Gohan groaned, as Goku reached over to grasp his wife's shoulder. Judging from the taught muscles bunching under his hand he knew the price she paid for keeping her self control so long. Despite this she icily continued, "I respect your decisions as a parent, Mr. Satan. And I have my OWN reservations. Gohan IS my first born son and he'll ALWAYS be my baby boy. But there's something ELSE you're forgetting, with all due respect. If you're worried about Gohan's worthiness as a husband for your daughter, then give him a chance to prove himself! And I'm not talking about martial arts tournaments! What will it take? Short of you two getting in the ring and fighting it out!"
"Actually that's what I had in mind," Hercule stammered.
"Dad, you're impossible!" Videl snapped.
"Easy," Gohan urged.
At the suggestion of such a display of testosterone Chichi again leaned forwards. "Of all the..." Chichi started.
"Chichi, calm down, easy, this is getting us nowhere," Goku interrupted her. "Look, I know you're worried and all. What dad wouldn't be?"
At this Goku stood up to his full height and glanced down at Hercule. He was getting quite tired of all the idle chatter, and wanted to put a stop to this once and for all. It seemed Hercule had some impossible standard he set for his daughter, and Chichi's negotiations weren't helping. He sensed at any moment Chichi herself would take Hercule into the ring to fight for the right for Videl to marry Gohan.
Hercule's next words crossed the invisible line drawn by both. Goku could see steam coming out his wife's ears when they heard Hercule declare, "I don't want just any idiot marrying my daughter!"
"Now WAIT a minute!" Chichi spluttered.
Moving between his wife and Hercule Goku sternly stated, "That's enough!"
Both Chichi and Hercule actually back stepped when seeing Goku's eyes angle under the wrinkle of his young brow. Ever so slightly he tipped his head forward, throwing his shoulders back with fists clenched. Instinctively Gohan and Chichi recognized the hero's defensive posture. Every time he faced an enemy or opponent who played outside the rules of fairness, Goku stopped his games. Dead serious silence filled the room that once echoed with Hercule's bragging boasts and Chichi's protestations.
"There's no need for all this. Name calling isn't nice you know! You don't see us calling Videl anything insulting, do we?" Goku continued, voice stern yet soft.
"No, but that's not the point!" Hercule retorted. Still his knees were knocking together, clad in his white baggy pants.
In answer to this Videl almost jumped to her feet. Gohan reached out to grasp her arm gently enough to hold her back. "Daddy, you're being impossible!"
"I've a right to be! You're my little girl!" Hercule shouted back, leaning up on tiptoes to glare into Goku's face.
Calmly Goku glanced down at him, and shook his head. "I know that. So instead of arguing, why don't we figure out some way to settle this? I can't believe you don't remember how much we helped each other when we all defeated Super Buu! Doesn't that mean anything?"
"That's true, but still... Videl's too young! And you might be a hero, you and that Vegeta guy! But where was that son of yours in all this?"
Pulling the ends of her dark straight hair Chichi grumbled, "I can't believe this! Men are such idiots!"
"Tell me about it," Videl answered her, too softly for anyone but Gohan to hear. He shifted his weight from one foot to another, staring at the plush nap of the carpet. Any minute he hoped a ditch would open up in it wide enough for him to pull Videl into.
"He gave his all fighting Super Buu, remember?" Goku answered. "Isn't that enough to prove his worth?"
"Hold on, you're SERIOUS about this?" Hercule suddenly stammered. "I mean I'm glad the guy did his part and all, but we're talking a father's pride here! If it wasn't for me, you guys woulda never gotten enough juice to make that spirit bomb thing that took Super Buu out of commission! Don't I have a right to prove my point here?"
Gohan shook his head, squeezing his eyes shut and mentally willing his father to shut up while Chichi gritted her teeth and Videl cringed. Dark eyes locked into Hercule's blue ones, as Goku stood his ground. Hands at his sides, the fighter kept a stern silence, fighting a battle of wills that few could see on the surface. In theory he was staring Hercule down, calling his bluff. Everyone knew Hercule maintained his reputation by trickery and guile. Attacking him in the ego where it hurt was a risky gamble Goku played.
"Every father does for his son or daughter. So what do you want Gohan to prove now? We can argue about who did what saving the world but what matters is we all did it together," Goku said.
"I know that! But I'm her father! We're talking for keeps here! I mean we've got a reputation to uphold! Videl's not just any little girl! She's my daughter and she's going to uphold the family tradition! I mean your boy just vanished in front of hundreds of people. How the heck do you expect people to take some crazy story when you guys used those dragon balls to erase people's memories huh? I've got to think of PR! You're a hero like me, Goku, but Gohan... he's gotta prove himself to the world that he's the right one for my daughter! Can't you see where I'm coming from? They expect the best from the Champ!" Hercule shouted back. Although sweat blistered on his forehead he put on his bravest front, something he was good at doing for an audience.
"Dad, please, this isn't necessary," Gohan interrupted.
"Dad, you're being so stupid about this! I can't believe it! Nobody's good enough for me!" Videl shouted.
With a backwards dismissive sweep of one hand Hercule responded, "You keep out of this, young lady! This is between us men!"
Now Videl's face twisted with fury. Eyes gleaming like blue fire she yelled, "I won't have it like this! I'm 18 years old! I'm not some championship belt for you to wrangle over! How DARE you treat me like a prize to be won! Gohan's as much a hero as Goku or you are! And isn't it enough that his father's a hero? Isn't it enough that I love him?"
Hercule wheeled around on her as she marched up to him. Gohan and Chichi exchanged looks ranging from disbelief to frustration. "Videl, don't you even realize what you're saying? You've got to understand that the fans want..."
"All you care about is your IMAGE, is THAT it?" Videl shrieked, poking her finger in his face as she marched up and grabbed her father's elbow.
"You're embarrassing me," he hissed, glancing over his shoulder at her. "Let me handle this!"
"Mr. Satan, if you don't mind, I have something else to say?" Chichi cut in. She pushed Goku aside and rested her hands on her hips.
"And that would be what?" Hercule insisted.
"There's one thing you're overlooking. You say you're worried about your public image. And that people look up to you? Is that right? And I assume it's because you want your daughter well taken care of? And you're basically saying no to this match because you assume Gohan's someone that nobody knows anything about?" Chichi asked, taking deep breaths.
"Yes, that's right! What father WOULDN'T want the best husband for his little princess?"
"There's one thing that we're all forgetting. Do you realize just who Gohan is? Have you forgotten he was on television when you all fought Cell? Surely people can put two and two together that he's a hero too!"
"Excuse me, I know that! But the rest of the world saw him taken down by those two thugs! Yeah he's the son of a world martial arts champion... but he didn't exactly make a stellar impact out there!" Hercule Satan wondered. Her response caught him off guard, and he found himself unsteady on his feet. One second Chichi's demeanor had changed from hellcat to confident proud mother, with an air of superiority.
Not a feather seemed ruffled now that Chichi beamed her most charming smile. Folding her hands in front of her she relaxed her shoulders. Taking a deep breath she announced, "Gohan's no ordinary boy. Granted Goku's said he's the son of a world champion, and the best in his class. But do you know his grandfather just HAPPENS to be one of the strongest men in the world too?"
Videl and Gohan exchanged a look of confusion. Goku's hand shifted to the back of his neck and he rubbed it violently. Videl caught Gohan unconsciously doing the same as his father, so they resembled odd mirror images of one another.
"Mom?" Gohan blinked.
"And where are you going with this Mrs. Son?" Hercule asked, resting hands on his hips.
"Well, have you heard of the Ox King, perhaps?" Chichi asked him. "Of Frying Pan plain?"
For a moment Hercule Satan's blue eyes narrowed in thought. To see him hesitating with such an expression didn't match with his false bravado. Then his eyes again widened with dawning realization. He declared, "Wait a minute, I'm not stupid! I know all about that guy. But did he ever win a world championship? I'm talking pedigree here!"
Removing his hand from the back of his neck Goku then pointed right at Gohan with a broad smile spreading over his face. Gohan wasn't sure if he should be relieved or frightened to hear his father's infectious laugh bubbling out, "That's right! He was one of the two students of the greatest martial artist in the world! Master Roshi! The God of martial arts! Way back many years ago!"
"Surely you've heard of Master Roshi!" Chichi insisted, nodding her head.
"Are you kidding me? He's only one of the strongest martial artists before me!" Hercule laughed nervously.
"Well don't you remember that Master Roshi trained the STRONGEST fighters in the world like me? And he trained my Grandpa Gohan, who my son's named after. And he trained Chichi's father, the Ox King! Doesn't' that count for something?" Goku asked eagerly.
"Um yeah... I guess when you put it like that," Hercule struggled to take it all in.
"Absolutely! Look at me. You might not remember me saying that I was the one who trained Goten, who would have won the junior division if he hadn't gone blonde?" Chichi asked.
Combing fingers through his receding hair Hercule Satan answered, "Wait, you trained that kid? You didn't teach him those tricks did you?"
"Up to the part before he started doing the so called tricks, yes," Chichi nodded proudly. "My father trained ME to fight. Gohan's got the blood of fighters in his veins. What amazes me is that you failed to remember that just now. Gohan shouldn't have to prove his pedigree to anyone. If anything, you should worry about your own 'bloodline'. I mean you and Goku DID work together to save the universe. And isn't it much better for all of us if you stop this silly bickering and just see him for what he is? He's the son of a hero, and you know that. So don't play stupid, Mr. Satan."
Hercule continued to stare in disbelief, this time turning his focus to Chichi. Scrunching his gaze he turned his head to the side, as if trying to see past Chichi's silk dress and ramrod posture. "You... you were a FIGHTER right? Jeez, if I didn't know that now I'd feel really stupid before. The way you just threw all those moves by me... only a master strategist could, Ma'am."
"I was Miss Anonymous who married Goku here... in the 23rd Budokai remember," Chichi continued, slipping her arm around Goku's waist. "Any martial arts champion worth his salt knows his history!"
"Of course I do!" Hercule laughed, throwing his head back.
"Daddy, how dense can you be? Don't tell me you conveniently forgot all this?" Videl shouted.
"Well it was part of my secret plan, yeah! I mean only someone who's parents had enough guts to take on Mr. Satan could prove this kid was the right man for you... could be worth it," Hercule nodded. He stepped backwards, sinking into the recliner, nodding his head. Grabbing his martini he took a huge sip.
"There you go. Gohan's from a long line of fighters. But he's also a great scholar. And he would make a wonderful husband for Videl because he's both strong and smart! Not all martial artists are the top of their class!" Chichi crowed proudly. Gohan wanted to find a nearby hole to climb into in his embarrassment.
"He's got a pedigree dad. Just like me. I'm the daughter of the world's strongest. And Gohan's dad was at least the second strongest."
"Chichi, um I just was wondering," Goku asked, scratching his head.
"What Goku-sa?" she asked, looking up at his confusion.
"Well, if you're a Princess, doesn't that make Gohan... um... well...?" Goku tapped his fingers together. "I mean your dad was the Ox King... and that means you're royalty, so doesn't it mean that Gohan..."
Chichi blinked a few seconds as Hercule drained the last of his drink. Her face lit up and she whooped in joy, grabbing his shoulders and spinning him around. "There you go! You want your daughter to marry the best? Well wouldn't it look GREAT for the World Champion's daughter to marry the son of a past martial arts champion who is also royalty himself?" she squealed, leaping up and down as she squeezed Goku in a hug. To Hercules shock Chichi grabbed her husband and bear hugged him so he lifted off his feet.
"Chichi, hey, take it easy!" Goku laughed. Hercules eyes bugged out in his head to see the middle aged woman so easily swing her husband around and set him down. Still Goku kept his arms around his wife and they regarded the stunned fighter laying in disbelief on his armchair.
"This is a lot to take in, Videl," he shook his head.
"That would really increase your popularity, Mr. Satan," Chichi waggled a finger at him, giving him a charming smile. "Just think, your grandchildren would be the world's strongest!"
Taking Chichi's hand Goku led her back to sit down on the sofa once more. A mouthful of alcoholic beverage shot across the room from between Mr. Satan's pursed lips. He coughed, "My grandchildren?"
"What man wouldn't' want some fine grandchildren to carry on his family tradition, eh?" Chichi continued, pressing her advantage. Now almost sitting on the edge of her chair she smirked with the same superiority as a chess player winning a match against a computer.
"Grandchildren... oh my gosh... that's... jumping WAY ahead here," Hercule mumbled, all the blood draining from his face.
"She's right. Chichi usually is," Goku nodded. "And think of all the training you could give them."
"Goku," groaned Chichi, shaking her head. Videl and Gohan, quite forgotten stood on the sidelines. Both felt their feet floating twelve inches off the ground at that moment. Floored, Hercule Satan continued to blink in disbelief.
"I need another drink," he moaned quietly.
"So what about it? What do you have to say to that, sir?" Chichi laughed triumphantly. Her hand squeezed Goku's so tightly that she would have broken bones had he been human.
"I think I'm gonna need to sit down and take this all in," Hercule finally answered.
"Daddy!" Videl laughed as she rushed over to hug him.
"Now wait a minute, sweetie. I didn't say YES. But I didn't say no," Hercule responded. Every muscle tensed up and he pulled himself to sit up straight again.