Happy Birthday, Gohan
by Cabbitshivers     More by this Writer
It’s Gohan’s birthday, and the Z warriors have prepared a very special surprise to celebrate it.

“Ugh!” Gohan groaned, throwing himself down on the lush lawn outside of Capsule Corporation. Sprawling back on the grass, his arms flung wide, he stared up at the cloudless sky and sighed. It had been such a hectic day.

First, he’d had to drop off his mother and younger brother Goten at Capsule Corporation for some unexplained thing or another, then, after being subjected to numerous unclear whispers and covert glances his way by the two women, was dragged off by an imperious, annoyed Saiyajin Prince and ordered to spar. Then, after that, he was thrown into the midst of two hyperactive demi-Saiyajin’s, who proceeded to give him more bruises than he’d sustained during the two-hour spar with the fierce Vegeta in a single five-minute game of `Jump On Gohan’. He sighed again. They’d finally let him go when Bulma came out and yelled to them that it was time to leave him alone. He’d never been so relieved in all of his life. Any longer under those two and the Briefs family would have been picking him up from all over their front yard.

Now, finally, he was alone. If he didn’t know any better he would have thought that they were trying to keep him busy maybe there was a conspiracy against him. Hgn. Maybe they finally remembered it was his birthday. He laughed shortly. That would be a surprise. They’d completely forgotten about it last year, and the year before, and the year before that one, too. In fact, he hadn’t celebrated his birthday once in the past three years. Why should this year be any different? He was only turning fifteen, after all.

He sighed again.

That was no surprise, though, either. He hadn’t been in the mood to celebrate anything after the Cell Games – his birthday least of all. His eleventh birthday had been the last happy time that he could remember when his family had still been whole. After that…well, Gohan didn’t really want to think about that. The recollection of that first year without his father was always unpleasant. He grunted. He shouldn’t complain, though. His family was whole now with the addition of his younger brother Goten. Well, as whole as it would ever be, seeing as his father was refusing to come back – and that was another unpleasant thing he didn’t want to think about today.

Determined to not let the depressive thoughts of his morose side pull him from his otherwise contented musings, knowing that he was going to be welling in the black pools of guilt in three days time anyway, Gohan allowed his mind to wander over to another subject that was claiming a little more of his attention each day.

Mirai no Torunkusu.

He didn’t understand it, to be quite honest. Why this sudden fascination with someone he barely even knew? It perplexed him to no end, just as it probably would someone else if he ever decided to ask anyone about it. Why Mirai? And why now – four years after he’d gone back to his own dimension? Wherever that was. He doubted he’d ever be able to find the right one – even if he did have a time machine. He’d probably just barge in on another Trunks, who, knowing his luck, would be more than likely far too busy with his own Gohan to worry about ~him~.

He blinked.

Since when did he start contemplating finding the guy?

He closed his eyes and shook his head to clear it of the wayward thoughts. Though, he mused, he did find the thought of tracking down the savior of their timeline intriguing. Unfortunately, it was just another dream – a product of wishful thinking on his part. Was his life so disinteresting that the thought of hopping haphazardly through the time-stream searching for a Needle-Mirai in an alternate universe haystack was actually starting to sound feasible, despite its impossibilities? Yes, apparently so.

He sighed again, his dark sable eyes drifting from the endless blue to a faint, almost transparent fluff of white. The corners of his lips twitched upwards in a pale smile. The first cloud, the day had been clear so far as he had seen – he couldn’t vouch for those two hours he’d spent in the Gravity Chamber, though – and his eyes had been continuously flicking up to the almost endless-seeming blue above him searching for any sign of a cloud all day, almost as if it were a habit. Searching for something to mar the otherwise perfect color of the perfect day. Gohan laughed quietly. Since when did he have to start ~looking~ for bad things? Usually they just came right up and bit him, not being ones to take their time, such as they were. His smile strengthened a little as he watched the small cloud slowly disintegrate into the blue until it was no more. It seemed as though even the day was trying its best to make him happy. Pity that the only things that could make him truly happy were far beyond his reach – no matter how strong he and everyone around him thought he was. The smile faded from his lips. There was only so much a geeky kid could do anyway, right?

His eyes remained staring up at the sky, at that one spot where the last trace of white had been, hoping that somehow the cloud would miraculously coalesce so he wouldn’t be all alone on a day like this. On a day so…perfect. Exhaling a defeated sigh, his body relaxing, he allowed his head to roll to the side; his dark eyes sliding across the infinite blue until they settled upon the crown of the sakura-blossom tree growing tall and strong in the center of the Briefs’s yard. He watched, strangely lethargic as a strong gust of wind speared its fingers through the mocha branches and tore away a flood of spring blossoms from the safety of their perches. Twisting in its grip, flashing the paler petals beneath, the wind carried them across the yard; a streaming fall of white and pink as one by one the blossoms were reluctantly released and fell to dust the lawn in a candyfloss snow. He sighed again. Even the most common sights were beautiful. All over the hemisphere the cherry trees would be doing this very same thing. Yet somehow, it almost seemed like…magic. So beautiful. A small blossom, twirling in the breeze, strayed from the others and danced over to him, lighting upon his cheek and nestling itself in the shell of his ear. Reaching up, he carefully removed the tiny flower before it had a chance to run up rent, and holding its tiny stem between his fingers, he brought it up close to his face. Twirling it, he watched as it caught the light of the sun and flashed its colors against the blue of the sky. Pink, white, pink, white, pink, white…

He supposed he wasn’t really alone, if he thought about it or rather, convinced himself that he wasn’t. He did have Goten, after all, didn’t he? Or rather, no, he didn’t. Goten had Trunks to be his best friend, and so didn’t really need him. He only had Vegeta as a sparring partner simply because if he lost control again the Prince would be the only possible person to pull him out of it – or, more than likely – blast him out of it without getting killed in the process. And his mother…well, she wasn’t the same. Throwing the blossom to the side, he set it free into the wind again where it joined the others in a pastel flurry of movement, then returned his eyes to the sky. He needed someone to talk to, someone to… ano, share things with. He envied Goten, he really did. Trunks was near his age, was someone the youngest Son could relate to – Goten could play with him, and not have to worry about being dead the next day, and if not tomorrow, then perhaps the day after that one, like he had. He’d never had time to be a kid, let alone anyone to be a kid ~with~. Piccolo was the closest to his age out of everyone – his little brother and Trunks included – but due to inherited memories and the merging with two other beings, not to mention the whole sensei/pupil thing going on, it had just seemed…wrong, to think of Piccolo that way. As a playmate or whatever it was called maybe that was why he kept thinking about Mirai. He had grown up in a world Gohan could relate to, a world which didn’t allow him the time to be a child. If there was anyone on Chikyuu, or alternate Chikyuu’s, besides Vegeta who would understand how he felt, it would be Mirai.

There, it had absolutely nothing to do with that kiss.

Or maybe it did. There were still those strange dreams…Oh, he didn’t care! He didn’t want to think about that. He didn’t want to think about anything! Snorting viciously, he closed his eyes and allowed himself to relax back into the grass. His life completely and utterly sucked. He had no friends his own age, his father was dead, and his mother was a psychotic mad-woman who allowed his three year-old brother to train while she forced him to stay up in his room and study all day. And to top it all off, Gohan was beginning to feel hungry.

A faint sound from inside the house drew his attention, and cracking open one eye he peeked over just in time to see two hyped-up demi-Saiyajin’s burst out of the door and head directly towards him in a furious streak of black and lavender. He groaned, allowing his head to fall back as he waited with resigned patience for the barrage of shouts and limbs as the boys hurled themselves on him in another round of `Gohan-Yama’.

It never came.

Instead, the blurs rushed by him completely, sending up a flurry of the pink and white cherry blossoms, and then, with a shout of “Give that back, Trunks!” from the darker streak – whom logic dictated to be his brother – they took off in another direction, raced around the side of the Capsule Corp. building, and disappeared from sight.

Gohan sighed in relief. For a moment there he thought they were going to run right over him. Then the Briefs’s would have had a squished Gohan to pick up instead of a confettied one. At least that way there would have been less mess, he supposed. Then the image of a squashed bug on a windshield flashed in his mind and he shuddered. Okay…maybe more mess.

“Gohan!” A familiar cry from the direction of the house cut through the clear day. “You hungry?”

Pushing himself up onto his elbows, he looked over at the house to see his mother standing at the doorway of Briefs’s kitchen. She was wringing her hands in an apron tied around her waist.

“Yeah!” He shouted back, the thought of food making his mood at least a little lighter – the thought of it being his `kassan’s food was an added bonus and by all appearances, it was already ready.

“Well, come on, then!” She called. “The boys have already eaten!”

Gohan restrained another groan. He’d be lucky if there was anything left now. Goten and Trunks ate almost as much as he and Vegeta did, and if he was correct in assuming, Vegeta had also been included in his mother’s choice of the word `Boys’.

Picking himself up, he trudged slowly towards the rear entrance to the Briefs’s kitchen. His mother watched him from the doorway, a small smile twisting her lips, and moved aside for him as he entered. She stopped him, however, when she caught a whiff of the strong odor he was enveloped in. Scrunching her nose up a little, she jabbed him in the arm with a forefinger.

“Head up for a shower first, young man. You stink of sweat.”

“Hai, `Kassan.” He replied, the slight lift the thought of eating gave him plummeting at the notion that all that good-smelling food would have to stay there on the table and look delicious without him for a little longer. He half-raised an arm and sniffed himself daintily. Disgust twisted his features. Ew, he did stink! Served him right for training with Vegeta, though, didn’t it? Oh, well. He could wait to eat. It seemed like waiting was all he ever did, anyway – that, and sighing. Waiting to fight, waiting to die, waiting for his ‘tousan to come back…and, uh, what after that? Oh, yeah. Waiting for a Saiyajin-proof house to fall on him.

“And change into some clean clothes, too, sweetheart. The one’s you’re wearing probably stink as well!” His mother called after him as he headed up the hall towards the guest bedroom he used whenever he stayed over at Bulma-san’s. He grunted the affirmative as he moved into the room, closing the door behind him and stripping off his clothes while he crossed the room to the guest bathroom and turned the shower on. As the room rapidly filled with steam from the carelessly used hot water, he shed his boxer shorts and stepped under the spray. Using the soap he’d left behind the last time he’d stayed, he washed all the sweat and grime off his body that had gathered during the two hour spar with the Saiyajin no Ouji, and rinsing off with a blast of cold water that left his teeth chattering, turned the shower off and stepped out of the cubicle. Flaring his ki to dry himself, he found his spare set of clothes, black slacks and a deep navy sleeveless tunic, shrugged them on, and quickly made his way back to the kitchen.

What was waiting for him wasn’t exactly what he’d expected. Mostly because it wasn’t what he’d left behind when he went to have his shower. Shocked still, Gohan stared dumbfounded in the doorway at the food that completely covered the surface of the table. What was his mother and Bulma-san trying to do – turn him into a disciple of Yajurobe’s? There had to be at least a hundred egg rolls on there!

“Wow, `Kassan.” He started when he was finally able to speak. “I can’t eat all this!”

“Well, that’s good then, isn’t it?” She replied, lying another huge plate of…what looked to be…pot stickers!?!, On what small space there was left on the table beside three huge bowls of lemon honey chicken. “Because it’s not all for you.”

Making his way closer to the table, the steaming aromas of the hot food making his stomach growl noisily, he stared at his mother with some skepticism. “But, I thought you said that the others had already eaten.”

“They have.” Bulma replied, pulling out a chair and sliding onto it. She motioned for him to sit down.

“But, then who else -?”

“Just sit down!” His mother ordered before he could finish his sentence. She allowed herself a slight smile when Gohan rushed to obey her, his rear hitting the seat of the chair with a soft `thump’. “Bulma and I have to eat too, you know!” She scolded, taking the seat across from him.

“Yeah, but this much?”

“Just EAT!”

Well, he wasn’t exactly going to argue with that one. Not with his mother’s pot stickers sitting temptingly right in front of him. Locating chopsticks conveniently within his fingers’ reach, he snatched them up, took a moment to position his weapons, and then dove in for the kill. Food was food. No matter how lonely or depressed he felt – he still had to eat. Good thing it happened to be one of his more enjoyable hobbies. He hummed as the first, barely-chewed morsel of his favorite food slid down his throat. He was so busy eating that he didn’t notice the small smile that passed from one woman to the other across from him, nor the slight nod the aqua-haired one gifted the smaller, dark-haired lady beside her. He was so engrossed in the explosion of flavors against his taste-buds and the almost ecstatic sensation of having his stomach filled, that he was entirely oblivious to everything else around him. To the flushed, adoring expression that had quickly stolen over his mother’s features as someone entered the room from outside, the quiet footfalls as they sounded their way over to them, slow and steady and to the large, familiar warrior that moved to stand behind him in patient contentment.

“Happy birthday, son.”

Gohan froze; his food paused halfway to his lips. That voice…But, it couldn’t be…He was imagining it, wasn’t he? `Tousan? But…he had said…

The chopsticks held in his left hand began to shake. He stared at his trembling hand in shock for a moment, before flicking his eyes up to his mother’s face. She was looking towards him but her eyes were not focused on his; they were staring above him, past him, to something standing behind his chair and in their shining depths there was complete, unadulterated ~love~.

His food and chopsticks fell to his plate as he lost all control of his shaking hands. Drawing a deep breath of air into his lungs, trying vainly to calm his suddenly racing heart, he closed his eyes, and with a great surge of something he couldn’t name, half turned in his chair to lift his face to the man he knew would be standing behind him.

“I hope some of that food is for me.” The achingly familiar voice said half-jokingly, the large, dark eyes smiling out at him from the face he’d know anywhere. “Gohan!”

Gohan stared. His air supply had cut off completely. He knew he was gaping, but… his father. It was his father! His shock snapped with a cry of elation, and he sprung from his chair, flinging himself into the bulky arms that immediately enfolded him into a protective hug.

“Dad!” He choked.

“Hey!” The familiar voice laughed, the arms around him squeezing him tight. “I missed you, too!”

“Dad!” He repeated. He fisted his hands in the back of his father’s gi and buried his face in his shoulder. “You’re back!” He cried. He was so close to tears he didn’t care if he was crushing his father. It had been so long…

“Hai.” Came the warm whisper from above him.

“But you said -”

“I know what I said.” Goku cut him off, his breath warming his ear. “But I was wrong. My absence didn’t stop Bojack from trying to take over the world, did it, hmm?”

Gohan looked up at him from beneath his bangs as his father gently pushed him away. He shook his head, not really trusting himself to say anything.

“I’m sorry, Gohan. It was…really stupid of me. I – I didn’t realize how much you guys would need me or…how much I would need you.”

Gohan caught the glance that his father shot past him and knew it was settled upon his mother.

“It’s all right, Dad.” He replied quietly. “You were trying to protect us. We understood – we all did.” Try as hard as he could, he couldn’t stop the tears from spilling down his cheeks or the smile that pushed insistently at the edges of his mouth. Taking in the full sight of his father before him, that damned inherited grin he was mirroring on his own face, that well-known orange and blue gi, the hair that couldn’t be tamed no matter how hard anybody tried flaring out in uneven spikes around his face; he hadn’t felt this happy in a long, long time. His eyes flicked up to the space above his father’s head, then widened in sudden realization.

“Dad! You -…it -…you -” He stuttered, having trouble getting the words out.

His father’s grin broadened. “Hai.”

“You mean, you’re -?”

“Yup!”

Gohan looked up at him, his tears falling unashamedly. “Permanently?” He whispered.

Goku smiled down into the face a few inches lower than his own. “I’m not going anywhere.” He stated firmly.

Gohan yelped joyfully, flinging himself into those arms yet again to hug his father fiercely. Another ecstatic cry quickly followed his own as a third pair of arms wrapped around them both and his mother was embracing them, crying silently between them.

A bright, sudden flash followed by an immediate whirring sound caused all three of them to look up.

Bulma stood across the table from them, the small silver body of a camera held in front of her. “Picture perfect.” She grinned. “It’s good to have you back, Son-kun. We’ve all missed you.”

Gohan, his arms still around his father’s waist, looked over at Bulma-san with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion. “How’d you get that camera so fast, Buruma-san?”

“Simple, Gohan-kun.” She replied. “I already had it.”

His dark brows fell. “But -”

“Happy birthday, Gohan.” His mother whispered by his ear. A small smile lifted her lips as he turned his wide dark eyes to her.

“You mean…” He turned to look at everyone, incredulous. “This was all ~planned?~”

“Hai.” Replied Bulma, almost on the verge of laughter. “Bikkuri, huh?”

He cocked a cynical brow and ran his fingers through his hair in typical Son fashion. “Hai!” He nodded. `Surprise’ was an understatement. “Bikkuri, all right! I thought you’d all forgotten again.”

A large hand tousled his hair in an achingly missed gesture. “Not a chance, chibi.”

He smiled, flushing with pleasure at the familiar nickname. “Not so small anymore, `Tousan.”

“I noticed.”

Gohan blushed as his father stepped back to appraise him. It felt…strange, surreal to see his father standing there before him after so many long years of being absent, running his eyes over his narrow frame like he had so many times after training before the Cell Games, accessing his injuries to make sure he hadn’t hurt him too much.

“You’re so tall, now.” He commented, a faint trace of wonder in his familiarly rich baritone. “And your muscle definition…” He trailed off, his dark eyes lifting to settle on his son’s. “Well, well, well…” He murmured, the smile in his eyes sending another rush of happiness through the teenager. “When did this start happening?”

A sloppy grin pushed at Gohan’s mouth.

“I’d say about the same time his voice started changing.” Bulma mused from behind him. She rested a hand companionably on the young teen’s shoulder. “It seems like he grows an inch every week. It was only a few months ago that he was wandering around here as mute as a street mime, terrified that if he said anything he’d shatter the windows again.” Her laugh caused his blush to deepen in embarrassment. His father’s incredulous echo of her last word didn’t help his overheating face much, either.

“Again?” His father asked. “You mean he did it once before?”

Gohan inwardly groaned. He really wished Bulma hadn’t brought that up. It had been a terribly embarrassing incident, one which his mother had insisted he clean up. He’d spent the whole afternoon sweeping up the glass inside and outside the Briefs’s living room, Vegeta chortling amusedly by his shoulder, all because his stupid vocal chords declared themselves incapable of making the smooth transition from sounding consonants to vowels and back again.

Another hand came to rest on his other shoulder. “I’m sorry I missed it.” His father said to him, regret clear in his voice. The smile was still on his face but the apology in his eyes made it secondary. His father had been hurting and here he’d been, just this morning, thinking he hadn’t cared. Following the impulsion, he hugged him again.

“It’s all right, ‘Tousan. I haven’t grown up all the way, yet.”

He got a tight squeeze in return. “So…when are we going to eat?”

A laugh, a great mix of pleasure and amusement, rippled its way through the small group. “In a moment.” Bulma answered, smiling widely. She gestured at the table with her free hand. “Just let me capsulate this and we’ll go meet the others.”

Gohan blinked, pulling away. “The others?”

“Well, this ~is~ a birthday, you know. Yours, to be exact. Have you forgotten how many friends you have, already?” The aqua-haired genius inquired, throwing down a thumb-sized capsule that immediately inhaled the table and its banquet-sized meal. “They’ve been outside for the past five minutes, waiting for you.” Another small, satisfied smirk teased her lips. “Haven’t you noticed?”

Gohan blinked. “Uhh…” He looked up at his father who had turned his head towards the door.

“It’s alright guys!” Goku shouted suddenly, his boisterous yell causing those inside to flinch. “You can show him now!”

Abruptly, twenty or so ki’s flickered into existence, pinging like small bells being struck in the teenager’s searching mind. They ranged from the average human levels to ones just slightly below his own – whom he knew unconsciously to be Vegeta and Piccolo – and the slender boy was immediately overwhelmed by them all. His eyes widened, his mouth gaped, and he turned with incredulous eyes to his mother.

“Who…?” He trailed off. For some reason all these surprises were numbing his tongue. It was hard enough to think the words through his surprise, let alone manage to say them aloud with an uncooperative speech muscle.

“Does it matter?” She asked, a small, bright smile curving her lips.

He watched her for a moment, then shook his head. He hadn’t seen her this happy in a long time. “No, `Kassan.” He smiled, his dark eyes bright. With a gentle nudge from his father, he turned towards the door and stepped out into the bright sunlight flooding the yard, flanked on both sides by the comforting presences of his parents.

“It doesn’t matter at all.”

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