In Spite of Me
By: Kitten Kisses (Manna)

------

DEDICATION: This little piece of fiction is dedicated to the lovely, Im-all-yours, a fellow Gohan/Videl writer here on FFN. She's been nothing short of encouraging to me in my short time here in this section, and has given me inspiration through something she said to me in an email. What I've written below aren't her exact words, but are very close.

------

"Love is a process.

You don't just love someone like 'bang, I'm in love'. It doesn't hit you with the force of a freight train speeding down the tracks.

It comes gradually, like the tide against the sand; a little at first, but it builds up until the entire beach is completely soaked.

You don't 'love' someone at first sight. You feel an attraction, which could develop into love, given the chance."

-Im-all-yours

------

It was hard for her to describe the moment when she realized that she was in love with him. She had admitted that she loved him many times- mostly to herself- but it was hard to grasp the feeling of being in love.

When they had chanced to meet outside of the Satan City Bank before school that morning, she had felt nothing. She distinctly remembered thinking something along the lines of, 'How could this guy be standing right here, and not have seen a darn thing?'. When she had seen him walk into the classroom, his face a mask of insecurity and nervousness, she had only felt two things… curiosity and the knowledge that she had seen him somewhere before.

In the beginning, she realized, there really hadn't been much there. The way he flinched under her stern gaze only served to make her more suspicious- the only people that should be that afraid of her were criminals, damn it- and when he tried to explain away how easily he had jumped into the air to catch Sharpner's home run, she had known something was going on.

Erasa was right- Gohan was cute. But he was someone different, and he was hiding something; something big. She could smile now at her determination. He had tried so hard to keep his secret hidden from her, but she had been too persistent; not quite sure as to why.

When he half-slipped out his name while trying to protect both her and the little dinosaur, Chobi, she knew that she had him. She could remember the excitement building inside of her, ready to explode. Her suspicions had been right all along! She was riding on a cloud, figuratively speaking, of course, and nothing was going to ruin her good mood at her latest discovery.

Saiyaman was strong. He was interesting. He was…really something else. But a part of her heart had clenched at the thought… was he stronger than her? He'd saved her life enough times that it should have been easy for her to admit that he was, quite obviously, her superior when it came to martial arts of any sort. But her pride held her back. If he could do all those light-tricks and fly, there would be no reason she couldn't, too.

And when she knew for certain that Gohan and Saiyaman were one in the same, nothing would be able to keep her from pestering him until he agreed to teach her. She hadn't really wanted to resort to blackmail, but that silly arrogance would never let her beg or plead. She would never be able to pull off a teary-eyed face like Angela… or act seductive enough to put his obvious embarrassment around the opposite sex to good use. And no way in hell would she look him in the eye and say, 'Oh, Gohan… please teach me to fly!'… Dear God, it had sounded so pathetic in her mind at the time.

When she arrived at his house for her first flying lesson, she couldn't help but wonder if perhaps… she had hurt him by blackmailing him the way she had. She couldn't be sure. They were only barely friends- if that- and the trust factor wasn't quite there yet.

Even now, she could remember the ten wonderful days she'd spent at Gohan's house learning to fly. It had been almost a three-hour trip in her jet-copter, which was a lot better than five by car, but after expending so much energy in her training, she had practically had to drag herself to bed many times.

It had been more than worth it. At the end of it all, she had come out with a good friend she knew she could count on and trust in, she could fly, and she had shorter hair; which she didn't really like the look of, but it was a lot nicer in the warm weather, and she stayed cooler while training.

------

At the tournament, she had found Gohan to be a better friend then she could ever have hoped for. He was caring, sweet, kind, concerned, easily embarrassed, and a little protective. He was nothing short of a genuinely good person. A small part of her wanted to be more like him.

Sometimes, she still had nightmares about that tournament. It wasn't as if she could block out the very memories that had started the large bowling ball of her life rolling. The pain was lifelike in her dreams as Spopovitch's foot came down on her head, slowly crushing her skull. She didn't want to relive the popping and snapping of bones, the tearing of skin, and that complete and utter agony that had her hating herself as Gohan had run her to the hospital. She remembered wondering, half-consciously, if he thought she was pathetic when he looked down at her tortured, wretched body.

But she could only sense the concern pouring off of him in waves that crashed against her weary soul. She was so glad he had been there. She had remembered calling his name, only half-aware of it, and later, he had let her know that it had meant a lot to him that she had thought of him in, as he put it, her "darkest hour". She'd tried to tell him that it sounded silly, but he was insistent.

She had had strong faith in him- that he could win his next match, and put Spopovitch out of the tournament. That he could fight for her, and come out of it victorious.

------

When he had sheepishly admitted to her that, yes, he had defeated Cell, and not her father, she had been relieved. This young man was so selfless and kind… He had done something that nobody else had been able to do, and, even though he had not received even an ounce of credit for it, he held no grudge.

He put others before himself, and she respected that immensely.

Majin Buu had been way out of her league, and she had known it. Reluctantly, she let him go with them, cheering him on in her own way, though her heart felt heavy at the thought of things to come. If she had only known, she would have grabbed onto him at the last second, and she would have told him exactly how she felt.

He was the best, and dearest friend she had ever had. She had never wanted to lose that.

------

When the news of his death reached her, she was in denial. It was hard enough to swallow the fact that the short, cocky Vegeta had been killed by sacrificing himself in a vain attempt to save Earth, let alone the information that the only man she had let get close to her (besides her father) was not coming back.

Gohan had beaten Cell… there was no way he could die. He was too strong- too nice, too young, too…

She knew that she loved him. Was she in love with him? It upset her to hear that she would never find out.

There was no way that he could be dead.

Damn.

She remembered the looks of pity and anguish on the faces of Gohan's family and friends as they dealt with the death of their loved ones. Gohan's friend- Piccolo- had seen Vegeta die. But nobody had seen Gohan die. They couldn't prove it- wouldn't be able to prove it.

She was holding onto the fantasy that she would have known if Gohan had died. Wouldn't she feel it; his life slipping away, bit by bit…?

The others called it denial, but she wasn't quite sure what it really was she was dealing with. Part of it was regret- for being so obnoxious to him in the beginning, and for getting so close to him- in spite of herself- without telling him that she really did care about him.

------

When Buu came to the Lookout, she had been frightened; Buu knew her father, and he wanted to fight two little kids who could become one. It was hard for her to accept the fact that Buu had killed almost all of the Earth's population, but she felt better with the knowledge that the man who had raised her was still alive… Buu had waited for Gotenks for the daughter of the man who had shown a monster kindness.

The fear turned into terror, however, when ChiChi had marched up to the creature, smacking him in the face with tears in her eyes, rage burning in her soul. "You killed my son, you jerk! Give him back!"

Her friend's mother was immediately turned into an egg and smashed underneath Buu's foot. She had felt sick to her stomach then. How soon before it was her turn? Before she, too, would face this monster's wrath?

She had felt fear when Spopovitch had been torturing her broken body, but this was a different kind of fear altogether. The best protection they had now were two children, and death was imminent.

Maybe Gohan really was dead. He wouldn't be there to pick up her battered body, or to tell her it would be fine. Everyone knew that nothing was fine- even little Marron, who was trembling in her mother's arms.

------

Their nightmares were confirmed when Buu appeared again, but Gotenks did not. She had heard the agonizing scream of Krillin behind her, and she could have sworn she felt her heart stop. They were running scared, and for the first time in her life, Videl realized that she was nothing. The last few years of her life were nothing but a lie- to herself, and to the city that she protected. She was insignificant compared to the true evil that existed in the world, and the cocky smirk she had proudly worn before was long gone.

She would never, ever act like that again.

Her heart was pounding as they ran up the stairs inside the Lookout, and the young, dark-haired woman could feel the terror radiating off of the people all around her. No, 18! Marron! They didn't even pause, if they stopped, they would be next.

But what was the use, really? If they couldn't fight him, what made them think- even for a mere second- that they could run from him?

Bulma looked as sick and horrified as Videl when they took their turn, standing in front of the beast that had killed their friends and family. She was numb all over, unable to cry for the fate that she knew awaited her. She saw the light coming towards her, and she wanted to close her eyes, so badly, because she was scared…but she found herself unable to even blink.

Suddenly, she felt her bones snapping and disintegrating… a pain completely different than the kind Spopovitch had inflicted. This light was turning her into something else entirely, shaping and changing her DNA within a few seconds time. The pain didn't last long, but she could never forget it.

------

After scouring Heaven for him, she sighed deeply to herself. He was alive! But a part of her was sad. At least if he were dead, she could tell him what she was thinking. If only he could win against Buu… then they could all be wished back to life with the Dragonballs, and everything would return to normal.

She knew better. Things would never be the same.

------

When she had turned around at the Lookout to find Gohan standing behind her with his hand on her shoulder, she had been torn between jumping into his arms and squeezing him to death, and smacking him as hard as she could.

She had settled for something in between, yelling at him with tears choking her while she hit him a few times before pressing her face against his chest, confessing that she had been worried. He'd laughed nervously, a little embarrassed, putting his arm behind his head as he stuttered out an apology of sorts.

"Don't be sorry," she'd told him, pushing her fatigue aside. "We're supposed to worry about the people we care about."

The look in his dark eyes rooted her to the spot in which she stood. It was the right thing to say, and she was glad she'd had the courage to say it to him. She'd fallen for him, somewhere between the Satan City Bank, and where they stood on the Lookout, surrounded by friends and family. She couldn't be sure if there was a single, solitary moment that she could single out, or if it had been a combination of everything that had led her to that realization.

She was glad she would have the chance to see just how far she could fall.

------

Author Notes:

I enjoyed writing this very much. It follows the storyline of DBZ, for the most part, but addresses a few thoughts and feelings that they didn't really seem to go into in the anime/manga.

Kitty Treats:

1) ChiChi's dialogue is from the manga, page 40 and 41, Volume 25.

2) The Japanese and English anime differ quite a bit. When Videl says (in English), "I'm not finished with you yet, Gohan!", at the point where she turns back before they fight Buu, in Japanese, she says something about if he came back, she'd ask him out on a date.

3) Another difference is when in English, Videl says "I loved him" (to herself), in Japanese, she simple murmurs his name, "Gohan-kun…"

I wish there was a category for "Contemplation". That would be cool… Anyway, thank you very much for reading. I would love to know what you thought. I prefer reviews to favorites, any day of the week. They really encourage me and help me sit down to write out the ideas that I have already thought of, but lacked the inspiration to write.

Critique is MORE than welcome! Again, thanks for reading, and please let me know what you thought of this.