Trunks settled himself into what had become a very familiar pose over the last few days. He wrapped his arms around his bent left leg, letting the right one dangle of the edge of the Capsule Corp building, sinking his head down to rest on folded arms. A slight breeze, nearly undetectable at ground level but easily felt at his altitude, whisked past him, ruffling his hair as it went.
It was a nice night out, he reflected, turning his face up to scan the distant sky for the first stars of the night. The setting sun created the perfect backdrop on the natural canvas.
It was strange how easily life had seemed to go on after the bomb he and Goten had dropped on their families only a few days before. Trunks smiled faintly as he recalled Chi Chi's dazed acceptance of the situation, requiring more then a little support when the family had headed home later that evening. Goten had been none the worse for wear after Trunks' temper tantrum – in looking back, trunks reflected that it wasn't really Goten he was mad at and the little chase scene he had indulged in had been more of a diversion tactic, letting them escape the room and the ominous presence of his father.
His father. Trunks blew out his breath in a snort. He still had no clue as to what his father made of the whole situation – Vegeta hadn't said too much after the 'family meeting' and had all but disappeared in the days since. Trunks would have known if his father had left the compound but the former Prince had merely shut himself into the gravity room as he always did, leaving Trunks to wonder if he was going to disown him this time.
A part of his mind argued that Vegeta wasn't biased against all females in general – his attitude towards Bra was a perfect example of how his father could be manipulated through the presence of tears and a perfectly practised, quivering upper lip.
But Bra is a half-saiyajin female, Trunks countered the point morosely. She is therefore acceptable. Then there was his mother, a formidable foe in her own right, matching her husband in wits and temper. Trunks had no illusions that he could live up to his mother's reputation, and truth be known, he had no wish to try. Another sigh escaped him. He didn't even really know if his father had been proud of him before the whole fiasco started. How did he feel now, knowing his son had a power level as a female that was lower then Yamchua's?
His thoughts were interrupted abruptly as an icy cold spray came out of nowhere, drenching the now-female half-saiyajin. Sputtering in shock and anger, she jumped to her feet, minding the ledge she'd been sitting on and rounded on her attacker, fists clenched.
Only to see it was her father, standing there with a neutral expression, a now empty glass in one hand. He tossed it aside carelessly and folded his arms, looking every inch the prince he was. Trunks gulped and lowered her arms, looking away in shame, silently waiting for the words of belittlement she was expecting.
Minutes passed and neither of them moved. Trunks could feel her father's gaze steadily boring into her like a drill and it tasted like accusation in her guilty mind. When it became apparent that her father seemed content to sit and stare, the defensive instinct she had cultivated over the years leaped to the forefront and she raised her eyes to stare back at her father.
" Aren't you going to say anything?" she asked, struggling to keep her emotions in check. Kuso, it had never been this hard before! This female body must be more receptive to emotional stimulus. If there was one thing Trunks had always perfected it was a true poker face, the blankest of cold expression. Her mother always said that her ability to hide emotions was one of the surest signs she was Vegeta's son. She flinched mentally. Daughter too, she amended, feeling vaguely sickened at the thought.
Vegeta merely raised a single eyebrow in response to her outburst and she clenched her fists again.
" Well?" she asked again, quieter this time, weariness overtaking her slender form.
Then her father spoke.
" What were you expecting me to say?"
Trunks head snapped up so fast she was surprised she didn't hear a whip shot go off. Her disbelieving eyes met her father's cool, impenetrable stare and she swallowed nervously. His tone hadn't given her a clue as to what his reaction was yet but the fact that he hadn't started ranting yet had given her a slight measure of hope.
" I don't know," she answered, casting her eyes downward again. She was unprepared for the angry burst of ki that erupted from her father and she flinched back even though the spark was not directed at her specifically. Her flew back to her father's face and she saw the anger evident there.
" Nice to know you have such faith in me," Vegeta said coldly. His arms unfolded and one hand rested against his hip as he stared at his son/daughter. " You lied to me. You were expecting me to call you weak and do something as stupid as to denounce you as my son. Is that it?"
Trunks cringed and his father growled.
" My memory is impeccable brat, and I certainly do not recall my ever beating you outside of the training room. Do not dishonour me by thinking I'm about to start abusing my family now."
Her spine straightened.
Vegeta raked his eyes up and down his female form and Trunks endured it stiffly, knowing her father was currently assessing her power level, sizing her up so to speak. It would have come sooner or later and Trunks sighed, wanting to get it over and done with. Her father finished his evaluation with a snort and a toss of his head.
" Bra's power level is higher then yours is."
" You have about as much strength as your mother."Here it comes…
" It will take much training to get your power up in this form."What?!?
Trunks stared at her father as his arms crossed again. " What did you—"
Vegeta cut her off with a curt wave of his hand. " Your ears still work, don't they? I said it will take much training, but it can be done. " His upper lip raised in a faint sneer. " I refuse to have any of my offspring with a power level lower then that idiot Yamchua."
At least my guess was right. " You mean you'll train me?"
Vegeta levelled a glare at her that made her shrink back again. " Baka. Who else would waste their time?"
Trunks felt a slow, small grin spread across her face and she cut it off before it could grow. Her father did care. He may not have the best or most tactful way of showing it, but he did care.
" Besides," Vegeta continued. " With your smaller frame, you might be even faster as a girl. You will also need to learn to switch forms without that idiotic display of panic I saw earlier – such distractions could cost you your life in a fight. And those—" he jerked a thumb at Trunks' chest and the lavender-haired girl's cheeks burned a faint red. "—will throw off your balance with your sword. There is much work that needs to be done."
Vegeta broke off his abnormally long tirade and stared hard at his son. " And I will not go easy on you."
Trunks suddenly felt a little lighter. " Hai, 'Tousan. I'll work hard."
The slight breeze she had felt earlier reappeared with a vengeance and she shivered with the cold before she could stop herself. Her father snorted.
" Dry yourself with your ki."
" DO IT."
Trunks' mouth snapped shut and she nodded her head vigorously. Obviously this was the first of what she knew would be many tests and she resolved herself that she would not fail in this.
She reached into the core of her, searching out her centre as she hadn't had to do in years, ever since tapping into her ki had become instinctual. She still recalled the basics, the theory behind ki manipulation and she put that knowledge to the test. Straining her senses, her eyes closed and wrapping her mind around the ball of light she could feel, she tugged.
She could feel her father's impatience and she had a moment of internal panic, knowing how quickly it could change to anger. Her father might change his mind if she couldn't even do enough of a flare to dry the beads of water still dotting her face and neck. Then her own anger joined in her renewed efforts – human side now or not, she was still the firstborn of the Prince of all Saiyajins and one of the strongest-willed humans on earth.
Trunks recalled the anger and shock she had been feeling ever since that fateful day and used it, adding it as fuel to the fire doing a slow burn inside of her. All of her emotion rose, shocking even herself with its intensity and she remembered briefly, an article she had once read that females were more susceptible to emotional outbursts. It certainly seemed true now. Adding to the fire was the brief image she had of Gohan's mate flying around with ease. If Videl could access her ki, then SO COULD SHE!
Trunks screamed as she focused her waning power, coaxing it into existence and as she felt the winds kick up she felt a brief surge of satisfaction that not all of her power had disappeared. She opened her eyes to see her father eyeing her with – dare she say it – approval on his face and she looked down to see her clothes completely dry and the grass beneath her feet burned away. Whoops.
Her anger left her as it was replaced by elation and with the loss of her energy source, her power left just as quickly. The slight wind she had conjured up dissipated and she raised a triumphant gaze to her father.
" There," she panted. " No problem."
Then her eyes rolled up into the back of her head as the last bit of her energy left her in a rush and she vaguely heard a muttered " baka" before everything went dark.
Goten sat at the kitchen table with his father, picking at his food. Every now and then he looked up at his mother who was washing dishes at the sink just as fast as Goku dirtied them. He had been walking around on eggshells with regards to his mother, wondering if she was truly accepting this or if she was storing up this particular tirade for a time when she could really cut loose.
It wasn't as though it were that bad, he reflected. It certainly wasn't as bad as Trunks' situation – at least he knew his father wouldn't blast him to hell for turning into a weak female. Goten grinned. If anything, his power was a little bit stronger in his tiger form, a testament to Trunks' earlier statements about his cursed form being closer to his Saiyajin nature.
His grin faded as he thought about Trunks. He hoped his best friend was all right. When they had all left the Brief's residence only short days before, he had seen the cool look Vegeta had given his son before going to the gravity room. Trunks had a severe inferiority complex when it came to his father and the expectations Trunks was to live up to.
His thoughts were interrupted as a bowl slammed down in front of him and then his mother was there, eyeing him with concern.
" Goten-chan? Are you alright? You've barely touched anything."
Goten swallowed and looked at his mother. Chi Chi was a formidable woman and few would ever dare challenge her on any matter. Even Yamchua, Tien and yes, even Piccolo shied away from setting off his mother's famous temper. Doing so now was the last thing he wanted.
" 'Kaasan?" he ventured quietly. Chi Chi's look of concern seemed to up a notch at the almost meek tone of her youngest son's voice. Even Goku's ears had pricked up and he turned his head to listen, a few stray grains of rice sticking to his face.
" Yes, Goten?"
" Are you…all right with this?" He forced himself to look his mother in the eye. " I mean, the transforming thing…"
Chi Chi was silent for a few minutes as she collected her thoughts. Years ago she would have ranted and screamed about how unfair it was that life kept shifting, turning her world into something she wasn't familiar with, and her son turning into a giant tiger certainly registered as being one of the stranger things she'd had to deal with.
But the other part of her cried out in motherly concern at the fear in her son's eyes and she had a brief moment of satisfaction of knowing that it was the fear every young boy had – the fear of losing the mother's love, and she knew that only she held that power over her Saiyajin son, regardless of how powerful he was. It was a bond beyond power levels, beyond bluster and arrogance and sheer energy. And she knew, as she looked into the wary eyes of whom she would always consider her little boy and she hastened to reassure him in a way only a mother could.
" You're my son, Goten," she said quietly, and she knelt down beside him, wrapping her arms around her youngest. It was a tough job as Goten had filled out quite substantially during these past few years but then he made the task easier by lifting his own arms and engulfing his mother in a bear hug that soon had her gasping for breath.
" g-Goten-chan!" she wheezed and her son sheepishly let her go, rubbing the back of his head in the same manner Goku often did. She chuckled and ruffled his hair fondly.
Goku watched his family with a big smile on his face. For all the time he had been thought to be dumber then the rest, he now watched his wife, proud of the way she had handled it, and had the satisfaction of knowing she would do exactly what she had. His wife was a stern taskmaster but beneath her rough exterior was a warm passionate woman and a loving mother who would go to the ends of the earth for her family. He knew she would accept her son, no matter what.
Little did he know that her resolve had yet to be truly tested. As Goten sat back down to finish his dinner – or start, in this case – his thoughts turned to a certain lavender-haired boy who turned from a God into a Goddess – and nearly drooled into his mashed potatos. Guy or girl, Trunks was definitely beautiful. And as the thought of two Trunks – one male, one female – laying beside him, warming his bed entered his mind, he grinned, knowing his dreams that night would be sweet indeed.