Candles

Disclaimer: I have a permanent disclaimer up on my profile, but for the record, I do not own Dragon Ball Z, or any of its characters.

A/N: Hey guys! Here's a sad but then happy little one-shot I wrote up a little while back! I hope you enjoy it!


Gohan rushed into class and fell into his seat next to Erasa just as the bell rang, sighing in relief at just barely getting there on time. She turned to smile at him, and then looked back to whoever she was talking to again. The saiyan teen straightened his clothes, looking around the room for Videl, his best friend and the object of his affections, (who had no idea of the boy's feelings), but frowned when he noticed that she wasn't there. He tapped Erasa on the shoulder.

"What's up, Gohan?" she asked him, frowning slightly because her gossip session had been briefly interrupted.

"Where's Videl?" he whispered, pointing to the empty seat in which she usually sat in. Erasa looked to where he pointed, and her expression became saddened. She looked away.

"Oh…that's today…" she murmured quietly. Gohan looked at her, worried.

"What?" he asked frantically, "Is something wrong with Videl? Is she okay?"

"She…" Erasa hesitated, her usual cheeriness gone for the moment, "She's fine. Don't you know what today is?"

"The 23rd, why?" he asked, confused. Erasa sighed, not surprised that Videl still hadn't told him much about what today was. It had always been an extremely touchy subject for her.

"Today's the day that—"

"QUIET DOWN BACK THERE!" the teacher yelled harshly, effectively gaining everyone's attention. Erasa frowned, rolling her eyes, and then looked down at her desk, gesturing to a piece of paper and a pencil. She mouthed the word 'note', and Gohan nodded. As the teacher droned on and on about things that Gohan had already learned a while back due to his mother's forced teachings, Erasa jotted something down on a small piece of paper. She flicked it across her desk and onto Gohan's desk with her newly manicured nails, and reluctantly turned her attention back to the teacher, yawning, muttering something about "stupid teachers", and "can't catch a break", and "I NEED to tell Kelly about the new shoes I got, DAMMIT!".

Gohan frowned, opening up the folded piece of paper carefully. He looked down at the slip, quickly reading what was written. His eyes widened as realization hit him, and he set the paper down, sighing quietly.


Videl walked quickly down the streets of Satan City, sticking her hands into the pockets of her coat as another gust of freezing wind blew over her. Since she was, without a doubt, the most famous girl in the city, the country, and perhaps one of the most famous in the world, getting to her destination without people calling out to her, hitting on her, etc. was a bit difficult. She pulled her hood over her head, but unfortunately, a man recognized her.

"Oh, it's Videl! Hey pretty lady!"

Videl absentmindedly punched him in the face, and continued on.

The January air was brutally cold, and she shivered as the cold air nipped at her cheeks. She gripped her gym bag even tighter in her hands, and quickened her pace, trying to get to her destination as quickly as possible, without having to injure any other people. She turned down another street and finally stopped in front of an abandoned building. The old, worn, and dilapidated sign read, "Satan Dojo" in big, red, bold letters. She sighed as her mind was flooded with memories, and pushed her way through the creaky doors, walking into the empty building.

It was pitch black, so Videl reached into her gym bag, and pulled out a flashlight. She walked over to some cupboards, the light of the flashlight leading her way, and opened them, to reveal some dozens of unlit candles that she had collected and brought here ever since the dojo closed down about 7 years ago. She couldn't exactly flip the lights on, considering how all of the electricity in this building was shut down years ago, so, she needed some sort of light source, right? Videl then reached into her gym bag and pulled out a box of matches. She lit one, and began lighting all the candles until the entire room was filled with a dim light. Videl blew out the match, and set her things down, shaking slightly.

She looked around the musty old room, and jumped slightly when she saw her reflection in the mirrors lining all of the walls. Before her father had bought this building and opened this dojo, before he was famous, this building had been a ballet school. Her and her father had always hated girly things like ballet, so her father bought it, and turned it into a dojo that he had always wanted to open, leaving the mirror walls where they were.

She removed her coat, and changed into her favorite black shorts, baggy t-shirt, and black training gloves as she looked around the old dojo filled with memories of when she was a child.

And when her mother was still around.

Videl's lip began to quiver, and she cursed, trying to pull herself together for a little while longer.

'Not yet,' she thought, trying her best to stop tears that she hated so very much, for they showed weakness, and Videl certainly was not weak. 'Just a little while longer, and you can let everything out, and then go back to normal, everyday life.' She took in a shaky breath, and, fully clothed in her training gear, walked over to a lone punching bag hanging in the middle of the room. Videl quickly straightened her 2 pigtails, brushed her raven hair back, and punched the small bag swiftly. Dust flew from the punching bag, and Videl coughed, trying her best to brush it all away.

Memories of when her father first opened this dojo when she was 3 years old, before he was famous, standing proudly in front of the building with Videl on one side, and…Videl's mother on the other side, smiling brightly, and beaming with absolute happiness , flooded her mind.

Videl began punching rapidly.

Soon, other memories came to her, like when her father let her take her first punch on this very same punching bag, and her mother running in to make sure that they had at least eaten lunch, as it was hours past the time they should've. Videl's mother had worried about her little girl getting into martial arts, and fretted over her constantly. The little Videl had been annoyed and impatient about it before, but now…

Hot tears began streaming down her cheeks without warning as she kept on punching.

She would give anything to have her mother fret, and worry, and fuss over her now.

She punched quicker, and soon started kicking the small punching bag, until she couldn't breathe. It just wasn't fair. She was only 11 years old! 11 years old, and her mother was ripped away from her, due to cancer. She bent over, breathing deeply, and slowly started to sob.

Videl did this every year. It was some sort of unspoken tradition for her.

Every single year, January 23rd.

The day her mother passed away.

Her father, of course, knew nothing of her sad little tradition. Ever since the Cell Games, he had been wracked with worry that someone might find out the truth about who had really defeated Cell, and so he resorted to drinking and sitting in the basement of Videl's mansion, watching reruns of his old fights. Of course, Videl merely thought that the stress from fame had done this to him, because Hercule Satan wouldn't dare let anyone, not even his little girl, know the truth about the Cell Games. Then, he would lose everything. The fame, the wealth, the power. It would all be gone. Little did he know, Videl already knew the truth about Cell, which was the reason she could never quite look him in the eye anymore.

Videl let out a wail that was a mix between a cry of rage and a sob of helplessness, and got back on her feet, determined to keep training. Determined to release all of her anger and sadness out on that old, worn out punching bag.

She punched once, and then again, warm, wet tears cascading down her cheeks rapidly. She was so immersed in her training that she let the time slip away, as hour by hour passed. She didn't notice the dull ache in her arms that was starting to form. She didn't notice the light outside going from bright to dark. She didn't even notice when the doors to the dojo slowly creaked open, and a certain Saiyan boy walked in, filled with concern.

He looked around, confused. The dimly lit room seemed empty, so why would Erasa tell him afterschool that Videl was… here? He took a few more steps inside the musty old room, and that's when he heard the soft whimpering and the sound of fists hitting a punching bag. Gohan's face took on a solemn expression, and he began walking towards the sound.

Videl whimpered again, but continued to punch, and when the pain of the memories of her mother became too much, she ripped the training gloves off her fingers and turned to the mirrored walls, staring, half-crazed with sadness, at her ragged reflection. Her rubber-bands that kept her pigtails together had fallen out, and her black hair clung to her face as she was drenched in sweat, tears streaming down her face. She let out a cry of pure hatred and punched the mirror, breaking it into shards which pierced her bare skin. Videl whimpered once more, and, as she fell to the ground, overwhelmed with weakness, a pair of strong arms caught her from behind; those arms belonging to a boy who had been watching quietly from a corner of the dimly lit room for a few minutes.

Videl, too tired to even question who had caught her, continued to weep, and let Gohan wrap his strong arms around her. She finally decided to look at who had caught her just in time, and her eyes widened at who it was.

"Gohan?" she asked in a broken whisper, shocked that the shy, quiet boy from her class, who seemed to be hiding things constantly, was the one to come to her rescue. He nodded once, with a look of understanding in his eyes that she had never seen before in another human being, and she wrapped her arms tightly around his neck, sobbing. He held her tightly, until she cried herself to sleep.


When Videl opened her eyes, she looked at her surroundings, and memories of what had happened earlier flooded back into her mind. Videl found herself in Gohan's lap on the ground, with his arms tightly around her. Videl blushed profusely, and looked down, but, seeing as she couldn't quite move due to weakness, stayed put. She sighed, and felt a gentle hand brush some hair out of her eyes.

"Gohan…how long have I been asleep?" she asked warily, rubbing her eyes, not fully trusting the strange boy who had found her at the last second. He chuckled.

"About a couple hours, you really tired yourself out." She turned to look at him, but then looked away. Gohan looked at her, concerned.

"Videl, look at me." He said. She avoided his gaze. He sighed, tilting her chin up, blushing ever-so-slightly, so that she would look him in the eyes. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, Gohan, I'm fine…" she muttered, and looked confusedly down at her left fist, which was bandaged tightly. She looked at Gohan, puzzled.

"I bandaged your hand after you punched the mirror." He said quietly, a slight red tint to his cheeks appearing as he looked down. Videl smiled slightly, picturing him getting out his little first aid kit that his mother made him keep in his bag.

'You can never be too careful, Vi!' she remembered him saying after she had tripped one day while they were walking in the park, scraping her knee. She had laughed at him, and he had blushed, embarrassed.

"How did you know I would be here?" she asked him. The only person she had ever told was…

"Oh…" Videl gasped quietly in understanding, and glared. "I told her not to tell anyone!" she exclaimed angrily, thinking of her bubbly blonde friend, who she probably couldn't trust to keep her secrets anymore. She made a mental note to yell at her later. Gohan chuckled, but his face grew serious.

"Videl, you shouldn't have come here without telling anyone." He said, genuine concern flowing strongly through his words. Videl sighed.

"Gohan, I'm not a baby, I can take care of myself. Besides," she muttered, frustrated, "I…I needed this." Gohan nodded, and Videl looked at him. Again, there was that look of total and complete understanding in his eyes. It was as if… he knew exactly what she was going through.

And then, Videl remembered…he did know what she was going through.

"Gohan," she began hesitantly, shifting herself off of his lap and onto the floor in front of him. "Tell me more about your father."

He stiffened considerably and looked down at her, surprised. Ever since he started school at Orange Star High, he never really talked much about his father. One time during a conversation at lunch, Erasa pointed that fact out, and Gohan coldly and quietly told them that he had died. Erasa had apologized time and time again, but Gohan merely said it was okay, that it wasn't a really big deal. After lunch, when Erasa and Sharpener had wandered off to their next class, Videl had curiously, and a tad bit suspiciously, asked who his father was.

"Son Goku." He replied bluntly, before rushing off to class. Videl had stood there, dumbstruck. The famous fighter, Son Goku? Her gaze had softened. She had felt bad for the poor nerd, losing a family member was very hard.

She would know.

Gohan sighed, and looked at the raven haired girl, looking down at his hands in his lap, embarrassed. His gaze softened as he looked up at her again.. She was just so beautiful. And stubborn. And strong. And angry. And clever. And…and beautiful! He only wished that she would trust him completely, and, and feel the same way about him as he did about her. He sighed, remembering her original question.

"He was such a happy guy." Gohan began softly. Videl peeked up at Gohan through her eyelashes "So strong, and just so…carefree." Videl closed her eyes again, listening intently, sadly.

"Yet, no matter how happy-go-lucky he seemed, he was never afraid to sacrifice himself for the ones he loved and cared about. So…" he looked down, tightening his fists. "When I lost him because I was too arrogant to finish off that monster, Cell, in time, I was filled maddeningly with grief and pain and… shock." Videl opened her eyes and looked down sadly, remembering the time Gohan had first told her about who actually defeated Cell. He never really went into way too much detail, but she could see the look of hurt in his eyes when he told her the truth.

"It hurt to lose him, and to have to raise Goten, my little brother, without a father in his life, but, over the years…I learned something." He said, finally, seeming to struggle with his words. "I learned that instead of missing him, we should cherish the memories of what made that great man so great. Instead of mourning over a loss, we should be celebrating a life. And, Videl… that day I learned that it's okay to show your emotions." Her eyes flew open, and she stared at him incredulously, taking in everything he was telling her.

"Videl, I care about you, more than you know, and the last thing I wanted to see was you let your feelings out on that dusty old punching bag and a mirror. I want you to be able to let your feelings out to me." he took in a shaky breath, amazed that he was revealing all of this to the girl he liked and admired so much.

"Videl… I...I like you a lot."

Videl looked up at him, completely caught off guard.

Could it be true? Did he...did he really have mutual feelings for her as she did for him?

Videl had never been one to fall for a boy. Boys were stupid, perverted, insensitive creatures who, quite frankly, didn't deserve her time of day. Ever. But, when Gohan came along, he was different. Smart, adorable, incredibly good looking, and the best part of all...he didn't care about the famous, great Hercule Satan's daughter.

No. He cared about Videl.

Videl smiled softly, a red tint to her cheeks, matching Gohan's. Without a second thought, she pressed her lips to his softly, lovingly, and pulled away. Gohan could only stutter and blink repeatedly, his cheeks burning bright red.

"I like you too, Gohan. A lot."

He grinned widely and stood up, holding his hand out to her. She shook her head, smiling just as wide but indicating she wasn't able to stand at the moment. He nodded and swooped her up into his arms, bridal style.

"G-Gohan!" she cried out, caught off guard. He laughed loudly, and together they left that Dojo.

That Dojo had always been filled only with terrible memories when Videl first walked into it that day.

However, when the two of them left, it now held a happy one.

Like a small flickering candle in the dark, a tiny beacon of hope.

Videl smiled as they walked through the door. Gohan was right.

'Instead of missing her, we should cherish the memories of what made that great woman so great. Instead of mourning over a loss, we should be celebrating a life...

'Thank you, momma. Rest in peace.'