Aftershocks


"Where are we?"

"What's going on?"

"Where's my dad?"

Goku sighed heavily, and steeled himself to deliver the horrible news for the second time that day. "Listen, boys: a lot has happened today. We've got a lot to do still, and hardly any time to do it. This isn't easy for me to say, and it's going to be even harder for you to hear - but you've got to be strong about this. Ok?"

The boys exchanged a confused glance and nodded slowly. "What are you talking about?" Trunks asked.

Before Goku could say another word, he was interrupted by a voice at the door.

"Goku, I need to talk to my son for a few minutes."

Bulma seemed to have regained her composure, but Goku had his misgivings about letting her break the news to Trunks. As unfair as it seemed, there just wasn't time for mourning right now. "Uh, listen, Bulma... I, uh... I think I'd better handle this."

She cast her eyes at the floor for a moment and drew a breath; when she spoke, her voice was low and even. "I need to have a talk with my son, Goku. Just like you need to have a talk with yours."

If there was one thing Goku had learned in all his years of friendship with Bulma, it was when to let her win. Besides, she was right. Vegeta was part of her family--it was her job to tell Trunks, not his. He had his own family to business to take care of. "Yeah... you're right. Go ahead." The woman gave him a nod of thanks and motioned to her son; as they started to leave the room, Goku called after her. "Oh, hey! Bulma?" She turned, and he rubbed the back of his neck self-consciously. "Uh... do you think... could you make it quick?"

If looks could kill, and if Goku weren't already dead, the glare Bulma shot at him would have done the job very quickly. He laughed nervously, backing away from her a bit. "Heh heh... right... take your time guys, we'll be in here."

Upon finding an empty room, Bulma guided Trunks inside and shut the door. She leaned against the door a bit and took a deep breath as Trunks made himself comfortable on a chair. He watched her silently for a moment, looking confused. She managed a weak smile, but it didn't fool him. "Mom? Are you ok?"

Bulma took another deep breath to compose herself, then knelt in front of her son. She absently rubbed her hand along his arm, trying to think of how to begin. "Trunks... honey, what do you remember of this afternoon? What happened to you before you got here?"

Trunks frowned, puzzled. "We were with Dad. Goten and me. And we were waiting for that Buu monster to come back--'cause I hit him -really- hard," he added with a proud grin before continuing. "And Dad was just standing there... and he started saying all this weird stuff. He told me to take care of you... and I asked him if he was going someplace, and he didn't answer me. He gave me a hug... and told me he was proud of me..." The boy was silent for a moment, thinking over the memory. "And that's all I remember. Next thing I knew I woke up here. Goten said he hit us, but that doesn't make any sense. Why would he do that?"

"To get you out of there." Bulma said, talking mostly to herself.

"What?"

Bulma focused her attention back on the boy. "Dad knocked you two out and had Piccolo bring you here. He knew you wouldn't leave otherwise."

"Leave? Of course we weren't gonna leave! We were gonna fight Buu, all three of us! Why would he want us to leave?"

Bulma felt tears rising again, but she fought them off as best she could. "Sweetie, listen... Dad needed you boys out of there because he was going to use a really powerful attack on Buu. It was an explosion, basically. A really big one. You and Goten would have been killed if you were anywhere nearby, and Dad obviously didn't want that to happen."

"Oh. Well, why didn't he just say so? We would have stayed clear until he finished. He didn't have to hit us."

Bulma bit her lip, forcing herself not to cry. The memory of the explosion that had rocked the airplane, and the new knowledge of what the explosion had been, were threatening to cause her to break down. But she wouldn't. Not here. Not in front of her son.

Not before he knew what had happened. Taking a deep breath, she readied herself. "Trunks... listen... the attack that Dad used was so powerful that... that even he couldn't survive it." She raised her eyes to her son's. "I'm so sorry, baby... Dad's dead."

There were a few moments of silence before Trunks managed a choked reply. "...What?" His voice was barely above a whisper--but he wasn't quiet for long. "What do you mean he's dead?!" he yelled, flinging himself out of the chair with such force that it was knocked over backwards. "That can't be true! Dad can't be dead! He's the strongest fighter in the whole universe! You told me he was!" Tears were streaming down the boy's face; he angrily wiped them away. "That's why he was saying all that weird stuff! He told me to take care of you 'cause he knew he wouldn't be here to do it himself!"

Bulma had given up trying not to cry at this point. She wordlessly held her arms out, and Trunks collapsed into them. "Why did he do it, Mom? Why didn't he let us help? He didn't have to die... we could have stopped him... why didn't he just let us help?" Trunks trailed off, sobs choking his words.

"I don't know, honey... he didn't want you to get hurt..."

"...Did I do something wrong? I know I'm not as strong as he wants me to be..."

"Trunks, no!" Bulma hugged her son tighter. "You know that's not true... Dad loves you."

Trunks sniffled and nodded. The two of them knelt on the floor in silence for a few moments.

"Mom? You said that Goten's dad had to have a talk with him too... how come?"

Bulma winced, but took a deep breath and spoke, trying to break the news as gently as possible. "There was a big fight with Buu before you boys got to the battlefield today... and...Gohan didn't make it."

Trunks looked up at her in disbelief. "You mean Gohan's dead too?" he whispered.

Bulma nodded sadly. Trunks' face contorted as if he was in pain; he made a whimpering sound and went limp, leaning heavily against his mother, who tightened her arms around him. It was all just too much now. Bulma rocked him back and forth a little. "We can still fix this... we can use the dragonballs and bring everybody back, honey... it'll all be ok..." she said quietly, for both Trunks' comfort and her own; what surprised her was how little the knowledge of the dragonballs helped her grief at this point.

"...Mom?"

"Yeah?"

"...The attack that Dad used... did it work?"

A voice at the door made them both look up: Goku had entered the room. "No, Trunks. The attack didn't work. Majin Buu is still alive." Goku knelt by the boy and placed a hand on his shoulder. "That's why we need you and Goten to be strong now. You're the best fighters we have--you two need to be strong so you can finish what Gohan and your father started."

Trunks wiped his eyes and nodded, his face becoming determined. He stood, drawing himself up to his full height, and took a deep breath. "I'm ready."

Goku nodded approvingly. "Good. Let's go."

Bulma got to her feet, and watched as Goku led her son from the room. Just as they reached the door, Trunks stopped for a minute and ran back to her, giving her a quick hug. "It'll be ok, Mom. Me and Goten'll destroy Majin Buu, and then we can wish back Dad and everybody else!" The boy lifted his tear-stained face to hers, a smile starting to appear. "It's gonna be ok."

Bulma smiled down at him, and rumpled his hair a little. "I know it will, Trunks. We're going to be ok."

The End