Chichi saw it from the moment Gohan walked through the front door.
"I'm home!" he said cheerfully, taking off his shoes.
It was subtle, yet obvious. The air about him felt… different. Lighter. Relaxed. There was a slight tug at the corner of his lips, threatening to break into a broad smile at any moment. His whole demeanor was glowing, beaming with barely contained happiness—the very special kind that was making his eyes twinkle in that particular way.
The same way that Goku used when he would look at her.
"Welcome back," Chichi replied automatically, dumbfounded by the obvious explanation.
Her not-so-little boy—was in love.
"Gohan!" called out Goten, running to his big brother to jump in his arms. "You're home late! Did you beat up some bad guys again?" he asked excitedly, looking up at the older boy in admiration.
Chuckling, Gohan ruffled his wild hair playfully. "I don't beat them up," he corrected good-naturedly. "But yes, I did help fight crime today."
Chichi was silent while her sons walked over to the kitchen, Goten asking questions about his brother's superhero alter-ego's adventures in crime fighting along the way. Still functioning out of instinctive habit, she followed after them and they sat down to dine. She kept quiet, observing her eldest son every now and again, uselessly making sure of his obvious infatuation. She slowly ate the delicious home-made dish, contrasting the boy's rapid eating habit—at least she taught them manners.
Taught. Her mind blocked on that word, slowly working it out of her kind of daze. Teaching. Teacher—
And then suddenly she snapped out of it and jumped to her feet in a flash, her chair clashing behind her in a loud clanking noise that made the boys jump slightly and stare at her, as she blurted out, "You cannot have a girlfriend!"
While Goten merely looked up from his bowl and continued eating, Gohan froze completely, gaping, wide eyes staring at his mother. His chopsticks hovered halfway to his mouth, the piece of fish formerly stuck in between them dropping on his lap, unnoticed by the two parties.
An eternity must have passed as mother and son stared at each other, one in a display of authority while the other was most obviously, completely freaking out. The only sound disrupting the heavy silence was Goten, who simply kept on eating, completely carefree and oblivious to the current tension in the air.
Finally, an odd strangled squeak came out of Gohan's mouth. "Wh-What?"
Standing tall in the intimidating manner she'd long mastered, arms crossed over her chest and frowning deeply, Chichi repeated in a calmer—yet somehow scarier—voice, "You can't have a girlfriend, Gohan. It'll be in the way of your schoolwork."
How can she possibly know? The question kept screaming in Gohan's mind over and over again. How on earth can she know? How did she—? How? And anyway—</i>
"Why not?" he blurted out, continuing his train of thoughts. His thoughtless, daring move did not seem appreciated in the least, however, as his mother's face got redder and angrier.
"I knew it! I knew it! It's written all over your face! You can't, Gohan, not now—you've just started school for god's sake!"
"It's been two months…" he bravely countered, albeit in a tiny voice.
"And you're wayyy too young for that now!" Chichi ranted on as if he hadn't interrupted. "You're only sixteen, Gohan! I waited until I was eighteen to be with your father!"
"But I spent a whole year in the Room of Spirit and Time, doesn't that make me older…?" he retorted weakly, knowing this argument had little chance to turn the tide to his advantage.
"Oh please. That doesn't count. You just spent a year training, and you didn't even study during that time! The answer is a definite no, Gohan. Absolutely not. You can't. No girlfriend. No."
His voice may be quivering slightly and yes, he admitted he was scared of his mom when she was angry like this, but Gohan was not going to give up on Videl for such unreasonable reasons. So what if he was young? He was simply lucky enough to have already found a girl like Videl, whom he wanted to be with and who wanted to be with him. He wasn't going to give up on her, not after all the trouble they went through to finally be together.
And suddenly he felt calm and determined as he kept his stare on his mother. His chair screeched slightly as he stood up to face her, palm down against the wooden table. He looked at her in all seriousness.
"Listen, Mom, I'm not fooling around with girls," he said, his sudden cool-headedness silencing Chichi. "I really, really like her, and somehow she likes me too. I quite serious about this relationship, Mom, and I don't want to give it up. I won't give her up."
Goten looked up from his near-finished bowl, blinking at the scene. His brother standing up against their mother was a pretty rare sight to behold, and he inwardly rooted for Gohan to win this argument, whatever it was they were arguing about.
"You have to focus on studying, Gohan," Chichi insisted, although a lot less fiercely.
"I'm acing all my classes! You have nothing to worry about," he countered, inwardly relieved that his mother didn't seem to know that he'd skipped class today.
"It's just the first trimester. It's going to get harder as the year moves along, you know that."
"It won't interfere with schoolwork. I promise Mom."
"And if it does?" she continued, straightening her fallen down chair to sit back on it. Gohan sat back down as well.
"It won't," he assured, shrugging slightly. "It's pretty easy, you know."
Goten grinned behind his newly served bowl, glad that it was looking good for Gohan. He never really understood why their mother was always being pushy about Gohan's studies; he was already so smart! Though, the little boy was glad that she wasn't as harsh on him—perhaps it was because for some reason, Gohan actually liked studying, not that he could understand why. In any case, he was sure his brother would always be the smartest in that school of his. He was by far the coolest, too.
After some silence, some thinking about it and after considering the pros and the cons, Chichi finally let out a sigh and nodded her head, finishing up her dinner.
"Fine," she said. "If you're that serious about it, I won't object." Gohan's lips started tugging at the corners, while Goten's grin got wider, hidden behind his bowl of food and going unnoticed by the two grown-up members of the family. "…BUT," she added, "if I notice the smallest decrease in your grades, you will end this relationship. Are we clear?"
Frowning slightly at the imposed condition, Gohan agreed nonetheless, confident that he could keep high scores throughout the year; his face relaxed into a dreamy smile, however, as he thought of all the time he would get to spend with Videl throughout his high school years. It was going to be the best years of his life, he just knew it.
After all, he was with the girl of his dreams.
A lot of heads turned at the unfamiliar scene taking place in the school's hallway. Not only was Videl Satan, the most famous tomboy in the city, with her boyfriend, but said guy was none other than the nerdiest, and also the smartest of the whole school. Who knew the crime fighter celebrity had a thing for brains? Well, Son Gohan was also one of the cutest faces around, but as far as everyone knew he was no fighter. Most wondered how Mr. Satan would take the news, or if he already knew. It seemed highly unlikely that he would allow his only daughter to date someone like Gohan…
They felt pretty sorry for the boy, actually. Videl may be a hit, but her dad was a scary man.
The couple was by his locker, Videl leaning back against the one next to Gohan's while he took his time dropping off his stuff.
"I'm surprised you're not late this morning," she teased.
"I'm surprised yesterday wasn't a dream," he said back, grinning. He closed the locker door and grabbed her hand, watching her cheeks get redder. He still couldn't believe it, but to be able to just be there with her and hold her hand without any worry, it was pure bliss.
"You're so cheesy," she muttered, while they started towards their classroom.
"I'm aware of that, thank you," Gohan replied. He just couldn't get the grin off his face, and it was starting to hurt his cheeks, too.
"Everyone's staring at us…" sighed Videl, glancing about. "Can't they just mind their own business?"
"In their defense, I didn't see it coming, either," he said, that infuriating grin ever so glued on his handsome face. Videl felt her face grow hotter.
"Alright, I get it," she said, rolling her eyes. "You can't believe it, they can't believe it, no one can believe that I like you. Well guess what, I don't care what people think; I just want to be left alone."
Gohan stopped in his tracks all of sudden, causing Videl to stop walking as well. She looked back at him questioningly. He had his eyebrows raised in apparent surprise, his eyes blinking several times.
"What?" she asked, frowning in confusion.
He blushed, rubbing the back of his neck with his other hand, a tiny smile stretching his lips. "It's just… It's the first time I hear you say it. That you like me."
The girls who were close enough to hear what they were saying were just about ready to melt. How could this boy be so completely adorable? The boys, however, seeing this, were glowering with jealousy.
Videl turned away to hide her flushed face from him and started walking again, tugging at his hand. How, indeed, Gohan could be so adorable without even noticing his effect.
He tightened his fingers around hers, and although she tried to hold it down, Videl's face was blazing with a deeper shade of red. She heard him chuckle, and turned around to look at him. He had the goofiest grin ever.
"You are so red," he teased. And she got redder.
"Who's fault is that, huh?" she said back, pretending indignation—well, maybe half-pretending. He suddenly made them stop, looked around them quickly and then pulled her against him, giving her a hug.
"Am I forgiven?" he murmured to her ear.
She just knew everyone was looking at them… and yet in that moment, it didn't matter as much. Being in Gohan's arms, it was simply the best feeling ever. "... Yes," she mumbled into his chest.
When they finally got to class, they were greeted by Erasa, who was eying them with a smirk.
"I've heard some rumors about you two," she declared with a sing-song voice. "That's you were acting all lovey-dovey already huhuhuhu…"
As they settled in their usual seats on either side of the blond-haired girl, Gohan's face flared up while Videl rolled her eyes.
"Figures," she muttered. "Why can't I get a boyfriend and not have the whole school watching my every move? Too much to ask huh."
"By the way," said Erasa. "Don't you want to switch seats with me Videl? So that you can be next to your husband," she added with a teasing smirk.
"E-E-Erasa!" Gohan whispered hoarsely. "We've only just started dating, honestly!"
She rolled her eyes and noted with some satisfaction the redness on Videl's cheeks. Oh, how she'd waited to see this day. To finally be able to talk about boyfriends with Videl—of course, Videl's previous celibacy didn't really stop her before. But still! From now on her best friend was actually going to join in the talks. They'd already chatted for hours yesterday. Erasa couldn't be more excited.
"Besides, I don't think it's such a good idea," said Videl, going back into topic. She shared a look with Gohan, both seeming to think of the same thing while a light, pinkish tint colored their cheeks.
"Yeah," added Gohan, scratching at the hair on the back of his head in uneasiness. "I don't think I'd be able to concentrate much if Videl is sitting right next to me all the time…"
"Besides, we don't need to be together all the time," Videl went on, winking at her boyfriend. "I wouldn't want Gohan to become sick of me too quickly."
"Right. Like that could ever happen," he replied, grinning widely.
"You can't know for sure," she said, keeping up the joke.
"I do," he assured, looking her in the eyes. "Always."
Erasa looked from one to the other, feeling a bit left out. They really were acting all lovey-dovey, and didn't even seem to remember her presence. She smiled shyly. "Um, you sure you don't want to switch seats with me, Videl?"
"So are you free this Saturday?"
He grinned. Of course she'd be the one to bring it up first. Gohan didn't mind at all. Her straightforwardness was quite convenient, since he was pretty shy himself.
They were having lunch outside on one of the picnic tables, just the two of them. Yes, in the same courtyard Videl had confessed to him in front of everyone. And yes, a lot of kids were still staring at them in curiosity. Well, let them stare; they'd get used to them being together soon enough.
"Yep," he started saying, but then paused. "Wait, actually I can't Saturday. I'm babysitting my brother and his friend while my mom goes out with her friend. Dang."
"I didn't even know you had a brother," she said, and smiled. "What's he like?"
Gohan grinned just thinking of his adorable lil' bro. "He's turning seven soon. His name's Goten, and to him I'm the coolest brother ever."
"I'm sure you are. I won't believe otherwise," giggled Videl.
His hand found hers under the picnic table and they shared smiles and sweet looks. Then, Gohan moved closer to Videl on the bench they were sitting on, and wrapped his arm around her waist to pull her closer to him. She rested her cheek against his shoulder, and he kissed the top of her head.
She sighed in content. This was pure bliss.
"How about Sunday, then?" she asked softly, so as not to break this perfect moment.
"I'm free on Sunday, yeah," he replied in the same tone, wrapping his other arm around her too, to embrace her better. "What do you want to do?"
"Hmm, I don't know. I don't really care, to be honest. As long as I'm with you…" she added in a barely audible whisper. Ugh, the tomboy in her thought in disapproval, I can't believe I said that.
He cracked a smile. Who knew Videl Satan could be so sweet? "Then I guess I'll have to come up with something and surprise you."
She hummed in agreement, closing her eyes as she made herself more comfortable, all snuggled up to him and breathing in his scent. It was still so intoxicating, that scent of his. It was manly, attractive, refreshing—it couldn't fit Gohan any better.
She smiled as the obvious dawned on her. It was happening so fast, but there was no doubting it now. She, Videl, was actually falling pretty hard for this guy. She was falling in love, and there was no stopping the process now. She didn't want to stop it, either; she was just so happy. She couldn't even remember the last time she'd felt so… so…
That was it. She could be herself with Gohan, and he still wanted to be with her. It was making her happy. She truly wished it would always be like that.
She could feel him becoming tense all of a sudden. Frowning in concern, she looked up at him. "What's wrong?"
He smiled, a kind of sad smile, and cupped her cheek. "There is something I need to tell you," he said.
She blinked, wondering what could be on his mind. But after a long pause, Gohan still didn't say anything else.
"What's it?" she asked.
"I… I'm…Ugh, I can't do this…" he muttered the last part to himself, seeming upset somehow. What could this be about?
"You can tell me," she said, hoping to be encouraging. "What's it?"
But Gohan could feel a lump constricting his throat. He gazed at her beautiful eyes. Her trusting, encouraging eyes. Would they reflect betrayal once he told her? Would they show disgust, hate, distrust? He wanted to say it; he had to finally tell her he was Saiyaman. He'd thought this was the moment, that he was ready to say it to her.
But the words just wouldn't come out.
He swallowed. Looked away. Cursed himself under his breath. Made her worry. He looked at her again, tried to say it again. Stutters were all he could manage.
Dammit, dammit! he thought angrily at himself. Why can't I say it?
"It's OK," she said soothingly, stroking his cheek with an understanding smile. "Whatever it is, take your time telling me."
He suddenly pulled her into a tight hug, his arms wrapped around her possessively as he buried his face in the crook of her neck. "I'm so lucky to have you," he whispered, a hint of distress in his voice.
As she returned the hug, Videl couldn't help wondering, confused by his actions. What did he try to tell her? What could it possibly be? And why was it getting him this worked up?
Well, whatever it was, Videl promised herself to be as open-minded as possible about it when Gohan did tell her. She didn't want him to be upset; she wanted him to smile at her again—to smile at her all the time.
She was the lucky one, really. He was making her truly happy. And she hoped, with all of her heart, that she was returning the favor.