My Second Time Around
by djFusion

Punch. Throw. Kick. Punch again.

Counter. Sweep. Punch. Block.


Jab. Duck. Block. Another block.

Roundhouse. Hook. Counter punch. Kick.


Spin. Stumble back. Fall.

"Are you okay?" I ask more satisfied that I actually landed something than concerned that I might have hurt him. After all, this was the first success either of us has had all day. He easily shakes it off.

"No," my counterpart quickly retorts, wiping a trickle of blood from the side of his mouth. He looks at the smudge on the back of his hand, then sharply back at me.

"Hey, you should have seen that coming. What did you want me to do? Wait for you to move out of the way?" I half joke. Sparing with him lately has become almost pointless ever since we've been through each other's mind and body. I know his reactions. He knows my reflexes. It's like trying to spar with another part of yourself.

Well actually... that's exactly what we're trying to do.

"I thought you wanted to take it easy today, Trunks? You didn't have to hit that hard," he stifles a tiny laugh under his breath, but I knew he wasn't serious from the start. I've known this boy my entire life. There isn't anything either of us doesn't know about each other. Not at this point. I walk over to where he's still leaning back on his hands in the grass, rubbing his bottom lip that's already starting to swell.

I offer out a hand to help him up. "C'mon, let's call it a day with this. I'll race you back to your house. Do you need a head start?" I smirk with a twist of sarcasm, getting an evil eye in return. We're so comfortable with each other a response isn't even needed.

I'm thirteen years old today. Goten will be twelve in about a week. It's amazing how similar we are, minus the slight age difference and physical traits - We've both seen the world through the same eyes. We can both melt glass and blast rocks with our bare hands. We were both born with tails. You know... the things that make two kids best friends.

Except, there is a difference now, as I'm painfully reminded of every time we see each other.

Kinda like today.

As we close in on his humble home nestled deep in the woods, alone for miles in every direction, we can already see Goku coming out to greet us. The man is never completely unaware of where his kids are or what they're doing at any given moment. I wonder if that's necessarily a good thing? We land on the lawn as he sets down an enormous pile of firewood at his feet, nearly the size of a small forest. He approaches us with a warm smile, not the least bit hesitant to openly show fatherly affection towards his son right in front of me.

"So, how's the training going, boys," he asks, ruffling Goten's wild hair into an even more chaotic mess. He notices his son's puffy lip, holding his chin up to get a better look. "I see the birthday boy got a pretty good shot on you today, huh?" I crack a smile.

"...Only because I knew Chibi didn't see it coming." Well, it's the truth.

"Goten, why don't you go inside and get your mother to clean that up for you?" He sounds so caring. I remind myself again that I shouldn't resent my best friend for what he has and I don't.

I watch as Goku pats his son on the back and sends him into the house, making some silly remark about his mother probably being more worried about the dirt on his shoes than the blood on his face. I pretend to laugh - Goten's dad can have the corniest humor sometimes.

He takes a couple of steps closer, genuinely interested in talking to me for whatever reason. "So Trunks, what do you and Goten have planned for the 'big thirteen'?"

"Well, I think me and Goten are going to the movies, and then later my parents are going to take us out to..." I feel stupid lying to him. "I mean, my mom and I, well..." I just shut up, noting that I've backed myself into quite a corner. There's no use trying to pretend, but I already know I don't have to say anything else; I can see by the look I'm getting that it's pretty clear he knows what I'm trying to hide.

"You know, Trunks, you're a very strong boy for your age. Actually, I don't even think Gohan or myself were as powerful as you when we were your age. Did you know that?" That's his blatant attempt to change the subject for me, I guess.

"Thanks." Do I care?

"You've made him very proud. You know that, right?"

I don't want to talk about it.

"Yea, I know. Everyone tells me that." Maybe that came out a little too sarcastic, but I hate hearing stuff like this from the World's Best Dad. What does he know about neglect? Lately, I feel Goku has been more of a father to me than my own has. I wonder if it would have always been that way had he been around when Goten and me were little kids?

Even from where we're standing, we can hear Chi Chi starting to rip into her youngest son for tracking mud over her kitchen floor, as expected. Goku laughs under his breath. "Why don't you go help Goten survive his mother for me? I'm going to go ahead and bring in the rest of the wood." He puts his hand on my head, already beating my father in the physical contact department with just one touch. "You're a great kid, Trunks, and you'll always be a part of our family." I think he meant for that to make me feel better, but it only makes thing worse.

"Thanks, Goku." I say to the ground with a weak smile, and head into the house.

You know, over the past few years, I've come to realize that training isn't so important to me anymore. Goten still trains at the butt-crack of dawn every morning with his brother or his dad, but I haven't been that serious about it since... who-knows-when.

No. That's a lie. I do know when.

I find myself spending less and less time around my house. Goten and me hang out all the time now, probably even more than we used to, but training isn't the first thing on my priority list anymore like when I was younger. I can't remember the last new thing I learned outside of the mundane sparring routine I go through with Goten, and I'm well aware of the fact that I haven't been getting any stronger, but does it matter to me?

No, probably not.

We do other things, normal-kid things that I forgot normal kids do. I think about just being a normal kid all the time now. Like, what it would be to be fully human, or if I never got into martial arts in the first place, or if I just got to go to school like everyone else and not have to keep most of my life a secret from everyone... or maybe what it would be like if I never had the Prince of all Saiyans as my father. Would my life be any different? Would something else have just cropped up in its place to make me even more miserable than I already am?

My mother told me about the Cell Games - how there was a future version of myself at one time that came to help. I really didn't believe her until she showed me a picture a few years ago, and let me tell you, it's weird to look at yourself years older than you already are! I think I was seventeen, maybe eighteen in the picture, but I looked so sad. Mom said that everyone in his timeline was dead, even Goku and Gohan; that he was the only one to survive the androids, in turn becoming this hardened warrior for the sake of survival. I'm sure that's the son my dad wishes he still had, not me. He was wearing Saiyan armor in the picture. I think that says enough.

So I guess that means the other me never grew up with my father. I wonder if he ever wishes that he did? I hope not. He has it better. He doesn't have to go home every night to watch his own father ignore and avoid him. He doesn't have to be reminded everyday he looks in the mirror that his purple hair and blue eyes do nothing but serve as a constant reminder that true Saiyans don't have such colors. Goku's kids look like Saiyans. Why did I have to turn out to be such a freak? I wonder if I had black hair and black eyes, would my father hate me any less? Would he be proud of me instead of embarrassed? Would he finally think of me as his son?

I think of when Goten and me saved my father from Majin Buu, and can remember his saying something about him being proud of me, but not much after that. Did he say it because he wanted a clear conscience before he died? So he could feel better the moment before he sacrificed his life by pretending that he actually gave a shit about me for once? I always think of what would have happened had he never actually died after he said that, wondering if things would be different this time around.

I take a seat at the kitchen table and watch as Chi Chi cleans the rest of the blood off her son's face with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol, complaining about this that and the other thing, just like always. Goku finished carrying in the rest of the firewood and places it at the door before walking up behind Goten to rest a strong hand on his son's shoulder. He begins to reminisce about how things never change, or something like that. I don't even know if he was talking about us or what. My mind is someplace else.

As I look at their little family, carrying on like little families do, I think of how lucky Goten is. I can remember back when we were really little kids and how he used to cry at night when we had sleepovers because he wanted to meet his father and couldn't. He actually used to be jealous of me because I had a dad and he didn't.

I was so proud to have a dad back then, one who was strong and promised to train me someday. I would brag to everyone how great my dad was, how he was the strongest guy in the whole world, and I was his son. I guess I didn't know any better. My father was pretty much the be all and end all of male role models for me back then, and as far as I was concerned, he was the greatest.

It wasn't until Goten's dad actually came back from the Other World that I realized how much of my relationship with my father was based on my own lies I started believing. I tried to cover it. I think I still do sometimes. But the fact remained that my father was nothing compared to Goku, or any other father for that matter. I would never be the strong Saiyan son that he always wanted. I would just be his burden - the twisting knife of disappointment and nothing more, no matter how hard I try.

I know this now.

Does it still make me sad?

I don't know anymore. My whole life was built around killing myself for his attention, and once I let it all go, I felt such an emptiness inside - it's like a part of me had died that was never really there in the first place. I love my mom. I love Goten. But somehow, they'll never really fill that void.

I once said - well, my future-self once said - that more than anything, he wanted to know what his father was like and what it would be like to be his son, even for just a day. Yamucha told me that once.

Well, I don't think it's really worth all the pain to find out.

~ fin ~