Dedicated to Kudari-chan, who inspired me to write Goku's POV in the first place.
Disclaimer: I do not own Dragonball Z. Period, dot, end of statement.
I'm being carried in someone's arms, even though I'm fourteen and perfectly able to get to bed myself. I must have fallen asleep on the couch again while finishing my homework. Everything's a bit fuzzy; I'm in that place between being asleep and being awake. I can tell that it's Gohan though. I shift a bit to try and find a better position and he awkwardly lifts a hand and runs it through my hair, whispering, "Shh, Goten, I have you." I snuggle into his chest, listening to the strong heartbeat next to my ear as I sleepily consider Gohan's place in my life.
Father: a male parent. If you look at this part of the definition, then I suppose that Goku is my father. And he is, biologically speaking. Our mirror images of when we were young prove that without a doubt. I love my father very much, but let's face it: he wasn't there for the first seven years of my life. All I knew about him was that I looked almost exactly like him, he was the man that made my mother cry, and he was the man that caused my brother to go very quiet whenever he was talked about more than just in passing. Regardless of his friends and family telling him otherwise, he knew that it was his fault that Goku had sacrificed himself at the Cell Games. I've never seen him cry about it though; I don't think I've ever seen him cry about anything. Piccolo told me once that my brother was a crybaby when they first met, although he did admit that Gohan was being forced to fight the bad guys at age five. Not in those words, of course. I can't imagine Piccolo of all people saying "bad guys".
They tell me that Gohan was always mature for his age. Dende said that back when they were on Namek, Frieza nearly killed Krillin and Gohan went berserk. He pretty much pounded the lizard into the ground in revenge before grabbing Krillin and escaping. Gohan was five, maybe six. How many five-year-olds would fight the monster trying to kill them instead of running away?
My favorite story about my big brother has always been when he defeated Cell. He defended Vegeta when he didn't have to – after all, it was Vegeta's fault in the first place that Cell had been able to swallow up Android 18 and morph into his final stage in the first place. Gohan still took the hit, messing up one of his arms so badly that he couldn't use it. And even though he was injured and tired and everything else that goes with being in a huge battle and Cell was better than new, Gohan managed to defeat Cell anyway. I've heard Bulma lamenting over the fact that Gohan grew up so quickly after that, especially after he learned that Mom was pregnant with me.
Six months after the Cell Games ended, I was born. Gohan really was the man of the house now, having to take care of our mother and me. He was the man I looked up to the most, more than anyone either of us knew. He was always there for me, always ready to go do things. If I wanted to go outside and play, he would sneak out of his room when he was supposed to be studying just to come with me. He was always worried that I would get hurt or get into trouble if he wasn't there and to be honest, that was almost always what happened if he wasn't. He was the one to hug me when I was sad, to kiss my scrapes and bruises and magically make them better, and to comfort me when I had a nightmare and crawled into bed with him. I have so many memories of being held in his arms and thinking that nothing could ever hurt me while I was there. The strongest person in the world was lying right there beside me, keeping guard against the monsters that I couldn't see but knew were there, just waiting for their chance to eat me. A second definition of the word father: one deserving the love and respect given to a father. For me, growing up without my true father, there was only one person who fit that description, and that was Gohan.
I always called him Gohan or big brother and he always called me Goten or squirt, but we knew what those unspoken names between us were. I think that Goku knew it too. Vegeta says that Goku is a third-class imbecile with rocks for brains (although he uses words slightly less kind than mine), but I think that Vegeta underestimates him. Whenever Goku smiles at me, his smile is always a little sad. I think he knew exactly what kind of bond Gohan and I had the moment he returned to Earth for the tournament and he's never tried to interfere with it since. We train together, we live together, and we drive Mom crazy together. We're close, but it's more of a stepfather-stepson kind of way than anything else. I call him Dad, he calls me son; it's expected of us, so we provide. But we both know that it's just a show. Just a front. Just a façade.
Gohan quietly opens the door and eases through it, trying not to wake me up. It's a fruitless exercise, seeing as I'm already awake. I'm surprised that he hasn't realized it yet. I peek through my lashes at his face. He looks like he's thinking hard about something, although what that something is I can't tell. Probably something for his classes – none of his students realize how much work he puts into his job. He was probably still awake and just coming down for a snack when he found me.
He lays me down on the bed and hesitates for a brief second, obviously considering whether or not to change me into my pajamas. He always changes my clothes instead of waking me up. I still don't understand why he does it, but I haven't asked him about it. I probably never will either. It's just one of those weekly rituals, I guess. He covers me with the blankets and tucks me in; he must have realized at some point during the trek to my room that I'm at least semi-awake. The bed dips slightly and I only realize that Gohan sat down when he begins stroking my hair gently. Oh, he could do that all night and I wouldn't complain…
I'm nearly asleep when he finally stops and rises to his feet. He crosses the room quietly, opening the door.
"Night, Dad," I say sleepily, opening my eyes to look at him. He's looking back at me, an unreadable expression on his face. We stare at each other for a moment. Well, he stares. I'm trying to keep my eyes open. Then he smiles.
"Goodnight, son." He leaves, closing the door. I smile as one last thought drifts through my head.
'Goku might be my father, but Gohan is my dad.'
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