After having dropped Goten and Trunks at Capsule, the rest of the Son Family was heading towards Videl's home to drop her off. Next to him in the front seat Chichi made clear to correct Goku if he missed any turns.
"So just what made you two stay up so late?" asked Son Goku, glancing over his shoulder as they drove along to Satan City. "I remember you came for dinner and..."
"Goku we couldn't let Videl go home in the middle of the night! What WERE you thinking?" Chichi thumped the back of his head. "Now concentrate on driving!"
Gohan and Videl glanced at one another, their hands slowly threading fingers together as they remembered the day before. It had been a study day, so all classes were canceled and the students could spend their time cramming for the exams. She had joined Gohan for a study session in the library, only to find her brain refused to absorb one more fact.
Surrounded by other students, she wanted to pull her hair out. Patiently, Gohan whispered the details of the circulatory system to her, and she moaned.
"I just don't get it!" Videl complained, slamming her book shut. Sitting next to her on the library's chairs Gohan glared at the raised fingers and chorus of `shhs' trying to silence his friend.
"Just relax, Videl. I know it's not easy but if we could just..."
"Be quiet!" hissed another chorus of hushed whispers. Glancing around, Gohan and Videl realized they should either stop or relocate.
"I guess we'd better go somewhere else," Gohan told her and Videl nodded. Both she and Gohan gathered up their books and stuffed them into their book bags. She often joked that college prep was an alternative to weight lifting due to the amount of volumes they toted daily. On their way out, they brushed past two blonde characters that made Gohan stop short.
"Keeping a date with the nerd, Videl?" Sharpener joked.
"Oh just leave them be," Erasa urged. "So are you getting anywhere with these finals?"
"Not really. These exams going to be a bear!" Videl complained, glancing at her friend wearily. Both of them appeared to be carrying books also, but had they been waiting outside the library the whole time.
"I think it's easier if you study inside the library?" Gohan scratched his head, and then narrowed his eyes at Sharpener.
"Give me a break. All those people in that small space! It cramps my style," Sharpener waved a hand.
"He's claustrophobic," Erasa said, leaning over to whisper in Gohan's ear.
"Can you believe that, she's speaking in nerd now," Sharpener elbowed Videl. "No offense sweetheart, but maybe we should get away from the library before some more big words tumble out of her mouth and mine!"
"There's nothing WRONG with the way she talks, Sharpener," Videl glared at him. "Besides, it's better than listening to you go on and on."
"Ouch," Erasa laughed. She and Videl shared a conspiratorial wink.
"Humph, I'm so hurt," Sharpener tossed his head. Long blonde hair swirled around his shoulders. "So ladies, would you mind a study break? I'm sure even bookworm here could use a recharge. Right?"
"Maybe," Gohan muttered.
Erasa came around Gohan's other side and leaned towards him. "Don't mind him, Gohan. You need to come with us for some juice. You and Videl both."
"That sounds like a good idea. I can't cram another fact into my brain," Videl yawned, stretching. She still stood in proximity to Gohan, who felt his temperature rising just by standing near her. To his annoyance Sharpener slid between where Videl and Erasa stood on the steps.
Grabbing either girls arm he snickered, "Well what about it ladies?"
"No thanks," Videl glared. She slipped her arm around Gohan's and he glanced straight ahead in his shyness. At the same time she moved Sharpener's hand away from hers. Gohan said nothing as he forced away a blush, securing his book bag's strap across his body. He started walking, reaching down to remove Videl's hand from his arms. Her temporary look of hurt morphed into a blush when she felt his fingers close around hers firmly. Sharpener frowned but grabbed Erasa's hand and tugged her along with him in pursuit.
"It's this way, you two," Sharpener huffed, catching up with the other couple.
"C'mon Gohan, I don't see we're going to get rid of them any other way. Besides, you DO need to get out a bit more. Let's go!"
"Fine, whatever you want," Gohan mumbled.
Feeling Videl squeezing his hand, he let her tug him to a stop. Then all four of them walked in the direction of Sharpener's car. Before long Gohan was crammed into the back seat of a cherry red convertible while Videl sat half on his lap. Unfortunately, his longer legs were scrunched into the foot well, so sitting half crosswise in the seat was the only option. Videl swung into the back, sitting half on his lap while curling her legs around his. That left enough room for their book bags on the remaining side of the seat by them both. Erasa sat in the front next to Sharpener, and the radio blared as they sped along. Despite the cacophony, Gohan enjoyed how closely Videl was pressed up next to him.
After the car ride they all sat around one of the small tables at Crème De Lora's, a small juice bar/coffee house many of the Orange Star High students frequented. Up front a soda jerk and coffee bar workers in their blue and green uniforms bustled about the whirring machines. The girls had gotten a table while the guys fetched various brews. Then they slid into the booth and sipped their beverages. Erasa wiped a whip cream mustache off her upper lip and continued chatting with Videl. Gohan by this time had opened up one of his textbooks and was studiously tuning out Sharpener's boasting and the high light laughter of Erasa's chatter.
A napkin landed on Gohan's book and he glared up. "Excuse me?"
"Hey space man! Come down from orbit and listen to the rest of us will you?" Sharpener said.
"Gohan, this isn't the library you know," Videl nudged his arm. "You CAN put the book away."
"Sorry," Gohan apologized, snapping the book shut. He felt embarrassed that his growing up in isolation had stunted his social development. Patiently, Erasa and Videl smiled.
"Well the smarter he gets the easier it might before us," Sharpener whispered to Erasa.
"Are you SURE that's a good idea?" asked Erasa, sipping another draught of her hot chocolate.
Videl swallowed some of her latte. "Excuse me? What's that?"
"Videl you know there's always ANOTHER way to beat the system," Sharpener started.
"He looked on line. I thought it was strange the amount of time he spends doing that when we were trying to get to the teacher's website for our notes this week," Erasa started. Sharpener tucked a spoonful of his chocolate cake into his mouth and then chewed on it. Erasa snatched a chip off Gohan's sandwich plate while he wasn't looking, to Videl's annoyance. A stack of two other plates were underneath, bearing witness to Gohan's legendary appetite.
"If you would put all the time surfing into studying," Videl started.
"Oh get off my back. I'm trying to do you a favor," Sharpener frowned.
"Your kind of help would get us arrested you mean?" Gohan said through clenched teeth. He didn't mind Sharpener, but there were times when he was sorely tempted to give the blonde a piece of his mind. Any allusions to cheating made Gohan's blood boil.
"He does have a point," said Erasa.
"Sharpener, you'd better be careful WHO you offer your so called HELP to. Because you know that stuff doesn't fly with me," Videl stared at him.
"Oh, right, we can just ask Spaceman for his help," Erasa urged.
"How about it, Son? Care to share some of your wisdom with us laymen?" Sharpener said.
"You never asked before," Gohan cleared his throat. "But okay."
"Good. All we need to do is copy your notes then and..." Sharpener started. However he stopped when Gohan fired him a stern glare.
"Copy my notes?" Gohan frowned. "Excuse me, but you sat in class just like I did, and I saw you writing."
"You mean he was drawing pictures of Miss Harrison's derrière?" Erasa asked innocently enough.
"Sharpener!" Videl glared at him.
"Hey, you know my handwriting stinks! And it was only the one time! I was doing my part to study biology!" Sharpener glared at Gohan. "Besides, it isn't a crime to share notes is it?"
"No, but if you're not taking them in the first place," Gohan retorted.
"Gohan, lighten up. I'm sure it wouldn't hurt," Videl urged.
"I'm sorry, but I can't help you if you're not willing to put in the work. Some of us want to do this the right way," Gohan said. Swallowing his last bite he reached into his pocket and dropped a few Zenni for his share.
"Where are you going?" Erasa asked.
"Gohan, he didn't mean it that way," Videl started. "We really COULD use your help!"
"I'm going home to study," Gohan answered pointedly. "After all we only have a week before the big final."
"Cramping your style?" Sharpener glanced up. "Are we?"
"No it's too noisy here," Gohan answered. "You know where to find me if you change your mind."
"Gohan, wait!" Erasa called out. "I took my own notes and I only want some questions answered..."
"Gohan," Videl began, getting up and rushing after him. She caught the back of his black vest, stopping him.
"Aren't I cramping your style," he asked softly, voice filled with hurt.
"Gohan, I didn't mean it that way," Videl answered.
"You wouldn't cheat would you?" he leveled his gaze.
This earned him a frown. "Gohan you should KNOW me better then that!" Videl snapped.
"I'm leaving now," Gohan announced. He stepped past the people glancing in their direction and marched out the door. Quickly Videl chased after him. Erasa and Sharpener shook their heads.
"You really blew it, Sharpener. I told you it was cheating," Erasa scolded him. "And now we've lost our chance to pass!"
"Stupid goody goody," Sharpener glared. Videl, however had left them behind as she ran down the sidewalk. Already Gohan had blasted off, leaving a trail of fading energy behind him. Realizing he was being stubborn, she leapt into the air, streaking off till she was a glimmer on the horizon for Sharpener and Erasa to stare at with hands shading their eyes.
Videl checked her velocity, her short hair swirling around her neck as she closed the gap between her and Gohan. Already he had a good head start. But to her surprise, he was not flying on his own power, but sitting on top of a strange gold cloud she'd seen Goten sometimes use. Since it was a five hour flight by conventional methods home, he had explained he used Nimbus so he wouldn't tire himself out all the time.
"Gohan!" She called out, over the slashing winds. "Wait up, will you!"
The cloud slowed down to match Videl's speed and she soared along beside it. "Where are you going Videl?" he glanced.
"I wanted... I wanted to study with you. I mean since we've studied together before, and I really COULD use your help," said Videl eagerly.
"For yourself or for sharpener and Erasa?"
"For me, you dummy!" Videl glared at him.
"I'm sorry. That was mean of me," Gohan apologized at the hurt in her blue eyes. Already over the mountains they rocketed, Videl's forehead beading with sweat. Despite having slowed Nimbus he knew she was tiring fast.
"So what about it?"
"Won't your father miss you?"
"He knows I'm out studying for exams. You know I crash at Erasa's sometimes. But could you... huff... slow down so I could..."
"Here," Gohan offered. He reached over and grasped her hand, pulling her towards him. While Videl had never ridden on the strange cloud, she was afraid she'd fall through. To her shock she thumped into a soft fluffy bed of cotton behind him.
"I didn't fall through," she realized, clinging tightly to his shoulders. Gohan smiled to himself, pleased that his assumption was correct. Videl had only pure motives in mind after all. Still she gripped him with a vise of iron as if terrified she'd fall.
"Videl you can relax. If you're pure of heart you won't fall through. And you didn't when you first stepped on. So don't worry," Gohan urged.
"You're sure about this thing?" she suspiciously queried.
Gohan nodded and she loosened her embrace. Still she pressed her breasts close to his back and Gohan enjoyed the warmth of their bodies created together. His mind spun back to the tales his parents told about their first trips together on Nimbus. Now as the mountains moved into place he mentally ordered Nimbus to increase its velocity so he could be home in time for dinner.
Videl was tempted to sit in Gohan's lap if she had fallen through nimbus. Yet she still felt tension in Gohan's shoulders. Instead she contented herself to slide her hand between the fabric of his black vest and white shirt. Despite how `square' his clothing sense was, it could be far worse. He looked far more slender in his current outfit than he did in the red and blue gi she saw him wearing during training. Now she knew it was to perpetuate the illusion of a 'mild mannered school student'.
"It's a good thing I'm not flying," Gohan murmured back, turning his head slightly to look at her.
"Why's that?" Videl asked, kneading his sore tired muscles.
"Because I'd have trouble not crashing into anything being distracted from what you're doing now," he admitted.
"I can't help it. Besides your back is nice and warm," she cooed. Realization dawned on Gohan and he felt an odd twinge of déjà vu. Little did he know that another couple had uttered those words years before and he was the result of that union of love. Gohan closed his eyes and allowed himself to relax under Videl's massage. Such moments where they were alone were few and far between and he cherished each and every one of them.
When they at last whizzed down towards Gohan's home the shadows were lengthening. Carefully, Gohan mentally guided Nimbus to hover only a few feet above the lawn. White sheets fluttered in the breeze on the long clothesline. With her back to them, Chichi was hanging up pieces of laundry with clothespins. Gohan leapt off Nimbus first, and then extended his hand to help Videl down. Chichi spun around and smiled at the sight of the couple.
"You're home just in time for dinner. And you brought company!" she said through a mouth full of clothespins.
"Do you need help Chichi?" Videl asked, dropping her book bag and moving over to help Chichi catch the sheet that was fluttering out of her grasp.
"Thank you dear but I couldn't impose on you," Chichi began. Yet she allowed Videl to help her with the rest of the hanging.
"I'll just take these inside," Gohan said.
"That's a good boy Gohan. Get washed and ready for dinner though! It will be ready in a half hour. Your father's catching a fish to go with the meal... I hope he's gutted it this time!" Chichi expressed as Videl stretched up to slide a clothespin on the next sheet.
"Go on ahead Gohan, I'll stay here helping your mom," Videl said. He nodded, grabbing her bag in addition to his own and hauling it in through the back door. Past him rushed a red and blue blur followed by a blue one.
"Goten watch out!" Gohan shouted as he almost toppled over from the blast of air. Both Trunks and Goten whizzed around, fluttering the sheets and nearly knocking Chichi and Videl over.
"Goten, tone it down!" Chichi shouted. "Dinner's in a half hour! You and Trunks should wash up soon!"
"Okay mommy!" Goten called. Trunks grunted his assent as they swooped by once more.
Shaking her head, Videl returned to helping Chichi put a dent in the huge pile of folded laundry. Most of it was silk tunics, shirts and crisp bed linen. Gohan entered the living room and carried his books and Videl's upstairs to his room for later. He hoped his mother wouldn't mind them studying up there because in the past they usually spread out on the table. Yet he felt he'd get more done upstairs since Trunks was visiting Goten. Whenever those two got together there was trouble with a capital T.