, though not Erasa or Sharpner) walked up with their assignments in hand. It was just a continuation of their Red Ribbon Army assignments, so it should have been easy since they already had a start on it.
As the few students returned to their seats, Mrs. Jayce looked around the room, none too approvingly, at the majority of the students. "Now, does anyone have notes?" she asked.
A couple more students got up to pass their notes in (the school was well aware that not everyone would be in a position to do assignments with the damage the city had sustained), but that still left most of the classes assignments unaccounted for. She looked mildly annoyed, but didn't comment further for the time being. "Very well then. Now then, before you all left, we had begun researching the history of the Red Ribbon Army. I would have expected we could simply jump back into the unit, but it seems that we require a review."
There was a spattering of grumbling from around the class, but she left no room for argument. After all, it was their fault that they needed to do the review anyways. As books came out around the room, Gohan felt vaguely annoyed that they were having to go over this, but resigned himself to it. It would be easy if nothing else, then again all of his classes at OSH were easy in comparison to his mother's brutal education regimine.
So, with no small amount of boredom, he opened his textbook back to the fallout of the Red Ribbon Army (something he knew from his dad's personal stories and from the textbooks both), and began going over the material yet again.
"I'm just saying" Gohan squeezed out between bites. "People had more than enough time to do the work, or at least let their parents know they needed a pass, right?"
Lunch time arrived some time later, as the four of them sat on the roof. Videl had grown more used to Gohan's obscene servings of food after training at his place for the past several weeks, though after the break, it ended up being quite the shocking reminder to the blondes of the group. Sharpner gave a sheepish grin. "Honestly Brains, not everyone sees schoolwork as easy as you do. Some of us just don't like doing it, so we don't do it sometimes."
"But it's not like there was that much assigned" Gohan still pressed. "At least for the amount of time we had to do it. There was maybe a week's worth of work if you only spent a couple hours per day doing it. And again, everyone else didn't have to do it if they only got a note from home. Our teachers were really lenient given the circumstances."
"From what I gathered, most of us didn't exactly lose our homes. It was mainly the businesses downtown that were totaled or uninhabitable" Sharpner shot back. "Would your mom sign off on a waiver like that when you both know that you have the time, you just didn't do it?"
Briefly, Gohan pictured how that scenario would go down in his head, before shuddering violently. "Not well…" he muttered.
Videl smiled. "Yeah, I can't see Chi-Chi taking too kindly to Gohan slacking. Lucky Gohan's the opposite of a slacker in basically every form. Whether it's completing lessons or teaching them, he doesn't really hold back."
"Oh yeah!" Erasa piped up, leaning in. "How's your training going, Videl? What have you been learning?"
Videl finished taking a sip of her soda, and smiled. "Great. You know Gohan, I'm having trouble believing that you're a novice at teaching. Maybe if you don't end up liking scholar work, you could make a great sensei."
Blushing, Gohan looked down at his food. "I'm not really that great. Roshi could probably teach you so much better than me, but I'm doing my best."
Sharpner sat up a bit straighter himself. "Actually, I'm curious now too. What all can you do now, Videl?" he prodded.
"Well, I'm getting better at enhancing my power and shooting blasts out" she said, with a small tinge of excitement lacing her voice. "And Gohan just taught me how to sense ki, though it's still kind of rough."
"Sense ki?" he asked, looking a little lost.
Videl nodded. "Yeah, like… Gohan, how did you put it again?" she asked, turning to the bottomless hole beside her.
Swallowing, Gohan nodded. "Ki is life energy, so every living thing has it. You can actually train yourself to be able to detect ki, and eventually pick out specific ki signatures. You can tell where someone is, or even their intentions at times. The more you practice, the more you can tell about someone's energy signal."
Sharpner blinked, before sitting back. "Well rest in peace, privacy, I guess" he said, looking a little struck. "That's kind of insane, like a sixth sense sorta thing going on here."
"Well, it's a sense in of itself, so it kind of is" Gohan said. "It gives you sensory input for your body to internalize and react to, just like the other senses. Maybe not like one of those psychic sixth senses on tv, but it very much is a sixth sense."
"Dude, you literally know where people are and what they're doing, how is that not psychic?" Sharpner countered.
"Even I can't tell exactly what people are doing with my ki sense" Gohan explained. "It's not so accurate I can tell what movements each of their fingers are making, when their muscles are tensing for moving, or anything like that. At the most I can get a sense of location, power, and any strong emotions they might be feeling."
"Whatever you say, I'm still calling it a sixth sense."
"Sharpner, you don't have much sense to begin with, how can you be so sure about this?" Videl said.
"Yikes, Satan, that was cold" Sharpner said, looking play wounded.
"And with how hot you keep claiming to be, it shouldn't have affected it. Guess we know better now" Erasa added.
"Why are you guys dog piling on me? Brains is right there!" Sharpner protested. "Gohan, take some cover fire for me!"
"Are you kidding? Gohan would either not get a single thing, take it in a literal sense, or just straight up twist it around and play circles around us. There's no middle ground to be found there" Videl said. "I'm looking for some easy prey."
"Great, so I'm prey now?"
"Now you're getting it!"
The entire group began laughing, Sharpner joining in after his slight frustration wore off. The laughter was contagious, and once they started, it was a few minutes before any of them were even able to stop. The first to stop was Gohan, whose stomach brought him back down to earth, and he couldn't keep eating while laughing. Erasa stopped last, wiping a tear away. "Kami, can I just say I missed this? It's been too long since we were all able to just hang out in a normal way."
"I agree" Videl nodded, still smiling. "This is really nice. Even if classes are a bit of a slog to be back in."
"Then let's take this past classes" Sharpner said. "Any idea of any places that are open besides the school? We should go hang out somewhere after gym."
"Well, I'm pretty sure the mall is still shut down" Erasa said. "And it's getting a little cold to hang outside."
"Do you guys want to come over to my place?" Gohan suddenly offered. "You haven't been there yet, Erasa, and you barely visited when you came over, Sharpner. It's still pretty nice up there, even if it's starting to get chilly."
Erasa's eyes lit up. "Ooooh, that sounds like fun, Gohan!" she cheerfully agrees. "Videl keeps telling me about how beautiful it is up in the mountains, so I can't wait to see it for myself!"
Sharpner, on the other hand, didn't look so convinced. "Not that I don't appreciate the offer, but there were a lot of near death experiences last time me and Videl were up there" he chuckled nervously. "And me and Erasa haven't had any of that training ourselves to protect ourselves either."
Gohan raised an eyebrow. "You know I'll be there and conscious this time, right?" he asked incredulously. "Trust me, nothing is a threat to you near my place, and if you want to go exploring, nothing even approaches being a threat with me around" he assured him. "The most dangerous creatures around Mt. Paozu are dragons, and I just so happen to be on good terms with all the ones I know of. The dinosaurs won't even want to get within a mile of anyone in my family if they can help it either, and the rest of the wildlife isn't really a problem to scare off. Neither are the bandits, we've got a reputation there by now."
Sharpner elbowed Erasa. "You notice how he's got a way of soothing you and giving you a lot more to be worried about at the same time?" he asked.
Rolling his eyes, Gohan huffed. "Videl, soda can?" he asked.
With a nod, Videl downed the last few mouthfuls of soda before passing her can over to Gohan. Very seriously, Gohan held the can out in front of him, hand around it, before a bright flash of light sparked out. It only lasted for an instant, but when it was done, tin dust was settling to the ground. Wiping his hands, Gohan couldn't help but smirk at the dropped jaws of Sharpner and Erasa. "Convinced I can protect you from the big bad animals yet?" he asked. He chuckled as he started collecting his dishes, getting them ready to capsulize.
"Can you do that too, Videl?" Erasa asked, eyes wide in awe.
Videl shrugged. "I mean, probably. Not as clean as Gohan though, or as fast." Sticking her hand out, she scrunched her face for a moment, her hand glowing steadily stronger. There was a brief flash of light that pushed outwards, buffeting the group with a light breeze as the energy detonated, and Videl retracted her hand. "I'm still working on my control."
"You're tons better than you were when we started, Videl" Gohan praised.
"Please, I would hope that it wouldn't take me three days of mediation to get a spark of energy out by this point" she rolled her eyes. "That just sounds like basic progress to me."
"Basic progress is still progress" he countered back. "Believe me, it took me quite a while to get a handle on my energy too, and my training was sink or swim. I was dead if I didn't rise to meet the challenge."
He got a couple raised eyebrows from the other two as Videl rolled her eyes. "Are you trying to one-up me?" she asked.
"Kind of the opposite" Gohan pointed out. "I'm trying to make you see how with less intense training you're still doing really well."
"But I'm almost eighteen and you did your training when you were, what was it, four?" she asked.
"I also always had a crazy inner potential to fall back on. You're all hard work and dedication, Videl."
"Are you two going to keep flirting all day, or should we give you some space?" Sharpner asked.
The two black-haired teens on the rooftop wheeled around to face the blonde simultaneously, blushes gracing their cheeks. "WE'RE NOT FLIRTING!" was shouted in unison, only causing the blush to deepen.
"Suuuuure you aren't" Sharpner said with a smirk as he gathered his things. "C'mon, the bell's gonna ring any minute now."
"Sharpner, just because I can't fly yet doesn't mean I can't help you fly" Videl said with a none-too subtle glare directed his way. "Best part is, you don't even need to go through airport security. Where do you want to go?"
Paling a bit, Sharpner scooped up the rest of his things before bolting for the door, much to the amusement of the remaining three. "Oh, his next class is across the building, let him go, Videl" Erasa pointed out, chuckling.
"He's probably going to be terrified of being paired with you in P.E. if we're continuing our martial arts unit anyways" Gohan pointed out, all of his food disappearing in a puff of smoke, leaving only a small capsule behind. "Shouldn't that be punishment enough?"
"Hmm… Tempting offer, and good point. Still, I kind of want some immediate satisfaction" Videl mused with faux vindictiveness dripping from her voice. "Ah, but if he's booking it he's probably too far away by now, so I guess this is what I'm stuck with."
"Shame, I would have loved a demonstration of your training" Erasa said, giggling as she gathered her own things. "I'm sure I'll see something later though, when we're at Gohan's place."
"Speaking of which…" Videl said, turning to the teen in question. "What's my next lesson supposed to be? Just more review and practice? I've been working my ki sense a bit throughout the day, and I think it's starting to become more natural. I can't tell what is who yet, but I can kinda tell when someone is close."
Gohan finished capsulizing his leftovers as Videl was speaking, thinking. "Well, it really depends on how well you're doing for the next session" he admitted. "We might be moving on if I think you've got the hang of the basics so far."
"Moving on to what?" Videl demanded.
With an uncommon smirk, Gohan said "Wouldn't you like to know?" with an almost taunting undertone.
A spark leapt in Videl's hands. "Son, I swear-"
"Why do you want to spoil the surprise, Videl?" Gohan asked. "Just let it be until the next time we train."
"That next time is going to be this afternoon" Videl stated, not leaving room for argument. She may have been mentally tired after her ki sense exercises the previous night, but that wore off a lot sooner than the physical fatigue she had during early training. She was ready to keep advancing. "I want to learn more."
"We'll see if-" Gohan began, before frowning and cutting himself off mid sentence. Eerily, he didn't say a word, as his face morphed from relaxed, to confused, to tense, which didn't do much to soothe the nerves that began creeping up Videl's back as his demeanor changed.
"See if what?" Videl asked, trying to break him out of whatever trance he was in. She didn't get a response immediately, besides Gohan's head turning to look towards the city. "Gohan?"
Gohan looked down at the watch on his wrist. "Videl, if I'm not back by the time the bell rings, can you cover for me?" he asked. His voice was firm, but it didn't seem to exude a sense of danger like Videl was expecting it to, though something was definitely up with him.
She nodded, but not without asking. "Gohan, what's wrong?" she asked.
"Probably nothing" Gohan admitted, before clicking the side of his watch, as his Saiyasuit fizzled into existence. "But something doesn't feel right, and I need to go check it out." He raised a gloved hand. "I'll try to be quick, but no promises. Tell the teacher I was dealing with stomach issues or something if I'm not back by the bell."
He didn't wait for an answer from the raven haired girl before a shimmering aura took effect around him, and he soared away towards the city, leaving her baffled. "What was that all about?" Erasa asked, worry in her voice.
"I don't know…" Videl murmured. "Gohan's very in tune with things as far as I've seen, but it was tough to get a read on him right then" she admitted. "Hopefully, he was telling the truth and it's just a better safe than sorry thing that caught his attention." She noted the less than appeased look on her face and nudged her. "Hey, don't worry. Gohan's like the strongest person on the planet, remember? I'm guessing if anything was an actual threat, that he'd be a lot more serious about this."
"Oh, I remember" Erasa said. "It's just still a bit hard to separate out little cute nerdy Gohan with this warrior Gohan, even after seeing it."
"I know what you mean" Videl agreed, looking off in the direction Gohan flew.
Downtown Satan City
Flitting between buildings, Gohan made his way downtown as incognito as possible. He kept his energy as low as it could go while flying and maintaining a decent speed, not wanting to alert whatever it was that he felt to his presence as he approached. Of course, that limited how fast he could fly, if he didn't want his energy signature to become noticeable, but given how ominous the aura was, he certainly felt that he wanted to get the drop on it.
He found himself getting close by the time he reached the industrial district of Satan City. It was one of the first projects tackled in the restoration, as rebuilding this section would help a lot with the creation and supply of materials necessary for the rest of the city. Near one of the warehouses, he dropped to the ground, cancelling any signature he might have stronger than a blade of grass. While the energy wasn't feeling particularly malicious, a cold trickle ran down his spine. It felt eerily similar to Janemba, if far weaker.
To be honest, he wasn't quite sure how to approach. The energy signature disappeared and reappeared without warning, rhyme, or reason. After his run in with the police the other night, he knew that whoever was holding that particular signal had some form of teleportation, and seemed very skittish. They seemed to be unmoving at the moment, but he didn't know just how long it took them to warp.
The best option he had was to not give them a chance.
He steeled himself, getting as ready to spike his power as he could without making it noticeable. Finding the nearest door, he placed his hand on the knob, making sure he was ready to move the second it turned. After all, he didn't know if the door was squeaky. Making sure he was as ready as he could be, he tore the door open and darted inside.
Almost immediately he heard the yelp of surprise. Whether from suddenly realizing they had been snuck up on by his energy or the sound of the door opening so suddenly, he didn't know, but Gohan didn't intend to miss a single moment as he lunged for the source of the twisted energy.
He had time to register a dark cloak, and stacks of what he assumed were the stolen goods, before space grew glassy in front of him. Noticing the figure slipping out of existence once more, Gohan poured on the speed, ready to grasp him before he escaped…
Gohan found himself wildly flung out of the warehouse. Not only out of the warehouse, he ended up ploughing a massive sand dune as he crashed headlong into a wide beach. Plumes of dust went everywhere as he felt the ground quake from his impact, silently hoping that he hadn't accidentally shifted one of the Earth's plates with his reckless flying. He stood up, spitting a giant mouthful of sand out (to his disgust), before turning around and sighing.
Scarcely in time to see a bit of the cloak disappear within another pocket of folding space. He once again lunged forward, but he wasn't close enough or going fast enough to fall into the crease himself this time. He skidded to a halt in the sand, without shifting the planet's crust this time thankfully, and scowled a bit. Feeling warm, he took his turban off, realizing that he was on a beach, with the sun directly overhead beating down on him.
The beach seemed to be a part of a rather small island. A quick extension of his senses didn't let him locate anything besides foliage on the island. Not so much as a seagull had landed anywhere nearby.
"Just my luck…" Gohan muttered. He had little doubt about it now. The way that reality bent, seemingly at the whim of whatever he had been chasing, was practically identical to how Janemba had warped reality to his will. "Dammit. I thought that Soul Punisher thing was supposed to eradicate Janemba, but obviously a part of him survived." He started walking back and forth, thinking. "If it was still Janemba, I doubt he'd be running, or stealing for that matter…" he muttered. "I doubt he has the brain capacity, or the desire for anything like that. Maybe since he was sort of a spirit, part of him latched onto someone, giving them some negative desires and his powers?" He sighed as he realized how stupid and baseless that was.
If he was being honest, he had zero idea what was going on. And he hated being in the dark. With a facepalm, he shook his head. "Nothing. I've got nothing." Looking up, his shoulders slumped. "Less than nothing, apparently. Where the heck am I?"
His first poor sign was when he had extended his ki sense, not feeling any human signatures for hundreds of miles around him. He didn't even know what hemisphere he was in anymore. And it would be his luck that he managed to find himself on a deserted island on one of the umpteenth fraction of a percent of the time that Vegeta wasn't busy training his ass off in his gravity chamber, leaving him without an anchor to get his bearings with.
"Dende, Kibitoshin, or whoever's responsible for this page of my life, can I just ask why?" he called out to the sky. The deities in question didn't respond. He grumbled, looking down at his Saiyaman watch. The bell rings in less than a minute. "Peachy" he huffed. "Time for a blind geography test."
Satan City - OSH
"You think Brains is okay?" Sharpner asked as they exited the classroom.
The final bell had rang, and Gohan was still nowhere to be seen. They got through the last couple periods of the day without so much as a text from their super powered friend. Videl felt slightly uneasy, remembering just how fast Gohan claimed he could fly, and how fast he had actually flown with her. Surely it wouldn't take him a couple hours to get somewhere and back, right?
"I hope so" Erasa said. "It's not like him to ditch class, after all."
"Something must have happened" Videl mused. "I'm sure he'd be back by now if he was able to be."
The trio headed down onto the school grounds, blending into the stampeding crowd of students ready to rush home for the day and forget all about school until tomorrow. Videl found herself glancing into the sky, hoping to catch a glimpse of Gohan's extremely dorky outfit (though she had to admit, with all the frustration surrounding Saiyaman gone, it was starting to grow on her), but without success. Frown deepening, she tried doing that ki sense thing that Gohan and Yamcha taught her the other day. Immediately she felt a bit overwhelmed by just how many signals were pushing their way into her ki sense, and shut it off before she got too dizzy. None of the signatures were particularly strong, but there were hundreds in just the block or so she managed to push it before she gave up.
"Videl?" Erasa's concerned voice came in, as she gritted her teeth in the realization that she hadn't kept her reaction all under wraps.
"I'm fine, just a bit dizzy" she admitted. "I was trying to find Gohan right now and overestimated my abilities."
"How would looking make you… Oh, were you doing that energy sensing thing he said he said you could do, right?" Sharpner asked. "Your sixth sense."
Videl nodded, and Sharpner pumped his fist. "I'm learning this stuff. It's still super confusing, but I'm getting it!" he cheered, self-congratulatory as anything.
This earned him one of the world's biggest eye rolls from Videl, but she said nothing else. The three of them walked off campus and started heading down the street. Videl's hotel was a few blocks away, and they decided it would be a good plan to drop their bags off there before heading over to Gohan's place. "So Videl, you've been out there several times, what's it like? Details girl!" Erasa prodded.
With a smile, Videl acquiesced. "Well, the air's much more clear than anything in the area, even outside of Satan City" she said. "And it's just… peaceful out there. It feels like all the stress I have melts away every time I'm out there. The scenery is gorgeous, and it's as serene as anything." She let out a small smile. "Honestly, it feels like nothing could go wrong out there."
She wasn't expecting a small giggle in response to her description. She turned to face Erasa with her brows raised. "Something funny?" she offered.
Erasa shook her head. "No, not at all, it just sounds great" she said, with a big smile not leaving her face. "All your stress goes away, you feel safe every time you're out there? Really sounds special." With every word, her smile was growing bigger, giving Videl the sensation that she was missing something.
"Yeah…" she said slowly, eyeing her friend. "It's really nice." When the smile maintained itself on her friend's face, she got the feeling she was on the outside of an inside joke. "Is anything wrong with that?"
"Of course not" Erasa said. "I was just making sure I had everything straight."
"Uh hu-" Videl began to say, before a wave of heat washed over them as the ground shook. She stumbled a bit from the force of the impact, Sharper waving his arms to regain his balance as Erasa caught herself as she fell to the ground. Instantly, she went onto high alert, bringing her energy levels up and scanning the area for a moment before noticing the giant fireball ballooning out of a building a block away and the frantic crowd of terrified people running away from it.
Years of fighting crime on the force combined with her recent training at that very moment, as the ground cracked beneath her feet and she lept the gap between herself and the building all at once. She sailed over top of the frantic mob and shielded herself as best she could as she dove through the flames.
The smoky veil parted as she fell to the ground on the other side, debris scattering as she landed. Coughing and eyes watering, she scanned the area, locating four burly men approaching an armored truck at the end of the alley. The furthest one away from it in the group was turning around to face her as she sprang forward. He barely had time to widen his eyes in surprise as she crashed into him. The sheer force behind her tackle lifted the man off of his feet before her arm had time to move into place, smacking him in the chest with an open palm.
There was a dull crunching sound as his eyes bulged, and he was sent flying through the air, narrowly missing two of his accomplices, but crashing into the fourth just as he opened the door to the armored truck. The two fell to the ground in a crumpled heap, the latter having struck his head on his way down.
The two of them that remained had their full attention on Videl at this point, heavy artillery aimed directly at her. "Oi, I thought we was trying to get Saiyaman out here, instead we gotta deal with the Satan bitch?" one of them asked.
Videl scowled. "If you think I'm any less dangerous than Saiyaman, then you've got a screw loose" she said, staying tensed and focused on the weapons in their hands. She didn't know if she had the power to stop bullets yet, but she wasn't sure she wanted to find out on the fly in this scenario. The walls of the alley were narrow, and with a roaring flame behind her she wasn't able to tell if there were civilians in the line of fire.
The other one chuckled. "Someone's got a mighty big pair of britches, especially for someone I heard ran scared from the city back then" he said, keeping aim at her. "Just because you put a few lowlifes behind bars doesn't make you a hero."
"And killing a hero would make you, what exactly?" Videl asked, keeping her hands closed tightly. They were growing warm, but she needed another moment to be sure. "For calling Saiyaman a hero, that doesn't stop crooks like you from trying to kill him."
"The only legacy stronger than a legend is to go down in infamy" he shot back. "Some day, the history books will remember us for taking down the Great Saiyaman. But for now…" he said, hoisting his weapon up a bit higher. "The news will have to remember us for ending the Satan lineage."
Her heart picked up a beat faster, but she felt it was time. There were several feet between the two of them, but it didn't matter to her, as she raised both of her hands out in front of her and let loose two bolts of glowing white energy, directly into the barrels aimed at her.
Well, that was the plan anyways. One got struck on the side, still managing to knock the heavy piece of metal out of the first's hands, while she completely missed the second. The blast went off course, falling to the ground behind him and causing a small explosion, buffeting the second forward, who, after letting out a surprised sound, pulled the trigger on his way down.
A red beam of light shot from the barrel of the weapon just to the side of Videl. Her eyes widened in the brief moment of realization that they hadn't come packing any normal ammunition. She reacted on instinct, energy flooding her body as she jumped as far back as she could, trying to gain any amount of distance on the laser shot, before sending as much of that energy as she could into her hands and holding them out in front of her.
The blast slammed into her palms, and she let out a brief shriek as she shoved it down to the ground. It pierced through the asphalt like a hot knife through butter. Without hesitation, she brought the energy in her hands outside of them, and lobbed another pair of blasts back down the alley, as accurately as she could judge based on her memory. A pair of shouts and a crash confirmed what she had hoped, and she stumbled back a bit.
She made the mistake of looking at her hands, and felt like turning a little white at the sight. While she hadn't had a hole blasted through her, as she was worried about, a large portion of the skin on her palms had been burned away, leaving bright red muscles flecked with burned blackness exposed to the dirty air. She could only be thankful that there wasn't any blood leaking from them as the heat seemed to have cauterized any damage it caused.
The pain was something she could put up with, to an extent, but even moving her hands caused her to hiss. She turned around and saw police cruisers flying up the street, much to her relief. She turned to check and make sure Erasa and Sharpner were safe, but what she was greeted with instead took away that little relief that she had experienced.
Erasa and Sharpner were fine, but standing between her and them was a very familiar figure clad in green. She may not have been able to see his face, but the tension in the air was tangible at that moment.
It was unfortunate that something that she remembered promising returned to her at that exact moment. "You shouldn't use this power to fight crime until you have a better control of it."
"Videl, what happened here?" the Great Saiyaman asked her, voice dangerously cool.
Videl winced as she sat down, and Gohan disappeared down the hall. Erasa sat down beside her, while Sharpner looked around the room.
"When we were talking about coming up to visit Gohan's place, I didn't expect to start it off like this" Erasa admitted.
Videl nodded, hoping for something to take her mind off of the steadily growing pain in her hands. When Gohan had noticed, he immediately grabbed ahold of her, saying that her injury needed to be handled as soon as possible, though she hadn't expected him to take her out to his place. She rather expected to see herself at a hospital. Instead, he picked her up, and after a brief argument, managed to get Sharper and Erasa clinging to him as well, before he took off, not even caring about the fact that they were out in the open.
Chi-Chi seemed to be out at the moment, and as much as Videl liked the woman, she couldn't say she wasn't relieved. In the brief time she had come to know Gohan's family, she could tell that the matriarch of the family's reactions tended to be a bit on the extreme side.
Gohan emerged from his room about thirty seconds later, carrying a small bottle in his hands. He was no longer in his Saiyaman outfit, having disabled it while he was in his room. "Hands" he said, taking the lid off of the bottle to reveal a dropper.
She extended her hands, the pain flaring up and causing her to flinch again. She tried to open them wide but was only having so much success. At this point, she was worried she might have suffered some nerve damage from trying to catch a laser with her bare hands.
Gohan quickly let a drop of a light green liquid fall into each palm. It burned, burned almost as hot as the blast had, but the sensation quickly faded to coolness, and she looked at her palms in awe as the blackness faded, her tendons filled back up, and skin grew to cover it all once again. Within a few seconds, no sign of her injury remained, other than the shredded pieces of her gloves.
"How in the…" she asked, turning her hands over and clenching them a few times to test.
"Senzu essence, something a friend of mine invented" Gohan said, satisfied that it worked and pocketing the bottle. He looked relieved for a moment, before his brow furrowed again. "Now Videl, do you mind telling me what was going on back there?"
Videl felt her normally unflinching demeanor fall back a bit under Gohan's gaze. She was fairly certain she had never seen him upset, and Gohan being upset was something she was quite certain she never wanted to experience again. His dark eyes seemed to peer into her soul, and he radiated disappointment.
It made her feel like she was six years old and caught by her father with her hand in the cookie jar.
"There was an explosion at the museum when we were passing by" she said slowly. "And… I couldn't not react, so I jumped in to help-" she found herself getting cut off by Gohan raising his hand.
"Videl, do you want to know why I showed up when I did?" he asked. She swallowed, but he continued. "Something took me way out of the city, and I was having trouble finding my way back. Up until you sent up a beacon SO powerful, I felt it from half a country away."
"I don't know who you were fighting, but were they energy users? How strong did they feel to you, Videl?" he continued.
"I… I don't…"
"You didn't even read their power, did you? Yet you were going at them with so much of your own." Gohan ran a hand through his hair. "What did you do to them?" he asked, a bit quieter.
She couldn't move her mouth. She remembered the crunch as she crashed into the first, and realized that the only thing that could have been was the sound of her caving in his chest. And the sight of blood on the armored truck as the other's head was smashed into it.
"Regardless of the fact that even police officers and other crime fighters can get into serious trouble for excessive force, we talked about this Videl. It does NOT take much power to kill a normal person with this power. I taught you energy sense SPECIFICALLY so you could measure out how much to use to avoid being responsible for someone's tombstone going into the ground. And now you're telling me that not only did you not bother to get a read before you went in full throttle, but you don't even know how they ended up when you were done?"
Every word felt like it was making her shrink further and further. Gohan wasn't raising his voice much, but in the house, it felt like every word was shaking the walls. Her face fell, she couldn't even meet his eyes. They were friends, but he was also her sensei, her teacher. And she had betrayed the promise she made.
Gohan pinched the bridge of his nose, and turned around. "Erasa, Sharpner, I'm sorry about this. I know that things here probably started on a sour note. I'm going to step outside for a few, and you can tell me if you want me to take you home. Otherwise, feel free to help yourselves to some food in the kitchen." He was gone before any of them could think to respond, the door closing behind him.
It was a while before any of them broke that silence, or even moved. Videl wasn't crying, but she certainly felt the icy pit in her stomach, the one that comes when you know that you messed up big time. The events in the alley replayed over and over again in her head. If the first guy had been knocked a little higher, he would have gone straight through the window, and jagged glass might have torn him to shreds. If the blast that hit the side of the gun was just a few more inches off, it would have hit him dead center, and she didn't even want to know what something like that would have done if it directly impacted him.
In all honesty, she was lucky the way things turned out. Lucky that, at worst, there was only a chance that one of them had major injuries, and only a chance more that it was fatal. Lucky that she used up so much power that the blast she had thrown back into the alley didn't have the same force as the first ones she had used. Lucky that she hadn't painted the walls of the alley red, even if they were criminals.
Of course, now she felt she'd have to be even luckier for Gohan to continue training her. The harsh tone he spoke with, without volume or vulgarity, left little to the imagination as to what his thoughts of their continued training were. He may have had the power, and he may have told them stories, but that was the first time she saw more than her friend, the quiet nerd Gohan. She saw the warrior that his stories had hinted at, and that warrior had not been happy with her.
Sharpner was the first to break the silence. "I'll… go get some water for us" he said quietly, walking out of the room, leaving the girls alone.
There was the sound of a few cupboards opening and closing as they sat there, and Erasa looked over at her best friend. "Videl, are you alright?" she asked with concern.
It took her a moment to find the strength to move her mouth, finally letting out a breath she had been holding. "No, not really…" she admitted. "I messed up, big time. Gohan was right." She smacked her forehead. "It was like the second something was going down, I completely forgot all the responsibility he taught me and just used the power." She closed her eyes. "I acted more like a student of that old Crane School than as one of Gohan's…"
Erasa looked like she wanted to say something, but just ended up looking down. Sharpner came back into the room with a few glasses of water, and gave one to each of them. Videl gladly accepted the water, still feeling a bit of rawness in her throat from the smoke, while the others sipped theirs slowly.
It was another moment before Erasa broke the silence again. "I know Gohan's upset, but I'm sure he'll forgive you. He's not the type of guy to hold a grudge, after all."
"This was less a matter of doing something grudge worthy than it was betraying his trust" Videl countered, sinking back into the couch. "That sort of thing stings no matter who you are."
"You guys are friends, Videl, friends forgive each other."
"The fact that we're friends might also make it sting even more.."
She sat her water down, stomach feeling upset. "I'm just worried that this will do more than hurt our training relationship. I've never seen him that mad, Erasa. I've never seen him mad at all, not once."
Sharpner lowered his own glass. "Videl, I know you're going through some things here, but you don't have to worry about Brains. He likes all of us, but the two of you really clicked. And from the sound of it, he didn't have many friends before he came to school with us. I doubt he'd want to give that up."
Videl wanted to believe what he had said, but the feeling of crushing disappointment was still lingering inside of her. "I hope so…" she said.
Gohan had flown a short distance away from the house. It was still within sight, but he wasn't exactly a stone's throw away at this point.
He held his hands out in front of him, a tiny glowing orb of energy in front of him. It would slowly grow, until he shrunk it back down. Energy condensation was something he learned a long time ago was good for taking his mind off of things. The concentration involved kept his mind busy, and having to control that amount of power packed into such a small space had some level of physical exertion to it as well.
By his estimate, he had about a quarter of his full energy packed into a sphere less than an inch in diameter, and it was starting to seriously fight against being so concentrated. Deciding that was good for the moment, he relaxed his grip on the energy and let it flow back inside of him.
He glanced back at the house, brow scrunching a bit. He sighed and settled down into a stance, preparing to do some katas to try and burn off a little more of the excess energy he had at this point.
He had already been annoyed by being moved halfway across the world by a mysterious being who he couldn't even get a good look at, without a good way to get back home. It took him a couple of hours just to find the nearest civilization, and he hadn't spoken the language of wherever he had been, so it was a dead end. As much as he wanted to just go for a breakneck dash around the world and get home as soon as possible, he still didn't wish for the accompanying g-forces to tear up the lands beneath him, so he ate the time needed to get back safely.
Of course, that had gone out the window the moment he felt Videl's energy spike. He was panicked, not knowing what could possibly have caused Videl to unleash so much of the power that she had trained up, and needed to get there before it was too late.
He jumped and spun around, striking at the air as he recalled his frustration when he came across a crime scene so familiar, it looked like any other that he had visited. He hadn't gotten a look at who had been involved, but he couldn't think of any reason Videl would have had to go so hard. Their mysterious thief hadn't done anything remotely similar to this. If it was a ki user of a similar level, he would have felt something. And if, by some crazy chance, Gero had a second computer stored somewhere that was still making Androids, there was no way said Android would be committing a petty crime, and much less of a chance that Videl would have won that fight.
Wind whistled around his fist as he thrust it forward. That only left one option left, the one he had hoped to stamp out any chance of with his warning and apprehensive approach to material in their lessons. Sheer, reckless, irresponsibility.
A shockwave emanated from his fist, causing the treeline in front of him to shiver, leaves falling around him. He retracted his arm, taking a deep breath. He hadn't noticed, but his energy had been rising, and the grass surrounding him was flattened out by the clear aura swirling around him. Letting out the breath he was holding, the gust around him faded away into nothingness.
"Now, I know I haven't been around for training in a few years now, but I'm getting the feeling that something's not quite right here."
Gohan turned, and saw a familiar face leaning against a tree at the edge of the clearing. "Oh, hey there Lime" he greeted, facing her. "Sorry, I didn't notice you there."
Lime stood up and walked over. "I caught that" she said as she approached. "It's not often I manage to sneak up on the wonder boy." She threw a light punch at Gohan's shoulder before her expression found itself tinged with concern. "Now really, what's up with you? I can't remember the last time you looked so out of it."
Gohan sighed. "Really, it's that apparent?" he asked.
"I don't think I've ever seen you nearly knock down a forest while you're doing your katas" Lime pointed out. "So spill it. What happened? Was Vegeta an asshole again?"
"Again?" Gohan chuckled.
"Yeah, I guess 'again' implies he ever stops" she conceded. "But seriously, what's got you down?"
He rubbed the back of his head and sat down on the ground, Lime following suit. Letting out another deep breath, he tried to clear his thoughts. "I can't help but feel that part of this is my fault. I ended up getting slingshot across the world, and because of that, I wasn't there when…" he sighed. "For the first time since we began her training, she got in the middle of an incident down in Satan City."
Lime's eyes widened a bit. "Did something happen to Videl? Is she alright?"
"Yeah, she burned her hands a bit but that's it. The problem is the other side of things" he said, rubbing his temples. "I was worried about this. I really wanted her to get more practice before she started fighting crime again. So of course, the one time I'm not there to handle things, she gets caught up in the fight and uses WAY too much power against some normal human criminals." He takes a deep breath, his voice having risen a bit at the end.
In the following silence, Lime spoke up. "Well… I get how that would be something to be disappointed by, but I don't really understand this level of being upset over it."
"It's not just the fact that she messed up, Lime. I mean, it kind of is, but it's not just the fact that she used excessive force. It's…" he trailed off. "...Lime, do you know why I'm being so stringent on making Videl have complete control before we move on to the complicated stuff?"
"I'm guessing it's not just to make things easy on her" she prodded.
Gohan shook his head. "Realistically, we probably could have moved on to flying and special blast techniques by now, she knows enough and has the basics down, and her natural control would become fine-tuned as she practiced them. But I wanted her to have perfect control over her power before she started applying it. So chance at any mishaps would be at its minimum."
"Because I can vividly remember just how fast uncontrolled power can go to your head."
A light breeze blew through the trees, and a look of understanding crossed Lime's face. "Gohan…"
"It's not that great a leap either. I'm certain Videl doesn't want to be responsible for manslaughter, even against some of the scum that live in Satan City, but if you let your power control you, to kill without hesitation, then you're dangerously close to-"
Gohan found his voice being cut off as Lime wrapped her arms around him and squeezed. "Relax, Gohan, breathe a bit" she murmured to him.
He hadn't even realized that he'd been holding his breath until she mentioned it. "Lime I-"
"Breathe, Gohan" she said, a bit more stern.
His body was tense, locked up, but with great effort, he managed to suck in a deep breath, and let the tension leave his body. In and out, he calmed down breath by breath. After a bit, Lime released her hold on him and sat down on the ground, patting the spot beside her, and Gohan followed suit.
Lime gave Gohan a sad smile. "You know Videl must be feeling awful for disappointing you like that, don't you?"
Gohan nodded, but didn't say anything. "Don't you think that maybe, just maybe, experiencing that rush of power, and the overkill, coupled with your reaction might help her to consciously avoid messing up in the future?"
He ran his hand through his hair. "I… yeah probably. She's really smart" he admitted.
"I understand being upset and disappointed, Gohan, but I think you need to take a step back and realize that everyone stumbles in life sometimes. After all, people learn from their mistakes."
Gohan let out another deep breath. "I know that…" he sighed. "But… I want to protect her, from making any of the big mistakes. I know I can't account for every possible scenario and outcome, but more than anything, I want to make sure that her power never controls her, that she never makes a truly fatal error."
"I know from experience, that whether or not you were fully in control, when you mess up that bad, you can never fully forgive yourself."
Goku twirled around a slow blast sent his way. "Come on, guys. I know that I'm stronger than you, but it's like you haven't improved at ALL since we fought on Namek."
Burter and Jeice rushed him, while Recoome stood back and charged power. Jeice scowled as he blasted towards Goku. "Shut yer privileged mouth mate, don't you know that the souls trapped down here don't have the luxury of being able to grow stronger like you 'heroes' up top?" he yelled as he dove at the Saiyan.
Goku sidestepped again. "Well, yeah I know that, but there's more ways to improve than just strength, you know" he said as Jeice flew past him. "Developing new skills, fine control, what about any of that? At any rate, I never really try to fight with you guys, you guys are the ones that seek me out."
Burter landed beside Goku and unleashed a flurry of lighting fast attacks, that almost seemed to be coming in slow motion to Goku, who parried and evaded them all. "You're treating Lord Frieza like a punching bag!" he yelled, clasping his hands together and unleashed a wave of blue energy, which Goku flew above. "Of course we'll try to stop you."
"Then try something new" Goku prompted, spinning and connecting a ferocious spin kick to Burter's head, sending the speedster sprawling. He continued to turn, just as Recoome fired his Eraser Gun at him, but with a swat of his hand, the blast was sent on a return to sender path, connecting with the brutish fighter and sending him flying out of sight.
"So, how often do these guys try to jump you when you come down here?" another voice asked. Goku turned to see Piccolo sitting on a nearby pillar.
"You'd be surprised at their dedication" Goku chuckled, backhanding Jeice as he came at him from behind. "Except Guldo, he goes through spells of not even wanting to get involved."
"That explains why the little green gremlin isn't present" Piccolo acknowledged, hopping down to meet Goku. "So who are we looking for again?"
"Well…" Goku stretched out a bit while he thought. "I was thinking the Cold family this time. Just a hunch, but I thought you might enjoy some catharsis whaling on King Cold."
Piccolo smirked. "Goku, I never thought you of all people would have a taste for revenge" he chuckled.
Goku grinned back. "It's not for me, but I can definitely understand the appeal" he admitted. "Honestly I considering going after Frieza for that reason a couple times, the thought of what he did to Krillin… still makes me upset. But I don't like the idea of stooping like that."
"And you thought I would?" Piccolo asked with a quirked brow.
Goku blanched a bit. "I mean, well I-"
"You're right, you know. Pure heartedness is overrated" Piccolo said, smirk returning. "Hell, after King Kai trains me a bit more with the Kaioken, I may try my luck against Cell. He's the reason Cold was able to put me here with you."
The two began walking across the wasteland, keeping an eye out for anything that resembled the objects of their search. "You'd be surprised, Cell's honestly more or less a good sport. He says it's his Saiyan genes or whatever, but he just appreciates the monotony down here being broken up with a good spar." Goku rubbed the back of his head and grinned. "Of course he's never actually won while we've been here so I can't say whether or not he'd let me head back to return another day if he got the upper hand."
"I wouldn't test that theory anytime soon" Piccolo admitted. "I don't doubt he enjoys sparring, but he's also got Frieza's sadistic side to him too, and he might do everything in his power to keep you here and weak if he was able to."
"No plans to test anything" Goku agreed. "Luckily the chances of Cell getting the upper hand are slim to none. There are some advantages to being in Otherworld, our forms can take a lot more strain. There's no way I could use the Super Kaioken in the living world."
Piccolo rubbed his shoulder, remembering the impact from when Goku pulled out that trump card in their last sparring match. "A shame too, I don't think there's a single enemy you wouldn't be able to beat if you could manage that. Earth would never be in danger again. As long as you-" he cut himself off, tensing up.
Goku looked at him curiously. "Uh, Piccolo? You alright?"
"I think I heard something" he said, glancing behind them. They were surrounded by mountains of stone and various torturous landmarks, it wouldn't be hard to hide from sight, but Piccolo knew he had heard something. "I think someone's following us."
Goku looked a bit worried but mostly confused. "Following? That's a first, most everyone here is a lot more direct than that."
Piccolo couldn't detect anything else, but didn't quite feel that they were alone yet. "Follow my lead" he muttered, walking around a rather large boulder, with Goku following suit.
Once they had their backs to the wall, Piccolo focused his energy, and created a duplicate of himself. "Keep searching, and act like everything's normal" he told Goku. "I'll hang back and see if I can't catch a glimpse of whoever's following us."
Goku looked like he wanted to say something, but just nodded and began to walk away, with the Piccolo clone keeping pace with him. The real Piccolo slipped into a crevice in the boulder, an uncomfortable fit but out of sight, and watched as Goku and his clone walked into the distance. He kept on alert for the slightest sound or movement, but as they grew further and further away, there was no sign of anyone following them.
"I know I heard someone…" Piccolo muttered to himself. "I doubt they just up and gave up on the pursuit."
"Pursuit's a bit of a strong word, but I guess from your point of view I can understand it."
Piccolo launched out of his hiding spot as the new voice spoke, having heard it from right above him. But as he turned to look atop the boulder, he saw nothing. Not an instant later, a pair of arms had wrapped around him and put him in a lock, preventing him from even turning his head. Piccolo growled and tried to break free, but was unable to. "Damn, by sending a decoy, I played right into this guy's hands" he growled internally.
"You know, it's been a long time since anyone noticed me around here. I thought I mastered existing here without anyone finding me that I didn't want, but I've never stalked a Namekian before either" the mysterious figure continued. "That super hearing really threw a wrench into things."
Piccolo stopped struggling so actively, and tried to build his power. With his clone split up, he wouldn't be able to call him back and regain the power he lost by dividing, so if he was going to get free, he needed to strike fast and hard. "Who are you?" Piccolo snarled, trying to buy some time. He couldn't see anything besides the arms of his assailant, and the only thing of note about them was that he was wearing red arm bands. Besides that, there was nothing distinguishable about them.
"No one of note, just another old damned soul wandering around."
"Bullshit" Piccolo bit back. "You're following us. And if I had to guess, I'd say that you've been following Goku long before I got here. You don't seem new to this."
"Gok- ah, right" the man said. "Goku, that's what he goes by."
"You honestly didn't know his name? I find it hard to believe you followed a complete stranger on a whim" Piccolo said.
"I didn't know what name he was going by now, there's a difference."
"Just another few moments…" Piccolo thought. "So what's your interest in Goku then? You don't know him well enough to even know his name, yet you've been stalking him? You must have your reasons."
The hold on him tightened. "Sorry, Namek, but those reasons are my own. We all have reasons for doing what we do, and they aren't always malicious, regardless of what you think. For example, I can hardly blame you for getting ready to go giant on me to break free. I'd do the same thing if I was in your shoes."
Piccolo's eyes widened as he said that. "How could you-"
"Know you were about to enter your, what was it called, Great Namekian form? That's another thing for me to know, not you" he said.
Grinding his teeth, Piccolo tried even harder to catch a glimpse of his captor. "Are you working with Frieza, is that it?" he asked, trying to think of who would know about his Great Namekian form.
Immediately, Piccolo found himself in pain as his arms were nearly torn off of him. "I'd watch what I say if I were you, I don't take too kindly to accusations like that."
"And furthermore, I'm not here to take you to anyone, or to trap you down here. I'm just here so that I don't get discovered. I wouldn't be a fan of that outcome."
As he said that, Piccolo felt the grip on him release. He wheeled around to face the mysterious man, but saw nothing but a faint golden glimmer disappearing into the distance. By the time he had gathered himself up enough to fly after him, he was long gone.
He scowled, smashing his fist into the boulder and causing it to shatter into pebbles. "Who in the hell was that?"
Gohan had been gone for almost an hour by the time he returned to his house. It had been a long time since he had let those feelings surface, and it left him feeling raw for some time. The sun was beginning to set over the horizon, with the sky beginning to gain an orange tint as they walked inside.
He walked into the living room, where Sharpner was missing but Erasa and Videl were there. They both jumped up, and Erasa ran over to Gohan. "There you are Gohan! We were starting to get worried about you, where were you?!" she shot off, rapid fire.
"I was, just blowing off some steam" Gohan said, raising his hands placatingly. "Sorry, I didn't mean to be out for so long."
Erasa got right up in his face. "Well don't do that again, we were all worried about you, you just ran out of here and we had no idea where you were or what was happening."
He raised his hands higher and stepped back. "I said I was sorry!"
"Alright, give the guy some personal space already" Lime said, coming up behind Gohan and warding Erasa off.
Thankfully, Erasa backed off, giving Gohan some room to breath. He didn't take the time to enjoy it, however, as he locked eyes with Videl, who seemed to be trying her hardest to keep him from doing so.
He let out a sigh. "Videl?"
Hesitantly, she looked up at him. "Hey Gohan."
"Listen, I…" Gohan rubbed the back of his neck. "I'm sorry about earlier. I was disappointed, but I really overreacted. I didn't mean to come down on you so hard, I swear."
Videl tried to open her mouth, but Gohan shook his head. "I mean it. I mean, you did mess up, but it wasn't anything worth how I reacted to it. I'm really sorry for that."
Gohan finished his say and fell silent. A rather uncomfortable silence filled the room for a moment, before Videl let out a breath. "I'm sorry too, Gohan. I should have been more careful. You tried to train me better than that, and I completely ignored your lessons and warnings there. I should have been better, and I-"
"Videl, we all make mistakes" Gohan said, cutting her off as she was beginning to ramble. "That's how we learn. I just…" he took a deep breath. "My poor reaction comes from the fact that you're not the only one whose messed up before. I did once, years ago, and that's something that I'll never be able to take back. I wanted to do my best to make sure you never came anywhere close to where I went. That doesn't excuse it, but… I hope you'll forgive me."
"Of course I do" Videl said, a little too fast. "I'm the one who should be asking for your forgiveness, I'm the one who messed up."
"There's nothing to forgive, Videl" Gohan said, giving her a small smile. "Really."
"Oh come on guys" Erasa said, rolling her eyes. "Just kiss and make up already."
Immediately, both of them flushed red and wheeled around to face the blonde. "ERASAAAAAAAAA!" they yelled.
Erasa smirked. "Aaaand they're back" she said.
It took a moment, but Gohan began laughing, with Videl following suit and Erasa joining in. Lime stood off to the side, smiling and shaking her head. "You guys are all dorks" she added in with a chuckle of her own.
"And we own that" Videl tossed back between her laughs.
"Fair enough" Lime said, before turning around and heading towards the kitchen.
The three of them calmed down from their laughing fit, the tension in the room more or less abated. Gohan let out a breath, smiling. "So do you guys know where Sharpner ended up?" he asked.
"He said he was going to look around, but he wasn't going to risk going too far" Erasa said. "Something about dinosaurs and bears."
"Ah" Gohan said. "Yeah as long as he doesn't go too far he should be fine. The dinosaurs don't come anywhere near here anymore."
As if on cue, the door slammed and Sharpner rushed inside, out of breath. "DUDE" he practically yelled, eyes wide. "I THOUGHT THIS PLACE WAS SAFE, I THOUGHT NONE OF THOSE THINGS CAME CLOSE!"
Gohan frowned. "They never do" he said, rushing past Sharpner to look outside.
"Apparently they do!" he yelled back. "A big purple one burst out of the trees and started chasing me! I barely got back here alive!" This was met by a snort from Gohan. "It's not funny! We're not all superhuman!"
Gohan chuckled. "Sharpner, you weren't ever in danger" he said.
"Dude, I swear, it was right behind me!" Sharpner protested.
"It was, except it wasn't trying to hurt you" Gohan said, opening the door. "Hey Icarus, are you feeling better buddy?" he called, walking outside. An affectionate growl could be heard resonating through the house. "That's great to hear!" He poked his head back inside. "So have any of you ever wanted to meet a dragon?" he asked.
I'm sorry guys, you have no idea how sorry I am. I didn't ever expect this chapter to take damn near two years to come out. Between my old laptop breaking, college, mental health issues, family matters, and the pandemic (you know, all that fun stuff) it's been really hard to make myself sit down and write even when I had the time.
Honestly it's been so long that I'm a bit out of the swing of things too. I don't know if there's any notable change in writing style or anything (before my laptop broke I got about up to the scene where Gohan gets stuck on a deserted island), but I apologize if there was. To be honest, I'm still not quite back in the swing of things. I'd like to say that from here on out you'll be getting chapters consistently again, but I can't promise anything at this point.
I do hope that the chapter was worth the wait though. Well, okay no, I doubt it was worth a two year wait, but nonetheless I do hope you all enjoyed it.
Since it's been so long, I'm not going to do review responses this time, sorry to anyone who was looking for those, but with any luck it'll be back to business as usual starting next chapter (which hopefully should also be on a business as usual schedule). The one good thing about the wait is that I've had a lot of time to think about things I want to do, so maybe, just maybe, the future of the story will be even better than I originally intended. Maybe. Hopefully. Honestly I'm not quite as confident as I once was but here's hoping.
At any rate, I hope you enjoyed, and I'll see you guys in the next chapter!