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.
It was a rare occurrence in Goku’s life, but it was happening now. He was so stunned he couldn’t even speak. All he could do was stare helplessly at the train-wreck of emotions in the shape of the person that was his son. He’d never imagined that it was that bad. When had this happened? When had the sweet, polite, obedient child become this…it wasn’t even a person anymore, it was just a bundle of nerves, ragged feelings, and seething rage.
Nearby, nearly the exact same thoughts were chasing each other through Piccolo’s head. This was his best friend! How had he missed what had been happening? He knew Gohan better than anyone, and yet even he hadn’t known, hadn’t been able to see what was happening. And it felt like one hell of a personal failure on his part.
Gohan had stopped crying by now, though he was still moving backwards with slow, dragging, uneven steps. His breath still came in ragged gasps, and he was still hissing at them, "I hate you…I hate you…I wish I was dead…I hate you…I want to die…"
"Gohan?" Krillen said softly. "You don’t want to do something you’ll regret."
"What the hell do you know?" the teenager snapped angrily.
"We know the whole story, Gohan," Yamcha answered softly. "We know. They told us so we could help make sure you didn’t try to run again."
Gohan stared at them, something written across his face that defied any and all description. Finally, he sputtered, "You…know? They…told you?"
The small assembly nodded, looking collectively worried. And somehow, that only served to make the demi-Saiyan angrier. "So now you’re my babysitters? Is that it?"
"Gohan—" Goku tried to speak, but he was cut off.
"So now the whole world knows how screwed up I am? Is that what’s going now? Well, fine! That’s just fine!" his eyes blazed as he dug his fingernails into his skin. It took a few seconds, but he managed to rip a two-inch gash in his arm, and the blood ran. "How’s this? Is this screwed up enough for you? Is it? Am I insane enough yet?"
Gohan’s face suddenly transformed from anguish to resolve, and he smiled again, the same slightly deranged smile as when his hands had started bleeding. Apparently forgetting about the blood on his arm, he turned back to face his father, held up his left hand and formed a sizeable ki blast.
"No, Gohan!" someone—it might have been Bulma, though he honestly wasn’t sure—yelled from off to the side. "You don’t want to kill your father! Don’t do it!"
"Who says this is for Dad?" the teenager sneered. Across the yard, as realization sunk in, he continued. "This isn’t for Dad. This is for me. I promised Piccolo that I wouldn’t run again, and I’m not going to. But I can’t stay here. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t! There’s no place for me here. I can’t…I can’t do it!" With those angry words left hanging in the air, he aimed the blast at his chest.
"What do we do?" Tien yelled.
"There’s nothing we can do," Piccolo said, lowering his head in defeat. "We could stop him a million times, and he’d never give up. We can’t do anything. Right now, his problem is with Goku, so it’s going to have to be Goku who talks him out of it."
ChiChi shrieked, and the chibis cried even louder; they didn’t have a clue as to what was transpiring, but they knew that it was something bad, and that Gohan was in trouble, and that was enough—or rather, too much—for them.
Goku faced his son and spoke calmly. "Gohan, listen to me. Don’t do it. Please, just calm down."
"Why should I listen to you?" Gohan spat angrily.
"Don’t do it," Goku continued as if he hadn’t heard what his son said. "Please. You’re choosing a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Think about your mother. What will she do if you go? And Goten. You said it yourself, you’re the only role model your brother’s ever had. How will he take it if you’re gone? Won’t that hurt him?" The whole time Goku was talking, he was walking forward slowly, trying to get close enough to maybe grab Gohan’s arm or something.
The ki ball in Gohan’s hand flickered ever so slightly, but not for long. But it was enough that Goku noticed it and saw that maybe something he was saying was getting through to his son.
A flash of orange broke away from the assembly by the house and attached itself to Gohan’s leg. The teenager looked down into his brother’s eyes. "Goten, let go!"
"Uh-uh!" Goten shook his head fervently and tightened his arms around his brother’s leg. "No!"
"Goten, let go!" Gohan was getting angry, and at that point he didn’t care what he did.
"No!" the chibi shrieked. "Won’t!"
"GOTEN!" his temper snapped, and he raised his free hand as if to strike his brother.
His mother screamed again. "Gohan, NO!" Out of the corner of his eye he could see her trying to run forward to her sons, but Yamcha held her back, muttering something about her getting hurt. And he could see the horrified look on his father’s face as well.
Goten cringed in anticipation, and whimpered softly. "Big brother…"
Something inside Gohan clicked at that moment, and he froze, and for the first time really thought about what he was doing. He could feel the ki blast pulsing in his hand; Goten was hugging his leg possessively, and his hand was raised…
Oh dear god! his mind went numb with horror. I almost hit Goten! What the hell is wrong with me? What kind of a monster have I become?
He stared at the poised hand for a moment. It was red from his bleeding. The irony of being red-handed (so to speak) wasn’t quite lost on him, even in this state. And the blood on his arm, too…it was all still wet, still warm and sticky on his flesh. After contemplating his arm for a long time, his raised hand dropped to his side, and came to rest on his little brother’s head. Goten stopped wincing and looked up hopefully. Gohan used his free hand to pry his brother off his leg and gently pushed him back. The chibi stumbled back a few feet and made a small, high-pitched sound.
Gohan ignored Goten’s cries and looked at the blast in his hand. It was time.
"Gohan, listen to me," Goku resumed, seeing a glimmer of something in his son’s eyes. "It won’t change anything. It won’t do any good to anyone, it’ll just cause a whole lot of pain for more people. Think about your family and friends. Do you know how crushed they would all be if you were dead? Please don’t do this. I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I never knew you felt this way, and I never realized what it was doing to you. If I’d known, things would have been different," he continued moving forward…only a few more steps, and he would be within arm’s reach. Please…don’t do it. Don’t do it, Gohan. "Please don’t do it. We can’t force you not to die, Gohan. We can only ask you to live."
For a long, tense moment, Gohan stared at the ki ball still pulsing in his hand, as if mesmerized. But it was flickering now, along with his eyes, which were going back and forth from emerald to onyx. Everyone was unconsciously holding their breath…
Then the energy ball faded from Gohan’s hand, and his arm slowly dropped to his side; his eyes and hair darkened from goldenrod and lime to jet. His chin dropped and hit his chest. He did not move.
Goku wanted to dance from happiness, but there were other things to be done. He had managed to get within reach of his older son, and that’s what he did—he slowly reached out a hand and lowered it onto Gohan’s shoulder. "Gohan? Look at me, son."
The teenager forcefully shook his head, so Goku tried to put a hand under Gohan’s chin to make his son look up at him, look up into his eyes, but Gohan jerked his head off to one side and lowered his chin again; his eyes remained downcast. Goku decided not to push the issue but instead continued to speak softly. "Are you all right?" All he could get in response was a mute nod.
Slowly, Goku pulled his son forward and hugged him. "I’m sorry, Gohan. I know that’s not worth much, but it’s all I can say. I’m sorry, son." The teenager tensed momentarily, then relaxed and hugged him back, if somewhat awkwardly.
It was about then that it really hit Gohan—what he had almost done. He’d nearly hit Goten, and he could have died. And all of a sudden, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to die. The sounds of screams and crying echoed around in his ears, a reminder as to what he’d just put his friends and family through. And they were just trying to help him. Suddenly, his desire to make them hurt, to make them feel his pain…it disgusted him. He felt lower than dirt.
No no no…get it together, Gohan! he mentally chastised himself when he felt his entire body starting to shake, like a washing machine on spin cycle. And add insult to injury, his eyes were once again filling with tears he would have rather died then shed. Unfortunately, death just wasn’t an option anymore. As the first genuine tear slid slowly down his face, he realized that he had no control left.
For what seemed like the millionth time in the past couple of day, Gohan lost it. He was probably the strongest being alive, and he was powerless to keep himself from crying. He was Saiyan, dammit! Why couldn’t he keep it under control? Yet here he was, after nearly putting a beam through his own chest and striking his little brother, he was sobbing like a child into his father’s shirt, whispering "I’m sorry…I’m sorry" over and over again, though he doubted they believed it.
Goku felt the first tremors run through Gohan’s mind, and squeezed a little bit tighter. "Hey, it’s okay, it’s okay. Just let it go."
Gohan felt something grab his leg again, and he looked down to see not only Goten, but Trunks as well this time. Both chibis were looking up at him through wide eyes.
"Big brother? You better now?" Goten asked innocently, smiling at up Gohan. But hearing that only made him think again about what he had almost done to his little brother, and he couldn’t respond for lack of coherence.
"It’s okay," Goku continued to whisper soothingly. "It’s okay…"
Gohan managed to find his voice. "No, it’s not okay!" He took a few rattly breathes and continued. "I’ve spent my whole life helping the entire rest of the world fight their demons. And when I need to face my own problems and my own crisises, everyone disappears! Nobody cares!"
"You know that’s not true."
"Maybe not, but it sure as hell feels like it most of the time!"
"What else? I know there’s more," Goku’s voice was soft and comforting. The assembly of Z fighters were slowly moving in towards them, as if worried that their presence might frighten Gohan. None of them would have ever thought that Son Gohan was even remotely capable of any of this, and they were very much in shock.
The teenager choked. "I…I have to go." He tried pulling away then, but Goku wouldn’t let go.
"Why do you have to go?"
"I can’t stay after what I just did?" for the first time since this whole thing had started, he looked directly into his father’s face, into his father’s eyes. "No way in hell! I…I just can’t."
"Why?" Piccolo asked softly from behind him.
Gohan jumped a mile and turned his head slowly to look forlornly over his shoulder. "Because none of you trust me anymore. Now all that stuff I was afraid of really is true. I’m just pain for everyone. I’m a monster. Besides," his voice dropped to the barest hint of a whisper, so soft barely even Piccolo heard it, "it’s not like anyone will ever forgive me."
The Namekian smirked, having been the only one able to make out the words. "I wouldn’t be so sure about that, kid. I think everybody is more than willing to forgive you for this one."
Instead of the disclaimer he’d expected, Gohan looked at him thankfully. "Do you…mean that?"
"Of course," Goku said, and Gohan turned back to look at his father. "Gohan, all we ask is that you trust us. We’re not your friends and family for nothing! We’re here for you, and we love you no matter what, even if you screw up occasionally. Trust me, all of us do," he was elated when that earned a weak smile. "And don’t worry about us forgiving you, Gohan. Forgiveness is not a problem because there’s nothing to forgive."