Author's Note: No excuse can be provided for my extreme absence, especially since only one chapter remained for the story to be complete. However, before officially ending this...I would like to inform my readers of how embarrassing (for lack of a better word) this story is for me. I wrote this story a long, long, long time ago...when my enthusiasm for the series and fan fiction overshadowed my actual skill. Over the past year and a half I've improved, but not exponentially and the only thing I can provide for all of you is a draft from a year ago that I edited the shit out of...hope you find some kind of satisfaction, if any, from it.
Disclaimer: I've made too many stupid ones...I think everyone gets the picture.
Chapter 19: A Lifetime for Goodbye and Hello.
The wilderness provided a kind of serene paradox of peace for Gohan: the sound of crickets; lively and hungry, young birds just awakening from their slumber; and, of course, a certain spiky headed toddler that darted from one tree to another in attempts to catch as many small critters as possible...these were the continuous sounds that disturbed his silence.
But it was also a self-proclaimed soundtrack to his life...one which Gohan strived upon.
Every time he chastised his little boy for tracking mud into the house or trying to secretly conceal some type of creature that he wanted to raise in their bathtub, Gohan knew these tendencies would only become more outrageous as Goten grew...but he wouldn't have it any other way.
The trip back to his original timeline often resurfaced within the corners of his mind, and he always prayed he had done his best to carry on his father's legacy. Those last moments that occurred after he had awoken from his weakened and ki – deprived state; immediately limping towards a relatively solid area, where he was sure the previous arena wouldn't collapse from beneath him, Gohan had opened the emergency capsule that his Bulma had given him and done as she had instructed.
"Gohan! Stop moving around, you need to rest! You used up a lot of energy, and...what are you – hey!"
Gohan turned around to face his father and retracted his hand away from Krillian's unconscious and battered face, the dimming natural light of the sunset casting a blinding gleam on the metallic surface of the spraycan he held. But Goku could still make out the Capsule Corp logo brightly branded from behind the shadows.
"Where did you...Gohan, what is that?"
Numbly blinking at his father with red rimmed eyes that seemed almost vacant, Gohan clenched his fist around the metal cylinder, the broken skin of his knuckles burned in protest of his unwavering grip, "It's a memory solution..."
Goku tilted his head to one side slightly, and creased his eyebrows into an expression that urged the young Saiyan to continue.
"I'm not really sure what it does to be honest, Bulma made it," he scratched the finer hairs at his neck, "Well my Bulma...I mean the one from my time."
"Well, the future...your future, this time's future," the brown eyes narrowed, "The future that will undoubtedly be different and unpredictable if I don't use this." He raised the can slightly.
"So we'll forget everything?"
"You'll just forget Cell...and our arrival."
Goku looked down at the rosy cheeks of the baby he held, forgetting him felt wrong; these boys had done something...changed him somehow, and in some way that was indescribable.
"Bulma made sure you wouldn't forget mom or Piccolo or anything essential like that." Gohan winced as he bent down to spray each prone figure near their nostrils and lightly upon their closed lids.
"Mom?" Goku shifted Goten onto his other arm, "You mean Chichi don't you?"
Gohan tensed momentarily before resuming his task with his spiky hair facing his adolescent father, "Well it's not like it's much of a mystery now, what with all my pathetic, emotional breakdowns earlier..."
Goku sighed as he seated himself down upon some rubble, "I...if you're my... you know – who I know you to be, then why are you here? Why didn't future-me come with you? Why did you feel you needed to bring Goten along? Chichi would never –
"Stop!" Gohan shouted in a voice that begged, "You're going to forget everything soon enough, there's no point in me explaining anything."
Goku saw the glistening moister that Gohan blatantly withheld from escaping his eyes, and soon realised that the young Saiyan was finished with everyone and was only a few feet away from him; can ready and enclosed firmly by unusually pale, shaking fingers.
"Wait! I don't want to forget, you can't just take away my memories!"
"It's not your choice to make."
"Yes it is!" Goku hissed as he stood mere inches from the spiky-haired boy, and looked down into compelling pools of brown, "They are mine! My memories!"
"You're being ridiculous," Gohan scoffed as he held out his free hand, "Hand Goten over, you'll be knocked out once the solution reaches your brain...give him here."
Goku gave him a one-shouldered shrugged, "And if I don't?"
"Well, you've seen how fast I am," Gohan glared and mockingly shrugged, "It's an inconvenience to do it, but I can easily maneuver him out of your arms as you're collapsing."
"You can barely stand kid."
"Gohan, listen I –
"NO!" He screamed at his torn fighting boots, and Goku could only see charcoal spikes, "Goddammit, you listen! I'm tired and I'm unimaginably hungry, I miss my home, I miss my mom, I miss my dad – you! I miss you! And all I want is to put all of this...this crap behind me...before I lose all rationality I have left. Because if I did what I want, I would stay and I can't!"
"Why?" Goku's voice broke as he whispered, "Why can't you stay?"
Gohan looked up with glassy eyes, and two identical streaks tattooed along his grimy cheeks, "You know why."
Goku grabbed the boy in a one armed hug that was immediately reciprocated, and he stroked his head as Gohan's grip tightened. "I've done something stupid in your future haven't I?"
Gohan buried his head into his father's orange gi, and shook his head like he had done when he was younger and had foolishly tried to convince his father that he wasn't frightened by the wild animals in their 'backyard.'
"Don't deny it Gohan," he mumbled as he reassuringly squeezed the boy's quivering shoulders, "I can tell."
"No..no...you're wrong." He sniffed, "I did it. I was the stupid one. I didn't listen to you, and I should've, but I didn't!"
Goku chuckled and the vibrations made Gohan look up at him in surprise, "Even though I don't know all the details I can hardly believe an amazing kid like you could disappoint any version of me," Gohan looked ready to cut him off, "And don't argue! I just know, despite whatever happened...that I, the future me, loves you very much."
Gohan's lips quivered as he held back a sob.
"And this me also loves you...and Goten."
"But, we've only been here for –
"I know," Goku breathed, "I don't understand it, but that's how I feel."
"If you love me dad, you'll let me spray you," his eyes downcast Gohan retracted himself from Goku's tense hold, "because if even one thing goes wrong in this timeline because of me I...it would be my fault. I can't live with that burden on my shoulders, and I can't raise Goten if my state of mind is altered constantly by a nagging guilt."
Goku looked away, and simply handed Goten's sleeping form to his brother; this was his answer.
He had sprayed him, and left. But now he needed to return once more, but only because Bulma had reminded him that Piccolo needed to be revived with that world's dragonballs, and so he had waited for the appropriate time, and as he dropped Goten at Capsule Corp to play with Trunks until he returned, he was reminded by Bulma not to interact with anyone – at the risk that those sprayed may be triggered to remember just by seeing him.
Apparently not all her inventions were perfect after all.
She also reminded him that she had set the machine to travel to a time where more months had passed by than they had on their side; confused and slightly anxious, Gohan boarded regardless.
It took less than two days to find all seven.
And as Piccolo was wished back, Gohan made the quick decision to ask the dragon to erase any memories he had of 'Kohaku' before quickly retreating into the time machine. The young Saiyan had no idea that just a couple thousand miles away, he was being born.
"He's so cute."
"Well gosh...he's so tiny!"
"Well of course," the raven haired mother reprimanded as she straightened the blanket over the fidgeting newborn, "he's a baby after all."
"Darling," A large man approached the couple, his hand unconsciously smoothing out the wrinkles in his green overalls as he sat down, "Isn't it time you gave the boy a name?"
Chichi reached into the cot and gently held her son near her bosom, as she straightened his hat with the expertise unbefitting of a woman who had only given birth to her first child days ago, "Oh I already decided on a name."
The two men slumped over slightly in dejection, "You have?"
"Yes," She turned to them with a sparkle in her gaze, "Einstein."
"Einstein!? You're kidding?!"
"Hardly, our boy's name is going to be Einstein." And at that moment the child cried. Very loudly. His little fists curled and shook as his miniature features scrunched until onto his fair skin spread an angry red.
"I don't think he likes that name honey," the soft spoken giant murmured cautiously to his daughter.
"Nonsense dad, he loves the name Einstein."
More crying ensued.
"Maybe we should give him another name," Goku suggested with a dimpled smile as he held out his hands to hold his son.
The Ox King excitedly pulled out his lengthy list of pre-recorded names such as 'Ox in the box,' 'Johnny Ox,' and 'Ox Monkey.'
Each one received the same reaction from the little guy, and the adults sighed in frustration.
But as Goku looked down at his son's deep brown eyes, he recalled a dream he had during Chichi's pregnancy. A young teen surrounded in yellow flames floating above him, and all he remembered was an enveloping warmth that had made him feel at peace. But when he woke up, the boy's face was a blur, his name burning in his throat but lost among his lips.
He felt that same heat in his heart whenever he shared a private moment with his wife; when they lost themselves in each others' eyes in the shadows of the night, or when she would quietly look over her shoulder at him from her tasks near the stove, and be lucky enough to catch him when he wasn't stuffing his face and was actually admiring her in secret as she worked.
He felt it now. His heart blazing as the little product of his and Chichi's passionate love held his large finger and squeezed.
Chichi and the Ox King looked up at him in surprise, "What?"
"I think we should name him Gohan."
The baby laughed in delight.
"Well," his wife crossed her arms, "it is a nice name...and he seems to like it, I guess I'll allow it."
The Ox King stepped towards the spiky-haired man with a smile, "It's a lovely way to honor your grandfather, I'm sure he would be very proud."
Goku nodded, the name had suddenly jumped off his tongue. His son just looked like a Gohan...he hadn't even thought of his beloved grandfather when he said it.
Eleven years later, when Goku would be training his little Gohan in the hyberbolic time chamber, it wouldn't be the transformation that would shock him, but the sudden déjà vu of witnessing that glowing teen from his dreams. The remembrance of warmth and peace.
And he would know that his son, his Gohan would surely defeat Cell.
All his friends would label him insane; Piccolo would scream at his foolish hast to send his boy to his death; but he would refute their protests with his unwavering faith in his son. Gohan held the power to defeat Cell.
He had no doubts, because he had done it before.
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