Mum, how come...
Please read the author's notes at the end of this chapter.
This fic is set one year after the end of Z. Goku is training Uub.
"Mommy… how come I don't get a present?"
Quietness replaced the lively mood felt at the living room where the family was gathered enjoying the end of their meal, laughter followed the five-year-old query.
"Well Pan, that's because today is brother's day. Only brothers and sisters are supposed to exchange presents... look, I didn't get any present, neither did mommy nor grandma." Mr. Satan told his grand-daughter, proud of his simple but efficient explanation although he wasn't the one who the question was aimed.
The girl looked at her grandparents and mother confirming what her granddad had just said.
"Mommy... how come I don't have a brother?"
Once again quietness took over the living room, only this time followed by a sound of someone choking. She should have known that was coming... Videl punched herself twice on the chest, in an attempt to make a stubborn last bite of chocolate cake go down. Gohan refilled her cup with some tea to help with the process and offered a soothing pat on his wife's back.
After recomposing herself, the room was still quiet and Pan was still waiting for an answer... this time no one would dare to answer the girl, Videl still caught by surprise looked at Gohan searching for help. Although he noticed her expression, still nothing but a few stumbles were able to come out of his mouth.
"Yeah, how come you don't have more kids?" Goten insisted on the question, still holding the cologne bottle his brother had given him.
"Oh! A baby in the house would be so nice! Pan is all grown up now, she's even starting primary school this year... then I'll be all alone." Chichi commented, even knowing that Pan going to school wouldn't change their current routine much... she was already on pre-school.
"Come on Chichi, we already talked about this." Videl said looking at her mother-in-law.
"Mommy, I want a brother... Daddy, can I have a brother?" Pan's eyes were shinning enthusiastically, usually the technique applied worked... ask dad if you can't get it out of mom.
"I don't know Pan, ask mum." Gohan instinctively replied, such technique usually worked as well... Videl was a lot better trying to get themselves out of hot questions, luckily the "Why" phase passed... well, apparently not completely.
If glares inflicted damage, Gohan would have felt his HP drop drastically at the scowl Videl threw him. How dares he passing me the bomb? The rest of the family members knew better than to butt-in...
"Pan, why do you want a brother?" Videl asked, trying not to show how much this whole theme bothered her.
"Because I have nobody to play with, not even grandpa Goku... 'sides all my friends have a brother!" Pan explained as if it was a fact, a glimpse of sadness while she mentioned her grandfather's name.
"Come on, you have friends at school that you play with... wait, is this about Bra again? Sweetie, Trunks is older than Bra... if you had a brother you would be older than him. You wouldn't have a big brother." Videl tried to reason with her child, Pan already had expressed her wish to have a cool brother like Trunks, she really enjoyed Trunks' fun company... he was very good with the girls. It was only natural Pan would sometimes get a bit jealous of Bra.
"And?" Pan said, crossing her arms in a responsive manner... a defiant manner that they all could relate to the blue eyed mother whose child was giving a hard time.
"And... what if you'd get a sister? Would you still want a sister?"
"I don't want a girl brother, I want a boy brother!"
"A girl brother is a sister." Gohan corrected his daughter for what it seemed like the hundredth time during her life.
"Brother sounds waaaay cooler... sister sounds like sissy." Bless her, she's only little.
"Even if you'd get a brother, you'd be his sister." Goten said, but Pan didn't give it too much consideration as she then remembered that she still had some crumbs of chocolate cake on her plate.
"You should think of that, a brother wouldn't be so bad for Pan." Chichi opined, Videl reciprocated with a murderous glare.
"Have you been putting these ideas in Pan's head?" Videl asked to not to anyone in particular, but to the every single person sitting at the table.
"No dear, it's just what I think." Chichi said standing up, piling some dishes.
"She'd get a training partner." Mr. Satan said while passing his empty plate to Chichi, the man was often amused at how strong the little girl was... Pan, just like Videl when she was younger, was not allowed to train with the world champ. "By the way, this chocolate cake was great Videl." Perhaps changing the topic would save him from Videl's wrath. Videl was actually glad about the topic change.
"Thanks dad... it's not as good as Chichi's but it's still edible."
"Mom... will I get a brother?"
Gohan could swear he saw a vein pop on Videl's forehead.
"Pan bring your plate and let's help grandma wash up." Luckily the girl would abide, and further questions wouldn't be made.
"Okay!" the girl grabbed her licked-clean plate and jumped out of her chair making all the cushions that made her sit high enough fall onto the floor. Videl gave her girl a smile and walked behind her while Pan skipped to the kitchen.
"Is she alright?" Mr. Satan asked while Gohan bent down to grab the cushions.
"Who? Videl?" Gohan raised his head to look at his father-in-law, almost hitting his head on the table. "I think so..." he knew why Videl was acting that way, but there was no need in going into too much detail.
"I don't know why she acts like this every time we talk about you having more kids." Chichi, who had returned to continue clearing up the table, practically whispered, she didn't have to worry as tap water and Pan's giggles were loud enough to conceal her words.
"Pan's a handful... and we've been very busy lately." Gohan said while readjusting his glasses.
"But you'll always have me to help you, I would be more than happy to help... you know that, don't you?" Chichi said just before turning around and going for another trip to the kitchen.
"You know you can count on me as well." Mr. Satan added, Gohan nodded in reply.
Silence filled the living room once again... it wouldn't be this quiet if you were here... Gohan found himself in deep thought, he looked at Goten at the couch making paper planes with the ripped gift wrap from their presents, he also missed him... and most of all, his absence was also affecting his little girl.
"So Gohan? Do you like your present?" Goten asked waking Gohan from his reflections.
"Oh yes!" Gohan stood up, leaving Mr. Satan and his grandfather, who was started dozing off halfway through dinner, at the table. "You know I thought you'd give me another tie..." Gohan punched Goten's arm in a friendly manner. Both giggled.
"Finally you gave me something that I can make good use of! I actually made a bet with Trunks that you'd give me a magnifier... or a microscope." The teenager confessed.
"You have to thank Videl then... she was the one who suggested the cologne. I wasn't too sure about it." Gohan sat on the armchair next to the couch. "How about we go get some board games and wait till the girls are done?" he suggested. He knew there was no point in going and offer his help, his mother would most certainly kick him as soon as he stepped his foot at the doorway...
"Count me in!" Mr. Satan joined the brothers.
"Is she asleep?" Videl asked quietly as she walked pass the corridor as Gohan exited their daughter's room, not closing the door but leaving a gap, an habit that they kept since Pan started sleeping on her 'big bed'... often they would found the girl spread on the bed, sheets and duvet on the floor. The girl's fidgety restlessness often caused her to wake up on the floor... most probably with a bump on her head, that she never seemed too bothered about whilst her mother's tendering. Luckily, sometimes she'd sleep like a stone.
Gohan's smile answered her question.
"I'm going downstairs to get some tea, do you want some?" Videl asked, before going down the staircase.
"I'll go with you." Gohan followed his wife down the stairs and into the kitchen.
While Videl poured some water in the electric kettle, Gohan opened the cupboard and took two mugs, one saying MUM the other saying DAD, that Pan did as an activity at pre-school. Other mugs could be found in the cupboard, but these two were their favourites, followed by the mugs that Goten gave them when they were still dating.
Tea bags in each mug, one spoon full of sugar for him, none for Videl.
Videl rested her lower back on the kitchen counter, crossing her arms in front of her chest. The couple was silent, the water starting to bubble in the kettle acted as background noise, masking the noise of crickets and other nocturnal creatures. Gohan and Videl were comfortable with silence, although it was rare when the pair actually managed to share any silence at all... specially during day time... they never thought that they would appreciate peace and quiet as much as they do now.
Gohan stepped in front of Videl, caressing her upper arms.
"No, I'm alright." Videl responded, still with her arms crossed. Gohan kept caressing her arms with both his hands, repeating the action a few times, until he wrapped his arms around her torso, embracing her. Videl closed her eyes while resting her forehead on his chest, returning the embrace. Both stayed silent and enjoyed the moment until the kettle frantic noise stopped... and steam was fogging the closest kitchen window.
Videl freed herself from the hug, and proceeded to pour some water in their mugs.
"Where do you want to sit?"
"Wherever you want, I don't mind." Gohan replied, while reaching the cookie jar on top of the fridge... not that it would really matter how high the jar was, after all Pan knew how to fly. Still it was part of her disciple, and usually the girl (although extremely stubborn) was respectful enough not to devour the cookies whenever told otherwise. He took some cookies, putting them on a plate.
"Living room, porch, take it upstairs to bed?" Videl asked for suggestions, passing Gohan his mug.
"Thanks, it's chilly outside... let's stay in." He said moving to the living room.
Both sat on their three-seater couch, putting their piping hot mugs and plate on the coffee table. Videl brought her legs up to the sofa, making herself more comfortable leaning on Gohan's side. He wrapped an arm over her shoulder.
"Do you want to watch a movie?" Gohan asked, looking down on Videl who had her eyes closed. She shook her head negatively.
"I'd probably fall asleep halfway through it." She justified.
"Do you want to do anything else?" He gave it another try... Videl's response was the same. He realised that all she wanted was a cuddle, company and tea. Actually, all he wanted to do was exactly the same.
His eyes roamed their living room, a turned off television was right in front of the sofa... a pile of films next to it, some open and untidy boxes of cartoons next to it. A games console and some game cases were on its side. The bookshelf was heavy with books... pictures on the wall... their family pictures on top of the focal point. He couldn't help but smile at them... only some pictures were there, a lot more others were safely kept in albums, some others could be found displayed in their bedroom.
One of their wedding pictures, one with his parents and brother, Mr. Satan and Pan, Videl pregnant and him grinning like mad by her side... but there was one that he was paying more attention to... one taken when Pan was just a baby, taken on the day they got home from hospital. He smiled nostalgically, remembering how nervous they were... and how worried they were for the first night.
"Gohan... do you think I'm a good mother?" Videl asked, breaking the silence. The question although not new, has not been made for a while which surprised him.
"Of course you're a good mother, what makes you say that?" Gohan shifted from the sofa in order to look at Videl's face. He knew that one of the things that deeply worried her was that, which wasn't surprising, especially because she lost her mother when she was young.
"Do you really think so? Please be honest." Videl begged with her eyes, stretching her arm to reach the mug, and take a small sip.
"Of course I'm being honest. Videl you're a great mum, Pan loves you! I thought you were over it..." Gohan confessed, he lost count of how many times he had told her exactly the same. It was his time to get a sip from his mug.
"Do you want another kid?" Videl asked looking at his face, trying to capture his expressions.
"I want whatever you want." Gohan said taking off his glasses, the steam covering the lenses. Making Videl giggle.
"I want to know what YOU want." She forced it out of him.
"You really want to know?" He decided that it was no point in keeping his glasses on, so he just placed them on the small table. Videl nodded.
"I want what you want." He teased, only to be death glared by Videl. "Just kidding." He took a couple of sips, and placed the mug back on the table. He took Videl's mug off her hands and placed it next to his. He laid back in the sofa, and brought her back with him... hugging her firmly.
"I wouldn't mind Videl... I really wouldn't mind. With Pan it was all so rushed, maybe things this time would be different and wouldn't be half as stressful as they were." He stated, Videl sighed.
"You're already talking as if we were really going to have another baby." Gohan smiled at her words.
"Our life is stable, we're married, we have a nice place of our own." He moved his left arm down, in order to interlace his fingers with hers. Videl started playing with his wedding ring.
"Gohan I'm scared... even if I'm always trying not to spoil Pan, and trying to save her from getting spoiled rotten from our parents, she'd be jealous... and then she's going to want even more attention and then, I'd have to stop working. We wouldn't have any time for ourselves, we'd also need to get another room. I know it sounds selfish, but I don't really know if I want to change the way we live now... it took us so long to get our lives sorted."
Gohan caressed Videl's head with his cheek. He was glad that Videl would open up and talk about some of her worries, instead of bottling them up.
"We would manage, like we always do." Gohan said. Videl turned around, climbed slightly so she could directly look at him. She snuggled her head between his neck and shoulder.
"Your mother would love the idea of me quitting my job." She said in a not so serious manner.
"You didn't have necessary to quit your job, you could ask for a break."
"After the break we'd have to leave the kid with your mom, just like Pan before the kindergarten."
"I prefer my mom taking care of the baby than someone at a daycare… I don't like the odds of a roof being blown off by a mere sneeze... or a puff!" She laughed at his exaggeration.
"Are you saying that you think we shouldn't have put Pan in kindergarten?" she removed her head away from his warmth, and looked at him. It always made it easier for her to understand what he was saying, and if he really meant it. She knew Gohan always tried to please her, and it couldn't help her but annoy her... sometimes she'd like to make sure that what he was saying was for his sake, not just hers.
"No, Pan was the right age to enter a kindergarten… and with my father leaving with Uub, it was the right thing to do." There... the look that Videl noticed earlier on the night, while they were playing board games, was back. Gohan was still upset about his father's absence.
"You know that no matter what you say or do, is going to make him change his way." Videl cupped his face with her hands.
"I know... it just... I can't help but feeling slightly angry at him, not so much for myself. But for my mom, Goten... and Pan. Pan is missing him so much." He opened up, looking directly at her large blue eyes. "He could visit more often."
"Is that why you want another baby? To give Pan someone else to play?"
"No!" Gohan brought one of Videl's hand to his lips and kissed it gently. "It has nothing to do with it. I've actually thought about it even before dad was gone."
"Why didn't you tell me?" Videl indignantly asked.
"Because I knew you wanted to enjoy Pan, I didn't want to er... rush you... and because Pan used to be such hard work, I couldn't think we'd make it through the end of the day with two hungry and energetic kids around the house."
"Pan is still hard work..."
"Come on Vi... not as much as she used to! Starting to train her was the best thing we could have done!" both parents agreed on that... training and sparring sessions would be Pan's little treat for behaving good. Videl was the one that came up with the idea of blackmailing her... Gohan couldn't deny that her blackmail methods usually worked. Still, they weren't proud that they were bluntly tricking their daughter... but it was a necessary evil.
"You really want another kid, don't you?" Videl looked directly into his eyes. There was no need for him to verbalise his answer.
"I can't even believe I'm considering this!" Videl laughed, and pecked his lips. "You have to promise me, one thing though... you're gonna stop doing extra hours so you get home earlier, spend proper quality time together... leave Pan at my dad or at your mom once week so we can go out... AH! And help me with the house chores" He smiled and gave her a quick kiss.
"Deal!" He kissed Videl's nose in a tender and kidding manner.
"You know... childbirth isn't something that I look forward to." She could see at the expression Gohan made at that instant, that he had forgotten how painfully and long Pan's labour was. Videl realised some memories coming back to his mind and kissed him... not a peck this time, but a proper kiss.
"Still... I wouldn't mind you rubbing me with anti-stretch marks cream for a few months all over again." Gohan grinned while kissing, mental pictures forming on his head... countless times 'helping Videl' spreading some lotion ended up on something that was slightly different than that, a lot more amusing as well. Videl sat on Gohan's lap, her knees against his waist and sofa. Still kissing each other. His hands altering from supporting the back of her head and caressing her back under the pyjama shirt she was wearing.
"Do you think we should start practicing on making another cute kid?"
The lukewarm teas were left forgotten on the table... next to an untouched plate of cookies.
Both parents were glad their daughter slept like a stone.
Soon after, Videl made the executive decision that she wouldn't need to go pick up her monthly prescription at the pharmacy counter for a while.
Author's Notes: I found this on an old backup drive... the beginning of this fic dates 2005!
Because there's a contest going on Sweetest Irony and this month's theme is family, I decided to polish it and continue it in order to enter! (It turned out to be quite long as well... typical of me! Hope you didn't get bored to bits and actually made it to the end).
Although the contest entry is meant to be only this chapter, I'm not disregarding the possibility of writing more chapters... especially if I get feedback, I'd really like to know what you think about it and all suggestions are very welcome!
Please have in mind that English is not my first language so if you find any typos, feel free to correct me!
Hope you enjoyed reading it!
(I'm feeling so guilty for procrastinating and write this instead of my Criminal Law assignment... still, I hope it was worth it!)