String of Fate
By: Manna (Kitten Kisses)
The title is in reference to the "red string of fate", that supposedly is tied around the pinky finger of two people who are fated to be together.
No matter how many books she'd read in her youth, no matter how many tragic movies she'd seen, not even one of them had portrayed death the way that it really was. Some people assumed that death hurt; death, in itself, didn't hurt at all, she knew. It was the "before death" part that did.
Some thought that death was tragic, and beautiful- all at the same time. But it really wasn't, and she would assure them of that now, if only she was alive. But no, she was dead. She knew she was dead, because she was no longer on the place she'd called home for her 20-odd-years of life.
It wasn't that she was stupid, and had forgotten her age, or how long she'd been alive… oh, no, it was most definitely nothing like that! She, like so many others, had never really had the time to celebrate birthdays. Sometime after her ninth or tenth birthday, she'd started to slowly lose track.
After her twentieth, she'd stopped counting. What was the point, exactly? She spent all her time running from one city to another, always hoping, always praying, "Please, let this place be safe".
It never was. A few months- or perhaps years- after she turned ten, she had been separated by her father. She had not seen him since. Now, she knew that he was still alive, still out there, somewhere. Running from the Androids, just as everyone else was.
It didn't seem to matter where a person hid, really. The Androids always managed to come close enough to scare them out of hiding, like a quail in the brush.
"We're going to die! We're all going to die!"
They would whisper it, but she could always hear the fear in their voice. If she reached out, she could probably have felt it, even.
"Oh, no! They're coming closer!"
And suddenly, they could hold in their terror no longer. Panicking, they would run from their house, or their hiding spot, like the quail in Bambi, and the Androids would smile as they promptly blew their prey away.
Even as she was dying- not as someone who had fled in terror, or as someone who had been struck down where they hid- she could see the smile on their faces. It was an expression of joy. Amusement.
And it sickened her to the core, as she took her last breaths; because she knew that she could do nothing to wipe their faces clean of their contentment. She had known all along, perhaps, that she could never take them on. But she had been running more years than she had been in school, even, and it had started to take its toll on her.
It was all over for her, now… but at the same time, it wasn't. She could still remember the feeling of complete and utter aloneness, as she had lain on the dry grass in the middle of nowhere, her body broken and bleeding. She could feel the pain of trying to breathe- it certainly overrode the pain of her injuries. And she could feel that almost-relief, as she had taken her very last breath, realizing, not for the first time, that she was going to die.
Heaven was, to be honest, an interesting place. It was so vast… and distant before, like a star in the sky, or the sun. Now that she was in it, it seemed nearly the same. She was here, and yet… she was far, far away. She couldn't help but dwell on the past… it was just who she was. She'd been beaten so soundly, after all.
A voice interrupted her train of thoughts. How long had she been sitting in the same spot, trying to figure out what she had done with her life? She leaned back against a silvery rock beside her, and turned to look at the speaker.
He smiled at her- just a small one, really- and raised a hand in greeting. "Hello," he said, and she noticed that his face was scarred. It was only one long scar, slashing downward across his left eye, but it was so deep, that it seemed worse then it really was.
"Do I know you?" she asked, her voice stubborn. She had met a lot of people in her life, but could remember no one that looked as he did.
"I saw you on Earth, once," he admitted. "But that's really not why I came over here to talk to you. You seemed a little thoughtful, and…" He stopped talking, then, and took a seat on the grass beside her. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to, but… what were you thinking about that had you so focused?"
She would have narrowed her eyes at him, but this was Heaven, and he wouldn't have made it there without good reason. Since she had arrived, she had been sitting in roughly the same spot, pondering on the same things. "Earth," she answered.
"I thought as much," he told her, and he crossed his legs and propped his elbow on his knee, resting his chin on his hand.
"Is it that obvious?" she wondered, half to herself, though her words were a little sarcastic.
"Well… not in so many words, really. But this is Heaven- you're supposed to be off meeting people you used to know. And you're not…"
"I've been in the same spot since I got here," she told him, her tone almost dark. "Nobody has come to see me."
His face brightened considerably. "Well then, that could mean that your family is still alive."
Silence overtook the two of them, and she retreated back to her thoughts. Maybe she should have just kept running… perhaps fighting them was not the answer. What if there had been another way, and because she'd gone and died, she would never find it?
"Uhmm…" he started, shaking her out of her reverie. "My name is Gohan… I probably should have said that earlier, but I didn't think of it…"
"Videl," she said, nodding in his direction before she remembered something she'd heard him say. "Wait… you saw me before? I don't remember you…"
He flushed a little and scratched the back of his head. "Well, you wouldn't…uhm… remember me," he told her, looking away. "You were already dead when I saw you."
Flinching, she turned her head. "I still remember that pretty well," she whispered gently. "Hey, did they kill you, then, too?"
Flashing her a quizzical look, he replied, "Oh, no. I've only been here about an hour, myself. When I saw you, it was over a year ago."
She wasn't sure what to say to that. A year? "But…it felt like…"
"I know. Time here flows differently. To tell you the truth, I had only been missing my arm for a few weeks before I ran off to fight them again, and, now that I'm dead, it feels weird to have my arm back!"
He rotated his left shoulder and flexed his hand, staring at it with fixation. "Yeah, it's hard to believe I have it back. The Androids took it, and death was the only way to get it back."
She stared at him blankly for a moment or two before replying. "You mean… You fought? You fought the Androids more than once before you died?"
"I fought them more times than I can count," he said. "Even with both hands." She could tell he wanted to laugh at his almost-joke, but he kept a serious face. "I was actually one of the first to fight them, when they appeared on Earth."
"But you would have to have been…"
"Young? Yeah, I was. My father died before the fight began, or we might have had a fraction of a chance. But the way things stood that day, everyone but me died in that fight." He scratched the back of his head again, and sighed a bit. "I tried to get revenge for my family and friends many times, but always had to end up running scared."
She snorted and turned her gaze to the sky. "I did that until the day I died," she said to him, her tone full of contempt. "I had to, to live. But I don't know what the point of that, even was."
"There could be any one reason, but there was probably a lot. Maybe you helped someone once, or saved someone's life without knowing it… I don't know. When I died, I left a friend behind that could, given the time, kill the Androids and restore the planet. My purpose was over when I had taught him everything I knew… I worry about him a little, but he can take care of himself."
"It's not like it really matters, either way," she said. "If we're all dead, we're all dead. What's so bad about that? No pain, no hunger, no viruses…"
He jumped up, nearly kicking her in the shin on accident. "I almost forgot. My father! He died of the heart virus, and I haven't been able to see him or my old friends yet."
"You'd better go, then," she admonished, feeling a little downhearted about his imminent departure. It was hard for her to explain why, exactly, but she felt certain that it had something to do with not having anyone to talk to for so long.
It was almost like having a friend, though it had been so long since she'd had one, she couldn't be sure.
He answered, already moving away from her, "Okay. If you don't mind, I could come back later, maybe, after I'm finished catching up a bit with my family and friends, and we could talk about the "good old days" or something."
She found herself smiling a little, and she nodded at him. "Sure. Sounds…nice."
He stopped mid step, and turned to her, his face confused. "What do you say to someone you haven't seen in twenty years?"
She laughed. "Well, if I was going to talk to my father, I would start with something like, 'Hi Dad! It's me, Videl! I know it's been more than twenty years, but I hope you remember me,' wouldn't you?"
Smiling sheepishly, he waved at her. "Thanks, I'll try that. See you soon."
And with that, he was gone, almost as suddenly as he appeared.
Maybe being dead wasn't really all that bad, after all. She was sure she had some family that would be present and accounted for… An aunt, perhaps? Or a grandparent? She'd have to start searching, then, so she could be back in time to talk to her new… friend… about the "good old days"…before the androids.
I hate this story. My idea was so…awesome, and then I ruined it by writing it, when I wasn't 100 percent inspired to do so. I think I ended up writing this more out of boredom then anything. How unfortunate.
Even though, in the Mirai timeline, they never show Videl, she would still have been born, since she is Gohan's age (or roundabouts).
In this story, they are in their late 20s, just like in The History of Trunks. Gohan was somewhere around there when he died.
Anyway, let me know what you thought. It was kind of pointless, wasn't it? Hmm… Critique would be wonderful, as always!
Note: When Gohan mentions that she may have had a reason that she had to live, I got the idea for that from the song "Thank You", by Ray Boltz. It's a Christian song, and I love it, because it's about people telling you the things that you did for them, that you didn't even realize you'd done, at the time, that got them there. And that actually applies in other things, too.