Disclaimer: I do not own Dragonball Z or any of the characters associated with it.

Aegis

Prologue

Journal Entry 10. 16. ----

I know my Chibi better than anyone in the whole world, even his family. Wait, scratch that. Especially his family. I know how his mind works, I know every nuance of every one of his facial expressions, I can read his body language like the easiest book in the world. I know how to calm his nightmares automatically, I know just what to say to make him smile, even when no one else can. I know what makes him tick, partly from our being virtually inseparable since we were toddlers; partly from the many fusions we've done.

I know him. Probably better than I know myself. It always has been and it always will be that way. I don't have any doubts. But some things have been bothering me lately. Actually, they've been bothering me since that assembly at school the other day. Now I'm seeing things I've never seen before. No, that's not true. I've always seen them-I just never knew what I was looking at before. Like a puzzle that doesn't make any sense until it's looked at upside down, or something. And now I'm really worried about him. And not just worried, but sick worried. The kind of worried that makes me feel like I want to throw-up, because I don't know what to do to fix it. Oh! And I could just kick myself for never questioning these things before, but how could I have known? My mother never bothered to explain such things to me, and my father certainly hadn't. I had to learn at school that this...thing even existed! I think the subject was so far outside either of their scopes of experience that it never occurred to them to talk to me about it. And neither of them spend as much time around the Sons as I do. For the first time ever, I wish they did. I kind of feel like they let me down. Or maybe I only feel that way so I don't feel like I let me down. I've been there for everything, and I'm only realizing the magnitude of our--my--blindness now?

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I should explain some things first.

I never wondered what made Goten so different from his father and brother, looks aside, obviously. Different enough that it was noticeable; different enough that everyone could see it, even though they never commented because he looked so much like Goku, and when they were around each other, they even acted somewhat alike. So I can understand that sometimes it's hard to see beyond what's right in front of you. And even though I'd known Goten first, and knew he wasn't a replica of his father once I actually met Goku, it never occurred to me to bring it to anyone's attention. Youth was probably the biggest factor. They were adults so it was only natural for me to believe they saw it too, and since they didn't say anything about it neither did I. Now that I'm a little older, I know that being an adult doesn't make a person all knowing, and it's no cure for blindness. That's become glaringly obvious in these few days, since I first realized something was wrong, then realized that no one else did. Yeah, that definitely destroyed most of the illusions I had about all adults knowing more than me.

But back to the point. I never wondered what made him different from them because I already knew. I just never paid it much attention, because it was the way things had always been. There were many things I didn't pay attention to because I didn't know any better. I know I keep running in circles around this point but I can't help it. "Self-recrimination is the brother of repentance," I read that somewhere, but I don't remember where.

Looking back, I think my father was the first one to notice that there was something…not wrong, but not quite right either, about 'Baka spawn number two.' I even remember when it happened. It was when I was six or so and Goten was staying at Capsule Corp. for a weekend. I think it was the first time Dad had ever sat down and had a meal with us while my best friend was there. In fact it must have been, considering the shock I clearly remember written on his face during the events that occurred that fateful meal.

I guess I should say that back then, my grandmother did all the cooking. I think she was the only one in the house that knew how. When she died, my mom had to hire three chefs per meal to take her place! None of us know how she did it. Anyway, Goten was there for dinner, and we had all just sat down to eat. My father and I dug in, as usual, but Chibi simply sat there politely until my mother made up a much smaller portion for him, then began eating at a much slower pace.

That my father couldn't help but notice, even though he'd managed to ignore the other little boy the entire day to that point. Even still, he addressed his question to me. "Brat, what is the matter with Kakarot's second son?"

I was confused of course. What did he mean? "Dad?"

Vegeta gestured, all the while inhaling his food. "Why isn't he eating?"

I blinked at my father, then looked at Goten, who had paused with his chopsticks at his mouth and was looking at me with wide eyes, then back at my father. "He is eating,"

Vegeta snorted then. "Not like a Saiya-jin." He then looked at my mother. "Woman, you know as well as I do that such a portion isn't enough to satisfy the hunger of a Halfling. What are you thinking?"

My mother seemed startled, then thoughtful. "I asked Chi-chi about that, actually. She said he's never eaten as much as Gohan did when he was younger. And, well, she's his mother, so I just assumed…"

During this verbal play, Goten had stayed meekly quiet and finished his food. He was about to excuse himself when my father seemingly got over his disbelief and targeted him. "Boy!"

"Y-yes sir?" I swear, Chibi looked like a deer caught in the headlights. He was practically shaking in his boots, which I thought was rather strange. I thought he knew that my dad was all bark and very little bite…at least when it came to children. My father apparently took pity on him, because his tone softened almost imperceptibly.

"Are you still hungry, brat?"

Goten hastened to shake his head 'no.'

Vegeta narrowed his eyes. "I don't believe you. I do not tolerate lying, boy, understood?"

"Yes sir," Goten whispered, his eyes lowered.

"Then I will ask you again. Are you still hungry?"

I didn't understand then, why my friend had such a hard time answering the question. Either he was still hungry or he wasn't, right? But he seemed to fight with himself before he finally answered.

"Yes sir."

"Then eat,"

Goten looked at my mother, who attempted to fix him another plate like the one he'd had before.

"No," Dad gestured for Mom to stop, then addressed Goten again. "You need not have your plates made for you. You may eat your fill, do you understand, brat?" My father seemed to communicate something to my friend, something that I had no idea how to interpret. It was all too much for my six-year-old brain to comprehend.

When Goten looked at me I offered him one of my chicken legs. He took it gingerly, like he didn't know what to do with it without a utensil. I took a big bite of my own and grinned at him.

Ever so slowly he grinned back and tore into his. I think he ate almost as much as me that night. It was…shocking. I'd always took for granted that he couldn't eat as much as me. How had he lived on as much as he ate before? I couldn't even imagine it.

My mother laughed. "I guess I'll have to tell Chi-chi she was wrong! He eats even more than Gohan did when he was that age!"

I didn't know then why Chibi went so pale and seemed to lose his appetite abruptly. I was full so I excused us.

"Trunks,"

That was my father. When I looked back he was looking at us consideringly.

"In one hour, come to the Gravity Room for training," I was about to protest when he continued. "Bring the Bak—your friend along."

I almost protested again, but Goten beat me to the punch. "Yes sir," Then he tugged me away, so we could play a bit in my room. When the time came, I was surprised that Goten seemed to actually have fun mock-sparring with Dad. Far more than the few times I'd seen him with his mom anyway. My dad never referred to him as 'Baka spawn number two' again.

Before Goten went home that weekend, we made plans to get together the next. I'd started school by then, you see. But strangely enough, the next Friday, when I phoned, Chi-chi said he couldn't, and when I asked to talk to him, she said he was busy. I got irrationally mad at him, and didn't invite him over for two more weeks. When I finally did, he apologized profusely, looking miserable and teary-eyed the whole time. I forgave him, haughtily of course. Even then I had an image to preserve. I never even asked why he hadn't been able to come. And yeah, I got all hurt and mad again when he asked in his smallest voice if he could bathe by himself. But the three weeks we'd been apart had taught me that I couldn't go that long without him again, so I let it go and said it was fine. That was a long time ago, and my Chibi hasn't changed a bit.

Goten's always been so polite—the most polite of all the saiya-jin's as a matter of fact, even Gohan. He's always been very well-mannered and conscientious. In all the years I've known him I could probably count on one hand the times he's been less than perfectly gracious. I can't count at all the time's he's been outright rude, because to my knowledge, it's simply never happened.

It's unnatural, and always has been now that I'm old enough to really think about it. Now that I know what I'm seeing. Even when we were just little boys, he never said anything out of turn. He never argued with anyone except me, and only then if it was about one of my bright ideas guaranteed to get us into trouble. He was always so afraid of getting in trouble. I never wondered about that either, which isn't to say I understood it. I got into trouble all the time, and the worst that ever happened to me was a tongue lashing from my mother, and on one memorable occasion, a spanking from my father.

When his dad came back from being dead he got braver for a while. But after the newness wore off, Goku became restless, and spent less and less time at home and more and more time training far away, often for weeks or months at a time. No one could blame him for wanting to get away from his screaming harpy of a wife.

I blame him, though. I blame Gohan, too. I blame them both for leaving Goten to take the brunt of his mother's frustrations again. They were so worried about getting away, that they didn't even think about what they'd left behind, and who they'd left behind to deal with it. Neither of them spared a thought for the innocent little eight year old boy, whose last hope of salvation was crushed the first time his newly discovered daddy left him with his angry mother. It crushed him even further when Goku came back or Gohan would come to visit, and not see what was right in front of them. Maybe they didn't want to see it.

See, not only had they left him with a mother who was angry. They'd left him with a mother who took that anger out on him, her youngest son, for the simple and utterly ridiculous reason that he was the spitting image of the husband she seemed to hate as much as love.

Goten had been told from the start that he was exactly like his father. I was the only one who knew how much he hated that. I just never knew why.

Until now.

I'm thirteen years old, still just a kid. But I remember the promise I made when I was three, and caught the oblivious little toddler just before he fell into the pond while our parents weren't looking. "I'll protect you, Chibi," I said as solemnly as a two-foot tall boy with lavender hair could muster, and he just grinned and clapped. He probably doesn't remember, but I do. I might be a little late, but now I have a better understanding. Now I know what's wrong, and the kais themselves couldn't stop me from keeping my promise.

"Don't worry, Chibi. I'll save you,"