Here I am. Wow. I wouldn't even be following this story anymore if I were a fan. It's been deader than dead for years. Life and all that, you know? I turned into one of those authors. Who has this epic story and then just leaves it hanging and never finishes it. So in order to try and balance some karma, here I am trying to finish this.

The Drummer's March

Chapter 14

I barely had time to register Dad being gone before he was back. Trunks was with him, looking incredibly surprised and a little scared. I didn't know what was going on and I was still mad at him but Trunks was never scared and that was more upsetting than anything else put together.

Not knowing what else to do I held out the glass still in my hand. "Do you want some lemonade?"

Trunks looked at me then, and things seemed to fall apart. He started to laugh but then reached toward me and when I grabbed his arm, he just crumpled. In my entire life I had never seen Trunks cry. Never. Not when he was stung by a bee, not when his dad beat the crap out of him 'training'.

I held onto him, and looked up at Dad helplessly.

He crouched down next to us, smoothing Trunks hair. "I'll find out what's going on."

"Dad?" He was already standing though, and I could tell he was furious. "I have to go talk to Piccolo. I won't be gone long. Take care of Trunks, Goten. He really needs his best friend right now."

I nodded and held Trunks tighter.

"I'm going to throttle that green neck of yours, Piccolo. I mean it this time."

Trunks looked up as a man suddenly appeared in the courtyard of the tower. He crackled energy, and Trunks nearly jumped back in defense before he realized he recognized the person.

"Master Gohan?" Trunks shook his head, to clear the image. No, most definitely not. However, it was Gohan, but a strangely intense version that he couldn't reconcile with his memories of the boy he last saw.

He was radiating power, and the Saiyan in Trunks couldn't help but wonder if he was throttling back or if this was all of it. Either way it was much stronger than he remembered, probably stronger than Goku and definitely stronger than his father.

Trunks raised his hand in a wave but Gohan didn't seem to notice him. He was intent on bearing down upon the two Nameks.

"You meddling, manipulating old fart." He spun and pointed a finger at Dende, "And you! I can't believe you agreed to this. You're getting to be just as bad as Piccolo. You can't go yanking people around as if they have no say in the matter."

"It worked last time, didn't it?" Trunks was interested by how smug Piccolo appeared.

Gohan's fury suddenly seemed to disappear and the icy calm that was left was even more terrifying. "There is a huge difference between what happened last time and what you have done now. You had no right to do this, you do not get to play God with people's lives and you certainly don't get to mess with an innocent child's emotions."

Piccolo appeared a little chagrined by this announcement and Dende actually squirmed.

"You tell Vegeta and Bulma, if they come near my house or the two boys there will be blood. And it won't be mine."

Trunks stepped forward a little and coughed, not really wanting to draw attention to himself but feeling some answers were definitely needed.

Gohan turned then, appraising him slowly without a hint of any welcome. "The same goes for you."

And then he was gone.

Trunks gulped and gave the Nameks a shaky laugh, "Phew, you didn't tell me about the welcome wagon."

Piccolo sighed heavily, "A lot has happened. Come inside and I'll explain, Vegeta and Bulma will be here shortly, I'm sure."

After Dad left, I shifted and tried to get Trunks to look at me. He'd stopped shaking but he still had my shirt clenched in his fist. "So about that lemonade…"

He laughed then, a small weak one but it didn't result in a melt down so I chalked that up in the plus category. He let go of my shirt and sprawled backwards on the ground, throwing an arm up to cover his face. "Sorry."

"Dude, I think you're entitled to at least one breakdown after everything that's happened. Happening?" I nudged his hand with the cold glass and he sat up to take it. His eyes were red and puffy and I looked away not wanting to embarrass him any more than he was already.

"I'm sorry about what I said the other day, too. I was being a jerk. You know me, just following the family footsteps, hit him low and dirty when you fight."

"That's not you. You don't always fight like that. Besides, I was a jerk too. Peace?" I offered a fist and he nodded and bumped it with his own. My stomach chose that moment to growl and I grinned. "You hungry?"

He gave me a weak smile in return. "Starving. Mom sent me up to my room without dinner, next thing I know there's this weird energy, my dad is storming into my room and then you're dad is there." He shook his head, "I have no idea what is going on."

I stood up, brushing dirt off my pants and then offering him a hand up. "I don't either but barbecue ribs will help. We haven't eaten yet, so there's still plenty."

"Serious? The kind your dad makes with the blackberry jam?"

I nodded and he took off running. "What are you waiting for? Come on!"

"Make sure you save some for me."

I spun around and Dad caught me before I could knock us both over. "Hey, I told you I'd be back."

"Did Piccolo know what's going on?" I looked up and he smiled, though it didn't quite reach his eyes.

"Tell you what, how about we go eat dinner and then I'll explain afterward."

I didn't really want to wait but I could tell he'd made up his mind. "Besides, if we don't get in there, Trunks will have eaten all the ribs and you'll be left with nothing but salad for dinner."

I yelped and let go, turning to dash inside. "Trunks! You'd better leave some for me!"

Piccolo didn't get a chance to explain what was going on before Bulma and Vegeta arrived. Trunks was happy to see them, though confused as well.

"My son! Look how tall and handsome you're getting!" Bulma threw her arms around him and he hugged her back. Vegeta stood apart, hands in his pockets but looking as pleased as he ever did.

"Mom! Dad! Hi!" He turned toward Piccolo hoping for some kind of explanation and for a second could swear the Namek looked guilty. "What's going on? Is everything alright?"

"I don't know why you're here, but it's good timing." Vegeta looked at Piccolo suspiciously. "I could use a real sparring partner for a change."

Trunks looked around in confusion. "What happened to your Trunks? Don't you two spar together?" This time Trunks definitely didn't miss the wince Dende made or the scowl on Piccolo. He was starting to get really concerned. Gohan had been furious about something and it had to do with his parents. And him apparently. Or at least, the him in this timeline. Trunks was no stranger to fear and anger but what he had felt from Gohan was completely different. He had seen Trunks as a threat.

"Uh…it's great to see you guys but I need to talk to Piccolo for a second. I'll stop by your place in a bit. Okay?" He grabbed Piccolo's arm and hustled him inside the Lookout, making sure the door was shut securely before spinning around and glaring.

"What the hell is going on here?"

I could hear Dad on the phone with the school counselor. I knew they were talking about our suspension and possible expulsion. It seemed like ages ago since that had happened. It was probably for the best we weren't allowed to go to school right now, Trunks wasn't exactly in the best frame of mind for sitting and taking in lectures on stuff he mostly knew already.

Neither of us really cared if we were expelled, we'd just end up at a different school somewhere else, or home-schooled. Which actually sounded a lot more bearable in the long run.

Bulma probably wouldn't let Trunks do it though. She'd see it as him giving up and that wasn't an option in the Brief household. I scowled and stirred my oatmeal, wishing the worst of our problems was trying to think of a convincing argument for never going back to school.

Dad had explained last night that Piccolo had brought the Trunks from the future, here to our time. That's what that other ki had been. Why it had been so familiar but different. Trunks had been pretty quiet throughout dinner and then just shrugged. "So they get the son they've always wanted. Nice thinking, Piccolo." And then he'd gone up to my room and climbed into bed and pretended to sleep.

I don't think either of us did much actual sleeping but his back was turned to me when I got up that morning. I'd finally staggered downstairs when the sun started to hit the horizon. I'd been awake all night torn between wanting to kill this other Trunks and thinking of all the vicious things I'd like to say to Vegeta and Bulma.

"I think if you wanted to eat glue for breakfast it's reached the right consistency." I looked up, startled, when the spoon was plucked out of my hand. Dad was standing next to me looking down at my bowl of oatmeal in disgust. I glanced down at it and realized I'd stirred it into a thick grey paste.

"Damn." I suddenly felt like crying, which was stupid. Who cries over a bowl of gross oatmeal?

Dad must have realized something was wrong because he pulled me up and into a hug, running his hand through my hair. "I've got you."

I shuddered and buried my face in his chest, partly disgusted with myself for acting like a child and yet so incredibly glad he was there. He kissed my head and held me close, making soothing noises. He didn't tell me it was going to be okay. He's never lied to me and we both knew this was a crappy situation.

"Did you get any sleep last night?" He continued to rub circles on my back and I shook my head, not wanting to look up and not able to talk.

"Here's what we're going to do." He pulled back a little and kissed my forehead, gently wiping tears away with his thumbs. "I'm going to go get Trunks because I know he's not asleep. Then I'm going to make pancakes and you're both going to eat at least ten. Then you're going to take a bath and go back to bed. Okay?"

I nodded, some of the anxiety easing and being replaced with exhaustion. He smiled and gently pushed me back into the chair. I buried my head in my arms on the table and let myself doze off. Dad would try to fix this.