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24 March 2007 @ 02:38 pm
A Price Paid in Blood, ch. 18 (DBZ)  
Title: A Price Paid in Blood
Fandom: Dragonball Z
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic elements)
Genre: Drama/Angst
Publish Date: 8/13/2002 to 11/4/2002
Disclaimer: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, I do not own DBZ.




"Every time something happens to someone important to me, it feels like it’s my fault," Gohan said softly. It had taken a long time, but he could actually admit all these things while looking Piccolo in the eye. "No matter what. Dad dying that first time. My fault—he’d come to rescue me. Like I said, you getting killed by Nappa. My fault. Actually, everyone getting killed by Nappa. My fault. If I hadn’t lost my nerve, I might have been able to stop it. Dad getting killed by Cell. My fault. Maybe if I’d killed Cell when he told me to, he wouldn’t have had to die."

"The key word in all of those statements is ‘maybe’ or ‘might’, Gohan," Piccolo replied. "You might have made a difference, you might not have. No one knows what could’ve been, but it can’t be changed. It’s all over and done with now. You need to stop letting what’s happened in the past destroy your present. Just let it go."

"Letting go…easier said than done," the teenager commented sardonically. "Everything’s easier said than done. And it’s hard to just let everything go when I have to look at my father every day in the form of my little brother."

Piccolo leaned forward. "Go on." They’d gotten to the point where they talked through everything that came up, no matter how seemingly insignificant.

Gohan sighed. "When Mom told me she was going to have a baby, I swore that I would be the best brother and father figure possible. What I didn’t count on was getting a mini-Dad for a sibling. I know, I know, he’s not Dad, he’s not a copy, he’s a completely different person. But he looks like Dad, he acts like Dad, he thinks like Dad, he dresses like Dad…he even eats like Dad! Everyone says so! It’s impossible to miss. And he looks up to me, Piccolo. I’m Gohan, I’m big brother, I’m the greatest guy in the world—direct quote, by the way. But every time I look at him…I just see Dad…then I blink and it’s Goten again. There’s no escape."

"But you said it yourself—Goten is not your father," Piccolo prodded, the voice of logic. "He’s a completely different person, no matter how much he may resemble Goku. He may very well change when he gets older, and become, oh say, more like you. There’s no telling what will happen."

"Yeah…I know…"

-o-


It was nearing evening on his second day there, and Gohan was sitting in what could almost be called his spot on the lookout. Whenever he wasn’t working through things with Piccolo, he was sitting in that spot, on the very edge of the lookout. From that vantage point he could easily see the planet Earth. It was quite peaceful.

For the first time in years, Gohan didn’t feel like he had to let himself bleed to let his anger or frustration or hurt run out. He was completely relaxed.

He and Piccolo had talked through everything. His guilt over his father’s death, the fact that Goten was growing to be more and more like their father every day and the impact from that, and the nightmares. For the first time since the Cell Games, there were no secrets. In hindsight, Gohan realized that there never should have been secrets to begin with.

I guess hindsight is 20/20, he thought with a touch of irony, listening to Mr. Popo scurry around, watering the flowers. And I’m supposed to be the smart one in this insane asylum. Guess not.

He’d actually made a comment to that effect to Piccolo, and had managed to get a dry chuckle out of his old teacher. "You are the smart one, kid," the Namekian had replied. "The thing is that you’re still insane, just like the rest of us."

With friends like that…how can I be sane?!? he wondered. Man, it’s so weird to see Piccolo being…I don’t know, nice! And he only ever acts like that around me. I’d never tell him, but he can be really sweet sometimes.

"Pondering the mysteries of the universe?" someone asked from behind him, a voice he’d heard a lot over the past couple of days. "Or just pretending you have a brain in your head?"

"Something like that," Gohan laughed in response. "So what’s next on the agenda for restoring my mental health?"

"Your mental health is too far gone for anyone to save," Piccolo looked down from his imposing seven-foot height, arms folded across his chest in his usual stance. "Actually, I wanted to tell you that you need to get ready to leave. You’re going home tonight."

Gohan jumped to his feet. "I am?!?!?" At Piccolo’s affirmation, the teenager actually began dancing around the lookout. "Woo-hoo! I get to see Mom and Goten again!! Yay!"

"Uh, kid?" Piccolo’s tone was a tiny bit uncomfortable.

"Yeah?"

"Knock it off."

"Oh…right…sorry," Gohan stopped jumping around and looked sheepishly at his mentor. "So can we go now? Can we?"

"For the love of the gods, kid, you’re acting like a five-year-old on Christmas!" Piccolo groaned. "Sure, let’s get moving. Whath happens now is all up to you. And if you screw up, kid, we might have to go through this whole thing again."

Gohan clasped his hands over his heart and fell backwards as if struck. "A death worse than Fate!"

"Kid, if you keep this up, I’m gonna hafta beat your butt!" Piccolo tried to look and sound menacing, but it’s hard to look and sound threatening when the corners of your mouth keep twitching, like you’re trying to keep a smile off your face. "Come on, Gohan. I think your family needs you home."