AN: Ten themes, because Videl needs more love. =)

5. Doll

For her birthday, Videl received a baby. It was one of those bald ones with big, blue, crystal eyes, pouty mouth and red cheeks. Its skin was peachy and smooth, dimpled at the joints, resembling an infant and yet could not be any further from an actual one. If she turned it over and opened up the Velcro that sealed the cloth, there she would find a rectangular hole with springs attached to each end. Her mother had inserted two cylindrical metal tubes inside.

"Batteries," her mother said. "So that it will cry and you can make it happy." She showed the small girl how to hold the baby against her chest and to pat its back to console the artificial weeps. Videl found that after ten minutes of calming down, it would start its relentless noise again. Her ears hurt when she would embrace the baby near her, so she was forced to leave it by their couch.

"Is that all?" she asked. "That's all it can do?"

Her mother frowned and ushered her to play with it. "It's adorable," she convinced. "It's the newest baby doll in the market and all little girls want it. You're very lucky that Grandpa bought it for your birthday. Now, come along and thank him, won't you?"

Videl's grandfather was a tall, thin man bearing a serious face and tired eyes. He walked with a solitary atmosphere, giving only slight nods as acknowledgements to whoever was around him. Videl never felt comfortable around his presence. His voice was too deep, gruff and unfriendly, matching the dull, pressed suits he casually wore. He had many dull, pressed suits; as a matter of fact, he was rumoured to have dozens of identical ones. This, above everything else, was what really estranged him to Videl.

When he would talk to her, he would not ask her about things she would know how to answer. And when words fled her mind, he would not be too pleased with her lack of audacity.

Videl's mom held her hand as they walked over to the old man. Already, Videl was quite fearful and awkward, sliding behind her mother's legs in an attempt to hide. When they approached him, he knelt down.

"Thank you for the doll," she managed to voice out when her mother gave her a little push on the back.

"Why, you're very welcome," he said, bending down so that he could be level with her. Even so, Videl had to tilt her head upwards to meet his probing gaze. "Last time I was here, your room seemed to be missing one. That hardly seems proper for my granddaughter."

Videl merely nodded.

"Say," her grandfather continued. "Do you like dolls, Videl?"

"No," she answered honestly. "I don't. They're not exciting."

His face twisted into a slight frown. He seemed unimpressed with her answer. Her mother only solidified her suspicion, when she yanked Videl's arm and dragged her away from the living room, all the while apologizing to her father about her daughter's obnoxious behaviour.

When they reached the sanctuary of the young girl's room, Videl found the doll thrust into her arms.

"Videl! What bad manners you have!" her mother scolded. "How could you say that in front of Grandpa?"

Videl looked up at her hissing mother with confused, pleading eyes. "I just told him the truth," she said.

"Ay!" Her mother was exasperated. "When you're in front of Grandpa, you should show him all the gratitude he deserves. He's been helping us a lot since your father decided to pursue martial arts; do you understand?" Her mother held her firmly by her arms, until she nodded vigorously at the vaguely stated facts. Videl was forced to take a few steps back when she was released. She curiously stared at how her mother stood up and went over by her shut door, two fingers rubbing her temples.

"He's being stupid… what the hell was on his mind… just left me like that," Videl heard her mother whisper, her eyes closed as if straining to hold back tears, or burst in anger.

"Mom?" she asked. "Are you okay?"

The older woman squatted back down to face her daughter. Obvious attempts to calm herself were visible on her face and her dangerously low voice.

"Look sweetheart," she began. "I know Grandpa is not the warmest man. He manages a business, you know? I know that you probably don't understand why that is important, but that makes him very disciplined… and well, autocratic – "

"What does that mean?" Videl marveled at the big word.

Her mom only sighed, "Never mind that. I just want you to respect him, okay? Besides, that doll really is a nice toy. What makes you say that it's not good?"

"I never said that, Mommy," Videl replied. "I said it wasn't exciting. After some time, I know what it's going to do. I'd rather play in the park, or with the ball Daddy gave me last year."

"Videl! Those are not good toys for a girl. Daddy doesn't know what is good for you. Good girls play with nice toys like this." Her mom squeezed the baby in her arms, and continued. "And boys play with balls and water guns and robots and such. You see, it won't be respectable if you play with those. You're a girl Videl! You should be acting like one. People won't approve of it if I allow you to turn into some rough child rolling around in the mud."

"What does that word mean? Respectable… what is it?" Videl asked again.

Her parent only closed her eyes with thinning patience, and sighed. "I'll leave you here. I know it's your birthday but the grown ups outside have a lot of things to talk about." With that, she stood up and left, leaving the door firmly closed.

Standing alone in the middle of her room, Videl clutched the little doll in her tiny hands, pouting from the preaching she received from her mother. The doll stared back at her with dead, porcelain eyes, as if mocking her situation.

"What are you looking at?" she muttered glumly as she settled on her bed. "I don't like you. You might not like me too, but when grandpa's around, I have to like you and you have to like me. So no crying. You got it?"

But the doll remained a lifeless heap of plastic on her bed covers. Frustrated, Videl smacked it on the back of its head softly. It was a dumb baby. Dumb and stupid.

So why was it so likeable?

6. Pride

Videl did not get an everyday opportunity to see her father. Her mom had always told her that he was traveling on the road, participating in fighting matches in different cities to earn some glory. And some money, but her mother never emphasized that. She said the money they had came from Grandpa, mostly. Nevertheless, Videl never brooded over that fact, and she would always anticipate her father's return.

The last time he came home -before he had taken off just as quickly the next day- Hercule had given his daughter a training outfit, much like the ones she saw on the television. It was a karate uniform, pure white, and he even gave her a black belt to go along with it. It was not an official one though. He reminded her that she needed to train very hard and learn quickly if she wanted a real black belt. But for now, this fake one could be used as her motivation.

It motivated her, alright. Not that her mother really approved of it. Every day, Videl would open up the TV, flipped the channels up and down until she saw the familiar shows her father watched about martial arts. She would imitate their stances, their tricks, their movements, and even the way they talked and walked.

"Mommy, look!" She balled up her small fists, and did a half-hearted, tactless leap into the air. "I'm just like the man on the TV!"

"Videl, please behave yourself, sweetheart. Where was that stuffed koala I bought you last week?" her mother asked.

"It's in my room. With the doll Grandpa gave me last year."

"Why aren't you playing with it?" she asked again. "Instead of standing there, making yourself look like a complete fool."

Videl stopped her motions and stared at her elder. The woman was pacing back and forth, dusting off the picture frames on the tables. A slight frown was etched on what many people called a lovely face, as Videl had remembered. Even she, herself had been called lovely; they all said that she looked like her mother. Videl didn't think so though. She would look in the mirror and find a much chubbier face with cheeks that puffed when she smiled.

Her mother never smiled. Not really.

"But I look like Daddy when I do these things," the small girl answered honestly. "I act like him!"

Videl knew that her answer was not taken lightly when the long feather duster was dropped harshly on top of the table, toppling over some of the pictures that were carefully cleaned.

"Videl, I don't know what's gotten into you!" her mother said. "I keep telling you that these things that your father does is not right, and you still keep doing them! Don't you see what fighting has done to your father? How it makes him treat us?" She came closer to her daughter, eyes almost angry, but not quite. "He leaves us, Videl! He leaves and comes back for a day or two, only to leave again. Do you really want to 'act like him'? Is that the person you want to be? Never caring?" The tone of her voice hardened and rose, and yet there was such an evident sadness that shadowed over it. Videl did not know if her mother was going to yell or going to cry.

Videl thought she was being reprimanded, and her mind rushed to come up with an excuse, with an explanation to clear her mistake. "Daddy cares. He says he loves us."

Her mom inhaled deeply and knelt down in front of her. Her voice was a soft whisper this time. "That's what he says. When you grow older, you'll find that many people do not always speak the truth, sweetheart. But their actions. It's what they do that will tell you how they feel."

Videl shook her head. "I don't understand."

"I know you won't. But it's common; people say one thing and do another. It's shameful. And out of all people, I do not want to be ashamed of my own daughter. Now why don't we get you out of those silly clothes? They're not really decent." Just as soon as her mom had lifted her onto her hip, the door burst open and a burly man stood in the way.

"Hey, Sweetpea!" he exclaimed, sweeping his arms across the air in a grand demonstration of his return. The luggage he'd been carrying tumbled over each other on the floor like dominoes. Like the frames that were on the table. "Daddy's back!"

Videl leapt from her mother's arms and ran into the warmth of her father. He swept her off her feet in dazzling swiftness, and within seconds she was up bouncing in the air.

"Did you miss me?" he asked.

"Yeah! Of course I did!" Videl circled her short arms around his neck and gave him a small peck on the cheek. "Why do you have to be gone for so long?"

Hercule ruffled the hair on her head, and said, "Well Sweetpea, it gets a little rough on the road. There are some great people out there, and it can be difficult for me to defeat them on a match! So Daddy had to train very hard to become stronger than them!"

Videl pumped her hands into the air. "One day, I want to be as strong as you!"

With that comment, Hercule's eyes darted to the other side of the living room, and his smile vanished just the slightest bit. "Hey, where's your mom?" he asked.

Videl looked back, and saw nothing but the television turned off, and the frames replaced back in their proper spots. She shrugged. "I don't know. She was just here."

"Ah, okay," Hercule sighed. "Maybe Mommy needed to look after some things. Do you want to go for an ice cream?"

She nodded energetically, and her father trudged off to the street to find the ice cream vendor.

When Hercule was around, one thing he did regularly for his daughter was to treat her to some kind of sweets. Usually they would talk about what he missed during the period of time that he was absent from their lives, and in return he would weave snippets of his travel into wondrous stories for Videl. Fascinated, she had always asked him for more and more anecdotes. Her youth had allowed her to believe both of the exaggerated truth and the fiction alike, without much distinction between either. And it was these stories that enthralled her; heroism at its best, villains slain at his feet, saving cities with all his might. Someday, Videl would be able to do all of those, she dreamt.

This afternoon, as the sun shied away behind the great masses of gray clouds, it was her father who initiated the conversation.

"Sweetpea, do you know if there's something the matter with your Mom?"

Videl licked away at her chocolate sundae. She was reminded again of her mother's often strange mood swings whenever her father was involved. "Yeah. She's always sad that you're not around. She said she didn't want me to be in that karate uniform you gave me last time." Videl added in a softer and dejected voice, "She said you might not be telling the truth when you say that you love us and that she's ashamed." She watched with wary eyes as her father inhaled heavily. She was too young to truly understand what her mother's issue was with fighting, with leaving and becoming a hero.

Hercule bent down so that he was eye to eye with his daughter. He clutched her tiny hands in his and smiled.

"Videl, I know I haven't been around much," he told her sincerely. "But if there's anything that I want you to know, then it's that you're my pride. No matter what your mother says. You're my pride and I want you to know that I'm telling the truth when I say that."

7. Sadness

Videl's mother had been bed-ridden for the past two weeks, and the seven-year-old did not know why. Her father had not left them since his wife had 'troubles waking up'. That was what Videl was told the first time it happened. When she asked her father about it, her dad confirmed that sometimes her mother was just too sad, too lonely for sleep to leave her body. Since then Videl had not heard stories from Hercule who was now too distraught to tell them.

When Videl was allowed to go into the room, she would tell her mom apologues from her father's past adventures that the woman had never cared to hear before. Videl assured her sleeping parent that the tales would give her enough happiness and hope, that she would learn once again to open her eyes. Sometimes she even brought in the stuff toys and the dolls that she was given, and she'd show her mother the things she would do when she played with them. When her mom still refused to wake up, Videl finally convinced her that the toys and the dolls were all that she played with by now, and she really abandoned the karate uniform at the very back of her closet. The 'fighting' things would have hurt her, her mother had scolded before many times. They were activities unfit for a little girl. Surely now that she wasn't playing with the 'fighting' things, her mother would be happy enough.

Still, nothing happened.

Sometimes her grandfather would come by, ignoring Hercule completely, and staying by his daughter's side for hours at a time. Before he left, occasionally he would speak with Videl, tell her to take care of her mother, and make her wake. He said he would be forever grateful to her, and even her father, if they managed to do that.

During that harsh time period, Hercule had opened up to his daughter that his wife's father had never approved of him as a husband.

"I wasn't traditional enough," he explained. "Your Grandpa wanted me to find a stable job, maybe from the morning to the afternoon, so that at night I could stay at home with you. But you see Videl, if I had done that I wouldn't be able to do all the things I told you about. I couldn't help myself, and martial arts are the only things I really know how to do well. But your mother still went and married me. She said she loved me. But to love… one day you'll understand that it's really much more difficult that it seems."

"I don't know…" Videl responded. "I love you, Daddy. And I love Mom. What is hard about that?"

He just smiled at her and embraced her.

"I love you too, Sweetpea."

The morning after, her mother not only forgot how to wake up, but she also forgot how to breathe.

When Videl woke that morning, she heard her father sobbing miserably. She ran to her parents' room to see what was happening.

"Dad, what's wrong?"

He shook his head, and wiped the tears from his now red, swollen eyes. Videl had never realized that heroes also wept.

"Nothing," he whispered sadly. "That's what happened, Sweetpea. Nothing."

Later when everything was not as calm as it was that morning, Hercule had finally told her another story. It was about a mystical place, far, far away, where sometimes good people were taken to. And in this very distant place, the good people could see and watch those that they loved back here on Earth. But Videl would not be able to see or hear them in return, because it was really difficult to know where exactly this place was. However, he assured that it was beautiful, wonderful, and all good people would someday end up there.

Out of all the stories that Hercule had narrated to her, Videl found this one particularly complicated to grasp.

One thing she was sure of was that her Mom was buried under the ground, inside a very big decorated box, and surrounded by people she barely knew. They were all wearing black.

"But Mom's favorite color is green!" Videl whined. "If this is the last time she'll get to be with us, why would we wear a color that she hates so much?"

In the end, Videl wore green, and the rest still covered themselves in the other horrid color. When the soil had been melded back together over the shiny box, Videl was struck with a very alarming thought.

"Dad, Dad!" she yelled, attracting the attention of those invited to the funeral. "Why are they covering her up? You said she was going to fly away to the far away place! If they cover her up like that, she won't get to fly!" Despite Hercule's efforts to tame her and keep her by his side, she ran towards the rectangular hole to the ground, and began to scoop some of the dirt away. Everyone was dumbfounded by her actions.

"Why is she even in that box? That's weird! How is she going to open it up from the inside? Dad? Why are you just standing there? Aren't you a hero? Save Mom!"

Some of the people had burst into tears, and others looked away. Her father came to her silently, and pulled her small body from the ground and over his shoulders. He began to carry her away from the crowd of black-attired, solemn people. She pounded at his arms, angry and frustrated that he would just allow all of them to do that to her mother. Her mom would never be able to go to that beautiful place. She would never be able to watch Videl and her Dad again from there. She would never be able to fly.

Videl continued to fight for the ground beneath her feet, punching and elbowing her father as hard as she could, but that was insufficient. She looked back at the retreating figure of the crowd, and her heart sunk at how unfortunate her mother had become. She was robbed of consciousness, and then breath, and then the chance to live happily ever after in the beautiful far-off place.

With desperation and aggravation, Videl crumbled into tears. She could not accept that fact that she was so hopeless in trying to justify her mother's situation. And the only person she trusted to be capable of the rescue was now preventing her from saving her mother. Everyone else was just standing there. All those dark-clothed people doing nothing… how dare they even call themselves relatives and loved ones? If they loved her mother, why were they trying to bury her down, shackled to the ground inside a metal casing? They were all liars. All of them. Even her mother lied to her too, trying to shield her from physical pain when it was her own passing that hurt Videl so much more than the 'fighting' things.

8-9. Promises

There was poverty for a while. After her mother's death, Grandpa was never to be seen again. And that meant that Hercule and Videl had to leave their current house and find a new one. Videl never thought that her family, now down to the size of two, was poor. She had only the vaguest meaning of the word anyway, and although many kids owned a lot more things, she never thought that her property was lacking. Sure, sometimes, she would go for a day or two with only one meal, but she never exactly starved, so she didn't complain. Besides, her father had suddenly became creative with cooking, whipping up rice with some cheap margarine from the nearby convenience store, and mixing many of the canned foods together to create some strange but delicious dishes. And along with those foods he created, he also fed her promises of a different life.

"Someday, everything will get better," he said. "I promise you that. I'll make it better for you, Sweetpea."

The nights were sometimes cold, especially when they couldn't afford a one night stay in an inexpensive motel. Those nights were odd and rare; her father would be black and blue with bruises, sulking because of a lost match. But they got by, and her father said that was all that mattered. Videl thought her life was as normal as normal could get, even though they never had a permanent home anymore. Hercule took her with him as he traveled from city to city trying to fight in martial arts matches.

This was also the time that Videl had pulled out the karate suit from the bottom of her clothes bag and began learning how to fight. When her father had the time, he taught her proper techniques, and told her what activities she should do to become stronger and sharper. Most of her days were filled with training and vigorous physical activities.

When she rested, she read books. Lots of them. She couldn't go to school because of their constant traveling, so she'd take out books from the library and read. Sometimes, some nice neighbours beside whatever room they could afford would offer theirs.

There were times when he would take her with him so that she could study how other people fought. Videl began to realize that her father's stories had not all been entirely true, and that the actual matches lacked the fantasy that his words had given to the activity. Nevertheless, she found the real fighting more breathtaking, suspenseful, and invigorating.

She had her first experience in fighting with a bully from an alley.

He was not any older than she was, not even taller. He was just flabby and had bad teeth. He was bothering some poor little boy about something that Videl did not really understand, but she had enough common sense to know that beating someone was never a good thing.

"Stop that! Leave him alone," Videl commanded. She walked close enough for the bully to be surprised at her presence.

"What do you want?" he asked quietly, wide-eyed and curious.

"Stop beating him up."

He shook his head, "Who are you? Do I even know you?"

"No, you don't, but I'm sure you'll regret getting to know me. Now stop it and leave him be."

The bully looked around, probably expecting some strange prank being pulled on him. "Yo, girl… this is none of your business. Why don't you go play with your dolls, and ask your mommy to do your hair for you?"

The certain word had pressed an unhealed bruise within Videl, and the next thing she knew, her fist connected to the jaw of the boy. With the force she applied, he was thrown back on his rear, letting out an ambiguous swear word. When he looked up, Videl fiercely glared at him, and it only took that to send him running away from the alley.

The battered boy on the ground looked up at her through swollen eyes, and a lopsided smile. A very lopsided smile.

"Hey, are you okay?" she asked him, and helped him up.

He nodded. "Yeah, of course I am! That was nothing. I just got roughened up a bit, but I feel fine!" he convinced her.

"Well, I'm sure that boy wouldn't bother you anymore," Videl said and shook his hand.

"Oh of course not. He never bothered me." The skinny boy began to walk away to the opposite side from where the other one had run.

"Wha…what do you mean?" she asked again, confused by his contradiction.

"Ah, well… nothing. I guess I just have to thank you. I stole his lunch money and got away with it! Haha, sucker!" The boy took off in a sprint.

Videl's heart nearly stopped with the realization of her mistake. As she stared after the withdrawing image of the actual bully, her fists tightened and her eyes narrowed with anger.

"Stupid," Videl muttered. "I'm stupid." How foolish of her! Jumping into conclusion like that.

She frowned and looked back at the direction the fat boy took, and wondered if she should bother catching him and apologizing. But what would she say? I'm sorry your lunch money was taken and I helped the thief get away? Or maybe I'm sorry I punched you, but you really insulted me, because my mother just died? Neither statements seemed amendment enough for what she had assumed and done, although they were the truth. The young girl took an irritated sigh, and smacked the brick wall of the alley. She discerned that it was very inappropriate of her to use her advantage in fighting like that.

And the boy…

Angrily, she stomped off to return to her temporary home, determined that she would only use her skills to right only the true injustices. That was a promise.

…And perhaps she could also use a little less impulsiveness.

10. Tournament

Some time before Videl turned ten, the matches that her father he partook in began to end in lovely notes for him. With harsh training, endless dedication and abundant motivation, Hercule had managed to embody a true, strong fighter. He began to build a rather tolerable reputation about his martial arts abilities. When he participated in a world tournament, he won, much to everyone's surprise. Surely he had been creating a rather sturdy record of triumph in the world of fighting, but people did not exactly catch on they 'hype' until his first victory at the WMAT.

After that, just as Hercule promised his daughter, life became better.

For a little while.

There was a monster called Cell, and Videl saw its presence and violence in many, many news channels. They had a television now. They even had a permanent home. She and her father rented out a humble, comfortable apartment in the heart of a small city. Hercule assured her that they would be able to buy a house soon after, and that she could start going to school in time for junior high.

"But there's this crazy monster crawling around!" Videl pointed at the TV screen, where a journalist and a reporter had once stood looking intrigued, was empty space. The screen began to hiss as if the camera itself was being destroyed, which would be one of the likeliest things that a monster like Cell would do.

"Don't worry, Sweetpea," he said. "I'm sure that that monster is not going to harm your father."

She gave him a serious look, eye lids lowered as if mocking him. "Dad… you just got strong… like a year ago. I don't think that's really enough. This thing can blow things up, as you can see. What if he blows you up?"

Hercule cleared his throat, smiling sheepishly. "Well, they call this the Cell Games for a reason. It means I'm not the only one going to be there. I'm sure they'll find someone who will actually defeat him."

"So… if you can't defeat him, and you're sure that someone else will, why do you have to go?" Videl asked.

Her father laughed loudly at her question, and struck the pose he would usually show during fan meetings or press interviews. "I have an image to keep up, you know! I can't let my fans down."

Videl rolled her eyes. "Fans? What fans? Those screaming girls wailing their heads off? Uhm, okay, but you're basically risking your safety just for an image." There were many times that she had been unimpressed by her own father's lousy fronts and quotations, although she tried her best not to show her whole dissatisfaction. A part of her was reminded of her mother's uncaring and disapproving attitude towards what Hercule labeled as his 'passion', and the other part of her just wanted to be realistic. After all, there were always times when a hero could fall.

Her father had a very peculiar habit of flaunting his good abilities (but not exactly spectacular when compared to legendary martial artists) in front of cameras. In some way, Videl was sure it had something to do with proving his self-worth to someone like her grandfather. To all who had belittled him when he was still a nobody. Where was Grandpa now, she wondered sometimes. Did he see her father in TV? Did he want something to do with them now?

And if her mother was alive… would she love him more now, or would she be even more ashamed?

Hercule continued to cackle rather wildly, holding a variety of different poses every two seconds, and Videl had to wonder again when was it that her father became an insecure, attention-hungry man, instead of the lovable hero within the many stories he told her. Perhaps he always had inferiority complex, and the entertaining tales had just amplified a different side of him. Perhaps, shadowed the real him. She stood up from her position in front of the TV, and sat beside him.

"Dad, please, don't go," she pleaded sincerely.

They had plans. He wanted to buy a house. He promised her life would be better. Above everything else, Videl wanted to believe that her mother had been incorrect about her father saying one thing and doing another. He was an honest man. He should be an honest man, otherwise… who else would teach her what was real from what wasn't?

Hercule calmed down and held his daughter's shoulders.

"Okay, Sweetpea. What about this? I go to the Cell Games just for a little bit, and then I'll go home."

They sealed the agreement with a hug, but Videl ended up waiting for a lot longer than 'just a little bit'.

She knew that the travel time to the tournament location would take a few days from where they lived. Returning would make that almost a week. And who knew how long the actual games would last? Videl did not care too much about Cell or about or the other glory-chasers who would be competing for the title of the World Champion. All she cared about was the safety of her father. She was attuned to the broadcasting of the games when it began. Hercule had always warned her that if things get too bloody, she must shut off the TV. Fortunately things did not come to that. When her father was smacked into a great mass of rock by the now 'evolved Cell', Videl assumed that the fight was over for her father. She stopped watching right after.

The fight was aired for many hours, she heard, although for the most part of the latter hours, there was nothing to be viewed due to technical difficulties caused by enormous amounts of energy. Whatever that meant. When she later tuned in that day, she could not even register a single image on the screen. She expected that her father still had enough senses in him after being hurled to avoid staying there for a longer amount of time. He should be home by the end of the week.

Yet, Videl waited for two weeks.

She was quite accustomed to being home alone, taking care of herself; Hercule had pretty much taught her the economics around the house, and she always had a way of being able to entertain herself when she got bored. She tried calling her father a few times in his new cell phone, yet she always got a busy tone.

One day, the door to their apartment burst open, and she saw her dad hurriedly close it behind him. He rushed towards her and gave her a big hug.

"Dad! You're home," she exclaimed. "What happened?"

"Look, Sweetpea, I don't have the time to explain everything right now, but… but I think I've finally kept my promise to you."

Confused, Videl watched as Hercule went back to the door and opened it. A great mob of people carrying cameras, microphones, journals, pens, along with tens of screaming men and women chanted his name over and over. Just when Videl was about to go to their doorway and attempt to rescue her father from the crowd's overbearing attention, she heard her father yell out loudly in a joyous voice.

"Yeah! I'm the saviour of the world! The World Champion! How do you feel about that, my fellow Earthlings? I have given you back your safety! Let's rejoice. Haha!"

The snapping of pictures could barely be heard behind the cheering of the crowd, and even more microphones were thrust to his face. Questions were piled upon each other, as the eager reporters scribbled down on their pads every single word that came out of her father's mouth.

Saviour? World Champion? That would mean that…

Hold on; Videl thought Cell was supposed to be incredibly powerful. If what was happening was true, then Cell could not have been as monstrous as he was made out to be.

Videl sat down at the corner of their living room, eyeing the fame her father had been so quickly granted, and listening intently at how he answered their questions. She smiled, satisfied assuming that her father had defeated one of the most feared beings on Earth, and that he had finally evolved into the hero she always knew he would become, like the heroes in the stories he put into her mind, and she often dreamed of at night. Within that hour of sitting, Hercule was the most amazing, daring, spectacular man Videl had ever idolized, and she knew that the world probably viewed him as such as well.

When the reporters were gone, and their apartment was once again very quiet and cozy, Videl went over to him and embraced him tightly.

"Dad, why didn't you call? I was worried!" she said.

"I didn't have time. My cell phone was always receiving calls from… from everyone!"

"Never mind that," Videl waved the subject away, and looked at him with very eager, sparkling eyes. "Dad, tell me how you defeated Cell! And don't you dare leave anything out! Tell me everything."

He stared at her blankly for a second and then laughed out loud. She laughed with him, because she knew what this good news would bring to both of them. The promises…

And they were both just laughing for a while, completely happy with their state. But when Videl pressed again, the laughing faded away, and her zealousness was only answered with an awkward silence. In the end, Hercule would later tell her that it was her hopeful, innocent eyes that prevented him from fabricating another account of fascinating adventure.

11-12. Dying

One bright sunny day, Videl woke up and knew she was going to die. Soon. The evidence of this fact welcomed her as soon as she opened her eyes. Although as she searched her body of injuries and could not find a single one, she knew that the culprit who had done this to her must be hunted and questioned. And so, the puzzled and frightened girl, scrambled out of her apartment building, and ran around the neighbourhood, searching for someone suspicious.

Her father was not at home. He was even more absent now than he ever was at any other stage in her life. That was alright; she was older now and wiser and she could take care of herself. Or so she believed. Besides, he was out there with the press, making money, trying to fulfill his promises to her.

Even if the means were a little… immoral.

But that was beside the point. The point was that he was not at home, and he could not help her with catching the culprit. She must do it by herself. However, Videl was infested with a very deep, uncomfortable pain around her torso before she had fully sniffed out the perpetrator. She was certain that the offender had given her this pain. It was excruciating, and it forced her back into the sanctuary of their apartment. Once she was safely inside, she drank plentiful glasses of water to calm herself down. Whoever had done this to her must pay.

When she rolled into a ball by the kitchen floor, wincing at the pain, she realized something else.

Maybe… maybe, there really wasn't any culprit responsible for this. Maybe she was just ill.

Like her mother.

At that thought, her heart thumped wildly inside her chest, almost pleading to get out.

Oh no. If she was contaminated with her mother's sickness – whatever it was, she was never told- it would mean that she would soon become forgetful. She didn't know if she would forget information valid in her life, like her name, age, who she was, who her father was… or if she would just forget to wake up like her mother did. And if that was the main symptom, then she must strongly hold on to her conscience for as long as possible until her father came home.

Right. No sleeping.

Maybe she should go to a doctor?

No, no. That would be embarrassing. Too embarrassing. They would not understand. And they would recognize her last name. It would ruin her father's reputation if she told them about her fatal illness. It would be just as bad as whispering the truth to someone.

But that was beside the point, again. And this time, the point was that she was dying and she had not a single clue of what she was exactly dying from, when and how to prevent it.

She sunk down lower on the floor, until her head touched the cold tiles. Then Videl did something she had rarely done in her whole life: she began to weep. Just lightly at first, because she was so scared and so sad that her life would end so soon, when she had not done enough within the years that had passed by. She had dreams too, and her father had promises. She had not even gone to school yet. She did not have any friends. She had not reached her goal of being one of the greatest fighters. But none of those would matter now. She was sure that within a short time, she would forget all of the aspirations and vows and relationships she ever had anyway.

She did not even know how to fly yet. How was she going to go to the beautiful place if she could not fly? And perhaps that was what scared her the most. It scared her to think of the nothing of the after life. If she did not reach the far away abode, then there would be nothing. Like her mother's fate. She believed her lonely mother had not gone to the other world, because for the past few years she could not feel eyes on her, watching her, and loving her.

Maybe her father had lied about the place too?

Then suddenly, Videl was no longer sad. She was angry. She was furious at her father, for telling her so many lies, and making her believe them. She stood up, and knocked over one of the dining chairs. She was angry at herself for believing so easily, and for not knowing any better. She pounded at the walls, venting out the strong emotion, then once again collapsed on the floor, gripping at her head, her fingers tangled among the loose strands of hair.

Fortunately for her, Hercule came home that same day, so she did not need to suffer alone. He came home with bags in his hands, presents or souvenirs for her. She went over to him, irritation all seeped out, and now replaced with exhaustion, faint sadness, and dull fear. Her condition had only gotten worse from the start of the day.

"Dad…" she began shakily. "I think I'm dying."

His face became filled with horror, and he dropped the bags on the floor. He quickly scampered to where she was and held her tightly.

"Sweetpea! What's wrong?" He was panicking already. "What happened? Why didn't you call? What's wrong?"

Tears cascaded down her cheeks again, and in a small voice, she explained exactly what happened at the beginning of the day.

"This morning," she sniffed. "When I woke up… there was blood all over the sheets!" she ended in a squeak, and buried her face in his shoulder to cry some more.

Hercule chuckled, which surprised the grieving girl, or rather, the young woman. He held her even tighter, and chuckled again at her situation.

"Oh Sweetpea. My sweet, sweet girl. You're not dying."

And he told her that from now on, he would stay at home more often, and he would no longer neglect her.

13. Guilt

By this time, the Satan family of two had traded their modest quarters for a white-marbled mansion. It rose over three storey high, and spanned enough lot to accommodate a mall-sized parking space, a mini-golf course, a simple backyard labyrinth and both an indoor and an outdoor swimming pool. Their high-rise metallic fence bordered the area, and exhibited a large stone banner on which their last name was proudly engraved.

Videl had asked if they would be the only ones living there.

"No," Hercule answered her. "A few people would live with us who can help maintain the health of the house, plus a part of this mansion will become a dojo."

A private tutor was hired for Videl, so that before she was enrolled in a public junior high school, she would have all the knowledge (and more) of an average student. She had not missed much on her arithmetic and reasoning, because her reading had greatly substituted for classroom lessons, although she was quite lacking in other humanities and social science awareness.

The first few weeks in the new house were painful for the teen. It was awful waking up in the morning unknowing of where she was, how to get to the kitchen, bathroom, or how to get out of there. Sooner, however, it became more like a game, a treasure hunt; somewhere in this maze she called home, she could find something exotic, or something with great value. Everyday, when she woke up, she took the time to explore the vicinity, from the corners of the basement to the balconies overlooking the labyrinth from the rooftop. Sometimes she found herself in the middle of many interlocking hallways, and did not know which one to take to get back to a familiar place, but she always had a great sense of direction to help her out.

There was a day when she stumbled across her father's study by accident, where she found him furiously signing away small slips of papers. When she came closer, she realized that they were cheques, named to many different kinds of organizations.

"Dad, what are these for?" she asked.

"Charities," he said.

Videl looked at the pile of cheques, and almost gasped at the staggering amounts of money signed off on the slips.

"Dad! You're giving away this much?" she more stated the fact, than asked the question. Nonetheless, Hercule still responded with an explanation.

"We're a fortunate pair, Videl. It's only right to help others."

Videl observed the way he urgently signed the papers, as if he was distressed, and realized that it was a lot more than just an act of kindness. If anything, it was probably an act of remorse.

She grabbed a chair, and dragged it beside his table to continue watching him scratch out names from a long printed list of companies, after having signed a cheque for them. Sometimes he would give them more than one.

"You feel bad, don't you?" she asked.

He sighed, and for a while he didn't answer her. Videl thought that his silence meant that he did indeed feel too bad to even admit it.

But he elaborated, "Videl… I know what I did was wrong. I don't want you to think that I'm inconsiderate and shameless. I know that I stole someone else's credits, and that I'm a liar… a very HUGE liar. I use people's trust and adoration to fund my fame, but… even after all of those, those are not exactly what I'm ashamed of. I'm ashamed of being a bad father."

"Dad, hold on! You're not a bad father…"

"No, listen!" he interrupted her retort. "You know the truth too. And that means you must also lie too everyone. It's not fair that I've made you do this. You shouldn't be doing this." Hercule dropped his fountain pen on the table, where it spilled two inky dots on a paper. He leaned over to grab his daughter's shoulders, eyes clearly reflecting sadness and regret.

"It's okay," Videl tried to assure him. "Don't you know you'll feel bad either way? If you kept it a secret from me…"

"I know, I know! And I'm just afraid…" he said. "When… no if, people find out about it. Videl, I really hope that someday, you can forgive me for this."

"There's nothing to forgive," she said. Videl was deflated by her father's sudden revelation of weakness. She understood his reasons for doing what he had done, and she was sure that if circumstances had worked any other way, he would have avoided committing crimes. Besides, he had suffered enough, first with his guilt, and then with his freedom. After all, the wealth and the fame did not come for free. He had traded his liberty for them, and now he would always remain a fugitive from truth. The reality was, Hercule ended up being more of an actor than the hero he had strived for. And an actor he would remain for the rest of his life.

"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I've not been a good father to you, Videl."

"Dad, that's ridiculous! You've done your best."

"But it's not enough."

"It is for me," Videl said, trying to look her father in the eye. He had averted his gaze away from her when he apologized. He must have thought she would blame him. "And you won't have to worry about anything, Dad. I'll keep this secret. You can trust me."

She left with those last words, and headed out from his study. Her father had sacrificed a lot for her. Now it was time and only right to return the favor, even if that meant paying the price for their falsification one day. People could blame them for lying and stealing. But nobody could accuse them of being heartless. If they truthfully were, they could have cared less about each other. And if that was the case, they would not be in this situation right now.

15. Looks

There were plenty of men in Hercule's dojo, different ones from various exotic countries, to ones nearby cities, and even downright to their next street neighbours. They were usually the vain kinds, self-absorbed and equally self-conscious about their body image. If heaven had ever discarded helium from the skies, they all happened to land on them, for their egos surely were filled with such an excess… Videl wondered if it was truly so. They had called her cute, back when the top of her head only reached the bottom of their chests, and when her hands and feet were half the size of theirs.

The daughter of the renowned world champion occupied a little corner of the dojo, where she felt comfortable to train by herself; when she began to make her daily appointments there, many of her father's students had sneered at her. Most told her to quit, telling her that the Junior Tournament was the place for her, and that she would never be half as impressive as the Champ anyway. They would all make small jokes about how cute she was trying to follow her father's footsteps, and continue his legacy.

She never listened to any of them.

There was a kind man however, a little older than Hercule, who was a regular trainee there. When she was younger, he had given her bags of sweets every time they'd make an encounter. Inside the bag were delightful treats: candies, chocolate, sugared fruit preserves, and sweet pastries. He said his own kids liked them, so she should enjoy some too. Videl had always been grateful for his presence. It made the odd world of young men more bearable.

When Videl reached her mid-teens, all of a sudden the male students stopped calling her cute. The scoffing became interested glares, and the lot of younger men began to train somewhat closer to her corner. If she had not been exposed to martial arts for such a long time, she would have thought some of them quite impressive. That had never happened though, and she could never get past their dirty glances and perverted grins anyway. They were over confident protégés, lacking good looks, skills and manners.

As Videl focused her energy on pulping a heavy weight punch bag, she felt the familiar sense of being the subject of a conversation again.

"You won't stand a chance! I heard she was feisty."

"Eh? I like feisty."

"She'll totally blow you off."

"Hey, she may be a fighter, but she's still a girl. No girl's resisted this before. You'll see, just give me a day or two tops. And I'll be taking her home bothered with her hands around my neck, and her legs…"

Disallowing the boy to further explain his objective, Videl grabbed one of her left shoes and flung it across the room to hit him on the back of his neck.

"Don't you dare disrespect me like that!" she ordered.

"Hey, hey. Stay out of this. This is a guy's business!" he told her.

"I believe you were talking about me. I have every right to call it my business!"

"Well, if you loosen up a bit, I won't be just talking," he chuckled. "It'll just be doing from now on."

Videl walked over to where he stood, and straight out punched him on the face. It was at this time that the coach came into the room, and began to question what was happening.

One of the bystanders joked around, shoving the boy on the shoulder. "Eh, nothing. Videl here was just bruising my friend's pride. And his new nose!"

The crowd laughed at the implication, except for the coach and the sole girl. With an authoritative hand, he silenced the students, and declared his views on the subject.

"Well, I see that some of you can't take a little humour. Videl, I'm afraid that I must suspend you from your session here for today."

"What?" Videl asked. There was no doubt in her mind that some favoritism was evident here. After all, he had not interrupted them when they were harassing her, which was one of the most intolerable behaviour in this place. "Sir, he was the one being rude to me! And you're suspending me for bruising his pride? Well, what about mine?"

"We'll have none of that," he answered. "Your father carries enough for the both of you."

The class of trainees laughed even harder after hearing the statement, causing Videl to burn with embarrassment and shock.

The coach continued, "I'm suspending you because of your use of violence. While your father is gone, I should be the one to impose the rules. Just because your father is Hercule, doesn't mean you can do as you please. The rules apply to you too. Now, make your way out."

Seething, Videl picked up her shoe, and left the dojo.

Since it was her home, she still had every right to stay within the vicinity, but she would not be able to enter the training room until tomorrow. She could, but she did not feel like challenging the authority of the higher-ups her father had hired for the place, just in case they decided to verbally attack her using her father's reputation again. That was never a good thing. Needless to say, she hated it.

She found a granite bench in front of the garden, and sat down there to release her anger. Just when she was about to start complaining out loud, as she often did when she was furious, a paper bag was shoved in front of her face. She turned around and found her good friend, Jok - or the Kind Man, as she nicknamed him- smiling at her.

"Hey there, grumpy one," he greeted before taking a seat on the bench. She took the bag from him, and opened it to find another collection of sweets.

"You shouldn't be spoiling me this much, Jok," she said.

"Nah… I'm always afraid you won't have enough calories to burn during your training! Here's something to make sure you won't run out of supply."

"Well, seems like I'm not going to be doing any training today."

He just chuckled lightly as a response, while sharing the small bag of treats with her.

"So… a new nose, huh?" Jok began, staring at some of the petunias on the side. "I liked his old one better, don't you think."

Videl snorted. "I'd prefer if he'd get a new attitude. Although I don't think he can afford such an expensive blessing."

"You know, you might not realize this, but you intimidate most of your father's trainees," Jok said.

"Well that's good news. Hopefully I'd intimidate them to the point that they won't even bother to think of me."

The old man laughed. "You're wrong about that. Intimidation is unhealthy, but in this case, sometimes it leads people to believe that you're a challenge. Something that they can solve. There's a gratifying feeling for them once they discover they have your attention. And I understand that their means of getting that attention is not exactly… conventional."

"I wish they can all just… leave my house," Videl said, reluctant to reveal her actuall thoughts to the man she'd always considered as a friend.

"I don't think that's the right way to solve this problem. I don't think you're the type to run away from sticky situations. I honestly thought you would go back in there tomorrow and show them their place!"

Videl looked at him. "Wouldn't that just intimidate them more?"

"Punches aren't the only ways to compromise, Videl. I'm sure you know that. And I'm also sure you'll come up with a way that wouldn't involve intimidation. Come on… you're a smart girl. I know you might think people only look at you because of your father, and the way you look, but I can guarantee you that for some, it's really more than that. You have good qualities in you that many, many people lack, and that's what really makes you attractive. You shouldn't let any jerk take those away from your character."

He ended with another gentle smile and a thumbs-up.

Videl looked back at the bag of goods on her lap and pondered his words over in her mind. She turned back to him.

"Thanks, Jok."

"No problem. Just giving a little bit of advice… I know your father would have done the same if he was here." He stood up, bid her goodbye, and headed back to the dojo.

16. Justice

The thief was a little stupid. That was one thing Videl was certain of. He rounded through a small paved path towards the larger hills away from the main street, which would ultimately lead him to a blockage. Videl assumed that he probably wasn't familiar with the roundabouts of the city if he had decided to use this as an escape route.

The man had burst in through one of the jewelry stores in the strip plaza beside Orange Star High. From the cops' report on the matter, he apparently decided to purchase several valuable necklaces and bracelets, but pocketed them before he paid. He then made his way to a stolen car and evacuated.

Well, this should be no problem, Videl thought. She would just allow the man to find out that he would have nowhere to go, and he should end up surrendering by the time the realization comes. She rode her copter above him, but made no attempts to stop his driving. She just steadily rode over him, and made sure that she would not lose sight of him.

By the time he had reached the hills, and the pavement completely stopped to provide a path through them, the man stopped the car, just as Videl had expected. Here, she landed right behind his vehicle, and demanded him to get out.

He did as he was told. He came out and took off his mask, before raising his hands over his head. He was quite a young man, perhaps only several years older than Videl herself. Upon seeing this, Videl thought it might just be another playful mischief, instead of a real intended crime.

"Look," he began, and Videl noticed the way his hands shook, and his voice was in sync with them. She was surprised that he felt inclined to express himself so readily. Most of the other criminals she had caught were stubborn and even refused to answer her many grilling questions.

"Please… you're so young so you probably won't understand," he continued.

"Understand what? That you outright stole several expensive jewelries from a family who is trying to make good business? What's difficult to understand about that?" Videl asked, as she walked closer to him to handcuff him.

"Please, wait," he pleaded. He appeared exhausted by the chase, and quite desperate to explain his position. "I'm from out of the city. You know the Grey Village? Yeah? The slums beside Satan City… that's where I'm from. You… you're the daughter of the saviour of world, I know that. I know you won't understand the kind of life that I have there." He gulped, but somehow managed to remain calm to continue his explanation. "But if I don't do this, if I don't go to great lengths like this, my family will starve. Please, I'm just thinking of them."

Videl stopped her advancement, and the handcuffs fell by her side. She stared at him, his scared eyes trying to seek some kind of pity from her. She, in return, searched his for lies and found none.

She was somewhat aggravated by his choice of words. You won't understand, he said. The trouble with her position in life now was that it made it difficult for others to believe that life had not been glorious for her in the past either. She had not said a word of her childhood to others, finding it unnecessary to reveal anymore details about her family's already exposed living.

"If I'm taken away to jail," he continued. "My family wouldn't have anyone to take care of them. They'd be lost… they wouldn't know what to do. I don't want them to feel hopeless."

Videl didn't say anything, and regrettably began to think of her own father, stealing a credit to save their lives. She wondered why, all of a sudden, thievery seemed so selfish and yet entirely selfless at this moment.

And along with that, she felt heaviness in her chest, telling her that maybe fighting for justice was a burden, when crimes like these were committed out of love. There really were such blurred lines of the law in this city, especially. They always considered action and rarely the reasons behind them. There were too many culprits out there who acted out of plausible causes, and all suffered because of it. Where could she make an exception? And who was she really to decide who and what to except?

She was Hercule Satan's daughter.

She scoffed at that thought. Right… and that would make me above everyone else?

The main problem was that this city praised the goodness of those who were caring and loving and just, and yet it shunned the unruly actions that were driven by those same emotions.

The man all of a sudden lessened the gap between them.

"Fine… stop with the silence. I know you're not going to change your mind anyway," he said hopelessly while stretching out his hands towards her to be bound.

"But once you take me away, please ensure that my wife and my son is taken care of." He was biting back tears now, as he pulled the jewelries he had stolen from his coat pocket and handed them out to her.

Videl refused his plea, and looked around her to check if there were other cops that had followed them. Seeing none around, she cautiously took the jewelries from him, but still did not proceed to cuff him.

"Look here," she said quietly. "Why don't you just go back to your family and tell them that you got off lucky this time? And I'd go back to Satan City and tell them that you got away."

He was wide eyed with surprise and relief.

"Wh… oh, thank you! Thank you so much. I promise you that this would never happen again."

"Go," Videl ordered. She was afraid that someone would see her bending the law, in which she was not in the position to exercise.

He thanked her a few more times, and ran off to the hills.

Videl turned around, her heart feeling weighty, and her mind throbbing with the predicament she now found herself in. The gratitude she was given sickened her a bit, and it was unbelievable to her that she was now on her way to the police – the 'lawful' – to weave another web of lies about what just occurred. Her mind fluttered back to the time when her mother was telling her about how being hypocritical was shameful, and wondered if her mom was ashamed of her now.

And this made Videl question her role in the city. How could the daughter of a liar, a liar herself, be granted the power to right the wrongs, when she has wronged others as well? She sighed and placed the jewelries inside her pocket.

That night, maybe she would ask her father to invest a small amount of money to improve the outskirts of Satan City so that the slums could be fixed. The idea was a little funny; she couldn't help but think how the crime committed right now had been caused by the need of wealth, and it was her own father's corrupted wealth that would amend it.

She decided that the world was in bad need of a real saviour.

17. Year

Videl marveled at how the Physics textbook ended up being abandoned above Gohan's head, as he fell asleep trying to scrutinize the details of the countless theories they were forced to memorize throughout the week. She had often teased him that his dedication to his education far surpassed his own commitment to their relationship. But they laughed it off, both knowing that it wasn't true, and Videl was completely at ease whenever he focused his attention to his books than at her. She, of course, had her own hobbies to concentrate on as well.

She dropped her pen, and went over to her bed, which Gohan was occupying. He had strewn his top on the floor, complaining how warm it was down at the city compared to the mountains. She picked up the shirt, and folded it neatly by the foot of her bed. He was quite adorable, just slumbering like that, and she even wondered if she could surprise him by preparing a small snack when he woke up. Maybe the traditional milk and cookies.

Videl giggled. She sometimes appreciated that she was one year older than him. It was only this fact that had allowed her to feel some sort of responsibility, or an obligation to protect him, despite the fact that he probably didn't need it from her. It was fairly comforting to know that she could give him something which her age could offer, or have an upper hand that she lacked in everything else. She never told him about it though. She'd hate for him to think she was… mellow.

Gohan's eyes fluttered open, and he stared back at her before smiling.

"What are you thinking about?" he asked.

She smiled back. "How you're only going to turn seventeen tomorrow. You'll finally be catching up to me. Not to worry, I'll be eighteen soon, and so your race never finishes."

He smiled warmly, and stretched out his hand. "You know, you're not exactly a year older than me." He motioned for her to lie beside him, which she did so willingly. Before she could question his statement, he began to elucidate his time in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. All the while, Videl pondered what this would mean to her.

"It's not fair," she pouted playfully. "You're superior to me in everything."

Although she felt just as exactly as she said, she didn't want to ruin the mood that she always enjoyed so much whenever Gohan was nearby. After all, her goal wasn't to sound selfish and insecure. But if honestly was the basis of their relationship, she was not going to lie about what she felt, even if she had to imply it through a joke.

Gohan held her closer to him to have access to her neck. His lips trailed upwards to her jaw. "You know that's not true," he whispered.

Videl looked away, feeling him seek out her ear. Many times, she had tried to convince herself that she felt humbled around him and his friends, but she could never evade the moments when she felt like she had very little to offer to her relationship with Gohan. Maybe she had just gotten used to being depended on, growing up as a helper around the city. And it was a big change to be the one to expect the help and protection.

"Gohan? What would you lose if you didn't have me?"

It was an unneeded question; she knew there were things he sought from her, but she just wanted some confirmation. And he even requested for her to ask, if she ever felt the necessity, because he told her he wasn't sure if he was just emotionally intelligent enough for her to know outright. She had always liked him for that. Liked having the opportunity to ask.

He giggled at her question, and pinched her cheek. "Everything," he answered, as he placed a kiss on her shoulder.

Videl welcomed the attention, but swatted his hands away so that she could heave herself up. Before she could reach her desk, he reached out to hold her hand, preventing her from going any further.

"I know we've been together a short time," he said. "But someday, I will make you realize exactly why I love you. I promise you that."

More promises. Videl believed that since her mother had passed away, her life had just been a string of promises. Most of them fulfilled, thankfully, but marveled at how everyone close to her had been compelled to make so many.

"You don't need to promise me anything," she said as she sat. "I'm just… I don't know what to do, or who am I supposed to be when I'm with you. I can't be the daughter of the strongest man in the world, you know. Otherwise our relationship will just be wrong."

He chuckled, and sat up from the bed to go closer to her. "Be yourself."

"You say that like it's so easy to know."

Gohan encircled lean arms around her torso from behind, and placed his chin on a comfortable spot on her shoulders. "Nope. It takes a long time, and a long, long journey to figure it out. That's what Grandpa told me."

"And you sound like you want to go along that journey," she pointed out.

"If you'd let me, then I'd love to."

He grabbed his shirt at the end of the bed, and placed it on. It was about time that he should be heading home, so he told her the homework and assignments that he had finished, and the notes that he wrote to help her study. He wanted to be home well before dinner time to please his mother, but reminded her to leave the window open.

She smirked when he made that comment. Her boyfriend had been visiting her every other night for the past week to be her nightly company, or her 'bed-buddy' as he joked, not to engage in anything naughty, but just to be with her. He said it helped him sleep better, though that was questionable, because all they ended up doing together was some talking and playing thumb games. Not that she minded; she sometimes searched for the embrace of a close companion.

He waved goodbye, not bothering to gather his things for he would be back later, and he flew home from her window. She followed the quickly decreasing size of his image down the horizon where the sun was a furious orange semicircle behind tall skyscrapers. She sighed. For now, she would need something to do while awaiting his return.

AN: Ah! You made it to the end. Yay! So… there have been a surge of fanfictions lately, which is definitely something to celebrate, but I find that the DBZ section particularly lacks stories within the genre of 'character analysis', or something that really explores the personality of a character. So I thought, I might make it my niche and write stories within this genre.

Sometimes I feel so frustrated by how many people view Videl, and I wanted to justify her in this story. I wanted her to be someone who also suffers in many ways even though she's not a Saiyan or she's not powerful. Many people see her as a lazy, wealthy spoiled brat, when that's not entirely who she really is. Hercule also gets the short end of the stick, and I wanted to show him in a slightly different light. (Also, please excuse my canon timeline… I'm sure I've wrecked it in some way.) I always had the notion that Hercule loved Videl too much to lie to her, so I played with that idea a little bit here.

I don't really believe that this is exactly how Videl's life went… I'm just exploring (again!), hehe. There are so many possibilities, you know.

A note about the title and summary: Woohoohoo… I know that it isn't my conventional style. I hope none of you think I'm being arrogant about the whole thing; it really isn't meant to convey that message. The summary is a loose metaphor for the many themes that I tried to incorporate within the one-shot (i.e. lying, hypocrisy, 'nothing is really what it seems'…hehe, there are so many themes, I'm sure you'll be able to relate it in one way or another).

So… uhm, one more thing! According to Daizenshu, Videl, Sharpner and Erasa are all older than Gohan by one year! Yep… that's right. So, I'm kind of frustrated, because now I have to envision their relationship to reflect that age discrepancy from now on. And it's so hard, because I've always imagined Videl to be the younger one! GAH!