Well, here's another one-shot for you to enjoy. My hands are back to normal (finally!), and this is the result. Please review when you're done…the feedback is priceless!
Disclaimer: I do not own DBZ or its characters.
"Looking into the Morning"
"Piccolo," Dende asked, "I have a question for you." The young Namek stood at the edge of the Lookout, gazing out over the darkened landscape. It was approximately three in the morning, and he could not sleep. He could make out the older Namek's form standing just off to his right, illuminated by the stars.
"Make it quick, kid," Piccolo said gruffly. "You should be sleeping."
Dende gulped. "How are you able to stand the darkness, Piccolo?"
The older Namek glanced sideways at the young Guardian. The child was staring out over the edge of the Lookout, but he wasn't focusing on anything in particular. His eyes were brimming with tears. True, the Cell Games had ended only days before, and Dende had come to Earth not long before that, so the horrors he had just experienced were still fresh in the child's mind. Piccolo knew that, of course. He had fused with the Earth's previous Guardian just before Dende had come, and that Guardian had been a very empathic being.
"How can you?" the child repeated. This time the tears in his eyes made themselves manifest in his voice. "It's so…cold, and terrible, Piccolo. It's so different from home. Don't you feel this?"
Piccolo did not know why he answered the child the way he did. Perhaps it was some remnant of Nail that sought to comfort one of his youngest brothers. Perhaps it was Kami, trying to comfort the child who had willingly taken on his own burden as Guardian of the Earth. Whatever the reason might have been, Piccolo still found himself responding with a voice so soft he could hardly believe it was coming from him. "Dende, I do not know anything different."
"But how could you not? Nail is there with you, and you were on our world before. You felt it! You appeared on our world and felt, in your very soul, that you were home!" The young Namek choked back a sob. "It's so cold here, without the light to remind you of the warmth of life." Dende sat down at the edge of the Lookout, cradling the staff that symbolized his status on Earth and dangling his feet over the edge.
"Kid," Piccolo said, "I used to feel the same way you did once, a long time ago."
This time it was Dende's turn to glance at the older Namek. "How is that, Piccolo? You're not afraid of anything."
"Almost, kid," the older Namek replied softly. "You came out of your egg knowing that you were wanted. You opened your eyes for the first time and saw your father hovering above you. I hatched in the middle of a forest with hatred in my heart, with no father to wait for me." Piccolo paused to gather his thoughts. He hadn't counted on reliving most of his past this night. He had only wanted to find out why the newest Guardian seemed so afraid, so heartsick. "I, too, was afraid of the night, Dende."
"But could you feel why, Piccolo? Were you fearing death?"
Piccolo chuckled lightly, and Dende jumped at the sound. The older Namek must have found his comment very amusing…he smiled seldom and laughed even less. "Kid, I know what answer you're looking for. No, I did not fear death, nor did I fear dying. Demons rarely do, even if they are Namekian. I feared the night because our race is meant to live by the sun. You know that as well as every other Namek alive. The night is as alien to us as the Saiyans are."
"If that is why I fear the night so, how did you cope with it?" Dende asked, cupping his chin with one hand. "I'm so lost up here during the 'night', and I don't know what to do about it."
To Dende's surprise, Piccolo sat down next to him at the edge. "Kid, I coped with it because I was, and still am, a demon. We are creatures of darkness. Feh. That would probably explain why I seem to be so odd to the rest of you. I'm a blend of the children of light and of darkness." He smirked at his own poetic words. I am going soft, he thought to himself. It's all Gohan's fault, the brat. "I live during the night, kid. You can make yourself disappear into the shadows, and if you don't want to be found, you won't. Night is the ally to those of us who are not human."
Piccolo's response sent the boy into a series of sobs. "Then why can't I accept it, Piccolo?" he cried, the sound of his normally musical voice so distorted it was soul-breaking. "Why must the night torment our people so?"
For the second time that night, Piccolo was shocked by his own behavior. He watched mutely as he put an arm around Dende's shoulders and pulled the child onto his lap as would a father, or an older brother. "Dende, look at me," he commanded. Dende nodded mutely and looked into the older Namek's eyes, his own brimming with tears. "Dende," Piccolo repeated, "we cannot help who we are, nor can we deny our heritage. I'm not affected as badly by the lack of daylight as you and the rest of the Namek race are because my sire was darkness made manifest. In time you will learn to tolerate it. But for now, there is nothing you can do to change it because it's in your soul. All I can offer you is advice."
"What could you possibly say that would help me?"
Piccolo looked at him and smirked. "I'd tell you that the night will pass, and the light of the sun will return."
Dende sniffled and dried his tears on his sleeve.
"And then I would tell you to go back to bed," Piccolo added wryly. He then had to lean back as the smaller Namek tried to punch him. He pushed the boy off his lap and let him reseat himself at the edge of the Lookout. "Which is what I am going to be doing." He stood up and began to turn around, but Dende grabbed the material of his pants and hung on for dear life.
"Piccolo, please, don't leave me out here," he whispered. "I don't want to sleep, and it's too dark out. Please, this once. Wait with me."
The older Namek sighed. "Dende, we both need to rest, and I'm positive you know that the sun will be coming up. Go to bed, and let go of me."
"Please, stay here until the sun is up. Stay until I know for sure, Piccolo. I need to feel it before I sleep." Dende looked up at him again, this time with obvious desperation.
Piccolo decided that a heartsick Guardian would not bode well for the Earth, and for the remainder of that night, he pushed aside his pride and sat next to the child at the edge of the Lookout, waiting with him until the sun rose.
And that was how Mr. Popo found them the next morning. Dende was curled up next to Piccolo, sound asleep and completely bathed in the warm glow of the sun. As the caretaker of the Lookout watched from afar, Piccolo lifted the child into his arms and began carrying him toward his bed. Sleep well, brother, he thought, knowing that it was Nail shining through for his sibling. The sun will rise again each morning, and as long as it does, I will be there for you.
Piccolo paused his train of thought (or more precisely, Nail's influence) to set the boy down amidst his pile of pillows. I'll be there for you, kid, he thought as he moved into the doorway. When you need me, I'll be there. And if the night ever threatens to consume you, boy, as it once did to me, remember to look for the morning, and it will be there. Then he closed the door behind him, and he walked down the long hall to his own bed and slumber.
Thanks for reading! I have no idea where this one came from. It's 3:36 A.M. here, and I'm going to bed. Please let me know how I did…I appreciate your feedback greatly.