An AU version of the DBZ universe, starting off just after the Cell Games. I always thought Gohan should have been the hero, and know I'll retell the story rightly so.
Prologue: Goku's Noble Decision
Gohan felt like crying as his father spoke to them from the Other World. Goku's words touched them all, "I know how you all feel, but this is for the best. Freiza, the Androids, and even Cell were all here because of me. If I just disappear, then maybe Earth won't have to live through another one of my battles."
"That's not fair, dad!" Gohan cried out, "What about me and mom? I know this was my fault, but we still need you."
"Hey, remember what I said? How this might have been the best way? Android 18 would have died with Cell had you finished him. This way, maybe she can have a second chance. Besides, King Kai and I are going to have lots of fun together!"
A low snort echoed through the Lookout, "Oh yeah, lots of fun. You lousy home wreaker."
Goku laughed, "Ah, don't be like that King Kai. I already said I was sorry! Well, I think it's time I got going. King Kai's going to burst, long distance call."
Gohan wiped the tears from his face, and smiled. He looked upward, I know I made a mistake, dad, and it cost you your life. But I promise I'll never let my guard down again. I'll keep going, and I'll protect this planet just like you have!
Little did Gohan know that his father could hear his thoughts, "I know you will. I've always been proud of you Gohan. Take care of your mother, and tell her I love you both. Good-bye, my friends." And then he was gone.
Piccolo looked over at the young Super Saiyan, who had just become the most powerful fighter in the entire universe. The genuine smile on Gohan's face was all the relief he needed. The child would be fine. Piccolo looked up at the eternal dragon and muttered, "Well, we still have one wish left. What should it be?"
Krillin stepped forth hesitantly and said, "I . . . think I have one."
"What is it?" Yamcha asked.
"Well, 18 is kind of alone here. What if we brought Android 17 back? That way she'd have a friend."
Yamcha's jaw nearly hit the floor, "Are you crazy!? What if he starts attacking us?"
"Well . . . if he did that, Gohan, Vegeta, and even Piccolo could easily deal with him. Everyone's several times stronger since he was absorbed."
The baseball player grinned, "Oh yeah! I forgot about that. Sure, I have no problem then." Everyone else nodded their consent, except for Vegeta who stood in a corner with his arms crossed. He didn't really care what the others did.
Krillin approached the dragon, "I ask that Android 17 be brought here, returned to life!"
The dragon's eyes glowed, and then died, "That is not within my power. Ask another wish."
The short man fumed at the dragon's inability. He wondered what else was left. Then it hit him, "Could you at least make Android 18 human again, but still retain all her power and ability?"
The dragon's eyes burned a second time, "Your wish has been granted. I have given you your wishes, I shall depart." With a mighty burst of light, Shenron returned to the dragonballs. Together, the seven balls lifted into the air, and shot out to distant parts of the planet.
Tien stared at Krillin, "I don't understand. Why make her human, but let her keep her powers?"
Krillin scratched his head, "If the dragon had taken them away, I'm pretty sure 18 would kill me!"
Everyone got in a good laugh at their cowardly friend, but understood his intentions. Only a short distance away, hiding behind the Lookout's walls, stood the newly transformed Android 18. An Android no more. She stared at her hands, feeling more alive now than she had before. But everything about her had remained the same. She looked over at the short, blushing man, Why would he do this for me?
Gohan's grin grew as the sky returned to a pale blue. He looked at the tired group of the Z fighters, "Come on you guys! This is the first day of the rest of our lives!"
* * *
Chichi stumbled backwards. Her face in tears, "He's dead? No . . . no, he can't be!" She cried. Gohan never liked to see his mother cry, but he knew better than to stop her. Chichi gripped her apron, nearly tearing it, "Why wouldn't he come back to me?"
"Mom, he said he loved us both. He's going to miss us as much as we'll miss him, but dad thought this would be for the best. He didn't want any more trouble coming after him and harming us."
"That stubborn, heroic fool. He'd say that." Then again, that's one of the things I love about him. Chichi looked up to her son, who for the first time in over a week was no longer a Super Saiyan. She smoothed his unruly black hair, "How are you, Gohan? You're so brave." She pulled her son close and hugged him tight.
The Ox King stepped toward his grandson, "You were great, Gohan. Just like your father."