Disclaimer: Characters and seetings are the property of Akira Toriyama, I'm just borrowing them for a bit of non-profit entertainment.
"What's kindergarten like, Trunks-kun?" Goten asked curiously. Goten was a little disappointed that Trunks was going somewhere he couldn't; he was a year too young; the nearest school was much too far away for Chichi's comfort and besides she didn't trust her youngest to remember the limits of human durability when surrounded by several dozen children his own age; but even if he couldn't go Goten intended to get the full scoop from his friend.
"It sucks," Trunks declared succinctly. "Mom wants me to 'socialize' with 'normal' people but the lessons are all stupid baby stuff and I can't really play with anyone. I barely touch them and they start bawling. And..." Trunks glanced at Goten and broke of his complaint abruptly. "You're lucky you don't have to go. It really, really sucks."
After Goten went home Trunks waited outside of the Gravity Room and rehearsed what he was going to say:
"Hey Dad wanna play baseball with me? Glue, from school, plays it with his dad."
"No, he'll just say it's a pointless human waste of time."
"Hey Dad wanna go fishing with me? We'll get to eat anything we catch."
"Yeah; that might work. I just can't mention that Gohan takes Goten fishing 'cause their dad used to take him before he died."
When the door opened Trucks was ready.
Vegeta stared down at the small boy barring his way.
"Hey Dad wanna go fishing with me?" Trunks began.
"We'll get to eat the fish."
"Brat I said no."
"Or-or baseball. You could play baseball with me. It wouldn't take long, just a couple of minutes Dad!" Trunks forged on.
Vegeta picked him up by the back of his collar.
"Just once, for a couple of minutes. I won't ask again. Please Dad?"
Vegeta tossed Trunks out of his way.
The young demi-Saiyan landed easily on his feet. "Why not? Why don't you want to do anything with me?" Trunks whined and hated himself for it. He knew whining wouldn't get him anywhere with his father but then he'd never found any approach that did work with his father.
Vegeta simply ignored the boy.
Bulma sighed when she saw the unhappy boy standing in the door of her lab. She crouched down and held out her arms and Trunks launched himself at her.
Bulma fell on her rear as she caught the lavender haired missile. She wrapped her arms around her son and began rocking the five-year-old. "What's wrong Trunks-chan?"
"Why doesn't Dad love me?" the boy demanded tearfully.
"Now why do you think he doesn't?" Bulma asked.
"The other kids at school do things with their dads. Mine doesn't want anything to do with me!" Trunks exclaimed. "He hates me!"
Bulma glanced toward the hall where she knew Vegeta was lurking. She frowned when he declined to help her deal with the situation. This was exactly why she'd hesitated to invite Vegeta into Trunks' life but she seen Trunks' future counterpart's desire to know his father and she knew she wouldn't be the one to shut Vegeta out of Trunks' life. Still getting Vegeta to walk through an open door was a challenge in and of itself.
"Your father doesn't hate you," Bulma stated with conviction. "He doesn't know what to do with you but he doesn't hate you."
"I can think of stuff for us to do together," Trunks protested. "Dad just doesn't want to do it. The other kids at school talk about the stuff they do with their dads but mine doesn't want to do any of that!"
A wry look crossed Bulma's face. "Your father isn't like anyone else's dad now is he?" she pointed out. "You can't expect him to act like them."
"You're on his side!" Trunks accused angrily. He ripped himself out of his mother's arms and ran off in the direction of his rooms.
Bulma sighed. "Vegeta," she called.
Several minutes later her husband stepped through the door. "What?" he demanded.
"You know damn well what," Bulma replied. "You could start training him at least, he's older than Gohan was when he started."
"I'm much stronger than the Namek, immeasurably stronger than he was back then. I'll hurt the brat," Vegeta stated.
Bulma scowled at Vegeta. "That's a load of crap," she said. "I know better than anyone how well you can control your strength."
Vegeta crossed his arms over his chest and stubbornly refused to concede the point.
"Don't you want to train him?" Bulma asked in confusion. "I thought you liked training with Mirai Trunks."
"He could take care of himself," Vegeta replied.
"Well our Trunks isn't going to turn seventeen and magically be transformed into his alternate future counterpart," Bulma interrupted angrily. "Maybe I should ask Piccolo..."
"The future brat wouldn't bawl over nothing!" Vegeta exclaimed. "He got over his delusions about me!"
"Trunks isn't old enough to be told about your past yet," Bulma said quickly. "I'd rather tell him Santa isn't real."
"You think he's old enough to learn to kill but not old enough to know that I have killed?" Vegeta asked sarcastically.
"Damn it Vegeta, there's a difference between a spar and training to commit murder!" Bulma took a deep breath. "You're distracting me with a tangent," she said.
"I won't teach him to leave an enemy alive to stab him in the back. Kakarrot and his brat are much too willing to trust their enemies," Vegeta said.
"It worked out pretty well in your case," Bulma pointed out. "And that's not the problem, the problem is you won't teach him anything at all. He just wants you to spend time with him Vegeta. Why is that so hard for you to understand?"
"I'm trying to protect him," Vegeta snapped without thinking.
Bulma hesitated, mentally she reviewed their argument: 'He got over his delusions about me.' Her mouth dropped open as she realized Vegeta was worried about hurting Trunks emotionally, not physically.
"Vegeta," she sighed sadly. "By ignoring him you're already hurting him."
In his room Trunks rubbed at his eyes angrily. His dad hated him and his mom defended his dad.
Trunks stuffed some of his favorite toys and his stash of candy into a knapsack.
He couldn't even run away to Goten's house because Goten always got weird and quiet when Trunks complained about his dad. But he wasn't going to stay with people who didn't want him.
Trunks glanced around his room to make sure he wasn't leaving anything he couldn't do without, his clothes didn't merit a single thought, then he slung the knapsack over his shoulder and climbed out of the window. He dropped to the ground and started running as fast as he could.
Several hours and many miles later Trunks stopped when a river, swollen with spring runoff, blocked his path. Trunks glanced at the rapidly flowing water as if it's very existence were an affront to him. And in a way it was, if he father had taught him to fly it wouldn't be an obstacle.
Trunks walked along the bank until he found a conveniently placed tree then hauled back and kicked it with all his might. The trunk cracked and splintered and, slowly, the tree toppled over to bridge the river.
With a superior smirk Trunks climbed onto his impromptu bridge and started across the river. He was about halfway there when a second tree, caught in the river's grasp, struck his bridge like a battering ram. The jolt knocked Trunks into the water and he was instantly swept away.
The water was frigid, full of freshly melted snow; it raced along wildly between it's rocky banks. Trunks was far from the only thing swept up in the current. He was bashed into rocks, battered by floating debris and tumbled around so much that he couldn't tell which way to swim to break the surface. His knapsack, bulging with toys, pulled him down and his sodden cloths hindered his movements.
Panic pushed Trunks' ki to new heights but in his situation a cool head would have served him better than raw power. After what seemed like an eternity Trunks' flailing hand caught hold of something solid and he flung himself out of the water.
He collapsed to his hands and knees on the bank, caught between gasping for air and throwing up the water he'd swallowed.
Trunks curled up in a miserable, violently shivering ball. His icy emersion had robbed his body of much of it's warmth. His clammy cloths and the cool evening air conspired to take what little he had left. Trunks gradually stopped shivering as his body gave up the fight. He stared listlessly at the river as night fell.
Trunks became distantly aware of what felt like a warm cyclone that was blowing clean through his body. It warmed him inside and out. He was almost awake when it abruptly ceased.
Still only semi-conscious the little boy began shivering again and curled himself up more tightly to try to preserve the warmth that had infused him.
After a few moments he heard the sounds of something being dropped near him. A short while later Trunks was shaken into full alertness.
"You depleted your ki too much to use it to sustain your body temperature," his father's gruff voice informed him. "But you still have enough to start a fire if you use it in a burst."
Trunks realized his clothes were dry and there was a neat pyramid of firewood and tinder just a few feet in front of him. "H-how?" he asked through chattering teeth.
Trunks heard a soft huff of annoyance from his father. "You've powered up enough to float lose object around you. Focus that energy into the tinder, don't allow it to move."
Trunks crawled to the firewood and stretched out his hand. The air shimmered with power. Trunks tried to do as his father instructed but the timber writhed wildly like pinned insects under his hand. Then it happened. A spark ignited, flames engulfed the tinder then spread to the wood piled over it. A triumphant smile lit up Trunks' face as he collapsed by his fire, completely spent by the effort of lighting it.
Vegeta shifted the boy back slightly so that the fire wouldn't be tempted to spread to his clothes then took up a guard position at the very edge of the sphere of light cast by the fire.
When Trunks woke up for the second time the first thing he noticed was that his teeth weren't chattering anymore. The second thing was that he was ravenous.
"Eat," Vegeta ordered. Trunks' eyes widened in surprise that his father was still there. He only just managed to get his hand up in time to catch the ration bar Vegeta tossed to him. Trunks wrinkled his nose at the tasteless bar of condensed nutrients but he quickly scarfed it down. It wasn't quite a Senzu bean but when it came to fulfilling nutritional needs with minimum fuss the ration bars were a close second. Still they left a nasty aftertaste.
Trunks sat up and realized his knapsack was still on his back. He gave a triumphant cry and started digging through the bag enthusiastically tossing aside toys and candy that hadn't survived his dunking in search of something tasty. He found a sealed bag, ripped it open and stuffed his mouth until his cheeks bulged.
"I'm not going home," Trunks declared once his mouth was empty.
Vegeta didn't respond but his posture indicated that he wasn't going anywhere either.
"You aren't going to make me?" Trunks asked timidly after several minutes of silence.
"No," Vegeta said.
Trunks thought about that for awhile. He wasn't being made to go home, his father wasn't leaving, that made this a - a camping trip!
"Did you bring anything besides ration bars to eat?" Trunks asked.
Vegeta chuckled with dark tinged amusement. "No. And tomorrow you're eating whatever you manage to find for yourself."
"We're going fishing!" Trunks cheered.
Vegeta grunted noncommitally.
After a time Trunks stretched out by the fire again. "Dad? Did you bring tent or sleeping bags or something?" he asked.
"Saiyans don't need any of that crap," Vegeta declared.
"Yeah!" Trunks seconded excitedly. A small part of him was thinking a sleeping bag and maybe one of those foam things to go beneath it would still be nice but the rest of him was bursting with joy that his father had implied that they were the same.
Eventually Trunks settled down enough to drift off again. He'd almost fallen asleep when Vegeta's low voice broke the silence. "Trunks, I am not human. You would do well to remember that when you interpret my actions. I am your father, I will protect you while you are a child and teach you so that you can protect yourself when you become an adult. That is all I have to offer you."
Trunks smiled sleepily as his father's words erased the last of the hurt that had caused him to run away. Trunks suspected that his father was telling him that baseball, among many other traditional father-son activities, was out. But it was okay because now he knew his father cared about him.