Chapter 24: Could've Been Worse
"Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure."
-George E. Woodberry
This is ridiculous. Damn Goku and his stubborn friends.
Shin whirled about the corner, slinking back into its shadows. The boy's dead weight cut into Shin's shoulders, not aiding his heavy breathing. He was still alive… this wasn't easy work for the Supreme Kai.
He had just fallen back against the wall's harsh brick surface as Goku rounded the corner. A satisfied Sayian Prince was close at his side. Shin was just about to hurl his insults when a hand clasped over his mouth.
He need only wait a moment for the reason why.
Guards, of every color, rushed past their hiding place. Each had primitive spears in hand. Much to their relief, none of the guards looked in their direction. Once they were gone, Vegeta began, "You are rich, Kakarot. Why not just destroy them all?"
"I did NOT enjoy that, Vegeta," Goku snapped releasing the Kai from his hold. "You know I didn't."
"Well, I did," Vegeta snorted.
"What did you do?" snapped the Kai.
Having been told to run before hand, Shin could only assume the severity of their situation. And by the pale look on Goku's face, his dread just grew.
"Nothing. I just think- King Yema might not be too thrilled with our return."
"He couldn't just ask them to release me," Vegeta chuckled. "Kakarot had to persuade a few of them… as quickly as he knew how."
Shin's cheeks grew a slight pink, "Goku… You didn't kill them, did you?"
Goku's face was red. He kept his face bowed as he replied, "No. I didn't."
"Shut up, Vegeta!" Goku snarled, "I didn't kill them!"
Vegeta hushed, surprisingly. Goku's anger seemed to have shocked them into a dull silence. They rested, breathing in the seeping quiet. All eyes were on Goku.
His knuckles cracked as the sayian clenched discolored soil between his fingers. Tears refused to leave his composure alone.
"You can't kill a person twice, right?"
Goku seemed lost, muttering pointlessly under his breath. His grip was harsher…
"Why must everything that happens be so damn hard to fix?!"
He lashed out. The closest thing was the wall. It was one punch that caved an enormous dent at impact. Shin shuddered, wide-eyed; his head had been only inches from the initial blow.
Goku pulled back, unscathed…
"I need to save Gohan, alright?" He hissed, rubbing his tears away on the back of his palm. "We need to do this fast."
"Right. But not here…" Shin nodded, rising to his feet.
"Why not?" Goku spat, getting to his feet as well, "What's with all these stupid rules?"
He was a good three feet taller then the Kai. Goku used his height to his advantage. In his shadow, Shin was trembling.
Not so willing to argue his points with an angry sayian, Shin hesitated before replying.
"This is just what has to be done. We have no choice."
It was a firm retort. One unwavering and immovable from question. It made Goku's blood boil and he didn't know why. He felt like a child being told "no." No reason… He hated things without reason.
"Come on," Shin ordered, careful to keep Gohan situated comfortably.
It completely surprised him how well the boy kept to his part. Never once had Gohan stirred throughout their whole trip in HFIL. He slept right through everything. That pleased and disturbed Shin. What could the boy dream about that could preoccupy himself so well? Who could even train themselves to sleep so deep? With all the hustle and bustle, Shin thought the child would at least acknowledge a bit of discomfort. Gohan slept sound; his breathing being tender wisps to the ear.
An obedient and gentle child. Shin sadly sympathized with him. Gohan was born into the wrong life at the best time.
It wasn't long till they reached a place the Kai found suitable. There was enough sunlight to bake an egg, and that was exactly what they needed. Shin wasted no time informing his Sayian companions. He placed Gohan's quiet body down onto the grassy slope, and turned to the two persons before him. Goku's face was resolute. Vegeta seemed somewhat uneasy.
"All promises kept?"
"Yes, Vegeta," Goku muttered impatiently.
"All promises kept."
"Good. Now what the hell did I agree to do?"
Both the Kai and Goku stared at Vegeta with very dumbstruck expressions. Shin was the first to find his voice.
"We didn't tell you yet…" He paused. "And you still agreed?!"
Vegeta didn't respond, looking as if he was starting to regret his decision. They didn't want to loose him before they even had him, however. "I mean- Err. Alright." Shin sat down in the damp crimson grass. "We need you to revive Gohan with your energy."
"I got that. Why me?"
"It has to do with his rules," Goku interrupted curtly. "It just has to be you."
"Yes. Exactly Goku," Shin nodded.
Goku huffed in response.
"Who is he? He's not really… our Gohan, is he?" Vegeta questioned, turning to Goku.
Goku did not reply. Instead, Shin answered, "It's way too complicated to explain."
"We have so little time," Goku frowned, his voice suddenly softer. "I'm sorry, Vegeta. But you must surrender your energy to Gohan before he wakes."
"Surrender?" Vegeta muttered uncertainly.
"A lot of energy," Goku muttered. "He seeps up energy like a vacuum."
"Goku…" Shin tried to intercede.
"Look. We aren't going to lie to you, Vegeta," Goku frowned, leaning closer to the Prince. "Gohan was totally drained after he- I don't think you will fair much bet-"
"That's enough, Goku," Shin snapped, rising to his feet and turning on the Prince. "We are out of time. Do you wish to leave Hell? We will get you out if you do this. If you fail to, we will put you back into the cell we found you in."
Vegeta looked down at Gohan's empty form curiously and then to the two before him, "Fine. Just make sure you keep your side of the bargain."
"We already said we would," Shin agreed.
Goku nodded from along his side. Gohan's breathing was steady… no more façade then a rock.
"Tell me what to do."
The sun was bearing down hard upon the trio. Vegeta had wondered how Hell could even manage a sun- countless times. This time it seemed less important. It was warm and that was all that mattered.
He was starting to feel sick…
"You have to hold him," The purple Kai instructed. "Like this…"
Shin placed Vegeta's hands around Gohan's immobile body just so that he held him with one arm. Vegeta's right hand was supporting the boy's back and his arm was supporting his neck. His left hand was left free to be placed, palm down, on the boy's chest.
Shin pushed Vegeta down gently into the grass by applying weight to his shoulders. The prince resisted at first- but then remembered his promise and submitted. He kept his nose down, refusing to look at the boy who lay lax in his arms.
"Right. The sun looks bright enough. Let's start."
Vegeta heard the rustling that signified both Goku and Shin sitting down on either side of him. The prince suddenly tensed up. He had hardly any control over his muscles anymore. Vegeta feared of crushing Gohan in his grip. But Gohan slept peacefully onward.
"Relax and release your energy into Gohan."
"How much?" Vegeta spat through gritted teeth.
"Shh. Don't talk," Shin scolded. "As much as it takes."
There was burning at first but it quickly subsided. Vegeta could feel the energy zapping out of him… making him weaker. The boy was indeed an abyss of capabilities. He sucked in all that was Vegeta without question. It reminded Vegeta of Kakarot's own metabolism. Never filling.
Damn. Just how strong is this, kid? He's killing me!
Gohan's eyes fluttered. Vegeta continued to apply the energy, undaunted. Breath held tight in the air as the process continued. Vegeta was beginning to tire.
"I can't take much more, dammit."
"Keep going, Vegeta!" Shin urged.
"Dammit!" Vegeta cursed again.
His heart was pounding faster and harder then it had ever before. He could see the perspiration rising on his arms. Heat caused by Gohan's suction began to eat at his face. Any more and Vegeta thought the boy would explode… But he didn't. He just kept zapping the Prince's strength away.
"Crap! The sunlight!"
His arms were already sagging underneath Gohan's suddenly immense weight. Vegeta could just barely lift his head to the frantic Supreme Kai.
"Vegeta! You'll have to move! The sunlight is- is going behind those clouds."
Vegeta tried to comply to the Kai's wishes despite his desire to just punch his purple face in. But his legs buckled beneath him.
Vegeta fell… Gohan's body jerked with the impact. His eyes fluttered again.
Shin was grasping one of Vegeta's arms- trying desperately to pull him back into the sunlight. He was too heavy. Kakarot tried too, Vegeta thought. But his mind was too clouded to quite know what was going on anymore. Gohan's eyes were opening… The sunlight was fading.
"Don't wake up, Gohan! Please don't!"
"Shut up, Supreme Kai! That won't keep him sleeping!"
Vegeta rocked back and forth as they tugged him along. Their voices rang in his ears. All he could see were shades of red from inside his eyelids.
"No! No! No!"
There was a silence. Vegeta couldn't see.
They had long since stopped pulling.
Just before he had lost all sense of himself, Vegeta heard a muted gasp. He was pushed backwards and out of consciousness.
No. We failed.
Gohan was startled to wake up in the arms of Vegeta's slack form. He could feel energy seeping from the Prince's body… see it as well. Gasping, Gohan pulled back.
Anymore and Vegeta probably would have died… err again.
The grass was red.
Gohan lifted his gaze to the people around him. The purple Kai was there again, looking solemn. His eyes were as dull as Gohan remembered them being.
He whirled about to face his father. Or rather his supposed father.
Goku knelt, gazing in a disorientated way at Gohan. Eyes held no spark. Face, no warmth. He looked- He looked as if someone had died.
"Oh! Vegeta," Gohan turned back.
He checked the man's pulse. It was fine and steady.
"Ah. Geez. What made him lose so much energy?" Gohan asked curiously to his companions.
They did not answer. Their bleak and sweaty faces still held no emotion.
"Uh. Alright. Well, we just need to give some bac-"
Gohan turned back, glad to hear a voice. It was the Kai talking.
"Gohan…" The Kai started again. "Uh. We tried…"
"Tried?" Gohan repeated dumbfounded. "Tried what?"
He had become mute again.
"Come on, guys. Dad?" Gohan snapped. "What's wrong? You all look as if someone died!"
Gohan had just raised his hand to scratch his head… but instinctively he raised it further. Something smooth was there. Cold and smooth. In the shape of a ring.
He needn't look up. He only sighed. "Oh."
To Be Continued…
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This story has been discontinued. If you would like to read more Dragon Ball Z stories by I suggest you read Still Here which is my only remaining active Dragon Ball Z tale.