READ: Hey everyone! If any of you can remember me, its Solidflamez, but under a new username. I'm probably most recognized for my stories related to Naruto (if any of you have read them: Son of Konoha, The Mission, For He So Loved the World). I've been gone from FanFiction for a long time and I'm finally getting back into the swing of things. I deleted the old fics off that account and decided to start fresh. I'd like to earn back my reputation as a writer not just by name, but as someone who writes good fics. And if any of you do in fact know who I am, shhh...please don't tell the Naruto ppl I'm back! I'm not ready to go back to writing fics for that category. Anyway, on with the story!

Basic summary: I was rather disappointed in how things turned out after the Cell Games. A good 7 years were just skipped over and aside from his adventures in High School and as Saiyaman, I feel Gohan was pushed aside and made to be rather weak. This is my version of what I would have like to seen happen with the series, including events that happened in the 7 years of peace before Buu. Aside from the first scene, the story begins about a year later.

~~~InHisFather'sFootsteps~~~

Chapter 1: His Father's Son

"All we have to do now is get ourselves to New Namek!" exclaimed an ecstatic Krillen, his face splitting into a huge grin. Atop Kami's Lookout the bald man stood, alongside him the other members of the Z Senshi, and Shenron, the eternal dragon, looming hundreds of feet above them awaiting their final wish.

"Then we all agree?" asked Yamcha, eying his comrades as he sought their confirmation. "That will be our second wish?"

Before anyone could respond an all too familiar voice cut in. "Hey! Don't I get any say in this?" All heads on the Lookout shot upwards at this. "Hey, everybody! It's me!"

"H-huh!" gasped Yamcha, his gaze towards the heavens.

"Goku?" cried a surprised Krillen, unable to believe who he was hearing.

"King Kai is letting me talk to you from the Otherworld, so listen up," said Goku. "Lately I've been thinking about why the Earth is always in danger and I realized that most of the guys that attacked it were after me. Think about it; Freeza, Cell, the Androids…" he trailed off.

"It's an interesting point," said Tien thoughtfully.

"I guess, but where's he going with this?" asked a confused Yamcha. Around him the others nodded in agreement. What could their favorite Saiyan be up to this time?

Gohan, on the other hand, knew exactly what his father would say next. The Earth would be much safer without all the alien super villains coming after Goku and although they were safe for now, who knew when the next bad guy would show up to challenge the third-classed warrior. While it broke his heart knowing he'd never see Goku again, the young hybrid knew it was for the best.

"Well," continued the dead Saiyan. "I think it would be better for Earth if I didn't come back this time. King Kai even agrees with me!"

"Sort of," they heard a nasally voice reply.

"As a Saiyan baby, I was sent to Earth to destroy it, and although all my life I've tried to do the opposite, it's kind of like I've been fulfilling that mission all along." Letting out a gentle sigh, he smiled and informed them of his decision. "So yeah, I'm gonna stay here now. I really don't mind. King Kai said I can get special treatment because I saved the Earth and all. I'll be able to keep my body and from what I hear, there's a lot of interesting people to meet. It'll be fun!"

There was a tense pause as everyone began to slowly let the news sink in.

"I guess what I'm trying to say is…I really appreciate your feelings towards me, but you'll have to find something else to wish for. This is my home now."

Gohan's head hung low at this, fists clenching to white as he silently seethed. He wasn't angry at his father; he could very well understand Goku's decision and was mature enough to respect it. No, the person he was angry with was none other than himself.

'It's my entire fault!' he thought quietly. 'If only I had finished off Cell when my father had told me to, then he wouldn't be dead and we wouldn't be having this conversation!'

"Gohan is so strong now!" said Goku with tremendous pride. "I have nothing left to teach him!"

"But that doesn't mean I don't need you!" shouted a frustrated Gohan. He understood why his father couldn't come back, but that didn't mean it didn't hurt.

"Gohan, you are now the strongest fighter on Earth, perhaps even in the universe," said his father. "You can take care of yourself now; you don't need me anymore. You've grown up so fast and I know that it's my entire fault…I hate putting this burden on your shoulders, especially after all I've put you through, but I leave you as Earth's protector."

"M-me?" stuttered Gohan weakly. "Are you serious?" His father had always been the claimed protector of Earth, and now it was his responsibility.

"Yeah, take care of everyone okay? Especially your mother, understand? You're now man of the house. Well, I have to go now, lot's to see and do! Goodbye everyone!" With those final words the connection was broken and the Lookout was left in silence. For a moment they stood there, each lost in their own private memories of their fallen friend.

Slowly, Gohan walked to the edge of the Lookout, stepping off the platform as he allowed his energy to lift him up. Smiling gently to his friends, he gave them a two fingered salute before soaring off high into the sky. Higher and higher the young Saiyan flew, through the many layers of atmosphere until he finally stopped, just on the brink of outer space. Halting his ascent he turned and looked down, the whole planet Earth laid out before him.

"You've given so much for all of us Dad," Gohan spoke softly. "You gave everything up, even your life, to protect us and all who live on this planet…" He took a minute to stare at his home world, etching this moment into his mind forever. This was his planet and it was his duty to safeguard it, just as Goku had done before him. Closing his eyes, he searched for the right words to say. A second later his eyes snapped open, a gentle grin adorning his features.

Clenching his fists tightly, he slightly hunched over as a white aura surrounded his powerful form. It started out with a slight growl as the aura changed from white to yellow, his charcoal black hair and onyx eyes replaced with blond locks and teal pupils. The growl grew into a shout, and the shout into a deafening roar as Gohan ascended to the second level of Super Saiyan, his body alight in a glorious golden flame. Smiling he stared deep into the heavens and swore his life to Earth.

Knowing his father was watching, he proclaimed his life's pledge. "With this power, I will do just as you have always done. I will follow in your footsteps, and with my life, I will protect the Earth."

And far off in Otherworld, Goku smiled as his son's promise reached his ears. 'I know you'll do just fine, Gohan. I'm proud of you son.'

~~~InHisFather'sFootsteps~~~

"Special Beam Cannon!"

Whipping around, Gohan fired a ki blast of his own, the two beams colliding in mid-air. A bright flash of light, followed by a loud explosion; a thick cloud of smoke filled the morning air. Milliseconds later, a green figure emerged from the cloud, charging forward at incredible speeds. Raising his arms in defense, the young Saiyan dodged the Namekian's attack, jerking to the left in order to avoid Piccolo's mighty fist. Phasing in behind the older male, Gohan swung his right leg up in an arc, slamming it back down upon his mentor's neck.

With a grunt Piccolo stumbled forward, awkwardly falling to his knees. Letting out an angry growl, the green alien jumped back up onto his feet, twisting his hips as he delivered a reverse side-kick to Gohan's stomach. Grimacing in pain, the young warrior latched onto the foot, holding it in a vice-like grip. With a gentle burst of ki he flew into the sky, spinning them around a few times before relinquishing his hold, hurling Piccolo into a nearby hillside.

"Masenko ha!" cried Gohan, launching the golden ball of energy from his extended fists.

"Oh crap…" muttered Piccolo as he slowly removed himself from the wreckage of his landing. With no time to get out of the way, he instinctively raised his ki, crossing his arms protectively in front of himself as he took the blast head on. Gritting his teeth in concentration, he shielded his body from the brunt of the attack, patiently waiting for it to end. As soon as the light faded away, he wasted no time getting back into the fray, sending a bone-breaking punch into Gohan's cheek. Reeling back, the Saiyan used the force of the blow to flip backwards, catching Piccolo in the jaw mid-flip.

Landing on his feet, Gohan attacked with reckless abandon, slamming his sensei with a powerful combination of knees, elbows, kicks, and punches. He left no room for a counterstrike, leaving Piccolo with the only option of defending himself the best he could. That task in itself proved to be difficult, the young hybrid's attacks increasing in strength and speed as time went on.

Growing tired of being on the defensive, Piccolo stepped back and powered up, the force of his aura pushing a surprised Gohan away. Regaining his precious (and much needed) space, he went on the offensive, nailing the child with a swift uppercut to the jaw, followed by a consecutive roundhouse kick to the face. Unfortunately for him, the Saiyan recovered much quicker from these blows than expected, easily blocking or dodging Piccolo's continued assault.

Dodging a fist, Gohan countered with a swift jab to the older male's face, following it up with several well aimed kicks to the torso. Without skipping a beat, Gohan carried on with his onslaught of attacks; in one fluid motion he elbowed Piccolo across the face before using that very same arm to grab him by the back of his neck and pull him towards himself, where a forceful knee waited to sink itself into the Namekian's gut.

"Agh!" was all Piccolo could choke out as his stomach met Gohan's knee.

Giving his opponent no time to recover, Gohan clasped his hands together, raising his joined hands above his head before slamming them back down, jack-hammering Piccolo into the hard ground. Extending his arm, he pointed an open palm at the downed alien, ki quickly gathering into a glowing blue ball. Just as he was about to release the blast, his mother's shrill voice pierced through the silence of the 439 Mountain District.

"GOHAAAAAN!"

Both males groaned in frustration, a little annoyed that their battle had been interrupted. Dispersing his ki, Gohan reached out a hand and helped Piccolo to his feet. "Sorry, but I think that's my cue to go," he said, wiping the sweat from his brow.

"You did well kid," said Piccolo. "You've definitely improved, though you might want to watch that left side of yours more," he suggested.

"I…uh…purposely let it down for the sake of the battle," replied a sheepish Gohan, scratching the back of his head in the familiar Son fashion.

Piccolo's eyes narrowed. "…You went easy on me?" Gohan let out an uneasy laugh at this, shyly looking away. Shaking his head, the Namekian let out a soft chuckle and said, "You've become a powerful young man Gohan; too strong for even your old sensei. Looks like Vegeta is the only one left tough enough to give you a challenge."

"I-I guess…"

"Just don't let the power get to your head, kid." Ruffling the boy's dark locks affectionately, Piccolo waved goodbye and flew off, headed back to the Lookout. Gohan watched him go, mulling over his friend's parting words. Becoming a power hungry maniac was one of his worst nightmares, the consequences of losing control during the Cell Games still fresh in his mind.

"Gohan, it's time for breakfast!" his mother called again. Breaking from his thoughts, the young Saiyan hurried inside, not wishing to face his mother's wrath for being late. Saiyan or not; not even he was strong enough to face his mother's Frying Pan of Doom and come out unscathed. And he had the head bruises to prove it!

~~~InHisFather'sFootsteps~~~

"Breakfast was great! Thanks a lot mom!"exclaimed Gohan, setting down his chopsticks. "I'm going upstairs to finish my homework now. Is it alright if I spar with Vegeta when I'm done?"

"Even if I said no, I know that you'd find a way to go anyway," replied his mother as she gathered the dishes. "So here's the deal; I want you to finish all of today's homework, get started on your work for tomorrow, and give Goten a bath. After that, the rest of the day you're free to do as you please."

"Really?" he asked, excitedly. He was already more than halfway done with today's work and tomorrow's lessons were easy enough. Toss in a dirty baby, and he'd be finished with everything before noon. It was almost too good to be true.

"As long as you finish your part of the bargain," answered Chichi.

"Don't worry about a thing! I'll finish all my studies for today and tomorrow and have Goten smelling like a freshly picked flower!"

At that moment a loud crash caught the two's attention as mother and son turned their gazes towards the source of the noise. They were just in time to watch a bowl of smashed potatoes and peas land haphazardly onto the baby Saiyan's head. Chichi let out a loud laugh, shaking her head in amusement as she returned to her dishes. "Good luck with that," she snorted.

Grimacing, Gohan gently picked up the dirty child, holding him at arm's length. "I think I'll give Goten a bath first," he said, eying a blob of green mush as it plopped to the floor. "C'mon little guy, let's get you cleaned up."

Climbing the stairs, he brought his brother into the bathroom and sat him down on the floor. Removing the baby's clothing, he tossed them aside for a moment as he slowly deposited Goten into the bathtub. Turning the water to warm, he gently rinsed off the excess food before plugging the drain. As he waited for the tub to fill, Gohan quickly gathered his brother's discarded clothes and brought them into his and Goten's shared room. Tossing the soiled linen into the clothes hamper, he grabbed a new set of clothes and a diaper before heading back.

Setting the items aside, he peered into the tub and found it to be half full. Turning off the faucet, he seized the shampoo and kneeled down. Pouring some into his hands, he quickly lathered it up and began washing his brother's hair.

"Look! You're a rock star!" he joked, forming a Mohawk with Goten's black spikes. The mini Saiyan let out a squeal of delight and laughed, latching onto his big brother's finger. "H-hey! Let go of me!" laughed Gohan, struggling to pull away without injuring the child.

"Mom!" shouted Goten.

Chuckling, Gohan answered, "Mom is downstairs, cleaning the dishes. Now let go!" Prying the baby's hands off of his finger, he went back to washing. "Jeez, for a little guy you sure are strong," he muttered, amused.

"Mom!" cried Goten once more.

"Hey, enough with Mom! Let's hear you say 'big brother!' Can you say that?" smiled Gohan, rinsing the suds from Goten's hair.

His question was met with dead silence, Goten staring up at him with innocent eyes, his tiny head cocked to the side in confusion.

"I guess you don't know that word yet," said Gohan, smiling as he shook his head. Grabbing a wash rag and a bar of soap, he set out to finish his task, bathing Goten till he was squeaky clean. Rinsing off the last of the soapy bubbles, he turned off the water and grabbed two towels. Lying one on the floor, he placed Goten on top of it, using the second one to dry him.

"There we go, all done," said the older Saiyan as he finished. Reaching up onto the counter, he seized Goten's clothes and diaper and placed the on the floor beside him. Fixing him with a diaper, Gohan clothed the baby Goten in black sweatpants and an orange t-shirt before picking him up and returning the towels to their rightful places.

"All right, let's get outta here," he said, carrying the child to their room. Placing him in the crib, Gohan gave Goten his monkey plushy and sat down at his desk. "Just lie there and play while I finish my work, okay?"

"Mom!" squealed Goten, for the third time.

"I heard you the first time, buddy!" replied Gohan, pulling his calculus book and notepad towards himself. Flipping the book to the right page, he snatched a pencil from one of his drawers and immediately set to work. His pencil danced across the page as he swiftly worked his way through the problems, paying little heed to the world around him.

"Daddy!" called a tiny voice, suddenly.

Gohan's pencil hit the desk as his eyes widened in surprise, his heart hammering loudly in his chest. Did his ears deceive him, or had he heard right?

"Daddy!"

Scooting out of his chair, Gohan stood up and walked over to the crib. "W-what did you say?" he asked, too stunned to say anything more.

Smiling from ear to ear, Goten pointed at him and repeated the word, causing the older Saiyan's stomach to sink. "Daddy!"

"No!" he cried, sharply. Goten, hearing the anger in his brother's tone, reeled back in fear, unsure of what he had done wrong. Sniffing lightly, his face scrunched up and his eyes began to tear. Gohan, realizing his brother was about to cry, immediately scooped the younger Saiyan into his arms and held him tightly to his chest. "Shh…it's okay Goten. It's okay. Don't cry okay? I didn't mean to yell at you."

"…Daddy?" repeated Goten, brow furrowing in confusion.

"No, no Goten…I'm not Daddy," answered Gohan, suddenly finding it very hard to breathe. "I'm Gohan, your big brother. Dad…Dad isn't here anymore…"

"B..b-brother?" mimicked Goten.

Gohan grinned widely and nodded his head in satisfaction. "Yes, you got it! That's right!" he exclaimed happily. "Brother!"

Goten's face split into blindingly bright smile as he giggled merrily. "Brother! Brother! Brother!" he shouted, over and over again.

Chuckling, Gohan placed him back inside the crib. "Looks like you have a new favorite word, squirt."

~~~InHisFather'sFootsteps~~~

"Are you sure about this, Gohan?" asked Chichi, eying her oldest hesitantly. "Bulma and I…we don't need to go out. We can just sit in the living room and talk over tea while you and Vegeta train."

"Don't worry, Mom," said Gohan, adjusting Goten in his arms. Beside him stood an annoyed Saiyan Prince, one arm holding his son, the other placed on his hip in displeasure. "Vegeta and I have everything covered and if we need help, Mrs. Briefs is always around. You two go out and have some fun; with all the work you do at home, you deserve a nice break."

"All right," she said. "Bulma's mother and I have already prepared dinner for the two of you; it's being kept warm in the oven. When you're ready to eat, just heat it up. Now don't train too hard, okay? I love you both!" Blowing her sons a kiss, the Son matriarch followed her blue haired friend out for a night on the town.

"Great," muttered Vegeta after the women had gone. "This was supposed to be training session, not a social visit! You come over to spar, and those two decide they want to have a girl's night out. How the hell are we supposed to train if we're stuck babysitting the brats!"

"Relax! Don't get your spandex all in a twist," retorted Gohan. "They've just been fed and their diapers changed. We'll just put them down for a nap and by the time they wake up, we'll be done with our spar and dinner."

Grunting in response, Vegeta lead him to Trunks' nursery, placing his son in his crib as Gohan put Goten in the spare. Quietly they left the room and hurried to the GR, eager to being their spar.

"Ready…" began Vegeta, falling into a stance.

"Set…" continued Gohan, mirroring Vegeta's actions.

"GO!" they cried simultaneously. Launching from their positions, the two charged towards one another. Vegeta threw the first punch, his longer reach giving him a slight advantage. Swatting the hand away, Gohan countered with one of his own, smashing his fist into the Saiyan Prince's jaw. Jumping into the air, he delivered a powerful flying kick to the older male's torso, causing him to stumble back. Landing on his feet, Gohan propelled forward, aiming punches left and right as Vegeta defended himself the best he could. Ducking beneath a punch, he slammed his fist into Gohan's side, following it up with an uppercut to the jaw.

Gohan growled angrily as he fell to his feet, and retaliated, catching Vegeta in a leg sweep. Falling to his back, the Saiyan groaned as the air was knocked out of him. He watched Gohan jump to his feet, rolling out of the way as the younger Saiyan attempted to stomp on him. Flipping up, he fired a volley of ki blasts at his opponent, smirking in satisfaction as several hit home.

Gohan grunted in pain, his body stinging with every blast. He quickly phased behind Vegeta, out of harm's way. Jumping into the air, he twisted his body, slamming the prince with a butterfly kick in the back. Letting out a surprised cry, Vegeta staggered forward, though he quickly recovered from the blow. Spinning around, he sent a powerful kick to Gohan's head, sending him sprawling to the floor.

"I know you can do better than this!" shouted Vegeta as he transformed into a Super Saiyan. The poor boy could do little to defend himself, body aching as he was repeatedly slammed with kicks and punches. "What's wrong kid? Have you suddenly gone soft on me?"

Gohan fell to the ground, a pained expression adorning his features. Pushing himself to his knees, he took a moment to rest. Breathing heavily, he tried to focus on the fight, but Goten's little outburst from earlier was still in his mind.

"Pathetic," snorted Vegeta. "If your father could see you now, he'd be ashamed of you! At least he had the dignity to fight back!"

Gohan's head shot up at Vegeta's statement, his words stinging like salt on a fresh wound. As the prince continued to taunt him, his anger grew ever more, a deep seeded rage building within him. His father was proud of him; he had said it himself! But as the seconds dragged on, he finally let his anger get the best of him.

"You are not fit to bear the title of Earth's Protect—oomph!" Vegeta gasped in pain Gohan smashed his fist into his jaw, sending him flying back. With a furious roar, the younger Saiyan burst into his Super Saiyan 2 form, his body engulfed in a golden flame, bolts of electricity crackling wildly around him.

Phasing in front of Vegeta, Gohan hit him with a right hook before grabbing him by the straps of his armor and throwing him into the wall. As the Saiyan fell, he appeared beside him and kicked him back up. Grasping Vegeta by the shoulders, Gohan rammed him into the wall. Punch after punch he threw, stopping only to occasionally prop the Prince back up against the wall whenever he was about to slump over. This was no longer a spar, but a beating, as Gohan could only focus on one thing: causing Vegeta as much pain as possible.

Finally allowing the older Saiyan to fall, Gohan jumped back and extended his hand, preparing to blast the prince into oblivion. From where he lay on the cool tiles below, Vegeta weakly turned his head to face the boy, groaning as he reverted back to his normal state.

"D-do your…worst…" he spat, too proud to accept his defeat.

Eyes widening, Gohan finally came to his senses and powered down, stumbling back in shock. What had he just done? "Vegeta!" he cried, falling to his knees. "Are you okay? I'm so, so sorry!"

"I'm fine," said Vegeta, struggling to his feet. "Why the hell did you stop? We aren't through fighting!"

"I could have killed you!"

"Pft! Yeah right! Only in your wildest dreams could you achieve such a feat!"

"I…I don't want to spar anymore, Vegeta," said Gohan, shaking his head. "That's enough for tonight okay? Let's just go eat dinner…" Begrudgingly the prince agreed and the two exited the GR.

Dinner was a quiet affair, the only noise the clinking of their utensils as the two devoured the mountain of food prepared for them. When they were finished, Mrs. Briefs came in and collected their plates and left, leaving the two to sit in an awkward silence.

"What happened today?" asked Vegeta suddenly. Although not one to talk, his curiosity over their earlier spar got the better of him. "You don't usually lose control like that."

"I'm sorry about all that…" said Gohan, head hung in shame. "Today was just an off day for me is all." Vegeta raised a questioning eyebrow and signaled for him to go on. "I-I try not to think too much of my father…but today….today Goten called me 'Daddy.' And then earlier, you kept saying how my father would be ashamed of me…I dunno. Just thinking about him…I lost control…"

It was silent as the two continued to sit there, having nothing else to talk about. With a tired sigh, Vegeta stood up and walked to the door. "Clean up and get some rest. You remember where the guest room is, correct?" Receiving a nod he continued, "Good. I'll check up on the brats and then I'm going to sleep. Goodnight." With a curt nod, he walked out.

As he left, he saw Gohan bury his head in his hands, letting out a low groan. Walking to the nursery, he first checked up on his son, a small smile making its way onto his face as he watched his child slumber peacefully. In a rare show of affection, he leaned down and kissed his boy on the forehead before moving to check up on Goten.

"You foolish little boy," whispered Vegeta, eying the sleeping child. So young, innocent, and without a care in the world…all the things he and Gohan weren't. He knew the pain of losing one's father, and understood it well. "You do not know the grief you have caused your brother, just by saying that one word…" Gently he laid a hand on the Saiyan baby, saying a silent prayer over him, so that he might not have to suffer as he and Gohan had.

~~~InHisFather'sFootsteps~~~

Okay! I hope you liked it so far! The next few chapters should be out soon, as I already have them written. All that's left to be done is to re-read them and fix any errors. Please review! I love hearing from my readers! It keeps me motivated and let's me know that I'm actually posting my story for a reason.