AN: There are certain clichés you find on . Summaries that read: "I can't write summaries". People who complain about spelling and tell a writer "Youre speelling suxs!!". And, of course, writers who start every update with "I'm sorry I haven't updated!". Yeah. I am a cliché. But it has been (nearly) a year. So, if anyone has stuck it out and has come back for this: thank you. Endlessly.
Disclaimer: "Today be still your beating heart, you'll have to keep on beating…"
Last Time: "We need to talk." Videl was still staring fixedly at Gohan's shoes. He wasn't sure, but Gohan thought it was making his toes nervous. "About last week."
Vegeta ran a hand through his hair, feeling warm sweat stick to his fingers. It had been a productive morning and he felt he had rightly earned (not that it wasn't his right anyway) his mid-morning forage of Capsule Corporation's main fridge.
The Saiyan was just contemplating how many types of animal meats he could fit inside the half-loaf of bread left in the cupboard when he rounded the corner, coming alarmingly close to a startled Bulma.
He grunted an indifferent recognition before side stepping the woman and returning to his kitchen hunt. Black Forest. Parma. Canadian Bacon. And cheese… should still have some Cheddar if the boy didn't eat it…
"I feel bad for Gohan…" Vegeta looked across sharply to find Bulma walking alongside him. "I wonder how he's finding it now Videl's gone back to school."
Vegeta didn't respond. Maybe Parmesan.
"You know, Gohan took the whole situation really to heart. Maybe it's just that Hero Nature of his, but I think ChiChi's right: I think Gohan really likes this girl."
Olives. Black olives in the cupboard over the toaster.
"Kind a weird though, huh?" Bulma laughed lightly. "Her being Hurcule's daughter. What a wired in-law he'd make to Gohan!"
Turkey. And the spiced chicken on the bottom shelf.
"Mind you… I suppose I could have been wrong. I still haven't spoken to the lab technicians from Satan City so I can't be sure if Videl really was the cat following Gohan around that week."
"Course it was." Vegeta scoffed, spinning Bulma's head towards him in surprise. "Even Kakkarot's idiot son should have been able to see that."
When the hall fell silent, Vegeta looked over to Bulma only to find she was no longer at his side. Vegeta's curiosity won a marginal victory over his hunger, making him stop and look back.
"Vegeta?" Bulma furrowed her eyebrows at the plush carpet. "You… knew."
Vegeta smirked, scoffing proudly, "You'd be surprised how much I know, woman."
"I see." Another pause. Deciding the conversation was over, Vegeta turned to leave. "How long have you known?" Only to be stopped again.
"What does it matter to you-"
"How long, Vegeta?" He glanced backwards. Bulma was still looking down at the carpet, her expression half hidden behind sea-foam hair. It wasn't overlooked by the Saiyan prince that her hands were in fists.
"A week. The first time the brat came here jabbering on about that girl."
Bored, Vegeta left Bulma in the hallway. So, you're back now girl? All right, let's see how you do from here. Entertain me.
When the automatic door to the kitchen slid open, it was accompanied by a loud Bang! from behind Vegeta.
"You SON OF A-! I can't believe you, Vegeta! Who do you think you are, keeping this from me?! Do you have any idea how much trouble you caused? Just because "Prince Saiyan doesn't share"?! Do you?! DO YOU?! I swear to Kami if I could kick your-"
Rubbing his ear, Vegeta cast a forlorn glance at the fridge before retreating for safer territory outside the Capsule Corp compound.
"- I mean WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!"
In the centre of Satan City, a pair of high school students walked through the crowds, looking for all the world like a normal teenage couple, killing time after class.
Of course, they were neither a couple, nor anywhere near 'normal'. Either of them.
Videl stole half a glance at Gohan, before loosing her nerve and looking back to the shop windows on the other side. Dresses, shoes, toys, jeans flashed past her unnoticed.
What am I doing?! She twisted the bottom of her shirt in her fingers: anything to take her mind of the heavy air lying between her and her companion.
She looked at her reflection in the glass next to her: a mess of black hair, blue eyes and… am I STILL blushing?
Moving her eyes up she could see Gohan's face in the glass, hovering over her own, eyes set ahead awkwardly. He looked nervous. He can't be half as uncomfortable as I am right now. What am I DOING?
Only half aware that she'd been repeating this same line for the past 13 minutes, she examined the face over hers. Thick spikes flicked upwards from his scalp in orderly chaos. Strong, broad shoulders and 'smart' clothes that hid his body's true nature. Videl felt her face begin to warm again. Bad. BAD!
Feeling someone watching him, Gohan turned to look into the glass, catching Videl's eye. She bit back a choke of surprise and turned to look ahead, a frown making a vain attempt to cover up her embarrassment.
For a long time neither spoke. They crossed the street, heading down a hill away from the high street.
Oh… kami. Please let something fill the silence! What was I thinking? More importantly: What. Am. I. Doing?! What's happened to me? I should be kicking his ass from here to West City! Instead I'm acting like a 14 year old on her first date with a boy! Get it together, Satan!
"Do you like my hair?" Say what? "I cut it."
Kami above, WHAT WAS THAT? Videl studied her boots as she walked, mentally kicking herself for her outburst. I mean, who says that? 'Do you like my hair?' The SILENCE was better!
"It's… nice." Videl looked at Gohan in surprise. His cheeks were flushed and… was that a smile? He glanced her way and must have been surprised to find her looking at him, as he spluttered, hands flailing: "N-not that it wasn't nice before! No! It-it's just that… well… it'll be good for when you're fighting! And it… it won't get in your eyes or… erm…"
"Oh." Videl could have laughed. Gohan looks so funny when he gets nervous. She smiled to herself. "Hey, why don't we get an ice cream? I'm kind of hungry, aren't you?" She asked, pointing to a vendor parked beside a fountain on the other side of the street.
"Ah… sure, yeah."
Videl lead their way across the street, joining the line of children and parents searching for relief from the warm weather.
"I haven't eaten a real ice cream cone in ages." Videl explained cheerfully, happy to have found a diversion from her outburst. "Just the stuff out of a tub from the freezer."
She looked over at Gohan to find him smiling at her. "Really?"
"Ah… yeah." For the love of… I was just getting calmed down. Gohan you jerk!
"Well, then, I'll treat you to some."
"No! No, you don't have to do that, really." Videl said, startled and embarrassed by his offer. "I can get my own."
"Oh? But, ice cream always tastes better when it's a gift, right?"
Videl felt her heart falter. He said it so matter-of-fact-ly, looking at her so openly… she wasn't sure if she could get her mouth moving enough to tell him "no".
And so, Videl was treated to ice cream. While Gohan bought their snacks, Videl went and sat on the edge of the fountain, feeling the light mist against her back from the water's back-splash.
She could feel her pulse in her throat thrumming erratically. Where had this come from? This… girly self-consciousness. She had never been like this before! It was humiliating. She rubbed her temples and wished she would get a headache. It would make a good distraction.
Gohan walked up to her, a cone in each hand. How did this happen I wonder?
"Here, Videl." He handed the girl her cone and sat down next to her.
As silence fell over the couple, Gohan cast his eyes over to Videl... only to catch her watching him. They both turned away hurriedly, faces turning pink at the mortification of being caught in the act.
Should I say something? He wondered, not daring to look at Videl for fear of some internal meltdown. Should I be thinking of something to say? I mean, what kind of social etiquette are you supposed to invoke in this situation? I mean, she asked me out. Does that mean that she should be the one to think up topics of conversation? Or should I be the one to start talking, being the gentleman? … Asked me out? He felt himself blush. No, no, no! She didn't 'ask me out'! This isn't a date or anything… I mean… NO! Not. A. Date.
Unaware he was being watched, Gohan's face began betraying his inner dialogue: frowning, twitching and turning. His ice cream dripped down his hand unnoticed and his foot tapped an erratic gig on the concrete.
Videl resisted the urge to laugh.
"What are you thinking about?"
"Wh-what?" Gohan jumped, startled, before noticing his disintegrating ice cream and began a futile attempt to save it. Videl bit back a laugh and smiled.
Videl gazed up at the sky. Faultlessly blue and glistening. Unthreatening white clouds drifting through idly.
"You're mother's a very good cook."
"She might even be better than our chef. Though better not tell him that."
Videl lowered her head and glanced at Gohan. He was very still and very silent. His ice cream (now nothing more than an empty half-eaten cornet) sat in his hand just as still and silent. He wasn't looking at her.
"I didn't remember at first." She looked away, watching the line for the ice cream vendor. "It took a few days. I started getting headaches and I would remember little bits. It took a long time to remember everything. Even now there are a few gaps. Little pieces that don't add up. But maybe they didn't add up anyway. It's weird I kn-"
"Videl…" He was still staring at the same spot. Videl smiled and finished the last of her cone.
"I never understood what you were trying to achieve." He looked at her then. Searchingly. But she kept her head turned away for him, watching children and parents and men and women waiting in line in the warm afternoon. "You were trying so hard to find someone you barely even knew. Why? I never gave you any incentive to worry about me. I never gave you any incentive to do anything but mistrust me. So… why?"
She turned her head and for a few moments there was nothing. Nothing but blue on deepest black. Every question and every answer. No questions. No answers. No one. Everyone.
"Because I couldn't protect you."
Videl sighed and stood up, dusting imaginary dirt from her shorts.
"Gohan, I'm not the kind of girl who needs protecting." She put on a fake-serious face, making her voice deep. "'I didn't ask for your help, Saiyaman'. Remember?" She tried to smirk at him – show the cocky, headstrong Videl Satan she should be - but all that came out was a sad kind of smile. He stood up next to her.
"Yeah, I remember."
He didn't say anything. Videl sighed and began walking. I wish I could see inside your head, Gohan. It would make this a lot easier.
He was panicking. Well, old habits die hard. Gohan stood and watched Videl turn away and start to leave. Should he follow her? Did she want him to follow her? If he let her just leave what would happen? But then… what would happen if he didn't let her leave?
She was almost to the road before he was able to make a decision.
"Videl?" She turned around. "Erm… May I… walk you home?"
A pause. And then…
"Alright." She smiled at him, gently. Almost like… she was embarrassed. He grinned back, flustered though he wasn't totally sure why.
So there they were again: walking through Satan City's busy afternoon streets. A few passers by would look their way with interest, and a few stopped to openly stare at Videl Satan walking past and at the mysterious young man at her elbow.
Oblivious to the stares, the pair walked in silence. Both lost in whatever thoughts they were emerged in. Common themes of embarrassment, confusion and indecision surfacing in both.
But, while Gohan seemed stuck on any ideas for conversation, Videl had a slightly more… stern view on her hesitant silence.
This is getting pathetic. Why should I be stuck for words? I know I've ever really had a proper conversation with Gohan, but still… I should have some idea. I have things I need to ask him, so why not just ask? For Kami's sake! Videl Satan fears nothing! Come on, girl! Quit being a baby and speak. SPEAK! … Oh hang on. Is that why…?
"Is that why you're Saiyaman? Because you're a Saiyan?"
"Ex-excuse me?!" Gohan's shock made him stumbled a little. His face flushed and the way his eyebrows shot up made Videl laugh.
"Ha ha. Sorry. Sorry. I was thinking out loud. That was weird."
"Eheh… yeah." He rubbed the back of his neck self-consciously and Videl smiled at the familiar mannerism.
"Is that it, though?"
"Yeah. That's why. I had to think up a name pretty fast and it was the first thing that came to mind."
"Well that explains it. I always wondered where a name like that could have come from. It's a little… out there, you know?"
"I guess it is." He looked across at her, puzzled. "But who told you I was a Saiyan?"
Videl let a minute past before she replied, weighing up in her head the likelihood of Gohan even believing her answer.
"Actually, I had a lovely little chat with the black cat Dr Briefs carries around with him. He was real informative."
"Really? You can do that?" Videl rolled her eyes good naturedly.
"Well not usually, Gohan. But under the circumstances yes."
"So… what is a Saiyan?"
Gohan looked at her, then at the sky, biting his lip as he sought for the most appropriate answer.
"Well, Videl, it's… complicated."
"Ah. Too complicated for the middle of the city, huh?"
"Exactly." He smiled at her and she felt her cheeks warm.
"Alright. But I'm going to get the answer out of you someday. I'm a real stickler for getting my own way." He laughed, which only made her face feel hotter.
"I figured as much."
She let a few moments pass in companionable silence, her mind whirring through all the things she wanted to fully understand about her mysterious guardian.
"So then… is being a Saiyan the reason you can fly around and pick up jumbo jets with your pinkie?" Gohan laughed nervously under her resurrected interrogation, privately enjoying the way her eyebrows flitted down when she was puzzling something over.
"No. Not exactly. But it helps, I guess."
"So then… anyone can do that stuff? They don't have to be a Saiyan?"
"Well, yeah, to a degree. Flying's pretty easy once you get the hang of it, and there are plenty of regular fighters who build up their strength and use ki. It's all about learning, really."
"Good. That's alright then." She smiled, speaking more to herself than Gohan.
"Erm… what is?"
"Hum? Oh, nothing, it doesn't matter." She smiled to him. An unguarded grin that made Gohan want to smile right on back at her. Instead he just flushed and smiled at his shoes.
Out of the corner of his eye, Gohan notice two small sets of eyes watching their progress from atop the wall in front of them. Eyeing the cats curiously, he didn't realise he was walking alone until Videl's voice reached him.
"Gohan?" He stopped and looked back. Videl had stopped a few paces behind him and was staring with fierce concentration at the kerb by his feet.
"What's the matter? Are you alri-"
"I wanted to thank you." Her fingers came together bashfully, rubbing her short nails for comfort. "You were honestly worried about me. I really don't know why, I mean, were not even really friends and you still spent all that time trying to find… me…."
She looked up. Gohan was stood in front of her, just a few inches away. When did he move? He looked her in the eye with this… soft, calm expression that she had only seen him wear a few times. He looked like he was trying to see inside her head. He looked like the kind of person who you could pour your heart out to.
He looked like…
"… why… what?"
"Why are we not really friends? I thought we were."
She stared at him. Her heart – which a moment ago had been thudding and thumping in her chest – now felt like it had stopped. How could he do that? Be so calm all of a sudden? …How did he manage to say the right thing?
Slowly, very slowly, she shifted. Only a little and only very slowly. Until she was up against him and her head was resting ever so lightly on his shoulder.
He tensed. She could feel in radiating off him in nervous beats. She almost moved away when she felt a hand rest itself shakily between her shoulders. She released a breath and closed her eyes.
They stood there, barely breathing for fear it might break them apart. What would happen if we never moved?
A brush against her ankle jump-started Videl back into the real world.
"I'd better be getting home." She pushed herself away and hurried past Gohan, not able to meet his eye. She twisted round as she started to run, grinning and waving over her shoulder. "See you later, Saiyadork!"
Gohan watched her run away, the two cats who had been sat on the wall running along side her.
Rounding a corner, Videl stopped. Her heavy breaths echoed through the empty street. She ran a hand over her face and through her hair. Then started walking.
He looked like the kind of person I might fall in love with.
AN: Well there we go. It's a lot of fun seeing how Videl acts differently to the same revelations after watching Gohan for a week. She acts quite differently to how she acts in the anime, doesn't she? She seems a lot more… gentle with him, I guess. But then, she has to be a little gentler with herself right now.
Ha ha. I went a little overboard with the ellipsis this time. Lots of "…"s all over the place! Dear me.
On another note, I think it's fair to say the fanart contest isn't going to be getting any more submissions. I'm going to be giving a prise to both Ninjacey and RedRoseGrace (I couldn't choose!). So ladies, if you're reading, I'll be getting in touch in the next few weeks to sort out what you would like as a reward :)