Well then... it's been fun folks. The long and winding road has finally come to an end. I hope you will enjoy this final chapter in my story, and if you like what you see, keep an eye out for more from me.
The Final Chapter.
Piccolo decided it was best to leave Gohan alone for a few hours- and advised everyone else to do the same. It was almost sundown before he decided to finally seek out the young Saiyan again. He eventually found him, along the shoreline of the seemingly endless ocean, looking out to the horizon where the vast sun could be seen setting in a flood of ginger, red, yellow, orange, gold, and crimson rays shimmering across the waters. The coastline was comprised of several asymmetrically placed stone blocks, and Gohan was sitting atop of one that was somewhat level- although it tipped slightly forwards so he was looking downward. He sat with his knees upright and ahead of him, his arms folded on top of them, and his left hand tightly gripping his right wrist. The wind was very aroused, and as a consequence of this, the white crested waves were sent crashing upon the rocky shore, sending a shower of glistening water into the air, but not far enough to reach the silent being on the rocks.
Piccolo approached quietly from the right side so that he could be seen far before he arrived. Gohan, though, did not make any sign that would imply that he even saw the Namekian. Piccolo waited patiently for Gohan to speak first, trying to handle the situation as delicately as possible. It was a few minutes before Gohan decided to speak, but he did not take his quiet eyes of the horizon as he did so.
"I… I wonder if Father ever saw a sunset like this," he said softly. Both of them watched the horizon for a few moments silently, the waves still crashing onto the rocks with a gentle splash, "I hope the last one he saw was as beautiful as this one… if not more."
"I'm sure it was," Piccolo said, thinking that it was the most comforting thing to say. His comment, though, seemed to be more of a barrier as Gohan fell silent once again, and still did not look at his mentor. More waves crashed as the sun slowly but surely descended in the sky. Piccolo tried not to, but eventually he couldn't help but thoroughly examine the young Saiyan staring unwavering to the horizon with ebony eyes, and ebony hair tossed in several different directions by the wind, sometimes even into his face, although he never appeared to notice. Piccolo's eyes scanned his face, trying to read what Gohan was thinking about, but he was unable to discern anything through the somewhat detached and emotionless- but still obviously sad- face.
His analytical eyes eventually fell to the Saiyan's left side, where he saw glimmers of the setting sun reflected back at him by a bronze hilt. Attached to it was a silver blade, noiselessly dripping scarlet blood onto the grey rock that it was resting on. Piccolo's eyes were then drawn to Gohan's right wrist, where he could now see the same crimson blood escaping his tight grip and trickling down his arm. Gohan gave a half-hearted smile as he saw Piccolo's revelation, and blinked several times as he felt his steadfastness slipping.
"I… I really don't know how I am going to go on, Piccolo," he confessed, his voice cracking again, "I miss him so much. It-it's feels like… like… like I am all alone in the world, even though I know I'm not. It's-it's like there's this big, empty void in my life that… becomes part of me whenever I think about him. It makes me feel lost, l-like I was abandoned by everyone in the world, and am forced to live in solitary, the only one affected by his death. A-am I the only one who is like this- still not able to accept the fact that he's gone? Y-you all seem so happy, an-and unaffected, like you've already gotten over it. I-it makes me think that he didn't matter that much to anyone- that everyone will forget him in time. Th-that's my worst fear- that everyone will forget about him, a-and everything he sacrificed for the sake of the Earth and its people."
Gohan looked down at his bleeding arm, the smile completely vanished from his face.
"...i-it makes me wonder whether or not anyone would remember me when I'm gone- or even care. If everyone forgets him, who was most likely the most kind-hearted, selfless person who ever existed, th-then who would ever bother to remember me?"
Gohan pried a small pebble on the rock he was sitting on with his right hand, no longer caring about keeping his bleeding wound hidden. The pebble was no bigger than a few millimetres wide, and he merely looked at it for a moment before he lightly tossed it into the ocean, where it was quickly swallowed by the violent waves before it could even make a ripple in the water. The metaphor was obvious without any explanation needed from Gohan.
"I… I know that Father wants me to be strong, but… but… but…"
A spontaneous, fierce gust of wind tore past them for a few moments, giving the waves enough momentum so that when they collided with the rocks the spray that came as a result sprinkled all over the Saiyan, droplets of water remaining on his face so it was uncertain anymore if the moisture on his face was water from the spray or tears.
"…oh Piccolo, I can't believe he's gone! H-he's really gone… and never coming back!" Several disjointed sobs came upon his folded knees, "Piccolo… it hurts so much… just... make it stop…"
Piccolo finally decided to sit down beside the young Saiyan, who did not immediately welcome the company, and remained isolated from Piccolo as his body began to tremble from his weeping, his head once again bowed as his left hand gripped ever tighter on his wrist. Piccolo was apprehensive about it, but finally took the initiative to put one arm around Gohan's shoulders. Any lingering barriers between the two were shattered with this simple action, for Gohan immediately received the support without question. In fact, he buried his face into the Namekian's shoulder and remained there, shaking terribly. Piccolo sympathetically rubbed the demi-Saiyan's shoulders, and knew that he had to say something to help the child's worries. He hesitated though- he never did like giving speeches, and this one was going to have to be expertly presented.
"Gohan…your father was very important to all of us- of course we miss him, even if we don't show it. You aren't the only one taking this hard… I know that Vegeta has lost all the drive to train now that Goku is d-…gone," Piccolo, at the last minute, decided to use a less harsh word, "But you were probably the closest person to him, so it is only natural that you are going to find it hard to accept… but don't think of it as a punishment- to your father or yourself. If I know Goku, he's probably having the time of his life wherever he is- he wouldn't let a simple thing like death get in his way of having a good time. I'm positive that he would want the same for you- he wants you to be as happy as possible, even when he isn't around."
Gohan snivelled, and nodded but obviously wasn't comforted. Piccolo paused, and withheld a flustered sigh he wanted to let loose.
What else can I say?
"As for people forgetting your father's existence…" Piccolo hesitated, knowing that the truth was going to hurt. He could not lie to the demi-Saiyan anymore, though, and so continued, "It is very likely that many people will forget him. It is really meant to be like that- everyone should not focus on the past. Eventually people will forget the Cell games- and that "Champion" of theirs too. They will be too busy enjoying the lives that they will be able to live thanks to your father- and you. That is really what is important- the world being at peace. Your father never wanted fame or fortune- he was far too kind for that. He was satisfied simply with knowing that the Earth was safe- and you should be too. I know that I will not be forgetting Goku any time soon, and I am positive the same is going to go for everyone else. He was a legend- I know that there are going to be several generations of martial artists growing up to the tales of his accomplishments. Really, it will be up to them to decide whether his stories are the truth- but no matter what, he will have taught them what truly is important in life- protecting the innocent, striving to surpass your goals, never giving up, always seeing the good in people, and making sure to care for those who are important to you."
Gohan had managed to regain his composure, and was sitting on his own, head resting on his arms that were folded across his knees. He obviously wanted to be alone. Piccolo began wondering if Gohan was even listening to what he was saying. The Namekian stood up, and received no objection. He looked down at the young Saiyan, and decided that one last remark was necessary.
"Just remember one thing Gohan… he died for your sake too. Not just the world, not just us, but you as well. He gave you that so that you could have the benefit of living in the peaceful world that we now have. That really is his one wish for you, and…"
Piccolo stopped. He realized that he was becoming far too sentimental, and bitterly accepted that he was wasting his time in trying to persuade Gohan.
"…well… I… guess it is your decision. In the end, really it is you who makes the final judgment. I just hope that you are ready to follow through with whatever it is that you choose."
He turned his back and flew off, the half-Saiyan not even turning to watch him go. That worked to Piccolo's advantage, though, for Gohan did not see the fact that Piccolo actually landed a short distance away, just out of earshot. He waited to see what his young pupil would do next from an non-interfering distance, and felt his heart in his mouth as he watched. He was beginning to regret his decision of allowing Gohan to choose his own fate- but that was not his choice to make. He watched the demi-Saiyan stare out on the water for several minutes, obviously considering the options placed before him, and the consequences and benefits of each. Piccolo saw the reflection and deep thought, and unconditionally hoped that he would make the right choice. His hopes were abolished, though, when he saw Gohan bow his head almost in dishonour as he reached for the dagger a final time. The Namekian's mind screamed, but he swallowed his emotion as he knew that whatever Gohan chose was what he thought to be best. Piccolo made himself believe that no matter what, Gohan would make the right decision.
That was, without a doubt, the most difficult thing he ever did in his life.
He looked on with failing determination as he watched Gohan slowly spin the blade in his hands one last time, as he did so many times before. He gripped it tightly, and placed it against his chest as he closed his eyes firmly. What he was about to do was obviously very difficult for him. Piccolo felt his courage collapse as he turned away from the sight as he refused to watch what happened next.
No! Watch it! Honour his choice! He heard a second part of himself mercilessly demand. He knew that was what he had to do- but he was still very shocked at the amount of influence his normally hidden emotional side had over him.
He very reluctantly turned his head back as he saw Gohan's fierce eyes tear open resolutely as he lined up the blade. Every inch of the Namekian's body howled in protest of the cruel request to bear witness to this, and he was about to lose his composure completely when he froze as Gohan's arm suddenly flung the blade forwards. He watched in awe as the blade tumbled in the air as if in slow motion, before it plunged into the ocean far off the coast, sinking down, down, down, into the waters, the scarlet blood being cleansed off of it in the process.
I guess we're done then. I don't want to be cliché, but before I go I want to extend a personal thanks to everyone who reviewed. There are too many to list them all, but you know who you are. I've said it once, and I'll say it again- you guys are AWESOME!
Now, before you ask, I have already started a sequel named "The Fanning of the Flames". If you are interested, feel free to check it out. Otherwise, you are more than welcome to treat this as the ending and continue on without a continuation.
Read, Review if you'd like, but above all, enjoy!
And now, let me sign off one final time with that oh-so-familiar farewell... Until next time, warriors!