AN. My entry into the first contest of my own DA club, DBZ-friendshippy. This is probably not very, very good, because I just wrote it then, but I don't care, I'm submitting it anyway. I may do another entry, just because with friendshippy-ness there are so many pairings XD Anyway, I hope you enjoy. If you don't, I don't really mind. It's all good :D
"Oh, look, there's one from Yamcha!"
"And from Bulma… Look, it's got Vegeta's name on it, isn't that funny?"
"And the Son family sent one, that's nice of them, isn't it?"
"How sweet of them to think of us…"
A short pause followed. The small boy lifted his head and fixed his incredulous eyes on the muscular man reclined on the couch. The man rolled his eyes and hid his face beneath his hand, hiding his disapproving expression. The boy let out a soft sigh, sitting back on his feet, resting his hands on the ground beside him, hurt creeping into his eyes.
"What can I do to make you excited about this?"
"It happens every year. It's not a big deal."
"It's Christmas! Of course it's a big deal."
"It's not." The man lifted his hand, fixing the boy with his resigned stare. "What makes it a big deal?"
"It's a time for people to remind the people around them how much they care about them," the boy said in a soft, almost whispered voice. "It's a time to think about your friends, to care about those around you."
The man sat up, his hand falling into his lap, his eyes narrowing slightly. The next words he said were brutal, spat out, and cut deep into the boy's chest.
"You're the only one around me," the man spat. "And guess what, you're the only one who cares about this stupid holiday."
"B-but the others sent presents," the boy whispered, tears welling in his eyes just as fast as he could blink them away. He didn't want to show his hurt. "They are thinking about us."
"How many of those presents have your name on it?" the man spat and the boy recoiled, clenching his eyes shut. "How many of those cards you've put so lovingly on the mantelpiece address you?"
"The one f-from…from…" The boy cast his eyes up over the mantelpiece, scanning over the cards, searching desperately. "The one from Gohan's got my name on it…"
"Who else? Even Krillin only addressed his to me." The man's voice was sharp, brutally intense, and the boy couldn't help the sobs that started to pull at his breath. "They don't care, dammit. This is a formality. If they really cared they would've come here personally. They would visit once in a while. They would show they care!"
"They…they…they do care," the boy whispered, but whatever conviction had been in his voice was gone now. He couldn't hide his tears anymore and they streamed down his face, over the red circles on his cheeks, though he tried desperately to wipe them away.
"They don't care," the man said, slumping back onto the couch and covering his eyes. "They've forgotten about us in all but name. They don't care about us anymore."
The boy shot upwards, not just to his feet but into the air, hovering a few feet from the ground. A light blue aura had surrounded him, as it did when he was very angry, concentrated very hard, or was very, very upset. His hands were curled into tight fists, his mouth was set in a furious snarl, but tears still streamed steadily down his cheeks and his eyes were full of hurt and sorrow.
"You're wrong!" he shouted. His voice was cracked and choked with his tears. The man looked shocked, his eyes wide as he sat up again. "They do care about us! And even if they didn't, even if these presents are just a formality, that's not the point!" The boy deflated a little, his hands falling limp, but the crackling aura that surrounded him didn't fade. "You're supposed to show you care… You're supposed to show you think about people around you… And even if that's just me…that should be enough…"
And with that he turned and fled the room, throwing the door open and disappearing into the dark, snow-laden space outside. The man sat there, shocked into silence and stillness, his eyes fixed on the spot where the boy had disappeared, his mouth open.
He turned his eyes around the room, taking in the decorations that his companion had put up so laboriously, to the decorated tree that had been cut down and dragged inside, propped upwards and decorated, with no help from him, to the crackling fire, the lined up cards, the presents stacked so neatly even though none of them bore the name of the boy who had done it. Where was the justice in that? How could he have said that it didn't matter when it obviously did to the one who had done all of this…?
"Chiaotzu," he whispered, then shot to his feet and bolted outside, slamming the door before the blizzard that constantly raged around their home in the Northern Wastelands could enter and destroy the hard work done inside.
It was dark and cold, snow swirling around him, freezing him to the bone. He closed his eyes and spread out his ki in a desperate search, trying to find the boy who had fled so quickly, dressed in only pants and an undershirt. He could feel him up on the mountain behind the cabin, near the top, but his ki was weak and sputtering, like a candle in strong wind. Fear sank into his sharply and he shot into the air, flying as fast as he could towards that tiny ki, hoping he could get there before it faded completely.
He landed on the top of the mountain and scouted around as fast as he could. He waded through the snow, searching desperately, his eyes narrowed and his body leaning forward to brace against the wind. Finally he found Chiaotzu, sitting hunched against the cold on the very edge of the precipice, his head bowed, his entire body trembling and his arms wrapped tightly around himself.
"Chiaotzu," Tien said, his voice a relieved sigh, his body slumping as relief swept through him. "Thank Kami I found you. Quick, come back inside before you catch your death of cold."
"No. Go away."
Tien's eyes widened with surprise, his mouth dropping open a little as he stared at the shivering boy. He had expected a lot of things, but not that simple flat refusal. He didn't know how to cope with that.
"Chiaotzu, please. I'm sorry I said that. I guess the fruitlessness of it all just overcame me. I'm really sorry…"
"You're not forgiven." Chiaotzu's voice was flat and low, his head still lowered. "You don't care about me. You made that…painfully obvious…" Chiaotzu sneezed loudly, one hand lifting to cover his face, and Tien felt another bolt of worry elbow its way through his gut.
"Please, come back inside. It's cold out here. You haven't even got a jacket. You're gonna get really sick. Please, Chiaotzu, please. I'm sorry I said all that crap, I didn't mean it, you know that. You know…you know I care about you…"
Chiaotzu looked up at him and he felt a fresh sense of guilt at the tears that had frozen solid on those red cheeks.
"Please," he whispered, daring to reach out one hand and rest it on Chiaotzu's shoulder. His skin was freezing even through his shirt, and Tien's worry deepened to an extent he hadn't felt for a very, very long time. "I don't want you to get sick. I don't want you to be mad. Come inside…please…"
Chiaotzu sneezed again, looked up at Tien with eyes still brimming with tears, then slowly nodded his head.
"B-but I'm no-not ta-ta-talking to you…" he whispered as he got unsteadily to his feet. He swayed for a moment, took one unsteady step, then stumbled towards the edge. Tien caught him by the shoulder, hoisting him up into his arms, holding him close as he rocketed off the top of the mountain back towards their home.
He got inside, the warmth from the fire sinking into his flesh instantly, and shut the door behind him. He gave no thought to his own relief, his own warmth. In his mind there was only Chiaotzu, the boy he had spent his whole life with, with whom he had only had three arguments previously of which this was undoubtedly the worst, the boy whose muscles were still jittering and whose breath was starting to skip and halt.
He ran to the fire, crouching in front of it, holding the boy close to him as the heat washed over them both, rubbing his free hand over the white, freezing skin that was visible beneath the sleeve of the undershirt.
It took a long, long time for the shivering to ease off. Chiaotzu had never been very good in the cold, had never had any natural defence against it (probably part of that could be attributed to his permanently small frame; a five-year old body could not build up the same protective muscle mass that an adult body could) and now Tien was very, very worried about the chill that was still evident in the small boy's skin.
"C'mon, Chiaotzu," Tien murmured, rubbing at that pale skin until it flushed pink with blood. "Please… Don't do this to me…"
"N-not…talki-ing…to…you…" Chiaotzu mumbled.
"I don't mind, just don't get sick. Please warm up, please…" He felt tears burn at his eyes and tried desperately to hide it. "Please…"
Chiaotzu looked up at him, the tremors travelling through his muscles slowly easing off, then lifted up one hand and ran it over Tien's cheek. At that the tears in Tien's eyes spilled over and Chiaotzu smiled a little as he wiped them away.
"You're really sorry?" he asked in a soft voice.
"So sorry…" Tien cautioned a slight smile, making sure that his face showed it was apologetic in nature. "I didn't mean it. This holiday just gets to me. It's just the fact that…that no one visits anymore… That it's been years since anyone bothered to call. That…no one seems to care about you anymore…"
Chiaotzu's eyes widened a little and his lips pressed in a thin line. Tien saw, but found that once he started he couldn't stop.
"When I went to see them, no one asked about you. When we get a letter, it's only addressed to me. Everyone's got families now except for us. I just…I can't…"
There was a pause, then Chiaotzu pulled free of Tien's arms, standing up in front of him, his head tilted back so their eyes met.
"Tien, you don't get it," he murmured, smiling a little. "It's not about them. I don't care if they've forgotten. I care about you. You're my family. You're my best friend. You're the reason I put up all these decorations, why I decorate the tree…" He boosted himself up on his toes and slipped his arms around Tien's neck, hugging him tight. "I love you, Tien, and I don't need anyone else to make Christmas mean something…"
Tien put his arms around Chiaotzu's slight frame, feeling the chill that refused to depart, tears sliding down his cheeks, closing his eyes.
"Love you too, Chiaotzu," he whispered. "Always have, always will. Sorry for ruining Christmas Eve. I promise tomorrow'll be better."
"I don't care about tomorrow," Chiaotzu said, a smile in his voice that warmed Tien's chest. "I've already got my present." He hugged Tien a little tighter and mumbled, "Thank you, nii-san, for proving you care."
AN. And there we have it... A story about the message of Christmas. I dunno why I made them fight. I've never done it before. I guess I was just thinking about how this is my last Christmas living at home, and it's proving a greater strain than I thought it would be (on me, but no one else, making me snappy and irritable..) Anyway, it's got the theme of Christmas, no matter what else happens...