I was seriously losing hope that this fanfiction was going anywhere, but here it is: Chapter 13! I'm literally shocked that it's gone this far. Hopefully I can push a few more chapters out this summer, so we'll see. Hope you enjoy this new installment.

No Way Back Chapter XIII: Realizations & Revelations

Videl huffed until her breathing evened out. She still stood in a defensive position, which was an awkward contrast from her wide, white eyes and open mouth.

"W-w-where did he go…?" She muttered to herself, still contemplating what-the-hell-ever just happened. People didn't just disappear. So how on earth did Goku Son just vanish?

Speaking of vanishing acts… She couldn't just let Gohan get away again. Not this time.

"Gohan!" She whipped around to face her tall friend. Luckily, there he stood, surprise and astonishment written all over his face. Under the shock, she could clearly see evidence of grief and pain… The poor guy was traumatized, if not worse, and she guessed he was planning on making another run for it.

Stepping forward, she began her reasoning: "Gohan, please don't go—don't run away again!" She gushed, if not begged.

The wild-haired young man stood eerily unmoving like that of a statue. It was down right creepy.

"…How much did you see…?" The words barely made sound as they left his lips, and the tension in his features never once faltered. His tone was empty. Hopeless. Grim.

The teenage girl eased her stance and looked at him thoughtfully; determined. "Everything." She stepped closer. "But I want you to know that I understand."

Gohan breathed out a defeated sigh, numbly shaking his head. How now could he possibly escape this? "…There's no way you—"

"You were the little boy at the Cell Games. Weren't you?" She stated bluntly, semi-crossing her arms.

It was the silent gasp and horrified disposition that gave Videl her answer. For the moment, it seemed speech was temporarily impossible for her Gothic friend, so she continued: "It was you, Gohan. You killed Cell. Not my father." There was a peculiar pride in her voice as she admitted those words; the truth. It brought a sort of grin to her lips. "I knew it couldn't have been dad. There was just no way. It was you and your friends, and Goku." She whispered the last part, out of courtesy. "I know because Goku was wearing the same orange clothes that he was just now. It's pretty distinct."

Still not quite free of his stunned trance, Gohan only blinked, mouth agape. He couldn't believe this was happening. It was as if she were reading him like a book! How could it possibly get any worse?

Satisfied and a little bit smug over her discovery—even more so that it was officially, undeniably true, she went on to deal the next blow:

"I know you're the Gold Fighter, too." She smiled. "You weren't late that day—you saved those people—me—and kicked the shit out of those robbers! I know it was you!" She exclaimed excitedly, lighting up. "I don't know how you do it, but you can change your hair to blonde—like when you fought Cell—and it's cool!"

At this point, the Saiyan boy was dumbfounded. She had him completely figured out, and from the sound of it, it had been a piece of cake, if not easier, thanks to Goku's appearance.

"And…" She continued in a soft tone, stepping forward once more. This time, he backed away, a somber expression on his pale face. "Just now, you saved my life, Gohan."

Shit. He knew this was his last chance; he had to run now. But her eyes… Her gaze was fixed on him, emanating a powerful combination of gratitude and…love?


He was frozen as she came closer and grabbed his glove-clad hand. It was so much larger than her small, petite hand. Small, but warm. And strong.

"You don't have to hide from me." The statement was more powerful than Videl could have ever imagined—it nearly knocked the wind out of Gohan's chest: This is what he wanted—needed—all along: Acceptance. Reassurance. Support. Confirmation. And finally, here it was, in the form of a short, quirky, teenage girl.

She was nosy; she was stubborn; she was the daughter of the man that stole his rightful thunder; and right in this moment, she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, sky-blue eyes staring up into his earthy ones.

A swell of emotions twisted his insides in a resounding cycle of relief and disbelief. Nothing had ever felt so overwhelmingly good, which constituted for the sudden lack of rational thought. Almost unknowingly, he latched onto her small form and hoisted her body into to air to his level, hugging her tightly. To his delight, she squeezed back just has hard.

Neither was very sure just how long the silent embrace went on for, but neither cared as well. It felt like they had both just overcome some sort of cosmic milestone in their friendship; whatever likeness they had before seemed to pale in comparison to the bond they just achieved. This felt stronger and more intimate: No secrets, no hiding. Just truth. Just them.

And dammit if it didn't feel so right.

Goku clenched his thick, unruly hair with his fist, in mid-flight, wondering what in the hell had just happened. Five minutes. Less than five minutes, actually, and his relationship with his son had gone to shit. How? Why?—That's all he wanted to know.

He didn't hear Piccolo fly up beside him but was not surprised to hear his calm and wise voice suggesting a spot to land. It was definitely the Kami side of him, so rational.

He numbly obliged and landed on the rooftop of a random building near the tournament's headquarters. They stood there solemnly as the wind whipped around them.

It was Goku that eventually broke the silence.

"…I take it that's why ChiChi lied to me." He said quietly and bluntly, more to himself than to the Namekian standing next to him. He looked blindly at the white-tiled sparring ring, refusing to meet the taller, green warrior's eyes. "What happened in the last seven years, Piccolo. Why is he…like…that…?"

The question was broad and vague but he couldn't think of a better way to word it. He wanted to know everything. Why was Gohan hiding his ki? Why was he acting that way? Dressing that way? Why was he so angry? Why does he hate him?

Calling it a shock would be a devastating understatement. That was evident enough from Goku's features—suddenly forlorn and defeated. Piccolo sighed, placing a comforting pat on his comrade's shoulder. He owed Goku the truth, so he began.

"In the most basic sense, Gohan did not take your death very well." He stated dryly but without malice. It was true. The saiyan hero's death by Cell is ultimately what this whole mess boiled down to.

He thought about the answer for a quick second, flipping around to face his old nemesis. "That's it…? But I—" The words left him. This didn't make any sense. "How?"

Piccolo dropped into a meditative sit, gesturing for Goku to do the same. It would be easier this way.

"He blames himself for your death, and—"

"Piccolo you heard him say it—! He HATES me!" The orange-clad man blurted out in clear frustration.

Ordinarily, the Namek was neither a fan of nor tolerated being interrupted, but he allowed his friend to vent. It was necessary and he would allow it for the circumstance.

"Goku, understand that Gohan did not become the hateful spirit that you just saw overnight. This transformation took time."

The warrior nodded slowly. Yeah, that made sense. He mentally vowed to bite his tongue so Piccolo could finish his explanation. Or at least he would try.

"He blamed himself for your death. And though it may not seem like it, he still does."

"—But it wasn't his fault! –Sorry…"

"The first year, he seemed to be coping just fine. I spent a lot of time with him, training and meditating. He was lively and bright, just as you remember him.

It wasn't until the next year that I noticed him falling into a sort of…depression."

The last word sank over Goku's mind like an uncomfortable veil. He mouthed a silent "Oh."

"He's always been rather mild and reserved, so it was not incredibly noticeable whenever he would drift off, so to speak. The best way I can describe it is that he would temporarily lose sight of reality and become trapped in his mind…

But that episode was relatively short lived. Your wife never noticed it since she was busy with Goten. Even I didn't think very much of it; I thought it was normal. He was simply mourning the loss of a loved one…"

The pause following Piccolo's explanation was loud and looming. The Saiyan both craved and feared what was yet to be said. He gulped, waiting.

"Goku," he started, knowing this would sting, "he says he hates you when really, he resents you. You chose to stay in Otherworld and refused to have your life restored by a wish. In his mind, you chose death over him; over your family. That's something he's never been able to cope with."

Shaking his head rapidly, Goku was almost unable to contain himself: "I WOULD NEVER DO THAT! I LOVE MY FAMILY—I ONLY DID IT BECAUSE—"

"This isn't a critique of you, Goku. I know why you did it. But this is about your son, not you and not me." Piccolo scolded, getting the conversation back on track. "You made your decision because you thought it best for Earth, but you never considered the possible repercussions. Gohan believes you let go blindly and gave up on him without a second thought. If I had to guess, I would say he feels betrayed."

Betrayed. That hit harder than expected. Goku felt the heaviness of the word in the pit of his stomach. He was beyond words now.

"However, that is only half of the battle."

He could have choked. "There's… more?"

Piccolo nodded, regretfully. "He hates you because you never came back, but he loathes himself for making you leave in the first place."

"Piccolo he didn't—"

"I know. We all know. He didn't cause your death directly, but as far as Gohan believes, he killed you himself." The green warrior released an empty sigh, watching his comrade experience a full-body shudder. "And for it, he's been killing himself ever since."

Videl was reluctant to let go when he lowered her back down to her feet. They began walking out of the sketchy-ass alley at a casual pace, heading nowhere in particular.

"Are you okay?" She asked, regarding his psyche. The shit that just went down had to have been at least a tinsy bit traumatic. "Like, really okay?"

He hesitated a moment before nodding, still sort of high from their newfound closeness. "…Yeah. Yeah. I am."

A long silence followed as they walked slowly. It wasn't an uncomfortable silence, but a welcomed one; the kind that two close friends can share without it being even remotely awkward. Besides, it gave both teens some time to settle in their thoughts.

After a moment, Videl tugged on Gohan's arm, gaining his attention.

"Say, Gohan…" She began, looking positively devious.

Gohan warmed and fought back a huge smile. "Yeah?"

The petite girl beamed. "I was sort of, kind of, maybe, slightly wondering if somehow, possibly, you might consider…doing me a really big favor."

The Goth laughed out loud, not sure if he should be excited or if he should dread whatever was to come out of his friend's mouth. He fought his smile even harder, failing miserably.

He settled with a reserved "What kind of favor?"

"Oh," she glanced away, smirking smugly, "nothing too outrageous."

"And that would be…?" Gohan nudged her shoulder with his elbow in a pathetic attempt to spill her thoughts.

She stopped walking and pulled him to a stop too.

"Gohan." She gushed, standing on her tip toes and firmly grasping his thick shoulders. "My good friend, my buddy ol' pal, Heavy to my Metal, tall to my short, Gothiest Goth in all of Gothdom—"

"You are full of crap—" he snorted before she hushed him.

"Would you, Gohan Son, near and dear to my black little heart, do me this honor and—"

Before she could prolong her speech with any more beating-around-the-bogus-bush, Gohan leaned down and did the one thing he'd been dreaming about doing ever since he'd received that scrap of paper that bore but one little word: Yes.

He kissed her.

And as planned, it shut her right up.

When he pulled away a second later, Videl's eyes rivaled saucers and her jaw hung slack and open, expression almost unreadable.

Gohan was torn. Should he be horrified that he was so impulsive and gave no warning? Or should he laugh because of her reaction. It was hard to tell whether what he did was okay or not and as the milliseconds dragged on, he began to worry more and more. Way to fucking go! You lost her. Congratulations, asshole. You're alone now.

"Gohan…" She began in the voice of a mouse, shock still tinting her features.

Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck. "I'm so sorry—I shouldn't have—"

"I was gonna ask you to teach me to fly but fuck that!" She blurted out, cutting off his apology. "This is a MILLION times better!" And before he could voice his relief, she reeled him in for another liplock.

It was then Gohan truly believed that Videl loved him. And he welcomed it, allowing his guard to fall and senses to relax as their lips melted into each other's.

He mentally vowed from that moment on that he would do anything to ensure that she kept loving him, because, well… He loved her too.

Well, here it is, guys. The latest scoop. Tell me what you think! R&R is always appreciated and guaranteed to brighten my day. Your comments and ideas also inspire me to write more, so please, by all means, fire away!

I know the kiss came about so suddenly, but I need to get this show on the road. Thanks to all of you who have followed this fic and not given up! You are all awesome and I love you in the weirdest, grossest way imaginable.

While writing is my passion, I'm a cartoonist on the side and have quite a few pieces to accompany No Way Back. So if anyone is interested, please let me know and I will be happy to show them.

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