Disclaimer – Are you kidding? I don't even own my CAR! (Let alone anything that has to do with Dragonball, although a girl can dream)

Author's Notes – I started this story AGES ago, and decided to post it in order to give myself a little kick in the butt to get it done. As far as timelines go… um… can I ask you to just roll with it? This story doesn't really fit into any timeline, kinda like some of the movies, you know? And yeah, the corresponding ages between the kids… roll with that too, pretty please?

Oh, and I guess I should mention that this entire story came from several songs on the album Fear by Toad the Wet Sprocket. The songs just kept giving me inspiration.

Hope you like.

The Long Road Home

Chapter One

How can it happen that every time

You ask us this question the answer seems like a lie

You know what we're saying and you know what it means

And it's always sincere god knows

But it never gets through to where you need

-Before You Were Born

Toad the Wet Sprocket

Goten shook his head as he watched his father devouring the majority of the food set on the table. The teenage demi-saiyan glanced around the room to discover that he wasn't the only person watching his father's display in fascination. Next to him, Trunks was trying not to burst into laughter. Bulma and ChiChi were just smiling; it was nothing they hadn't seen several times before. Gohan was pretty much ignoring the display. Videl and Pan were rapt, watching the food virtually vacuumed up. Vegeta was snarling and grumbling under his breath while blocking Goku's roaming hands from his own plate. Bra was just giggling at the far end of the table.

All in all it was a happy scene. The Briefs and Sons didn't get together very often, it wasn't often that they were all alive and healthy, so it was always a celebration. Of course heaps of food had to be prepared to feed the Saiyans and demi-Saiyans, but it was always worth it. Goten laughed under his breath and went back to eating his own meal. Trunks kicked his shin under the table causing him to turn.

His best friend simply made a face and flicked a pea at Goten and hooted in triumph when it smacked him right between the eyes. With a wicked smirk, Goten filled his spoon with rice and prepared to take revenge. However, his eyes happened to fall on his mother prior to launch and the look on her face made him concede the war before it began. Shrugging, he shoved the spoonful of rice into his mouth instead.

Suddenly… an unfamiliar ki spiked nearby and Goten's spoon clattered to the table. A quick glance showed that Vegeta and his father where already on their feet and exchanging a knowing glance. A grin was working its way across Goku's face and Goten wondered what his father was sensing that he wasn't. That's when Gohan jumped to his feet and hooted in laughter.

"Oh man! I don't believe it! Trunks!"

Goten turned to his best friend, but Trunks looked startled as well.

"Gohan? What about Trunks? He's right here…"

His older brother laughed and began to walk quickly towards the door. Goku and Vegeta had already beaten him there.

"Not our Trunks, Goten… Mirai Trunks. He's back!"

Goten and Trunks exchanged a curious glance, then rushed out after their quickly disappearing fathers. Behind them, they could hear Bulma gathering everyone else up and rushing out to her Capsule copter.

Vegeta took to the air quickly. He recognized the future Trunks ki immediately, but why had it surged like that? That never happened before when he came back to help with the androids and Cell. What was going on? Was there another danger?

Goku seemed to be thinking similarly to the Saiyan Prince, because he wasn't using his instant transmission. He was staying with the group, just in case. Mirai Trunks seemed to be a couple miles south of the city. Actually… he was very near to the place where they fought Cell so many years ago. Gohan recognized that fact almost immediately and wondered why Trunks hadn't gone directly to Capsule Corp.

A couple strong ki signatures spiked around them, but those were recognizable. The others had obviously felt what they had. Piccolo was closing in fast. Tien and Yamcha were approaching from the south and Kryllin and 18 where coming up behind the Sons and Briefs.

Goten blinked as he stared in the distance. A large billow of smoke was appearing. He glanced to Trunks at his side. They'd heard some stories about Mirai Trunks, but didn't know much about him really. Everyone seemed to be reluctant to talk about him. Gohan told Goten that it kind of made him sad to think of Mirai Trunks and all he had lost, and how he went back to such a desolate future. Goten always got the impression that his big brother had wished Trunks had stayed in this timeline.

They were practically on top of the smoke now, but he couldn't make out what had caused it. Vegeta and his father were already dropping towards the ground. The ki signature still seemed to be there, very faintly, but he couldn't see anyone. As he and Trunks dropped to the ground behind their fathers, Goten heard Gohan asking Vegeta a question.

"You don't think he was in there when it exploded do you?"

Goten scooted forward and looked closer at the pile of smoking metal debris. It used to be some kind of machine. Vegeta didn't answer the question, simply took a couple steps forward.

"Boy? You in there?"

There was no answer. Kryllin and 18 suddenly touched ground beside him.

"Hey guys… is that what I think it is?"

Gohan nodded.

"Yeah, it's the time machine, alright… but it's destroyed."

A deep voice startled Goten from behind.

"You don't think he was inside do you?"

Goten glanced behind him. He hadn't even heard Piccolo touch down. The namek was just there. A sweep of the area showed that Tien and Yamcha were there as well. Goten knew Yamcha fairly well, he visited every once in a while, mostly when Vegeta wasn't around… but Tien was someone he'd only heard about and seen at the tournaments. The triclops met his eye and smiled slightly and Goten quickly looked away.

Vegeta and Goku were standing right beside the smoldering machine now. Goku was scratching his head and looking thoroughly confused.

"I don't get it, Vegeta, I can still sense him… but… he's not here."

Vegeta crossed his arms and scowled at the smoke.

"He's moved on… I think it's just a residue of his energy we're sensing."

Gohan stepped forward.

"But he would have sensed us coming… why wouldn't he stay?"

Piccolo moved to agree when the voice of a frantic teenage namek intruded his thoughts.

Piccolo! Help!

Dende? What's wrong?

It's… it's Trunks… he's here… and he's really angry!


So what do we think so far? Funny, when I started this I never even conceived that Goten would be one of the main characters. Strange how stories write themselves sometimes.