AN: The basketball team lost. Crap. Oh well, we were champs last year, so it's not that bad, I guess. But enough of that. On with the story! This chapter, all you lucky readers out there finally get to find out exactly what is wrong with Videl! One of you said you thought you knew, but you didn't give a specific guesss. Now you can find out if you were right! Yay!

I don't own DBZ. Just my lil' ol' plotline.

Chapter Fourteen—Videl's Problem

The teenager's head tossed back and forth on the pillow, as if she was in the throes of a fevered dream. When she finally stopped, she was panting in her sleep; perspiration drenched her face and matted her dark bangs to her forehead.

"I just don't know what to do," Bulma murmured, wiping Videl's forehead. "Ever since the guys brought her back, she's gotten worse. Now we can't even get her to wake up. And I can't figure out what's wrong with her. She's got a fever, but that's it."

"And I don't think she had a fever when she passed out," Krillen supplied. "She seemed just fine. Maybe a little tired, but hey, who isn't?"

Vegeta, Piccolo, and Krillen had gotten back to West City in record time. Videl had still been unconscious, which was anything but a good sign. With a little help from Bulma, they'd set her up in one of Capsule Corporation's many spare rooms. Now they were waiting, and trying desperately to figure out what was wrong.

The only cheering note thus far were the four Dragonballs they'd already collected. And even nicer was the relative ease with which they were being gathered. At this rate, the wish would be made before the end of the week.

But in the meantime, there were slightly more pressing matters to deal with.

Videl groaned softly, then retreated back whatever nightmare was plaguing her. She started tossing and turning again, her face a mask of something Bulma couldn't quite put a finger on. Her face was ghostly pale, and if she hadn't been moving around so much, she would have almost looked dead.

Bulma sighed inwardly. Well, there was a cheering thought.

"Her fever keeps getting higher," Bulma said in confusion. "And she's still not waking up."

Out of the corner of her eye, the blue-haired woman noticed Vegeta standing in the doorway. He was watching the scene with an almost knowing look. He finally noticed Bulma watching him, and nodded slowly, then turned and stepped out of the room.

She looked down at Videl one last time, then headed for the door. "If anything happens, tell me right away. Understood?" she ordered the men still in the room, and left upon affirmation.

Vegeta had wandered a few doors down into another spare bedroom, and had positioned himself with his back to the door, staring out the window. He didn't seem to notice her entrance, but she had years of experience with his mannerisms behind her, and she knew better.

"You know what's wrong with her," Bulma demanded. It was a question spoken as a statement, because she already knew that Vegeta had some idea as to what was going on.

"I think I do," Vegeta said calmly, though he looked tense.

"This isn't something I'm going to like, is it?"

"No, it isn't," he turned his head partway to look at her with his peripheral vision. "We need to get those last three Dragonballs as soon as possible. Immediately, if not sooner."

"Why? What's the rush?" Bulma asked in confusion. "We have a year until the Dragon can't bring Gohan back to life. Why do we have to hurry?"

"Because if we don't, that girl probably won't live through the end of the week," Vegeta replied bluntly. "And I'd love to hear you explain that to her idiot father. I'm also fairly certain that it would be considered natural death as well, so no wish to the Dragon would be able to bring her back."

Bulma's blood ran cold at the words 'won't live.' She gaped at him. "What do you mean, she won't live? Why would Videl die? And what does it have to do with Gohan?"

"They're bonded," Vegeta turned the rest of the way around to look at her; he leaned back against the wall and folded his arms. "When the br—Gohan died, the bond was broken. It's an unnaturally tight bond for their age, so she probably knew he was gone before anyone told her. There's emotional trauma, without a doubt, though she most likely doesn't realize it. But even the fact that he's coming back can't stop what she's doing unconsciously."

"Which is?" Bulma asked hesitantly; she already knew, instinctively, that she was not going to like this answer at all.

"She's dying," Vegeta closed his eyes, "by simply lacking the will to live. It's really not difficult, especially in cases of trauma like this. The bond is shattered, there's a hole in her heart, and she's responding to it by unknowingly willing herself to die. It's that simple."

"Doesn't sound simple to me," Bulma murmured as the room began to sway around her.

"You'd be surprised. And like I said, if she dies now, it's of a broken heart. I don't think the Dragon won't bring her back if she dies from this. The fact that she went running around on the Dragonball search only made it worse, since she was just wearing herself out."

"The only way to save her is to bring Gohan back?"

"Precisely. Revive the bond," Vegeta nodded, though he didn't reopen his eyes. "Heal the broken heart, and the trauma should go away. Even after he's back, it will take time. But I've seen incidences like this before, and if he doesn't get his sorry halfbreed ass back in the next few days…the results will definitely not be pretty."

Bulma shuddered, ignoring the comment about Gohan being a 'sorry halfbreed,' and walked out of the room without saying anything else. At least now they knew what they were up against. They were up against a teenager's broken heart, and the opponent they had to fight was time.

She walked back into the room where Videl was still tossing and turning, caught up in a feverish nightmare. Her eyes were squeezed shut, as though in pain.

"Well?" Piccolo asked pointedly.

Bulma didn't look at him as she answered; her eyes stayed on Videl. "Get the last three Dragonballs, and do it fast. We don't have much time."

The Namekian quirked a brow at the answer, or lack of, but Bulma didn't elaborate.

Still moving around, Videl groaned again. But this time, the sound took the form of a single desperate word. "Gohan…"

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

It was the same dream as before, only it kept repeating itself, and she was trapped by it.

The dragon was summoned, and she screamed the wish, only to have her prayer rebuffed by the object of the wish. Gohan appeared, and spoke so harshly to her.

Just as he would finish talking to her in that manner so uncharacteristic for him, she would fall for what felt like a long time, only to land in a scene that looked exactly like the last. And the dream would begin anew, repeating itself over and over again.

She was trapped in the cycle of her nightmare, and helpless to pull free of it.

And it was so warm. She was so tired.

Videl struggled in vain against the weight of her terrible dreams, and at the end of one, as she fell into the seemingly endless blackness beneath her, she managed to whisper one word.

"Gohan…"

Then she landed, hard, just as she knew she would. And the dream started again.

Videl fell through the endless circle of her nightmares, wondering if it would ever end. She wondered where she was, and she wondered why Gohan had left her.

And she wondered when she would see him again.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Far away, a certain demi-Saiyan was watching, looking horrified at Videl's condition.

But at Vegeta's blunt explanation of what was going to happen if he wasn't revived soon, every speck of color drained from Gohan's face. His eyes widened, and he made a few strange gasping noises.

Goku watched, equally horrified, though for him it was a mixture of the situation on Earth and Videl's possible fate, and his son's reaction.

"Gohan?" Goku asked hesitantly. "What are you going to do?"

The teenager didn't answer. He was completely fixated on what was in front of him. Every curse he'd ever heard in his eighteen years of life ran through his head.

If Videl dies, that's one less thing I have to give up…but I can't do that! I can't just let her die! What the hell kind of person would I be? Gods, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near me if I did something like that! Oh…damn, damn, damn…this just made things a lot more complicated. And they're going out right now for the last three Dragonballs. Oh gods, what the hell am I going to do?

AN: Uh-oh…what's gonna happen? Hehehe…stay tuned for the next "exciting" installment of my little story. I don't know how much longer this story's gonna be. We're probably getting close to the end.