Videl was intrigued by Son Gohan. That didn't change the fact she wanted nothing to do with the dark-haired idiot.
And ignore him she would. So when she retrieved his notes from the jocks who'd stolen them, she didn't even acknowledge his mumbles of gratitude. She'd left her hair down that day, and as she took her seat next to him she swung it over her face and blocked him from her sight. His face had looked puzzled and sheepish and tentatively happy. She didn't want to see it.
She'd like to think it hadn't been because there were well-groomed prep girls snickering about true love from the back row. That comment about her being beefier than him had had nothing to do with it. No, she just didn't like him.
Only, now she couldn't get rid of that face from her mind. She remembered it too well: he'd looked up at her with relieved dark eyes as she dropped his notes back on his desk. She'd sat down in the chair next to his (it was just how the seating plan had worked out, dammit!), and on hearing his soft voice, she'd averted her eyes, mouth set; teeth gritted. He hadn't taken the hint. So she'd snapped her head around to face Erasa, the motion swinging her hair forward. She used to do that all the time when she lost her temper - block out the world. Like that, no-one could see her cry. Nowadays her hair was shorted, but it still must have formed an impenetrable curtain between them.
"Thanks," he'd murmured, sheepish. She'd been able to imagine him was rubbing the back of his neck like a total dork, despite only having known him a few days. She remembered thinking how soft and idiotically ambivalent he was, and how he was stupid to let them walk all over him. Why couldn't he have done something himself? Now I'll be hearing gossip for days!
So she'd turned back to him, arms folded and voice as scathing as she could make it:
"I just dislike him more than you, nerd-boy."
She'd said it loud enough for everyone to hear. And they'd all laughed, and it must have been just as embarrassing for him as the jocks' jokes had been.
... No, she didn't feel proud of herself. The incident kept replaying in her mind. His face, soft and sheepish. Laughter. Mocking laughter.
He hadn't mentioned it again, but he'd looked confused when she chatted to him like normal at lunch. Confused and happy, a bit like a kicked puppy regaining confidence gradually.
Anyone would feel guilty, she told herself.
Gohan didn't understand girls, and didn't think he ever would. He kind of – but not really – liked Videl, though, even though she was Mr. Satan's daughter (which didn't matter) and rude, aggressive and incomprehensible (which did). She was interesting, and he didn't have anyone else to talk to at school. Well, only Erasa and Sharpener, and they were even more incomprehensible than she was, in a more awkward way. And any conversations between him and them tended to stall at the first hint of pop culture. Videl didn't like stuff like that, and she was entertaining and he was comfortable in conversation with her, most of the time. Except when he wasn't.
Videl's mood swings reminded him a bit of his mother, so even though they were alarming... well, it was almost nice to be able to count on someone commenting on his eating habits in a semi-familiar way.
He didn't really like her, though. She was – what's the word? - volatile, something that Bulma called Vegeta. Gohan thought it applied to Videl better than it did the saiyan prince, because Vegeta was predictable in his anger, whereas Videl's (less destructive, but equally dangerous) rage was confusing and unpredictable.
When she wasn't angry per se - just disgruntled or indignant, which she often was - she still leant towards sarcasm and a brand of disillusioned cynicism that echoed a lot of Gohan's thoughts over the last year. Gohan enjoyed listening to Videl rant like that, no matter what the topic of her complaints. He agreed with her, empathised, and it built a rapport between them that was stronger than any connections he had with Sharpener.
So although Gohan didn't like Videl, she quickly became the nearest thing to a friend that Orange Star High School offered him.
"I mean, how is any of this stuff history? It's not history, I can remember it happening. And looking through papers and analysing bias, how obvious can you get? Dr Sanchez isn't exactly unbiased, so how exactly can he teach us to be impartial? He flat-out said he supported the new initiatives, and now he wants us to write a critique showing both sides of the argument over them, and gives me a D just because I showed one side a little bit more strongly?"
"Let me guess which side you favoured," drawled Gohan, who had done as the question had asked and received a perfect grade. He'd been not had a problem with forgoing his own opinion, although his views on the matter matched Videl's.
They were sitting on the grass, and he was watching Erasa chase Sharpener, who was holding her hand-bag. He was trying to explore her make-up, and she was screeching in outrage. Videl would normally step in an break that kind of disagreement up, but she was particularly aggravated at their teacher, so she was leaving them to sort it out themselves.
Gohan didn't have to look to know how Videl's eyes had lit up triumphantly at the invitation to continue ranting, and she jumped predictably on her companion's rhetorical question: "Precisely! The pro-reduction arguments, and just because he thinks global warming is a load of bullshit--! Even if he was just saying I didn't do the question as asked, he had no right to say that! 'I advise you lean towards your father's example, miss Satan'" - she mimicked a voice, high and viciously - "-Well if he leans any further towards my father's example it'll take surgery to extract his head from my dear dad's arsehole!"
Gohan smiled slightly, and hoped not too many of the teachers on the field had heard her say that. The school was almost entirely funded out of the Satan family's pocket, and even Videl could be reprimanded for criticism of Hercule Satan. He himself had been carefully neutral on the topic of the man. However flamboyant the man was, he was generous with his money, making donations toward schools and charities.
Besides, the man's shameless self-publicising had saved the Son family from any kind of investigation, which Gohan was grateful for. If anyone had asked Vegeta for information, far too many many secrets would be revealed by the prince's arrogance.
Videl was verbally dissecting Professor Sanchez, their teacher for world history, and Gohan half-listened, letting his thoughts drift back to speculation.
Erasa first got the idea that Videl really did have an interest in Gohan when Videl made the mistake of correcting her friend's assumption that Gohan was as scrawny as he was nerdy.
The conversation, which Videl would brood over and deny ever having taken part in, took place after Sports – the two were always last to leave the changing rooms, because Erasa insisted on cleansing her face and reapplying her make-up from foundation up, while Videl waited resignedly - and went like this:
"Well, if you and Gohan were to get together now-"
"-Because that's going to happen," Videl said sardonically, "I'd honestly rather date a monkey!"
"Sure, Videl. But if you did, you could get him some actual clothes, make him get into shape a bit. Sharpener would drag him along to boxing lessons if I asked him nicely... And if I told Gohan you weren't allowed to date geeky kids..."
"Erasa, that is stupid in so many ways." Videl said sharply, leaning against the radiator in the changing rooms. She put her books down, and cleared her throat before reeling them off: "For one, I'm never going to date him. He's a friend, and if I talk to him alone it's because you two run off together at any opportunity. I'm allowed to have intelligent conversation every now and then, even if you're happy twittering about cosmetics constantly. So – no way would the scenario of us dating ever come up. And second, he's not the type to be impressed by my father, that's half the reason I like him. Third - he's not got a bad figure, and if I wanted to dress someone up, I'd buy a doll."
"No - wait wait wait wait!"
Videl raised an eyebrow.
"He had, and I quote," Erasa waved a mascara brush at her friend like a conductor's baton, "'Not got a bad figure'. Looking, are we?"
Videl got to her feet, indignant: "I'd notice with anyone. Spending so much time in a gym, you have to gain some kind of understanding about build and muscle structure. That's all!"
"Ah, red in the face!" Erasa grinned like a pop-star shark, or possibly a sadistic matchmaker, "Sooo, you do consider Son Gohan hot stuff."
"Arg, I do not!"
"That's what they all say!" Erasa mocked, and swung her hand-bag over her shoulder, walking out of the changing room. Videl picked up her backpack and ran after her, threatening retribution if Erasa dared to spread any kind of rumour.
But really, she thought later, in the privacy of her own helicopter on the way home from school, she hadn't said anything that wasn't obvious.
And that wasn't the whole of the issue of Gohan's suspicious lack of geekitude. It was the little hints that had made more of an impact on her: Gohan avoided physical contact, never, ever started anything that could turn into a fight. Nerd behaviour to a tee, but somehow Videl could tell that all the hesitancy the Son boy displayed whenever someone tried to start something with him wasn't fear. He didn't know what to do in those situations, but – around the bullies and jocks, particularly when it was someone else on the spot – it seemed like he was restraining himself, not panicking. When he panicked, it was for other reasons.
She couldn't mention that to Erasa, though. There'd be comments about stalkers, about seeing no evil in the eyes of your intended. And – he was not! Videl thought, jaw clenched. He was just interesting, and about the only other person in the year who could hold a conversation about something other than teenage life. He knew even less than her about the kind of trashy pop music in the charts, had never seen any of the films Erasa wittered about, and ... Actually, that was suspicious as well. He didn't live in the city, she knew that, but where did he live? He'd never seen adverts, and... overall he really did show the kind of ignorance of someone who'd been living under a rock for the last century.
And – Videl came back to that embarrassing conversation with Erasa - she didn't have to 'like him' like him to notice he was well built. He wore pretty shapeless clothes, yes, but the lay of the fabric revealed that he had a well-developed upper body, and his arms were solid. He wasn't chubby, and no-one with any observational skills or basic knowledge of muscle structure would think so (she thought primly). That didn't mean she thought he was hot, dammit Erasa.
Even if... --
-- Okay, that's enough!
Satan Videl was not going to spend her afternoon speculating about Son Gohan. And she was certainly not going to spend it imagining him with a hair-cut and a shirt that fit him.
About the time Erasa stopped claiming to 'fancy' Gohan (thank god, because those kind of declarations scared the boy even more than his mother's hints about daughters-in-law and grandchildren), she started hinting at a relationship between Gohan and Videl.
What? Gohan thought, before starting to think about it logically.
At schools, there seems to be a thing about people going off together. People think they're a couple, like in books. Well, they do when it's a girl and a boy on their own. ... It must be because everyone at school is a teenager. And teenagers do this whole 'boyfriend' and 'girlfriend' thing, which is like getting married or having sex. Only it isn't, because we're younger. And there's no hitting people with frying pans or threatening to withdraw meals and complaining about training or stuff. Or whatever normal married people do.
No, it's more like they act like people the hermit Roshi watches on television, only... less naked and more embarrassed.
Gohan was getting uncomfortable thinking about sex. He was at that kind of age, and he'd missed out on the kind of explanatory conversations people have about this kind of thing, although he had a fairly good idea... He forced himself to return his thoughts to Videl and keep them away from 'sex and Videl' and definitely away from 'sex with Videl'. Right, Videl, but no sex.
Anyway, girlfriends and their boyfriends go off on their own to do that kind of stuff. And so when me and... when Videl and I (he corrected himself, because even in interior monologues Chichi considers good grammar important, and she'd passed those values down to her son) go off on our own, they think we're doing that. 'Making out'. And Videl's told them we weren't doing that, but I guess... it'd be embarrassing to admit it if we were. So they think she's lying. And – of course we aren't kissing and stuff, she's scary!
This is why school seemed scary, he thought pathetically. The people. I don't have social skills so I don't know how to tell them we're just friends.
And we are just friends, aren't we? She's pretty, but she doesn't seem like a girlfriend kind of person. She complains about stuff like that, and she hates it when Erasa talks like that, so. No boyfriends for Videl.
If she did want a boyfriend, would it be me?