AN: Fourth period. Subsitute teacher. Watching a video. Any questions? For those of you who haven't read any of my other stories, this is one of my soon-to-be-patented "I got bored during fourth period so I wrote a story" fics. I have quite a few. I don't own DBZ…but I do own Dragonball A through Y!! Mwahaha!

The premise of this story is simple. In the new episodes (which aren't really very new anymore), right after Gohan comes back onto the scene and Hercule's freaking out because he just found out that Videl's dead, they show a close-up of Gohan's face. He looks really, really sad. And so I was wondering—what was going through his head? That's what this is, Gohan's thoughts at that moment. I hope you enjoy.

If They Were Here

The man's near-hysterical cry echoes across the desert wasteland. "WHAT?!?!?" Hercule roars. "MY SWEET LITTLE VIDEL?!?!?!?!?"

If the world could see their hero, their champion, at this moment, none of them probably would believe it. The great Hercule Satan, crying and yelling, flailing his arms and legs around. He is acting like a spoiled child who has just been told he couldn't have a cookie.

Truth be told, that's exactly what I want to do. I want desperately to throw myself on the ground and cry and scream and beat my fists into the dirt until I had somehow managed to get rid of all my anger and frustration and grief.

A thought occurs to me, and for some reason, I find it a little bit amusing.

If Videl was still here, this is probably where she'd come up behind me and smack me on the head and tell me to stop being stupid. I'd probably get grilled as well. She'd want to know exactly where I'd been and what I'd been doing, and so on and so forth. But that's just Videl's nature. When she wants to know something, she goes after it like Frieza went after the Dragonballs.

If Mom was still here, she would probably throw herself at me and start crying because her "baby" was so upset. Even though I'm eighteen years old, and she has a younger son, she still considers me to be her poor little baby. I know that's just her being a mother, and this is one moment where I'd kill to have her there, being the weepy, worried mom. It would mean that she was here.

If Krillen was here, he'd probably start making fun of me. I don't know exactly what for, but he'd find something to tease me about. That's just the way Krillen has always done things, and that's the way it's always been between us. Our friendship is built on the fact that we're constantly ragging on each other. But if you say anything demeaning about Krillen's height…man, he can get vicious!

If Yamcha was here, he'd jump all over me as soon as he saw me and demand to know where I'd been. He would ask how it was possible that I hadn't been dead, and he would probably want to know how in the name of the gods I'd managed to get so powerful. Once he'd gotten those answers, he'd probably join Krillen in seeing what he could find to tease me about.

Eighteen probably wouldn't react too much, but that's to be expected, I guess. She never did. Sometimes I wonder if she's ever really smiled at anyone in her life. She always seems so cold, even around Krillen. The only person she ever seems warm around is her daughter, Marron.

If Marron was still here, she would want a big hug from her Uncle Gohan. Every time she sees me, she gets a hug. Sometimes we play airplane—I hold her over my head, and she makes noises while I swoop her around. Or, we might play tea party, where my name changes to Mrs. Nesbit. Ah, it's worth a little humiliation to make a kid happy. But she always asks if she looks pretty, and I always say yes.

Vegeta would undoubtedly snort at me, and the verbal abuse would most likely begin. After all, I'm the halfbreed son of a third-class baka. Deep down, I know he actually harbors some sort of grudging respect for me, but I never see it. And I know he'd call me "brat." I can count the number of times he'd called me by my real name on one hand. I've been "the brat" and "Kakarott's brat" for what, fourteen years now? Something like that.

The brat, the kid…can't I get any halfway decent nicknames from these people? It's bordering on the absurd. I'm eighteen years old, and most of them still think of me as "the kid."

Who else is gone now…my grandfather would welcome me back cheerfully, and then go happily about his business. But that's Grandpa for you. Most of the things that happen around here are at least ten feet over Grandpa's head, if not more, so he just accepts everything that happens, no matter how outlandish or outrageous, as completely normal.

Puar and Oolong would probably be thrilled to see me again. For all of their quirks (and the fact that they always seem to be in competition with each other), those little shape-shifting animals are two of the best and most bizarre friends a person could ask for. Oolong's always good for a laugh, and Puar is surprisingly good conversation.

Bulma would most likely scold me for being gone so long and not letting anyone know where I was or that I was still alive. Then she would probably hug me. I guess I could almost call her my second mother. She's always kept a discreet eye on me, especially during that whole Namek fiasco. And I've learned a lot from her, especially about science and things. Bulma really is a genius!

Master Roshi, my father's first teacher, would have definitely had a warm greeting for me. He always did whenever I would stop by the island. And I did come by the Kame House quite often to pay my respects to the old guy who'd taught my father so much so many years ago. He liked me; we got along well, even though I never really agreed with his choice of *ahem* reading material.

And Dad…if Dad was here, he'd be finding a way out of this mess. Dad would come up with some brilliant plan or pull out some new hidden power he'd discovered and get rid of the threat. He wouldd be the hero, so I wouldn't have to. I would prefer it that way. I don't know how Dad could stand always having the pressure on him to get rid of whatever was trying to kill everyone and blow up the planet. I hate it!

If they were here, I imagine that they would be happy to see me. Whether or not that's completely true, I don't know for sure; a few of them might be a little peeved because they were the victims of misleading information, that I'd been dead, and that I hadn't corrected the erroneous report by giving them some kind of a sign. Looking back, I guess I should have thought of it, but I didn't. I was too absorbed in the tasks the Supreme Kai had set before me. I had to be the hero again, since Dad wasn't going to be there to do it this time. It fell squarely on my shoulders.

My friends…I know I'd have to answer a million questions, but it would be worth it, just to hear every single one of their voices again.

But, then again, if they were here, it would mean that I'd gotten back in time. It would mean that they hadn't died. It would mean that I'd actually managed to do something right, that I hadn't screwed up again and let everyone down.

Are they still here? No. Goten said they were dead, and Majin Buu supported that—he turned them into chocolate and devoured them. And it's my fault. I let them down again because I wasn't here. Feels like that's all I do is screw up and let them down. Sometimes I wonder why they even bother with me. I don't deserve to have friends like them. Sometimes I think I really am a failure…

"You!" Hercule's harsh voice draws me out of my self-accusation, though only for a moment. The World Champion grabs the front of my gi and shakes me violently. "Why didn't you protect my little girl? What kind of boyfriend are you?"

"I wasn't there!" I blurt out without thinking. Seconds later, Goten manages to get Hercule's attention by trying to explain to him how his daughter can be revived.

I could have hugged my little brother for getting Hercule out of my face at that moment. I couldn't handle any more accusations from the outside; Kami knows I had plenty coming from within. I'm already accusing myself enough as it is. How many of them are valid, I can't judge.

No, I wasn't there. That's for sure. I failed them, just like I've always failed them. My friends, the guys who have seen me through everything, up to and including the death of my father. The "old people," as I would affectionately tease them, since they were all adults when I was still a child. Sometimes I think Krillen and Piccolo were better father figures to me than my own father.

And Videl…why does that hurt more than anyone else, save my own mother? Mom's death is a knife in my heart, the likes of which only someone who has lost their mother can truly understand. But other than that, it's Videl's death that affects me the most. I haven't known her for anywhere near as long as any of the others. But her death is the one that shatters my heart into the most pieces, and her death is the one sounding minor chords of guilt on the harp of my soul.

I want to follow Hercule's example and cry until my eyes are too sore to see out of. I want to beat my fists until the ground until they become scratched and bloody. I want to scream until my voice is too hoarse to choke out another understandable word. I want to sob out my heartache, if such a thing is possible. And most of all, I want to confess. I want to confess how terrible I feel, and I want to tell them that I blame myself. Maybe if I do, they will tell me I am not to blame. I don't know if I would believe them or not, but it would be nice to hear someone say that what happened is not my fault.

But I can't. First of all, I have a responsiibility to them, to avenge them and wish them back. Perhaps if I accomplish this, I can somewhat atone for my failure. This failure, at least. I have to destroy Majin Buu. I owe it to all of them.

The second reason I can't cry is because everyone's watching. The only time I've ever shown emotion around other people (especially Piccolo) is at the Cell Games, where I thoroughly bawled my eyes out. This stems from the training I received as a child. I simply learned to block my emotions, since they got in the way of my focus as a fighter. I have always paid for this self-denial at later times, but it has never mattered. A fighter does NOT let anything destroyed his concentration on battle. Especially not something as silly and petty as feelings.

The third reason I don't cry? After all this time, I'm really not sure if I remember how to cry. It's been so long since I've let tears fall that I don't know if my eyes recall how to form the tears.

I want someone to hold me. I want someone who will willingly lend me a shoulder to cry on. I want someone to listen to me as I sob out everything that's going on inside my head. And I want someone to tell me it's okay, and that everything is going to be all right. I know Videl would have cheerfully done that for me. Once you get underneath her tough girl exterior, it's unbelievable to realize what she's really like. Even though the face she presents to the world is tough and cool, inside she is as frail and fragile as a snowflake.

Hercule's reaction is completely understandable. He lost someone he loved, his family.

I lost many people I loved, my family.

After all, Hercule loved his daughter.

The thing is that I loved her too.