The Memory Remains
by Shella-chan     More by this Writer
A birthday, an android attack, and too much to drink…this just isn’t Gohan’s day. Warning for heavy angst, yaoi, violence, depression, self-mutilation, & morning-after, but worth reading nonetheless.
Graphic Violence Deathfic



Chapter 01
Gohan stared blearily into his drink. The swirling shades of amber and gold seemed to glare back at him, harshly brilliant in the seemingly blinding light. But the bar was darkened by shades over the dim lights and by the constant trails of smoke that wound their way idly round the ceiling. In the demi-Saiyan’s present state, however, anything paler than absolute black was unbearable to his weary, reddened eyes.

The liquid anaesthetic was doing its job on the depressed Son. He’d lost count of the number of similar tranquillisers he’d downed since arriving in the bar. Not even a pureblood Saiyan could consume this much alcohol without being affected, and Gohan was half human. The drunkenness had begun slowly at first, a heated but indistinct veil drawn fuzzily through his mind to dull his thoughts and senses, slowly escalating to the point where he couldn’t have stood up if he’d tried. Drink after drink sang in his veins, a quiet ringing in his ears whenever he turned his head, a fog getting heavier and heavier before his eyes every time he blinked. But Gohan could live with the numbing ache throughout his skull, as long as it dulled his memory.

It was his birthday today, his twenty-fourth birthday, and he was feeling worse than he ever had in his life. Saving, of course, his twenty-third birthday. There was something about this single day of the year that seemed to bring back all the pain he’d known during his life, bring it back and infect him like an incurable virus. Only alcohol could help assuage the hurt.

Gohan was depressed. No matter how much he tried to hide it, tried to push it back down inside and present a cheerful face to the world, it was always there … a blackness at the back of his mind, at the core of his heart. It hurt like nothing on earth, and it refused to dissipate whatever he did. It was the depression of losing his family and friends. It was the depression of being unable to avenge their deaths because he was too weak and useless. It was the depression of being in love and unable to do anything about it.

He slumped onto the tabletop, elbow sprawling into some unidentifiable liquid as his head dropped onto it unceremoniously. His neck didn’t seem strong enough to support the weight. Just like the rest of him … weak … worthless … unable to do its duty … unable to provide help when it was most needed…

The androids had taken everything from Gohan. His family, his friends, his home, his world … and his self-worth. He loathed himself. He hated how he couldn’t beat them, and hated how he’d come to the same bar every year without fail to drink himself into a stupor and pass out in a corner, placing his trust in the barman who always put a blanket over him and kept the thieves away. He hated how he wallowed in self-pity. Self-pity is for the weak… Yet the disgust at himself poisoned his being without hope for an antidote. It clutched at his insides, sapping his strength, draining his emotions until he was left with nothing … nothing but shame in what he had become.

Gohan took a deep breath, feeling the wooden edge of the bar pressing against his ribs and restraining them from expanding. As he exhaled the last of his strength seemed to be drawn from his body with the breath of depleted oxygen and his eyes slid closed, unable to keep themselves open any more. With sight cut off and sound muffled, his nerves sluggishly rallied their remaining perceptiveness to focus all too painfully on the pounding in his skull.

A small bead of saline crept out from under his closed lashes. It poised there, shimmering, reflecting a tiny crystalline fragment of the heavy glow tinging reluctantly through the bar, then slid quietly over the pale cheek. Hesitantly it forged its path over the scarred satin, following tiny nicks and crevices caused by countless wounds that had healed wrongly and left invisible marks that detectable only by touch. The scarce light in the room spared a tiny spark for the silent tear as it snaked cautiously down Gohan’s cheek and over the jawbone, the smallest shard of gold providing the only clue to the transparent bead’s presence. After hovering briefly, it dropped inaudibly onto the polished wooden surface below the dark-haired demi’s jaw.

Men don’t cry…

I am not a man. I am a Saiyan.

Then act like one.

How can I? There’s no hope for me. There’s nothing…

Charcoal brows furrowed ever so slightly as the familiar voices wound their way through his head, over-loud and unwelcome. It was an argument he’d gone through with himself so many times, following it through to every possible conclusion and getting nowhere. It seemed he was trapped, stuck in a hole he’d dug for himself the first time he’d given in to depression and let his feet lead him here.

Gohan was circling, ensnared in a spiral that only led down.

***

The sky was cloudless and the stars burned as Trunks hurried along the footpath. Shivers ran over his skin at the chill of the night air and he shoved his hands deeper in the pockets of his long black coat, speeding to a half-jog to try and warm up. But the cold was stubborn, reaching long fingers inside his collar and down his spine, clutching at his chest and making his lungs rasp with the frigid oxygen being forced through them. A cloud of silver-grey steam passed his lips every time he breathed, lightly trailing across his face as he ran forward through the expelled mist, its warmth rapidly being lost in the frosty temperature.

“How can you be out on a night like this, Gohan?” whispered Trunks, the words almost indistinguishable through the chattering of his teeth. Hunching his shoulders against the cold, he jogged across a street in front of a stopped car, its colour indistinguishable in the blackness that enveloped the world.

He’d entered the darkest district of the town, where the ragged people found a temporary sanctuary from the dreariness of their lives in the form of bars and strip clubs. Now every step Trunks took was slower than the last, uncertain now that Gohan, his Gohan, would be in a place like this. But the scent he’d been following like a bloodhound for the last hour was getting stronger, and his determination pushed him onwards.

A woman slunk across the footpath ahead of Trunks to drape herself seductively around a lamppost directly in his line of vision. Her heavily made-up eyes fluttered and she purred to him, “Hey there handsome, you doing anything?”

Swallowing nervously, Trunks sidestepped around her and walked onward without answering. But his eyes remained latched on the figure of the poor woman as she paraded herself in front of the next passer-by, who paused, looked both ways, and pulled a crumpled note from his coat pocket. A kind of sick, sad pity stirred in Trunks’ heart as his gaze returned to the cracked and beaten cement.

Where are you, Gohan?

Although as the son of the Prince of Saiyans, he would never admit it, Trunks was nervous almost to the point of fear. This place disturbed him – the worst aspects of collective human psyche were here, exploited for a bit of money or a hit of some substance that would temporarily alleviate the darkness of their existence. He hated it, hated the desperation that drove people to shelve their pride and debase themselves, just to live a little longer in a life they detested anyway. He hoped with all his heart that he would never be driven to do anything like … like that.

Trying to ignore the signs of ruin around him, Trunks began looking into every bar he passed, searching for a familiar figure – the blacker-than-ebony hair, the toned and defined figure, the unmistakable flash of obsidian eyes he knew so well. They’d been best friends for as long as he could remember, closer than family, drawn together by a common bond, inseparable. Trunks was happiest when he was with Gohan, and when the older demi-Saiyan wasn’t around he felt … wrong.

He’d never tell him, but Trunks loved Gohan with all his heart.

And now something was wrong with his beloved, and he had to find him and save him. He wasn’t sure exactly what was the matter, but Gohan had been restless all day, brooding and sullen. Trunks’ attempts to lift his master’s mood had all been met with a forced half-smile and more determined concentration on their spar. The younger demi-Saiyan couldn’t understand it, and his questions had been evaded and sidestepped around until he gave up. Whatever the problem was, Gohan didn’t want him to know.

But I care about you, Gohan. I don’t like it when you’re unhappy because then I am, too. It wasn’t an exaggeration. Trunks had unconsciously matched his mentor’s mood on several occasions, echoing his beloved’s emotions through some link he couldn’t define or explain. Right now there was an immovable darkness hanging over him that he sensed was not his own, and he worried how it was affecting Gohan. He couldn’t bear it if anything happened to the one who held his heart.

His steps slowed to a halt as he followed his feet to where they stopped in front of a bar shabbier and more modest than the rest. ‘The Dusty Kettle’ was painted in peeling block letters on a sign that swung from one rusty chain, the other hanging loosely where it had snapped. Feeling a flutter of nerves in his chest once again, Trunks took a deep breath and stepped through the door.

It was crowded inside, people lurking in groups glancing darkly at outsiders. The lilac-haired fourteen-year-old tried to look at the floor, but couldn’t entirely ignore the threatening and often lecherous looks thrown his way.

“Where you going, pretty boy? Aren’t you a little young to be in a place like this?”

A group of men had quietly surrounded him. They absorbed him into their midst even as he fumbled for words, trying to think of what to say that would get him out of the situation in one piece. A heavy hand landed on his shoulder, making him stagger just slightly. The dirt-encrusted knuckles tightened and a spiral of nervousness spun through Trunks’ stomach.

“Not often we see a nice kid like you in these parts. Have a drink with us … love to chat a bit … outside maybe…” Several tall, menacing figures blocked his way, shuffling forwards and gradually herding him outside. The hand on his shoulder was gripping tightly and another on his opposite arm clenched, guiding him toward the door.

“Oi! Ren, Jae, give the kid a break!”

The voice of the bartender was like the gift of life for Trunks. The intimidated fourteen-year-old breathed a silent sigh of relief, feeling the sensation of alleviated threat coursing through his veins as the men surrounding him parted, scowling, to retreat once more to their chosen corner.

“Th – Thankyou,” he whispered to the bartender, unable to express his gratitude with mere words.

The kind face behind the counter, so out of place but seemingly comfortable in an area like this, creased into an understanding smile. “No trouble, mate. Well, lad, what can I do you for? You’re a bit young for most of the fare this place has to offer, but I can get you a soda or something similar if you’d like?”

“Thanks,” said Trunks again, beginning to find his voice, “but I’m sort of looking for someone and I think he came in here.”

“Well then, tell me what he’s like and I’ll see if I can help you.”

“Uh, he’s about six foot, pretty built, short black hair, black eyes … he might look a little depressed or distant…”

“Trunks? Is that you?”

“Gohan?”



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