Author's Note: I know the idea of a depressive Gohan has been used countless times before, but I don't think I've ever seen a story quite like this. Or maybe I just wasn't looking hard enough. Anyway, this is my first fic and all reviews are welcome. Rated M for dark themes.
Disclaimer: I own Dragon Ball Z. Not.
Chapter One: Hinder
"Hello, I'm the lie living for you so you can hide; Don't cry." - Hello by Evanescence
A loud noise resonated throughout the tiny bedroom that held a once-sleeping child. Startled by this noise, the child's reflexes forced him into a sudden sitting position; both of his arms brought up into a defensive position, ready to attack whatever the threat may be. After a few moments of constant surveillance of, not only the inside, but the area outside of his house as well, the child deemed it safe and let down his guard. "Just a thunderstorm approaching." The 14 year-old sensed when there was no physical form of danger approaching. And sure enough, as soon as those words were uttered another crash of thunder echoed throughout the mountains around his home and seeped their way into his bedroom once again. Although this time, the thunder was soon followed by a bright flash of lighting that seemed to split the darkened sky in half.
The 14 year-old let his body go limp as it began to rain and fell listlessly back onto his bed; his short black hair sticking out in all directions across his blue pillow. 'Just go back to sleep.' he mentally commanded his body. The last time the child could remember getting a good nights' rest was a long, long time ago. Sometimes he would stare into the bathroom mirror the next morning and not recognize his own facial features after tossing and turning the whole night through - and that was on a good night.
Gohan's mind was too caught up in the events of the day to sleep. The same events that happened everyday. His "happy-go-lucky" attitude completely blocked what he was truly feeling; he felt like his life was going through a constant solar eclipse cycle. During the day he was the Gohan everyone thought to be happy and care-free. But at night, his moon would shift out of the way, leaving him vulnerable to the white-hot, burning sensation that has become his reality. The fire would eat at him and cause him pain as the memories of his past tried break through the neatly constructed barrier in his mind.
And the next day would show no signs of Gohan's inner struggle to maintain sanity. He would wake, eat the breakfast prepared by his mother with a smile, and do his studies or "play" outside by himself. Although, recently he had unwillingly taken up chores as an everyday task, leaving little room for his free-time. Gohan would even sometimes bring his little brother Goten to the park or over to Capsule Corp. to play with Trunks. He was always receiving compliments about how much of a "good brother" he was and how he was taking such good care of his family. But that did nothing but add fuel to the burning fire at night. His "friends" didn't know the real Gohan - or rather, who he had become over the past few years. They didn't know how he truly felt about his little brother.
After what seemed like hours, the child finally felt his muscles relax and his brain shift ever so slowly into an unconscious state. But suddenly he was startled once again by a small whisper. "Go'an." a smaller child called out to his older brother in a hushed tone as he climbed onto his bed. Gohan snapped his eyes open and immediately scrunched his face into a scowl when he fixated his eyes on the source of this new disturbance. Without turning his head, the teen answered with a growled, "What, Goten?"
"I scared." came the same hushed reply.
"Of what?" came the same growled reply.
"Of the… of the boom." the three-year-old stuttered, clutching his brother's sheets in his tiny hands.
"So… so I sleep with you?" was the final question asked. Silence filled the room. The only sound to be heard was of the heavy down-pour pummeling the window in the shared room. If this were to happen to any other older brother, they most likely would've thought it cute and opened their bed up, no questions asked. But no such luck for this 14 year-old. As he lay there, glaring at his younger brother of only three, Gohan couldn't help but get angrier with each passing second.
God, this child irritated him. This child, that not only looked exactly like their deceased father, but was also a constant reminder of what he had done. Something he dared not even bring his conscious mind to think anything about. Anytime Gohan saw this child running around, care-free and happy, which was quite often, reminded him of someone. Someone Gohan would rather forget about.
Not only was Goten an anchor tugging on Gohan's suppressed memories, but he was also a trouble-maker. Anytime Gohan had to scold Goten for an action, Goten would go running to their mother, crying crocodile tears and blowing the whole situation out of proportion which usually resulted in a punishment of chores around the house; washing floors and doing laundry seemed to be part of an everyday task for the young demi-Saiyan nowadays. Goten disgraced Gohan and their father by being such a cry baby - although Gohan knew he only acted that way because of his age. Everyone else thought Goten adorable, which also sent a flood of negative emotions throughout Gohan's being. Even Piccolo showed the child a small smile when he thought no one would notice. But Gohan noticed. That was when Goten was only a few months old and they had all gathered at Bulma's house for the sole purpose of showing off the new addition to the gang. When Gohan saw his mentor - the last man on Earth who could possibly understand how he was feeling - show affection towards Goten, the little nuisance, Gohan knew his little brother would be nothing but trouble. And he was right.
Just as Gohan was about to deny the child access to his bed, another crash of thunder and a spark of lightening seared through the sky and caused Goten to quickly take cover under Gohan's blankets; clutching at Gohan's sheets with a hold that would make any Saiyan father proud. Gohan just sighed and turned away from the cowering toddler, knowing he would now need a crowbar if he wanted the kid out of his bed and, frankly, he didn't have the strength.
Gohan was so tired all the time, physically and mentally. He didn't want to study, he didn't want to spar, and he didn't want to eat - which is a big deal to a Saiyan. He couldn't sleep either. Each time he fell asleep, his mind would be plagued with such awful dreams that would only fling him back into existence 10 minutes later, panting and sweating, trying to decipher dream from reality. So, as he felt his younger brother snuggle close to his back for added protection, Gohan closed his eyes once more in a feeble attempt to get some kind of rest and began breathing deep. Concentrating on the way he inhaled and exhaled seemed to help him relax.
Focusing on his breathing brought Gohan into a meditation-like state of mind. Like he was sleeping, but still aware of his surroundings. This sort of "day-dream meditation" was as close as Gohan could get to sleeping without the gruesome nightmares. He would usually focus on small things, like how many animals he could sense out in the forest and then try to guess what kind of species it was or, as he was doing now, counting how many seconds were in between each thunder strike.
His slow breathing accompanied by the soothing sounds of the rain tapping against the glass of the window soon lulled the 14 year-old demi-Saiyan into a well deserved sleep, despite the fact that only a short hour later, he would be violently awakened again, trembling and softly crying into his pillow. The older child cradled his body as he curled into a small ball to try and find some sort of comfort. As he sobbed silently , the soft rays of the sun peaked through his window, caressing his face as if to sooth the broken child. Gohan's world seemed to be crumbling right beneath his feet and he was desperately awaiting a hand - anyone's hand - to reach forth and pull him out of the darkness that always lurked behind him, following his every movement, his every footstep, and his every thought.
It was all beginning to be too much. Gohan was finally able to get some free-time and he decided to spend it by himself, deep within the forest. He sat, alone, on top of a cliff that overlooked the other trees, holding something in his hands. He looked delicately at it, contemplating his next actions. He already knew the results, but he just had to make sure - again. Gohan stared at the left side of his reflection in the shiny object as a lone tear escaped his right eye. He then tilted the sharp metal so he could see the right side of his complexion. After tilting the object back and forth between the left half of his blank expression, to the right half with the lone tear a few times, Gohan finally brought the stolen kitchen utensil to his right forearm for the umpteenth time in an already-known failed attempt at relief.
The 14 year-old "hero" slid the knife as hard as he could, without breaking it, across his skin, but only succeeded in leaving nothing more than a thin red line that quickly faded. He tried again, this time only using the tip to dig into his flesh, and still ended with the same results. So Gohan did what he usually did at this part of the failed experiment - he chucked the useless object into the depths of the dark forest below. He then brought his left hand up to his right forearm and sharply dug his nails into his flesh for an instant, and brief, release as he watched the sparkling metal tool take its place at the bottom of the cliff. Perhaps one day he'd go down and collect the knives and give them back to his mother. But for now he didn't even want to look at the good-for-nothing appliances. The dark-haired teenager then laid on his back and softly sobbed to the sky. With all of this pain dwelling inside of his body, and no way to release it, Gohan could do nothing but bottle it up until it burst out in the form of tears. Though the tears seemed to never stop, just like his constant agony.
And this was his life; this was the secret life he had been living on the inside for the past three years. Little did he know, it was all about to change.
For the worst.
Author's Note: Well, chapter one is posted! All reviews are appreciated.