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.
"...nobody understood me at all...I didn’t have anyone to talk to..."
Several equally amazing things were becoming evident to Gohan as he looked around the room where everyone had camped out, so to speak, while he finally told them everything. There were people everywhere, or so it seemed. He was pondering those remarkable revelations while he talked.
"...I hated you, Dad...I hated you for not coming back, and I hated you for leaving us alone..."
The first astonishing thing had been how cool everyone had been. When the senzu had healed his self-inflicted injury, the only person who had seen fit to fuss over him was his mother, and no one had stopped her, though they hadn’t followed suit. Everyone else had just pulled him to his feet, brushed him off, and sent him down to the living room for a "conference."
"...I couldn’t sleep...nightmares...and it was always the same thing...the games, over and over again in my head..."
Secondly, his father hadn’t been angry over being pushed, punched a few times, challenged, yelled at, and everything else that Gohan had done in anger. Truth be told, Goku almost seemed relieved—as he put it, at least Gohan had gotten it off his chest and out of his system, and perhaps something could be done now to make everything right.
"...last year, on the anniversary of the Cell Games, it was really bad...that’s why I didn’t want to train for a week afterwards...I went nuts, it was totally out of control...Goten was acting and looking more and more like Dad every day...I was bleeding really bad for a while..."
Thirdly, he realized that nearly dying worked up one hell of an appetite as well as wearing one out. He was starving (but luckily, his mother had been quite willing to remedy that situation), and even with the help of the senzu, he was so exhausted in every respect that he half-expected himself to just fall forward onto his nose at any second. It hadn’t happened yet, but he wouldn’t feel safe until he was able to crawl into bed, pull the blanket over his head, and sleep for a week.
"...Goten’s so much like Dad...it’s like I’m being haunted all the time...he’s always there...I hated having to see Dad every time I looked at my baby brother..."
Lastly, he discovered that his little brother had one hell of a grip. The minute Gohan had gotten on his feet, a very small chibi-type person had latched onto him, and refused to let go, even for a second. The older brother strongly suspected that Goten was still afraid that big brother was going to try leave him, no matter what he’d said earlier. Little did the child know that there wasn’t much chance of that happening again. Even now, the two-year-old was sitting quite comfortably in his lap, clinging to his shirt with tiny fists, spurning any attempts to get him to release the teenager.
"...and that’s pretty much it," Gohan concluded, not daring to take his eyes off that nice little stain on the carpet. The one that looked kind of like Piccolo’s head...he figured that it was safer to look at that spot on the floor then at the actual Piccolo. The stain couldn’t chew him out. He wished that Goten hadn’t insisted on sitting on his lap while he tried to explain everything his friends and family. It was something that he just didn’t want his younger brother to hear.
"Gohan sad?" Goten said. "Gohan said because of me? Big brother hate me?"
Startled, Gohan’s gaze dropped to look into the chibi’s eager face. Goten was looking up at him, wide-eyed, and desperately eager to be told that he was wrong, that his beloved big brother wasn’t sad because of him, that good ol’ Gohan didn’t hate him.
"No! I don’t hate you! Goten, you’re my little brother, and you’re one of the most important people in my life. I love you," Gohan squeezed the child. "And I wasn’t sad because of you, kiddo. Some bad stuff happened to me, and that’s why I was sad. It had nothing to do with you."
Goten’s sad eyes burned into Gohan’s. "Promise?"
"Okay!" Goten grinned. If big brother promised, then it had to be true because his big brother didn’t break promises.
"Goten, why don’t you and Trunks go play outside?" Bulma suggested casually, shooting a glance at the lavender mane jumping up and down next to her. Trunks didn’t understand what was going (though, quite frankly, Goten didn’t either) and therefore, he was incredibly bored. He wanted to go play!
Finally, the adults in the room managed to pry Goten off of his older brother and sent the two chibis outside, where they headed off for parts unknown, leaving Gohan alone to deal with his worried friends and family.
"So you just blame yourself every time something happens to one of us, even if it has nothing to do with you? Even if there was nothing you could have done?" Krillen asked incredulously.
Gohan just nodded mutely. "Pretty much. It always feels like I should have been able to do something. Like when you died on Namek, Krillen. Maybe if I’d gotten Frieza with the Masenko while he was still in third form, you and Vegeta wouldn’t have had to die, and Piccolo wouldn’t have had to take that beam through the chest."
"Key word being ‘maybe’," Vegeta entered the conversation for the first time. For once, there was no trace of arrogance or condescension in his tone. "Everything’s a big ‘maybe’."
"For once, I actually agree with Vegeta," Piccolo added. "Life’s full of ‘maybe’s’ and ‘what-ifs’. Don’t focus on them so much. Focus on making the best out of what happens."
"I think that there need to be some apologies," Goku spoke then. As Gohan opened his mouth to reply, he was startled into silence when his father continued. "And the first one should be from me to you. I’m sorry I didn’t see what was happening to you, Gohan, and I’m sorry that I didn’t make a better effort to be more of a father to you."
"And I’m sorry that you feel like everything that goes wrong is your fault, or if we’ve made you feel like it is," Krillen added.
Around the room, there were murmurs of assent, and in a short amount of time, everyone had apologized to Gohan, which was yet another thing he hadn’t expected. Now everyone was looking at him questioningly, and he knew what he had to say.
"I’m sorry, too," he said softly, looking down. He still couldn’t quite bring himself to look them in the eye. "You guys don’t deserve what you get from me. I screwed up. I...I should have told someone what my problem was, and I didn’t." His eyes started to burn again, and he forced himself to keep steady. "Vegeta, you were right. I am selfish."
The Saiyan Prince looked startled.
Piccolo quirked a brow. "You’re not selfish, Gohan. You just need to find a better way of dealing with things then bleeding it out. Like, maybe, telling someone when something’s bothering you instead of beating yourself up over it until it becomes an obssession for you."
Gohan didn’t reply, but looked up, and smiled ever so slightly.