A/N: Well, here's yet another idea that popped into my head while I'm focusing on my much larger story, MagicKi: An HPDBZ Story. It probably won't be all that long. I've been feeling in a very darkly optimistic mood as of late. Basically, happiness awaits people, but only if they can get through the hardships that lie on the pathway there. That's what I'm going for here. It's Gohan/Videl, the biggest DBZ ship I support, although the romance more than likely won't be the main focus. More often, it'll focus more on what Videl does for Gohan. It'll take a while to get them there, and even when they do become friends, true happiness won't come immediately.

The prologue provides a look into the Goku/ChiChi dynamic that will be in this story. There won't be much happiness for Goku, either. The fanfic will kind of hinge on both of them for a period of time.

I'm writing this sort of as a way to siphon off all the darkness swirling around in my mind. I have more comments, but they'd be better as part of the warnings. One note before I do that: this is beta'd by me and only me. My Spell Check hasn't let me down yet, so...We'll just have to wait and see.

Warnings: This is A/U. They're all normal. Well, normal in that none of them are aliens and the Earth isn't in constant danger. There will be swearing early on here and onward throughout, and lemons later on in the fanfiction. As such, I'm rating this M right here and now. Better to play it safe than be sorry that I didn't. There will also be a number of original characters, and, for most of them, their main purpose is to antagonize Gohan. They'll get what's coming to them, I promise, but it won't be for a while yet.

Anyway, I took a lot of poetic license here, obviously, since I made this so A/U. Goku, ChiChi, Gohan, and Videl will all be rather OOC, but that's because this stays far away from any sort of Dragon World canon, except that Gohan and Videl do eventually get together. If A/U fanfictions aren't your thing, please don't read this and then give me bad reviews. I'm not interested, particularly if I'm giving you warning here and now.

Double anyway, a final note before we get this underway: Videl's last name in this is Filcure. "Filcure", if you notice, happens to be an anagram of "Lucifer". And now...

The title is part of a lyric from "The First Cut is the Deepest" by Sheryl Crow.

Disclaimer: The fun about this sentence is that you don't realize it doesn't say anything until you've finished reading it. Also, I don't own any of the recognizable characters I've mentioned here. Avery Ratcliffe, Michelle Belafonte, James Pickett, and Jenifyr Stone are mine, and any names you may recognize from another fanfiction are entirely coincidental, I promise.

"This" - indicates dialogue.
'This' - indicates thought.
This - indicates emphasis, in place of CAPSLOCK.

His Saving Grace

Prologue - The First Cut is the Deepest

Gohan walked into the living room on the morning of his first day of kindergarten, and winced. The living room was in shambles, cushions from the couch all over the floor, the coffee table was covered in coasters and empty shot glasses and rolled up pieces of paper. The end tables had assorted food stuffs on them, laden so thickly Gohan couldn't see the actual table underneath it. On the couch itself was a huge pile of blankets.

He really wanted to stay home and clean, but then his mother would chastise him for not going to school and getting an education. But if he went to school and left the house the way it was, he'd get yelled at upon his return for being so messy. Nothing he did was any good in his mother's eyes. Gohan got the feeling that she really did care for him and his father way deep down, but was so used to showing it through anger and reprimanding that she didn't know any other way to show it.

Not that Gohan's father was any help, Gohan thought in that oddly blatant way that five-year-olds have. He didn't know what his dad was drinking, but it almost always fell to Gohan to pick up those bottles and find someplace to throw them away. If he didn't, then his mom would find out and she would get mad and yell again.

Gohan let out a sigh and scuffed the floor with the toe of his shoe before heading toward the front door, picking his way through the aftermath. His dad liked to throw parties, and he told Gohan that it was just a way for him to hang out with his grown-up friends, so Gohan didn't think too much of it.

He'd just placed his hand on the doorknob and was turning it when he heard a raspy voice say, "Gohan? Gohan, that you?" Gohan bit his lip, but turned to where he'd heard the voice anyway. The pile of blankets on the couch shifted, and Gohan realized that his dad had slept on the couch. "Where are you going, Gohan?" his dad asked, rubbing his eyes blearily.

"I'm going to school, Daddy," Gohan said, barely managing to contain a bright smile and keep his voice down. His dad had started to rub the sides of his head, which Gohan knew meant that he had to be extra quiet so that his dad's head wouldn't hurt too badly. "It's my first day of kindergarten."

"Oh…" Gohan's dad muttered something under his breath that Gohan couldn't hear. Then, he said, "Well, hold on a minute, son, and I'll get ready so I can walk you to school."

"Daddy, that's okay. You're sleepy, right? That means you should sleep," Gohan said, shaking his head as he watched his dad stand up nevertheless. His dad winced, and Gohan said, "Really, Daddy, it's okay if you want to sleep some more. It's okay, honest."

"No, Gohan, it's your first day, and I'll be blasted if I let you show up to school alone," his dad replied, and smiled at Gohan. Gohan returned the smile.

"Okay, Daddy," Gohan said, and watched as his dad walked sleepily toward his bedroom and opened the door, slipping inside.

Ten minutes later, Goku re-emerged from the bedroom looking a little disgruntled, but smiled at Gohan again. "All right, bud, let's get you to school."

Gohan nodded happily and opened the door wide, letting the bright sunlight in. He thought he heard his dad hiss a little, but when he looked behind him, Goku was already outside and shutting the door behind him. "We don't want you to be late, do we?" Gohan shook his head, and they left, father and son, side by side, Gohan's little hand enveloped in his father's much bigger one.

Gohan was happy that his dad was walking him to school, but the mess in the living room kept showing up in his head. Finally, just before they turned the corner to get to the campus of Orange Star Kindergarten, Gohan asked, "Daddy, am I going to get yelled at when I get home?"

"No, Gohan, of course not," his father replied. "Why would you think you would?"

Gohan fidgeted for a minute with his backpack strap, then said, "Because…the living room was messy, and Mommy will yell at me if it isn't clean…" He looked up at his father, whose face had hardened. "I just don't want to get yelled at. Not on my first day of school. That isn't bad, is it, Daddy?"

"No, Gohan, it isn't," his father replied. "I will worry about your mother. Just enjoy your day, all right?"

"Okay, Daddy!" Gohan said happily, fears of getting in trouble wiped from his mind. "I think the bell will ring soon, so I have to go. I love you, Daddy," he said, and received a hug from his father.

"I love you too, Gohan. Have a good first day, bud. I'll be here when school is over to walk you home, too, okay?" Gohan nodded and gave his dad one last hug before turning around and walking through the gate around the schoolyard. Just before he walked in with the other kids, he turned around and saw his dad standing there outside the gate. Gohan began to feel scared; it had just registered that he wouldn't be around his dad for a long time. It was only until the afternoon, but to Gohan it was a long time to spend away from the man who'd always been near him.

He waved to his dad, who gave him a smile and a wave back, and then Gohan turned and walked into the school, trying to dampen down his fear and anxiety. 'I'm going to have a good day, just like Daddy told me to,' he thought, and the thought of his dad made him feel like he was being hugged by Goku. It made him feel a lot better.

Goku stood outside for a long time after everyone had gone inside the school, trying to get his thoughts together. He knew three things for sure: He was going to have to be here in about eight hours, he'd had another party last night, and he was going to have to deal with an angry ChiChi. 'Like that's any different from any other day,' he thought, rolling his eyes. Turning around, he headed back to the house.

He honestly didn't know where things had gone so wrong with him and ChiChi. Before Gohan, they'd been your basic newlywed young adults in love. They were joined at the hip, never did anything without the other. And though ChiChi had made him unbelievably happy all the time, Goku had secretly felt in his heart that he was floating, a ship with no anchor.

Then Gohan had been born, and he'd given Goku the rock he'd been searching for. Goku adored everything about his son. ChiChi had been the same way when Gohan was a newborn, but sometime around when Gohan turned six or seven months old, Goku noticed that ChiChi had gotten oddly distant. He honestly hadn't had the slightest clue what had happened to make her so sour, and had constantly tried to get to the bottom of it with little success.

He'd finally found out one day when they were both playing with Gohan. Goku had had him and was spinning him around, and Gohan had been laughing. Then ChiChi, smiling, had held her hands out for Gohan, and Goku had given him to her. Once he'd let go, though, Gohan started to fuss. ChiChi had tried to bounce him up and down, but Gohan wouldn't have it. He'd opened his mouth and let out a loud cry, twisting around and holding out his arms to Goku.

Goku had looked in ChiChi's eyes and seen the flash of pain there, but it was gone so quickly he wasn't sure whether he'd imagined it or not. He'd held out his hands, and ChiChi had glared at him. Again, it was over so quickly that Goku had barely had time to frown before it was gone and she'd handed Gohan to him. ChiChi had murmured something about going to get Gohan's crib ready for his coming nap, and then left. Goku had nodded and started playing with Gohan again, but he'd made a silent resolution to find out what was bothering the mother of his firstborn.

Soon enough, Gohan had been yawning widely, and Goku had walked him gently into the bedroom and set him in the crib. ChiChi had just finished setting it up, and she stepped aside to let Goku put Gohan to sleep, and then she twisted the mobile and left without a word.

Goku had followed her after shutting the door, and then said, "ChiChi, what's wrong with you?"

ChiChi had rounded on him, eyes flashing, and Goku had realized that things could get very ugly very quickly. He wasn't disappointed.

"What do you mean what's wrong with me?" she'd demanded.

"I mean, why have you been acting so distant lately? It's a little hard to tell, but it usually happens whenever we're spending time with Gohan. You get distant, and then you get snappy when I ask you what's wrong. Then you leave. I want to know - "

"You know what, Goku?" ChiChi had asked. "Maybe my problem is with you!"

"Why, what did I do?"

"What about stealing my fucking son?!"

Goku had been mystified. "ChiChi, what are you talking about?"

"Oh, please, don't give me any of your shit," ChiChi had spat, venom in her tone. "It isn't enough that our child is a boy, but he's also named after you, he looks more like you than he does me, and he even fucking likes you more!"

"ChiChi, you're acting crazy - "

"Am I? Am I really?" ChiChi had screamed. Goku, in a desperate attempt to get her to shut up, had grabbed her by the shoulders and shaken her roughly.

"ChiChi, shut up. Shut the hell up. Yes, you are really acting crazy. What happened with Gohan today wasn't because he likes me more. How could you think that?"

"Well then what the hell was it?" ChiChi asked, trying to get out of Goku's unloosening grip.

"He was tired, ChiChi. He did end up falling asleep not five minutes after you'd given him back. He just hadn't wanted to move anywhere, not when he was sleepy."

"That's what it was?" ChiChi had asked warily, becoming less and less tense. Goku had nodded, and ChiChi's eyes had softened. "I'm sorry, Goku," she said contritely. "I was being…irrational."

"I know, and I forgive you," Goku said, letting go off ChiChi's shoulders. However, he'd only moved his hands to her hips and pulled her toward him, pressing his lips against her own. ChiChi had let out a small sigh, and her eyes had slipped shut.

When she pulled away and opened her eyes, Goku could've sworn he'd still seen a hint of suspicion in them. But then it was replaced entirely by softness, and Goku had placed it out of his mind.

'Really fucking bad idea,' Goku thought ruefully as he opened the front door of the house and stepped inside. It had been a bad idea because it had come back up when Gohan's first word had been "Daddy". That fight had been much more serious, and that was when ChiChi had started pulling away for good, only staying out of some feeble (in her mind, anyway) hope that Gohan would still show some sort of predisposition toward his mother.

Around the same time ChiChi had started pulling away, Goku had started discovering the wonders of liquor. He'd never drank to excess, always stopping once he'd gotten a light buzz. The alcohol put his worries out of his mind for a while. But he was always careful never to drink in front of Gohan or drink too much. He'd risk nothing in taking care of Gohan.

Gohan was his whole world, and Goku had sworn on the moment of Gohan's birth that he would never leave his firstborn son alone, no matter what. Gohan had been Goku's saving grace, and Goku would make sure that Gohan knew that he was loved every second of every minute of every day of his life.

"There you are!" ChiChi yelled, startling Goku out of his thoughts. "Where the hell have you been, where the hell is Gohan, and why the fuck is this place such a damn pigsty?!"

Goku winced and rubbed the bridge of his nose before replying calmly, "I took Gohan to school, Gohan is at school, and it's messy because I hadn't gotten around to cleaning it yet."

"Cleaning up around the house is Gohan's responsibility," ChiChi retorted, placing her hands on her hips. "It'll teach him character, a trait someone in this house seems to be sorely lacking."

"I know exactly what you're talking about," Goku replied. "What do you plan to do to change yourself, ChiChi?"

"Excuse me?!" ChiChi screeched. "How dare you?! I have character up to my ears! You're the one with no character, always drinking and lying, making a complete sty of the house all the time - "

"And yet I'm not the one yelling," Goku cut in mildly, and ChiChi actually snarled at him.

"Fine, Mr. Character! Clean up your mess. You'd better hope it fucking sparkles," she said coldly, and spun on her heel, stomping to the bedroom and slamming the door shut behind her.

Goku sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose again, then went to make a pot of coffee to get rid of this awful hangover. 'So much for keeping my drinking under control,' Goku thought wryly. Then, in the next instant, he thought, 'I do have it under control. What am I talking about? As long as it doesn't keep me from being a part of Gohan's life, it's fine.'

Eight hours, a pot of coffee, lots of swearing and muttering, and countless amounts of cleaning solution later, Goku took a shower before going to get dressed. ChiChi didn't talk to him, simply stared at him coldly for a few moments before going back to her TV show. Goku shook his head, but got dressed and left for the school to get Gohan.

Gohan wiped his eyes and nose for what seemed like the bajillionth time and did his best to ignore the whispering around him as he waited for the last bell to ring so that he could go home. His first day of kindergarten hadn't been nearly as exciting as he'd managed to convince himself it would be.

The teacher had taken roll call, and Gohan felt something small and slightly damp hit him. He'd looked up to find a blonde-haired boy with brown eyes waving at him and smiling, but in a mean way. Gohan frowned, and the boy had whispered, "Nice clothes, you slob."

Gohan hadn't had much of a chance to say anything back, because the teacher had called out, "Avery Ratcliffe." The boy had raised his hand and smiled sweetly at the teacher, who'd introduced herself as Mrs. Teacher, to assorted giggles from the classroom.

Gohan decided to just ignore Avery, and when Mrs. Teacher had called his name, he'd raised his hand and said, "Here, Mrs. Teacher." He'd just put his hand down when he heard snickers coming from the table that Avery Ratcliffe was sitting at. He looked at the table to see Avery waving goofily while jumping up and down in his chair. It didn't take Gohan long to realize that Avery was making fun of him, and had blushed and hidden his head in his arms on the table he was sitting at. 'Why is he making fun of me?' Gohan wondered.

"Gohan, please pick your head up," Mrs. Teacher said gently. "It isn't naptime just yet." Renewed snickers came from Avery's table as Gohan hurriedly picked his head up and said, "Yes, Mrs. Teacher," in a soft voice.

The rest of Gohan's day had been filled with Avery Ratcliffe making fun of him in various ways. They ranged from smashing Gohan's Play-Doh into the floor, to making him spill his juice at snack time, to tripping him at every opportunity, to making loud farting noises and blaming it loudly on Gohan. Joining Avery in his antics were a brown-haired girl with green eyes named Michelle Belafonte, a redhead with hazel eyes named James Pickett, and a girl with black hair and blue eyes named Jenifyr Stone.

Another girl, another girl with black hair and blue eyes named Videl Filcure had watched what the group were doing to Gohan, he'd noticed. But Videl neither helped him nor helped them. She just watched. If anything, that made Gohan feel even worse, because, except for Videl, Jenifyr, Avery, Michelle, and James, everyone else ignored him. Gohan felt like he wasn't even worth helping, and started to wonder if it was something he'd done wrong.

All in all, it had been a very hard first day, and when the bell finally rang, Gohan grabbed his backpack from his cubby and had run out of the classroom and into the schoolyard before half the class had even gotten out of their seats.

Gohan wiped his eyes again as he started to look around, wondering where his dad was. 'He said he'd be here,' Gohan thought, and tears started to fall down his face again. 'Where's my Daddy? He said he'd be here…' Gohan was terrified at the thought of Avery and the others finding him out here. Yet, for some reason, he was even more scared of Videl finding him and just watching him with her eyes that were a clearer blue than Gohan's best crayon.

Just as Gohan heard a voice say, "Hey, slob!" he saw his dad walking up the street, headed for the gate. A sob escaped from Gohan's lips as he started to run toward his dad. The tears were flowing full force by the time Gohan got to his father, who picked him up.

"Well, hey, Gohan…Gohan? Gohan, what's wrong?" his dad asked, alarmed.

"Daddy…They w-were m-mean to me…and I don't even know w-why," Gohan said in between great heaving sobs. He buried his head into his dad's shoulder, and Goku decided to get Gohan home before he got any worse.

"Shh, Gohan, it's okay," Goku said, gently bouncing Gohan as he hugged him close, one arm under Gohan's butt and his other hand behind Gohan's head. He turned and started to walk away, gently shushing Gohan's sobs and murmuring comforting nonsense words to him the entire walk home.

"At least you've still got me, right, Gohan?" he asked as they got to their front door. He smiled as he felt Gohan nod against his shoulder and his sobs subside.

"I love you, Gohan."

"I love you too, Daddy."


A/N II: Well, what do you think? I've already got the next chapter partly written, but since it is now a quarter to two in the morning where I live, I'm going to bed. Anyway, read and review, please. :D