Disclaimer: Let's keep it simple this time around: DBZ not mine.
Chapter Twenty Nine's (Realization, With A Dash Of Loyalty) reviewers: Twin Tails Speed, Sega Genesis n' The 64 Live On, twisterblade, geuss, No1butjoe, AnNie4, link2143, Tony, and 123.
To the person who asked (and to anyone interested) – the power levels for this fic follow that of the series (apart from the fact that Gohan has had a super boost following the Majin corruption and Vegeta hasn't) so Goku is stronger than Gohan while in Super Saiyan 3, as well as being equal to Buu. Only because of his previous fight with his son did he lose so badly when finally facing Buu.
"If only we knew what they were saying to each other..."
It seemed almost impossible to keep up with Gohan and Buu - Babidi soon realized. Within a millisecond, the two fighters were gone, and the wizard's shield magic sparked blue, propelling him into the air in hot pursuit once again. Just like the humans he had loathed from the day he set foot on earth - which had been a good few hundred years before hand - he couldn't actually see the warriors with his naked eyes. All he had was the feel of Gohan's power and thoughts deep in his mind, forming a picture of the boy where his large yellow orbs could not.
It was then that his mind's eye caught sight of Gohan as he kicked off the edge of a steep mountain and simply fell - as if he didn't even know how to fly. And suddenly the tip of the mountain ledge shattered under the power of some unseen force, crumbling in large chucks against the sky, which the boy dodged. Afterwards and again, he was engaged in combat.
Not only was nothing but a simple master-servant connection keeping Babidi tied to the fight, but Gohan and Buu were also moving backwards in their battle - as if they had some kind of finish line they were hoping to meet at the end. While they had started off in a grassy pit of tall trees and a hidden blue blanket, all too soon the ground below shifted, magic ball of blue shield energy buzzing time and time again - and then the scenery was of a vast wasteland, quickly shifting after that into a just-as-vast ocean.
A pink rocket flew back and Gohan zipped forward, feet dragging in the water until their speed met land where a deserted beach sat. HA, deserted... probably too scared to come out because of US, Babidi thought to himself in a moment of prideful boasts that only had him distracted, and that was when his two servants escaped from him, flying into the city just beyond the beach.
There was a flare, and buildings collapsed, bursting into flame as a reign of blasts fell from the sky.
Gohan's power level dropped.
Only a little, however (which may very well have created a disadvantage) and the battle resumed. Fists flew as the saiyan boy threw his snapping energy into a string of cutting blows. But without the view of Majin Buu, Babidi could never tell if any of them connected.
One visibly did (well, not visibly, but wasn't the explosion of street cement and the occasional decorative street tree - where Gohan wasn't right in the middle of it - clue enough) and the force of said explosion had Babidi's bubble of protection diminish as his mind was thrown into whack. A few seconds had the small wizard summon another one. And as if the battle had held it's breath in wait for him to get his magic shield up again, the fighting started up once more.
"Gohan! What's happening!?" Patience wearing thin, Babidi screamed through their link, "I'm sick of this! FINISH HIM!"
A great pant greeted him, along with the sound of crackling thunder - which Babidi knew was the result of... as the teenager's father had put it a little while ago... the form and power of an ascended Super Saiyan. "He's... stronger than... me."
"Not GOOD enough! Do you want more POWER!? Then I'll give you more POWER! I just want that wretched creature DEAD!"
From in front of him, another building crumbled. Babidi threw himself back and out of the way, feeling the shockwave echo throughout the city as a bullet of spewing golden energy ploughed through the broken structure's wall, adding to the tumbling of pulsing waves in the air around him.
Then, Gohan spoke again.
"...no," came the breathless reply. "I don't want it..."
Shocked to silence - or as silent as a loud-mouth such as himself could be - he managed to squeak out in a voice that wasn't nearly as forceful or commanding as he had hoped: "What? What do you mean...? You don't want it?"
Gohan trembled in the mind's eye, smiling genuinely. Genuinely. Not the Majin way at all. "I don't want it...!"
But the trembling wasn't of fear or of weakness, it was a tremble of happiness, the suppressed laugh of a being that had found himself locked away from the world, suddenly finding now a good time to spring back up. "I'm going to make it up to them..." The young majin's whisper echoed throughout Babidi's head. Confusion followed - but as it turned out, it was Babidi's confusion.
"What? Who are you going to 'make it up to'? What are you talking about, boy?"
There was a chuckle - so full of courage and good that it made the small yellowy-green alien sick to his stomach. He sat mid-air in awe as Gohan's power skyrocketed, blue streaks of lightning rising from his glow to combat the red. Even without the mind link, Babidi could still see it from where he floated. It lighted the sky with good and evil in the form of blue and red, flickering dangerously and stopping Majin Buu in his tracks from where he had been headed for the boy.
Something was happening up there, but Babidi couldn't see what, as his mind vision started to cloud over, only Gohan's voice still in his mind. But despite this, there were no more words spoken, just a promise buried deep within a screech that shattered a small window nearby. But the words formed after a moments notice: "I'll end the nightmare. I'll defeat Buu. And I'll do it with my own power!"
Suddenly, no longer could the wizard see the boy. In his place lay a drifting black smoke, floating in dark space. The connection was severed, and Babidi could no longer see him. It was amazing - to say the least - but that boy was still there, even with that last effort to finally do something right, even when Gohan thought he had finally broken free... he was still there, a tickling sensation in the back of Babidi's head.
So, it wasn't over yet... Gohan was still his... but he was slipping, slowly.
Flung back into the action, Buu was already on top of the boy. Babidi could feel it as an invisible punch knocked Gohan's head back and caused him to stifle a sad cry. Still, if the wizard could feel anything else through their diminishing link, it was determination. But was that a good thing, or not? Would the boy finally break free of the Majin symbol and kill him after he'd finished with Buu? Or would he come quickly, nothing but a servant who was still lucky enough to carry his own mind?
The conflict almost had Babidi in wonderment of whom, exactly, he wanted to win. But that was an almost. If Buu overcame Gohan, then there wouldn't be any hope for him. So, while the boy was a gamble, there was no question that it was better than losing altogether to a pathetic, horrible, imbecile... tub of lard!
In his moment of anger and as he found even more adjectives to inwardly insult the - stupid - monster, there was a flash of pink, along with red-golden-blue light, and then they were gone. Babidi growled and shouted a curse to the shaking sky. With a twirl of his fist, along with a small grumble, he locked on to Gohan's faint connection as it skyrocketed through whipping sky, energy clashing after it. And suddenly, the ground was cold from within the mind and under the boy's feet.
Normal paced magic couldn't catch them now, Babidi realized in another growl that could very well have rattled the Earth. So, throwing his arms to the ground, palms facing outwards, the magical energy surged, flickering in more blue - darker this time, darker than his shield. "Papadapapa!" He yelled, the burning city streets flaring in answer.
And he bounced high into the air, gliding like a bullet across the streak of pure energy Buu and Gohan had left behind. The pure speed of it all had his large rolling eyes snapped tightly shut. His body came to an abrupt halt as the fighters were suddenly under him, still going at it like crazed cats. In an instant, his eyes had flicked back open, widening in the sight of an icy plain of floating icebergs and freezing water.
There was a splash as Gohan fell, shivering under the cold grip of an icy ocean. Large red blasts exploded from within the water, impacting squarely with something as it floating unmoving in the air. Or, supposedly it was unmoving. There was no way in the deepest parts of HFIL his father would create a creature that couldn't even dodge a blast like that.
But Majin Buu was a toy-er, he'd had to have been hit on purpose, that was just his way. Never even took a battle seriously - as Babidi had sadly noticed on their travels. Only concerned about ice-cream and cake and... it was a game, a deliciously sick game. So that meant there was no room for remorse. It just doesn't matter - you chew the head off your little sister's favorite doll... and it just doesn't matter... you don't even understand why she cries. And such a philosophy seemed to work. Almost a disappointment, that. Such an evil should never be wasted. But for Babidi's life's sake, Gohan was going to destroy Majin Buu.
A cracking sound amongst the washing wind had Gohan falling from the sky, slipping and sliding across a flat iceberg as it tipped slightly with the impact. While it wasn't ideal that the half-saiyan had been struck down, he was now incredibly close to where Babidi was, and with the mind's voice having crashed to a whisper, it seemed like the perfect time to question the wretched boy.
"What are you DOING!? You can't beat him without my help!"
Gohan looked up, eyes pained as he rubbed a large gash running along his right arm, "I have to try..."
Babidi cried in frustration and slapped harshly at the fast-moving air. "You stubborn little-" The wizard trailed off, pursing his lips together to add to the frown. Why, never in all his years- "Why is it so important?"
The boy stared at him guiltily for a long moment (why guiltily?) as though weighing down what he was about to say, while at the same time thinking over his master's (for Babidi loved that word) reaction. And then, every feature of the boy suddenly changed - his eyes, mouth, eyebrows, stance - everything... he stood tall, arms at his sides and a much stronger determination shining through him. He was finished thinking, and for some reason, that very thought actually scared the small wizard.
"It's important-" Gohan began slowly, stare hard as it dug into the mind. Because what had been a cloud of black smoke was suddenly a piercing set of turquoise eyes... lightening ever-so-slightly in color as his mouth opened once again: "-because it's my fault Majin Buu's here. If I hadn't been so consumed with jealousy and hatred... Dad... HE DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WRONG!"
"But I did, Gohan. I did..."
Babidi slowly watched the boy, reacting to the voice that he had heard too. Was the boy's father contacting him? Or was it just a voice in Gohan's imagination, trying to convince him that in the end, it wasn't really his fault?
"DAD!?" Poor and desperate. "ARE YOU THERE!?"
There was no answer. At least, the alien wizard never caught on to one.
The boy stared down at the flat iceberg, cold under his feet - Babidi noticed as it finally hit, and the two shivered in sync. "No, he's not there." Gohan finally said, pausing for but a moment to collect himself. And suddenly, through the breaking bond he had held stubbornly on to, Babidi could feel... swirling within his insides... wetness...
Was Gohan crying?
What a weak child.
"And... and... if I want to do this right, if I want to do this in the name of good - like I should have been doing from the beginning -" The quiver of a voice began again, sending a shockwave throughout Babidi's small body as those piercing eyes of a dedicated young saiyan shone with tears, running forcefully down his face. "Then, I'll use my own power!"
In that moment, it almost seemed like he'd finally lost him. But - a punch - a yell - and still a feeling of wetness within - alerted Babidi to the fact that the real battle still wasn't quite over yet. The 'M' still burned deep into Gohan's forehead, and through the black cloud he'd been replaced with, it flashed a crimson red. The wizard laughed - loud and forceful into the wind.
- - - - -
Vegeta began, cutting through a silence that had ended only a few seconds after it's beginning. The man in question - who had toppled over to the edge with hands clenched at the lookout's rim when Gohan had asked (yelled at the top of his lungs, in fact) if he was actually there - looked up with wide eyes of amazement and shock as Piccolo finally decided to end the prince's sentence.
"...did you just talk to Gohan?"
Finishing off one last fusion dance with a "HA!", Goten leaped from his spot next to Trunks, laughing with excitement and fascination as he latched on to the back of his father's orange and blue uniform. "Did you really, daddy? 'Cause... Can I talk to him too?"
Goku paused for a second, taking the time to ruffle his youngest son's hair as they rolled in a way so that Goten was suddenly on his father's stomach. "I don't know, son." He said after a moment. "But I'm sure, if you REALLY wanted him to hear you - he would."
Piccolo cleared his throat - and Goku's eyes were once again on the people standing above him. "What did you say to him?"
Goten squirmed in wonder, and Goku took the small second to think over exactly how he'd felt at the time. All it had been was a passing thought, "Well..." A breakthrough? "Gohan - he said I hadn't done anything wrong. But, that's not true. I did do something wrong..."
- - - - -
Within her hazy mind, Videl sighed in contentment. To defend her heart - which beat crazily in her chest - a perfect image of Gohan sat down beside her. To protect her from what was really happening around her, he smiled at her, tugging at the bag around his shoulders in a way she remembered as his distractive reflex whenever she gazed at him angrily.
She'd summoned him before, to help her through her heavy heart and to not let her let go of what he once was. While the last she had seen of him filled her too much with dread and the feeling of unnatural hate, she wanted to remember him from when they were at school - getting on each other's nerves as she discovered more about him, or when they were training - meeting his mother and brother and finding that - against her better judgment - she actually wanted to impress him (enough that she'd actually cut her long hair, anyway).
"Don't worry, Videl. It'll be okay."
Videl closed her eyes. She smiled. "...Gohan."
"Yeah. He'll be just fine, really. You've got nothing to worry about!"
The dream faded and she found Krillin grinning up at her - arms tightly around Marron, and Eighteen sitting silently beside him. The teenager nodded, not sure what else she could do. The image of Gohan was now gone... and she was missing his sweet voice already.
Her chest heaved and her palms began to sweat. Scrunching up her nose and biting down hard on her bottom lip, she looked about to cry. Love (was there ever a doubt?) was too much to comprehend at that moment - especially when you loved someone who was once there but had miraculously distanced himself without either of them having much say in it.
She shook her head - that didn't make any sense at all!
But then it did - and then all that mattered was that she wanted him back.
Almost to an annoying tone, her mind whined, and she stifled a sob that ended up echoing inside her head when it didn't actually come out. Her clouded vision dispatched with a blink - and Krillin was still smiling at her.
"Maybe this is it." He finally said, laughing and rubbing a finger over the spot his nose should have been. "Heh. We're getting close."
Videl frowned and Eighteen rolled her eyes. "What do you mean?"
Krillin winked at her. Marron - in her cute three-year-old way - winked too. "If Gohan is fighting Buu now, then it can't be all bad, right? I mean, none of us really know why they're fighting... But it can't be because Babidi wants them to!"
Before Videl - or anyone, for that matter - could even nod or agree, the Supreme Kai's voice cut in - "We don't know that for sure. Babidi is too unpredictable for us to rule out any of his motivations. Perhaps he found that Gohan was stronger than Majin Buu. Maybe he doesn't need him anymore? But, Babidi has worked his entire life to bring this monster back. People have died because of his desires. Still..."
"If only we knew what they were saying to each other..."
Then, there was a pause as the Supreme Kai turned to Kibito. A spark of seriousness shot through Videl as the two looked at one another. As if they were reading each other's thoughts - Kibito nodded and the Supreme Kai smiled.
All too quickly for anyone to contemplate - Kibito's hand was on the Supreme Kai's shoulder... and they were gone.
Videl gasped, standing up in shock. "Huh? No... Where'd they go?"
The first person she looked to was Krillin, but he just shrugged, almost as if it didn't surprise him too much that they had just disappeared without so much as a warning. "Special supreme-ruler-of-the-entire-universe stuff, I bet!" And he went back to playing with Marron, pulling playfully on one of her pigtails as she let out a small giggle.
Videl sighed, falling back into her seat.
- - - - -
"All his life..."
Tick. A moment passed, tocking within his mind as someone or something began to talk to him. He listened in wait - every new word sounding promising to him... somehow. Buu still came on at him full force, pounding away as Gohan blocked and dodged. But despite the attack, only that voice kept his focus. The world around was suddenly engulfed in an inky blackness.
His body reacted, with no eyes and upon an impulse, as a gloved fist almost caught his abdomen.
"...he needed a father..."
Fizzle. There was an image forming above him - filling in the center of his vision's black canvas. He could hear the cracking of knuckles and bones around him, feel the power of his soul radiating outwards in a burst that had the environment shake. But it was all ignored - the action of squinting up at this new image being the most favorable.
An air of surprise clogged his throat, the first details of this new image becoming clear. What caught him off guard was that this new picture was of his father - jutting spikes at the back of his head tickling softly at Gohan's face - and he was just soo close. The teenager dared to reach forward, only for his hand to sink through the image despite the fact that he could actually feel his hair against him only a second before.
"...but, I guess all I was..."
Shock. But it still felt so real - like he was in two places at once: in the middle of a battle with Buu (there was the faint sound of an iceberg breaking and a splash as his body plunged into ice cold water) and listening to a far off conversation from the sidelines.
New images - people - scattered around, filling the rest of the void. Trunks. Vegeta. Piccolo. Goten.
'This is about you,' came a voice - ringing with just as much surprise as Gohan would, given if he had mind enough to speak. The half-saiyan simply nodded. And that was enough. 'He's talking about you! Does this mean...?'
"...was a hero."
Push. And that was it - the final shove that had him tinkering over the line... and then falling once the boundaries had been breached. Light swarmed into his vision, overwhelming the image of his father and leaving him with one final picture as Goku slowly turned to those behind him. He looked side splittingly depressed, and then...
And everything was back (just different, since it seemed that he and Buu had moved to a new area again) - another beach, with clear sky above... and Buu: cutting through the air with a kick. Gohan, who woke to find that he was lying on his back, raised his arms out in front of him. The pure force of Buu's power dug him deeper into the sand below. And yet - despite his screaming muscles and weakening limbs - he couldn't help but smile. Because at that very moment, there was a snap deep within his mind.
There was one final strangled cry, then... nothing.
To be continued…
Posted 19 April 2007 – 3624 words
Hmmm, reasonably quick for one of MY updates. Yes, quite a foggy ending there, but hopefully it'll all come together in chapter thirty one. And… too Babidi orientated, right? Oh well, I suppose he deserved it, considering… cough Well, till next time!