Nothing but pain.
Gohan's slightly tanned skin turned a dark red, the skin color of a cooked lobster. He heard it sizzle, as clear as he heard bacon on a skillet. He dared to look down. The orange of the gi had long since caught aflame and now it turned to black and grey ashes that were swept away into the wind. Bubbles appeared underneath his red orange skin and seemed to poke up and down at odd intervals. Sweat poured off and evaporated at the same time. Slowly, with blazing heat, the red skin turned dark black. Gohan squeezed his eyes tightly shut.
Blood vessels bulged in his eyes and for a moment, he felt nothing but immense pressure and pain. He swore his blood vessels were going to burst like balloons filled too full. They pressed against nerves, muscles, tendons; making blood spill out of his pores, so great was his pain and the stress piled upon his body. As abundantly as sweat, droplets of red blood spilled down his cheeks, chin and neck.
PAIN! Mind numbing pain, pain so great that the child's stomach twitched and rejected anything within it, rendering a horrible mess all over his front and spilling down his legs. His eyes trembled a moment, as water does during a tremor before the pressure and heat became too much for the many small blood vessels to handle. With a sickening gush, his eyes exploded within his face. Gohan's voice broke from his throat with a nauseatingly squawk of agony. Everything before his sight went solid black and then pure white with pain.
He heard Nine screech in pain, in pure agony before a brief explosion, that sounded like metal tearing and imploding at the same time as he heard skin ripping and blood spilling out upon the dusty ground. Then, there was silence. Well, not quite silence. He could hear his own echo of pain quite readily and he was certain he was still screaming, probably saying things he shouldn't.
He just wanted the pain to stop. His heart burst with pain, fresh pain as if the agony he had been through before were nothing. He gladly would have taken the searing pain of the earlier days compared to the sweltering torture he was feeling right now. Any concentration that had kept the golden haired warrior died away. His hair fell back to black, the hair that had not been burned off by the blast in any event and his ki plunged.
Wind whistled past his ears as he fell. The pain was overwhelming. He just wanted to sleep now. Yeah, he felt he had earned it. Maybe sleep would dull the pain. It seemed to work well before. Daddy and Krillin were safe, Android Nine was gone. They would be okay. They had senzu with them after all. Everything was going to be okay now.
Yeah, sleep was sounding really good.
"ChiChi!" Bulma leapt out of her car and raced to the stirring human woman. There were deep holes and craters all over the yard. Bulma had searched the house and found absolutely no trace of either father, wife or child. Her assumptions that Goku had gone to fight the Androids and they had come here were right on the money. ChiChi had taken a little longer to find, but eventually, the human woman's screeching and cursing and crying had led Bulma to the just awakening human woman out in the old hut.
"Bulma! What are you doing here? Do you have a cure?"
Bulma grinned "Yes! I do. Where's Gohan?"
ChiChi jumped up "He's not inside?"
"Did the Androids get my baby!" She bit her nails so hard blood broke out of the bases. Bulma bit her own lip but shook her head.
"No, I don't think so. It looks like Goku managed to get him away."
"Then where is he?"
"Well, he isn't at Capsule Corp. Where else would he take him, ChiChi?"
ChiChi blinked, "Well…he wouldn't take him to my father's…oh, I bet he's at that pervert's house! Goku, of all the places to take him!"
She jumped into Bulma's car and Bulma barely managed to get one foot in before ChiChi slammed the accelerator to the ground. Bulma screeched and dug in her nails, silently cursing, knowing that these new nails were history now. Still, at the present moment, she determined that was a minor thing. After all, they didn't have any idea how bad Gohan was or if he was even still alive.
No, don't think of that! She berated herself. Gohan was Goku's son, of course he was alive! He had to be.
He just had to be…
Trees and then the ocean breezed past them. ChiChi had no license and if she had, it would certainly have been revoked by the way she was driving. Bulma was certain she lost five or ten years off her life during that journey. ChiChi never took her foot off the accelerator even when there were rocks, trees and now sea creatures. She would just swerve the car. Bulma thought several times that she was going to fly out of the car.
"ChiChi! It won't do us any good if we die before we get to Gohan!" she cried out to the frantic mother.
ChiChi gave her a cold glare but did alter her course to take the turns less sharply. Bulma let out a sigh of relief as she saw the small island and Kame House come into view. ChiChi merely let the car crash into the sand and jumped out before it stopped skidding, storming inside, demanding "Where's my Gohan? Where is he? Bulma's here! She has the cure!" ChiChi slammed open doors, demanding attention.
"He's not here anymore." The Turtle Hermit reluctantly answered. He hated to confront ChiChi in any way, shape or form. That woman was hot as hell but scary as it too. Likewise, when ChiChi got in her "protective" mode, she was five times as frightening and illogical as usual. That in itself was enough to make anyone else flee Kame House.
"What do you mean he's not here? Goku doesn't have any other place that he'd take him and he sure as hell isn't at home!"
"He was here. He isn't anymore. He took off."
"GOHAN did?" Bulma interrupted.
"I'm guessing he went after his father…"
"In his condition!" ChiChi absolutely screeched.
Bulma however while she was surprised, she didn't have nearly the astounded reaction the mother did. "That's just like Gohan…"
"You should know him by now ChiChi. If it's involving his father, he's always there."
"But he could die!"
"Then we best get going, shouldn't we?" she stated the obvious. Female against female didn't scare her. Besides, sometimes, someone had to point the obvious out to the warrior woman. ChiChi tended to get caught up in the moment and the current crisis so sometimes the obvious seemed to go right over her head. But then, everyone had their weakness.
ChiChi grabbed Master Roshi by the shirt, "SO WHERE DID THEY GO?"
Bulma set her own sights on the old master who looked at the warrior woman with what looked like fear in his eyes.
"I…I dunno where they went. You can't feel an Android's energy!"
"YOU DON'T KNOW!"
"Hold on ChiChi," Bulma interrupted. She ran through the house and then dug through several drawers that she happened upon. She mumbled as she searched, making a face at the porn magazines and other such sexual paraphernalia. How he could be a master martial artist was beyond her comprehension. Still, at least he pretty much kept everything her "beautiful" hands had touched.
Sure enough the scouter she had originally fixed up from Raditz was still here. While Goku's power level had destroyed it, she had rebuilt it, always looking for a new way to improve her inventions. She snapped it on her face and pressed the button on the side, seeking out any power levels. She found tremendous ones out in desert landscape. Clicking it off, she announced,
"The desert ChiChi!"
At least she managed to get her seatbelt on this time…
Krillin ran right behind Goku as he rushed to his falling son. Opening his arms, the small child collapsed into them on his downward descent. Goku almost dropped him because of how warm his skin was. Lowering himself to the ground, he immediately looked his son over, tears spilling down his face. The boy's head loomed over his arm and his skin had burned dark black, blood decorating the boy's face. All that remained of the child's clothes blew away with the wind. Goku heard the boy's breathing amazingly but with the injuries he had…
"Krillin! Give me a senzu!"
The human warrior immediately tossed him one. Goku stuck it into his own mouth, chewing it up into a mush before taking it out of his own mouth and placing it in his son's, rubbing his neck to help him swallow. After several tries, it finally went down. The burns faded away, his son's eyes reformed under closed eyelids, the sword wounds disappeared and his ki raised slightly but he didn't wake up.
He shook his son. Nothing. His breaths were slowing.
Goku placed his hand against his son's throat, finding a slowing pulse. No, not now. They were so close. That damn virus couldn't take his baby from him, not when they were so close. Bulma only needed a little more time, just a little more! Not now! Please, not now. Gohan's heart had to hang in there just a little while longer. Goku placed his hand over his son's chest and gently massaged the heart muscle, enough to keep it going a little bit stronger.
"Don't you dare leave me yet, Gohan. Not yet."
Gohan's eyes remained closed and Goku upped his massage as he felt the heart slowing. His strong fingers dug into the skin, making the muscle contract and release. It was only a temporary remedy though. There had to be more he could do, there had to be! The senzu had healed the other injuries but it couldn't cure an illness.
The massage stopped its aid. Gohan's heart stopped.
Goku shook his son, "No! No! Don't you dare die! Please, little man! Don't die on me!"
Goku's mind was racing, thinking up any possible remedy. In desperation, he lit his hand up with a miniscule ki blast. Krillin blinked at him but Goku hardly seemed aware that there was anyone else around right now. He pressed his fingers over his son's heart and let the blast seep through the boy's skin. The body jerked, briefly but Gohan didn't breathe.
Goku upped the power level a little bit. Another jerk of the child's body.
Nothing resembling life. Tears blurring his vision, Goku tried it again.
A ki…faint but a ki!
"Yes! That's it! Keep fighting for me, little man!"
Krillin stood there, watching his best friend cradling his barely breathing son. Every so often, Goku would press his own lips to Gohan's and give him an extra puff of air. Feeling helpless, he turned his eyes towards the horizon. There was where he saw the small hover car. He focused on the kis and then blinked. "Goku, it's ChiChi and Bulma!"
The Saiyan looked up as the car crashed into the ground and the two women jumped out. Bulma tore ahead of ChiChi uncapping the needle in her hand. For once, Goku didn't run at the sight. Bulma didn't say a thing, too focused on the task at hand. She fell into the burning sand to her knees and without wasting a moment, she stabbed the needle's tip into Gohan's chest, rendering a shriek. She whispered her apology and then injected the dark liquid.
Gohan's limbs trembled and shook while Goku and ChiChi sat by his side, ChiChi stroking his hair and Goku gently cradling his head. The boy broke out ina sweat for a moment and shook a little longer before his tremors gave way to a peaceful sleep. Goku laid his hand against his son's neck. The pulse steadied then strengthened.
Gohan was asleep but alive.
"Shh, shh. Gohan, everyone's okay."
What? Was that Daddy? Did that mean it wasn't a dream? Did that mean Daddy was okay? That Krillin was okay? Gohan's thoughts screeched to a halt with a realization:
His heart didn't burn anymore.
Opening his eyes didn't take nearly as much strength as he thought it would. His vision swirled a moment and he raised a curled fist to his eyes and rubbed them, trying to rub out the blurriness. A soft hand stroked his face and a larger, stronger one rested on his cheek. H e blinked and the faces of Goku and ChiChi clarified.
ChiChi screeched in relief and buried her son's face in kisses. Gohan sat there, stoic, trying to figure out what was going on. He turned to Goku who grinned at him. "Daddy? What's-"
"This is what happens with all that training!" ChiChi insisted. "This is why-"
"Don't start on that, please."
She blinked, surprised at his words. Goku chose that moment to get his own word in and change the subject "How do you feel, little man?"
Gohan, pausing, considered this a moment. His heart didn't burn at all anymore! "Great!" his stomach protested "Or at least hungry."
Goku smiled "You cut it kinda close, little man."
Gohan blinked, thinking back, "Daddy?"
"Did…did I really launch a Kame wave? And go Super Saiyan?"
Goku's face burst out with paternal pride. "Sure did!"
Gohan beamed like an idiot. "I DID IT!"
Goku scooped his son up and twirled him around. "Yes, yes you did! You did it little man! I'm so proud of you!"
Gohan grinned widely. ChiChi wanted to say something about Gohan doing that but decided, seeing her husband and son's face and the situation that she could save her complaints for another day. Right now, she was just glad her baby was alive! Leave it to Bulma to do something like that. Only that genius could do something like that.
"And Daddy my heart doesn't hurt anymore!"
"Good! Bulma's cure worked then!" Goku planted a series of kisses on his son's cheek. "You're gonna be alright, little man!"
Gohan beamed, drinking in the affection and then his eyes sparkled with mischief "Does that mean I get my candy, ice cream and toy now?"
"Doncha remember? You said if I got better you'd get me so much candy and ice cream that I'd get a belly ache!"
Goku's eyes flew open. "You heard me? You could hear me?"
"Yep. So we going?"
Goku smiled and kissed his son's cheek. "Well, a promise is a promise. You coming ChiChi?"
ChiChi shook her head but smiled. "Wouldn't miss it for anything."
"Daddy! Can I go on the merry go round now?"
Goku chuckled and set down their heap of packages by the park bench. Gohan's face was decorated with chocolate, ice cream and soda. "Finish that cone first, little man."
The child shoved the rest of it into his mouth, "Tow Dahdy?" he asked with a full mouth. Goku chuckled.
"Swallow then go, kiddo."
Gohan swallowed and then tore over, jumping on the playground equipment, enjoying the spinning toy. ChiChi sat down by Goku on the park bench, just watching Gohan play. This had frightened her great bit. Part of her wanted to keep Gohan from that blasted training even more but she knew in her heart she wouldn't be able to, no matter what she thought. Not only would he find a way to do it anyway but she saw Gohan's eyes light up during training like they were lighting up now. She couldn't bear the thought of killing that bright look.
"He's going to get a stomach ache from all this, Goku."
Goku smirked at her "I know. But he's earned it. After all he did…"
"…I suppose you're right."
He stared at her. Did…did she just agree with him?
She looked up at Goku and then rose from the bench and ran over to her son, jumping onto the ride with him after giving it a running push. Gohan stared at her a moment ,stunned but swiftly recovered and enjoyed the ride. He laughed, clinging to the bars before saying "Daddy, come push us, please?"
Goku chuckled and walked over, grasping one of the bars of the spinning toy. "Fast, little man?"
"REAL fast Daddy!"
"Okay, hang on!"
Gohan and ChiChi clung to the bars for dear life as Goku gave it a sharp jerk in a circle. The two on it turned into a mere blur to his eyes. ChiChi screamed but Gohan laughed. Goku let it come to a stop and Gohan grinned "Faster, Daddy!"
"Yeah! Fast as lightning! Do it as a Super Saiyan Daddy!"
"THAT fast, little man? Can yer stomach handle that?"
"Yep! Pu-lease, Daddy?"
"Okay, if you're sure you can handle it."
"Yes, yes, yes!"
Goku chuckled at his son's shining eyes and against his better judgment, let his eyes turn aqua and his hair golden. He put two fingers against the bars and just gave the toy a gentle flick. It took off at a speed that nearly made Goku dizzy. But when it tottled to a stop, Gohan was laughing his head off. ChiChi looked sick and swiftly got off though. Gohan laid on his back, laughing. Goku picked his son up by the leg,
"You like that, kiddo?"
Goku grinned and tossed Gohan up into the air. The boy squealed in delight.
ChiChi gathered her senses and had to smile. Goku opened his arms and caught his son on the way down. Hearing the boy's laugh, the laugh he'd been afraid he'd never hear again was better than anything else at that moment. He could have stood there and tossed him and caught him for the rest of time had that been an option.
Hmph….Gero narrowed his eyes in thought. Nine and Ten had failed. They were obviously not as strong as the doctor had hoped. Oh well, their failures had provided him with invaluable information. Now, he knew some of Goku's extra abilities as well as the abilities of his son. They were far higher than he had originally planned. Nonetheless, he would keep working.
He vowed not to make the same mistakes with his creations in progress.
Eighteen and Seventeen had several more adjustments to be made, items to be added that would take at least a year but no matter.
Perfection, after all, was not something to be rushed.
His lab was silent.
ChiChi shook her head as her son ran around the couch, playing while she tried to get some laundry folded. Goku was fixing up the rooms that had been damaged by the attack. For tonight, they would all just have to bunk together in the master bedroom which was not something either of them minded. The small family was rather looking forward to the cuddling.
"Well, that's the best I can do for now. Bulma might be able to help some tomorrow." Goku walked into the living room only to be ambushed from behind.
"I gotcha Daddy!"
"Oh, attacking from behind eh?"
Gohan grinned and flipped over his father's shoulders. Goku laughed.
Gohan was decked out in one of his clean gis. The shirt trailed all the way to the ground and draped off him like a tent. How he managed to move in it without it falling off him completely was beyond the Saiyan's comprehension. He had even tied the belt on but even it trailed down like a dead snake, flopping to the boy's feet.
He was adorable.
Goku snatched his son up around the waist and playfully tickled his feet. "I'll teach you to attack your father."
Gohan squealed "Cheater!"
Goku flipped his son back over, sat down on the couch by ChiChi and started to attack the boy's belly. Given the loose gi, it made his belly easy to get to. Goku took a deep inhale and exhaled it out on his son's stomach, rendering a ear piercing giggle from his son's throat. Gohan kicked his legs and Goku took that to his advantage to tickle the bottoms.
ChiChi smiled, watching the two out of the corner of her eye. They always looked so cute together. With Gohan decked out in his father's clothes, they really looked like carbon copies of one another even down to the way they would smile, the way they would laugh and even the way Gohan would lay while he was catching his breath.
After about fifteen more minutes of their horseplay, Gohan yawned widely and Goku stopped.
"Okay, little man, no more. Time for you to go to bed."
"Not…tired…Daddy" he tried to insist through his yawns. Goku scooped him up like a baby, wrapping the gi around him like it was a blanket.
"Of course not. Just rest your eyes for a minute while Daddy and Mother finish some stuff up. Then, we'll be in to join you, okay?"
The boy yawned again, "…Kay."
"That's my boy." As Goku walked into the master bedroom, Gohan curled up into a tight ball, burying his face into Goku's chest. The Saiyan placed his lips against Gohan's forehead, savoring the boy's scent, his presence, everything about him from his long dark eyelashes down to the tiny little fingers sticking out of the gi. Gohan's left hand made its way into his mouth and Goku handed him the stuffed Icarus he'd bought him that day. Laying him down on the bed, he covered him up as ChiChi walked in to join him. Goku gave his wife a gentle look and then gazed down at his son. So gentle, so sweet, so loyal, so strong.
"That's my son…" he crawled into bed beside the boy, wrapping his arms around the boy's small form as ChiChi took up her own side of the bed, forgetting the laundry. It would still be there in the morning after all. Taking time out to just savor their little boy was priceless. She closed her eyes, grateful for this family that was hers to treasure.
Goku laid awake for a long time. He just watched Gohan sleep. The boy's chest rose and fell steadily. His heart beat was strong. He dreamed. Goku laid down by his son, keeping his eyes forever locked on the boy's face. The child slurped on his fingers for a bit, clutching his stuffed dragon with the other hand. But he was alive, he was healthy and he was his. Always and forever, no matter what dangers came their way.
Goku laid his hand into the boy's dark hair and gently ruffled it. Gohan smiled in his sleep.
"That's my son…that's my son…"
With another kiss to the forehead, Goku drifted off himself, his strong arms wrapped around Gohan who pressed his face into Goku's chest, relaxed and content.