So, here's the next chapter. Piccolo's probably horrendously out of character, but I don't care XD he's cute.
I'm almost done with "Antiseptic" too. So I might try to bang that out this weekend. I'm not garunteeing it though! It's done being written, I'm just typing and editing it right now :) So here it is! Massive fluffiness. Just like everything in this story! Enjoy!
And thank you Kira Sema, Rawr, Princess of Las Noches, and ShadesofLove (dA) for the reviews/suppport!
Night descended upon their campsite, swaddling the sky like a quilt. The moonless sky allowed the stars to sparkle brilliantly, winking and shimmering like a billion fireflies.
Gohan and Dende lay on their backs, pointing to constellations, naming stars, and searching for planets. Piccolo floated several feet behind them, covertly glancing at their bright eyes, marveling in their innocence.
"There's Mars!" Gohan indicated a particularly bright orb. "I have a textbook about space, and our solar system, Dende. When I'm done with the course I can give it to you – as long as it's okay with my mom – anyway, it says that Mars may have once contained liquid water. Pretty cool, right?"
"It isn't inhabited?" Dende asked, also peering at the glowing red planet.
"No, not that we've ever witnessed."
They fell silent for a few minutes, and then Gohan sat up, looking around at Piccolo. "Come look with us, please?" he patted the ground between them, simultaneously scooting over to make room for the Namekian Warrior.
Piccolo shook his head.
"Pleeeeease Piccolo?! Pllllllleeeeeaaaaasssseeee?" Gohan twisted at the waist, falling onto his stomach and staring up at his tall friend. His overly large dark eyes widened to an impossible size, shimmering and watering ever so slightly. Ignore it. Ignore it. He knew that he really ought to close his eyes, or at least look away. Gohan tilted his head, lower lip protruding and quivering ever so slightly. Don't fall for it. Don't fall for it. Damn.
Piccolo relented, planting his feet on the ground. "Fine, brat."
"Yay!" Instantly recovered, Gohan sat up. He moved over to give Piccolo more room to sit. Dende giggled, evidently shocked at how easily Piccolo had given in to Gohan. Stoic Mr. Piccolo, grumpy Mr. Piccolo... Stalking over to the two children,Piccolo rolled his eyes, and sent Dende a look that he fervently hoped clearly said "don't even think about trying this."
Piccolo lowered himself to the ground, resting his head in the soft grass and flowers. Gazing up into the blue-black sky, Piccolo allowed himself to completely relax.
"Since it's really warm, and the stars are so pretty, I don't want a fire."
"Me neither," Dende affirmed Gohan's statement.
"Fire keeps the animals away," Piccolo grumbled, not caring whether they wanted a fire or not. He was fine either way.
"What...what kinds of animals?"
"Nothing I can't take care of," Gohan peeked at Dende over Piccolo's chest. "I haven't seen any tiger tracks, or signs of bears. But with your hearing, you'll know if anything comes close."
Dende nodded, though he still looked nervous.
Boy needs to toughen up. Then again, that's what he had thought about Gohan. Piccolo stretched his arms over his head, tucking his hands under his neck and skull. Thinking.
He almost missed the giggle and mischievous look that passed between the two boys.
"What are you – OOF!" All of the air in his lungs was forced out in a painful whoosh as Dende and Gohan landed on top his chest, wrapping their arms around his neck and holding on for dear life. "Ge' off!" Gohan practically had a death grip on him. "Brats!" Piccolo launched himself to his feet, attempting to shake the boys off. His attempts were futile; if anything, they held on tighter.
"We're not letting go!" Dende giggled, fingers tightly entwined in Piccolo's gi. The Namekian warrior bared his fangs, and began working on prying the boys off one at a time.
"Get. Off." To call the guttural sound emanating from the Namekian's lips a snarl would be an understatement. "You know my rules, Gohan!"
"When have I ever listened to them?!" Piccolo froze, unmoving. True. Gohan never listened. Ever. The brat always hugged him, always jumped on him, and always leaned on him, even though Piccolo was very firm about his rules. They weren't even that hard to follow; no touching when other people were around.
"Dende doesn't count as 'other people' Piccolo!" damn kid had gone and done it again, guessing exactly what was on his mind. "Besides, you should let him hug you! He's a Namekian, just like you!"
"I shouldn't have ever let you fall into this ridiculous habit," Piccolo growled. He gave himself one last final shake in an attempt to dislodge the boys. It failed. It wasn't like he really cared. None of the Z-Warriors were around to see him being soft. Besides, he liked these too.
With a grunt of annoyance, Piccolo sat back down, and scooped the boys into his lap. Gohan grinned, settling himself comfortably against Piccolo's chest and abdomen. Dende followed his friend's example, although he maintained his hold on Piccolo's gi.
"Relax, Dende." He muttered, "I'm not going to push you off. Gohan would never forgive me."
The younger Namekian grinned, "Thanks, Piccolo." Slowly, he relaxed his death trip on the warrior's gi.
An hour or so passed like this: the boys nestled comfortably on his lap, heads resting against his chest. Piccolo was delighted to hear their soft snores, indicating that at long last, they had succumbed to tiredness. He watched them sleep, a smile creeping across his lips. Since they were asleep, they would never know that he enjoyed their presence, their unwavering trust. He hadn't really minded the stunt they'd pulled earlier, only that he had not been aware of it. Gohan was too smart for his own good, and Dende, well, if one wanted to be Kami, they couldn't be anything less than genius.
The brats had learned to shield their thoughts from him. He was certain that they'd planned their attack while he had been distracted by his mergers. But they had moved simultaneously; apparently Gohan had improved his telepathic abilities. Usually, when he tried to speak to others, Piccolo could hear every word he 'said'.
Gently, tentatively, Piccolo hugged them a little closer, hissing quietly as Dende's head dipped down. Don't wake up... He didn't. Sigh. Thank goodness for that... Slowly, he shifted Dende back into a more comfortable position. He held his breath as the young Namekian scrunched up his face, twisting slightly and latching back onto to the front of Piccolo's gi.
How was it that two twelve-year-old boys could be so innocent, even after all that they had seen?
He thought of Dende, and how the boy had watched his whole village slaughtered at the hands of Dodoria, been killed by Frieza, revived, and then left homeless for a year or so. Then he'd taken up the mantel of Kami. That was a lot to ask of a young boy.
Then Gohan, whom had been kidnapped at four and a half - twice in one day - and abandoned in the middle of a desolate island. To fend for himself. Piccolo felt a twinge of guilt, remembering now Gohan's tearful face, and desperate wails of "Don't leave me!" Although he had not cared about the child then, and even though it had been for the best, he couldn't deny his part in forcing Gohan to grow up too quickly. He frowned, remembering his death at the hands of Nappa, recalling the feeling of horror flooding through him at the thought of the Kid dying. Gohan was the only reason he'd been brought back to life. There was no denying that fact. Then there was Goku's decision to not return to Earth. The Androids... Cell. Goku dying.
Gohan stirred, and Piccolo froze.
"Hey Picc'lo," Gohan mumbled groggily. He sat up, still sitting in Piccolo's lap. He looked from Piccolo's face, to Dende's, and back again. Very suddenly he said:
"Do you love Dende?"
Piccolo's brows furrowed, he liked Dende, certainly cared about the child. Wanted to keep him safe.
Gohan looked away. Fiddled with Piccolo's cape.
"More than me?"
What was it with kids and questions? Why would Gohan ask that? Piccolo said nothing for a long, long time. No. Gohan was his favorite. His best friend. Gohan was his everything; the first person to smile at him, first to hug him, first to breach the walls around his heart. He was the only person among the Z Fighters who had never regarded him as an enemy. Been afraid of him? Only in the beginning. Only the first day they had met. Even then, the kid had insisted upon getting to know him before passing judgment. Gohan meant more to him than life itself, hadn't he proved that?
"No," he murmured, scooping Gohan up with the arm not supporting Dende. Gohan wrapped his arms around Piccolo's neck, resting his cheek on the Namekian's chest, top of his head nestled under Piccolo's chin. "I..." he paused, "You're my Kid, aren't you? Never heard me call him anything but Dende, now, have you?" Gohan shook his head. "Why were you so concerned then?"
"Cuz of Nail. And because you guys are the same."
"Nail is nothing more than an annoying pinprick of personality that flares up at inopportune moments. And," he paused, considering his next words, "Dende is like me in appearance only, he isn't a fighter, and I haven't taught him much of anything. You, on the other hand, may not enjoy fighting, but that doesn't make you any less of a warrior."
Gohan gave his neck a little squeeze.
"Promise me something?" he asked, not continuing until Piccolo nodded. "If anything ever happens, and you can only save one of us, save Dende."
Piccolo started, "What?"
"Without Dende, no one could be brought back. So save him."
"Because the Dragon Balls have always been my first priority," he growled.
Piccolo's chest constricted at the mere thought of leaving Gohan in danger.
"The moment I got Dende out of harm's way, I'd be back for you, Kid."
That was as close to a promise as Gohan would ever get.
"Thanks, Piccolo. Do you think your arm will get tired if I stay like this?"
Piccolo grunted, considering his options. He glanced at Dende. He adjusted his grip on the boy, and slowly leaned back, finally lying down. Dende sure was a hard sleeper.
Gohan snuggled closer under Piccolo's chin, unruly black hair tickling the Namekian's nose.
"I love you, Piccolo." Gohan mumbled, sleep setting in.
"Back at you, Kid." He felt like he should just give in and say it. Gohan wasn't asleep just yet; he would still hear him say it... "Love you too."
In response, the Kid snuggled closer, radiating happiness.
Piccolo watched the night sky, picking out the constellations, wondering if one or more of those teasing lights were a sun of New Namek.
Yup. More fluffiness. And more fluffiness to come. There really isn't much more to this than fluffiness! LOL. Not that fluffy goodness is a bad thing.