Title: "Nel'zya – Falling in Time."
Genre: Romance. Friendship. Fluffy in places, angstier in other.
Word Count: 6125.
Characters: Future Trunks (herein called "Torankusu" as not to confuse him with his present-time self), Goten.
Rating: heavy PG-13/soft R.
Disclaimer: DBZ, its characters, places and themes belong to Akira Toriyama, Bird Studio, Shueisha, FUNimation, etc.. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warnings: AU. Shounen-ai. Underage (14 years old) kissing. Not sex. Goten being liberal in his usage of slang.
A/N: An exercises of style. Windows on a star-crossed relationship.
Summary: A Stray of time, a Child whose birth was not preordained. A friendship spanning space and time. A mirage love.
Nel'zya: this is actually Russian. It means "impossible" (that cannot be done) or "forbidden" (that shouldn't be done).
Ki: a person's inner energy, used in fighting to form explosive balls or beams.
Nii-san: older brother
Nii-chan: younger brother
Torankusu: Japanese spelling of "Trunks"
Once, when he was very, very small, his brother had told him that Trunks had not always been a child. There had been a time, before Goten was even born, when Trunks was a boy of seventeen. To Goten, who was but four, it had seemed a really, really old age to be.
17-years-old Trunks was sad, Gohan had reminisced. And lonely. He was shy, and gruff, and solitary, and very, very polite, all at once. He was strong and kind; but most of all, he was, and would always be, alone. There was a lingering pain in his eyes, something like a storm and a cloud; his eyebrows were often knitted in worry, and the lines around his mouth showed anguish.
Where's gone, now? Goten had asked. If he's sad, I can go play with him, and make him smile again!
Gohan's face had turned rueful at that. His smile had waned, but he had only shook his head and said that Goten could verily do that – give the smile back to Trunks. But neither Goten, nor him, nor Vegeta, who everything could, would ever be able to reach him, where he had gone.
Goten had seemed puzzled, but refrained from further questioning his brother. When he was ushered away, Goten grabbed his crayons and a stack of clean paper-sheets, and hurried back outside, plunging in the golden sunlight with a hoot of pure delight.
There, in the cool green shadows, curled in the bowels of an ancient oak, 5-years-old Trunks was waiting for him; a Trunks he knew how to get to smile, the only Trunks he knew or needed.
"Ne, Trunks-kun, zip it up, already! If they say there was another Trunks before you, then there was another Trunks, and that's the end of it."
It was meant to get Trunks to shut up, and to my credit, it worked just fine. Only one problem: it worked so well, the hush spread across the whole party, and now everyone is looking at me as if I'd re-grown my tail or something.
Definition of everyone: thirty-five people. At the very least. Capsule Corp's courtyard is huge enough to house more than one space-ship, not to mention the occasional Dragon; there'd enough space to – say – host a Tenkaichi match, here. Right now, said space is so fully occupied, you've got to squint so see the ground between people's feet.
Vegeta-Ouji, Dr Briefs, Trunks, Bulma-san, Dad – name them, and they'll be here. And all their eyes are on me, which makes me feel like I'm auctioning to be the court's clown, or something. What? I mean, it's not the first time I hushed Trunks in public… is it?
Feeling myself turning pink under the scrutiny, I push my hands into my pockets, kick my tongue back into gear.
"No big deal, right?"
Present-time Trunks snaps his mouth shut, narrows his eyes and strides towards me.
"And whatever would you mean with that, Goten?"
I meet him halfway, eyes flicking over to his face and tracing the contours I know so well. His glare is hard and bitter, almost menacing. An odd contrast with his politician smile, all white teeth and handsome dimples. I guess people would call the look on his face condescension, or something. An emotion which is part the strain induced by having to deal with thick-skulled underlings, part fond exasperation at their clownish habits.
Except I'm not just anyone. I've been around Trunks long enough to see through the pretence. Years of practice in Trunks-lation tell me that, behind the politeness, there're some real anger. And loads of petty jealousy, too.
"I mean that throwing a fit about being the only Trunks who ever existed won't change the fact that you're not the only Trunks who ever existed. So drop it."
Vegeta-Ouji throws his head back and laughs, flashing me a grin that makes me proud. Bulma-san worries her bottom lip, darting her eyes from her son to me a couple of times. She's got this look, as though she wants to haul my ass over the coals. But she said nothing to stop Trunk's outburst moments ago, and nothing she says to me now. She just moves towards Trunks, trying her best to look appeasing.
"I said I don't believe it!"
Trunks rounds on her, and at the same time reaches for me. Bulma gets a glare that could make hell freeze over, while I get yanked against Trunks's chest, and pinned there. I swear, this is how a Teddy must feel when handled by an obnoxious child. I've got years of experience in this department too, what with Trunks treating me in this fashion ever since I was old enough to walk – scratch that: old enough to breathe.
"How could there be two of me?" Trunks rants anew. "A future version of myself came back in time, you say? Please, mom! There is no scientific ground for thinking backwards time travel could be possible! And his actions caused a time divergence no less! You're the one who taught me about the chronology protection conjecture--"
I lose him half-way between principal Novikov and some insect holes or something, and decide to stop him before he can drone on about paradoxes and time-shifting once more.
Sighing, I push Trunks gently away, look at him in the eyes.
"Why won't you just accept it, Trunks-kun? What would it hurt? There really are two of you, but that doesn't make you any less special." I watch his face clear at my gentle tone, feel his shoulder unwind under my touch, and I plunge onward. "He's long gone, anyway. Back in his time, while you're here. No reason to get this ruffled, ne?"
I realize I should've zipped it up myself the moment Trunks's jaw drops violently open - uh, I think I just heard it dislocating itself – and he shoots me a betrayed glare.
"You knew about him," he accuses quietly.
The wind picks up. The air is crisp, it smells like rain and feels moist against the skin. It's like cold, wet fingers were stroking my cheek, my mouth. I close my eyes. Can't find it inside myself to lie.
"Yes," I whisper.
And say no more.
Summertime on Mount Paoz was a feast for the senses.
The forest was awash with colours; the air hot, pleasantly moist, the breeze thick with hundreds different smells — flowers and mud and rain and cut grass and fruit and sun — and vibrant with sounds. Insects crawling, cubs brawling among the trees, birds chirping from high overhead, the rustling of foliage as the wind blew; as the fox hunted and the sparrow took flight.
Goten knew all those sounds, all those smells. He was six now. He was a Big Grown Man. He could protect mommy, and if only Gohan would keep away from School long enough to spend some time home, Goten would protect him, too.
It was a summer day, mild after a refreshing spell of rain. The grass was slick and cold, it bended pleasantly under the soles of his naked little feet. It was soft and ticklish, and Goten giggled out loud, a lovely sound. His mouth was full with berries, his fingers sticky with juices.
He was splashing about the creek and running after little birdies with faint amused cries, when he caught sight of a blur of shimmering brightness swarming right across the water. He stopped for a moment, awed, and then he was kicking forward, running and drifting, navigating through the low branches and diving through the bushes like a earthbound goldfish.
He burst into a glade, chest heaving, directly across a small naked outcrop of red rocks. The shimmering, he saw, was a curiously shaped contraption, a glass bubble on wrinkly legs which looked more insect than machine, but machine it was.
Its glass dome was open, revealing a comfortably-looking seat within, ivy-green, but old and worn, spotted all over with sweat and rain and blood. A thick lever could be seen in the middle of the cabin. And buttons: rows upon rows of buttons, round and colourful like candies, light flickering on and off, on and off, buzzing like bees, a sound like the static coming out the TV when Trunks's father hit it hard, punctured by meek, rhythmic beeps like a mysterious code.
Goten hid amongst the bushes, crouching low like Gohan had taught him to do when playing tag. But he was fascinated, tremendously so. Heart ramming, wide-eyed, he peeked from his hiding spot. He leaned forward, slowly but carefully, felt the sweat turn his palms slippery, felt it puncture his back with icy needles. He kept his body hidden, only his face emerging from the greenery as though from water, and stared directly at him, a boy of long pale hair kneeling by the odd bubble-machine, staring intently at his hands.
The rhythmic beeping originated from him, from the odd-shaped box he held. He was clad in black only – black pants, black shirt, black, black, black from head to feet – and his clothes were dripping. His hair, speckled with water, looked like it could be lavender, a pale blossom's colour. His arms were bare, powerful, crisscrossed with scars. His neck was not slender, but it was pale, with a swan's curve. He had a royal face, with a high forehead and slanting eyes, which looked troubled. His mouth was red where he was biting down on it, and his eyes the colour of the sky at its clearest. Deep lines of care and sorrow furrowed his brow; though as he looked more intently, Goten perceived that those lines where like those he delighted to trace in the sand: deep and marred, but easy to wash away. Underneath, he sensed, was a face he knew, a face he loved.
Bravely, impulsively, the child stumbled forward, gave a chirping greeting. The older boy looked up from his toy, quite startled. He took the child in with one long, questioning look, then inclined his head, holding his hand out in a gesture of appeal. Not once did his look turn into what one would call a smile, for even when his mouth curved up in a charming greeting, his eyes still looked sad.
Springing forth to catch the proffered hand, Goten took a monumental decision.
He decided that he would, without doubt, chase that sadness forever away.
"I might have told him something when he was younger," Gohan admits, and casts a puzzled smile at me. He looks like he'd expected me to forget what he told me about the future Trunks, and I must confess: for a whole of two years I never thought about his claim that there had been a Trunks before "our" Trunks. After that…
"Of course you did," I answer him. "When I was four, or something like that. You romanticized it a whole lot, too."
Pointedly, which makes Gohan groan, and readily bury his face in his hands.
"Aw, Goten-chan, I didn't…"
Videl laughs, gives him a resounding slap on the shoulder.
"Of course you did," she teases softly.
Pan gives an excited squeal, and runs to daddy's rescue. Climbing onto Gohan's pant leg like a squirrel, she settles in his arms and shines her best puppy-dog eyes at her mother, who retaliates with a giggle.
Vegeta-Ouji looks totally unmoved by the friendly family brawl. However, when he turns his eyes towards me, I can see the beginning of a smirk.
"You know my… other brat."
Pleased, confident; so full of pride, of power. I hesitate a moment – isn't it odd, how the Ouji phrased it? 'You know him,' instead of 'about him'. It feels like he wants me to admit something; wants me to know he demands such admission. I watch him, watch the sombre shadows the sun is casting around his mouth, watch his eyes as they watch me back, ever-alert, and for once not threatening.
"Torankusu," I say, and nod. "The Time-Traveller."
"You are late."
Clad in a suit of silvery blue, a delicate tunic with high collar and matching pants, as it was common among his mother's kin. Sewn into the fabric across the chest was a soaring Dragon; the buttons at his collar and cuffs were heavy jades, eyes-shaped and shining dully. Embroidered slippers, as black as pitch, were on his little feet.
Torankusu came to him in silence, knelt by the water and drank thirstily. He splashed the sweat from his face and throat, then sat beside the child on the mossy bank of the stream. He looked up at the stars to gauge the exact time.
The sky was clear, that cool Autumn night, and sprinkled with stars. The moon shone high behind the mountains, on the far left. A round, opalescent pearl, dripping an eerie light.
Around them, crickets intoned a wailing, mournful tune. It rose from the grass, dripped down the heavy boughs, scratched through the budding brushes and the dirty brambles. Something shifted high above, at the top of the red rocky outcrop. A wolf, maybe, or just a mouse. There was a scraping sound, like feet or paws, then all was still.
"That I am," Torankusu conceded after a while. "Are you angry at me, little one?"
Goten took a moment to consider the query. His shoulder rippled under the thin shirt he wore, either with cold or denial. He moved his head from side to side, so very shyly.
"I was booooooooored," was his conclusion.
"And cold, too?"
The child's hand looked white in moonlight, small and frail and oh-so-chilled. It beckoned to him. Torankusu took the little fingers in his own, mindful of his tremendous strength. He rubbed them and blew gently upon them, until the skin was warm again, and its colour restored.
"I'm sorry," Torankusu said, with sincere regret in his voice.
He pushed Goten's hand to the child's chest, then folded both of his own back into his lap.
"Then again, I shouldn't be here," he said, trailing off as the child squirmed closer to him, then closer again, and closer still, inch by inch. Torankusu touched him, touched the peach-like smoothness of his cheek, and looked thorn.
"It's unwise to create so many holes in the continuum. I'd better stop jumping back and forth from my timeline to this so very often."
"You won't come here anymore?"
A gasp. The chill of forebode. Doe-like eyes widening in the darkness.
Torankusu gave his head a shake. "I truly shouldn't," he said.
Goten shivered, tensed up. Then, like a branch snapping under too much pressure, he collapsed against the older boy, clung to him with a gasp and a moan.
"Don't leave, Torankusu! Don't! Please! I like having another Nii-san! I really do!"
Torankusu glanced down at him, surprised. Goten's nose was scrunched tearfully up, his eyes as red as a rabbit's. A flush spread like fire across the moonlit landscape of his face, until his cheeks seemed to give off a glow of their own. And so did his eyes, bright and almost feverish under the fan of his thick black lashes.
"I like having a Nii-chan, too," Torankusu agreed. He felt a sudden urge to touch the child, to spirit him away to his own timeline and there keep him, this little, loving doll. In the end, he did nothing. He did not move, almost did not breathe. He just sat, still and silent, as his heart warmed over.
He had not know what he had expected to find, all those weeks ago, when he had decided to make another journey back in time. Most likely, he had desired nothing more than to see his father, that beloved stranger, one last time. From the shadows, unseen, Torankusu would have watched how those few he called friends now fared, and then be gone forever.
However, fate saw it fit to meddle with his plans, and Torankusu had chanced upon Goten, instead.
Goten of the charming smile, Goten of the silly behaviour. Goten whose soul was made of the same stuff of clouds and dreams, pure white and threadbare. Goten who spoke his heart first, and consulted his sense after. Goten, whose very existence was a miracle Torankusu had been responsible of — for, how could have Goten ever been conceived, hadn't Torankusu journeyed back in time to save the child's father from sure death?
He was so sweet. He was so pure. An untainted soul, something Torankusu had never once seen before. And he was so alone, too. A fatherless hybrid, the same as Torankusu. The two were similar, and yet dissimilar, in ways that were too subtle to explain. Torankusu was fascinated by Goten, for whose very existence he was responsible. And Goten was delighted to meet a Trunks that was at the same time more and less than the Trunks he was used to.
So Torankusu had made it a habit to come back to this glade, every fortnight or so, to have counsel with this adorable little thing that called him "brother" and laughed in delight when Torankusu called him the same. It was no simple whim Torankusu indulged to. The child, his mere presence, seemed to purify Torankusu. Goten's innocence, his easy acceptance, his quiet delight effortlessly reached depths of his soul that Torankusu thought barren and locked, and their key forever lost.
Only with this child, in this glade, by that chattering creek and under that harsh jarred slope, did Torankusu ever feel free. Here he could forget. He could forgive. He could pretend to fit in, instead than being the loner, the reclusive, the ever-abandoned. He could pretend to truly belong in this place, and not to that other one, where the earth was scorched, and the sun never shone; where no plants thrived, water was poisoned and corpses still littered the wrecked cities.
Reaching out, Torankusu petted Goten's hair, his plump little cheek. Found that the decision to leave or stay was not his own to make, it never had been.
"How old are you, again?"
Goten held up eight fingers – one hand splayed open, the other with two fingers outstretched, which became three as he gave the matter further thought.
"Eight," murmured Torankusu. Then, eyes closed: "One year younger than me."
Goten shook his head, a shy child. Giggled, pressing both palms to his mouth.
"You're older than that!"
Torankusu's lips twitched. The imitation of a smile.
"That I am," he agreed, for the second time over.
In a flurry, Goten was on his feet, pulling Torankusu with him through the tender reeds, across the shallow waters, the mud squishing and churning about their ankles.
"Stay, stay, stay, don't ever go away!"
Goten laughed, high and clear, a sound of chiming bells. Torankusu, he tried, but laughing had always come hard to him. They ate honey off their fingertips, whispered secrets in the dark; they sparred and played tag. They were sad, and they were comforted.
Come morning, Torankusu would leave, that much both knew.
That he would be back was no mystery, either.
"Let's suppose I do believe you." Trunks arranges himself into the haughtiest pose ever. Arms crossed at the chest, legs wide, chin pointing up. "Why would you bring this up now of all times, mom? What's this, another of your Springtime reunion jokes?"
He hisses the last word, and I swear a viper couldn't have sounded any more venomous.
Bma-san flushes, and Vegeta-Ouji's right eye twitches. Gohan's grin grows a telling little bit, which combined with the downward angle of his eyebrows makes him look downright wicked. Piccolo-san huffs, whirls this way and that, trying to look unaffected. But I think I can sense a lingering expectance coming from him, as well. Dad is positively bouncing on his toes too, and looks as if he were a child over again; Krillin nods his head quickly to himself, looking more high-spirited than… well, ever. The air seems charged with their anticipation, it's so easily palpable. I blink, like the perfect owl.
Dr. Brief is the one who gets to drop the bomb on Trunks. He pets his chin for a while, then says, almost absently:
"Your mother made some calculations, and discovered an interesting amount of worm-holes in the time fabric. She also seemed to detect a pattern, and if she happens to be right in her guesses…"
He trails off, directing a meaningful glance at his daughter: her clue to continue from where he left off. Bulma-san dusts her hands off on her dress, becomes suddenly nervous.
"I'm always right, dad, which means that Trunks… the future Trunks… has been visiting this timeline regularly for the past twelve years. And he…"
The words tumble out of my mouth before I manage to stop them.
"…he's coming again. Today."
"What do you mean, you'll be back in three years?!"
Torankusu felt his heart clench at the cry, but gave no outward reaction. He tried to block his hands from reaching out, pressed his mouth thin against the surge of comforting words.
Frost had turned the glade into a wintry fairytale garden, white and shimmering. Ice had turned the river in the glass coffer of itself; the trees, barren and crooked, looked soft and inviting under a mantle of snow. What flowers remained looked like spooky little figures poking out from here and there, laying in wait, either crouching and listening, or deeply asleep.
Torankusu half believed he could feel that same cold, that same ice and stillness reach inside him and spread slowly, a thick poison that plunged deep, to the core of him, and made it into glass.
Wide-eyed and tremulous, voice catching ever so slightly with emotion, lithe body shivering in mixed cold and dread. Everything about Goten was calling to Torankusu, pleading with him to turn, to touch, to comfort. Torankusu told himself he would not waver, over and over.
"Three years and three months," he said at last, not unkindly.
A small, anguished sound from that sweet silvery voice that puberty had honed into a fine, throaty tune.
"Tora…" gravely, as if that world alone conveyed much more than just his name. Never before had the two been apart for so long, not once during their long friendship. How could he cope? How could they – their friendship, all that bound them together – survive such a long stretch of time?
Sitting side-by-side into the little hollow at the base of the outcrop, half escaping the bite and screech of the wind, its freezing touch. There was little to no room to move, the air was thick with heavy smells, like mud and pelt, and each could feel the other shiver against his own side.
In the secret of shadows, fingers damp with snow found equally frozen fingers, tightened around them. Goten shook his head, lips moving but not uttering a sound. Sunset was behind him, the pale glitter of stars a garland about his head.
Torankusu squeezed Goten's fingers once, then went back to polishing his sword. His touch was no real answer, but the gentleness of it seemed to hold a subtle meaning, something sweet and fragile and painful, such as light glinting over plains of snow.
"I have to."
Something like pain twisting inside him, threatening to break the glass, the façade of cold indifference so carefully put up — then Goten moved closer, whispered: "Tora…" Tora, Tora, Tora, causing heat to rise inside Torankusu, unbidden, rise and spread to his chest and face, like a fever of sorts.
They were close, too close. Goten, his ripe body, it smelled like only sin could smell. Musk and spice, and sunlight and clover honey, like nothing Torankusu had ever smelled before. His breath traced ephemeral glyphs in the air, fanned hot and sweet and moist against the side Torankusu's neck, as again, he pleaded: "Tora…"
Torankusu traced wet, cold fingers down Goten's cheek and across his mouth, surprised at the hotness of the boy's skin. He shook his head in silent denial, pale lavender hair dancing about his cheeks, and moved carefully away. He took a few, precious moments to replace the blade in its scabbard, to regain breath, and then the words slithered down his tongue, on their own volition:
"You are young. So young."
Which was true, in a sense; and maddeningly inaccurate besides, for Goten was not so young. Not anymore. The child he had once been was long gone, and Goten tethered already on the verge of adulthood. So young, and not so much anymore.
Back then, in the first days of their acquaintance, when Goten was barely a third of Torankusu's age, they had loved one another, much and deeply, like kin. They had needed one another in the purest of ways. But Time, it is a wicked creature. It is a glass. Its is a mirror. It is a web. Its is a tree with boughs that reach higher than the sky and roots than plunge in the deepest of hells. It knows no boundaries; it plays by its own rules, and laughs at its own jokes.
It was by one of those rules that, while Goten had grown and ripened, Torankusu was still in his early twenties, and only a handful of years divided them.
It was by one of those jokes, that Torankusu's love for the boy had grown alongside Goten, sprouted talons and wings, morphing into something of an altogether different nature, so that affection had turned love had turned passion.
Never before had Torankusu known a desire of such kind, which could tear at the strings of both heart and mind; he knew not how to handle it, its rousing fire, the treacherous sweetness of it, pooling at his breast and loins. It confused him. It made him feel dirty, in a way, and it made him feel desperate. It made him want to beg and crawl and die, even as it made him soar.
At last he thought he felt complete, as if the long-lost half of himself, that which he had been searching for long, had been found. But Goten, while not a child anymore, was not yet man. And Torankusu refrained — recoiled — from touching him in ways he might not yet understand; from soiling the innocent to life and love.
What other option did he have, if not flee?
Torankusu fisted his hands, ached inside. He closed his eyes so that he could not see Goten's own, see the glitter in them, and revelled in the chills running up his spine, cooling his mind. Goten rose to his knees, curled against Torankusu's back, issuing little, desperate sounds.
"I'm not young! I'm fifteen!"
Pushing against him now, moulding himself to Torankusu's heat, as with desperate hands he quested across his chest, looking for leverage, for a way to turn Torankusu around to face him.
"You are barely midway through your teens, Goten, while I'm twenty-t…"
"So what?! You won't be my friend anymore, just 'cause I'm younger? I always were!"
That little catch again, the querulous plead, the hitching of tears. Torankusu felt himself break.
"You don't understand."
"Then explain it to me!"
"I must go, and that is final."
"No! Tora no, no!" anxious again, almost scared.
Cold hands on Torankusu's own, his hair, his neck, the side of his face. Cold fingers, and warm breath. Pleading eyes met his own.
"Is it something I did? I'll make it up to you, I promise! I'll be so much better! I'll make you like me again, just don't leave!"
Hands, fingers touching, skin to skin, hot, breath puffing, quick and sweet-smelling, foam-white in the air, the weight pushing against him, dragging him down, down.
Torankusu wrenched himself away from the siren's spell, cried out in a pained, cracked lion's roar:
"Like you?! Don't you know? Don't you know that I love you? Don't you know I want you so much, I might not help myself if I don't leave?"
Goten looked at him, a startled bird. His hands were outstretched before him still, reaching out for Torankusu, but frozen, unmoving like those of a statue. His eyes were open wide and luminous, round little mirrors capturing all the light. His mouth set itself into a line, as his firm chest moved to take in a deeper breath. His voice lowered, as did his long-lashed eyelids.
"Stay. Stay with me, then. Stay."
Torankusu watched him through heavy eyes, this child in a man's body, the only love of his life. Goten pressed up against him, said the same words again, Stay, Stay, Stay, dark eyes shut, lips parted, panting through his open mouth. There was nothing childish about this creature anymore. Long gone was the honey little cherub of years past; a sensuous thing had come in its place, a sprite, a demon, a temptation as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as ebony.
Torankusu twined his arms about him, leaning in until he could feel warm breath clash against his mouth, and then lost all reason. He pinioned Goten rough against the forest floor, in the faint moistness smelling of moss and rot and ice and fur, and clung to him, kissed him frantically on the mouth, never closing his eyes.
He burned. He could not breathe. His heart thundered. His eyes brimmed. He drank of Goten's mouth, his chin, his throat, his jaw, his ear, moving back up to kiss each of the eyelids, that fluttered and came up, revealing gleaming eyes, drunk eyes, feverish eyes, which seemed to draw him in, drink him, make him fall, and then lips were pressed to his face in turn, traced a cool, teasing glyph across his cheek to his mouth, soft like butterfly wings, and then Goten arched against him, offered that deliciously sweet mouth to Torankusu again, whimpering all the while, clutching at him, pulling him close and down and closer still, hips writhing, like a snake, like a beast, and eased his thighs wide around Torankusu's waist, locked his arms about Torankusu's neck, whimpering all the while, whimpering, whimpering, pleading with no words, needy, so needy.
"You see now?" Torankusu pulled a trifling space away, cupped his hand above Goten's heart, felt the startled-bird pace, the brisk breathing. "I cannot do this to you."
Goten shook his head, panted open-mouthed for air.
"I want you to."
"They would condemned us."
Shaking his head again, a stubborn thing, eyes flashing now, not with tears, but full of pride.
"Stay, Torankusu. Stay."
"Wait for me."
Kissing his fingers now, one by one, like an adoring devoted.
"Three years. And then you'll be of age, and I'll have no qualms about continuing this. No reason not to touch you as I wish to do."
"Wait for me. This time, I'll come to stay."
Heat. A burst of light. A hoarse cry ringing through the sky.
Torankusu was gone.
Trunks cocks an eyebrow at me, his surprise evident on his face.
Bulma-san flashes me a surprised smile as well. On her face, pleasure is warring with a certain irritation.
"Why, yes! That's exactly what I was about to say, Goten-chan. How did you guess?"
I think I blush, for reasons as unknown to them as they are to me. I let out an embarrassed little sound, though, and rub the back of my neck.
I don't expect them to believe me, if I told them. Sometimes, I don't believe myself. Ehy, did you know? When I was six, I met this boy, and I grew up with him, too, I mean, he came to visit me so many times through the years, it was almost as if he never left at all, and he was my friend, one of my best friends, I even called him brother, except that when I was fifteen he kissed me, this man I loved so much, kissed me hard on the mouth, on my neck, my face, my hands, and you know what? he was almost the same age as when I first met him nine years before, he was still around twenty, or so, but he was bothered that I was not yet of age, and so he left, promising to be back, to be back today, today of all days, and that's why I know Future Trunks is coming today, it's because I was talking about him, the Trunks from the future, Mirai Torankusu, or Tora, as I loved to call him, because Tora means tiger and he reminded me of one, a tiger, proud and beautiful, but so full of sorrow behind the bars of his cage, and no, I haven't gone to see a shrink lately, why do you ask?
I squirm, hating to be the focus of all attention. I want to go, to leave. I have to be someplace else, at the moss-fringed hollow, down beside the stream. Then the presence at my side is gone, I hear Trunks's voice, sharper than usual, see the dust raising about his feet as he moves away from me and towards his mother.
"Then, this… this is a welcome party?" he asks quietly. "We are waiting for him?"
"Well, but of course!" Bulma's head bobs up and down, quickly. Smiling wide, eyes glinting. She looks like she lost half of her years between a blink and the next.
"How do you know he will come here?" with the same harsh tone as before, the edges of his teeth gnashing together. "Why here, of all places? Why not--"
there where the river flows, and white, star-shaped flowers thrive under the rusty coloured outcrop
Vegeta blinks narrowed eyes; he begins to move towards Trunks, explaining the matter with clipped words and a cruel smile.
"All the warriors gathered here will act as a beacon. Torankusu will recognize our ki—"
…he will recognize my ki…
"—and come to us."
…and come to me.
I take a harsher breath in, feeling like I'm taking root on the spot. I must have made a sound or another, because Trunks is narrowing his eyes at me, a feat I didn't think he could be capable of, since he had already reduced them to slits. He opens his mouth, then shakes his head, settles for just glaring, though the emotion brimming in his eyes is beyond recognition. Anger? Spite? Fear? Hurt? Surprisingly, it's Vegeta-Ouji the one who speaks.
"You look nervous."
And I want to laugh, because, boy, here they are, each one them, one their toes with impatience, bustling, bristling, giving off such a sense of expectancy I can almost smell it, almost see it move about their heads in odd clouds, and they tell me I'm nervous.
Fucking right, I'm nervous.
I'm afire. I feel languid, and drunken, and charged, and scared, yes, and despite dressing lightly, I feel hot, terribly hot, and clammy. The air is cool and delicious against my face. The grass rustles at my ankles. The sun has gotten lower on the horizon too; it has gotten darker, smaller. It is swathed with clouds now, a Seer's orb.
Will Tora come? Won't he? He said he would be back. He said time-travelling is perilous. He said each time he came to me, the threads connecting our timelines became thinner and thinner, the road more dangerous. He said he loved me. And I do too.
I feel like I should speak, but I just hang my head, in silence. I am touching my chest and counting the beats, like he did that last night, onetwothree, quick, so quick. What if something happened? What if he doesn't come? And I'm shaking my head now, no, no, like child, I'm not nervous Ouji, I'm terrified, thankyouverymuch.
Vegeta squeezes my arm, and I jump.
I follow his black eyes skywards, and see this shimmering in the sky, a speckle drifting earthwards, a blur of light so dazzling it hurts to watch.
The slowness it's moving with is dream-like, unsettling; the round whiteness of it is so familiar, the shift of colours, flashing like a rainbow. I hear a noise. A beeper. Then a cheer, as the white shimmering radiance lands in front of us, resolves itself into a curiously shaped pod, something that looks more insect than machine, a metallic bubble sitting on spidery hinder legs.
The glittering dome is opening now, to reveal him sitting there smiling, smiling, like he never did, pale blossom's hair moving, cheeks dimpling, eyebrows raising, and not a trace of sorrow in his clear blue eyes.
I am in Torankusu's arms and kissing him even before his feet touch earth.
It was my intention from the start, for this story to have a slightly antiquate wording (just slightly); I wanted to give the flashbacks a fairly tale quality. It was meant to clash with the more-modern prose used by Goten in his narration, and then blur together with it in the ending.
However, I'm not 100 percent satisfied with the final result. Despite all the efforts I put into it, I still feel that the story lacks something. And I cannot figure out what, if anything, should I add to make it better.
Considering that, and considering also that Mirai Trunks's/Goten get-together stories are so rare to find it is a shame, I might decide to rewrite something like this again in the future, but using a completely different style. :