A Stronghold

Rated T

Disclaimer: I won absolutely nothing! All belongs to Funimation and whoever created Dragon Ball Z.

Summary: Vegeta is about to face Majin Buu for what he thinks is the last time. How can he get all of his thoughts and regrets into words as he hugs his son for the third and last time in Trunks young life?

A/N: I was watching Atonement for the kazillionth time and had a sudden inspiration to write this. I know this shot has been a bit overdone, but this one's a bit different. I tried my best to keep Vegeta in character as much as possible, so let me know how I did! Please review!

It was odd, really, how everything worked out in the end, especially when you don't see it coming. Like being born a prince, raised as slave under the rule of a universal tyrant, hopping planets, dying, and somehow becoming a family man. Who could have ever predicted that Vegeta, Prince of Saiyans and one of the most powerful fighters in the universe, could and would end up with a beautiful wife that, loved –yes, actually loved- him, and son any father would be proud to have?

Vegeta stood in the middle of the flat in the rocky canyon, blood trickling over every inch of his skin, and these were his thoughts. His white-blonde, flaming hair swayed gently with the dry wind, aquamarine eyes staring down the horizon for any sign of his foe. He tried to keep the thought of his only son on the battlefield away from his mind, tried to suppress the swell of worry inside his chest. Trunks could definitely take care of himself.

He should have felt humiliated. Having to be saved! And by two children nonetheless! Something must be wrong with him, for he felt no such thing. What had happened to him? He didn't no when or how that he changed, but he knew it had happened.

Maybe it was when he had moved in with that annoying human woman, though if she died now, he'd probably kill himself over it. Bulma . . . Oh, what she did to him! Knowing now what he must do, he wished he could see her, touch her one last time. He didn't know how he first got involved with her either. It just sort of . . . happened.

"You know what? I'm not fixing that damn machine again! It's your fault it's broken, maybe you should learn to fix it!" Bulma yelled at him, blue hair falling in her face. She pulled it back behind her ears, and then those puny fingers symbolically strangled air.

"How dare you speak to me in such ways, woman! I am the Prince of all Saiyans and could kill you in a second!" Vegeta yelled back, hands balled in fury. She rolled her azure eyes dramatically, face flushing with anger and teeth clenching. She stomped angrily around the living room, clumsily hitting the corner of the coffee table. She cursed loudly, gingerly rubbing her calf. She didn't bother to pick up the magazines she had knocked to the floor.

"Why are such an asshole! You could at least say please! And my name is BULMA!" She screamed in his ear as she came closer. His sensitive ears rang briefly when she stopped. His anger grew.

"I will call you what-" He felt something soft and warm on his lips. With eyes wide, he watched her pull away from his lips. Did she—Did she just kiss him?

Her own eyes were just as wide, as if she couldn't believe it either. She nervously wrung her hands, and her pale cheeks grew ever redder. She stepped back hastily, but shock still overtook Vegeta's mind. Did she just kiss him?

And before he could register the first one, she was kissing him again, harder. Her slender arms wrapped around his neck and pulled him closer. Instinct brought his hands to her waist, crushing her against him, but she didn't mind. Her fingers were tangled in his hair as his lips trailed hot kisses down her heavenly neck. Then she was far away again, brushing her hair away from her face. His arms were still stretched out, as if he were still holding her.

Rejection. He felt it pumping it's way through his blood stream. Foolishness. Rejection. Distrust. Hate. He grew angry again. She had made him appear a fool, to weak to push away the affections of a woman. He growled.

"I'm sorry! I'm reacting to stress inappropriately," she said, breathing heavily and rubbing her cheeks.

"Woman . . ." He growled beneath his breath, entirely ready to tear her apart limb by limb. But then she was kissing him again, more passionately than ever, and all anger was forgotten.

Yes, he remembered that day. She hadn't left him a lone since. The corner of Vegeta's lip quirked up in a half-smirk, and felt the product of that relationship's ki behind him.

He was doing the right thing, not that it mattered. He never did the right thing. In fact, logic suggested he should be doing the opposite right now. But he wasn't, and he was still standing there, reminiscing.

He was doing the right thing. Not for the first time, though, he hoped he was doing the right thing.

"I want you to take good care of your mother," he said after carefully choosing his words.

How does one say everything you wished you had said earlier? If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you say or do? Would you tell your wife those three words she has always longed to hear, but you were too proud to mumble? Would you embrace your only child, a miracle in itself, and tell him just how proud you really were: the words he had strived to earn his entire life?

But he had only few precious minuets, moments. How does a stubbornly proud Prince admit everything kept quiet for his own sake to two children as he signed his death warrant?

"Why would you say that? Dad, are you going somewhere?" Immediate refusal and resistance. Definitely the offspring of Vegeta. He had never told anyone, although he knew Bulma suspected, how much he loved his new title. Dad. Not father, as he had called his own, but Dad. Personalized, honorable, and loving. It blew his mind.

Bulma was yelling again. This time she was crying, too. Sobbing and screaming at him.

"You pompous, ruthless, arrogant, back-stabbing jerk! Get out of here! Get out of my house!" She yelled, tears drowning her flushed face. She pushed and shoved him, but she couldn't make him budge if he didn't want to. He was angry too, but she had a reason this time.

He had left. Taken off at the first sign of a setback in his training. She was pregnant. Almost three months then, when he had left. He was so distracted by her by her growing belly, suffocating thoughts tearing him apart. Parenthood was not meant for warriors such as he. For so long all he had was his fighting, his power. He couldn't deal with it.

So he fled. He was cowardly. He had subconsciously praised her for being so much stronger than him. Birthing and raising a baby on her own, with only her parents for her help. Trunks (silly name!) had turned well enough for a Saiyan child raised by humans, despite his purple hair and blue eyes.

Bulma was homicidal. Cell was gone and defeated, and so far, he didn't know what to do in the peace. If you could call this peace.

"I don't ever want to see your sniveling, Saiyan ass ever again!" She slapped his shoulder again. The brat slept next door. The walls were thin enough to hear him crying. Trying to keep his own anger in check (very unlike Vegeta), he jabbed his finger towards the opposing wall, and his other hand grabbed her delicate wrist to stop her incessant poundings.

"You're going to wake the brat up!" He harshly whispered, giving her a short jerk.

"Oh, like you care Vegeta! It's not like you would do anything about if that did happen!" She wrenched herself away from his tight grip. Although, he had always been careful with her. Not intentionally being gentle, but being wary of his strength as to not harm her. He shouldn't have cared at all.

Bulma seemed to give up. She took big, gasping breaths, crying and tearing ever more. She sank onto the edge of her bed – their bed – and her hands shielded her face. Her chest heaved as she struggled fro breath. He approached her reluctantly and grabbed her hands, bringing them down from her face. She grabbed his waist weakly, drawing him closer and leaning her head tiredly upon his abdomen.

"I've missed you. Gods, I've missed you so much!" Bulma mumbled loudly, tightening her arms around his hips. He wouldn't admit his own misery at their separation. It would be all the weaker, despite how he had longed for her touch, skin on skin, her skilled fingers along his back.

"I know," was all he could say. All he would say. This made her stand up with a sigh. She didn't look at him but grabbed his hand and lead him from the room. He was anxious she would lead him outside and tell him to leave again, but she turned away from the stairs in the opposite direction. Towards the brat's room.

"I want you to meet our son, Vegeta," she whispered as he stopped in the hall, refusing to move another inch. This wasn't his son from the future who was aged and could fight and retaliate against him. "You owe me at least that."

They were inside the room by the crib. The infant was sleeping soundly on his back. Bulma skillfully leaned over and lifted the babe from his bed, blankets and all. She held Trunks protectively against her bosom, rocking him ever so slightly. She brushed away light purple strands and kissed his cheeks. She then showed Vegeta how to properly hold the boy and slipped him into his arms.

It was . . .amazing. The child curled against his chest and continued sleeping, as if he knew he was safe in his father's arms. Even though he had never been held by this strange man that he recognized somehow.

Vegeta stared down at Trunks in awe. He was so little! So little yet so strong as he gripped Vegeta's thumb. He could feel his son's heartbeat and small breaths. He and that beautiful, irritating woman had created this little being. Just a pinch between his finger and thumb could swiftly end this tiny life without hesitation.

A strong sense of pride filled his body as he cradled his son, Trunks. He knew he would protect this boy with his life, if need be. He was a father.

"I want you two to leave and get far away from here. As for Buu, I'll fight him alone." Why won't you leave already? Get out of here! Get to safety! Leave so I won't have to say those damning words!

"Don't do that!" Kakarot's brat. Two innocent and goofy like his father. Like his dad.

"Goten's right, we'll fight with you! You don't want to get killed, do you? You've got to let us help you Dad! You in?" Trunks turned to his friend. Trunks got that tone of voice from his mother, who would always chastise Vegeta for refusing help. He almost laughed. He'd probably seem insane. Maybe now wasn't the best time to laugh.

"Yeah!" Goten exclaimed.

"See? We're with you!" Trunks hung around Goten too much. He's rubbing off on him, making him caring and self-sacrificing and outgoing. He never wanted his son to do what he was doing right now, no matter what noble cause drove him. He wondered what his own dead father, King Vegeta, was thinking right now as he watched his son become noble and righteous. He was probably to shocked to be thinking anything.

Actually, he'd most likely be ashamed: Saiyans never acted so weak.

"Stop it! It's too dangerous for you two. I will finish this by myself." The boy was stubborn as his mother! Just leave!

"Come on!" Goten put in. "It'll be easier to beat him with me and Trunks!"

"We'll gang up on him! He won't know what him!" Trunks was never much of a fair fighter. But then again, neither was he.

"Yeah, we're tough! We could even beat that big blob without your help! Right Trunks?"

"Yeah!"

"We might even do better than you did!" They both gasped and covered theirs moths, wishing they could take back their words. Vegeta wasn't a man who tolerated strikes against his pride or his power. Their sudden fear was correctly founded, but Vegeta was not angry.

He realized now how naïve they really were. They don't know anything. They haven't seen anything. He intended to keep it that way.

Was that really the last time he had held his son? When he was still in infancy and couldn't remember anything? What a retched father he truly was, to never touch his own son.

No, wait! There was another time . . .

"Trunks, baby, please stop crying!" Bulma whined with frustration. The bawling three-year-old in her arms clung to her neck and tightened his knees around her stomach. She held her cell phone to her ear, trying to speak with her secretary, and she was gathering her things to head over to the office. Little Trunks was beginning to crumple her business suit.

"Trunks, I know you don't feel good – Wait, no Anita! Yes, yes, I'm coming in! What? What time is it?" Bulma glanced at the clock on the wall. 8:40. "Damn it!" she cursed under her breath. "Yeah I'm coming right now." She hung up her cell phone.

Vegeta entered the kitchen and headed straight for the giant stack of pancakes and eggs that Mrs. Briefs had ready for him. He ignored the screaming brat and exhausted woman as best he could, but the rush of noise reeked havoc on his sensitive ears.

"Ah, Vegeta, a little help here?" Bulma walked up to her and attempted to dump Trunks in his arms, but the toddler clung onto his mother tightly and continued to wail. Mrs. Briefs trotted outside to work in her precious garden.

"Your on your own, woman," Vegeta announced and started digging into his breakfast.

"Vegeta, please! I'm late for a conference!" She tried again, yelling over Trunks loud sobs. He rolled his eyes and stepped up to the child.

"Trunks! Shut UP!" Vegeta screamed in the boy's face. He immediately fell silent, blue eyes wide and his tear-stained face red. He audibly gulped once faced with his father's anger. Bulma pried her son's limps from her body and handed him to Vegeta. It wasn't rare for him to hold his son in passing while his wife did something or other before taking him back again.

"Thank you so much! Now, I really have to go, I'm late! But remember, Trunks has the flu. He has a fever, so try to get that to go down. He probably won't want to eat anything, but if something sounds good to him make it. Thank you so much Vegeta!" Bulma said all of this abnormally fast. She kissed Trunks warm forehead, smoothing back his purple bangs. She was saying "be a good boy for your dad, okay? Bye honey." She kissed Vegeta's cheek, grabbed her purse and left.

Vegeta watched her leave, slightly shocked. She had never just left him standing there with Trunks before. He turned his gaze upon the boy, who was staring at him intently. His face was wet, but he wasn't crying any more. They stared each other in the eye for quite some time.

"My tummy hurts," Trunks broke the silence. Vegeta was lost for words. Or actions. And then, without warning, the brat dropped his head on his father's shoulder and closed his eyes. He was out in seconds.

Was he supposed to put him down? Put him in his bed? Vegeta eyed his breakfast with mourning eyes before entering the living room and plopping down on the couch distastefully. A day without training for sure.

He tried prying the child off him to lay him down on the couch, but Trunks wouldn't let go, even in sleep. He could do this!

Trunks moaned, his face scowling. He automatically curled into Vegeta's hard stomach, grabbing fistfuls of his gi. Remembering what he had seen his wife do, he sprawled a hand across the boy's back and rubbed it awkwardly. Almost immediately his moans ceased and were supplanted with low-pitched purrs.

Vegeta's eyebrows rose in surprise. Did he purr too? He hoped not!

Soon, his hand was rubbing Trunks tiny back rhythmically and subconsciously, and he watched his on . . . contentedly. It was relaxing, really. All was quite except for the toddler's breathing, and Trunks was so trusting.

Vegeta decided he should do this more often, when Trunks was asleep.

Vegeta grimaced with reminder of that day. The rest of the day had not gone so well, as Trunks had vomited on him and was incessantly annoying. He never had held Trunks again. Maybe he had just never gotten around to it. That's what he told himself.

How pathetic, he hadn't held his son since he was three! Here was his last chance, and he was going to take it!

"Trunks, you are my only son, yet I haven't held you once since you were a baby, have I? Come here son." Trunks shuffled to him uncertainly, trying to decipher why Vegeta was being so out of character. Vegeta wrapped an arm around the back of Trunks' head, his fingers lightly gripping the boy's shoulder.

"Dad? What's wrong?" Trunks voice was muffled by Vegeta's abs. Trunks did reach up to hug him, but he wasn't expected to. Instead, his hands just barely grabbed the fabric that hung from his dad's legs, and let his head rest on Vegeta's body. "This is embarrassing. Come one, Dad. Cut it out," is what he said, but both knew that this wasn't true. Both conveniently ignored little Goten.

Trunks knew it would mean his death if his father knew that he did remember that time when he was three, and he found it very similar to the hug he was receiving now. He knew he was safe, here in his father's arms. A stronghold that no one in the entire universe could breach.

"Trunks, there's something you must know," Vegeta spoke. He replayed in his head the fight between his son and Kakarot's, how equal they were, yet Trunks had won. And when Trunks had kicked the ass of that buffoon, Hercule. He'd never been more satisfied with how Trunks had turned out. But Trunks was also aggravatingly stubborn, and would likely refuse to leave this battlefield. It would take more than mere persuasion.

"You've made me proud, my son." His eyes glowed as Trunks stared up at him in awe and disbelief, his own eyes smiling brightly. He had done it! He had earned his father's love. And Vegeta definitely loved family, even if he never said it. And with a sense of finality, he drove the side of his hand into his son's neck, rendering him unconscious. Trunks gasped and his eyes rolled back. Golden, gravity-defying hair became limp and lavender, and Trunks fell to the ground.

Almost at once, Goten erupted in fury and shock. "What did you do to him! Why did you do that, what's wrong with you! Why did you do that to Trunks? You might've killed him! WHY?"

Vegeta ignored his naïve little indignant cries. He could feel that goopy blob nearby, probably recovering from whatever blow his son had given him. Goten ran up and shook his hips, still quite upset.

"You're his dad! Dads aren't supposed to do bad things to their sons! Why, why did you hit him? Why?" Goten exclaimed one last time, until Vegeta knelt down and delivered a shuddering uppercut to the seven-year-old's stomach. He, too, down charged from his Super Saiyan form and fell into black sleep.

Piccolo was getting closer. It didn't take him long to reach them. The Namek always seemed to know what to do. Vegeta and he thought on very parallel lines, but that was not something Vegeta wanted to recognize at the moment. He didn't need any more distractions.

Suddenly, Majin Buu appeared about three hundred yards from where they stood. The big balloon was frowning. What a stupid creature!

"Me big mad! Which guy hit Buu?" His voice didn't care very far, but both the Saiyan and the Namek had sensitive hearing.

Without turning to meet with his brother-in-arms, Vegeta spoke, "Take the two boys as far away from here as possible." No use in doing this just to kill them too.

"Of course." That was what Piccolo had come to do anyway. He sympathized with Vegeta at this moment, having a brief understanding of what he was doing and why. With one arm he picked up the Goku look-alike, and with the other lifted Vegeta's child into his grasp. Buu hopped from toe to toe, drawing ever nearer.

"It's time, hurry!" Vegeta ordered. Piccolo was not yet finished, though.

"You'll die, you know that," Piccolo said in low tones. Silently, he was amazed at the Prince's change from the demeanor he had carried so long. Vegeta didn't respond with words, but his body language told all. Of course he already knew. That was why he had to do this.

"There is one thing I'd like to know," Vegeta said as Piccolo started to turn away from him. Piccolo's ears perked. "Tell me, will I meet that clown Kakarot in the other world?" That was not the question he had really been expecting.

"I'm not going to lie to you Vegeta, but the answer may be difficult for you to hear," Piccolo started, mulling over the right words. He wasn't in the mood to make Vegeta angry with him. Vegeta being mad at anyone never turned out good.

"This is the truth. Goku dedicated his life to protecting the lives of others. Because of his selflessness, when he died, he was allowed to keep his body and travel to King Kai's planet.

"You, on the other hand, have spent your life in pursuit of your own selfish desires. You've cause too much pain. When you die, you will not receive the same reward," Piccolo explained in the harshness that was prone to his deep voice. Vegeta never liked pity anyway.

Vegeta did not think much of this. After all, he was not killing himself to save his spirit. This went far beyond himself. "Of well, so be it. Now get out of here. And hurry!" Piccolo flew off quickly, just as Buu got close.

"You stay! You fight Buu!" Buu pointed his big glove and the shrinking green alien, and the Prince almost panicked. He had to get the monster's attention back on himself, ensuring the safety of those two brats.

"Yes!" he exclaimed, as if Buu had been talking to him. "You're fight is with me. The others are of no concern to you! Got it? You big, bloated, balloon freak!" Vegeta shouted. Majin Buu blew steam through the holes on his body in anger.

"Me no like you! Buu mad! You talk mean to Buu! Me make you hurt bad! Buu get big mad, now Buu want fight!" The thing replied in all its pink glory. It reminded him of that horrible shirt his woman had once made him wear. He inwardly grimaced at the thought.

"I think I finally understand you. Let's go!" He anticipated the fight anxiously, almost shivering with excitement.

"You look tasty! I make you chocolate, or maybe make you cracker and cheese!" Buu thought out loud. Again with the food threats!

"You are a fool. I'm going to crush you and throw you into the wind!" Vegeta yelled. Powering up golden waves of energy swirled around him, and he felt his own power surging beneath his skin. Trunks, Bulma, my family. I do this for you. And yes, even for you, Kakarot.

The end!

A/N: So, did I do good? Was Vegeta too OC? Let me know. Please review! Thanks.