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.
"Brother!" the little voice squealed, and Gohan found himself flat on his back, having been knocked over by a miniature tornado that had come flying at him.
Less than an instant later, his mother had also tackled him.
"Big brother’s home! Big brother’s home!" Goten squealed, wrapping his arms around his brother’s neck. Unfortunately for Gohan, his mother was doing the same thing, and having two sets of arms wrapped tightly around his neck was slowly but surely cutting off his oxygen.
"Umm…could you maybe let me breathe?" he gasped. His mother and brother looked at him and slowly released him, allowing him to climb to his feet.
"Gohan! Are you all right?" ChiChi flung her arms around her son’s shoulders again as soon as he was on his feet. "Where have you been?"
Gohan’s arms tightened around his mother. "I’m fine, Mom. I had to get some help from a friend."
ChiChi looked up at him. "Piccolo, right?"
The teenager smiled a little sheepishly. "Yeah, I had a nice long talk with Mr. Piccolo."
"I’m so glad you’re home!" she hugged him again, then moved so that Goten could have his turn.
Gohan bent down and scooped his little brother up into a tight hug. Goten’s tiny arms tightened around his brother’s neck.
"Big brother, are you okay?" Goten asked, not letting go.
"I’m fine, squirt."
"’Cause I felt bad about you."
Gohan pulled back enough so that he could look down at his brother. "What do you mean?"
"I felt sick in my tummy while you were gone and I told Mommy that it was something bad. Then I felt better and I knew you were okay and you would come home soon to play with me and tell me my bedtime story."
Gohan nearly fell over in surprise. His brother was already sensing these things? But he hid his startlement and gave the child a smile. "And what do you know, you were right."
"I know," Goten chirped, then threw his arms back around Gohan’s neck. "But I missed you so much, big brother. Don’t go away anymore, okay?"
Talk about a guilt trip, Gohan felt a pang of remorse for leaving Goten behind. "I won’t go anywhere if I can help it. Sorry, kiddo. Hey, let me talk to Mom for a second, and then I’ll be right out to play. Sound good?"
"Yay!" Goten jumped down from his brother’s arms and ran off to get ready, leaving Gohan alone to face his mother.
"Gohan?" ChiChi asked seriously, her face a mask of anxiousness. "Are you really all right? If there’s anything wrong, you can tell me—"
"Mom," Gohan stepped forward and put a hand on his mother’s shoulder, "it’s all okay now. I did some pretty stupid stuff, and I’m sorry. It’s not gonna happen anymore. I promise. I’m sorry."
Tears sprang into ChiChi’s eyes, and she hugged her son again. "I love you, sweetheart."
He smiled. "I love you too, Mom."
She stepped back. "If I see Piccolo around any time soon, I might have to thank him."
Gohan grinned in amusement. "He thought that if he came home with me you were gonna chase him around the house with a frying pan."
ChiChi grinned back. "That’s an option too…but, Gohan, are you sure—"
"Gohan! Come on!" Goten was growing impatient.
"I’m being paged. Coming!" he gave his mother a smile and a last squeeze and darted off after his brother to whatever games Goten had in mind. He spent the afternoon making up for lost time with his sibling, who seemed strangely more attached, as if afraid Gohan was going go away again.
That night, Goten fell asleep in his older brother’s lap right at the end of the story. Gohan tucked him into bed and leaned down to whisper something in the child’s ear. "Stay tuned for the next episode tomorrow night, same time, same place. I love you, little bro."
Goten smiled in his sleep.