This is a piece from a bit after the Buu saga.  It was written in response to a challenge from Puar Briefs/Loony Lovegood.  Sorry it took so long in the making, but I hope the story's good enough to make up for my lack.

Disclaimer: Need I say this any more?  If I owned DBZ, some of the minor characters would have bigger roles, and Earth wouldn't always have to rely on the Saiyans for its defense.

"Rest After Battle"

By: Dreamwraith

            It was over.

            After days upon days of fighting, dying, and worrying, Buu had been defeated.  He was gone, vaporized in a Spirit Bomb created by none other than the indomitable Son Goku.  The horrors were over, and Goku was home for good.  There was nothing to do now except rebuild what Buu had destroyed: buildings, lives, and dreams.

            Piccolo, one of only two Nameks living on the planet Earth, had had enough of the whole mess.  He was tired of having to baby-sit two young demi-Saiyans, tired of having to worry about the Earth, and tired of being the only one with enough brains to keep it from being destroyed.  Well, until Buu came, that is.  It was only because of him and his ideas that the Earth had any chance of survival at all.

            It was on one fine, clear morning that this Namek decided to do something about his situation.  He woke up, drank a glass of water, and leapt off the Lookout without so much as a word to the other Namek or to Mr. Popo, respectively the Guardian of the Earth and the caretaker of the Lookout.  Of course, the fall didn't harm him one bit; he used his downward momentum to give himself a decent burst of speed.

            He was off to the most relaxing place he could think of…one that he had not used in a very long time.  Not since before the Buu incident started, at the World Martial Arts Tournament.  He felt he was quite overdue for a very long, quiet meditation.  It would help him take his mind off of things in general; about what had happened at and after the Tournament, how he acquired two new students in one day, how he had to dance in front of several other people…

            That was quite enough, he growled as he approached his waterfall.  It was ridiculous!  He did not need to remember all these annoyances before he meditated.  They would break his concentration and then ruin his day.  Not that it wasn't already ruined…he was simply trying to salvage something from its remains.

            Odd, how he referred to the waterfall as "his" every time he spoke of or thought of it.  The other warriors accepted his claim to it as well.  He technically didn't own it, but since he was its most frequent visitor he thought he was allowed to have some sort of claim on it.  He certainly spent a good deal of time hovering above the water in a meditative state.  And he most certainly spent enough time sparring near it, or drinking from it, or bathing under it.  The list goes on.

            He floated down from the clouds and stopped his descent near the top of the column of water, crossing his arms over his chest.  He surveyed the area and was pleased that it remained the same as it was in his memories.  The water was a light turquoise color, sparkling as it rushed over the side of the cliff and united with the pool below it with a soft thundering halt.  The meeting of waters created a soothing breeze as well.  All things considered, this waterfall was the closest place he had to a true home.

            With considerable effort Piccolo folded his legs in front of him, closed his eyes, and began his meditation.  On this day he started by tightening each muscle in his body from his feet up to his head and releasing each one in turn.  It was essential that he should keep in touch with his body, since it was only then that he would be able to delve deep into his own mind without damaging himself in the process.

            It didn't take him long to enter a meditative state.  He had been doing this very exercise for years, and he was practiced enough to make it effortless – even with distractions.  Certainly Trunks and Goten were loud enough to wake the dead on their best days.  He'd been required to train the two boys after Goku went back to the Afterlife, and that very task had nearly cost him his sanity.  Even in his meditation this thought made him clench his hands into fists.  Those two…how he wanted to smack them upside their heads and make them grow up.  They played around in battle, dangerous enough even for a veteran such as himself, but the fact that the fate of the planet itself rested on their childish shoulders was infuriating.  He would have permanently given his left arm to make them stop messing around and kill Majin Buu.

            After a few moments of such thoughts coming unbidden into his mind, Piccolo broke out of his meditation with a snarl.  Blast them both, the brats.  They destroyed the world with their foolishness.  The waterfall hadn't helped him any.  The Namek screwed his face into a frown and watched the grass sway along the bank of the river.  It was all foolishness, he decided.  He'd had to help Goku teach them the Fusion Dance…there was no embarrassment greater than scuffling his feet along the tiled floor of the Lookout and waving his arms about like a windmill while striking a ridiculous pose in front of two blabbermouths.  No doubt they had told young Marron about it, and she would have told her father, Krillin.  And he would have told everyone else.  That is, if Goku hadn't informed them of it first.

            "Never again," he growled aloud.  "One student was quite enough.  I'm not taking on any more brats."  And speaking of his student…

            Gohan had been a pain in the behind the whole time, too.  He'd messed around with Buu as well, but he'd also fought with him.  Had he not stopped thinking toward the end of his battle, he would have won.  He'd also tricked Piccolo, to some extent; the Namek had been flustered enough with how everything was going that he'd mistaken Gohan for Goku when the young man had arrived on the scene.  He hadn't even thought of checking to see whose ki it was; he'd seen an orange gi and messy black hair and automatically thought "Goku".  Heck, Yamcha had worn a similar gi, and his hair had been unruly as well, but it was Goku whose name went with the outfit.  Orange meant Goku.

            Piccolo did not take trickery from anyone other than himself very well.

            And Gohan was smitten with the girl named Videl.  Piccolo assumed she was attractive by human standards, but that was no excuse for acting like a little child and daydreaming constantly.  The demi-Saiyan was a warrior, and fighting and defending the Earth from threat came first.  He should have known that.  That girl was probably one of the reasons Gohan seemed so distracted in the first place.  Gohan was no novice in battle, but there are things that even beginners know.  Such as not letting anyone or anything take your attention away from the battle.

            Ah, but the boy would forget his head if it wasn't attached.  Piccolo believed it came from the Super Saiyan transformation.  Goku had been a decent strategist until he gained the raw power that came with the Super Saiyan state.  Then he'd begun relying too much on power and strength to win the day, instead of thinking things through.  Vegeta was the same way, and Gohan followed suit.  Trunks and Goten were beginning to act the same way; neither one of them actually thought when they fought or sparred, and it worried Piccolo.  It proved that power went to your head.  Yeah, he added in his thoughts, and fried your brain, too.  Because of this, everyone had come to rely on Piccolo to come up with the strategies.  Good old Piccolo, who used to be able to go head-to-head with the strongest man on Earth.  Good old Piccolo, who was nothing more than a teacher and trainer now that the fighting had left his league.

            He broke off that train of thought abruptly, not wishing to go down that road again.  He'd tried to logically reason it out, but he couldn't think of a single reason why both Goku and Vegeta had allowed him to train their children to fight properly.  He also couldn't think of why he'd been reduced to nothing more than an unpaid nanny.  Piccolo understood well that he was no longer able to fight with just brute force, but his ki-handling skills and speed were up to par.  He could keep up with the Super Saiyans as long as they stayed in the first stage of the transformation – he wasn't useless!  And thinking up strategies…since he had merged with Kami, he had gained so much knowledge (which he was beginning to impart to Dende, the new Guardian of Earth) that it would be very unwise not to ask him for help.  After all, he'd gained the knowledge of countless Guardians from his "uncle", and between them all they had seen and done just about everything.

            Piccolo's mind took another turn as Dende's name popped up in his thoughts again.  That kid was another one.  After he and Gotenks had emerged from the dimensional tear in the Room of Spirit and Time, the scene before him had horrified him.  The Lookout had been in shambles, its once-beautiful spires and gardens gone, reduced to rubble by Buu's madness.  Three warriors, one teenage girl, and the noncombatants counted as Earth's defenders had all been on the Lookout – and only one had survived the encounter.  Buu had gone on a killing spree, turning each person he found into food and eating them.  Only Dende had avoided his grasp, and that was because Mr. Popo had had the sense to get him off the Lookout.  If Dende died, the Dragonballs of Earth would no longer exist.  Needless to say, when Piccolo saw the carnage, he feared the worst.  He felt no ki upon the Lookout, and he thought the other Namek had been killed.  He hadn't thought to extend his search to the ground, and it had bothered him to the point of distraction.  Now it was a major pain to him, thinking about this particular slip.

            Understandably, the Namek was rather upset with both recent events and with himself.  So upset, in fact, that he failed to notice Gohan's ki coming closer and closer.  He uncurled himself from his lotus position and held himself in the air, allowing the updraft from the rushing water to gently brush across his face.  Piccolo was positively determined to find peace and quiet this afternoon, and he submerged himself in the feeling.  Meditation hadn't helped him any, and this was the second-best thing.  He lost himself in the physical sensations generally unnoticed: the breeze, the warmth of the sun's rays, the softly-chirping crickets, the rustling of the leaves.

            "Hey, Piccolo," came Gohan's voice from behind him.

            For days after, the demi-Saiyan wondered how he had managed to sneak up on his mentor.  Piccolo whipped himself around swiftly enough that he lost control of himself in the air for the first time in years.  He dropped a few feet before he recovered and flew up again with a vengeance.  Gohan flinched as the Namek gathered his aura about him angrily, eyes blazing.

            "What do you want?" Piccolo asked through clenched teeth.  He was enraged, both with his former student and with himself.  With Gohan, for having startled him badly enough that he dropped.  With himself, for not having his defenses up as he should.  He rolled his eyes as Gohan placed one hand on the back of his head and grinned in the typical Son male fashion.

            "Well, I wanted to ask if you wanted to come over for dinner, actually," the young man said.  He was more than adequately cowed by the sight of his mentor so angry, his eyes flashing and his ki crackling about him.  "Mom's invitation.  I'm the messenger."  Then he lowered his head in embarrassment before continuing, his hand still behind his head.  "Though it would be nice to see you again and talk for more than three minutes."

            "What makes you think I would want to sit at a table and watch you, your father and your brother eat?  Let alone speak with them about food and Saiyan-related topics?"

            Gohan was now flustered.  He hadn't expected Piccolo to be this difficult, but then again, he hadn't been the most talkative of people as of late either.  He hadn't come out here to find Piccolo since long before the Buu incident, and he'd only spoken briefly with him both during and after the fight.  He'd seemed as tight as a high wire then, and Gohan could only imagine what he would be like now that he'd had time to let everything sink in.

            Hence the dinner invitation.  Chi-Chi had always had a mothering attitude toward the rest of the Earth's defenders…even though Piccolo had earned her trust not too long ago, she still knew when they all needed coddling (or a good shouting match, as she and Vegeta had proven numerous times).  "Well, Piccolo, just to catch up on everything.  And to wind down after Buu.   I know I haven't visited as often as I should, but still.  It would be nice," he said meekly.

            Piccolo snorted.  "Pathetic, really," he said with a smirk, letting the gathered ki about him dissipate.  He crossed his arms over his chest and turned his back on the young man.

            Gohan sighed and turned around as well.

            It was only when he tensed himself to take off that Piccolo continued his statement.  "But if it means that much to you…"  His voice trailed off, leaving his words to hang in the air.  Gohan stopped in astonishment, a wide smile crossing his face.  He felt like turning back around and hugging the Namek, but he knew better than that.  The last time he had wrapped his arms about Piccolo's waist the Namek had thrown him face-first into the side of a mountain.

            "Then I'll see you for dinner?" he asked hopefully.

            "You owe me big, kid," came the growled reply.

            The demi-Saiyan said nothing as he set off for home, all smiles and bright eyes.  He knew Piccolo would not be far behind, for his mentor never went back on his word.  It would be half an hour at most, but he would finally be able to carry on as he once did, chattering away at his almost-silent friend.

            Piccolo watched Gohan's ki trail fade away as the minutes passed.  "And who knows," he said to himself.  "Perhaps I will be able to relax today."  For the Sons' favorite evening activity was sparring, and there was nothing like a good, rough sparring session to calm the nerves and soothe the mind.