Fandom: Dragonball Z
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic elements)
Publish Date: 8/13/2002 to 11/4/2002
Disclaimer: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, I do not own DBZ.
"All right, kid," Piccolo tried to be as reassuring as possible. "Start at the beginning."
After a long silence, Gohan took a deep breath and began. "It started with an accident. I was helping Mom in the kitchen a few months after the Cell Games, and I accidentally cut myself. I remember just watching my finger bleed, and how relaxing it felt. Then Mom came in and freaked out, so I had to stop. And it just kind of went from there. At first it didn’t take much, just cutting my finger enough so it would bleed. But eventually that stopped working and I had to find something else. To make a long story short, razors just worked the best, so I stuck with them."
"Why did you keep doing it?"
Gohan hesitated. "I…I guess it just made me feel like I was in control over something in my life. I could control my own pain. And it—it was like my anger or sadness or whatever would just flow out with my blood. There were some days worse than others. The anniversary of Da—the Cell Games is always the worst, because then I have to remember everything," he paused, then added, in a bare whisper. "Last year was awful. Goten already looked just like Dad, and was acting like him too. That day was the reason I didn’t want to train for a week after. I…went nuts. There was blood everywhere. I’m still kind of surprised that Mom didn’t find out then. But I sliced up both my arms really bad. It hurt…a lot…" his voice trailed off into silence.
"So it was a feeling of power?"
"And how much of this stems from the fact that you’re still blaming yourself over just about everything that’s ever happened to any of us?" Piccolo raised an eyebrow.
"Answer the question."
"Okay…quite a bit…"
"Gohan! We’ve been through this!"
"At the Cell Games, Dad died because of me, because of my stubborness. I’m the reason my little brother doesn’t have a father," Gohan cried indignantly. "Piccolo, you died because of me! Remember when Nappa and Vegeta landed? I froze, and you ended up dying because of it!
"And do you think I blame you?" Piccolo asked pointedly.
The question took the teenager by surprise. "What?"
"Do I blame you for the fact that Nappa killed me?"
"Uh…" Gohan didn’t quite know how to answer.
"The answer to that question is as follows: not a chance in hell, kid. I jumped in front of that thing, and I knew exactly what I was doing. The same goes for your dad. Get it through your head."
Gohan just stared at him. "You know me better than I know myself, you know that?"
"Damn straight, kid, and it’s probably going to stay that way," the Namekian smirked. "So tell me honestly, kid. You’re starting to talk through things instead of bottling things up and hurting yourself. Do you feel better at all?"
Gohan actually smiled. "Yeah…a little bit…" He looked down then, at hands that were still trembling. "But…gods…"
"It’s all in your mind, Gohan," Piccolo said knowingly. "You can beat it. Just don’t give in. And that’s something I can’t do for you. This is your fight, and in the end it doesn’t matter what the rest of us do or think. You’re the one who has to make the choice."
They sat in silence for a while. Then Piccolo climbed to his feet. "Cool down for a little bit, take a walk, but don’t leave the lookout. You’re not going anywhere until this whole thing is straightened out. We’ll talk a little bit more later."
Gohan was left alone to regroup. He did feel a little bit better. Actually, more than a little bit.
But there was still that urge…it was as if his hands had grown accustomed to mutilating his flesh, and wanted more. His mind wasn’t going to let him go that easily.
No, no no, he shook his head to accent his thoughts. I’ve caused enough pain to everyone already. I’m not gonna do this anymore. I can’t disappoint Piccolo…no…I won’t betray Piccolo again…
Even as he repeated those thoughts to himself, his fingernails were digging into his arm. He didn’t even realize it until he’d very nearly drawn blood. He jumped to his feet and held his arms straight down by his sides. It was taking every ounce of self control he had to keep from digging his nails into his flesh again. He began walking slowly around the lookout, not moving his arms.
Desperate, he tried to think about other things. Like his mother and his little brother…he’d be seeing them again soon. He tried to imagine how Goten was taking the fact that he wasn’t there. Probably not too well. The first thing Goten did when he woke up every morning was to go see if big brother was awake. Woe to Gohan on the mornings Goten got up first because his little brother’s method of waking him up was usually jumping up and down on his stomach. Gohan figured that by now Goten knew he was gone. He was probably waiting for him to come home and play.
Thinking about his little brother made Gohan feel even more terrible about everything he’d been doing lately. When his mother had told him she was pregnant, he’d made a promise to her, himself, and the then-unborn child. He’d promised that no matter what, he would be the best possible role model and father figure to his younger sibling. What kind of an example was he setting?
It was then that it really hit him. He was hurting everyone else. His mother, his brother, Piccolo, even Vegeta…it hurt his friends to see him in pain, and what was he doing? Purposely hurting himself. Damn it, damn it, damn it…he sat down and put his chin in his hands. This revelation really hurt, mentally and emotionally. He never wanted any of this…
Another thought occurred to him. When in the whole course of what he’d been doing had he ever actually thought about anyone else? Never. He’d just thought about himself, no one else.
So I’m not only a burden of pain, I’m a SELFISH burden of pain. How do they stand me?
It was a viscious cycle—one step forward, a dozen steps back. At least, that was what it was starting to feel like. Whatever advance he might have made in his talk with Piccolo seemed to have gone down the tubes.
Maybe I’ll never get better, he thought. There was that burning sensation behind his eyes, but he didn’t have enough energy to even summon up those tears, let alone cry again. He didn’t want to cry, anyway. He’d been doing way too much of that lately.
Something suddenly jarred him back to the real world. Namely, a green hand resting on his shoulder and Piccolo speaking.
"Okay, kid. I can already tell you’ve been thinking things over. Start talking."