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.
The world went right past Gohan, and liked it that way; he watched impassively, refusing to let anyone in. He did not eat, he did not sleep, he did not speak. He merely watched with unseeing eyes.
Not letting himself really see anything was a task. His mother hadn’t stopped crying, his father was genuinely angry, his little brother was upset, his friends were concerned, and Piccolo was disappointed. Yet Gohan refused to see. He refused to let their pain get to him.
Thus far, the only person he’d consented to speak to was Goten. It had been shortly after he’d shunned his father. For a few minutes, he had let himself open up at the pleading of his two-year-old sibling. And the only reason for that was because he was still almost absolutely certain that Goten would not betray him. But then…they had come back, and he’d had to clam up again, much to his brother’s dismay. Stupid fools. Once they’d come back in, he’d withdrawn immediately back into himself, and they’d given up. But he was starting to suspect that another attempt would soon be made.
Gohan permitted himself a tiny sigh. Why wouldn’t they just quit already? He wasn’t going to give them anything willingly. Truth be told, the way he felt right at that moment, it would have taken much more than wild horses to drag it out of him.
A sudden thought struck him, and for the first time in quite a while, he moved. Specifically, he sat straight up in his chair. Why hadn’t he thought of that before? It was something he had been doing his absolute best to keep suppressed, but when the idea came, the urge came back full force. But he’d have to be extremely cautious; they were watching him. Not that he cared, of course.
Slowly, as so not to make any noise, he stood up and tiptoed out of the living room on a beeline for his own bedroom. It wasn’t even that difficult to sneak past the kitchen door; all he’d had to do was faze out, and faze back in on the side of the door he needed to be on. From there, it had just been a simple stroll.
Once inside the supposed safety of his room, he began his search. The tiny corner of his mind that was and had been recording everything since this whole ordeal had started was wondering if anyone had noticed his disappearance from the living room, though he had yet to pay that little voice of reason any heed. He was beyond reason.
Finally, he found his prize—a tiny scrap of metal with one side sharpened to a knifelike edge. That razor edge was already stained, but it didn’t matter. The blade was still plenty sharp, and that was the only requirement as far as he was concerned.
A huge grin distorted Gohan’s face. It had taken every ounce of self-control he’d possessed to bury that urge to cut, but finally he could make up for that lost time.
The rain was still pouring down and the clouds were casting strange shadows on the floor. Alone, crouched on the floor of his bedroom, Gohan slashed his arm, and grinned even wider, more sadistically. It felt good. Insanely good.
Without even waiting for the blood to taper off, he made another cut, and another, and another. That rational part of his mind was panicking, setting off a red alert in his mind, but he wouldn’t listen. He just couldn’t stop. There wasn’t any reality, just the blood. Blood…red blood…wonderful blood…
As he raised the blade to make yet another slash on his arm, a tiny sound at the doorway alerted him to someone’s presence. He figured that they had indeed noticed his disappearance and had sent someone looking for him. They obviously didn’t know what to do about him yet if they thought he was done. Not a chance.
Well, that was the last voice he’d expected to hear. His breath caught in his throat, and a silent prayer raced through his head. Please no…no… Slowly, he turned his head…
Goten was standing in the doorway, pale-faced and wide-eyed, mouth dropped open in horror.
The stained blade fell out of fingers that had suddenly gone numb. He tried to speak, but his tongue had frozen in his head, and he couldn’t say a word. Even if he had been able to talk, he couldn’t think of a thing to say. His little brother had just discovered what he was doing.
For a long, tense moment, the two brothers just stared across the room at each other. Then, Goten moved. The chibi took two staggering steps backwards, then burst into tears and took off, screaming, "Brother doing bad! Brother doing bad!"
Gohan jumped to his feet and chased the two-year-old out of the room, but only made it a few steps before he heard the commotion down in the kitchen. He could hear Goten sobbing, still shrieking at the top of his lungs, and a chorus of voices muttering angrily. He didn’t even try to make out what was being said. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Goten wasn’t supposed to know. He felt lower than ever before, lower than dogs, lower than dirt. He was officially the scum of the earth.
Instinct kicked in, and instinct said Get away.
Knowing that he would never be able to get past them again, nor was he in any real condition to run, his cornered, desperate mind made a quite illogical decision. He dove into the bathroom and slammed the door close, throwing the lock behind him. Ridiculous against Saiyan strength and ki blasts, but he just didn’t know what else to do. At least he couldn’t see any of them.
The voices grew louder, which meant they were coming. They stopped outside the door. There was some shuffling, then…
"Hey, come on kid, let us in," Piccolo’s voice came from the other side of the door. "If we have to knock it down, we will."
Gohan didn’t trust himself to reply. Not only was he shaking all over, with wet blood covering his arm, but he wasn’t sure he’d be able to maintain any semblance of coherence if he had to speak.
"Open up, brat," another voice, Vegeta, snarled, followed by a clamor that seemed to be everyone else delivering sharp reprimands to the Saiyan Prince for his attitude.
Finally, a third voice. "Gohan, please open the door." It was his mother. Thus far, that had been the hardest one to hold against.
And yet he forced himself to remain silent, not trusting his ability to answer, trying to force down the hysteria that seemed to be rising in his throat.
"Gohan, now. Or the door comes down," his father said evenly in a voice that very clearly said ‘I mean it.’ He trembled even harder. This was it. He was completely cornered. And his arm continued to bleed, as if mocking him for what was happening.
It was to the point that he was shivering so hard he couldn’t even stay on his feet. He fell first to his knees, then onto his side on the floor of the tiny bathroom, pulling his knees up to his chest and wrapping his arms around his head, over his face. His eyes unfocused and he just stared straight ahead into the shadow created by the shield of his arms, still feeling the warm stickiness on his forearm.
More murmuring outside the door, this time with overtones of resolve. He wouldn’t come out, so they were coming in. And over it all, Goten’s crying, Goten still hiccuping that "Brother doing bad…"
For one crazy second, Gohan considered trying to form a ki blast and take himself out with it. Facing whatever death happened to throw at him would definitely be easier. But the thought quickly dismissed itself. It wouldn’t work. It just wouldn’t work. They’d drag Dende down to heal him for sure or something to keep him away from death’s door, and then he’d be right back where he’d started. Just as his father said, he had to face it sooner or later. The problem was that later was coming a whole lot sooner than he really would have liked.
For any normal person, tearing a locked door off of its hinges and out of the wall would have been a nearly impossible feat. For Son Goku, it was as easy as breathing, a task requiring only the minimal exercise of his Saiyan strength.
There was a crashing sound as the door paid a sudden fairwell to the wall and ended up hanging by the doorknob in Goku’s hand. Gohan didn’t move; he couldn’t have moved if he’d wanted to.
A shadow fell over him, and he closed his eyes to block it out, not wanting to look, not wanting to see. The sound of murmuring voices died away, replaced by a sensation of being watched, and a feeling of shock hanging over the tiny room and the hallway directly outside it.
Those damn tremors began running through him again, and Gohan silently cursed his own body for betraying him at his weakest moment. It had to be visible to everyone watching. He probably looked like a scared rabbit, huddled there on the floor, curled up into the tiniest ball he could manage, shaking. At least he wasn’t crying anymore. If he cried again, he would definitely put that beam through himself.
A hand came to rest on his shoulder, but he didn’t look at who it was. He just squeezed his eyes closed and prayed that it would all go away; he didn’t even have the nerve to open his mental eye and see who was standing over him, but he thought he knew.
"Gohan," sure enough, Goku’s voice pierced his thoughts. "You let Goten see that?"
It was a ploy, a cruel ruse to get him to talk, and he knew it, but he just couldn’t let his father say that. Anger gushed through him at the very thought, and without even meaning to, he surged to his feet, flashing up to Super Saiyan level 2; his eyes changed to the color of spring leaves, and his hair bleached to the color of sunlight. Sapphire lightning shot through the golden glow around him. The sheer force of his aura knocked everyone back. The chibis screamed.
"How dare you!" he growled, fully aware that he had completely lost control and beyond caring. His power level was skyrocketing; if it kept up, he would probably die from the power overload, and he didn’t care either way. "How dare you think that of me? If I’d known that Goten was standing there, you think I would have done this?" Without thinking, he held out his bleeding arm. "You son-of-a-bitch, I told you! You don’t know anything! You don’t know me! Get the hell out of my life and stay there! Go back to Otherworld, with your training and whatever the fuck you’re doing over there. You…"
Unable to choke out anymore words and out of control with rage, he pulled one arm back and landed a perfect punch on the end of Goku’s chin. The Saiyan didn’t even have time to react, and the blow knocked him through the door and flat onto his back in the hallway. But Gohan wasn’t finished yet. He formed a nice-sized ki blast in the palm of his hand. That same sadistic grin twisted his face again; in some way, he was drawing a very sick sort of pleasure from this.
It was Goku’s reaction that actually startled him. Goku had blood running down from one corner of his mouth; he was panting from pain. But his eyes were hard and focused, staring right back up at the angry being that was his son.
Somehow, that threw Gohan a little bit. Instead of fear or concern, what he was reading in his father’s eyes amounted to defiance; acceptance of the challenge that was being proffered. It Gohan continued with what he was doing, that is. If he continued, then he wouldn’t be facing his father; he would be facing Kakarott. It was a persona his father had only resorted to a handful of times that Gohan had seen, and only in the direst of situations. While Son Goku the Earthling was easy-going, kind, compassionate, carefree, and cheerful, Kakarott the Saiyan warrior was angry, hard-bitten, driven, and ruthless. And in most cases, completely unbeatable.
Gohan’s resolve wavered the tiniest bit before the challenge of his father, and with his resolve went some of his all-too-precious self-control. He felt his eyes stinging, and he blinked quickly. No no no…damn it, no! If he cried, then that blast wasn’t going through his father, it was going through him and to hell with what they thought or did about it. He was NOT going to cry.
But despite his best efforts, a slow, solitary tear made its way down his face. And with that tear went his hold on himself.
Without saying another word, he moved his hand and the ki blast—at the movement, everyone winced, expecting the attack that was not to come—and posititioned it right in front of his stomach, still aiming it at his father. Then he let a smile cross his face—not the angry sneer or the perverted sadist’s half-smile, but a genuine grin of the first real happiness he had felt in a long time.
He twisted his hand around. In the instant between the time he took his real aim and firing, realization dawned in his father’s eyes. Realization, shock, anger, and something that appeared to be very much akin to terror.
Still smiling, Gohan fired the ki blast through his own stomach.