1Stop Smiling - 1936
"Stop smiling like that."
As the wattage dimmed on his face, Videl felt her heart sink and was clearly abashed that something so downright nasty could come from her. Direct, yes, blunt, maybe, but she was never truly mean to anyone, and it disgusted her she would be so with Gohan. Gohan, just about the nicest podunk boy in the entire school, and she Videl - resident superstar - told him to stop smiling.
She shifted uneasily in her seat. Erasa and Sharpener were staring openly now and Videl had to quell the urge to shove both their jaws back into place.
Well. It was his fault anyway. His smile was distracting, and she was trying to learn, since that was what you did at Orange Star. You know, learn. See, she mentally bitched in Gohan's direction, your stupid (perfect, wonderful, cream-my-pants beautiful) smile officially burnt out all my brain cells and now I'm going to be stupid for the rest of my life. Videl let her eyes trail back to Erasa and she shivered. Like her, she silently added.
"You okay, sweetie?"
Videl huffed, and blushing profusely now out of guilt and embarrassment, nodded her head. Gohan still hadn't said anything. Glancing subtly his way, she felt her heart squeeze as he stared confused at the floor, his fingers periodically tensing. If he wasn't careful she had a feeling that textbook was going to -
She hadn't known it was possible to feel even worse, but as Gohan's nervous eyes darted over everyone's annoyed and shocked faces, Videl had to admit her guilt was well deserved. Slumping over her desk she glared daggers at the chalkboard. He was never going to talk to her again.
Now Videl was positive something was wrong with her. She was sick or dying or going insane or something, because jeeze, why was she being so rude to Gohan? Erg, why couldn't her stupid mouth stay shut?
Her chest thudded painfully when his smile vanished, the dark sunglasses of his downgrade uniform effectively hiding his eyes. Ah jeeze, she bit her lip, she'd probably made him feel so unliked and here he was saving the city while she just tagged along.
Sighing, Videl floated to a stop in front of him, minus the outfit this time because she was getting it dry-cleaned, and tried to convey all her remorse and guilt to him through her mind. Videl just didn't know how to say it. Dammit, she didn't know how to say anything, because words left you too open, too vulnerable and she'd had enough with people saying things and going away.
He seemed to get it though, because he offered a tentative half smile that somehow had the power to make her heart so buoyant she could feel it jump out of her chest. His smile was just the littlest bit crooked, too.
Videl felt her face get warm and after awkwardly folding her arms over her chest, averted her eyes. Those stupid glasses were mocking her with a double reflection of her foolishness. She felt like a damn joke.
But maybe, a tiny, unwanted, voice at the back of her head whispered, maybe you could be his little joke - just as long as he always smiled at you like that.
"W-well, since we're over by my place anyway, you wanna stop in and I'll cook you something?"
Obviously that had been the wrong (or right, depending on how Videl took it) thing to say, as his smile was suddenly lazer bright and he was dragging her down to earth. He even laughed when she yelled.
"Stop smiling, I said!"
They were training on a bald patch somewhere around Mt. Paoz when it happened again. Videl figured this time it was just her exhaustion and proximity to Gohan kicking it in, but lately -
just lately, she'd been thinking something else was the problem. Or simply the reason.
"Dammit, don't smile at me like that!"
She watched, aching, as Gohan clenched his jaw and dropped to earth with a softness that belied how large he was. An enormity which had less to do with his physical size (though it extenuated it) and more to do with the sheer power in his frame that she often felt licking her body, her face. It made her want to drop out of the sky, for the pure enjoyment of having him catch her.
God, Videl silently begged, what was happening to her?
Hurriedly speeding after him, she tried to grab his arm but he shook it off and Videl felt her throat close and eyes sting. Stupid, stupid, she miserably yelled at her self, why did she have to hurt him?
Then that little voice was back again, taunting her. Why, it hissed, must you hurt yourself?
"...I don't know what to do around you, Videl. Sometimes, you're just so happy that I have to smile," he paused in his walk back home, back where her copter waited with all the cruel reality of a snake, and tilted a flat look over his shoulder, "and then you're so angry I think I must've done something stupid."
He kept walking while Videl floated to a standstill, hand tensing at her side.
"But I don't care how many times you say it, because I'll always smile at you. Always."
She really didn't know how it was possible for a perfectly perfect podunk like him to say just the right thing at exactly the right time. The ground felt uneven under her feet and she wondered at the fact it didn't pitch the way everything in her stomach seemed to be doing.
It wasn't possible. And she wouldn't say it.
"No, no, no, no, no, Gohan, don't you dare smile at me when you're leaving!"
Videl noted the hysteria in her voice distantly, like a sound through wet paper or crying from another room but nothing more distinct than that. She watched him grin crookedly (again) and assure her with his confidence, his quiet words that he'd come back. He was strong and she didn't need to worry about him, not at all.
Except his smile was killing her inside. She felt like slapping it off his face, because somehow, oh how she knew, her world would never be the same with it, and ten thousand times worse without it. She'd grown accustomed to that bright curve and she hated it.
She hated hi-
She hated -
She hate -
Videl was gone already and as the breaths wheezed from her lungs while Gohan walked away, smiling, she wondered if it hadn't been her sick perverseness all along, teasing those words from her lips.
"Stop smiling..." She whispered desperately, feeling something hot bubble below the surface and slowly burn away the inhibitions inside.
Death, she mused, while falling through the formless void, wasn't really so bad after all. Winds whipped at her hair, the amorphous shadow of her body, and it made her soul crack because even though she knew it was present, she felt no pressure, no dewy crystals of cloud beating against her skin. It was thoughts that built her existence now.
And still Videl kept replaying that smile - warm and bright in her mind.
Even as she tumbled into the vertigoes of purgatory, through the white corridors of heaven and the annals of Hell, she smiled at his smile, because she knew Gohan wasn't there. In death she felt more connected to everything than she'd ever hoped for in life - and she knew without knowing he wasn't here waiting for her, smiling.
He was alive, and she would live to see him smile again someday.
Ah, she dreamed peacefully, everything made such perfectly logical, illogical sense. There was nothing to hide, no anger or masks to parade about in the hopes of catching that ever illusive man's attention - nothing, nothing, but crystal clear clarity.
All the words were right there.
"Never stop smiling."
Videl craved his smile, had craved it since she'd woken up. As she stood there staring at the happy group of family members and friends, she wondered if her place would ever be inside their joy. She'd been cruel to him. Callous even. And still he'd kept smiling.
Suddenly it hurt too damn much to be outside, painful and heart crushing, because she'd learned everything she'd needed to learn in those blessed hours, minutes, seconds, she'd spent falling through the sky. It wouldn't work to go another moment without all those blessed smiles.
And kisses. And love.
No, Videl couldn't stand another moment at the edge of Kami's lookout - couldn't stand another moment with him not knowing. She wondered if love would always be this breathless, this terrifying and wonderful, sixty years down the road. Oh, Videl breathed, and how she could see it - them - together, a family, children.
She'd never been so sure of anything in her life.
Slowly but with a sense of rightness that seemed to baffle some little corner of her teenager's soul, Videl walked up to that throng of amazing people - Gohan's family - and tapped a familiar strong shoulder. The same one she wanted to rest her head against and sleep.
Being resurrected gave an oddly surreal taint to reality, and made her body feel so out of place.
He turned around. Videl couldn't help wincing a little as the smile fell from his lips and something like anxiety and concern washed across his features. No, no, no, no, she wanted that look back, she wanted him to be just as happy with her as he was with his family. She needed him to know, because there might be another megalomaniacal beast just around the corner and he could die, she could die (again) and then where would they be?
She couldn't settle for loving him on the other side. Not when he was right here.
"Smile at me."
It was too quiet and maybe months ago she would've blushed at the way every eye was trained on her, but somehow, at this moment, she couldn't seem to pull together the necessary embarrassment. Videl was a woman who always got what she wanted - and Gohan was all that and so much more.
He looked even more confused, and perhaps it was something in her eyes, because suddenly he was blushing enough for the both of them. She cursed her intimidating presence.
"Smile at me."
He didn't even twitch.
"Smile at me!"
Then she was sobbing and throwing herself into his chest and grabbing and punching and calling him all kinds of awful things and god - begging him not to leave her, because everyone always left. She felt stupid, because asking him to smile was the only way she knew to say those other three little words, and dammit, why did everyone call them little when they weren't even little at all?
They had the potential to create worlds.
It popped out before her emotionally charged, resurrected and sensory overloaded mind could register - and brought her all the relief she'd hoped for.
"I love you."
And the unbroken litany of 'smile at me's' and 'I missed you's' took on deeper meanings - and Videl felt it charge every particle of air that danced along her skin. Blinking away tears, rubbing her nose against his shirt, she looked up, knowing she must look an awful sight and - felt her lips pop open in awe.
Oh, that little not-so-annoying voice sighed, that's the most wonderful looking smile.
He didn't need to say it. Because he'd already said it with every soft look he'd sent her way.
I love you, too.
A/N - stupid pencorp. The wording somehow morphed at the end and I couldn't get it to mesh anymore - but still, I like how Videl turned out on the whole in this. This is old though, b/c I just can't get up the brainpower to continue work on my other pieces.
I'm such a fruit. Still, I dearly hoped you liked the emotionally-ness. Oh, Gohan, you loveable buffoon, just like your daddy.