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.
Sunlight streamed in through the window, forcefully dragging Gohan out of a particularly restful slumber. Groaning in protest, he pulled the blanket up over his head to protect himself from the harsh sunlight. Unfortunately, the sun wasn’t the only one that wanted that particular teenager awake.
"GohanGohanGohanGohanGohanGohan!" a little voice squealed, jumping on the bed. And woefully landed very hard on his stomach. He flung the covers off to see a little blur of orange, blue, and black using his stomach for a trampoline.
"What are you doing?" Gohan asked, shaking the sleep-haze from his mind.
Goten stopped jumping and sat down, still on his brother’s stomach. "Waking you up. Mommy says breakfast is ready and that you need to come down. Then we can go play!"
"Umm…Goten, it would be a lot easier for me to get up if you got off my stomach," Gohan pointed out.
"Oh," Goten giggled and jumped down. "Sorry."
"Not a problem."
The two brothers went down to the kitchen, enjoyed a quick breakfast—well, as quick as any meal being eaten by a Saiyan can be—and headed outside.
"So, whaddya wanna do, squirt?" Gohan looked down at the child beside him, who was jumping up and down in impatience. He wanted to get going!
"Hide and seek! I’ll hide!" Goten told him, then ran off, calling back over his shoulder, "Count, and then come find me! And no peeking!"
Gohan had to smile. He could sense his little brother a mile away, so he always knew where Goten was. It was just a matter of pretending that he didn’t know. Then he got to hide, and things got interesting.
"One…two…three…four…" Gohan stood, facing the wall of the house, counting slowly and out loud. Off in the forest his Saiyan ears could hear his little brother laughing. "…eleven…twelve…"
"Very good, Gohan, you can count!" a familiar voice said from behind him. He half-turned.
"Yes, Bulma. I can count. Amazing, isn’t it?" he replied very seriously. He also noted that Vegeta was standing a few feet behind her, and for some reason that made him quite nervous. But there was someone else who was happy to see him.
"Hi Gohan!" a small child with purple hair and huge blue eyes jumped up at Gohan.
"Hey Trunks! We’re playing hide and seek. Do you wanna go hide?"
"Yeah!" Trunks looked up. "Mommy, can I?"
Trunks needed no further encouragement, and disappeared into the forest.
Gohan braced himself, and was ready for the question when it came.
"Gohan, are you all right?" Bulma said softly to make sure the children’s Saiyan-bred ears wouldn’t be able to hear.
He sighed at the anticipated question. "Actually, Bulma, I’ve never been better."
"Well…" she looked skeptical, but nodded. "I’ll take your word for it. I don’t suppose your mother’s inside, is she?"
"Yeah, she’s doing some chores, but she’ll be happy to see you."
The blue-haired woman disappeared into the house, leaving Gohan alone to face Vegeta. NOT a confrontation any sane person would look forward to.
For a long, tense moment the two Saiyans merely stared at each other. Finally, Vegeta spoke. "So, you finally decided to come back."
"Yes, I did," Gohan answered softly. "I kinda came to my senses."
"With a little help from the Namek, I’m sure," Vegeta growled. "Hmph. I still say you’re a fool for everything you did. I haven’t gotten a moment’s peace from that woman since you went running off, and I hold you responsible for that."
Only a person who knew Vegeta well could have picked out any trace of jest in Vegeta’s tone, and fortunately, Gohan could. He allowed himself the tiniest of smiles. Vegeta had been worried about him, though he wouldn’t ever have admitted to caring about the son of his rival. "Oh. Um, sorry ‘bout that."
Vegeta smirked, then turned and headed towards the house. Gohan hesistated, then called after him. "Hey, Vegeta, can I ask you something?"
The Saiyan Prince half-turned.
"Why did you come after me? Was it just the fact that Bulma would’ve killed you if you didn’t?"
Vegeta didn’t answer right away, but finally, his expression actually softened a little bit. "Let’s just say I had a little debt to pay. I owed your father a favor. Plus," he sighed, putting a long-suffering expression on his face, "Bulma would have killed me if I didn’t." Having said his piece, he turned his back to Gohan and went inside.
"Gohan!" two little voices screeched from the forest, sending flocks of birds into flight.
"Coming!" he called back, chuckling at the fact that the two demi-Saiyan children were sending up ki flares so bright that he was surprised no one else could pick them up. And they wonder how I always manage to find them so quickly…
Still laughing softly at the naivety of children, he jogged into the foliage to hunt them down.