Disclaimer: I don't own DBZ.

A/N: Don't ask me where this story came from; it just popped in my head during my Pre-Calculus class (too bad the answers to the homework weren't popping in my head, though).

Oneshot: Takes place while Mirai no Trunks and Vegeta are training in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, through the Cell games, and afterward.

Like Father, Like Son

Have you ever gotten that very distinct feeling that your parents weren't very proud of you, or at least not proud of what you were doing at the time? Not like in those cases where you know you did something stupid and they were disappointed in you, but just in general? You might even be trying to please them, but nothing you do is good enough, nothing you say is right…even your very presence seems to evoke feelings of tremendous displeasure. The very sight of you brings them annoyance, discontentment, and sometimes flat out anger.

Hopefully not. With any luck, most people are born with a set of parental units that actually try to encourage their kids; that give them guidance, advice and just want to be around.

Trunks was not so lucky. At least, Mirai no Trunks wasn't. Vegeta held Trunks on the same low set of standards that he held every other creature he'd ever come across. Mirai Trunks had been so excited about meeting his father, about coming to this timeline where Vegeta was still alive, that he had not heeded his mother's warning. She'd told him before he left, days before he left, not to get his hopes up.

"Vegeta's not what you would call a family man." She had said to him one morning, two days before his departure.

Trunks stopped his morning pushups and looked around at her. "I know that. You and Gohan both told me he was tough."

Bulma nodded just a little. "More than that, really. He was just plain mean a lot of the time."

Trunks grinned a little. "I get it, he was a huge jerk. I've not got my hopes up."

Bulma walked a little closer to him. "I'm just worried you'll get hurt. He's just not like what you're expecting."

Trunks huffed amusedly. "I'm really not expecting anything."

"Yes you are." Bulma said stiffly. "You're expecting to find your father. He's just not going to be what you want."

"I just want to see him and know what he looks like..." Trunks paused and started his pushups again. "That'll be enough for me."

If only Trunks had listened. He'd been honest with his mother as best he could; but certainly she had not believed his words. Trunks had tried convincing himself that he wasn't getting his hopes up. He wasn't expecting anything from Vegeta. That just seeing the guy really would be all he wanted.

But somewhere deep down, beneath the lie he had tried to convince himself was the truth, was the reality of it all. Trunks had wanted a father, his own father. He had wanted to be welcomed, to be accepted, and to even make Vegeta proud.

Now, Trunks would settle for not being hated. In the fantasy that he had built up in his mind, training in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber was going to be real, quality father-son time for Vegeta and him. They would have to learn to cope with each other, and eventually he expected Vegeta would simply acknowledge the fact the Trunks was his son and as strong, or stronger, than he was.

That was not the case. Six weeks into the training it was made painfully obvious to Trunks that Vegeta was no more attached to his son than he would have been to a robot that could take a stiff beating. Trunks and Vegeta fell into a staggering, fast-paced, tedious schedule that kept them from conversing for more than half a second every day.

Trunks had learned very quickly that, aside from snide, rude, criticizing remarks about him, the only words he was going to get out of Vegeta was "Wake up", "Eat", and "Get ready". So it quickly became Trunks' goal to do everything Vegeta wanted, when he wanted and how he wanted so to keep from having any words pass between them at all.

Vegeta had a way about his speech that drove Trunks to the brink of insanity. He made it abundantly clear he wanted nothing more than to have their time be finished and to never again have to converse with one another, after gaining as much strength as possible.

Trunks was obliged to agree. And in his opinion, silence had become a solace.

After six of the longest months of his life, Trunks was sure that he would go absolutely crazy if he had to stay the entire twelve months locked inside that room with Vegeta. One habit he had not allowed himself to give up, though, was that he continued to call Vegeta "Father."

At first, Vegeta did not answer to it. He did not comment on it one way or another, but simply ignored it. Eventually, though, he had to accept it. Trunks would not call him anything else. So if the two ever did communicate, it was on that basis alone. Trunks even played with the idea that his father had actually grown accustomed to it, and rather liked it.

He knew better, of course. But he didn't see the harm in entertaining the idea.

There was once that Trunks managed to get, what he liked to call a conversation, out of Vegeta. It was not a long one, or a nice one, but it was talking nonetheless. And Vegeta had not belittled Trunks or criticized him, so Trunks stored it in his long-term memory immediately after it was finished.

Trunks could only guess that it had been about nine months and some days since they entered the Chamber. The only way to tell time there was by an hourglass that slowly dripped beads of sand from the top to the bottom. It sifted so slowly that sometimes Trunks doubted its movement at all, which seemed to make the endless hours of training, eating, and sleeping last forever.

This one, particular day Trunks was steadily sleeping. His sleeping pattern had changed somewhat since training with Vegeta. Trunks had always been a late sleeper because he'd grown accustomed to waiting up to all hours of the night looking out for the Androids. Night time was always an opportunity for surprise, so the Androids had often used the cloak of darkness to do their worst damage.

Vegeta lived by the motto early to bed, early to rise…and made sure Trunks fell into the same routine.

"Go to sleep brat." He had said, right after they ate dinner sometime during the second week in the Chamber. "Stop this nonsense of staying up to an ungodly hour."

Trunks, at the time, had made the mistake of commenting.

"It's what I'm used to." He said. He'd not said it in any particular way, at least not one that he thought would anger his father. But obviously just Trunks' voice was enough to set him off.

In a shout to match his temper, Vegeta managed to startle Trunks into a complete lack of reaction…he didn't even blink.

"Did I ask why you do it?" He barked.

Trunks was so stunned that he didn't even comprehend that Vegeta had asked him a direct question. Vegeta was in Trunks' face almost immediately, obviously taking his son's stunned silence as rude and disrespectful obstinacy.

"You will answer me when I ask you a question, brat." Vegeta snarled.

Trunks was so infuriated, so confused, and so hurt all at once that he swore then never to direct a comment toward his father again. Vegeta had not asked him a question to begin with, so there had been no need in saying anything at all. Had Trunks not known with complete certainty that Vegeta would call him something along the lines of a halfing abomination for doing so, he could have cried. Just because a man does not cry, does not mean he can never feel the desire to do so.

Trunks kept his face cold, hard and emotionless, staring directly into Vegeta's piercing black eyes. The sensation of having his father's face so close that he could see the pupils of his eyes dilate with pure fury was unnerving, but he did not look away. He couldn't think of any words to say, at least none that would not provoke Vegeta's anger further. So he stood, turned away from his father, and walked towards the bed.

He began peeling clothes off as he did so, until only his boxers remained, keeping his back to his father during the entire process. As silently as humanly (or Saiyanly) possible he sat on the bed, pulled back the covers, and laid down. He did not look at or speak to his father again until the next morning. Even then, the only words that were spoken was Vegeta telling Trunks harshly, and very early in the morning, "Wake up, brat."

Trunks immediately opened his eyes, knowing that if he did not get up in a timely fashion Vegeta would take it upon himself to physically follow through with the command. Once (and Trunks made sure it would only ever be once), during their first week in the Chamber, Vegeta was in a particularly agitated mood and decided Trunks had not pulled himself out of bed quickly enough.

Before the young demi-saiyan knew what had happened he was kicked hard in the spine and sent spiraling, very ungracefully, onto the unforgiving marble floor, with a slight shout of surprise. Being more embarrassed that actually hurt, Trunks pulled himself up and looked at Vegeta in a mix of anger and fluster (and trying very hard to keep his cheeks from showing red).

Vegeta did not say anything afterward, he walked away stoutly.

Those types of encounters are what Trunks had endured during his time in the Chamber. After a certain point, though, things did get at least somewhat better. Vegeta never literally kicked Trunks out of his bed again. Vegeta didn't scream at Trunks anymore, but mostly because the two had come to a silent understanding.

Neither talked. Ever. Unless to say something pertinent to training or a new technique. However, back to the subject at hand. Trunks relished the one good conversation the two had during their year's time together, the only one that didn't consist of direct orders or belittlement towards Trunks.

Again, it is only a guess that it was somewhere around the ninth month when it occurred. Trunks had been steadily sleeping when he finally felt that sensation of being completely awake. He had not opened his eyes, had not given any indication that he was awake at all. And unconsciously he knew it didn't matter, he slept facing opposite his father's bed anyway.

Trunks had grown accustomed to falling asleep and staying with his back to his father. He did this because if he faced him, he would undoubtedly look at him. He liked to look at his father, perhaps because he had spent the first seventeen years of his life having never seen him before. Or maybe it was one of those 'make up for lost time' deals.

Either way, Vegeta had not liked it. He vocally expressed his desire to not be starred at. So Trunks took the hint and stopped; and to keep himself from the temptation of trying to memorize his father's every physical feature, he slept with his back to him. He no longer looked at him during breakfast, in case that would anger him. He didn't look at him during or after dinner, or as they dressed for a workout, or especially as they trained.

Vegeta wanted nothing and no one to hinder his training; and Trunks believed that if he were any weaker Vegeta would not bother to include him during training at all. But Trunks was strong. He was very strong, and as time went by he grew even stronger. He knew he was more powerful than his father now, and he also knew Vegeta was aware of that fact. He did not say it, or even act any differently, but it was obvious to them both.

Despite all that, he often had the distinct feelings that he was the one being watched. Trunks had gotten so caught up in his attempt not to stare at his father that, in return, he never noticed when he was the one being scrutinized, analyzed, and starred at. At times, when his eyes would inadvertently slip in the direction of his father, he would note that Vegeta would abruptly look away and focus on something else…anything else.

It was somewhat daunting. Trunks didn't know what reason his father would have for looking at him, or trying to figure anything out about him. He needed only to ask, and Trunks would have been more than happy to tell him anything he wanted to hear. Unfortunately, that was never the case. Vegeta seemed more content to inspect his son from a distance than to have any kind of understanding pass between them.

On this particular day, though, Trunks was wide awake earlier than usual. He had gone to bed at his regular time, which happened to be when Vegeta decided to call it a night, so he didn't know why he was waking up so soon. And as Trunks lay there on the bed, eyes still closed, he experienced that unique sensation of feeling watched. He opened his eyes, only to bolt upright in bewilderment.

His father was standing next to his bed watching him. At first Trunks was nearly ready to defend himself, in case something he had unknowingly done had incited Vegeta into some kind of violence. Trunks refused to be kicked out of his own bed again, but it didn't seem Vegeta had that in mind.

Trunks had no more gotten good and awake when his father began moving away. Trunks debated for a few seconds whether to say anything, he was almost afraid to. His curiosity finally got the better of him and he opened his mouth to speak.

"What did you want?" Trunks asked to his father's retreating back. He said it in as casual a tone as he could, then added lowly: "I'm awake now."

Vegeta turned with a look of complete (and somewhat fake) indifference, eyed Trunks wearily, and said gruffly "Not a thing, brat."

At a loss for what to do, Trunks just shrugged slightly and got out of the bed. Two quick showers and a large breakfast later the two were out of the indoors and in the vast emptiness of the Chamber. Trunks feared the eternity of white, blank nothingness, but did not show it. It had shocked him at first, but he could sense his father's disapproval of his anxiety so he quickly learned to hide it.

This day Vegeta seemed barely tolerable, even downright furious. His every move lacked its normal calculated precision, he seemed to be fighting more out of sheer rage than to continue toning his technique. He would let his usually flawless kicks, swings and punches land amiss, and Trunks would get the better of him. Vegeta finally lost his patients not but three hours into the session. And three hours was barely a warm-up to the Saiyajin prince.

He growled furiously and held up a hand, which was his signal for a break. Trunks didn't give his father the peculiar look he would have otherwise, for he feared it would only anger Vegeta more. Instead, he turned and began walking away to sit several feet from where his father stood. He knew not to sit too close, or Vegeta would only become cold and isolated even more. Not to mention the fact that he would physically remove either himself or Trunks from the close proximity, an act which was never much fun.

"You move like the Namek." Vegeta said, before Trunks had gotten more than two steps away.

Trunks' eyes grew wide with unadulterated shock, but he calmed himself before he turned back around.

"I do?" He asked, not completely understanding the statement his father had made.

"You heard me." Vegeta said, crossing his arms. "You move like that blasted Namek. You're technique is just like his."

Trunks scowled only a little from his confusion, then just shrugged. He was nervous to say much, not knowing just what his father's motives were in speaking to him. He actually seemed to be making conversation with Trunks for the first time, real conversation.

"I don't see how." Trunks said finally, in a forced nonchalant. "I never met him before three years ago."

Vegeta eyed him sharply, then asked: "Who trained you?"

"Gohan." Trunks answered quickly.

Vegeta smirked. "Then that's why." He uncrossed his arms and began to stretch them slowly. "The brat was first trained by the Namek, matching his technique…yours matches the brat's."

Trunks nodded, and made sure that Vegeta saw it. That was the end of their conversation, the two began training again moments later. But Trunks burned every word, look and movement of his father towards him in his long term memory. He had not yelled, nor were his words saturated in spite and reproach.

Trunks swore that even if he was never given the chance to have a good memory of his father, that conversation would have to take the stead of any he had hoped to make. He knew it was out of the question for Vegeta to actually show any care or emotion towards his son, but Trunks could only hope that his father's gradual tolerance would lead to something more substantial.

It was impossible, Trunks knew. But, it couldn't hurt to hope.

X-x-X-x-X

Is it possible to get so caught up on one simple word, in one very brief sentence that you lose all logic and common sense? Trunks had not thought so, but he realized very quickly he had been wrong about a great many things lately.

Vegeta and Trunks had exited the Chamber exactly on time, only to be assaulted with questions by the other senshi. Vegeta remained quiet and reclusive, so when Gohan asked if the two of them had learned any new techniques Trunks jumped on the chance for his first intelligent conversation in months. Truly, it was the first conversation that lasted longer than five sentences in a year.

Before Trunks could get more than a few words out Vegeta snapped at him, with just as much reproach in his voice as during their first days in the Chamber. Vegeta reprimanded his son harshly, telling him to never reveal what happens during training. Trunks merely nodded and did not say anything else about their training to anyone, not even his mother.

At that moment, when Vegeta looked at and spoke to him as though the two had not made any progress whatsoever in their year's time in the Chamber, every hope Trunks had been clinging to was crushed. Nothing and no one could ever change Vegeta, the man would not allow it. Nothing would ever soften his rusted, harsh exterior or chip away the ice around his heart.

That is, if the man even had a heart, the existence of which Trunks had been doubting for a long while now.

So imagine Trunks' surprise when they go to face imperfect Cell together. Trunks traded his ragged clothes for Saiyan armor, specially made by his mother. While on the Lookout he had changed and pulled his now long hair back in a messy ponytail. He needed it cut, but there simply was no time for it.

Vegeta immediately pinpointed the ki of the monster Cell, who had already absorbed Android 17, and was giving some kind of speech on how he would defeat the thing. Trunks watched as his father powered up to leave. He could have sworn, though, that Vegeta looked back at him before taking off.

Trunks wasn't certain, it happened too fast to know for absolute sure. He did know he wouldn't let his father go alone. He also knew that, as much as Vegeta may put on airs about his being all-powerful, he was stronger than his father. If the worse ever came, he would be the one to protect Vegeta.

His father may hate him for it, but Trunks would do it anyway.

Trunks took off from the Lookout and followed close behind his father, close enough that Vegeta knew almost instantly that his son was behind him. At any point Vegeta could have griped at Trunks and told him to leave, which would not have been in the most eloquent of the English language.

However, Vegeta did not say anything. He did not look at Trunks, he did not slow down, and he did not tell him to turn back. So Trunks followed, content not to be yelled at or chastised again.

Trunks was given his first real, dumbfounding, mind boggling surprise of the year as he touched down behind his father and faced Cell. Vegeta did some explaining or boasting to Cell, which Trunks had come to realize was characteristic of his father. Nonetheless, Vegeta slipped a very surprising phrase in amongst the prideful swanks he'd been spouting.

"And if you happen to make it past me…" Vegeta ended. "That is my son behind me, and he is even more powerful than I am."

Trunks' breath hitched and his palms turned rather clammy. Had his father just acknowledged him? Had he just admitted to Trunks both being his son and more powerful than he?

Trunks almost doubted that the phrase had even exited Vegeta's mouth, that somehow he had imaged the whole thing. But then Cell laughed and looked over at Trunks with a sneer. Then he realized that the phrase had been authentic, that Vegeta had really said it.

Trunks followed the battle between his father and Cell as close as he could, but his mind would repeat those words over and over like a broken record. Was his harshness just a show? Was he playing some kind of role in front of the other senshi, one where he was still the evil villain with an attitude to match?

Trunks wasn't sure, but he disregarded it immediately, his father had done something for the first time today: he had acknowledged him, he had accepted him. Finally, Trunks had something concrete to cling to, and not just some figment of hope. This was real.

And standing there watching his father battle Cell, and obviously have the upper hand in the fight, Trunks felt proud.

He finally felt like he had a father.


Lies. All of it.

Trunks had really, really believed that Vegeta had finally given in and accepted him as his son.

But it was just a ruse. A terrible, cruel deception he had played on both Cell and Trunks. He knew Trunks would be at least somewhat happy with that statement. So, he said it to gain the upper hand, both in battle and on a different playing field altogether.

Vegeta allowed Cell to absorb Android 18. He just let the monster become perfect. Trunks had tried to convince his father otherwise, but he realized too late that his father had no intention of listening to him. If Vegeta had never said what he had, if he had just left Trunks to cling to nothing but his false hope, he would have physically stopped Vegeta sooner.

But no, he was trying to stay on Vegeta's good side.

There were too many politics being played, and Trunks was sick of it all.

When Vegeta finally got what he deserved and Perfect Cell knocked him unconscious, Trunks still couldn't just let that be it. No, he had to help. He had to make sure Vegeta was safe. So he took a beating from Cell to let Krillin take Vegeta to a distant island out of harms way. Then he was left alone to battle the powerful monster.

Why he cared so much still, he didn't know. Vegeta didn't care, not at all. He used people, manipulated, and deceived, and he would never change. But some part of him, in some small corner of his mind, wanted his child-self from this timeline to have his father. At least having Vegeta around would be better than growing up with no father at all.

Wouldn't it?

It didn't matter now, Trunks was losing against Cell and soon it would be over for him, and if no one else could defend the planet in his stead the Earth would be lost as well. Although he had been stronger than his father, it was not the beneficial kind of strength. His muscles were too bulky to do him any good, he was too slow to land a single punch to Cell.

He lost. He was so ashamed, so humiliated at what his father had probably thought of him all along: stupid, blind kid who didn't know to stop while he was ahead. Vegeta had not been the one to hit a plateau, Trunks had been the foolish one to blindly keep pushing himself for more power. And now it would cost him his life.

To Trunks amazement, though, Cell did not kill him. Instead, he announced that he would hold a tournament and give Trunks another week to gain as much strength as he could. Then, the Cell Games would take place and decide who the strongest fighter on the planet was…and whether Earth would survive to see day eight.

Cell left Trunks in the dusk, flying off to do…whatever it was evil androids do. Trunks dreaded the thought of his father coming to, only to find that Trunks had not defeated Cell either.

What was different this time though, was that Trunks had no interest in trying to please his father. His father had finally gotten it through Trunks' head: he had no interest in having a son. Whether Vegeta would change in time to be of any use to Chibi Trunks, Mirai no Trunks was not sure. He hoped it was so, but that was now the only false hope he would allow himself.

He could not think of his father any more. It was painfully obvious his father never had any intention of thinking of Trunks.

VvVv--

Trunks had stayed a spectator during most of the Cell games, the only fighting action he saw was when the Cell Juniors were terrorizing the Senshi. However, he was amazed at Gohan's bewildering power as the boy, only eleven year old, transformed into Super Saiyan 2 form. It was the most spectacular display of power he had ever seen.

He could truly say he had been proud of his friend at that moment. Later, though, Gohan became unreasonable. His lust for revenge against Cell ultimately became his downfall. Gohan had waiting too long to defeat Cell, playing with the monster in the stronghold confidence of his new-found power. Even Goku had ordered Gohan to put an end to Cell, telling his son not to allow the creature to become desperate.

Enemies were always more dangerous when desperate.

Then it happened, Cell began to implode. The explosion he could make would wipe out the planet…and then some. In the midst of the chaos, the panicked senshi and the disorientated Son Gohan, Goku walked calmly and determinedly up to his opponent. Trunks wasn't sure exactly what was said between the father and son, but it was obvious both of them cared deeply for one another.

For just a split second, just a fraction of an instant, Trunks was jealous of them.

The feeling was gone the moment he realized what Goku had in mind: Instant Transmission. One hand was on Cell's massive, bloated belly. His other touching his forehead. Krillin or Yamcha, Trunks was not sure which, managed to say "No, Goku!" before the man had vanished.

In the blink of an eye, they were gone. There was a crater left in the spot they had stood, and Gohan was looking around frantically, hoping against hope that his father was not gone. When realization hit him, he fell to his knees and screamed out for Goku, crying streams of tears as he did so.

Trunks felt the loss of Goku immediately. There was suddenly less light, or hope, or goodness in the world. He couldn't explain it, it was a strange feeling. He couldn't shake it, even after several minutes went by and no one could speak. Trunks did finally begin to move. He walked away from the group slightly and toward the back of the huddle, intending to find shelter in the shadow the cliff cast.

He had an eerie feeling of impending disaster hit him suddenly, and he turned back to see if any of the others seemed at all jolted. He had no more than turned around when he felt a piercing, red-hot ki blast penetrate through his armor like a knife through butter. The blast burned past his flesh, muscle, bone and back armor just as quickly and smoothly as if he were made of nothing more than margarine.

The smell was what first hit Trunks. Strange, you would think it would be the pain, or the sight of his own blood. But no, it was that stringent, distinct odor of burnt flesh that first assaulted any of his senses. He had been sent backward with the force of the impact, then he stumbled slightly to attempt to regain his footing.

His hand went immediately to his chest and there, in the middle of his once-whole torso, was a gapping wound bleeding so profusely that when his covered it with his hand, blood nearly gushed through the cracks between his fingers. He became dizzy, his eyes darted up and around quickly to see who it was that had hit him. As of yet, he could not see any enemy…only the senshi were standing around him.

They all seemed just as shocked as he was, but none of them looked around yet to see who had sent the blast. Trunks felt the sensation of fluid in his throat, then in his mouth. He couldn't breath through his nose for some reason, so his had to open his mouth to get any air. When he did, blood spilled out in one heavy flow, then dwindled into a small steam from the corner of his lips.

Even with his mouth open, he could only gasp. He suddenly realized that where the hole in his chest now was there should have been a lung, and ribs, and part of his stomach. Those pieces were now missing, so no wonder he wasn't able to catch his breath.

The dizziness became so overwhelming he dropped to his knees, looking up as he heard the voice of Cell among the muffle that was now his sense of hearing. His vision began to blur, black dots were forming to the edge of his vision and threatened to take him fully into darkness.

He couldn't make out anything that was being said. Yamcha was next to him, grabbing his arm and trying to pull him up; but none of his muscles worked. Nothing would move, he felt like nine hundred pounds of dead weight with no control over his limbs.

Knowing that he was going to die, and realizing the definite possibility that he would never again see any of these people he called friends, his eyes darted up to catch a glimpse of his father. He didn't expect anything, and even if he had he was far too disoriented to be able to analyze what was going on.

However, when he made eye contact with his father he realized very quickly that he had never seen such a look on Vegeta's face. Where Vegeta's face was a usual cold, stone-like scowl that revealed nothing of what he was feeling or thinking, at that moment Vegeta looked surprised. Not only surprised, but angry…and sad, and confused, and even scared, all at once.

With a second nauseating feeling of fluid in his throat, Trunks vomited another long stream of blood before completely collapsing and falling backward. Although he tried to keep Trunks up, Yamcha could no longer hold him once Trunks had lost his own willpower to stay upright.

Trunks did not remember anything after that, he only remembered the pain, the darkness and the noise. There was so much noise for several minutes Trunks wished he could gather the strength to cover his ears. But then, just as suddenly as the blast had hit, everything was quiet.

The entire process of Trunks dying, from the moment the blast hit him till he took his last breath, couldn't have taken any more than five minutes. But when Trunks awoke in OuterWorld, standing in a long line of ghosts as far as the eye could see, he felt like he had been sleeping for years.

The only thing he could think of as he waited for his impending judgment was the look his father had on his face as Trunks lay dying. He had never seen it before, he didn't know what to think of it. He knew his father couldn't really care, could he? He had made it perfectly clear that he did not like Trunks from the very get-go.

Eventually, Trunks shook his head of it and tried to think of other things.

He wondered if that look had held any remorse in it, and Trunks was simply not lucid enough to catch it at the time.

It would have been an excellent surprise if it had…but Trunks doubted it.

X-x-X-x-X

It was the strangest of experiences, being wished back to life. One minute you are dead, standing in the longest line imaginable to get judged and sent to heaven or hell…then suddenly your standing on the Lookout staring up at the Eternal Dragon (it happens so suddenly, in fact, it takes several seconds to comprehend that your surrounding have changed).

Trunks was more than glad to be alive again, he was ecstatic; and he inquired the other senshi of how Perfect Cell was finally defeated. Yamcha opted to fly with Trunks from the Lookout back home, at least part of the way. Yamcha began explaining what had happened after Trunks died once the two were a safe distance from the Lookout.

"So Gohan did it, then." Trunks said, when Yamcha was finished. Or, at least, when he thought Yamcha was finished.

"Yeah, it was pretty amazing." He said. He paused for a minute then looked over at Trunks.

Trunks picked up on the gesture and looked over at him. "What?"

"Nothing. There's just…" Yamcha stopped. "Well, something else happened too. It's about Vegeta."

Trunks looked over at Yamcha, trying not too look as interested as he instantly was.

"What was it? Was he hurt?" He asked, trying to sound as offhanded a possible.

Yamcha smirked just a little. "Well, after you died, he went berserk. I mean, he totally lost it on Cell. He was kicking and punching and throwing ki blasts left and right. But we all knew he wasn't doing anyone any good…even he knew it."

Yamcha playfully hit Trunks' upper-arm. "He really went all out. I've never seen him so upset or mad about anything before…at least, not like that."

Trunks had to let that sink in for a minute, then he uttered very lowly to himself: "I don't believe it."

"Well, you better believe it. Everyone saw it, they'll tell you the same thing I did." Yamcha slowed down a little and looked over a Trunks.

"So, since Cell is gone does that mean your headed back to your time?"

Trunks nodded. "Yeah, I'll be leaving in the morning. I want a good nights rest before I go back."

Yamcha shook his head a little and held out his hand. "I'll come to see ya off. Take care of yourself Trunks."

Trunks smiled. "I will. You do the same."

Then they parted ways, Trunks headed to Capsule Corp and Yamcha headed to the East. Trunks thought about Yamcha's explanations all the way back. Even when he entered the compound and went to 'his' room upstairs. He pealed away the armor, the clothes, the sword and stepped into the shower.

First and foremost he wanted the stench off of him. He wanted the blood gone, the smell removed and to get cleaned of all these battles he'd been through. At least an hour later he exited the shower and put on clean clothes, sat on his bed and held the armor in his hands. He put his hand over the hole that was stained with dried blood, feeling the strangest sensation of irony.

A knock came from behind his door and he knew from the light tapping that it was his mother.

"Come in." He said.

She walked in, holding an the infant version of himself, and walked slowly over to him. He could tell she had been either crying or close to it, and as she reached him she looked down at the armor he was holding.

"You should throw that away." She said, a disgusted tone in her voice that was not usually present.

"No." Trunks said, looking up at her. "This I'm taking with me….as a reminder."

"Taking with you?" She asked. "Are you leaving?"

Trunks nodded. "Tomorrow. I've done my job, I don't have a reason to keep staying here."

"You know you're welcome, don't you?" She asked.

"I know. But I can't. I have my own time to get back to." He said, and looked back up at her. Now, she was crying.

"Don't be upset." Trunks said, in as sentimental a tone as he could muster. One thing he had definitely inherited from his father was the inability to relay emotions very well.

"I have my mother in my time to get back to." He said, standing and putting an arm on her shoulder. "She'd be pretty upset if I stayed here."

Bulma nodded and used her free hand to wipe away some stray tears making their way down her cheeks.

"You're right." She said. "I understand. You need to go back."

She pushed herself up against his chest and wrapped her free arm around his waist.

"I'll miss you." She said. "You have to promise to be careful…and to come visit once in a while."

Trunks smiled down at her and kissed her forehead, something he had become accustomed to doing to the Bulma of his own timeline, at least as soon as he had grown tall enough. She pulled away and changed baby Trunks to the other hip, and smiled up at the older version of her son.

"I almost can't wait till he grows up." She said. " 'Cause I know what kind of man he's going to be."

Trunks smiled as his mother left the room and, eventually, he sat back down on his bed. His mother had always been the most caring person he had ever known. She was stubborn, hard-nosed and as tenacious a woman as they come…but she had always loved him with a fury that made her put him first. He had always come first, no matter the situation.

And even though his father was far less than he had expected, at least he could always be proud that he had such a mother.

He knew now that the love of his mother, the only parent he really required, was all he ever needed.

--

The next day, early in the morning, Trunks woke and began packing. As much as he liked this time he was more than anxious to get back home where he could destroy the Androids of his time. And, he wanted to reunite with his mother and make sure she was okay.

When time for breakfast came Trunks went downstairs in some small hope he would get to see his father, at least once more before he left. However, Vegeta was nowhere to be found, and Bulma said she had not seen him since the day before when she had told him Trunks was leaving.

After breakfast, and a little aggravated that his father would leave so suddenly when he knew Trunks would be going home, Trunks went back upstairs to finish packing and ready the Time Machine.

He sat on his bed, looking again at his armor before packing it up in his tiny duffle bag. It was all he had room for in the small vehicle, so he had to travel light. It was at this time, while he was staring at his armor and unintentionally remembering the look on Vegeta's face…and the strange story Yamcha had told him, that he felt that sensation of being watched.

When he looked up his eyes darted to his open doorway, where stood his father leaning casually against the door frame. Trunks found it intimidating that he had not known his father was standing there, but soon shook off the feeling as Vegeta looked at him from across the room.

Trunks eventually lost interest in the staring contest and looked down at his armor again, assuming Vegeta would turn and leave without a word. Trunks eyes caught sight of training boots walking toward him, so he again gave Vegeta his attention. There were several seconds of silences that passed as Vegeta stopped walked and stood at least three feet away from Trunks.

"The woman says your leaving." He said.

Trunks nodded at him. "My job here is done, I have no reason stay."

Vegeta gave a curt nod, then looked down at the armor.

"Your keeping that?" He asked, making it sound more like a statement than an actual question.

Trunks nodded again. "Yes, as a reminder."

There were several more seconds of silence that again passed between the two, until Vegeta turned and began walking away.

"Yamcha told me something very…interesting, about things that happened after I died." Trunks said, venturing out on a limb in hopes that Vegeta would have some kind of retort to give.

Vegeta turned around quickly and gave his son an odd look, more investigative than actually surprised. "So."

Trunks huffed and looked back at his armor.

"I don't know." He started, looking back up at his father. "Makes me wonder what I should think about it."

Vegeta suddenly scowled very deeply, moreso than any other time Trunks had ever seen him angry or frustrated. But Trunks honestly didn't care. There was nothing more the man could do to him, not now…not on the day he would be leaving and never have to endure him again.

"You're a annoying, irritating brat…" Vegeta started, and Trunks restrained himself from rolling his eyes until Vegeta finished the sentence.

"But your still my son." Yet, these words were spoken differently; they were a little softer and with far less a cynical edge to them as usual.

Trunks blinked and he stared at his father in slight bemusement.

Vegeta pursed his lips a little, seemingly out of indecision, adding slowly: "And do not forget that."

Then he turned and walked out of the room, leaving Trunks confused and altogether startled by the conversation.

When the words finally began to sink in, and Trunks could digest their meaning, he suddenly began to feel better. He couldn't wait to tell his mother of everything that has happened. He couldn't wait to tell her she had been wrong about Vegeta. That Trunks had been wrong about him, and, maybe, even Vegeta had been wrong about himself. Now, Trunks believed, there was a good chance for Chibi Trunks to be allowed to have a dad.

He put the armor into the bag, without another thought toward it, then he laid down and closed his eyes. Then, before he could stop himself, his lips turned upward into a smile as he thought of what had just happened. He was finally happy, really happy, for the first time in years. And he didn't need to pretend or hope anymore, he finally recognized something he hadn't been able to before.

He did have a father after all.