"What the hell are you doing in my house? And what the fuck are you doing to my sister?"
Trunks froze. 'Shit. Gohan.' Before Trunks could turn and face the furious sibling, a soft grumbling had them both holding their breaths. Usagi stirred, frowned faintly at the raised voices and snuggled back against her pillows all without opening her eyes. Two seconds later, she was breathing deeply again. Both the half Saiyajins sighed with relief; neither of them wanted Usagi awake to witness their argument.
Gohan glared for Trunks to stay put and quietly darted back to his room, only to reappear seconds later holding a strange gadget that was dwarfed by his palm. Quickly, he set it up next to Usagi's mattress and messed with the switches. Trunks stared at the queer-looking device with interest, vaguely recalling his mother tinkering with something similar years ago. As soon as Gohan had it adjusted to his satisfaction, he resumed his verbal attack. "What the hell Trunks!" He sounded more pissed now that he had to suppress his anger for a few moments.
Trunks glanced down at Usagi, but she remained undisturbed. 'Huh. It's a noise canceling device.'
"You can't just break into my home, especially when you're not wanted."
Trunks gritted his teeth at that, but carefully eased away from Usagi before he answered. "I can do whatever the fuck I want. You don't know how to take care of her 'cause, let's face it, this is the first time you've tried acting like a protective older brother who actually gave a damn. Better late than never, I guess." His accompanying sneer was all the more satisfying because he knew that the barb had hit home.
Gohan literally shook with anger. Two could hit below the belt. "At least she gave me a second chance. Aren't you still waiting for yours?"
A growl was his only answer. "You don't want to push me, Gohan. You really don't." Trunks could feel the anger starting to spike his blood with adrenaline and blood lust.
"I think I do. I don't know what the hell you're into, and frankly I don't care. But when my baby sister shows up covered in blood, we're going to have a problem. Stay away from her."
"You don't order me to do anything. Is that clear, third level?" The last word was spat out in the Saiyajin language, the language of his 'beast of power'. It was guttural and harsh, a testament to his waning control.
Gohan felt the base of his spine tingle at the growled foreign word. Though completely unintelligible to him, the language somehow sounded familiar. It reached something deep inside of him and literally tightened his guts with awe, respect, and a healthy amount of fear. 'This is just Trunks, so why do I feel like I should run?'
Trunks was too pissed to bother waiting for an answer. "You want to do this? Let's do this. I've wanted a piece of you since I was old enough to know what 'fucking disgrace' meant."
Gohan's anger quickly returned and swept away his unease. All he had to remember was Usagi's bloody, tear-streaked face and he was ready to transform into a Super Saiyajin. "The roof top, then. Unless you wimp out."
Trunks' grin was little more than a baring of teeth. "You're the only coward in this room, Gohan." Trunks stood protectively in front of Usagi's bed and watched as Gohan opened the bedroom window and fearlessly pushed out into the night, already levitating towards the roof.
Trunks made to follow, but for some reason he couldn't leave without looking back at Usagi one last time. He smiled when he noticed she had kicked off the covers again. Almost as if in a trance he walked closer and gently straightened the sheets. He swept her hair back, leaned down, and lightly brushed her lips with his. The kiss they shared at the warehouse still haunted him with its intensity, but this innocent moment, echoed their first kiss.
"Trunks..." her lips moved under his as they soundlessly whispered his name. Since Gohan's snoring aid was on, he couldn't savor the sound; but something inside him melted. A spurt of satisfaction bubbled up from his core. She was his, but she didn't know it yet. He glanced up and noticed the flower arrangement on top of the lone dresser. It turned out better than he thought - not that he was qualified to judge the beauty of plants - but he knew that those were the colors Usagi liked. He scooped up the dainty vase and gently placed it next to her bedside where she would see it first thing in the morning. It satisfied some primal need to surrounding her with his gifts; even the clothes on her back were from him. When she forgave him - there was no doubt in his mind that she would eventually give in - he would shower her with gifts and mementos that would keep him in the forefront of her thoughts.
Floors above, he felt Gohan's ki flare and knew that the older man was getting impatient with his delay. 'Too bad. He can wait.' Trunks stood and stared down at Usagi for a long, silent moment. After not seeing her for days, stepping away and leaving her even for battle was nearly gut-wrenchingly painful. Even as he grew excited at the coming test of strength and power, he couldn't help resenting the separation. 'He'll pay.' If Gohan hadn't offered her sanctuary, then she would've had no choice but to return to him. 'He'll pay for taking what is mine and then daring to order me away.' It wasn't until he stepped out of the window and into the crisp night air, that Trunks realized his thoughts had converted to the Saiyajin language.
The roof of the high rise apartment building was mostly flat and barren of all but a few air vents and a small patch of well tended greenery. Even though it was the middle of the night, the sky still cast a purple haze from the city's light pollution reflecting off the overcast clouds. 'Usa must hate not being able to see the stars at night.' Thankfully Capsule Corp was on the fringe of the city and not in its heart like the college district. It was just one more advantage to her coming home with him - he needed all the help he could get.
"No ki blasts because there are too many people who could get hurt, including Usa. Mrs. Fetzar's garden is off limits too; she'd drop with a stroke if anything happened to her roses."
Trunks scoffed, stared at him incredulously, but finally agreed. He wasn't going to spend time and anger arguing over whether a Saiyajin should care about some old fart's flowers; he'd rather settle his differences the proper way, with his fists.
Neither of them could mask their growing anticipation for a battle that was so long overdue. Their warrior blood hummed with restless energy, eagerly waiting to inflict pain. The frantic edge of their anger settled slightly at the promise of a resolution - it was no longer about cutting taunts and enticing the enemy to battle, now it was about pounding the opponent into submission. At first Trunks had a hard time taking Gohan seriously. His cartoon pajama bottoms really detracted from his intimidation - it was hard to find Underdog very threatening - but then he saw the righteous anger burning in his eyes coupled with a build that would make any Saiyajin proud and he was reminded that Gohan was the first child Super Saiyajin and someone who had a wide variety of training from Piccolo, Goku, and the Kais. He would not be easily defeated.
Of course, Trunks was no wilting lily either. He had been taught by Vegeta, and a more mercilessly demanding trainer had never existed. He was the first child to ascend to the second level of Super Saiyajin and he did it at an age where Gohan was still struggling to learn how to shoot ki blasts. What's more, he was a prince with the rage of their dead people flowing through his veins; he was bred to conquer those weaker than himself and working for the Black Moon only fueled that instinct. Gohan might believe he had a reason to be pissed and throw down a challenge, but Trunks' anger for Gohan's neglect of Usagi had been festering for years. He vividly recalled her every bruise, every tear, every abandoned look and felt his control start to slip. This beat down was a long time in coming.
As if to some internal signal, they lunged towards each other as one. When they met fists first in the center, a sonic explosion swept up a cloud of dirt, caved in multiple air vents, and overturned a rusted old lawn chair, pushing it end over end until it disappeared off the roof's edge and plummeted to the street below. In a parking garage a few buildings over, car alarms flared to life, but neither Saiyajin could hear beyond the blood roaring in their ears. The battle of wills had begun.
Trunks effortlessly blocked the older Saiyajin's punches, dodged the furious kicks, and twisted free from the bone-crushing holds. A few blows were exchanged by both men, but Trunks just grinned through the blood and dove in for more. He darted forward and faked a low kick, but Gohan flipped back at the last minute to avoid getting his knee dislocated. Trunks waited for him to land and grunted with satisfaction when his fist connected solidly with the other Saiyajin's cheek. His sense of victory was short-lived since Gohan let his body's momentum carry him around in a complete circle and add force to his return punch. Trunks staggered back a few steps, struggling to stay on his feet. His vision darkened around the edges.
Both fighters stepped back and eyed each other with new respect. With the back of his hand, Trunks wiped away the blood trickling out the side of his mouth. Gohan was physically taller and had a longer reach, but Trunks was faster and meaner. This wouldn't be quick or easy.
Gohan charged, fists glowing with compressed energy and let out a barrage of ki punches that were so fast, they only left a blur of light in their wake. Trunks waited until he was about to get hit when he grinned and flashed into a Super Saiyajin. The resulting energy wave flung Gohan back to crash into the metal door to the stairwell. He left an impressive body-shaped dent behind when he slowly slid to the ground and shook the ringing out of his ears.
After months of subterfuge and hiding his true strength from the Black Moon it felt nearly euphoric to finally flex his power and push his body to its limits. Trunks felt the fire in his blood ignite and roared his challenge into the night. He didn't wait for Gohan to gain his feet but launched himself forward, fists raised, and eyes glinting with the promise of pain. With an enraged Saiyajin prince barreling toward him, Gohan was quick to flash into his own Super Saiyajin form and flip out of the way.
Nearly an hour later when the fight was reaching its peak of intensity, something inside Trunks seemed to 'click'. He didn't readily notice that the world around him changed until he could almost 'feel' his opponent's intent. When Gohan spun into a kick, Trunks had already disappeared. Gohan blinked in shock because he knew that the younger Saiyajin hadn't teleported. 'He's just that fast.' As quick as a thought Trunks was up close and swinging tirelessly, efficiently pounding the other half Saiyajin's body so that each point of contact would have the most lasting impact. Trunks aimed mostly for the head, hoping to concuss his opponent enough to slow him down and make him falter. His strategy was working. Gohan attempted to fly back to gain a little space to maneuver, but Trunks followed, relentlessly taking advantage of the slight retreat.
The perfect moment of clarity was only realized when Gohan shoved him back with an aura blast. "What is wrong with you?" he huffed out, doubling over to catch his breath.
Not wanting his opponent to have the luxury of a break to regain his bearings, Trunks snarled and was about to launch himself forward again when he realized the strangeness of his thought patterns. Not only was his every stray thought processing in the Saiyajin language, but his mind was working at light speed - interpreting every moment and anticipating every possible fighting technique. His honed body was ready to counteract every move possible; his muscles literally quivered with the eagerness to act. Like chess, he had already planned his next dozen moves in advance. Countless combinations circled through his head. He was even compensating for wind speeds and flying with his back towards the brightest of the city's night lights. A perfect cocktail of adrenaline, power, and focus made him feel unstoppable. Perfection. This was the perfect warrior mentality.
"You're glowing red. I've never seen a Super's aura turn that color before." 'Like blood.' Gohan slowly edged into a fighting stance, unsure of this new power. 'Did he invent a new attack?' He remained on alert and was prepared to defend the building and all of the innocent civilians just in case Trunks decided to ignore their rules and start ki blasting. What unnerved him most was that the Super Saiyajin's eyes weren't the usual vibrant green, instead they were wreathed in black with the green for a pupil. The yellow spikes of hair appeared orange through the red aura. A dark red symbol blazed ominously on his brow. Suddenly, Trunks didn't just look powerful, he looked extremely dangerous.
Meanwhile, Trunks stared down at the flames of blood red energy blazing up his arms in shock. Nothing like this had ever happened before. Ironically, he felt great. Centered. Focused. The rage that always nipped at the edge of his conscious causing him to either suppress it or let it loose, was finally tamed, channeled, and bent to his will. Somehow he had tapped into an energy source within him that was nearly limitless.
The laugh bubbled up in his throat, but he bit it back because it seemed so unnatural. 'The power.' His Saiyajin mind hummed in satisfaction. With this power he could do anything. As if he merely had to wish for something and it would suddenly be so. His instincts seemed closer to the surface. They begged him to strike down his enemies, claim what was his, suck the pleasure out of life, and live completely in the moment without apologies or consequences. Who could stop him? He was a god.
The shock of the last thought reverberated through his soul and allowed his conscience to surface. The feeling was addicting.
That was what scared him enough to finally break away from the power. He blinked in confusion as the red flames slowly dissipated. 'What is happening to me?' He didn't have long to analyze the moment because Gohan charged forward and nearly dislocated his jaw with a hard right cross. Trunks was violently brought back into the fight of wills and struggled to reclaim that clarity of purpose, but the perfect power remained elusive and Gohan's relentless assault didn't give him the opportunity to concentrate.
More blood and grunts littered the rooftop over the following hours of battle, until finally the fighters collapsed in a crumpled heap, each broken and bleeding, gasping for breath. They both lay sprawled on the rooftop, too exhausted to continue. The anger in their blood was temporarily sated, allowing an uneasy truce to settle uncomfortably between them. Together, in silence, they watched the overcast purple sky slowly turn a lighter shade, foretelling the coming dawn.
Gohan was the first to break the heavy silence. "What was with the red light show?" He didn't think he would ever forget such a disturbing sight. For a moment, Trunks' expression had caused fear to coat his insides with a dread until he felt sick to his stomach. It was an unpleasant feeling that echoed his feelings from facing Cell. Only this time, it was much worse. Gohan couldn't wrap his mind around the whole experience. For some reason, in that moment he had been more scared of Trunks as a grown man than he had been of Cell as a teen. It didn't make sense. The only explanation was that strange red power.
Trunks casually glanced over and grimaced when he saw that the other man's mind was racing with theories and a thirst for knowledge. There was no way he was going to ruin a perfectly good evening by getting psychoanalyzed by a Ph.D. Whatever that power simultaneously tempted him and scared him. It would take time for him to come to peace with what happened. All he knew was that it was significant. "Fuck if I know." Trunks grinned when his careless dismissal caused Gohan to frown in irritation. Before he could get pestered with whining or more antagonizing questions, he quickly changed the subject. "Do you have anything to drink in that mini bar of yours?"
Gohan frowned harder, "What do you know about that stuff?"
Trunks carefully folded an arm behind his head, trying to make his position more comfortable with the least amount of excess movement. "I know that it'll taste great right about now. I don't care if it's beer, liquor, wine, whatever. Although the hard stuff would definitely be preferable to help dull the pain."
'Why the hell not?' Gohan sighed and groaned when he rolled to his feet. His whole body felt like one giant bruise. 'But what a great fight.' His first step was really a stumble that was so painfully jarring it caused a cold sweat to break out over his body. The sweat chilled rapidly in the frosty night air causing him to shiver violently at the sudden temperature change. The shiver was painful enough to repeat the torment until his existence became consumed with recycled pain. 'I don't think aspirin is going to cover it tonight. Definitely need alcohol to dull this shit.' It took less than a thought to fly down to his kitchen and raid his supplies.
"Here's your orange soda."
Trunks stared with distaste at the glass bottle fizzy drink Gohan had plopped into his hand. Small slivers of ice slid down the side of the bottle and soaked his bruised knuckles. "What the hell?"
"We'll talk about the hard stuff when you're legal. You have to fly home tonight, remember? I don't want you crashing into airplanes."
"Fuck you, man."
"That's Dr. Son to you." Gohan groaned when he eased back down on the roof and propped himself into a sitting position against one crumpled vent that was nothing more than a twisted heap of metal. The bottle of whiskey clinked softly against the roof when he set it down next to him. "That was the best workout I've had in years."
Trunks scoffed. "Workout. Hell. I kicked your ass. That was a beating, pure and simple."
"Yeah, right. You're bleeding more than me."
It was the truth. Trunks vividly recalled Gohan bodily throwing him right into a jutting piece of metal that sent a hot stripe of pain burning across his chest. His front was literally soaked in blood. Trunks wearily lifted his head and examined the other man's face. "Well, at least I can see out of my eyes and I don't look like the walking dead. Your woman won't even recognize you." He couldn't keep the satisfaction out of his voice.
Gohan tried to grin, but winced when his cut lip split wider and started to bleed more. "Videl likes me no matter what I look like."
Trunks snorted, good-naturedly. "Then she must be blind as well as deaf. I don't know how she stuck with you throughout these years when you snore as badly as you do. It must be love," he laughed. "Or blackmail." Gohan silently swigged out of his handle of whiskey, hissing when the high proof alcohol flooded his cut, but didn't rise to the bait. Trunks sensed the other man's unease at the discussion and, for once showed mercy and let the subject drop for now. "How did you know I was in your house anyway? You were snoring away, trying to wake the dead like usual, when I went into Usa's room."
"I heard you growling to her."
Trunks blinked for a moment and then his meaning processed. "Really? Over your snoring?"
Gohan ignored the verbal jab, and thought back to the scene he interrupted between the Saiyajin prince and his little sister. A clear image of Trunks, the most unbending, vindictive person he had the misfortune to know, was gently tending to Usa. Grudgingly he admitted that she seemed more relaxed and peaceful in her sleep than she had in days. "What did you tell her? I'm right and that's the Saiyajin language right?" He remembered the flowing rhythm to the growls, a change of pitch that denoted language.
"Yeah, that's what our people spoke." It felt weird to be teaching the teacher. This entire conversation was surreal. Never in Trunks' memory could he remember having such a calm and serious conversation with Usa's older brother. For now, his anger was spent, his body was exhausted, and that left only his mind to take control. "She calms when she hears the language. Even when she's awake, she's comforted by it and has been ever since she returned from Vegeta-sei. It doesn't matter what I say."
"I bet it matters to you."
Trunks shrugged and didn't comment. He stared up into the sky and vainly searched for a star. Nothing. The dark purple haze obscured everything.
"What were you doing here tonight anyway? You know that she's not ready to see you."
"She needed me." It was just that simple.
Gohan paused, surprised at his reasoning. He expected the prince to be here out of some selfish desire to ignore her wishes or to boost his ego by breaking the rules yet again. This selflessness from a royal of their species was unprecedented. Finally, he relented. Maybe it was time for them to find common ground and put the past behind them. "I understand. If it were Videl, I don't think I could keep my distance either."
Trunks didn't even sit up to join the discussion. Instead he remained stretched out on the roof with one arm cradling his head and one leg bent for comfort. "It's not the same."
Gohan lifted an eyebrow. 'There's that arrogance. I was waiting for it.' "You think because we don't like each other, that we can't share the same feelings?"
Trunks lifted his head slightly and let his gaze sweep over Gohan's atrocious cartoon pajama pants that had somehow survived the fight only slightly singed and with more than a few blood stains, his bruised and bloody face that made him unrecognizable, and his sincere, direct look that advertised the intelligence underneath all of that muscle. "We're each a product of two very different bloodlines. Yours passes down two main traits – passion for logic and empathy or intuition whatever you want to call it," he waved his hand in dismissal. "You got the logic. Goten and Goku got the intuition."
Gohan frowned, disconcerted to be analyzed in such a detached way.
"I met your grandfather, did you know that? Usagi grew quite attached to him. From what's she's told me, he had both logic and intuition. She sees much of him in you."
Gohan blinked in shock. "She never told me that." His tone was subdued and almost sad. 'Just when I thought Usa and I are finally being open and honest with each other...' It humbled him to know that she linked him with someone she respected so highly. 'Would she have ever told me herself?'
"Logic defines who you are; hell, you even became a college professor. As if a Saiyajin could stoop so low." Trunks shook his head sadly. "Now, let's take your relationship with Videl."
Gohan tensed at the mention of his long term girlfriend. He didn't like where this conversation was going.
"You've only debated taking the next step in your relationship for how many years? At first, I thought you were just being a chicken shit. Then, I realized you were over analyzing every possible outcome, double checking and triple checking your decisions, making sure you had all your fucking ducks in a fucking row."
Gohan's face burned red with embarrassment. Unlike at the beach, his dad wasn't here to field the hard comments and redirect the conversation to spare his pride.
"I can see it now," Trunks saw the other man's discomfort and not caring, mercilessly continued. "You wanted to make sure you were 'financially solvent' enough to support a wife and eventually a family. You wanted to wait until both you and she were settled in your careers. You've probably waited for the perfect house or apartment to be available on the market, and then waited to amass a good portion of the down payment." Trunks took one careless look at Gohan's clenched fists and stiff silhouette, and flashed his trademarked cocky grin. "I'm right, aren't I? That's how you think – with logic. Completely spineless."
"You've attempted to generalize me, my brother, and my father; but you left out Usagi."
"She's like your grandfather. She's got both logic and intuition. The problem is because of her upbringing, because she was beaten down so many times, she doesn't have the confidence to trust herself; so she lets her logic try to make sense of her intuition. That's why it's so hard for her to simply believe and go with what she feels is right. Her head is getting in the way of her heart." Trunks believed that was why she was fighting the inevitable. He knew that she cared about him as much as he cared about her; but since she didn't want to rely on her feelings, she continued to have a hard time accepting that their relationship had changed.
Gohan couldn't fault his observations.
"Now, my bloodline passes down completely different traits."
"I'm all ears," Gohan's sarcasm masked his interest.
"Practicality. We don't sweat the tough decisions. We see the bigger picture. If you're weak, then you're a pawn – that is what makes us such ruthless, but effective rulers. Anger. A bottomless pit of rage and wrath that burns like acid straight to our core." They locked gazes. "I've drowned in that pit, been consumed by it," he remembered the warehouse and the deer in the forest. "I have reveled in the power fueled by all that rage." His thoughts turned towards his fight with Nappa on Vegeta-sei. For a moment, he let the beast look out through his eyes.
When Gohan saw the same flat black eyes from before, his breath caught and his fear scented the air like sour rain. That merciless gaze lacked only the green of the Super Saiyajin transformation.
"Do you know who has brought me back from the brink every time?" Trunks and his beast searched for the ki floors below that belonged to the innocent curled tightly to ward against the chill of the drafty apartment. Frowning, he vaguely recalled leaving the window open.
Gohan breathed his sister's name, truly understanding her extreme import to the younger Saiyajin for the first time.
"You will never understand what I'm feeling, Gohan. There is no logic. No careful planning. No waiting and hoping and building my courage. I will bind her to me in any way I can because I won't tolerate a life without her. She brings me peace, and I will cheerfully demolish anyone who threatens that peace. So, do yourself a favor and don't interfere again."
Gohan had no doubt in his mind that he meant what he said. The royals never bluffed. He fearlessly faced the fierce intensity that vibrated from the prince. "That's why you've pushed Goten away, isn't it?" his quiet accusation hung heavily in the air. "You knew he would step between you two if things got too intense, and you didn't want him to get hurt."
Trunks looked away, not liking the unprecedented guilt that twisted within him. "I needed more alone time with Usagi, and that would be hard to find with Goten always hanging around."
Gohan stilled. "Practical of you." For some reason, he couldn't believe that the same teen that was so tender with his sister, could be that cold-hearted to his brother. 'Maybe Trunks is lying to himself.'
Trunks frowned down at his unopened bottle of orange soda; apparently, it was his turn to feel uncomfortable with the conversation. 'Screw this girly gossip session.' Slowly, painfully, he hauled himself up and glowered down at the Saiyajin seated at his feet. "Take care of her. If she gets even one bruise while she's under your care, then I'll come back and kick your ass again; only, this time you won't even be able to crawl away when I'm through with you."
"Right back at you," Gohan wasn't about to be threatened without giving equal measure. "No more being careless with her feelings or I'll come looking for you."
They stared each other down for a long moment, each understanding where the line was drawn between them. Trunks turned away, but paused to look back. "You're a fool to have waited so long. If you care about your woman, then you would claim her before she realizes that she's wasting her life waiting for you."
Gohan frowned. Maybe it was time for him to stop lying to himself. It was strange that Trunks, of all people, would be the first to hear his confession. "You were right, you know. I failed my sister. I didn't protect her; I didn't shield her like I was supposed to. I was a horrible brother, so I'll probably make a horrible husband." It was easier to let his and Videl's relationship remain unchanged, than fail and lose someone who was so important to him.
"You're failing her now."
Gohan sucked in a sharp breath in surprise.
"My dad says that 'Inaction may be safe, but it builds nothing.' Right now you're not building a relationship because you don't believe in yourself or in her. Your lack of faith will be what finally pushes her away. Saiyajins aren't cowards, Gohan."
Gohan watched as the prince stepped off the edge of the roof and floated down to close Usagi's window. Two seconds later, he was streaking across the sky heading towards the Capsule Corp mansion. Gohan took one last generous gulp from the whiskey bottle before he capped it and set it off to the side. For some reason, he couldn't bring himself to move. His head was swimming, but it wasn't from the alcohol. Trunks' blunt opinions kept relentlessly circling through his mind. Could the teenager be right? Trapped in his thoughts, he sat and watched the sun rise between two tall buildings.
An hour later, it was time to get ready for work.
Before she woke completely, Usagi could smell something sweet that was tantalizing enough to lure her from her dreams, which were actually peaceful for a change. It enticed her to finally crack open her eyes when she would have otherwise cheerfully pulled the sheets over her head and slept for a few more hours. A blur of color had her staring stupidly and blinking her vision clear from the last remnants of sleep. Her gaze sharpened and revealed the flower arrangement Trunks had delivered. 'Why is that here?' She could have sworn she had placed it safely on the dresser and out of reach. With a smile, she freed one slim arm from her cocoon of covers and reached up to trace a soft petal. It was so sweet of him to have sent her something beautiful. 'Trunks...' For some reason he seemed closer than usual. As if he was in the room with her...
Usagi jerked up, startled, and quickly scanned the room for her friend. 'No, he's not here...but he was.' She could detect faint traces of his scent, something that she had missed terribly the past few days.
Suddenly, she was mad. How dare he sneak in to her room uninvited? She gasped, 'He broke into Gohan's apartment!' There was no way that Gohan would have willingly invited him over, not when he knew how she felt. She pushed the covers away and scrambled out of bed. 'Does Gohan know?' She could feel her older brother rummaging in the kitchen, most likely preparing breakfast before he headed off to work. She chewed her lip indecisively; not wanting to exacerbate her best friend and her brother's mutual dislike of each other by bringing up such a huge point of contention. Maybe she could ask a few indirect questions and find her answers without actually saying anything.
Resolutely, she stepped into the hallway where her toes curled against the chilled floors and headed toward the heavenly aroma of grilling breakfast sausage. Gohan stood with his back to her, expertly flipping a spatula in his hand even as he bent to check something in the oven. Something about the way he moved bothered her. Saiyajins naturally moved with a warrior's grace, but Gohan looked stiff and distracted. 'Maybe he didn't sleep well.' She slid into a kitchen chair and was about to announce her presence, when he turned to put a plate of food on the table and she saw his face.
She had been raised around fighters for her entire life, so she was used to seeing bruises, cuts, and even blood. However, this was far worse than anything she'd ever been exposed to, even considering her time spent on Vegeta-sei. Gohan's face looked like it had gotten up close and personal with a meat grinder. There were swollen lumps on top of larger, even more grotesque swollen globs of flesh. His skin was every different shade stretching from red, to yellow, to purple. Thankfully, being part Saiyajin gifted him with accelerated healing abilities; but this only made Usagi imagine how he must have looked hours before. Right now, Frankenstein's monster would win a beauty contest in comparison.
Many minutes passed while she was rendered immobile by her shock before she realized Gohan practically threw down the plate of food and was trying to reassure her. It took a second for her to actually hear him.
"-okay, Usa. I'm okay. Just calm down. Everything is going to be alright."
"Alright?!" His ridiculous assertion finally pulled her out of her shocked stupor enough to speak. "I've seen drowned bodies that look less swollen than you. How is that 'alright'?" She gasped. "You have to go to work like that!"
"It's okay," he rushed to explain and head off another ear-wincing exclamation. "I'll just say that I got mugged coming home from work last night. No big deal."
"Right. Like anyone could believe that." Usagi let loose a slightly hysterical giggle; the thought of a weak human thug getting the better of someone as strong and capable as her Saiyajin brother was laughable. "What did happen? You didn't look like this last night. Did you sleep walk and jump off the balcony or something?" From the visible damage alone, he would have had to jump a half a dozen times and land on his face to explain the severity of his injuries.
"It's nothing. I just sparred last night after you went to bed." He tried to shrug, but winced when his shoulder protested.
Usagi didn't believe him for a second. "Sparred?" her tone was incredulous. Sparring didn't leave someone looking like they've recently been resurrected from the grave.
Gohan shifted uneasily from one foot to another and tried to contain his grimace when his nervous movement put extra pressure on his bruised back. He knew that tone. It sounded just like Videl's when she was about to get mean. "Yeah," he answered lamely.
"It was Trunks wasn't it? I can't believe him!" She vaulted out of her chair and started pacing out her frustration. "First he sneaks in here like a thief and then he takes out his anger on my brother. I can't believe I ever thought one nice thing about him. He's an insensitive jerk! If he thinks he can just keep hurting the people I care about, my family and that I'll just forgive him, then he's got another thing coming." She snatched up her brother's phone from the kitchen counter. "I'm going to wake him up right now and chew his ear off for this."
"Usa!" Gohan rescued his phone, and cancelled the outgoing call. He clasped her shoulders to stop her pacing and her angry monologue. "You can't hold this against him, okay? Can you do that for me? We had a lot of issues we addressed last night. This was something that was bound to happen eventually; it was simply unfortunate for him that this happened now when you two are at odds in your relationship. So, in the interest of fairness, I'm asking you to let this go." It made him proud that his little sister was so adamant in her defense of her loved ones; she even gave up her life once for two of them, so he knew that this was no easy thing to ask.
Usagi immediately noticed the seriousness of his tone. She tried to think past her own hurt and frustration in order to better understand what he was trying to say, but it was nearly impossible for her to dismiss Trunks' actions when she was staring up at the ruin he left of her brother's face. "Guys are impossible!" She shook herself free from his earnest hold and marched to the fridge. Jerking open the freezer door, she snatched up a bag of frozen peas and threw it at him. "Here. Put this on your face." Under her breath she continued her rant. "Stupid, testosterone poisoned men. Girls don't revert into cavemen and pound each other to settle our differences."
Gohan sheepishly held the peas to her face and tried not to grin at her antics. "Come on, breakfast is ready."
When they sat down to eat, a faint whiff of burned food wafted from the kitchen. "Oh, crap. The biscuits!" Gohan darted from his seat and rushed to open the oven. The smell immediately worsened. He absently reached in for the pan and then cursed at the heat. Frantically, he fished into a drawer and pulled out an over-sized oven mitt.
Usagi stared after him, bemused by his distracted demeanor. It was then that she noticed he was wearing two different colored socks and hadn't combed his hair. Even as she watched, he nervously ran his fingers through his black tresses, leaving it even more disheveled. He looked...frazzled. Something was on her brother's mind, but she didn't know what. 'He'll share when he's ready.'
After breakfast Usagi studied her bruised brother as he stared off into space. She patiently waited for him to return to reality, but the minutes passed with no change. "Uh, Gohan?"
"Are you going to work today or what?"
Gohan blinked at her in confusion and then turned to look at the oven clock. Cursing, he jumped up from his chair. Two seconds later he was out the door and Usagi was left alone with a mess to clear. Slowly climbing to her feet, she sighed and reached for a plate.
It didn't take her long to wash the dishes and put away the leftover food. All the while her thoughts were consumed with analyzing her vacillating emotions. On one hand she was furious with Trunks for all of the changes he was arbitrarily instigating – how he treated her and her family, the violence he so easily meted out to others – but something within her was inexplicably drawn to him no matter how autocratic he became. Usagi knew that she was out of her depth with this whole situation. She needed advice.
Briefly she considered calling Bulma, but knew that the CEO would be holed up all day in meetings busily running her business empire. Besides it would feel weird going to Trunks' mom for advice concerning their relationship. In any case, Capsule Corp headquarters was on the other side of the mansion and therefore off limits until she finally resolved her feelings. If Trunks caught her anywhere close to home, then he would talk her into staying. No, she needed to look elsewhere. Absently Usagi glanced around the kitchen, searching for a stray dish to clean, when she noticed the calendar hanging on the fridge. 'Videl's day off' was penned under today's date.
"You're going to love this place. I haven't been there in ages; but the food is great, the beer is cheap, and the crazy people are entertaining to watch."
Usagi listened to her brother's girlfriend as she happily chattered on about her favorite bar restaurant they were walking to on the north side of town. The day had been filled with gossip and shopping. Videl was hardly the girly girl type, but Usagi needed a jacket now that the nights were getting colder and all of her clothes were still at the mansion. Shopping wasn't a hardship for Videl since she found some new gloves for her kick boxing class at a small specialty store that was only at the mall in Rat Square. However, since the north side was a little rundown and underdeveloped, they were left with few appetizing choices when they decided to end the day with a meal. Then Videl remembered the hole-in-the-wall place that had lots of character and good quality food. Usagi was a little skeptical; 'hole-in-the-wall' and 'lots of character' describing a place that served food usually meant rundown with a questionable health rating.
The streets were filled with the blue collar crowd trudging to their after-work hang outs and most were heading towards the same place they were. Simply labeled Bruno's Bar and Grill, Usagi thought that Videl was accurate in her descriptions. Bulma would never set foot in a place like this.
As soon as the door closed behind them, Usagi stood for a moment to absorb the boisterous atmosphere. There were a few couples scattered throughout the room tucked into tiny tables, but most of the patrons were gathered in large groups. Many had haphazardly pulled together tables and stools forcing the harried waitresses to squeeze through impossibly small gaps hoisting large plates of steaming hot food. Even as she watched, one tall guy snagged a fry off of a passing plate and popped it into his mouth.
There was a stage on the far side of the room with hulking, outdated equipment set up for entertainment that was scheduled later in the night. While Videl greeted the hostess like a long lost friend, Usagi spied a flier advertising live music from an up-and-coming local band that she didn't readily recognize. Haphazardly thrown up on the walls were cheap decorations including neon beer signs and even a massive highway sign defaced by suggestive graffiti. They had to wait a few minutes until they were finally seated while a busboy with several creative piercings cleared away the leavings of a table and pocketed the few bills left in tip. The menu was homemade but had a surprising variety of food choices.
"I know this place takes a little getting used to," Videl commented with a grin, noting the younger girl's unease at the men aggressively cheering the next table over.
Usagi cracked a smile. Slowly, she traced the names carved into the wood of their table. It was literally scarred with messages; most so profane they made her blush. "I like it here. I wonder if," she squinted, trying to decipher the words under her fingertips. "John and Cindy are still dating."
Before Videl could comment a familiar voice cut through the crowd.
"Usagi? Son Usagi?"
Usagi turned and stared at the bright-haired girl she had met a few days ago. "Molly?"
The girl wearing a black half apron packed full of straws threw down the sodas she was holding and yanked Usagi up into a bone-crushing hug. The sodas overturned and sloshed over the bottle-covered table of the loud men, soaking one poor guy's pants through with sugary drink. "Hey! Watch it."
Molly turned, matching the drunken man's wrath with her own. "You watch it. Can't you see I'm having a moment here? One more word out of you and I'll have you escorted out." She pulled out a giant wad of white napkins from her apron and threw it at the man. "Here. Clean yerself up. You look like you pissed yer pants."
Usagi watched as the man threw up his hands in surrender and start to wipe at his lap. She was impressed that the young girl, who couldn't be more than a year or two older than her, faced down a grown man obviously well into his cups.
"Ignore him; he's harmless. Come on, you've got to meet my uncle Bruno. I've told him all about you." Molly took Usagi's hand and started to drag her through the crowd, when she was stopped by a man who looked to be in his early twenties, with tan arms that bulged when he crossed them.
"Don't worry 'bout it, Moll. I sent someone to get dad."
Molly introduced the young hottie, "This is my cousin Twitch."
"The one who's good with handcuffs?"
A blush crept up the man's neck and stained his cheeks a dark pink. Usagi flushed in mortification - she hadn't meant it like that - but Molly just laughed along with a few eavesdroppers.
Videl looked between the two girls with bemusement. "You two know each other?"
Molly blinked down at the dark-haired girl. "Videl? Long time no see. Where's that man of yers?" She glanced around as if looking for someone else. Then it hit her, "Wait. You two know each other?" The three of them stared at each other, all shocked that such an unlikely group could be friends.
Usagi could image the other two got along well. They were both tough women who loved to live life to the fullest, even if they were separated by an age gap of ten years. It saddened her to realize that she was the oddity of the trio. With a deep breath, she shoved away her self-pity. Now wasn't the time. She needed advice and who better to give that than a pair of strong women who knew their minds? "Videl dates my older brother."
Molly eyed her critically. "No way ye're related that that fine piece of male flesh. I already told Videl if she ever leaves him, I'll snatch him up in a skinny minute."
Usagi blushed. She didn't want to think about her brother like that.
Videl laughed good-naturedly. "He's my man, so back off. Besides, he doesn't go for jailbait." She leaned back in her chair and eyed the two girls. "So how do you two know each other?"
Usagi shared a weighted look with Molly and hesitated. How was she supposed to explain their meeting without mentioning the warehouse, Trunk's breakdown, or her powers?
Fortunately, Molly answered. "I was in a tight spot and Usagi got me out. She saved my life." Absently, she rubbed her wrists where the handcuffs used to be.
Usagi's voice was pitched low, so only they could hear. "How are you? I mean, really. I've been worried about you and I wanted to make sure you were okay after…" she trailed off, not wanting to say the wrong thing and trigger any bad memories.
Molly looked up and saw the same look that she had seen on her uncle's face when she told him that the Yakuza had taken her. "Nothing like that happened. I had just been brought up to that room, when," here her voice caught and faltered. "When the man left in a hurry. He didn't have a chance to…"
Remembering the bed room, with the stained sheets, Usagi closed her eyes in relief, grateful that her friend hadn't had to suffer in that way. 'Could Trunks and his men be the reason that man left in so quickly? Is he the reason she was spared the ultimate violation?' How could she be mad at him now? It was all becoming so confusing. "I'm glad." Usagi blinked away her tears and gripped her friend's hand tightly.
Before another word could be said, a huge red-haired man with biceps the size of tree trunks standing head and shoulders taller than everyone else marched his way through the crowd. Patrons were quick to scramble out of his way, knowing that it was move or be mowed down. This bear of a man moved like a tank and stopped to loom ominously over their table.
"Uncle Bru! This is the chit I was tellin' ya about."
Usagi gulped when the giant shifted his attention to her. 'I wish Trunks were here right now…'
Suddenly the man bowed formally to her. A hush fell over the crowd at such a rare sight. The owner of the bar rarely showed anyone that level of respect. "I'm grateful to you for returning my girl. You ever need anything, you let me know. Ye hear?" His voice was a deep baritone and gruff, matching the rest of him. His dark brown eyes bored into hers, conveying a depth of emotion that reached beyond gratitude. Usagi slowly nodded. She understood what he couldn't put into words.
The man straightened and glared out over the sea of people. "This is my place, and you won't want for anythin' here. Anyone gives you lip girl, just say the word and I'll have them out on the street quicker 'an a lager turns to piss." He waved over a waitress. "Get their orders; they're on the house." He nodded once and then headed back to the bar.
After the waitress left, Molly snagged a chair from a nearby table and joined them. "That's my uncle, my mother's brother. He takes care of me now."
Usagi looked at her askance. "Where is your mother?"
Molly's happy face dimmed. "She died a long time ago. My dad left when I was young, so my uncle took me in." Her eyes swept across the whole restaurant filled with relaxing, celebrating, laughing people. It was a very positive atmosphere. She loved it here. "This is his place. Ever since I turned 15, I've been helping out as a waitress and earning a little extra spending money." She shrugged nonchalantly. "It's usually great, but ever since I came back," she jerked a thumb over her shoulder and pointed at Twitch who still stood at her back, glaring at anyone who got close to their table. "He sicced my cousin on me. Now I can't go anywhere alone."
Videl decided to get back at the girl for her earlier comment. She slowly eyed the young man from head to toe. "I dunno. I don't think I'd mind him following me around." She wagged her eyebrows suggestively.
Usagi laughed as Molly made a gagging sound. She decided to join in. "Yeah, he can be my stalker any day."
Videl chuckled. "Yeah, right, Usa. Like Trunks would ever let that happen." She eyed the man again. "Twitch here wouldn't stand a chance."
Molly perked up. "Who is this Trunks character?"
"How can you know Usa, but not know Trunks?" Videl was incredulous. Those two were practically joined at the hip. It was rare to find one without the other.
Molly frowned. "I just don't," was her only explanation. "Well?" she turned to the blond girl. "Is he your boyfriend or somethin'?"
Videl watched Usa blush and grinned. "Yeah, Usa. Is he your boyfriend or something?" she parroted, genuinely curious to see if Trunks had finally talked her into being more than just friends.
Usagi scowled at their two expectant faces. "I don't even know if Trunks is my friend right now. I'm so mad at him." She huffed and clinched her fists. "He's treating my family like dirt and expects me to just be okay with that. Then, he turns around and does something sweet. I just don't know what to think anymore." She explained about how Trunks was ignoring Goten and how he beat up on Gohan.
"He did what?!" Videl exploded and almost vaulted out of her chair.
Then Usagi explained how Gohan didn't want her to get mad about that. "I just don't understand guys sometimes."
Molly laughed. "Well I guess it's only fair, 'cause they don't understand us either. Makes communicating real interestin'."
Calm now that she knew Gohan had everything under control, Videl settled back in her chair and rejoined the conversation. However, she still planned to call her boyfriend and demand more details. "It sounds like Trunks is trying to get back in your good graces."
"It sounds like he's a manipulative jerk to me. You should tell him to piss off and find yourself another friend."
Videl disagreed. "It's not that simple, Molly. They live together."
She blinked. "Oh. Well, then."
Usagi shook her head. "He's my best friend. I don't think I could ever ditch him. We've been friends for, like, ever."
Their conversation was put on hold when their food finally came. After the first few bites, Molly had an idea. "Well, he sounds like he's trying to play nice with you. So, my advice is to make him pay for all of the shit he's been pulling with your family."
Videl grinned. "You said he wants you to come home? Well, make him work for that. He needs to prove to you that he's serious. You shouldn't just give in because you're not sure you're justified in your anger. Believe me, he's been a jerk; you're justified."
Usagi seemed overwhelmed by their suggestions.
Molly didn't have a problem getting in to the spirit of things. "You know him better than anyone else. What does he hate more than anything?"
Usagi frowned and considered for a long moment. "He hates to apologize." That grudging apology over the phone still rankled days later.
Videl snorted. "Yeah, he's an arrogant little prick sometimes. He could definitely afford to lose some of that pride." In her opinion princes, especially Saiyajin princes, were born with a stick shoved up their asses.
"Really?" Molly's grin was a little merciless. "Well then make him apologize publically. There's nothing more satisfying than public humiliation. If he apologizes in front of witnesses – a crowd would be better – then you'll know he is serious about his feelings for you."
Videl whooped. "Can I be there? Please?" she begged. If Gohan was as hurt as badly as Usagi said, then she definitely wanted a little retribution.
Usagi was thoughtful. "I need to think about this." Her mind was swimming with ideas. It was nice to know that they supported her anger and understood her hurt feelings. Trunks was always able to make her feel like she was the one overreacting or upset for no reason.
"I remember once, about five years ago, Gohan really messed up and he er…'volunteered' to help with my kick boxing class." Videl smirked with delight remembering how quickly the fighter's arrogance was replaced with fear. "It's an all girl class, and many of those women have anger issues, especially towards men. Gohan was the live practice dummy for our self-defense practice, and he had to just stand there and take it."
"Oooh, that's just evil."
Usagi blinked in shock. "He did that? Gohan?"
Videl grinned. "Yep. And let me tell you, he hasn't stepped out of line since. See? Humiliation is good for the soul; it builds character."
"Five years ago? How long have you two been dating anyway?" Molly asked curiously.
Videl blushed. "A while."
Usagi slowly counted back the years in her head and silently whistled. 'A long while.' Since they were sharing guy stories, she decided to ask a question that had long been debated by the Z senshi. "Why haven't you two tied the knot? After dating so long, surely you've thought about it."
Videl viciously stabbed her straw through the ice of her drink. "I've thought about it, but I don't think Gohan has. Really, though, it doesn't matter. I don't need a stupid ring to tell me how much I love him."
Usagi and Molly shared a look. They could hear through the careful indifference in her voice, and detected the hurt and disappointment underneath. Tentatively, Usagi reached out and grabbed her hand. "You'll always be like a sister to me." Usagi knew that it was nice to have another girl on the Saiyajin outings, and Videl was the only human female who had a prayer of keeping up with their crowd.
The rest of dinner was filled with laughter and outrageous attempts to get Twitch to blush again - most of the suggestive comments revolved around handcuffs. Usagi and Videl finally called it a night when the band started playing and conversation became difficult. At the door, Molly pulled Usagi into a tight hug and gained her promise to visit again to let her know the results of their humiliation plan. They poured out into the street and straight into a rain storm. Since neither of them wanted to fly in inclement weather, they quickly ducked for cover and hurried towards the bus stop that was on the next block over, giggling as they attempted to dodge the freezing raindrops.
Unbeknownst to them, in the shadows of the alley across the street a man bundled tightly against the weather with a dark trench coat, casually lifted a camera and snapped a few pictures of the blonde.
"You're finally home."
Usagi had walked into the apartment slicking off the rain from her face and arms, when Gohan practically pounced on her. 'Was he waiting for me?' Quickly she thought back but couldn't remember any missed plans. "I went out for some girl time. What's wrong?" Her usually calm and collected brother seemed anxious, excited, and worried. It was such a dramatic change that she briefly entertained the thought of possession of evil spirits and alien mind control.
"You're a girl."
She blinked and stared. Carefully, she nodded as if she were talking to a mentally challenged child. "Last I checked. Is that a problem?" Usagi considered going to Videl's apartment, since the longer she was here, the more she believed that females were the saner gender.
"Girls have opinions."
She tilted her head to the side and looked at him as if he had grown a second head, one that was stupid. "Opinions are like assholes; everyone's got one." That was Bulma's favorite saying, especially when she was ranting about the ignorant members of her Board of Directors. "Guys have opinions too."
He paced the length of the living room and ran his fingers through his spiky black hair. On the fourth circuit, she couldn't take it any longer. "Did you need to ask me something?"
Her voice seemed to startle him. "Oh, what?"
Usagi patiently repeated her question and watched as he rapidly paled. He mumbled something under his breath.
"What?" Now they were talking in circles. Soon they would be reduced to mindless babble.
"I need your opinion on something."
Usagi leaned back against the couch and lifted a single eyebrow in inquiry. Whatever it was had to be good if it was reducing her genius brother to simple sentences.
"Girls like flowers, right? And candlelight?" He gulped. "Romance? Who am I kidding, she's just going to laugh and then dump me on the spot." All of the doubts that plagued him throughout the day at work were finally actualized.
"What are you talking about?" Usagi couldn't stand his agitation any longer.
Gohan sucked in a deep breath, threw back his shoulders, and stood as straight as a lance. "I'm thinking about asking Videl to marry me."
"Here, brother." Sapphire threw a slim file folder on the large mahogany desk and watched as it slid across the glossy finish to rest at his brother's fingertips. "This just came in tonight. Our sources would have reported sooner, but she proved difficult to locate."
Diamond kept typing. "What are you bothering me with now?"
"The report you requested on the girl civilian who crashed the Yakuza raid. The one the men are calling Xandra."
"I don't have time, Sapphire. I know you've read it already, so just give me your impressions and then get out."
Sapphire kept his sigh to himself. Apparently his brother was in one of his moods. "She doesn't look the type for anything that isn't strictly straight-laced. She's an innocent. I think it would be a waist of time trying to dig up any dirt to blackmail her with. However, the report was very thorough and gives a lot of insight on Xand. Such insight might prove useful in our future dealings with him."
Diamond rubbed his strained eyes and leaned back in his leather chair. The stubbornness he heard in his brother's voice was all too familiar. He knew that if he didn't give in and actually read the damn report, then Sapphire wouldn't leave him in peace to get any work done. Running an organization with such a large scope that transcended industries and spanned the globe took a lot of time and effort, which was why he was still at the office after hours. With no small amount of irritation, he flipped open the folder and thumbed through the report. A small picture slipped from the loose pages and fluttered face down on his keyboard. Irritated, he snatched it up and gave it a cursory glance, intending to shove it back into the file.
Instead, he jolted and sat up straight in his chair, every hair on his body stood to attention. It was a picture of a petite blond girl stepping out of a bar, laughing as she held a hand out to cup the rain. There was such sweet joy in her expression. He wanted that joy for himself. He knew that he had never met her in his life, but he recognized her on an elemental level. Who was this girl? How could a mere photograph affect him so strongly? Everything about her was entirely too appealing.
At the corner of his vision he saw Sapphire raise an eyebrow at his strange behavior. To avoid suspicion, he attempted to relax and adopt an indifferent expression, but his body was still alert and thrumming with renewed vigor. Diamond tried to read the report, but his gaze kept sliding back to the photo. It was as if his eyes needed confirmation that she was indeed real.
"Of course not," he was quick to reply and snatched the folder close. "Since Xand is our newest general, I think it's imperative that we keep a close eye on his movements outside our influence."
Sapphire nodded gravely, "I'll assign one of our men to-"
"No." Diamond cut him off more sharply than he intended. Something twisted inside of him at the thought of other men watching her. "I'll see to it personally." He slid the report across the table, where Sapphire deftly snatched it up before it fell. "Dismissed."
Sapphire's eyes flicked down and he hesitated, but a lifetime of obeying orders had him quickly bowing himself out of the room.
As soon as the door closed, Diamond followed his brother's gaze and stared, amazed at the photograph still clutched tightly in his fist. For some reason, he hadn't returned it with the rest of the report. There was something intriguing about the girl, something that bothered him about her. He wasn't used to ignoring his instincts. He couldn't deny that this was the first thing to grab his interest in what felt like ages. Gone was the monotony of life, the lackluster daily routine that plagued him of late. He forgot about what he was working on moments ago and mulled over this strange mental shift.
Subconsciously his thumb moved over her face, stroking it affectionately. "Usagi..."
AN: Yay! Done with the chapter. You guys don't know how much I debated and had to revise some of the scenes. I've had most of the chapter written for about a week, but it had to be just right. It ended up being a little longer than last chappy, so I hope you enjoyed and that it was worth the wait. I couldn't resist having a creeper moment at the end - Diamond is so good for that. I hope this chapter gives you a little more insight into Trunks' motivations, Gohan's insecurities, Usagi's growing protectiveness, a reintroduction of Videl's character (we haven't seen her since the World Tournament). My favorite parts of this chappy were Trunks' "god moment", Usagi freaking out when she saw Gohan's face, and Diamond's first visual of Usagi. REVIEW! Give me your thoughts, impressions, input, whatever. I always like hearing what you have to say. Many times your comments help me refine the plot. Next chapter will be more Black Moon.
Jennifer - Thanks for being a fan for years!
Angel715 - You're right in that there relationship isn't the healthiest, so there's still lots of room for improvement. Lots more Diamond/Usa moments to come. Promise.
Crystal Magic - :) Just wait and see (few chapters)
CrescentB - Thanks for your enthusiasm! Reading your review made me grin and inspired me to get to work so that I wouldn't disappoint.
Artemesia-hime - I'm glad you liked it! Usagi isn't going to cave, she's going to make him work for it! ;-P
xoxSernityxox - yeah, there was a lot more cursing in this chapter. I would say sorry, but I think guys around that age (my brother did at least) like to curse because it makes them feel more manly. They're about 15 or so now, Goten around 14.
Ren - Thanks for the compliments! I've tried very hard to blend the worlds and keep everything semi-realistic. Lots more BMC to come. Thanks for sticking with me for so long!
JoWashington, angel313, mavrik014, otepbunni - Thank you for your reviews and your welcome!
Guest - I made this chapter long as well so that you could get another good look into the plot. Diamond's got his own plans up his sleeve, don't you worry. Thanks for your input, it definitely spawned a few new ideas and got me thinking. :) I think those are the best kind of reviews so thanks again!
Guest - Diamond and Usagi's first face-to-face is going to change some things. Thanks for rereading; I put a lot of small details in that I always wonder if readers will catch on the first read. As for your other questions, wait and see. :)
Notonceagain - Wow. 2007. . Thank you so much. It really means a lot when readers stick with me that long. I know its not easy 'cause I'm not the fastest writer. :) Thank you for the amazing compliments! I'm glad that you like the detail and I try to make each scene significant (although considering how long this story is getting, I don't think I'm always successful).
Saris Yui - I don't think I could ever forget this story. I hope this explains a little more about why Usagi might not be too excited about their developing relationship. Don't worry, she'll eventually come around, as long as Trunks doesn't keep messing up.
Guest - She's going to learn more as the story progresses, and as she keeps faces her issues, her confidence will keep growing.
Ivy Tearen - I'm glad you like my writing style. I try not to make it too wordy, but (looks down at page count) after 18 pages, I think I failed. Oh well.
Guest - You are totally right about the wrong things. Isn't it funny how people justify their actions?
OceanTide - I chuckled when I read your review. I hope this helps explain a little more about Usagi's feelings. As for your other questions...I'm not telling yet, but I will answer your questions in the coming chapters.
Eloyse - Thank you for following my story from the beginning and reviewing! I'm glad you liked the last chapter and that all of the characters made sense - sometimes its hard when they're so fantastical. Thank you for your lengthy review! It made my day.
Sesshy's Mistress - :) I'm sorry my cliffhanger broke your heart.
Tanaraza - I'm so happy that you can identify with these characters on an emotional level. Thank you for leaving me a review when you don't normally. (I don't think your review was blubbery :))
Jacque Nicole - If you think my plot elements are riveting, that that means I'm doing something right. Thank you for the lovely review. I hope this chapter kept you addicted.
Princesakarlita411 - Sorry no Goku in this chapter, but I put in Videl. Hope that was a good second choice. Don't worry, Goten and Goku are coming.
For everyone else out there, thank you for reading and please review. I love the input. If I missed anyone on the responses, I apologize. Until next chappy!