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.
In a flash of golden light, the blast was gone. Son Gohan collapsed, falling out of his Super Saiyan form. He ended up in a crumpled heap on the floor, unmoving.
For a few scant seconds, the hallway was as still and quiet as the grave. Then, chaos ensued. Nearly everyone began screaming, with the exceptions of Vegeta, Piccolo, and Goku; Piccolo and Vegeta were merely staring open-mouthed, completely uncertain of what to do.
Goku was still sprawled on his back on the floor, propped up on his elbows, still staring up at the spot where his older son had stood only seconds before. He looked…well, confused wouldn’t even have begun to cover it, nor would angry, disappointed, or any other descriptive words known to man. Slowly, he climbed to his feet and walked over to kneel down beside the body of his son. He reached out carefully and let one gentle hand come to rest on Gohan’s shoulder. The body was still warm.
"Guys!" Goku called frantically to the masses nearby. Everyone immediately swarmed on the still figure sprawled on the floor as Goku rolled his son over onto his back.
The teenager’s eyes were closed. After a few seconds, though, they slowly opened, and went completely unreadable, along with his face. "You guys can’t do anything this time. I win."
"Goku," Krillen said as he pulled something small and green out of his pocket and tossed it to Goku. "I usually keep one of those with me."
"Gohan," Goku held the tiny senzu bean out towards his son, "take this."
In response, the demi-Saiyan’s eyes narrowed slightly, and he shut his mouth, setting his jaw stubbornly, speaking through clenched teeth. "No way. You’re not cheating me this time."
"Cheating you?" Piccolo snarled angrily from his vantage point, beside Gohan’s left shoulder. "I think a better way to phrase that would be cheating us." Though he would never really admit it, at that moment Piccolo was scared beyond all possible description. If Gohan died there because of something he should have seen and didn’t…well, Piccolo wasn’t quite sure what he would do.
"Yeah right," Gohan growled.
"Just do it, brat," Vegeta hissed furiously. Only someone who knew the arrogant Prince well could have possibly read any trace of concern in those four irritated words. Truth be told, Vegeta was actually somewhat frightened and no little worried. Not that he would ever let anyone know, of course. "You’re being a little too dramatic, don’t you think?"
Surprisingly, Gohan smiled. "Maybe." Then his smile disappeared as a fit of coughing seized him, and for several seconds he was engaged in a battle to get his breath back. A tiny trail of blood formed, running from one corner of his mouth down his chin, but he didn’t seem to notice that it was there. He just looked up at everyone again, now panting for air. "Why don’t...you guys just...go away...let me die...in peace? It’s...over."
"No it’s not!" ChiChi surged forward shrieking. She fell to her knees and grabbed Gohan’s shoulders, shaking him as hard as she could. "What about everyone else? What about me? What about your brother? The planet?"
"The planet?" Gohan scoffed. "The planet will be...just find. I saved this planet...from Cell, and...when I die nobody’s gonna...remember my name. That’s the way...it goes. You and Goten...you’ll be just fine...you guys don’t...need me."
"NO!" Goten actually pushed his mother out of the way and jumped on Gohan, ignoring the fact that he was almost immediately covered in his older brother’s blood. "Big brother lie! Big brother can’t go! Mommy and me need you!"
Gohan smiled. "You’ll be fine...squirt...take care of...mom."
The chibi looked strangely confused for a minute, then wrapped his arms around Gohan’s neck and let his head rest against his brother’s chest. "I love you, Gohan. I want you be happy. If you happy, I happy too. If going away make you happy, then go and be happy. I don’t want you to go, but I don’t want you be sad. Go if you need to and be happy, and I love you." Having said that, the Goten began to cry; the hot tears seeped through Gohan’s shirt, forming a large wet spot on his chest.
Everyone stared at the two-year-old, stunned. Everyone, including Gohan.
Gohan knew exactly how much it had to have cost his little brother to say that. Goten worshiped his big brother, and everyone knew that Gohan was just as doting. And for Goten to say that he wanted Gohan to die because it would make Gohan happy was nothing short of monumental, especially when he knew how much it would kill Goten not to have his older brother around. And yet here he was, giving Gohan the freedom to make his choice without guilt.
The rest of the assembled Z senshi were startled at Goten’s proclamation, especially Goku, who was still crouched beside the fallen teenager, holding the senzu out towards the teen. Despite the choppy, childish format of the speech, it was still far more eloquent then they had ever dared to expect from the two-year-old son of Son Goku. And what he had said was getting through to them.
Truth be told, it was getting through to Gohan as well. Goten loves me that much? If I wanna die, he’ll be okay with it because I’ll be happy...even though it’ll cause him pain. Gods above and below...can I really leave him behind if he loves me that much?
The senzu was directly in front of him; his jaw was starting to ache from clenching his teeth so hard, just to keep that damn bean from getting anywhere near his system. He could swallow it. He could be healed right then, and he could stay with Goten. But if he did, it was going to be a million times harder to stay under the same roof with these people who undoubtedly trusted him even less at that moment than ever before. And where would he end up if he died? He could end up in hell, which is where he was certain he belonged. After all...he’d killed his own father...
But his father hadn’t wanted to be brought back. Goku had chosen not to come back. And that was where the whole problem had stemmed from. For all he knew, if he died, Gohan could very well end up spending a lot more time with his father if by some strange twist of fate he was sent to wherever it was that his father was. It was all so uncertain...
He was trying to make out a pros and cons list in his mind, but it was getting harder and harder to focus his thoughts. And it was getting more and more difficult to breath...if he was going to make the choice, he had to make it fast. It was nothing short of miraculous that he’d held on this long. It was now or never, unless they tried to wish him back. Then he would have to make this decision all over again—whether or not he wanted to come back.
But if he chose not to come back, then he was just as bad as his father. He knew exactly how it felt to have someone important to him say that they didn’t want to be brought back to life. And it was something he wouldn’t put anyone else through for anything in the world. Which meant that even if he died now, he was almost positive that he wouldn’t be able to say ‘no’ if they gathered the Dragonballs.
It was an awful cycle, and he couldn’t shake himself out of it.
Everyone was watching him closely. As he was fading in and out of himself, some part of him seemed to open up, and he felt what they felt. He felt their anger, their pain, and their fear. And it was just as real as his. And from Goten, he got something more than fear—he got pure terror. Terror that ‘big brother’ was really going to go away, even after what he’d said.
Go and be happy, and I love you. Goten’s words echoed in his darkening mind. He was seriously fading. It was time. He looked up into the eyes of his friends and family (except for Goten, who was still crying hopelessly into his chest). In their eyes, he could quite clearly read their desperation.
Then there were the scenes that had paraded around in front of him, his whole life summed up in the space of a breath. All the things he had done, so much of it good. That meant that there had to be more good that he could do. Plus, that last vision had him beyond confused. He’d never seen that young woman before, nor did he recognize the guy she had been talking to. But the guy had looked strangely familiar...yet it was nothing he remembered from his past. To be blunt, he was curious as hell. So peculiar...
Finally, Gohan made his decision. He closed his eyes and took a few shaky breaths, willing his voice to work. Finally, he opened his eyes, looked straight up at his father, and said softly, "Dad?"
Goku looked a little surprised. "Yes?"
Gohan hesitated for a moment, then steeled himself. "Give me the senzu."
A sigh of relief went up from those gathered around him, and his father smiled—not his trademark Son Grin, but a much softer smile. And he let the senzu fall into Gohan’s mouth.
The teenager was surprised at how much energy it took to actually chew the damn thing. And he was paying for how long he’d held on to consciousness by fading fast.
Apparently, someone noticed, because he felt a hand touch his shoulder and a transfer of energy from someone else to him. With this new energy, he was able to move his head and look up at his benefactor. Namely, Piccolo.
"Don’t say I never gave you anything," the Namekian growled, though Gohan could read him much better than that, and sent a wordless thank-you with a smile before returning his focus towards the task at hand—chewing the stupid senzu!
All he had to do was swallow. It was then that he hesitated. And once again, it was spotted immediately by a member of the audience, as he was privately thinking of them.
"Just do it, brat," Vegeta snarled again, an echo of the same four words he’d said earlier. This time, it translated to ‘Stop keeping us in suspense, swallow the damn thing, quit scaring us, and stand up so I can kick your sorry ass into next week.’ Oh yes, Gohan was quite certain of the translation.
He paused again, still waivering...and finally, Gohan swallowed the senzu.