Fandom: Dragonball Z
Publish Date: 8/10/2002 to 1/3/2003
Disclaimer: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, I do not own DBZ.
The ceiling was quite a bit less than interesting, but for the moment, it was the only thing Videl really cared to look at. There was nothing special about it, just plain, white...whatever they call the stuff that ceilings are made out of.
Sprawled on her back on her unmade bed, Videl was quite content to stay right where she was. The prospect of not moving all day was becoming more and more appealing with each minute she lay there. Unfortunately, there were a couple of things standing in her way concerning that.
First of all, her father probably wouldn’t let her. There was undoubtedly something going on in his honor that she just had to attend. Even though it was the worst possible day to have any kind of festivity.
Secondly, if she had to stare at that Kami-awful ceiling much longer, chances were that she would go insane and kill something, and she had a feeling that it wouldn’t go over well if the daughter of the Hero of the World were to jump out the window and senselessly kill some poor random guy on the street. No, that wouldn’t go over well at all.
Sighing, she closed her eyes. Nope, it wasn’t any better. Besides, sitting here alone with her memories probably wasn’t the best thing in the world. Especially on this particular day.
Videl groaned and forcibly dragged herself off the bed and to her feet. She stood in the middle of her bedroom and looked around forlornly. The room was decorated almost entirely in white, with odd touches of color here and there—a burgundy rug here, a forest green throw pillow there, a navy blue chair by the desk.
With the mood she was in, the white was almost blinding. Shaking her head sadly, she crossed the room and picked up a framed picture that was sitting on the dresser and looked at the photo encased in the frame. Tears welled in her eyes.
Damn it, why do I do this to myself? she thought bitterly, gently running her fingers over the glass. It wasn’t fair, it just wasn’t fair...
It was too much. She had to go somewhere or else she was going to go quite mad. And she needed to talk to someone. She really didn’t care who, just as long as they were alive and could hear. But she did have someone in mind...
Still carrying the picture with her, Videl ran through the open door onto her balcony and leapt into the air. Taking flight was second nature to her now, and she could attain high speeds. That’s just what she did, heading off towards the mountains that lay well beyond the city limits.
Gohan looked up towards the sky. "Huh?"
Nearby, a confused expression crossed Goten’s face. "What’s up, Gohan?"
"Videl’s heading this way," the teenager replied. "And from the feel of it, she’s in a hurry. I wonder what’s up." Though he didn’t say it, Gohan was picking up something else from Videl through their mind-to-mind link. She was deeply upset about something. And Gohan was extremely curious as to what could possibly have her so worked up. Whatever it was, he seriously doubted that it would be good. "Hey, squirt, I’m gonna go meet her halfway and see what’s up. Why don’t you head inside, okay?"
"Okay!" Goten chirped. The chibi darted inside the house, and Gohan took to the air.
It didn’t take him long at all to find her. In fact, she very nearly ran into him in midair. It was only by a quick move on Gohan’s part that a head-on collision was avoided.
Videl screeched to a halt. "Oh, Kami! I’m sorry!"
"It’s okay," Gohan checked himself to make sure he was all right. "No harm done."
"Oh, dammit! Today sucks!" Videl yelled before she burst into tears.
"Uh...Videl, it’s okay," Gohan looked startled. Why on Earth would Videl be crying over something as silly as that? No, there was something seriously wrong with this picture. "Videl?" She wasn’t calming down at all, so he put his hands on his shoulders and pushed her down towards the ground. They landed together in a wide field of tall sweet-grass, and the second her feet touched the ground, Videl sat down and cried into one hand; her other hand was clutching a picture frame.
"Hey," Gohan sat down next to her and let one arm slide around her shoulders. "What’s wrong?"
"I’m...I’m sorry..." she choked between sobs. "I...it’s the day..."
"What’s wrong with the day?" he asked.
"It’s...here..." she thrust the picture into his hand before turning away slightly; she pulled her knees up to her chest, rested her arms on her knees, and cried into her arms.
At a loss for what to do, Gohan looked at the picture in his hands. There were three people posing in the photo. Hercule Satan was in the back, looking every inch his usual obnoxious self, except that instead of his usual outlandish grin, he was wearing a genuine smile. In front of him was a little girl on a woman’s lap. Gohan didn’t have too much trouble figuring out who they were. Two identical pairs of blue eyes looked at him from the picture—eyes he saw nearly every day.
"This is your family," he said softly. Videl made a small noise of assent. "And this is your mother, isn’t it?" Another sound of agreement. "You look like her." It was true—Videl’s mother had the same dark hair and the same slender face as her daughter.
"Yeah, I know," Videl replied with a sniffle. Apparently, she’d gotten herself back under full control, and the only sign that she’d been crying was the fact that her eyes were red and puffy. "That was the last picture we had taken as a family. Then..."
"...then what?" Gohan prodded gently. Some small part of him was reprimanding him for even daring to pry into Videl’s life. The rest of him was thinking that it was fair game, considering all the times that she had done the very same thing to him.
"...then Mom...got sick..." Videl’s voice broke, signaling that she was perilously close to breaking down into tears again.
Gohan started. This was entirely new to him. He’d known that Videl’s mother was gone, but he had never asked where she was. It just wasn’t something that they talked about. "What happened?"
"Cancer," Videl whispered. "I was four when she was diagnosed, and six when she died. That picture was taken just after my fourth birthday. Before all hell broke loose."
"Oh...oh god...Videl..." Gohan was completely at a loss for words.
"I don’t remember her very well," Videl continued in a strained voice; she spoke as if Gohan wasn’t really there. Perhaps that was all she’d needed was a convenient pair of ears, and that’s why she’d come looking for him. "Most of what I do remember is the treatments and the doctors and the hospitals and stuff. And when you’re six years old, a hospital is a pretty scary place. It’s been twelve years to the day since she died."
Gohan nodded slowly. He’d been in the hospital a couple times by the time he was six.
"Dad never talks about her much. When she died, he didn’t really even talk to me for a long time. I don’t know exactly how he felt about her really, but it’s been so long, it’s like he forgot about her, and...now he just runs around all the time with those silly women. I hate them all. They’re not my mother."
"No...no one can ever replace a mother," Gohan said softly. "Or a father."
"I lost them both," Videl spat, suddenly angry. "I lost Mom to cancer, and I lost Dad to fame and glory. And I shouldn’t have had to lose either." Tears sprang into her eyes again, and her anger receded. "That’s the last picture I have of her. I remember getting that picture taken. I remember that time, very faintly...I remember that we were happy..."
That seemed to be the breaking point, and whatever Videl might have said next was lost in a fresh flood of tears. She cried as if she’d lost her entire world.
Very slowly, Gohan slid his arms around her shoulders and pulled her in to let her cry on his shoulder. He knew how it felt to lose someone close. He’d experienced it more times than any single person should have had to in his life.
"You know I feel," Videl said suddenly in an echo of his thoughts. "You lost your father."
"Yeah, I did," Gohan replied.
"I’ve never talked about this with anyone," Videl continued. "After she died, I just wouldn’t cry and I wouldn’t let myself talk about it. I just toughened up."
Gohan was stunned. "You’ve been just bottling this up for twelve years?!?"
A small nod was his answer.
"Good Kami, Videl!" he nearly yelled in surprise. "No wonder you’re losing it so bad now!"
"What about you?" she asked, looking up at him. "When your Dad died, did you lock it up?"
"No. My friends wouldn’t let me," Gohan smiled gently at the memory. "Well...they tried their very best to get me to talk about it, and I did. Kind of. I just didn’t tell them everything. You know what happened after that. And that happened because I didn’t let everything out when I should have, and I really paid for it later."
Videl nodded. She had seen the scar on Gohan’s wrist, the result of a suicide attempt that had followed three years of cutting and lying.
"I know it was stupid," she said. "But by the time I realized that, I was just so used to locking it up that I didn’t know how to stop. I don’t know why I completely lost it today. I really don’t."
"You went too long without venting anything," Gohan replied. "It probably just blew up."
"Yeah..." she pulled back and wiped her eyes with the back of her hands. "Well, I should probably go home. Dad doesn’t know where I am." She climbed to her feet, as did Gohan.
"Here. This is yours," he handed her the framed picture. "Videl, don’t do this to yourself anymore, okay? If you need to scream or rail or cry at somebody, I’m usually home. Come find me. If I have to sneak out of my room to be your sounding board or punching bag, then so be it."
He was rewarded when she allowed herself a tiny smile.
"Thanks, Gohan," Videl hugged him tightly for a minute, then looked down sadly at the picture in her hands as she turned to leave.
"Hey, Videl?" Gohan asked suddenly. "One more thing. What was your mother’s name?"
She stopped and partially turned. For a minute, she was quiet. Then, very softly, she replied, "Her name was Luci." With a sad half-smile on her face, and tears still waiting in her eyes, Videl took off and started flying towards home, the last family portrait clutched in her hand and crystal tears still welled in her eyes. But now, they could fall freely.