AUGUST 16, 800 - SATURDAY
Just a dream...
Goten's bedroom door opened slowly and three tiny heads poked inside. "See, I told you Uncle Mama came back." Truten told the twins. Gotenks smiled and walked inside, but Truten grabbed the back of his shirt. "Nooo, Papa sleeping... we can see him later..."
"But I want Mama..." Gotenks whined.
"What are you kids doing?" Marron asked from behind them. "Let your Dad sleep."
"Mama's home!" Teena stated, running to Marron and hugging her legs.
Marron blinked, then looked in the doorway. She saw Trunks and gasped. "Oh my Kami..." she whispered.
"See, I TOLD you he was back," Truten smiled triumphantly.
Marron shook her head, tears forming in her eyes. She then shooed them away. "Come on, let's make breakfast... I don't think we should wake them up."
"But I want MAMA!" Gotenks whined as the door shut, which cause Goten to stir and he snuggled against the hand he held.
Trunks remained asleep, still tired from his cross-world flight the night before, from the emotional tread he had taken in the soul-walk his dreams had led him. He was sitting on the floor, beside the bed, his legs curled beside him. His cheek rested on one forearm, while his other hand remained in Goten's grasp as he snored softly.
Goten opened his eyes, then looked at what he was snuggling against It was so vivid. His dream had been so wonderful... Trunks had returned... and he'd forgiven him! He then pushed up in bed, staring down at Trunks in surprise, and perhaps a touch of shock. "Oh my god!"
Goten swallowed and leaned over, looking at Trunks closely, then rubbed his eyes and looked again. Was he really here? Hesitantly he reached forward and pinched Trunks.
"Yow!" Trunks woke with a start, falling back onto the floor, cracking his head on the bed stand. He sat there, rubbing his head as he blinked the sleep, and the nightmares, from his eyes. Then saw where he was, who he was with... and realised he'd better start talking fast. "Listen, Goten, before you throw me out, I.. well a lot of stuff's happened and I won't get into it unless you want me to, but not at the moment, and I didn't mean to stay in here with you and it's okay and I'm not mad, and I don't want you to be angry with me either, and can we please try to start over, because I just can't really survive at all without you, and I found the dragonballs so if you wanna use them you can for whatever you want," at this point he produced the capsule, "but please don't toss me out I can't bear not being a part of your life, I love you too much to be without you so please please don't throw me out again!" he half winced away from him, closing one eye and peeking with the other, gasping for breath when he was done... then holding it out as he waited for his fate.
Goten just stared at him wide eyed. "You're really alive?" he asked, gulping again.
Trunks let out the breath he was holding, and blinked. "You mean.. you didn't just tell the kids that because I disappeared?" he blinked.
Goten shook his head. "There... plane crash... Vegeta found your suitcase... Dragon wouldn't let us... " he gasped, hyperventilating.
Trunks was still confused, but Goten hyperventilating was A Bad Thing. Trunks would never again forget the horror of nearly losing Goten's life. He quickly opened the drawer of the bed stand and, finding the inhaler there, brought it to Goten, giving it to him. "Slow down, it's okay, just slow down Chibi."
Goten sat back in bed, taking a hit, trying to get himself to relax. "There was a plane crash," he started again, slower. "And your Dad went to find you, but we couldn't feel you... and he found your briefcase. We tried to wish you back but the Dragon wouldn't let us."
"I wasn't on my flight," Trunks replied, gently. "Wait... the Dragon? But I have the Dragonballs." He held out the capsule, pressing it into Goten's hand.
"Namek." Goten stated, relaxing more. "We went to Namek because we didn't want to disturb your grave..." Goten lowered his head.
Trunks knelt up, raising his hand to tentatively touch his best friend's cheek. "I'm sorry."
Goten held his hand close. "Trunks, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean what I said back then. I... I was wrong. I was being selfish." He said softly.
Trunks blinked - perhaps what Goten had said the night before, was his true feelings after all. "Goten, it's okay, I forgive you, how could I not? I need to ask your forgiveness too. For being stubborn, blind, selfish..." he swallowed hard.
"It's ok..." Goten chuckled a bit. "I'm used to you being like that... I just never realized I could be as cruel as I was."
"I hurt you..."
"I hurt you more," Goten stated. "I'm surprised you still care about me enough after everything I did to you."
"You gave me perspective. Goten, see," Trunks closed the other's fingers about the capsule. "I brought you the Dragonballs. You can have anything you want, anything your heart desires. No matter what, I'll do anything, ANYTHING to be allowed to become a part of your life again."
Goten looked at the capsule, then Trunks. "I just want you again, Trunks. I just want you to be a part of my life, I don't care how. I don't want to change you from who you are, because then I won't have YOU."
Trunks smiled a little softly. "Thank you."
"For what?" Goten asked, confused a bit.
"For letting me come back."
"Thank you for coming back," Goten said softly. "You have every right to just take the kids and leave me, but you didn't. I ... I appreciate it more than anything."
"I can't take anything away from you, Goten, you know that," Trunks smiled.
"I know. you spoil me too much." Goten slid across the bed to sit next to him. "Maybe now it's time I spoil you."
Trunks chuckled. "Just letting me be around again, is spoiling me."
Goten smiled, then hugged his best friend. "I really missed you, Trunks."
Trunks hugged him back, grinning gladly.
Goten smiled. "Come on, let's go see the kids. I'm sure they're going to be surprised." He stood up, grabbing a shirt off the back of his chair.
Trunks stood, wincing a bit at the blood flowing back to his legs. "Truten knows already. She let me in."
"She let you in?" he asked, confused.
"The door was locked, I guess you slept through my knock, but she didn't and let me in. Don't worry, she asked who it was first," Trunks said quickly. "I tucked her in."
Goten shook his head. "Then I'm sure the twins already know... she can't keep her mouth shut on secrets," Goten opened the door, and almost instantly two little Saiyajins of pure energy ran in and tackled Trunks. "MAMA!" Gotenks shouted while Teena just bounced in Trunks' arms.
Trunks grinned, stepping back a bit, and picking them up to snuggle, "Hey Troubles."
"I miss you Mama," Gotenks snuggled into Trunks' arms while Teena just kissed his cheek over and over again. Truten appeared in the doorway and squealed, tackling Trunks' legs. "Mama's home, mama's home," she sang.
Trunks smiled, kneeling down to gather Truten into the embrace, "Hey kids." he said, snuggling them all.
They all hugged him back and talked at once, telling Trunks what they had done while he was gone and how much they missed him and where had he gone and was he really gonna stay and just kept going and going while Goten leaned against the doorway, chuckling.
"Fergliffernabber!" Trunks told them, laughing.
They all chuckled, then wiggled to get down. "Come look! We got a new place and you can see it cause no one's sleeping and Auntie Marron's cooking breakfast and it smells good!" Truten stated as she, along with the twins, started to pull Trunks' arms forward.
Trunks chuckled, leaning down as they led him along. "Okay okay, I"m coming," he nearly beamed, so glad to be accepted back so readily.
Goten followed them. "I'll help Marron in the kitchen and call you when breakfast is ready." he stated, letting the kids spend time with Trunks, still not believing that he was really back yet.
"Sounds good," Trunks told him, nearly falling over with the tugging, "Hey slow down," he chuckled. He had to admit, he was curious to get a better look and see at how well the contractors followed his designs.
They led him from room to room, showing him how they had decorated each of their bedrooms. Gotenks was blue with clouds and birds on the walls, and a dark blue with stars on the ceiling. Teena was all pink with dancers on the walls, and Truten had dinosaurs with princess crowns on their heads.
Trunks oohed and ahh'd, and couldn't help but chuckle at Truten's design. Somehow, that didn't surprise him at all. "Wow, you guys did really great jobs on decorating."
"Yup! And we tried to decorate the living room walls but papa got mad because we used crayons!" Truten said. "But he left a few up! Come see!"
She led Trunks to the living room, where, still on the table, was the scrapbook project of Goten's. "Uh oh, Papa forgot to clean up," Teena giggled.
"Ah, well, maybe I should help him, what do you think?"
"I dunno... he won't let us," Truten said, picking up a picture. "And sometimes he cries when doing it and puts it away and on those nights we all get to sleep in bed with him."
Trunks frowned. "Why don't you kids go play in your rooms for a bit, hm?" he said softly. "I'm going to take care of this for Papa."
"Ok... but then can we go to the park? They put up a new swingset!" Truten asked.
"I'll ask your Papa, how's that?"
"OK!" Truten hugged Trunks, then grabbed the twins and they ran across the house to their rooms.
Trunks smiled at them, then moved to pick up the bits of paper and other things, finally coming to the scrapbook. He paused, pushing aside a few things to take a better look at the page. He swallowed hard, looking at it quietly.
Marron walked into the living room. "That was a bad day," she stated, smiling at him softly.
Trunks looked up at her, nodding then looking down again, reading about his supposed death. Page by page, he slowly looked back, amazed to see that as he got further toward the beginning, the further into the past he shared with Goten it went. "This is amazing," he said softly, tears streaming down his face unchecked as he returned to the first page, then made his way back to the final once more. He could see how much love had gone into this. How carefully it was made, and it hurt. It hurt so much to know he'd nearly lost it all.
Marron knelt down beside Trunks. "When you died, Goten realized just what he had lost. He started this as a way of remembering everything, to see just what he had lost, and make sure your kids never forgot you."
"That's just it, Mar... I didn't die," He bit his lips as he ran his fingers along the final page, careful. "But now I know why Truten and Goten reacted how they did when I came back. At first... At first I thought Goten had told Truten I was dead, so that he didn't have to explain where I'd disappeared, or because he had no intention of letting me return... then this morning... He was so shocked..." He looked at her. "Marron... I..." he stopped and looked at the page again. "It's my fault they've gone through all this."
"No it's not, Trunks." Marron placed a hand gently on his back. "Sometimes, sometimes things have to happen to get people to realize something. And sure, it sucks that it had to happen, but I think, in the end, it's going to be the best thing that happened to you guys."
Trunks swallowed hard, "Yeah," He whispered.
Marron rubbed his back a bit. "Come, on, let's go eat, and you can tell us what happened, ok?"
"In a minute," he said softly, turning back a few pages. Him and Goten, and the kids... not long before their lives had fallen apart. They looked so happy... could they ever again?
Marron kissed Trunks' cheek. "When you're ready then." She stood and walked back to the kitchen, then stopped. "It is good to have you back, Trunks. This family isn't the same without you," she added, then left.
"That's why I can't live without them," he whispered, his fingertips brushing against one photograph. Snow of winter surrounded them. Truten had scrambled atop a snowman, the twins putting sticks into the bottom thing, Trunks trying to hide behind them while Goten had a snowball. One of the families in their apartment building had seen them and taken a photograph, giving it to them as a bit of a Christmas gift. It was a beautiful Photograph, and the grins everyone wore. Life seemed so innocent.
"BREAKFAST!" Goten shouted, and instantly there was three pairs of feet running across the house.
Trunks closed his eyes, gathering his wits about him, before closing the book and heading toward the enlarged kitchen himself.
The table was set almost perfectly, showing that SOMEONE was trying to make things perfect. Goten was busy filling glasses with milk while the twins and Truten played with their forks and knives. Marron was putting servings onto dishes and passing them out. "Have a seat," she nodded to an empty chair next to Truten.
"I should help," Trunks seemed a bit feeling out of place.
"Nah, it's your first day home, you get to relax," Goten stated. "Tomorrow you can work."
Chastised, Trunks moved to sit where he'd been told, "Alright," he said quietly.
Truten snuggled up to Trunks. "You can do the dishes," she said seriously, and Goten and Marron chuckled.
"And you can help me," Trunks teased her, kissing the top her head.
"Me help too!" Gotenks exclaimed, and Teena nodded. "We're good at helping."
"And you wonder why we have plastic dishes," Goten stated as he put a glass of milk in front of Trunks.
Trunks looked up at Goten and gave him a thankful smile.
Goten smiled back, and Marron put a large heaping plate of food in front of him. "Here you go. Dig in."
"Thanks," Trunks said, doing just that, though at a slower manner, and not quite as much as he used to.
The rest of the table started to eat, the twins tossing food back and forth a bit until Goten stared at them. Finally, Marron looked up. "So, what happened?"
Trunks finished his bite, and swallowed. A little unnerved by her presence here, still - but trying not to show it. "Well, it's simple really. I was looking at the radar after I got on the plane, and realised the last dragonball I needed was in America, somewhere in what they call the Midwest, so I got off..."
"The plane people never saw you get off," Goten said, holding a piece of bacon.
"No, I slipped out just before they closed the door. The security cameras are usually shut off just before then, because they're going to be pulling the hall back." Trunks took a sip of his milk, and smiled slightly. "I was really sick anyhow, so in stead of having to deal with reporters, I slipped off the sideramp, you know, the one they take the strollers down and such. I used the capsule car I had on me - too worn down to fly." he said sheepishly.
"So what happened then?" Goten asked holding up a hand to grab the piece of egg that Teena had just thrown.
Trunks looked down at the plate, poking his fork at the food of his plate, pushing it around. "Well, I got the dragonball, then decided to head further east to try and find a place to stay for the night, before heading back. Like I said earlier, I was really sick, had a pretty bad fever. I passed out at the wheel." He curled his fingers around his glass, "Apparently I went headlong into a semi."
Goten shuddered, looking at his plate. "ow."
Trunks let his fingers play on the cool of the glass, not looking up from his plate. "Yeah," He said softly. "I woke up about a month later, apparently they had to put a few things back into place... but I had no idea who I was or where I'd come from."
"You mean they didn't recognize you?" Marron asked, tilting her head.
"It was this little hick town, and hospital... so, no... Really, the hospital was the only one for a hundred miles or so, and the rest of the town was populated by a few farms." He looked up and glanced at her. "So yeah... nobody knew who I was either. It's America, not everyone knows me there." he chuckled softly.
Goten stood up slowly. "Excuse me a moment," he said softly, leaving the room towards the bathroom. The kids watched a moment, then went back to playing.
Trunks watched Goten leave, biting his lower lip. He was unsure of himself... "Should I go after him?" he asked Marron quietly.
"He's probably beating himself up... give him a moment and he'll come back like nothing happened," she said softly.
"I'll be back," Trunks stood, setting his napkin on the side, following Goten and knocking gently. "Chibi?"
"I'll be out in a second," Goten's voice came back. Inside the bathroom, he was sitting on the side of the tub, rubbing his eyes quickly with his sleeve.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just had to pee, that's all." Goten quickly lifted the toilet seat and then let it drop.
"Liar," Trunks whispered to himself, hearing the catch in his best friend's voice. "Okay," he said in a more audible tone.
Goten quickly flushed the toilet and went to the sink, washing his face quickly, trying to get the red out of his eyes.
Trunks leaned back against the wall beside the door.
When he was finally able to look normal, Goten dried his face, then opened the door, walking out, not expecting Trunks to be there.
"I'm sorry," Trunks said softly, privately, glancing at him.
Goten jumped and turned around. "Trunks, you scared me."
"Sorry," Trunks flushed a little and looked at the floor. "I'm serious though, Goten. It's my fault this happened, and I'm very sorry to have put you, and everyone, through all this."
"It wouldn't have happened if I hadn't pushed you away," Goten said softly, putting his hands in his pockets.
"So it's both our faults then... but it's over, it's done... we're going to have a new start, right?" Trunks asked hopefully, looking up at him.
Goten looked up and nodded, smiling. "Yeah, I really want that."
Trunks smiled, "Me too."
Goten smiled, then nodded his head. "Come on, before the kids end up wearing the rest of their breakfast."
Trunks went back with Goten, glancing over the table.
Teena looked up at Trunks and smiled. "HI MAMA!" she shouted, then smiled, a piece of bacon across her teeth to cover her smile. Gotenks laughed and tossed more eggs at her.
Trunks laughed, moving over, putting the eggs back on Gotenks' plate. "No throwing food, Gotenks. That's bad."
Gotenks smiled and picked more up like he was getting ready to throw it. "But Teena needs more!"
"Gotenks," Trunks looked at him, putting a hand over his son's. "No."
Gotenks looked at Trunks carefully. He didn't remember his "mama" scolding him before. "Ok." he said after a moment and put the eggs down.
"Thank you," Trunks smiled, kissing his forehead gently before moving to take his seat.
Goten just smiled and went back to eating. Yes... things were going to be ok again.
Trunks slid into his chair, taking a sip from his milk.
Marron cleared her throat. "So... how'd you get your memory back?"
"Oh yes," Trunks swallowed his bite, looking at his plate again. "Right, uhm well.. Since nobody knew who I was, including myself, A local farm needed some people to help out, and I signed on. They let me stay in a room in the basement that had been slightly furnished. It was pretty comfortable. Very kind people, I really must repay them," He added more to himself thoughtfully.
"Did they have cows?" Teena asked. "And Horseys?"
"Yes, lots of cows and horses, and even some chickens," Trunks gave her a smile. "Mother Foster didn't like that I couldn't remember my name, so she called me Colt - I guess because I took to riding pretty well."
"You rode a horse?" Goten asked amused.
Trunks stuck his tongue out at Goten, "Yes I did, and I was good at it too, so there," he laughed.
"Can we get a pony?" Teena asked.
"Let me think about that... no," Trunks ruffled her hair. "But maybe when we go to visit them, I'll take you for a ride on Rhubarb," Trunks told her.
"That's a funny name," Truten stated, nibbling on a piece of bacon.
"Yes it is," Trunks agreed. "But he's a really nice horse. Anyhow," He glanced back at Goten. "I started out as pretty much a stable-boy... but when we figured out I was pretty strong, they had me tossing bales and helping with the cattle when they got loose or spooked."
"Trunks the Cowboy," Goten chuckled. "Your mother would pitch a fit."
"She probably will," Trunks smiled. "I liked it though, figured I'd probably help 'em all out and work there until they didn't want me around anymore. After that, I had no idea what I'd do." He shrugged.
"So when did you remember who you were?" Goten asked.
"When I fell off the silo," Trunks said matter-of-factly.
"What's a silo?" Truten asked.
Trunks turned to her, "A silo is the place they keep a lot of corn and feed for the animals. It's a very tall building that's totally round, tall as our apartment building, and has a thin ladder that goes all the way to the top. The roof was getting loose of shingles, so I offered to go up and take care of it. I was doing fine... except I forgot to clip my harness to a loop that would keep me from falling, and it just rained. So, I slipped."
Marron winced. "Yikes. Well, I guess one knock on the head takes it away, and another will bring your memory back."
"And I've got a pretty hard head," Trunks chuckled. "I scared the heck out of everyone there, but came to pretty quickly. It was like suddenly a door was open. That was about two weeks ago, I stayed until they could find someone else to help out - figured I'd been gone so long, another few weeks wouldn't be much a problem. Of course," he looked down at his plate and put his hands in his lap, "I didn't know everyone thought I was dead, either."
"It was old news by then," Goten explained. "You were dead and buried."
Trunks nodded, "Still... if I knew everyone'd thought I was dead, I probably would have tried to come back sooner. Y'know... dead less long." He didn't mention that Truten talking about Goten's putting the scrap book together... the scrap book itself - said that the sooner he got back was the better. There was sadness in his eyes as he stared down at the table.
"You didn't know," Goten said, reaching across the table to hold onto Trunks' hand.
Trunks smiled slightly, squeezing Goten's hand in response, letting him know he appreciated it. "Still," he said softly. "I'm so sorry."
"You're here now... that's all the matters." Goten smiled, and Truten leaned over and snuggled her mama.
"Yeah... I'm home," Trunks put his other arm around his first-born. "I'm home."
"I'll clean up," Trunks offered at lunch. "Goten... could you call our families in for a family meeting of sorts? Don't tell them what it's about just.. call them to come over?" he asked, still apprehensive.
"You sure you're ready?" Goten asked.
"No, but I don't think they'd ever forgive me if they didn't see me the day I returned," Trunks smiled slightly.
"That's true," Goten went to grab his cell phone. "I'll call Gohan and Bra. They'll bring the family over and I won't have to answer too many questions. Plan for dinner?"
"I'll order take out?"
"Ok." Goten walked out onto the balcony, closing the door and called his brother and Bra. He explained to them both that he was working on a new dish and wanted to have an impromptu dinner party. It was Truten's suggestion, and if they didn't show up, they'd have to explain it to the toddler. Once both families agreed, he went back into the house. "They'll be here at 6."
"Right, who'll we be ordering from, we should give them advance warning..." Trunks said, finishing up washing the dishes from lunch.
"Joey's?" Goten asked. "I think we've made the man a millionaire."
"Sounds like a good idea... but best not have me go get the pizza, People in America may not have known me, but he sure does."
"He delivers now..." Goten nodded.
"We'll have to have him outsource, we'll need a hundred, easy."
"Oh, wait, it gets better... he's expanded his menu too." Goten ran into the kitchen and came back, tossing a menu onto Trunks' lap. "He's become a more Italian food place than just pizza."
"No kidding? Well... I tell you what, you take care of the food then," Trunks smiled.
"I will. You just relax and play with the kids." Goten went to the house phone and sat down, planning out an order with Joey over the phone.
Trunks watched him for a bit, before going to do just that. When he heard Goten say his goodbye's however, he left the kids all in their play area, and made his way back to the 'adult' living room. "Goten?"
"Yeah?" Goten asked, looking up from a notebook he had pulled out from a drawer.
"Can I talk to you a minute?
"Sure." Goten smiled, motioning for Trunks to sit down.
Trunks shifted his stance a few times before moving over to sit beside Goten on the couch, folding, then refolding his hands.
Goten looked over his shoulder and made sure the kids were busy, then looked at Trunks. "What's wrong?" he asked softly.
Trunks pinched at the bridge of his nose. "Listen, I.. don't know how else to ask this. Truten was talking about stuff that happened since I went away and I... well I know Marron's taken the other apartment," he started haltingly.
Goten blushed. "We're not together, if that's what you're asking," he stated. "I asked her to move in to help with the kids. It's also close to her school, so she saves on dorm fees."
Trunks seemed to sigh in relief. "I see," He nodded, running a hand through his hair, accidentally pulling it out of the small queue, and turning to try and find the band so he could pull it back again.
"She's dating this kid from school. Been here a few times. Reminds me of Gohan, actually. Nerd to the core. She's madly in love with him."
"Good for her," Trunks said, finally finding the band, and pulling his hair back again. "I'm glad for her." Him being glad that Goten wasn't with her, was left unsaid. It would have been awkward, to say the least, and he would probably have found a way to be there yet not.
"Anything else?" Goten asked. "You've got seven months to fill in."
"Are you... with someone now?" he asked, not lifting his eyes, keeping them on the floor as he tied back his small ponytail.
"No," Goten stated. "And it's pissing my mom off too, but I just don't want anyone. I mean, I have the kids. Maybe later, when they're older... but not now."
"It's ok. I'm sure you'll hear enough about it at dinner. It's one of my mother's favourite topics."
He nodded, "I'm guessing." He sighed, "Anything else of note happen?"
"Bra's taking over Capsule Corp." Goten stated.
"Thank Kami, that means I don't have to go back," Trunks just about laughed, leaning back into the couch.
"OH, but she hates it," Goten laughed. "Last time she was over she almost begged Vegeta to start training her because she couldn't stand being in ten hour long meetings and if she could figure out how to control her ki and blow up the phones it would make it easier."
"No fair... maybe we can give it to Gohan?" Trunks pouted, starting to feel more comfortable.
"It might be a good idea... get him away from Videl for a few hours a day..." Goten shook his head. "He STILL hasn't forgiven her."
"Mm," Trunks nodded, growing quiet again and biting his lower lip.
"I'm so sorry," he whispered, watching his knees.
"Trunks... I know... you don't have to keep telling me," Goten replied just as softly.
"I fucked everything up," Trunks put his head in his hands, closing his eyes tightly.
"I did my fair share," Goten stated.
"I don't drink anymore...did you know that?" he said softly. "Even before I could remember anything. They offered me a beer and I just about threw up at the thought of drinking... " he paused, "it's like I was terrified of it."
Goten looked down at his hands. "I didn't have any right to yell at you like I did about that, Trunks..."
"I'm not blaming you!" Trunks glanced over at him. "I guess I just... wanted you to know. That it's not gonna happen again, y'know..."
"I know you're not... I'm just letting you know that I'm sorry," Goten said softly. "And, I do appreciate it."
Trunks looked back at the floor, and smiled.
"Trunks... I hit Truten." Goten said softly, still looking at the ground.
Trunks dropped his hands from his head and sat back, looking at Goten sternly, "A spanking?" He asked, almost hopeful that it wasn't what seemed to be implied.
Goten shook his head shamefully. "No. She wouldn't listen to me, and I was just so angry... Trunks, I didn't realize what I was doing until that moment... I didn't see just how bad I had become."
Trunks looked away from Goten, unable to form words. First anger came. How DARE he raise hand to their daughter... then sorrow... the feeling that if he'd been there, perhaps it wouldn't have happened... that he'd driven Goten to that anger.
Goten curled up a bit on the couch. "I realized what I had done... and not just to her, but to the twins... to you. I was mad at myself, mad that I wasn't getting what I wanted, and I was taking it out on all of you."
Trunks said nothing, letting the words wash over him, trying, and understanding... but unable to form response just yet.
"You died a few days later... and I wanted to tell you... I was waiting for you to come home on that plane and I was going to meet you and beg for your forgiveness and tell you what I had learned... and... suddenly you weren't there anymore..." Goten took a deep breath.
"Goten..." Trunks spoke softly. "Never raise your hand to one of our children in anger, again. But I'm sure you know that now... and you've been punished more than enough," He finally looked at his best friend, and one time lover. "And I'm sure Truten's forgiven you too."
"I know... and yes she has. Hasn't changed that she doesn't listen to me half the time, but I know better now than to yell." He said softly.
Trunks smiled slightly. "It's hard, being a parent... isn't it?"
"It is, especially when the biggest part of it disappears."
"What then?" Trunks asked softly, leaning back on the couch, and looking at the wall of photographs. He hadn't noticed it earlier, but it too was a description of their lives with the children.
"I tried, but it's so hard... those three are such a handful, and at the beginning all they wanted was you, and I had to figure out how to be both of us... "
"I'm here now... how are we going to handle this, then? I don't even really know if I should move back in - Marron's got my apartment, and technically you've got all my money. I'm broke," He chuckled. "Well, except for the bit I made in America, but it isn't much. I got paid mostly in room and board."
"I can change the bedroom back... the twin beds and your dresser are at my parent's place," Goten offered.
"You sure you want me living here..?" Trunks let the question hang.
"Of course!" Goten looked up. "Trunks, this is your family... OUR family. You belong here."
Trunks smiled, a little surprised. "Alright then," he nodded. "We'll change things out tomorrow, I'll take the couch tonight..." He glanced at the clock. "I should take a shower before everyone starts arriving."
Goten nodded. "You do that, but you'd better reveal yourself before they see the kids, or your surprise won't be so much surprise."
"I know, I'll make it quick, they're not due for another hour anyhow," Trunks stood, going to where a simple rucksack lay on the floor near the door, grabbing it to bring with him to the bathroom.
"You can borrow some of my clothes..." Goten shouted over his shoulder. "I think I stole some of yours anyway, so you should fit into them."
"It's okay," Trunks called back. "my old clothes wouldn't fit me anymore anyhow, and yourse'd be too long!"
"Your mother is going to have a fit if you come out looking like a cowboy!" Goten teased.
"Since when have I NOT taken an opportunity to put her on her back foot!" Trunks laughed, closing the door and setting about his ablutions.
Goten smiled, then leaned back on the couch, a bit relieved, and happier than he had been in a long time.
It wasn't long before Trunks was clean, forgoing a power dry for the more conventional towels. He appeared shortly, a pair of denim pants, a bit oldish looking, frayed in places, with a soft blues plaid cotton shirt tucked in over a white undershirt. He was barefoot and still rubbing his hair with a towel.
Goten was sitting on the couch, a laptop in his lap, pounding away as he stared at the screen, oblivious to the world around him. The kids had been put down for a nap, so the house was silent for now.
Trunks kept rubbing at his hair, it was so full it was hard to get the water out. "Cha doing?"
"Hn," Trunks nodded, moving to sit on the floor, still scrubbing. "Work?"
"Yeah. I won a few contests so I got an agent and am trying to get a book published."
"That's excellent. You know, I'd love to read something sometime, you never did show me any of your stuff... back then."
"Well... some of it tends to be... pretty racy," Goten blushed. "It was fast money and I was good at it, but I'm trying to get more professional."
"You're writing porn..." Trunks peeked out from under the blue towel.
"It's called romantica, but yes, I was writing porn," Goten chuckled. "Do you know how much that stuff pays?!"
"Let's say one story could equal your monthly paycheck." Goten stated. "It's desperate, but when you're trying to support a family and not wanting to use a trust fund, and living at home, it works. You just don't tell my mother."
"I certainly wont, but if you don't want her to know, you'd better turn your laptop off, because they're coming up the lift."
Goten's head turned quickly. "Aw shoot, they're early," he muttered, quickly saving his file and putting the laptop on his desk. "You gonna hide?"
"I'll go to the office room," Trunks motioned to where the kids room used to be, and got up smoothly to do so, still rubbing at his hair.
"Alrighty. I'll knock when it's time to come out." Goten smirked, then went to change his shirt quickly before his family, and Trunks' too, arrived at the door
Chichi knocked sharply on the door.
"Coming!" Goten shouted, running across the house while fixing his hair. He took a deep breath, then opened the door. "Hi Mom, Dad... Gohan, Del."
"Goten!" Chichi walked in and gave him a hug. "I know we weren't supposed to come until later, but I thought it'd be nice if we all came early so we could get some adult talk in while the kids were sleeping," she grinned.
Videl snorted, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.
Goku blinked, got a briefly odd look on his face, then grinned widely, almost bouncing on the tips of his toes.
Gohan looked around as well. "Looks nice, Bro. I think you've actually learned how to keep a house looking clean."
Goten chuckled. "Nah, Marron helps a lot. Don't know what I'd do without her."
"Probably get laid," Pan teased. "Hey Uncle Goten!"
"Oh gosh, Pan, not you too," Goten rolled his eyes, but hugged his niece none the less.
"So, you inviting us in," Videl chuckled.
"Manners!" Chichi thwapped her daughter in law.
Goten held the door open. "Yes, come in, please. You shouldn't even have to ask."
Gohan led them in, looking around. He sniffed the air, then looked at Goten. "Don't tell me you have a horse hiding around here somewhere."
"Goten! You didn't get Truten one of those little ones, did you? It will destroy the carpets!" Chichi scolded.
"He better have not, because I'm not keeping it at my place," Vegeta stated as he pushed himself inside. Bra was behind him, fussing with her new "professional clothing".
"Oh good, you decided to come early after all," Chichi grinned, going to meet Bra and give her a hug while they waited for Bulma
"I still can't believe my mom is making me do this," Bra sighed. "I want to be a fashion designer, not an executive," she muttered to her best friend.
"Just go with the cash-flow, Bra," Pan whispered back.
"So why are we here, brat?" Vegeta asked as Goten ushered the families to the large living room.
"I think we'll find out soon," Goku chuckled, moving to sit on one of the overstuffed chairs. Chichi perched in one beside him, Pan sitting down on the floor to leave the couch for the others.
Videl remained standing, "You're acting all secretive," she told Goten, pursing her lips.
"Why do you always think I'm hiding something?" Goten retorted, imitating her.
"Because you always are, and I don't smell food cooking. Gohan said you were cooking," Videl looked at Goten pointedly.
Bulma came up the elevator, and walked in with Joey behind her. "I think I found the food."
Goten sighed, "You guys were early..." he stated as if it was an answer, and Gohan chuckled.
Videl didn't buy it, "So, Goten... who is she," perhaps he had a girlfriend he wanted them all to meet.
Goten's jaw dropped. "DEL! Will you please stop this!" he sighed in exasperation. "I've told you I don't have a girlfriend or am I wanting one. Will you just let it rest?"
Vegeta snorted and sat down. "I agree with that Onna. You're hiding something."
"And it smells like a horse," Gohan added, helping Joey into the kitchen with the food.
"Oh, Goten! Is she a farm girl," Chichi asked. "They're always so well brought up!" she beamed.
Goten let his head fall back. "Help, please?" he called out into the house.
The door to the study opened, and women's heads swiftly turned, Goku still grinning as he practically bounced in his seat and looked that way as well.
"Help what! I can't find my ponytail hol...der..." Trunks stepped out into the hall, holding his just a touch long hair back with one hand, and swallowing hard. "Oh... you're here," He smiled nervously, flushing just a touch
Bra and Bulma blinked. "Trunks?" Bulma asked, her voice wavering a bit.
Vegeta stood up, his eyes glaring, testing to see if that really was his son's ki in the body before him.
Gohan looked at him, raising an eyebrow, then smiling softly.
Pan paled, "Oh Kami..." she whispered.
Videl blinked, stepping back. "A ghost..." she stepped a little behind Gohan.
"Uh, yeah," Trunks said, standing square to his father's inspection. "I'm, uh... home?"
Goku grinned, "I wondered when you'd come out."
"You knew?" Goten asked, looking at his father.
Vegeta watched him a moment longer, then smirked. "I knew a stupid human airplane couldn't kill my son," he stated.
At that, Bra and Bulma raced forward, grabbing Trunks into their arms, hugging him tightly and crying.
Goku managed to look innocent and guilty all at once. Trunks wrapped his arms around his mother and sister, holding them close, shushing them, "Shh it's okay, I'm here. I'm really sorry about what happened, but I'm back, and I don't plan on going anywhere," he told them gently.
"Oh my baby, my baby boy," Bulma cupped his face in her hands and kissed his cheeks. "You scared me so much, Trunks. Don't EVER do that again or I'll kill you," she warned, slapping him. Bra stepped back, rubbing her eyes on her sleeve.
Gohan smiled, putting an arm around Videl. "Nope, it's the real thing," he told her, then looked at Goten, who was rubbing the back of his neck.
Trunks couldn't help but laugh, "Yes ma'am!" he said, saluting her.
Videl watched for a moment. Chichi stood, moving over to the boy who was like a third son. "Trunks Vegeta Briefs, you had better explain yourself, young man!" she joined in Bulma's worry before hugging him with a soft sob. "You stupid Saiyajin idiot!"
Vegeta just stood back, letting the women coddle Trunks. After all, it wasn't his place to show any emotion. he'd done enough of that lately.
"While Trunks explains, let me get dinner set up," Goten said, working to sneak off.
Trunks whimpered glancing at Goten, but he relented, soon launching into his story of where he'd been these past several months. Of course, at one point he had to let them know just what he'd been DOING, "So, you see, that's how I got the name Colt," He shrugged. "It was a lot of fun actually, herding cattle and such."
Bulma rolled her eyes. "Sheesh, Trunks. I can see when you're memory was gone, but after you got it back, you kept subjecting yourself to that type of life..." she wrinkled her nose.
"Good hard old fashioned work is good for him," Vegeta stated.
Trunks shot his father a grateful look.
"Well, that explains the smell," Pan made a face, teasing him.
Trunks shook his head, "Really Mom, it was hard, but it made me feel really good about things too. And I got to thinking..."
"You're going to take back over Capsule Corp?" Bra asked hopefully.
Trunks shuddered visibly, "Hell no, That's the one GOOD thing that came out of this! Trunks Briefs, Corporate Mogul, GONE! FINALLY!" he threw up his hands. "Best of luck to you, sis," he smirked and winked at her.
"No..." Bra whimpered, slumping her shoulders.
"So what are you going to do then, Trunks? Sit around all day doing nothing, or open your own cattle farm?" Bulma scoffed.
Trunks grinned, "Yep!"
"You are NOT serious, young man!" Bulma all but shouted.
Vegeta just chuckled as Gohan shook his head. "This, is going to be interesting," the eldest demi-Saiyajin muttered.
"Sure, why not? We have to import half the stuff we use anymore, why not have some un-imported milks and beefs? Nice quiet life, hard work, lots of payback... well not so much in the money area, but it's really rewarding, Mom!" He tried to convince her.
"Working with beasts, getting dirty for little money and reward from your pain and suffering... I think not. I will not have a son of mine doing-"
"Be quiet, Onna. be grateful that son of yours is here to be arguing with." Vegeta cut in, smirking.
"In stead of breaking my back, fighting with stupid people all the time, and getting ready to blow up the entire planet? Yeah, I think I am doing. Besides, sure... it'll be small, not really all that much, but it'd be more than enough to get by, AND I'll be able to be home more often with Goten and the Kids," He shook his head, running a hand through his damp hair, "I'm not going back, it was killing me," he finished with a small shrug.
"I think it's great!" Goku grinned. "Go for it, Trunks."
"I think it's a good idea too," Gohan stated. "It'll also be good for the kids, not living in the city."
Goten was unaware, working on dinner.
"Uhm, woah, wait a sec here," Trunks waved his hands, "I.. uhm... haven't talked to Goten about it, and it's really up to him..."
"Like Goten won't do whatever you say," Bra chuckled.
Trunks blinked, then looked at his sister blankly.
"Trust me," she smirked.
"I still think you should think about this more... if you really want a ranch, then buy one and manage it... but don't do ... grunt work." Bulma stated.
"I am well capable to do both, and I LIKE the grunt work," Trunks protested.
"He's a Saiyajin, Onna. Leave him be. It'll give him better training that any work in the gravity room." Vegeta smirked.
Trunks couldn't believe his father was okay with this. "Well anyhow, on with the story... memory back, came home last night... Goten didn't kick me out. Happy ending!" he threw his hands up in the air, "I...'m gonna go help Chibi with the food," he tried to make an escape.
"Mom, I think I'll go help Trunks with the cattle ranch..." Bra started.
"Oh hell no, Bra. You're not going to be joining him on this crazy crusade..." Bulma's voice chided Bra as the others chuckled.
"Sure, She can do the books, an I'll go work there too - y'know, help with the management and stuff," Pan agreed.
"NO you don't young lady," Videl seemed to have caught up with herself. "You're going to finish college!"
"You know, it does sound like fun," Goku tilted his head in thought.
Chichi thwapped him, "Don't even think about it."
Trunks sneaked into the kitchen with Goten, "Uhm... oops..." He started.
"What oops?" Goten asked, looking over his shoulder as he finished setting the table.
"Well... we kind of got on the cowboy subject..."
"I take it your mom's not happy..."
"Well, I kind of mentioned maybe starting a ranch of my own..." He said. "Of course if you think it's a bad idea I won't, I just...well, I think she's about to tan me."
"If that's what you want to do, Trunks... I can't stop you," Goten chuckled.
"Actually.. yes you can," Trunks said softly, biting his lip. "I... was wondering if maybe you and the kids would come with me - you guys don't have to do anything, of course."
Goten looked up at Trunks, studying him a moment, then smiling. "Sure."
Trunks blinked in surprise - as he'd been setting himself up for a fall. "...sure?"
Goten nodded. "Of course. The kids would love being on a ranch, though you're going to have to teach the kids to do everything... I know how to wrangle dinosaurs... not cows and chickens and stuff."
"Ooo... there's a thought. Ranching, Saiyajin style," Trunks tilted his head, his gaze getting unfocused as he let the implications and possibilities of actually raising and breeding dinos like cattle would be.
"Trunks... we'd have to have both our families helping then," Goten chuckled as he figured out what his best friend was thinking.
"Our dads think the cows were a good idea... they'd love dinos," Trunks grinned.
"Truten is already starting to learn..."
"So.. what do you think?" he asked, looking up at Goten with an uncertain smile.
"I think it's a good idea," Goten nodded.
"You... are awesome," Trunks decided, folding his arms.
"Yeah, well, I try." Goten smirked. "Call in the troops. Dinner's ready."
"Sure thing," Trunks went back to the main living room, "Supper's on, I'll go get the kids," He said, then turned swiftly to let them be.
Goku was still laughing.
Vegeta pushed away from the wall, heading to the kitchen, leading the way for the others. Bra was right behind him, trying to drown out Bulma's still constant reminders of having to be a responsible adult.
Soon, The three kids were running into the room, Truten already climbing into her tall-seat, while the twins each tried to climb into their high chairs. Trunks raced after them, with a laugh, and started strapping the twins into their seats.
Goten set plates down in front of everyone, then once everything was ready, looked up at the family, just smiling. It was nice to have everyone together again. He knew it wouldn't be easy, not by a long shot, to rebuild everything that'd been destroyed – but despite the bickering and jokes... family would always be the most important thing.
That there's the end of the tale - thank you for your patience (and reviews!) - we hope you were not disappointed and enjoyed the tale! Again, my apologies for not being able to get this up when it was written years ago – thank you for the patience you've given!