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.
Finally, Gohan mentally sighed with relief. Away at last. He couldn’t sense Piccolo or Vegeta anymore. That meant that they couldn’t pick him up either. And that was how he wanted it.
Tiny white box still safely in his hand, he landed on top of a high bluff overlooking a huge pine forest, cloaked in shadow beneath the pitch dark of the night sky. The only light came from the millions of twinkling stars fastened to the black velvet overhead. Any other fourteen-year-old would have been scared out of their mind at the prospect of going in there.
To Son Gohan, it was as frightening as brushing his teeth.
Fear, he snorted audibly. The last time I felt fear was when Dad died at the Cell Games. I tasted fear when Dad died. Nothing scares me anymore. Piccolo taught me not to be afraid. I guess I owe him for that one. Huh. Best lesson he ever taught me.
Leaving his thoughts to go where they will, he jumped down from the ridge, down through the leaves and branches, pulling up at the last second for a smooth landing. Once firmly on his feet, he took another good look around.
Trees were clustered together for as far as the eye could see. Mostly pine trees, but a few other kinds scattered here and there. They were all grouped together so closely that it was completely impossible to see through them. And the overhead foliage was so thick that none of the already-faint light from the overhead stars could have possibly made it down to the ground. The entire area was cloaked in darkness. And Gohan found that to be quite pleasing.
A quick slash from one of his wonderful blades permitted an escape valve for his anger. Having done that, he stuffed the box into the pocket of his gi. Moving at a leisurely pace, he wandered alone through the forest for a time, his Saiyan-borne senses keeping him from running into anything or falling and hurting himself. He was tense from the chase, and he was trying desperately to calm down. Blood ran down his arm, and the cool night air was quite refreshing. Yes, all in all, it was quite calming.
But all too quickly, the blood tapered off, and he simply used his fingernails to reopen that cut and let the blood flow anew. After nearly an hour of this, walking around and reopening his old cut, he realized that he was absolutely exhausted.
After weighing options and possibilities, he decided he was far enough away to be safe. He’d changed directions once he was out of sensing range, so chances were that they were searching for him in the wrong direction.
Guess I should find someplace to sleep, he thought to himself, scratching the cut open again. It was a fine night out, and he decided to simply sleep out. He could make do with a bed under a tree.
Rough pine needles scratched at his skin as he flung himself onto the ground beneath a huge pine tree, but it didn’t bother him. He ignored the itching and let his eyes fall closed. Somewhere nearby, he could hear an owl’s melancholy cry.
All in all, the atmosphere of the whole forest was doing a fine job of contributing to his already-somber mood. And he was thoroughly indulging in feeling sorry for himself.
Stupid, stupid, stupid…why was Mom in my room? he thought angrily, wallowing in self-pity that only fed his mood and his anger. It was like giving a drunk the liquor he shouldn’t have. She couldn’t have known or even suspected anything until she found that blade. She was way too surprised to have suspected it. But how did she find out then?
His mind wandered back and back to earlier that evening. Before his, at times, barely tolerable existence turned into the living hell it had become. He’d gone into his room…locked the door…Goten had knocked…he’d gone down for dinner…outside to play…told the story…
Suddenly his eyes flew opened and he sat up straight. Had he really been that incredibly stupid?
No way… he shook his head in disbelief and anger at himself. There’s no way I could have possibly been that stupid. In all this time…I’ve never slipped up, not once! Where the hell was my head? She went in and found the evidence laying right out there in the open. Way to go, Gohan. Nice move, genius.
For the dozenth time, he used his fingernails to rip the cut on his arms back open and let his anger just run out from the cut, down his arm, and onto the ground.
It helped. He felt better, and he let himself fall backwards again, back onto the blanket of dry pine needles that covered the dirt floor of the forest.
Considering that he was exhausted—mentally, emotionally, and physically—it was surprising that rest came quickly. It seemed that he had no sooner closed his eyes then Slumber had appeared on her silver wings and touched his eyes with sleep.
As he fell into the darkness behind his eyelids, the last complete thought to make it through his mind was, I’ll figure this out tomorrow.
The next thing he knew, a few sparse beams of sunlight were managing to peek through the heavy foliage overhead. His head hurt, dried blood decorated his arm, every muscle in his body was screaming after having spent a night curled up on the hard ground, and several songbirds were chirping nearby, their song irritatingly cheerful. It did nothing to lighten his mood; rather, it just made his head throb.
Attempting to sit up didn’t help him much either. His head simply ached even more, and it also gave way to the realization that hunger was tearing at his insides.
For a Saiyan, that wasn’t just bad. That was a catastrohpe of near-biblical proportions.
Forcing himself into a standing position, Gohan leaned against the trunk of the tree he’d fallen asleep under and tried to get his bearings. He was still fairly groggy, so that wasn’t a menial task.
Let’s see here… he massaged his temples as he made an attempt to review the events of the past evening in his mind. …wow. How stupid am I really?
Hindsight was starting to tell him that he’d overreacted the night before. Maybe he shouldn’t have run away…but then again, he’d had no desire to get his butt kicked by Vegeta.
Or his mother, for that matter. And there was no doubt in his mind as to which would be the most painful. He had to face facts—Son ChiChi was just plain scary.
No, he told himself, letting momentary despair give way to anger. I didn’t overreact. They did. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not hurting them. This is my thing. They don’t have to do it. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not hurting them…
That thought seemed to be on continuous playback in his mind.
I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not hurting them…
As if to accent his thoughts and prove his point, he fished a blade out of the box, which was still stuffed into his gi pocket. Without even a second’s hesitation, he dug the blade in deep and slashed his lower arm. Pain seared through his entire arm for a moment, before giving way to the beautifully relaxing feeling of warm blood seeping from his flesh and onto his arm.
After letting the bleeding taper off, he decided to find some form of nourishment and then get moving again. He was almost surprised that he hadn’t been discovered. Piccolo didn’t sleep, that much he knew. And Vegeta…well, even though he knew Saiyans replenished their strength mostly by sleeping, he’d almost been surprised when he found out that the Saiyan Prince slept.
A sudden thought struck him, and he chuckled to himself. Well, I guess I picked up yet another useful lesson during my training. How to survive out here in the wilderness. I owe ya big time for this one, Mr. Piccolo.
More thorough inspection of the forest proved that amidst all the pine and fur trees, there were several fruit-bearing trees. He was able to make a decent meal of apples and berries, not unlike the kind of meal he would have enjoyed whilst training under his old mentor. It brought back memories, things he hadn’t thought about in years.
‘Hey, Mr. Piccolo, why are you and my dad always fighting? ‘Cause I was gonna invite you to my birthday party!’ Gohan remembered with a faint smile. Gods above and below, I was an idiot!
Finishing up, he wandered casually out of the woods, unconsciously keeping a mental ear positioned for any sign of someone coming after him.
Yeah right. They probably went the wrong way. Oh well.
The sun was high in an cerulean sky by the time Gohan got out from beneath the canopy of branches. Taking a moment to breath and make that all-important cut, he lifted up into the sky, keeping his speed relatively low—which meant that he was going at about the speed of a standard jet, still slow by Saiyan standards—so as not to flare his ki up too much. If he went to full power for any reason, they’d probably be able to sense it even with as great a distance as he imagined there to be between him and…them.
As he took off, some vague part of him wondered why he was thinking about everyone in such a bitter fashion. That vague part knew that they were only trying to help him, that they were concerned about what he was doing, that they didn’t deserve to be thought of in such a sour manner.
He agreed with that last idea; they didn’t deserve his anger. Only he did.
The rest was another story, though. They weren’t trying to help him, and they weren’t concerned about him. They just wanted to force him into the mold they’d designed for him, just like they’d been doing ever since he was a child, and never mind what he wanted. His mother wanted him to be a scholar, Piccolo had wanted him to be a fighter…everyone wanted something different from him. Honestly, the only person who probably wouldn’t have been disappointed if he’d decided to break free and do something completely different was his father.
Gohan closed his eyes as a wave of emotions washed over him. Dad would have been proud of me no matter what I decided to do. I could have run away from home and joined the circus, and he still would’ve found something in it to be happy about, provided that Mom and Piccolo didn’t kill me first. Hot tears stung his eyes, seeping through his lowered eyelids and onto his face. Kami, Dad, I miss you so much…and it’s my fault…
He shook his head vehemently, as if trying to shake the memories right out of his head, and rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. Stop it, Gohan, you’re not doing yourself any good. Just quit it and focus on what you’re doing.
Quite honestly, he didn’t have the faintest idea where he was going. He’d vaguely thought about a country on the other side of the world, called America, or somewhere around there, like Canada. Those were places he’d read about in all those years he’d been studying under his mother’s ever-watchful eye.
Perhaps…or perhaps not. He didn’t know.
And he really didn’t care.
Instead of thinking, he forced himself to focus on the sapphire-blue of the sky ahead…the warmth of the sun on his back…the wind through his hair…the scenery below him…
Anything to keep him from thinking about what he was leaving behind. Anything to keep from thinking about everything he was running away from.
If only he could actually figure out what he was running from. When he went over things in his head, despite his best efforts not to, it didn’t make sense.
It just didn’t make sense.
The old man sat with his fishing pole, weight bobbing happily on the water’s surface. It was sunny…peaceful…a warm Iowa summer day. Perfect for fishing!
Just then, he heard a strange whistling sound. A look around didn’t ascertain the cause of the strange noise.
Suddenly, something landed in the center of the pond with a large plop, sending a spray of water droplets flying into the air. The old man looked blankly at the spot where…whatever it was…had landed. Then he shrugged and went back to fishing, forgetting all about it.