Disclaimer—Hell, I've said it before, I'll say it again. I don't own 'em. My kudos and insanely jealous fan letters go to Akira Toriyama, FUNimation, Waves and Rocks, anyone but me. Blah. Too bad. I REALLY wanna own Chibi Goten right now. He's such a cutie!
A/N 1—Sorry about the repost people—I have NO idea how I managed that one ^_^* put it down to fatigue!
A/N 2—Well, thanks to a lot of thinking, and a little good advice (thanks Berhart!) I've decided that the time has come for us to part ways. This will be the final chapter to this little fic, possibly to be continued in a new fic from Vegeta's POV to take us through the Buu saga. Most of my plans for angst in the future rested on Vegeta, and everyone knows a healing Gohan's no fun, right? So we'll leave it here, and I'd like to thank all of you for being participants in my little angst experiment!
Gohan sat next to Videl, sipping at a soda. He was right now as comfortable as he'd ever be around a large gathering of people, and was doing his best to enjoy the party.
Gohan couldn't help but feel some amusement at the pole-axed expression on Goku's face. He remembered it so well as his own expression from three years before. After a quick but emotional reunion with his wife, Chi-Chi had introduced Goku to his youngest son.
Goten had been shy about meeting his father at first, but the shyness had quickly given way to excitement, and Goten now sat in his father's lap, chattering a mile a minute, and discreetly poking at Goku's halo, as if to determine its authenticity. The happy trio was surrounded by a large group of family and friends, all eager to know how it was that Goku was back, and more important, for how long.
In one corner, Gohan could vaguely make out Vegeta's form, standing reclusive in the shadows. Vegeta's eyes were narrowed, a look of righteous glee on his face. Gohan was a little saddened at its cause. He knew that Vegeta's joy was not at Goku's return, but at his new chance to beat his rival; to redeem his honor.
Videl, looking at Gohan's face, could see it painted with conflicting emotions. It was like he was real now. No more hiding, no more masks, this was the real Gohan—the boy she had glimpsed behind those shuttered eyes.
From the stage in the center of the room, a loud thumping was heard as Bulma retrieved the microphone and smiled out at the gathered Z-senshi. "Well, it looks like we've got more to celebrate than we'd thought, everyone! Guess we'll have twice the reason to celebrate this day next year—not only is this the anniversary of the day that Gohan was returned to life, but today Goku's come back as well! And…." Bulma paused for dramatic effect, practically shining with joy, "Goku's agreed to let us wish him back with the Namekian dragonballs!"
Gohan's entire demeanor brightened, and his head whipped around to see Goku looking directly at him. Aside from a few winces, caused by Goten, who was now yanking rather determinedly at his father's halo, Goku's gaze didn't waver. Gohan knew. His father had done this for him. For him, his mother, and for Goten. He had decided to come back for them.
With difficulty, Videl contained her curiosity at Bulma's comment. She had seen the tears leap to Gohan's eyes, and the expression on his face as he had sought confirmation. She could wait a little while. After all, it wasn't like she hadn't known something was up. The halo had been a bit of a give away.
Prying Goten gently off of him, Goku stood and offered a hand to Chi-Chi, smilingly requesting the next dance. Chi-Chi smiled, and nodded, accepting the offer, and they drifted into the center of the room, discreetly abandoned by friends and well-wishers.
Gohan looked from his parents, to Vegeta who was scowling at the happy couple, and adamantly refusing to be budged from his corner by the annoyed Bulma. He couldn't help but think that that was him. Him without his father to guide him, him with a few more years under Frieza's tutelage.
Videl watched as Gohan's expression saddened, and his gaze turned inward, thoughts of the long past returning as they found fertile ground in the Saiyan prince.
Hesitantly, she put a hand on his shoulder, jerking him out of his reverie. Gohan's eyes grew confused as he turned to look at Videl's inquiring face. "What is it, Videl?"
In a strange gesture, Videl reached up to push aside an errant lock of hair that had escaped into Gohan's face, "What are you thinking about?"
Gohan's expression shuttered, and his eyes darkened as he returned his gaze to Vegeta, "Nothing, really. Just how…" Gohan paused, and sighed, "Just how the smallest change can make the hugest difference, you know what I mean?"
Videl nodded thoughtfully. She did know. A simple twist of fate was all that had allowed her to discover Gohan's identity. Twist another way, and she might never have known for sure. Somehow though, she knew he was talking of darker things, and she began to suspect just why the arrogant Vegeta had taken the time to explain to her about Gohan's past.
She could sense a bond between the two, an overwhelming sense of 'might-have-been.' They were tied together in a way she didn't think she could ever completely understand—a way she didn't know if she wanted to understand. Perhaps secrets that dark and intense were better left to the shadows.
Impulsively, Videl leaned forward, deciding to see if she could distract Gohan from his blackening mood, and pressed her lips lightly against his cheek, pulling hesitantly away, watching closely to gauge his reaction.
Gohan was jerked from his thoughts by a feathery light brush of lips on his right cheek. Slowly, he pivoted, eyes wide, to see Videl staring at him with mischief, and just a little apprehension in her eyes.
Gohan's skin grew flushed, and he felt himself turning the color of a ripe apple, not even noticing the interesting lack of reaction from the demons inside his head. No flashbacks, no horrifying images, just a hot flush, and a flood of embarrassed pleasure at Videl's attentions.
Quickly looking away, Gohan took a large gulp of soda, determined to look anywhere but Videl. Pain he could handle; torture, nightmares, evil tyrants out for his blood—those were all old news. Girls, however—girls—boy were they confusing!
Across the room, Chi-Chi nudged Goku and they watched the little scene with growing amusement.
"I told you," Chi-Chi murmured into Goku's shoulder as they swayed to the music.
"Huh? Told me what?"
Chi-Chi shook her head, "You mean you forgot? That night, that first night he came back to us and had that very first nightmare, I told you—I told you that he'd be ok."
At this, Goku smiled, and bent his head slightly to sniff at Chi-Chi's hair, concern for his son forgotten for the moment, "Oh that," he chuckled happily, "Was there ever really any doubt?"
***Well, that's it! Gohan's healing. I'm letting him. At least until the next story! R&R please!***Advertizing
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Normal Friends from Strange Places by Marie Cline storyid=740820 This is a great fic told from the POV of Trey, the hither to unknown son of Launch and Tien. Now I normally HATE original characters, but this is so well done, so funny and extremely well developed, that it's one of my favorites! Don't pass it up because of the OC! It's worth a read!
Life Long by Saiyan Sun Goddess storyid=617980 If you're still in the mood for angst, sink your teeth into this. Trunks is an alcoholic. It's a T&P that's very good, very original, and very hard to explain without giving away the story. It's also rated NC-17, but the lemons are unnecessary to the storyline, and she gives you plenty of time to skip over them if you want to! Great fic, one of my favorites, go check it out!