Guess who's back, back again…It's-a me, the slow updating author! I could rattle off excuses for why it took me so long to complete this chapter, but let's just get on with the fic already!

Chapter completed: 2013.07.14

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Miscalculation

Chapter 8: Greater Than

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Bulma shifted Trunks in her arms to look at her watch. "It's 8:50…everyone should be arriving soon." She hadn't seen most of the Z Warriors since they'd encountered the boy from the future and he'd warned them about the events that would unfold later that day. She was eager to catch up with them and see what everyone had been doing for the past three years. Surely, most of what they had been up to involved a whole lot of training, which didn't really interest her, but it would be nice to hear their voices again nonetheless. Plus, she was curious to see everyone's reaction to her new addition, especially when she told them who was responsible for helping create her little bundle of joy. "They're gonna be so surprised to find out who your Papa is. Yes they are!" She nuzzled her face against her son's, eliciting coos and giggles from the half-Saiyan infant.

"Dammit, Bulma, what are you doing here? And with his baby." A once familiar, now rarely heard voice came from above as a figure floated down toward her, touching down near her on the plateau.

"Well, nice to see you too, Yamcha. And I prefer to think of Trunks as my baby, since I'm the only one raising him."

"So you're really doing it on your own, without his help at all?"

"I certainly am. Vegeta's always off doing his own thing, and he doesn't even tell anyone when he's leaving. In fact, he's barely been around the past few weeks. Not that he talks to me much when he is around. I can really only tell he's gone if I notice that the food isn't disappearing from our kitchen at an inhuman rate."

Yamcha, still possessing lingering feelings for his ex-girlfriend, was somewhat relieved to learn that she wasn't in any sort of relationship with Vegeta. Though he still felt dismayed that she had hooked up with that unapologetic mass-murderer in the first place, at least she didn't seem to have any remaining attraction to him. "Well, never mind him, I repeat, what are you doing here? Those Artificial Humans will be here in an hour. It's not safe for you here."

"They're supposed to appear in the city, so I doubt they'll be looking all the way up here. I just want to get a look at them, then I'll be on my way."

Yamcha shook his head. Typical Bulma, he thought with a hint of affection. "And here I'd thought motherhood might make you a bit more responsible. Listen, these things are supposed to be the most dangerous enemies we've ever faced. You can't just treat this like some casual sightseeing trip. You're putting both of your lives at risk by staying here. You should really go home before things get dicey."

"How dare you accuse me of being irresponsible?! And I don't need you telling me what to do. It's none of your business, anyway."

"If it involves your safety, then it definitely is my business."

"Well, it shouldn't be. Not anymore."

"But it is."

Bulma watched his eyes soften into a gentle gaze as he said those words. She sighed as she leaned against a large boulder. "Yamcha…I thought we'd settled this."

"A person's feelings can't just be 'settled'. You can't force yourself to stop caring about someone just because they stopped caring about you."

"I do care about you, but as a person, not as a boyfriend. That's part of the reason I broke up with you when I did. We had our ups and downs over the years, but toward the end it seemed like it was sticking firmly in the 'downs'. I wanted to end it before there was nothing left but negativity. I didn't want to start hating you."

The word 'hate' stabbed at Yamcha's heart; even the mere thought that she could have started hating him was painful. "I get it, Bulma. Logically, of course it makes sense that you'd break up with me after so many years of off-and-on uncertainty. The thing is, logic doesn't work to sway a person's emotions. So even if you have perfectly valid, sensible reasons for why you dumped me, you may be able to convince my mind that you were right, but you can't convince my heart."

She didn't want to look at him. His heartfelt spiel was causing tears to well up in her eyes. Dammit, why does he still have this effect on me? She took a deep, calming breath. Though he'd said logic couldn't change his feelings, she still had to keep this conversation in the commonsensical realm to keep herself from becoming emotionally overwhelmed. "Here's what I don't understand. If you were—or are—so madly in love with me, why did you cheat on me so many times?"

The question caught him off guard. After all the times they had broken up over his infidelity—including occasions when he hadn't actually cheated but Bulma was convinced he had—she had never actually asked him why. "I guess…the relationship we had was very passionate, for better and for worse. We had amazing highs surrounded by devastating lows. So there were times when I thought maybe I should find someone who could give me just happiness without the sorrow. I went out with a few different women, but they could only make me feel 'okay'. None of them made me feel as awful as I could with you, but none of them could make me feel as incredible, either. There was just…no passion. I've never found anyone else who has the hot, fiery passion that you do. And that's what I need, even though I know I'll get burned by the flames sometimes."

Bulma could feel some of that passion he spoke of threatening to spill out into a rage, but she tempered the flame for the benefit of the baby in her arms. She managed to speak with just a hint of irritation in her voice. "Any sensible creature would get away from a fire that was burning them," she said through gritted teeth. "So you say we were passionate for better or worse. Well, if the 'worse' part is so bad that you go running off with other women to avoid it, then maybe it's too much for you to handle!" Trunks whimpered as she began to lose control of her temper. "There, there," she said soothingly. Once he quieted down, she turned her attention back to her ex. "The fact that you sought out other women should have been your hint to yourself that our relationship wasn't worth saving."

"But, as I said, no one else could compare to you—"

"Yeah, thanks, that makes me feel really special," Bulma scoffed, cutting him off. "'Hey Bulma, I went out with some other women, but none of them were as great as you, so let's have another go at it!' Does that sound like the basis of a solid relationship?"

"Look, I already told you that I understand why you broke up with me. It doesn't matter; I still can't let go of my feelings for you."

"Why?" she asked plaintively.

"Because…" he hung his head and looked down at the ground. "What else do I have? You've moved on, you have even have a kid now. As for me, I've spent many years training, but what do I have to show for it? I've been surpassed by so many guys who are outrageously stronger than me. Even that baby of yours could probably beat the crap out me. I showed up today to fight the Artificial Humans, but how much help am I going to be? With Gokuu, Gohan, Piccolo, and everyone else joining the fight, does it even matter that I'm here? I'm just…" Yamcha clenched his fists and sent one soaring into a boulder, cracking it in half. "I'm just a useless coward!"

Bulma shook her head. "A coward? I don't think so. You're here. A coward would have put himself on the opposite side of the world from this battle. You showed up ready to fight, even though you don't think you'll be able to do anything. That's the opposite of cowardice. And a coward wouldn't have died trying to protect his planet, like you did when the Saiyans arrived. Don't sell yourself short; I wouldn't have kept dating you for so long if you were completely worthless."

He met her fierce blue eyes with surprise as she effectively pulled him out of his funk with just a few words. She really is amazing, Yamcha thought wistfully. "Thanks…I needed that. I guess I've just been too hard on myself lately."

"Well, you shouldn't be. Compared to 99.9999% of the world, you're an incredibly strong fighter. It just so happens that you became friends with guys from an alien race of freakin' battle maniacs. It's not that you're too weak, it's that they're so ridiculously strong because they can hardly focus on anything else. You can invite a guy like Son to a party, but he's not likely to show up for any function unless there's fighting involved. And Vegeta…" She paused, realizing that bringing up Vegeta's name during Yamcha's pep talk was only going to bring him down, even if she said something negative about the Saiyan prince. "Anyway, you're definitely a more caring and supportive friend than those guys could ever hope to be."

Yamcha noticed the hitch in her voice when she inadvertently mentioned Vegeta. That pause followed by mentions of 'care' and 'support' made him wonder if she was actually expecting such things from Vegeta. She acts like she doesn't care about him, but is that really true? It wasn't a question he thought he should ask her at this time, so he pushed it to the back of his mind. "Thanks, Bulma. You really know how to cheer a guy up."

"Well, we were together for sixteen years. I can't just let the man I spent half my life with put himself down. You're a good guy, Yamcha."

Yeah, a good guy who still doesn't have a chance with you, Yamcha thought to himself, though with less bitterness than he would have expected. He was resigned to the fact that she was no longer interested in him romantically, but that didn't mean they had to continue their separation from each other. "Hey, I was thinking…remember the last time we talked?"

"Yeah." How could she forget the argument that had left her so emotionally drained that she'd had to rely on the fleeting mercy of Vegeta for help?

"You said…when we weren't arguing, that is…you mentioned that you'd like for us to be friends someday. Do you…still want that? I think...I might be ready now."

Bulma's eyes lit up. "Really? Yeah, of course! I've really hated not being able to talk to you all this time. I think without all the relationship drama, you and I could be really good friends."

"Yeah…me too." He wasn't nearly as sure about this new relationship dynamic as Bulma was, but he wanted to try. He had missed her terribly, and was happy to be back in her life in any capacity.

"I'm so glad." Bulma was going to give him a friendly hug, but the baby in her arms would make that difficult. Plus, she supposed she should keep things on the more casual side, lest Yamcha get the wrong idea. She held out her hand. "Let's shake on it. Friends?"

He squeezed her hand firmly. "Friends." He found himself gazing at her smiling face for longer than a friend probably should. This might be harder than I thought.

She noticed a shadow on the ground nearby and looked up to see another Z Warrior arriving. "Oh, look, here comes Tenshinhan!"

As Bulma rushed over to greet the three-eyed man descending from the sky, Yamcha tried to clear his head. She only wants to be friends, so that's all I'll be to her. It seems she could have moved on to a certain someone else, anyway. The thought that he had pushed aside earlier came back to the front of his mind, forcing him to ponder if what seemed unbelievable could actually be true.

Has she seriously developed feelings…for Vegeta?

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I'm such an idiot…how did I not realize it before? Vegeta berated himself for missing the now obvious fact that the kid from the future was actually the older version of his infant son. He was forced into the realization when he heard Piccolo call the young man 'Trunks', but thinking back the clues should have made his parentage apparent much earlier. His Super Saiyan power, the time machine emblazoned with the Capsule Corporation logo, and especially his eyes…Bulma had complained incessantly that Trunks had inherited his father's mean-looking eyes. When Trunks first came from the future three years earlier, Vegeta had noticed that the boy's dour expression was similar to his own, but the eyes were the wrong color; at least that element of his features had been inherited from his mother. Back then, he'd been so focused on the news about the Artificial Humans that were supposed to kill them all that he hadn't given much thought to whom the messenger's parents might be. He'd figured that Earthlings didn't have the technology to create a time machine any time soon, so the kid had probably come from several decades into the future…well, leave it to Bulma to prove him wrong regarding what Earthlings were capable of when it came to machines. He sometimes thought that she would have made a fine addition to the mechanical team of Freeza's army…

He shook his head. His mind was getting off track, as it often did when he allowed Bulma's presence inside of it. If he had figured out who Trunks' parents were at an earlier point, he could have avoided the whole mess with Bulma. Whether he really wished that none of it had ever happened was a matter he didn't want to dwell on. So many things had happened that day, and there was still much more to prepare for…

The arrival of the Artificial Humans…Gokuu falling ill to his heart virus in the middle of a fight…Vegeta testing his Super Saiyan strength against an opponent for the first time in his victorious battle against #19…and then his humiliating defeat later at the hands—or would that be mechanical appendages?— of #18. And the whirlwind of events hadn't stopped there. Now a new monster called Cell had arrived, the sixth enemy to appear on a day when only two had been expected. Not that Vegeta considered having more foes a problem; he knew he would gain the power he needed to defeat them all, and still have enough left to finally deal with Gokuu.

His son from the future, on the other hand, had major issues with both the enemies they were facing and Vegeta's attitude. Must be the Earthling in him, fretting over having more—and stronger—opponents than expected. A pure Saiyan would relish the challenge. It seemed that Trunks simultaneously loathed and cared deeply for his father. He had berated Vegeta for not rescuing Bulma and his baby self, yet still repeatedly tried to prevent his father from getting into situations where he might get himself killed. Vegeta had known that Trunks wouldn't allow his mother to be harmed, so he hadn't felt the need to jump in and save her; that tactic had been an obvious ploy by Dr. Gero to make his escape during a moment of chaos, so why distract himself unnecessarily? And though he tried his best to keep Vegeta from jumping impulsively into dangerous situations, Trunks had proven he wasn't the most cool-headed individual himself when he blew up Dr. Gero's laboratory without warning. I was killed when he was a baby, so Bulma can't blame his hot-headedness on anyone but herself, Vegeta thought with a smirk. And his power is quite impressive. Of course, that's to be expected of any kid of mine.

However, even the power of multiple Super Saiyans wasn't enough to take down the threats they currently faced. The Artificial Humans and Cell were already incredibly powerful, and Cell intended to absorb #17 and #18 to make himself even more ridiculously powerful. Vegeta had no intention of stopping him from doing so, as he looked forward to testing himself against ever-stronger opponents, but he knew that at his current level he would be no match for the creature who had stolen cells from the most powerful fighters in the universe. In order to defeat this monstrous opponent, he would need to do what seemed impossible: he would have to surpass the level of Super Saiyan.

So now he stood, unmoving as the rock formation he had landed upon, trying to figure out how to make that happen. Not very long after he had arrived, he was joined by his now almost constant companion, his son from the future. He braced himself for another lecture about how he was underestimating their enemies and he needed to wait for Gokuu to heal before he did anything, but Trunks settled on a nearby rock behind him, not saying a word. Well, as long as he wasn't going to distract him, he supposed it was all right to let him stay.

Hours passed and the sun had begun to set when Vegeta was pulled out of his near meditative state by the hesitant voice of Trunks. "Do you know who I am…" There was a pointed pause before he finished his question. "…Dad?"

It sent a disturbing jolt through his senses. Baby Trunks wasn't old enough to speak yet, so this was the first time he'd been addressed by that title. "Of course I do…Trunks."

"When did you figure it out?"

"Piccolo said your name when you arrived on the battlefield. I may not be much of a father, but I at least know my own son's name."

"I see…" There was another long pause. "So is that why you didn't try to save them? Because you knew I'd do it instead?"

Obviously, he was referring to Bulma and baby Trunks being attacked by Dr. Gero. "Why are you bothering me about such insignificant incidents?"

"I'm trying to find something redeeming about you. Mom said she saw some good qualities in you, but so far I don't see any."

She actually had something good to say about me? He couldn't imagine the current Bulma saying anything nice about him, especially since he had spent much more time avoiding her than being with her. Perhaps the fact that he had been dead for so long had made the future Bulma's view of him tainted with nostalgia. "So what do you see?"

"An arrogant, selfish asshole."

Vegeta laughed aloud. The boy was polite to a fault with everyone else, but when faced with the less-than-ideal father he had never known, his brusqueness bubbled up to the surface. "Sorry to disappoint you, but what you see is what you get. Whatever good qualities Bulma thought she saw in me were sorely mistaken."

"It seems so."

"So, since I'm an arrogant, selfish asshole with no redeeming qualities, there's no reason for you to keep sticking around here. Go run home to your Mommy so I can continue my training."

"I can't do that. You said you're going to surpass Super Saiyan. If you can do it, then so can I. It's better if we work together on this."

"Not a chance. I train alone."

Trunks sighed. "I should have expected that. Mom did tell me you're a pretty lonely guy."

"There's a difference between being 'alone' and 'lonely'. The latter implies I'm dissatisfied being by myself, but it's quite the opposite." Vegeta had turned slightly toward Trunks as they'd been talking, but now completely turned his back to him. "Now get out of here before I make you leave," he threatened.

"I'm not going anywhere."

Vegeta smirked. Stubborn brat. Another trait Bulma can blame on herself, he thought wryly. "Well, if you insist on staying here, you must subject yourself to the same training as me."

"Which is…? I've seen you standing there for several hours now, but I don't know exactly what you're doing."

"You must stay completely still, halting the movements of your body and wanderings of your mind. Cut yourself off from any outside stimulus and search within yourself until you find it."

"Find what?"

"The answer. The path to surpass what was thought to be the pinnacle of our race. Well, I guess only half your race."

"Even if I'm only half Saiyan, the blood I inherited from you flows powerfully through me. I've been able to become a Super Saiyan for much longer than you, so I'm probably a lot closer to surpassing it."

Vegeta wasn't sure if he was more irritated or amused by the displays of attitude spilling forth from his future son. "Well, you certainly won't get any closer to finding the way to surpass Super Saiyan if you keep mouthing off. Now sit down and shut up before I change my mind about letting you stay." He half-expected that Trunks would continue to pepper him with questions and/or insults, but he complied with his father's request and didn't say another word.

Both father and son descended into deep contemplative states. The sun set and rose again, and still neither had moved. However, as time continued to pass by, Vegeta noted that sometimes he could sense Trunks' ki and other times it was absent. The kid thinks he can easily surpass Super Saiyan, but he can't go a day or two without food and water? How naïve. Vegeta tried not to dwell too much on what was happening around him, though; finding the way to surpass his current limits was far more important.

Even after remaining on that boulder for three days, Vegeta still didn't feel much closer to finding the answer he sought. While I'm standing around here, Cell is out there gaining more and more power. Dammit…I need more time! Before he had a chance to relish in his frustration, Gokuu, freshly recovered from his illness, arrived and told Vegeta of a way to get the precious training time he needed: The Room of Spirit and Time, a mystical place where he could get an entire year's worth of training, even as only one day of time would pass outside of the room. A distraction-free environment where there was nothing to do but focus on increasing his power. It was exactly what he needed.

Within an hour of hearing about the place for the first time, Vegeta and Trunks found themselves inside the oppressive environment of the Room of Spirit and Time. Though the Saiyan prince would have preferred to go into the room by himself, because of time constraints he had ended up being accompanied by his son from the future. As long as the kid didn't bother him too much, he supposed it wouldn't be so bad. The place appeared to be wasteland that stretched out to infinity in every direction, so it would be simple enough to avoid making contact.

Trunks seemed to understand his father's need for solitary training and mostly kept to himself during their initial weeks in the room. They occasionally interacted when both of them ended up in the common living area at the same time, though since there was no distinct difference between night and day inside the room, even their sleep schedules didn't always match up. They were both Saiyans, though, so each of them typically had several meals per day, especially on days when they subjected themselves to merciless physical training. Their conversations during any overlapping meals—if they talked at all—were typically terse.

Trunks still appeared to look at Vegeta with no small amount of disdain. Vegeta hadn't done anything to redeem himself in his eyes, so it was no surprise that his view of his father hadn't changed. As for Vegeta's view of his future son, he was finding him to be more of a distraction than he originally thought he might be. It wasn't anything Trunks himself was doing, since he'd mostly honored Vegeta's demand that they train separately. It was more Trunks' existence itself that threw him off, the fact that the child he had accidentally fathered with Bulma was there acting as this constant reminder of what had happened between them. In their brief interactions, there was always something about the things he said, or certain traits of his personality, or even just looking at him and noticing the features he shared with Bulma that would make Vegeta think of her. He didn't like it; he had come here to train his body and mind to go beyond his limits, not reminisce about the woman who had thrown his life off track. He decided to employ his usual method for forgetting about things he didn't want to think about: avoidance.

For several weeks, he stayed away from the common area anytime he sensed Trunks' ki within its vicinity. The nature of the room sometimes made it difficult to determine his son's proximity, though, so there were occasions when he even slept out in the harsh, bright environment just to avoid the risk of encountering him. Within a few weeks, he finally overcame the wall and surpassed Super Saiyan, but even after that, he still spent a couple more weeks in solitude before he figured he could relax just a bit and stop actively avoiding Trunks. He still had many more months to perfect this new form, after all, so there was little point in subjecting his body to overly harsh punishment.

He bathed upon his return to the living area, and when he stepped out of the bath, he saw Trunks sitting at the table eating a meal—breakfast, lunch, dinner? It was hard to tell when day and night looked exactly the same.

"Dad! Where have you been? I haven't seen you in weeks. I was worr…I was wondering where you went."

Vegeta chuckled inwardly. Trying to hide his concern for me? Does he think that's the way to impress a heartless Saiyan warrior? Though he noticed Trunks' obvious cover up, he chose not to call him out on it. "Out there, in the never-ending expanse of whiteness. Where else could I have gone?"

"You were just gone for so long, I thought you could've gotten hurt, or even…" He stopped himself before finishing that thought. "I could feel your ki sometimes, so I knew you were out there somewhere, but there were times when I couldn't sense anything and I didn't know what happened to you. Why didn't you come back here?"

"I have been back occasionally, just not when you were here. But I mostly stayed out there so I could do what needed to be done."

"And you succeeded?"

"Obviously, or else I'd still be out there." Vegeta joined his son at the table, grabbing a loaf of bread and consuming most of it in a couple bites. "Did you?"

"Yeah. But it only happened a couple days ago, so I still need to work on controlling it better. Good thing we still have lots of time left."

The dueling thoughts of, Of course he could do it, he's my kid and, I can't believe he's this strong! sounded through Vegeta's head simultaneously. A familiar feeling was manifesting itself in an unfamiliar way: for the first time, he was feeling pride in something other than his own accomplishments. Why should he feel moved like this just because his son had achieved something incredible? It disturbed him, and he brushed those feelings aside in order to respond to Trunks in his normal dismissive manner. "You'll need all the time you can get to keep yourself from being completely useless in the next battle. Not that I'll need your help, or anyone else's."

"Right…" Trunks' expression turned sullen at his father's words. He certainly hadn't been expecting praise from Vegeta, but it was disheartening to have his achievements diminished by the father he had longed to know his entire life.

There was silence for several minutes as both of them continued to eat. Vegeta had discovered, once again, that merely being in Trunks' presence made him think about the boy's mother. There was a curiosity that had been nagging at his mind ever since the day Trunks had returned from the future. "What did she tell you about me?"

The complete lack of context for the question confused Trunks. "Huh?"

"Bulma. You said before that she'd told you some things about me. What did she say?" He specifically wanted to know about the mythical positive qualities Bulma had supposedly seen in him.

"Well, she didn't like to talk about you much. Maybe she didn't want to disappoint me with the truth. But when I asked her to tell me about you, she said you were powerful, prideful, stern, lonesome, and…" He shook his head, already dismissing the words he was about to say. "And that you had a tender side that you didn't like to show."

"Tender?" Vegeta scoffed, nearly choking on a piece of fruit. "Where the hell did she get that idea?"

"Maybe she made it up just so she'd have one nice thing to say about you." However, thinking back to the almost pained expression on his mother's face when she'd said those words, she clearly hadn't believed it was a lie.

They sat in silence as Vegeta pondered future Bulma's assessment of him. Why would she think he had a hidden tender side? Sure, he had comforted her a couple of times, like when they had attended her friend's wedding and she became upset after talking to Yamcha, or when he'd given her some of his ki when she was too exhausted to move. But he had only done those things because her distress was irritating to him, not because he was concerned for her or anything. Everything he did was only for his own benefit, nothing more.

Though Vegeta and Trunks had an entire year to train in the Room of Spirit and Time, the time passed much more quickly than either one of them expected. Both increased their strength substantially, constantly working on how to best utilize the power that came with the form that surpassed Super Saiyan. In the final weeks, Vegeta noticed that Trunks would disappear for long periods at a time, probably training at a great distance from the living area. It seemed he was intentionally avoiding letting his father sense his ki. Perhaps the kid was working on some big finishing move that he wanted to keep secret until he unleashed it on an opponent. Not that he would have any chance to do that, since Vegeta intended to eliminate any remaining threats on his own. He was confident that his power was enough to take down any opponent, including—finally, and especially—Gokuu.

More than a year had passed when the two emerged from the room, reentering a world where barely more than a day had gone by. Gokuu and Gohan were waiting to enter, and as Trunks began to tell them about the experience they'd had inside, Vegeta stopped him. No need to give his biggest rival any sort of advantage. Just as he finished telling Gokuu how unnecessary it was for him to train because Vegeta would take care of everything, a familiar feminine voice pierced the air. Bulma had arrived, and Vegeta felt a bit thrown off because he hadn't been expecting her to show up. For him, it had been over a year since he'd seen her. And the first thing she said to him after all that time was some silly question about his hair. The inanity of the conversation, plus his own frustration at himself for being secretly pleased to see her again caused him to yell at her and demand to know why she had come. Once he found out she had brought new armor for everyone, he changed his clothes, made a few more boasts to anyone who was listening, and flew off toward the place where he sensed the immense power of Cell.

I was only happy to see her because she brought me new armor, Vegeta thought to himself as he soared through the sky. But you didn't know she had the armor when she first showed up, another part of his mind mocked him. It had been a year and a half—two and a half years to him, after the year-long day he'd experienced—since he had temporarily tossed aside his solitude and allowed himself to connect to Bulma for a brief moment. It was getting more difficult over time to convince himself that his feelings were merely a leftover effect from that one night and would eventually disappear. Especially after spending a year with Trunks, who affected him much more strongly than his present timeline infant equivalent. The baby Trunks wasn't old enough yet to talk or show much of a personality; really, all he ever did when Vegeta came near was cry his head off, which Bulma claimed was entirely Vegeta's own fault. The grown version of Trunks, on the other hand, was a clear combination of both Bulma's traits and his own. In addition, despite the harsh future he had come from, he had turned into both a powerful warrior and an admirable young man. Somehow, two selfish individuals had created this selfless boy who traveled back in time to prevent a terrible future. The credit for that had to go to Bulma, who must have matured greatly in the destructive world she had raised their son in.

Vegeta shook his head. Since when did he care about any kind of heroics? What mattered was power, and he was currently overflowing with it, ready to unleash it upon the first enemy he saw. It was not the time to dwell on Bulma or Trunks and the effect they had on him. The fact that they mattered to him at all was an unsettling acknowledgement to make.

All his thoughts were pushed aside as he approached the green monster floating in the sky. No more time to wonder about his son or one-time lover or any other such frivolous distractions. It was time for battle.

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Author's notes: Well, I did it again. I said I'd finish the next chapter/entire fanfic within a certain timeframe, and I once again failed to deliver on that promise. It must be frustrating for readers…I'm sorry! I'm fed up with my own procrastination, as well. But as always, I'll keep chugging along until I complete this sucker.

As of this chapter, this has officially become my longest fanfic. When I started it, I thought it would be fairly short, but I'm always terrible at predicting the length of my own stories. More scenes keep demanding to be written as I go along! Or scenes that I thought would be short end up stretching enough to fill an entire chapter (like the scenes in this chapter…I didn't expect that just those two sequences would take 6,000 words!) Though this is supposed to be a Vegeta/Bulma fanfic, those two really had only the bare minimum of interaction in this chapter, didn't they? Well, the final chapter will more than make up for it ^_^ Also, now that I've reached the point in the story where it's no longer in the time gap and is actually taking place in the series proper, I'm kind of skimming over the scenes from the series. Sorry if it's a bit lazy, but I didn't want to waste time describing and transcribing scenes everyone already knows. I'm more focused on the inner thoughts of the characters involved in those scenes, rather than reiterating content that's already plain to see.

So, am I gonna get better about making timely updates? Well, I realized recently that I started writing this fic 6 years ago. Holy shit, that's waaaaay too long for a fic that isn't even all that long. Though I'd like to promise a completion date, you know if you've read my previous end-of-chapter notes that any dates I give are nothing but lies, filthy lies! So I'll do my best, and hopefully my best won't be painfully slow for once ^_^ See you next chapter!