Hero's Welcome

Disclaimer: Characters and premise are the property of Akira Toriyama, I'm just borrowing them for some non-profit fun.

"Mr. Satan! Mr. Satan!" the crowd's chant rose to a thunderous crescendo as the man himself took the stage.

Hercule struck a victory pose and soaked in the adulation. He was more celebrated now than he'd been since the first few months after the Cell Games and this time he could enjoy the fame without the nagging feeling that he should be looking over his shoulder for golden-haired fighters with teal-green eyes.

Hercule shook his head and thought to himself, 'That Goku had turned out to be a really nice guy.' Goku had sided with Hercule about healing the good Boo. And when he'd gone to transport them all back to Earth Goku had given Hercule a completely genuine smile and said they couldn't have done it without his help. And when it came up Goku had only seemed mildly amused by the whole stealing credit for beating Cell thing. Goku made a person feel good about the things they'd done right and he didn't dwell on the things they'd done wrong. Hercule didn't see how a guy could manage to actually dislike Goku once they'd been around him for more than a few minutes.

Hercule would have liked Gohan too except for the part where anyone with eyes could see that Gohan had feelings for Videl and what kind of father would Hercule be if he went around approving of his little girl's first love interest without at least making the guy sweat a little first?

Dende was also a nice enough kid even if Hercule was having trouble getting his brain around the idea that Kami was a four foot tall, green teenager from another planet. He might have been able to deal with the short green alien part but the idea that Kami was roughly the same age as his daughter was just too much for Hercule.

Vegeta was the only other Z-fighters Hercule had spent enough time with to really form an opinion of him as an individual and Hercule's opinion of Vegeta was- Well less an opinion than a resolve- that Hercule never wanted to find himself anywhere near Vegeta was unless Goku and/or Gohan were also there to protect him. Vegeta just didn't have the same forgiving nature that the Sons had.

Hercule should have been having the time of his life. He had a new best friend, his popularity was reaching a record high and the group he most feared didn't seem to hold grudges. But there was one thing wrong with is life and it wasn't a small thing.

Hercule gestured for the crowd to quiet down so he could talk. He put on a serious expression. "As all of you probably know, my daughter Videl was injured while fighting in the World Martial Arts Tournament; what you may not know was that her opponent in that match was the first of the Wizard Bobbidi's henchmen that any of us faced. While she has recovered physically from that match she'd still a little shaken up. So as a personal favor I'm asking you all to give her some room. She's staying at a school friend's house and just wants to get back to her daily routine without dealing with a new rush of interviews or paparazzi... Oh yeah and she sends her apologies to that reporter who startled her. Sometimes she forgets her own strength, just like her old dad," Hercule laughed heartily and hoped internally that he hadn't said anything that would further upset his volatile daughter.

Hercule winced at the memory of his last conversation with Videl.

When Hercule brought up the unfortunate reporter who'd been hounding Videl for an interview she'd snapped "I hate living a lie! I hate liars and you're making me one!"

"Now Videl you heard Gohan," Hercule had tried to placate her. "He doesn't want the recognition and if I told people that I didn't beat Cell, well they'd want to know who did."

"And Gohan is the one and only reason I haven't said anything," Videl had said as she scowled at him. "If I told the truth would you let them call me a liar or would you finally confess? Are you going to say I use tricks and that I cheat when they ask about my ability to fly?"

"Now sweetpea, you know I'd never let anything hurt you," Hercule had protested.

"No! What I know is that you've lied to me about everything for seven years!" Videl had exclaimed.

"Not everything," Hercule had temporized. "Just one thing really. One big thing admittedly but-"

"Why won't you spar with me?" Videl demanded suddenly.

"I wouldn't want to hurt my little sweetpea," Hercule had begun but Videl turned around and walked out of the room. "Sweetie? Where are you going?"

"I'm going to stay with Eresa." Videl had said. "If I spend one more minute under this roof I might regret what I do."

"Alright Videl, you have a good time with your friend. When will you be coming home?"

"I don't know," Videl had said and Hercule hadn't seen her since then.

Hercule finished his press conference then went back inside. He carefully shut the door then called "It's okay Boo, you can come out now."

The pink genie came out of one of the mansion's inner rooms and grinned. "See what Bee learn!" he exclaimed then beamed like a proud parent while his puppy demonstrated it's ability to walk on two legs.

"Wow, that's really good Boo!" Hercule enthused. "Did, um, did Videl stop by today? I mean she must be running out of clothes at least."

Boo looked sad, he knew his friend Mr. Satan missed his daughter. "No Videl-san," he reported. "Boo go get?"

"No! no! You don't have to do that Boo," Hercule said quickly. "Remember I want hr to come home because she wants to come home, not because someone made her do it."

"Someone else coming," Boo said hoping the news would cheer his friend up.

Before Hercule could ask who Goku appeared in his livingroom. "Sorry about not knocking," Goku said cheerfully. "I couldn't get through the crowd out front."

"What brings you by Son-san?" Hercule said.

"Goku," the other fighter corrected with a grin. "Bulma's throwing a get-together. I asked Videl to invite you but she said she wasn't talking to you so I figured I'd just invite you guys myself. I figured Boo would want to get out a little and Capsule Corp is pretty good at keeping reporters out... well actually they used to try to sneak in I guess, but a few of them met Vegeta and now they don't try... It'll be fine. Besides, Chi wants to get to know Videl's family better. So I'll see you there?"

Hercule nodded dumbly.

"It's this Saturday at Capsule Corps, Bulma says show up any time after 11:00 in the afternoon," Goku relayed then popped out.

Hercule stared at the spot where the Saiyan had been for several moments then wailed, "My baby-girl has a serious boyfriend and she'd not even talking to me! She'll get married and I'll never see her again!"

Boo patted him on the shoulder consolingly.

Saturday rolled around and Hercule drove toward Capsule Corp with a feeling of doom simmering in his gut. He wasn't sure what worried him more: the though of facing the Z-fighters or facing his daughter.

The little, purple-haired demon-boy from the tournament opened the door. He glared suspiciously at Boo. "You're not going to fight my dad again," he said, there was a threat in his voice but his eyes were haunted by the memory of his father's suicide gambit against the genie.

"Boo friend!"

"That's what Goten's dad said," Trunks allowed. "I just wanted to hear it from you." He stood aside and let the pair in.

After a few moments Hercule realized the boy was following them, watching him curiously. "Do you want an autograph?" Hercule asked.

Trunks snickered then asked, "Did you fake losing during the exhibition match or did you fake my punch not hurting?"

And Hercule was reminded once again that his status as the world's savior was basically a joke to these people. He grinned ruefully. "Both actually," he admitted. "After watching you and your friend fight I knew I didn't have a chance if I fought you for real so I 'let' you win with the first punch so it wouldn't look so bad." Hercule touched his jaw gingerly. "But I think you knocked out a couple of teeth with that punch."

"Sorry," Trunks said unapologetically. Then he added. "I guess you take a punch okay for a weakling human." He grinned briefly. "You're sneaky," the way Trunks said it, it wasn't an insult.

Hercule found himself wishing that his child would be that easy to win over. "So, uh, kid, is Videl around somewhere?"

Trunks shrugged. "Gohan's girlfriend? Yeah, probably."

The door bell rang again and Trunks opened the door for Kuririn, #18 and their daughter.

#18 noticed Hercule. "You owe me money," she informed him coolly.

Hercule gulped as he remembered their 'deal' from the finals match of the tournament. "The check's in the mail."

"It had better be," #18 replied.

"Good seeing you," Kuririn said cheerfully.

They headed deeper into Capsule Corp with the confidence of someone who belonged there. Hercule glanced around and discovered that Trunks and Boo had wandered off while he had been distracted. He sighed and headed in hoping to find a chance to talk with Videl, instead he found Piccolo.

"Hey, you're like that Guardian kid, only taller," Hercule said happily. During the whole time when he, Dende and Bee were the only ones on Earth Dende hadn't done anything scary. 'Kami was a nice kid,' Hercule thought.

Piccolo gave Hercule a look that indicated that the Word's Champ was somewhat lower than gum scraped off the bottom of Piccolo's shoe.

"So, are you his father or something?" Hercule continued obliviously.

"Do not talk to me," Piccolo stated.

A scared man grabbed Hercule's arm and steered him away from Piccolo. "Piccolo isn't the social type. He's only here because Gohan's bringing Videl. Sometimes you'd think Piccolo was Gohan's dad and not Goku with the way he worries about that kid."

"You're Yamcha, the baseball player," Hercule realized.

"Guilty as charged," Yamcha said.

"I don't think the green guy likes me," Hercule confided.

"Like I said, he's real close to Gohan and even though Gohan doesn't want the fame it was still a pretty crappy thing you did, stealing his victory like that."

"So pretty much everyone here hates me," Hercule sighed. "I knew I shouldn't have come."

"I'm glad you came," Yamcha declared. He slapped Hercule on the shoulder hard enough to stagger the other man. "It means I'm finally not the bottom rung when it comes to the fighters around here. It's been almost twenty years since Kuririn surpassed me."

"Bully for you," Hercule muttered. He resolved to find Videl as quickly as possible, make his amends with her than get back to the real world where everyone thought he was the best just as fast as he could.

Hercule wandered around the party until he spotted Videl sitting on a couch, curled up against Gohan. Hercule hesitated, he really wanted to talk to her alone, he was going to have to grovel and he didn't want her -cringe- boyfriend seeing that, but if he asked he had a feeling she'd tell him to go to hell.

"They make cute couple don't you agree?" A woman asked, she seemed about two seconds from shrieking gleefully. "I'm Son Chichi, Gohan's mother," she introduced herself.

Videl was leaning into Gohan staring up at him in a way that had the boy beet red. "So is there anything you want to tell me about hmmm?" she purred. "Like about Saiyans and why you have a tail in the extremely cute baby pictures your mom showed me?"

Gohan gulped, there was something about Videl's proximity that turned his brain into mush and besides he really did need to tell her before... if possible Gohan turned even more red at the direction his thoughts were taking.

"Well for me it all started when I was four years old and my dad took me to meet some friends of his..." Gohan began.

Across the room Hercule sighed in defeat. "I did say she could date if her boyfriend could defeat me."

Chichi smiled warmly. "Then we won't have any problems." Then she cooed "I'm gonna have grandbabies!!"

Hercule flinched at the thought of his little girl having some boy's baby. "She's gotta graduate high school first!" he protested. "And maybe college too. Videl's real smart, like her mom. I wonder if she wants to get a doctorate or something, that takes a real long time right?"