Disclaimer: Don't own nothing.
A/N1: The previous chapter's lack of spacing in the thoughts has been fixed. That was in no way intentional and happened for some reason I can not explain. If you want an easier read of that chapter, you can go over it again.
A/N2: I am really sorry about the incredible delay for this chapter, but for the past couple of months I've been terribly busy with school, work and life in general and that stopped me from having any inspiration to write. Now I'm back and hopefully I can continue with my usual schedule.
A/N3: Kushin eX has a new fanfic in action that I Beta, I recommend you all go read it, it's a great read and has a lot of highly interesting characters. You can find it in the Naruto section under the name of "The Ultimate Stars"
"And it's over!" the announcer shouted, his amplified voice barely heard over the crowd's loud roars. "With a devastating combination of attacks, the challengers has turned the tide and won! What an amazing victory! What an amazing match! Ladies and gentleman, let's hear it for the new, Japanese Middleweight Champion! Sharpener Pencil!"
Back in the ring, Sharpener had walked back into his own corner, barely being able to keep standing. Almost as soon as the referee had made his signal, each boxer's team had rushed in: Sharpener was quickly supported by Gohan, while Kuma was being tended by his own coach. Still, when the announcer said his name, Sharpener raised one glove and grinned, beside himself with ecstasy.
Almost as soon as the supporting teams, reporters flooded the ring, immediately shooting questions at the new champion and, really, anyone they could get close too.
"How do you feel as the new champion?" "What did you do to assure victory?" "Can we get a statement?" "Mr. Pencil, do you plan to continue on to the world stage?" were the questions that Gohan could clearly hear, but he also heard others mixed in.
"Who is your new second?" "What kind of training did you give?" "Coach, why have you relinquished your position to an unknown boy before such and important battle?"
For this, Gohan was glad that Sharpener's old coach was around: the man proved surprisingly adapt at ignoring all the questions and only answering a select few, while signalling to Gohan to keep quiet. Finally, the announcer's voice was heard again, requesting a silence. Although the cameras still kept going off everywhere; silence quickly ruled the entire arena.
In his own corner, the former champion was struggling to stand up, but what surprised Gohan more was the fact that the man was already standing: he had expected the older man to stay out cold for at least a couple of minutes, maybe as much as an hour. Really, this old fighter was full of surprises. He had a short conversation with his coach, that ended with the coach nodding a lot and helping the boxer stand up straight, much like Gohan was supporting Sharpener.
Someone else came up running, holding the championship belt, and quickly ran to the former champion. With a face contrasted with pain, Kuma stop leaning on his coach and grabbed the belt with both hands, raising it in front of him as he turned towards Sharpener. Much like the champion, the blonde boxer stop leaning and stood on his own, taking a few steps forward, until they met in the middle.
"Congratulations." Kuma simply said; his voice heavy with both pain and some emotions Gohan couldn't place. "You're the new champion." Without further ceremony, he handed the large belt to Sharpener, who also held it and kept staring at it for a minute or so, before raising it above his head in triumph.
Twenty minutes later, Gohan and Sharpener finally managed to enter the dressing room, having shaken off all the reporters. The media hounds apparently didn't care much that Sharpener was also badly hurt from the fight, or that he needed rest. But even the dressing room was rather crowded: aside from some staff, there were four guests that Gohan had expected to see.
Videl, Erasa and Krillin quickly stepped forward to help Gohan support Sharpener, while Bulma was quickly rolling up some towels to serve as a pillow for Sharpener. The boxer wasn't given a choice in the matter as they laid him down on the bench, forcing him to take some rest.
Only when that was all accomplished and they were sure that Sharpener was actually safe, did they say their congratulations. After Sharpener thanked them, they also turned to Gohan and congratulated him, though Gohan did notice how Videl didn't come over to hug him like the others.
"But now I have to wonder, how on earth am I going to explain this at school?" Erasa finally half-joked when everyone was seated. Sharpener was being examined by a doctor, so the five others were sitting a short distance off. "I mean, he's supposed to be my boyfriend, but I didn't know he could do that…"
"Tell them Sharpener used a special technique," Videl supplied, "a secret one, that you're sworn not to reveal. That should solve it, right?"
As the two girls were talking about what would happen at school, Krillin and Gohan were also having a private talk.
"Are you ok?" The former monk asked, though he made sure to keep his voice hushed, "you looked pretty shaken out there for a bit."
"I was." Gohan admitted, though he didn't sound tormented anymore. "Kuma did things I'd never have considered. Guess he was just that good a fighter, huh? I was surprised, because I thought it was impossible. But it's not a problem now."
Seeing the happy smile Gohan gave, Krillin knew that this time, his young friend wasn't lying.
Gohan had never been so relieved to hear the school's bell ring. All morning, he had been swamped by other students running up to him and congratulating him, or asking for an autograph or other weird things.
As had become their habit, Sharpener and Gohan had met up outside the school and arrived together. Just like he had expected, Sharpener was greeted like a hero and everyone congratulated him on his victory and new title. What he hadn't expected was that everyone had also seen him and he was now suddenly considered almost as famous and popular as Sharpener himself.
And Gohan had never been the centre of attention. He hated being the centre, because of everyone looking at him and making him nervous. So, when the bell had rung, Gohan had moved as fast as reasonably possible and nearly made a mad dash for class. But even there, he found most of the same: even the teacher moved over to quickly congratulate Gohan on Sharpener's victory, before going on to class. When he had reached his desk, Gohan saw that Erasa had difficulty keeping in her giggles.
"What's so funny?" He finally asked, after she had to stop herself from laughing for the third time in a row from simply looking at him. "Do I have something on my face?"
"No, it's not that." Erasa ensured him, still giggling "It's just you. You're pretty much superman incarnate: there's nothing you can't do, but you get nervous as hell from a group of fans. The man who can deal with anything can't deal with being popular."
"Yeah, I know. Give me a problem that I can solve and I'll do it, but this… I just don't know what to do with it."
"Well, it is amusing to see you this cornered." Videl added, giving a weak smile as she looked at her boyfriend. "But if it's so much of a problem, I suppose we could help you out with it."
"Really?" Relief flooded Gohan's voice, more then he'd have thought. It was more then Videl offering to help: it was the first time she had done anything like normal since she learned about his problem. That simple fact made Gohan's heart leap out of joy.
Almost as if on queue, the boy in front of Gohan turned around in his seat and addressed the half-saiyan.
"So, what's it like being the second to a national champion?"
Before Gohan could do anything other then stutter for a second, Erasa and Videl addressed the boy.
"Matt, since when are you interested in boxing?" Erasa started, immediately followed up by Videl's. "You always hate Sharpener's guts. Now turn around and pay attention."
Fortunately, the sudden fame was only temporary; a week later, Gohan was no longer bothered by fans at school and his life returned to relative peace. The madness had even extended to his work for a bit, but that had only been one day. His fellow researchers had all congratulated him on training a champion, but after that they quickly lost interest and returned to work.
Likewise, Gohan had also given his full devotion to his work, now that he didn't have to worry about schoolwork – he'd finished everything for the rest of the year – or training Sharpener – who was on a three week recovery break. In fact, if Gohan had been honest, he might have thrown himself a bit too much into his work. Videl wasn't the only one avoiding the issues between them since the discovery of Gohan's multiple personalities.
So, under Gohan's supervision, all projects had sped up significantly. Project Supercycle had developed a working prototype, but so far the machine was far too bulky to really be effective. Still, they had proven that it was possible to build the machine they wanted, now it was just a process of sliming it down and fitting everything in such a way that the machine kept his power, but lost it's massive size.
Likewise, the Mobile Graviton had been deemed complete: the field test that the Commander had performed when he faced off against Johnson had shown it's effect. The machine was in perfect working order. Only the effect of Energy was not sure, but again, this was a test Gohan didn't feel very comfortable running just yet.
So, that left the last and biggest project Gohan was running: the Energy Research. They too had made rapid advancements, which was the reason Gohan was still in his office despite the time. The final tests had been done three days ago and Gohan was compiling all the obtained data so he could write a coherent and understandable paper.
Now that he was mostly done with the writing, Gohan sat back and started thinking. Just a small break, the kind he took every thirty or so minutes. However, as he had been writing the paper, the same thoughts kept creeping back to him. Thoughts about the consequences of this research.
Finally, he reached a conclusion: he couldn't decide this on his own. This research paper would influence many lives, not just his own. And therefore, the decision was out of his hands. So, instead, he picked up the phone and called Bulma. Two redirections later, he had the heiress on the phone – her private line was still secured against anything but the most important phone calls.
"Hey kiddo, what's up?" The heiress was almost whispering, "Wait, hold on. I just put Bra in her bed, wait a second till I'm out of her room. Ok, done, what's up?"
"It's about my research." Gohan started, unable to stop a large sigh from escaping. "I'm coming up to a problem and I can't solve it on my own."
"Well, how about I come over tomorrow and we can have a look at it together? Must be pretty serious if you can't solve it, right?" The smile was almost audible in Bulma's voice; after her family, research was her greatest love.
"No, it's not actually related to research. I… I want to ask you something. Can you ask everyone – Krillin, Tien, Yamcha and everyone else, to come together sometime soon? I've got something I want to discuss with them. It's about the Energy research and I think they deserve to have a say in the matter."
"You're being awfully mysterious about this." Bulma remarked, "But I can call and ask if they've got time next week. Except for Yamcha and Chiaotzu, most of them really don't have busy schedules, so it shouldn't be that hard."
"Great Bulma, thanks."
"Anytime kiddo. Now, be sure to go home and get some sleep. You need it."
"Will do. G'night." With that, Gohan hung up and looked around. The rest could wait until after Gohan had talked with the rest, so he prepared to leave. Taking a last look at his desk, Gohan suddenly realized the mess he'd made. Files lay scattered everywhere, so Gohan set about the task of cleaning it up. There was one particular set of files that drew his attention though.
The Energy Research data file lay atop the Mobile Graviton's paper.
Inspiration suddenly struck Gohan and he sat back down, already working out formulas in his head.
Her leg swept forward, kicked the bag and returned to it's original position, all in a split second, but Videl's mind wasn't in the training. Her body kept going through the motions, shifting weight and striking with enough force to send the sandbag flying, but for all her efforts, she couldn't stop thinking.
Before, training had always been her outlet; whenever she was frustrated, or worried, or depressed, she'd go into the gym and work out. The physical exercise would force her to focus, force her mind to abandon whatever it was doing and cooperate with her body to gain the level of focus needed.
Since she had learned to use her Energy, her physical prowess had increased exponentially; in those short weeks where she was training with Gohan, Videl knew her power had increased tremendously, making her at least three times as strong as before. She'd never even considered that it would be anything but a good thing. Her fights would be easier; she'd be faster and stronger then ever.
Now, she hated her new strength. Her body could move as well as ever, making it appear to the world that she was performing as she always had, while she was barely trying. For the first time since she started martial arts, she couldn't empty her mind and focus.
It was driving her mad.
'Why?' Even her thoughts were frustrated, but even more so, confused. Her dilemma had been haunting her for weeks now. 'What am I going to do with Gohan?'
With the question voiced in her head again, Videl finally stopped her rapid assaults on the bag. Looking at it, she saw that her attacks had completely deformed the heavy bag: even her dad's punches didn't leave that much of an impression on the bags.
'I like him. I like him a lot, maybe I love him.' She had admitted that to herself and once she had gotten over the shock, it wasn't nearly as bad anymore. 'But… he's not healthy. I like Gohan, I like Saiyaman and I suppose I don't hate the Commander either, but…'
The biggest problem wasn't that Gohan was, in fact, all three of the most interesting – and frustrating! – men in her life, but the fact that every one of his aspects was interesting for a different reason. Reasons that shouldn't be combined. Gohan was always sweet, intelligent and kind, but he also wasn't afraid to stand up to her and tell her the truth, even when she didn't want to hear it. Saiyaman was heroic, an excellent example and brave, but he was also a big idiot who couldn't say no to anyone and was completely clueless.
Those two combined didn't freak Videl, she could see those two being the same person and working out well. In fact, that had been what she had thought of Gohan when she fell in love with him.
But the Commander was nothing like the other two; he was brutal, efficient and dedicated to his duties. The only thing they seemed to have in common was that he too avoided unnecessary victims. But unlike Gohan and Saiyaman, the Commander had no problem killing others, even after they had survived. He seemed to completely lack Gohan's kindness and Saiyaman's empathy.
So why the hell were they one and the same person?
Walking over to the weight rack, Videl added the heaviest weights possible to the machine – well over seven times her body's weight – and started doing squats. She hardly felt the weight as she bend her knees, although the machine was creaking in protest under the weight.
'But the worst of it is,' her mind wouldn't stop, even now, 'is that he's becoming unstable; what if someday he'll stop being able to separate them? What if he Gohan suddenly starts becoming vicious or Saiyaman stops caring about other lives?'
"Why am I so bothered?" Videl felt like shouting, but she couldn't. The gym was empty and her shouts would have been heard far and wide, drawing attention of servants or worse, her father. "It should all be clear, shouldn't it?"
Gohan was her boyfriend, for crying out loud! They'd been together for almost three months, three months of being blissfully happy, three months of stolen kisses and loving smiles. In those three months, he'd already been mentally ill, she just hadn't known it. And back then, they'd gotten along perfectly.
And, besides, she couldn't leave Gohan. Not because of this; he couldn't help the fact that he had an illness. It wouldn't be right to cut off all ties, just because of that. Videl knew it wouldn't. Everything in her screamed that she couldn't, that it was wrong, that it wasn't something that you could do.
Yet… yet her she knew things had changed. Gohan hadn't changed, Videl hadn't changed. Their situation may have changed, but if they hadn't, the answer should be clear.
"Why the hell am I so conflicted!" This time she did shout.
With a grunt, she placed the weights back and left the gym, quickly moving to her room. It was supposed to be simple. Videl had a boyfriend. Her boyfriend had a mental illness. Her boyfriend could turn into a superhero, or a super soldier in the blink of an eye.
Her thoughts never left, always tormenting her, even when she was under the shower.
"Why can't it just be simple?"
Only now, when the hot water was running over her body and no-one could ever see it, did she let herself go. Only now, where they would be unrecognizable, did the tears come.
The next week had arrived much sooner then Gohan would have liked, yet at the same time he had been waiting for it with frustration and bathed breath. He wanted this to be over, but he was also relocated to do it. Gohan didn't like the mixed feelings.
Even so, he had requested the meeting and everyone had complied. So here Gohan was, waiting just outside the Brief's living room. Taking a last breath to calm himself, Gohan walked in.
As usual, Vegeta was standing some distance off, leaning against a wall. Tien stood in a similar position on the other side of the room – for all their arguments, Gohan did notice that the two warriors shared some common traits. Not that he'd ever tell them. Piccolo stood in a similar position on a third wall. Upon hearing Gohan enter, he turned and gave a nod.
The centre of the room was far more crowded and alive however. #18, Bulma and Chichi were sitting together, chatting about something, while Roshi was lying besides them, apparently freshly KO'd by #18; the old man had been trying something dirty again, no doubt. Krillin and Yamcha were sitting on another couch, talking with Dende and Mr. Popo. Puar and Oolong were having a conversation with Chiaotzu, while the Ox King was watching Goten, Trunks, Marron and Bra play with the Turtle.
When Gohan asked to see everyone, he had meant everyone.
One by one the small groups noticed his arrival and stopped what they were doing. Only the kids kept on playing their game and Gohan wasn't particularly intend on stopping them. With all other eyes on him, however, his nervousness increased tenfold.
'Best if I go straight to business.' Gohan thought, 'Get it over with right away.'
"Hey guys, I've called you all here because I've got something I want to share with you." Gohan started. He could see that Yamcha and Krillin were about to make a joke, but once he gave them both a stare, they decided to keep their mouths shut. With no interruptions, Gohan continued.
"For the past couple of months, I've been doing rather extensive research. Research into Energy and how it is created. We all know about Energy and most of us use it on a regular basis. Well, when I fought the androids a couple of months back, I discovered that the body gives recognizable signals before and during the usage of Energy. That discovery got me thinking and finally working. If Energy can be measured, we can actually prove that it exists. Since then, I've had a team work on how to measure Energy and, more importantly, how it comes to be."
Still standing, Gohan activated a storage capsule and threw it to the ground. Immediately, a large stack of documents appeared, which Gohan quickly started handing out.
"What I have here, are copies of the finished research. It details exactly what Energy is, where it comes from, how it can reach such high levels and how it affects out physical capabilities. Short version: the Energy we use is basically super condensed and highly refined Energy our bodies use for every activity, from walking to breathing. Through out training we've refined and enhanced that same Energy to make us all superhuman fighters."
As soon as everyone but the kids had a copy, people started flipping through the file, but obviously, most of the people present didn't find it that interesting, instead turning their attention back to Gohan. Only Vegeta, Bulma, Roshi and Yamcha kept on reading.
"So, brat, what did you want to talk about?" Vegeta finally asked. Bulma didn't even look up at her husband's tone, instead focussing all her attention on what she was reading.
"The paper presents a major problem that I can't answer alone." Gohan continued, now pacing around the room. "With it, I have complete scientific proof that can not be dissuaded that Energy exists and we are not tricksters. And, now that we know how Energy is created, I've also developed several short methods to allow a person to learn how to use their Energy. With this research, it'll become possible for practically any person to learn to use their Energy."
This raised a lot of eyebrows, as everyone suddenly quieted down.
"But that's not the problem. I'm worried about is what would happen if this paper is published. Once the world realizes that what we did at the Cell Games is real, our lives are over. Right now, we live our lives the way we want them too. But if this comes out, it'll become inevitable that we can no longer live in secrecy. People will recognize us, people will realize our powers. Publishing this will change our lives forever. That's one thing I'm worried about."
"Wow." Everyone turned to Bulma as she made the sound of amazement when she went over the paper. She had hardly heard a word Gohan had said, apparently. No-one else said anything and finally the genius realized that everyone was now looking at her.
"Oh, it's this." Bulma smiled, pointing at the paper. "This stuff is amazing Gohan. With the amount of detail you've included, giving everyone the ability to recreate the research and the theory-supported teaching methods… this is easily Nobel Prize material!"
Now a stunned silence ruled and everyone returned to Gohan, with a newfound respect in their eyes. They had always known he was smart, but if Bulma was impressed by his research… and she even claimed that it could gain such a prestigious award.
"No, it's even worse." Gohan's voice didn't sound at all excited or praised. Rather, he sounded worried. "This paper is much more then Nobel Prize material; it's possibly the key to mankind's next stage of evolution. But that's why I've asked you all here. I want your opinions."
Still silence ruled, but Gohan didn't mind. With a last sigh, he sat down in a seat, looking around at his friends and family, one at a time.
"I want to ask what you think; should I publish this, or destroy it?"
This chapter has been beta'd by the one, the only, the incredibly not-handsome, Kushin eX!
As always, please leave a review.