A voice was whispering in the darkness.
It sounded familiar, worried even.
It was trying to call him back, but he could barely breathe. His back and lungs were on fire, aching in a way he had never felt before. A low groan of pain filled his ears, his low groan of pain. The voice let out a soft sigh of relief at the noise. "You're okay…"
At glacial speed Goten opened his eyes. It was a struggle for the world to focus, everything was bright, shrouded in odd shapes. The oddest was hovering over him, a tall purple creature that slowly became Mirai. The evening sunlight hid the man's face half in shadows, but there was no doubt the emotion behind his bright blue eyes. Relief.
"Goten," the older saiyan said again, "Say something…"
"What… happened?" His voice sounded normal, if not a little pained. Seeing Mirai's face usually made him feel better, and it had for a brief fleeting second before he remembered his reason for flying off in the first place.
If Mirai noticed, his face didn't let on. He smiled proudly before looking at the clear blue sky overhead. They were on the ground, hidden under the thin brush of dying plants. "I was coming to meet you when I saw the ships. Three landed, one crashed on its way down. Courtesy of you I believe." His hand reached out and gently stroked down Goten's arm. A few deep cuts marred the skin, but the touch was meant to be reassuring.
Goten pulled back his arm immediately, "Don't touch me."
"What?" Mirai's brows knitted together in confusion, "Goten, are you alright?"
"No," his voice was hard, in a way he had never used it before. He couldn't ever remember being so angry.
The was one instance, long ago, that came close. He'd been in his early teen years, Trunks had started Private School. It was the first time Goten realized he wasn't the only person that filled his friend's life. Trunks became popular fast; he was rich, smart, and athletic. Competing for his best friend's affection suddenly became a very real thing. On top of that there were girls. Trunks seemed to glow under their attention and at telling Goten of their antics. It had been a miserable time.
It was the first time Trunks had ever hurt him without throwing a punch. That feeling had been awful, he had been upset but nothing like the emotion he was currently feeling.
He put all his faith in Mirai, even apologized for thinking of him as the same person as his Trunks. While Mirai had been doing exactly the same thing all along. Using him as a substitute.
Goten's dark eyes fled off Mirai's crestfallen face, he could only manage to get the next words out if he didn't look at the older saiyan. "Where were you this morning?"
A chuckle of disbelief escaped the man in front of him, "Is this really the time? Goten? The Elysians are invading."
Goten gritted his teeth in anger before spitting out a different question. "What day is it?"
Mirai gave him a confused look that slowly slid into a lop-sided smile. "I think that ship hit you a little too hard. Look, we need to go home and come up with a plan. Mom's device isn't finished yet and …" his arm reached out, moving to take Goten's own hand to move him along like a child.
Goten couldn't take it anymore, he lashed out.
The punch landed directly against Mirai's square jaw. Whatever the other man was going to say was cut off as his head snapped to the other side. Punching Mirai didn't make him feel better, but it certainly got the other's attention.
His voice finally broke, cut apart by the truth in next words. "My mom told me, okay. I know you went to see Gohan. I know what you and Gohan were."
Mirai's entire body tensed at that. Slowly he raised his head, allowing Goten to see the surprised look in his eyes. "Chichi told you…" Mirai's voice said, void of any emotion.
"The question is why didn't you?" Goten shouted, his chest ached but he couldn't be sure if it was from the ship hitting him or the conversation.
Mirai's purple hair threatened to hide his face before he pushed the strands back, "It was a long time ago Goten. I was a boy at the time."
"But clearly it meant a lot to you…" A lump worked its way into his throat making every syllable difficult to get out. He could see it so clearly in his mind. A young Trunks fawning over Gohan. In his mind the two looked like his own brother and best friend. The food his mother had made for him threatened to come up at the thought.
He knew Mirai was looking directly at him, but still, Goten couldn't meet his gaze. "He was my first love."
"So what does that make me?"
"My second love…"
Second place again. Always behind someone else. Even the fact that Mirai had finally said that word- love- couldn't move him. Goten couldn't look past the shadow he was stuck under, he realized he was never going to escape those shadows. "I don't believe you. No one can ever be in love with me."
Beside him Mirai let out a frustrated sigh, but he didn't argue the point. It crushed Goten's heart just a little more. He dared to look over at the other saiyan, and found Mirai staring off into the sky. His mouth pulled down into a firm scowl that was identical to his father's.
"Look, Goten…" Mirai finally said after a deafening pause had fallen between them, "There's a lot you don't understand and we'll talk about this later, I promise. I do love you, but right now I need to know if you're going to help me fight off this invasion. This world needs you more than ever right now."
It hurt that Mirai thought he would be so selfish not to help just because of a fight. It hurt more that Mirai had used the world as an excuse and hadn't said the three words that would have made Goten forgive him in a heartbeat. 'I need you.'
Shakily Goten climbed to his feet. Moving helped him assess the damage from his fall. It confirmed that the pain in his chest was the result of a few bruised ribs. The muscles in his right leg were torn, threatening to buckle the entire limb, and his shoulder was badly bruised. Mirai jumped to follow him, keeping a close distance as he waited for his answer.
"Of course I'll still help. There are still innocent people who need me after all." Goten spared Mirai a quick look and saw the other saiyan nod in understanding.
"They'll be our first priority." Mirai said, "Try to get as many survivors as you can somewhere safe. Then we'll meet up and figure out what we're going to do about the Captains. Without them, the foot soldiers are useless."
Goten nodded in agreement. "You take the West and I'll head East. We'll meet somewhere in the middle." He charged his ki, preparing to take off. Being with Mirai gave him just one more thing to think about while the Earth was being attacked. He needed to make sure humans were safe, that his mother was safe. He couldn't be looking deeply into ice blue eyes to see if there was any chance of real love.
Mirai didn't look pleased about splitting up, but he stayed quiet. Goten took the silence as his cue to leave but before he could rocket away a hand reached out and grabbed him, effectively stopping the teen in his tracks, "Goten are you alright to go and do this?"
"Of course I am." Goten said, forcing a proud laugh. He looked at the sky longingly instead of at the other saiyan.
An unsure hum escaped Mirai. "Alright," he said giving a firm squeeze before letting go of Goten's hand, "be careful."
He couldn't go back to his mother's, not yet at least. The disgust he'd heard in her voice was still a fresh wound, right next to the hole in his heart where Mirai used to be. Goten needed to fight, he needed to work off his frustrations and do some good.
Finding the surviving humans wasn't difficult. Even though he didn't know where the Safe Zones were he could see where the masses of Elysians were gathering. As he got closer he could hear the screams of the dying break through the sky.
Goten used those screams to fuel his determination to fight as he flared into a super saiyan. The transformation numbed his aches slightly, but he would take the relief where he could get it.
Without a second thought Goten descended to the ground, frying off ki blasts as he went. The Elysian forces scattered at his attacks before retaliating with their own. Ki blasts that were sky blue in color and vibrant pink filled the sky. Goten managed to duck all of them easily before his feet touched the ground.
The foot soldiers stared at him in awe, while the noise of humans scuttling for their escape echoed behind him. Goten gave the environment of quick assessment. They were in the ruins of what had once been a small village. A few homes still had smoke rising from the chimneys, while holes littered the houses, cars, and anything else a person could use as shelter.
Dead bodies speckled the ground around him as well, some children. Goten quickly looked away from the bodies and averted his attention to the cause. The Elysians' voices filtered in all around him.
"It's one of the saiyans!"
"Can we take him?"
"There's a hundred of us and one of him!"
One brave solider raised his hand in the air, signaling the others to prepare for an attack. Goten dug his feet into the ground and cupped his hand to his side. The bright blue blast of the Kamehameha wave shot from his hands, and decimated half the yard, including the Elysian who had lead the charge. The others looked on in shock, their bodies trembling as they took in the charred ground..
Goten didn't have to say a word before the remaining troops spun on their heels and sprinted in retreat. He let them go, his first priority had to be on the survivors.
When he turned around the humans were already starting to creep out of their hiding places. All weary in their movements. One woman clutched her husband's arm as she stared at Goten's bright blonde hair and asked, "That isn't Trunks, is it honey?"
"He's glowing the same way Trunks does..." Another person observed.
Goten tilted his head at the response. He called out to them, "No, I'm not Mir- I mean Trunks. I'm a… friend."
A crowd gathered around him as the tone in the villager's voices began to rise.
"Where is Trunks?" asked a woman with thick glasses and a torn dress.
"Yes," An older man yelled, "Trunks will know what to do. He always does."
Mirai was their hero, Goten realized as he looked at all scared faces. Of course he was, he did save them from the androids after all, fought off the Elysians in the years afterwards. As the voices grew louder Goten had to find his own voice. "Trunks and I have a plan," he said sternly, his ki flared up and the people around him quieted down to listen, "It seems the Elysians are unleashing a final attack and we plan to fight back with everything we have. But in the meantime I need to find somewhere safe for you…"
The crowd looked at each other, all unsure of themselves until a woman stepped forward. She wasn't much older than this mother, her red hair was pulled into a thick braid that was thrown over her shoulder. She was sure of herself as she spoke directly to Goten, "We have a back-up camp hidden under the mountain. We'll retreat there for now."
Goten followed her gaze to a nearby mountain. It wasn't as large as Mount Patzou but a weak looking mountain probably made for better cover. "Great, Can I send other survivors there as well?"
"Of course," said the woman, already the villagers behind her were picking themselves up and limping off to their safe place.
With his job done Goten turned to make for the sky, there was another large gathering of soldiers nearby, and no doubt the ones that retreated would have gone to meet up with them. The woman who had spoken up stopped him before he could fly anywhere, "I know you don't I?"
"I'm not Trunks," Goten repeated slowly, unsure of what to make of the look she was giving him.
Her green eyes crinkled as she laughed, "Oh I know that. Trunks has never used the Kamehameha Wave. I've only seen one person do that, and that was a long time ago." Her face softened as she held out her hand, "My name is Snow by the way. I've been in charge of the Safe Zone Mountain for the past year. If you need us to do anything else, just let us know."
"I'm Goten," he introduced, taking her hand in a firm shake.
A smile crawled across Snow's face, "Goten huh? I have a good feeling about you…"
"Well at least one of us does." Goten sighed, rubbing his still stiff neck.
Snows' smile didn't falter, "Well then you better start believing in it too. Otherwise you won't stand a chance against those Elysians."
Goten pursed his lips and nodded. Her words rang true as he took off into the sky, leaving Snow to bark out orders behind him. All his life Goten had needed other people to believe in him, the encouragement of his brother, of Piccolo, and Trunks- that had gotten him through so many tough fights. Now he didn't have them. He didn't even have Mirai.
All he had was himself, and he wasn't sure if that was enough.
The Elysian forces were gathering again. The hundreds that had retreated were now in the thousands. Goten stared down as the masses continued to accumulate. He'd never seen such a large army before. In smaller groups the foot soldiers were no problem but all together he would have a harder time.
Especially by himself. He frowned at the stray thought and shook it aside. No, he could handle the soldiers. It just wouldn't be as easy he originally thought, but he could do it.
Attacking the incoming ships had taken more energy out of him then he would have liked. To win, Goten knew he would have to play it smart. That meant taking out as many Elysians as possible with the least amount of energy.
With that in mind, he pulled his hands together and began to charge an attack. On the ground the specks of soldiers paused in their movements, finally noticing him. With a fierce battle cry, Goten unleashed his attack. "MasenkoHA!"
His brother's move was powerful and less draining then the Kamehameha Wave. As the yellow beam dashed to the ground, it carved a hole into the soil beneath it. The Elysians tried to dodge but the Masenko blast was too wide. Goten watched at it struck a quarter of the Elysians before he let himself fall to the ground.
The aliens he didn't hit were already on the offensive, rushing towards him and throwing energy balls. "This ends today saiyan scum!" One yelled loudly.
"Yeah," Goten panted, "For you…" he easily dodged each one and smacked a few out of the way. Then one of the soldiers grabbed his arm, another his leg. They dog piled him, trying to take him down with their sheer power in numbers.
Their harsh breathes licked against his skin, hissing and cursing his name. Nails as sharp as claws dug into any inch of skin they could hold on to. Goten let as many as possible pile up on top of him, hardly feeling the weight, before he began to collect two ki blast in each palm.
He heard sharp squeals as the energy burned the Elysians closest to them and the pile on top of him began to shift. Wavering in its decision if a dog pile was the best of ideas. It was too late though. With another loud scream Goten powered up and the ki balls in his hands exploded with him.
His aura and the energy pushed the bodies off of him, throwing them high into the air and killing the aliens on contact.
As he powered back down, Goten's chest was heaving. Each breath became painful as it jostled his still bruised ribs. He'd managed to take out a good portion of the troops, he could finish them all but it would take everything he had left.
Unsurprisingly the remaining Elysians were keeping their distance. Reevaluating their chances of taking him head on. They clearly didn't notice the pain Goten was in which worked in his favor. With a deep gulping breath Goten swallowed his discomfort and prepared for a final attack.
Another Kamehameha would do just the trick.
He crouched in a low stance and pulled his hands together again. The chant fell from his lips in soft huffing breathes as he gathered the needed energy. In front of him, the Elysians scattered, making their crowd wider in hopes of ensuring some survival. Goten pushed a little extra power into his hands to ensure that didn't happen.
"Kame…hame…HA!" It flew from his hands for the third time in hours. This wave though, was the strongest of them all.
It gave a blinding flash of light that even made Goten wince. He couldn't make out any of the damage being done, couldn't hear the screams of the Elysians over the Kamehameha's roar. It finally stopped as the last of his strength was poured out of his body.
Goten's vision blurred as he sagged to the ground. His hair fell into his eyes, returning to its original black color. When the world refocused he looked up to see the damage of his blast. What little breath Goten still had was stolen out of his lungs at the sight.
The Elysian foot soldiers were still standing. In front of them, stood three bigger Elysians. Their armor was thicker but torn and scorched from taking on the blast. Their faces were scratched up as well but they still stood tall. As if the attack had been nothing more than a nuisance.
One looked up, his scared face visible as his gazed back at the saiyan. Jaden, the captain of the Elysians gave Goten a wicked smile. "That was a pretty mighty attack for a Halfling," he said, lowering his arms from their defensive posture.
The other two warriors beside him followed the action. Goten could only assume they were the other Captains.
His body shivered miserably, exhausted and aching from the day's battle, but he wasn't done yet.
Mirai sped home; his throat tight, muscles tense, his heart…
It was still numb. He knew he should have told Goten the moment after they kissed. Goten had been nothing but honest with him from the beginning and he had kept the other in the dark. Even when he knew of the teen's insecurities. He could have found an easier way to break the news to the boy.
But even if he had would that have changed anything? Would Goten still have insisted on loving him? Or would it only hurry up the process.
He'd been selfish. Cherishing those stolen moment together. The company of another saiyan had been addictive. Deep down, he knew their story could only end one way- with Goten leaving. He fought his attraction for so long, that when a different path appeared … Mirai couldn't bring himself to shatter the illusion that they could be together.
Now… Now at the worst possible time they were separated. He should have seen the attack coming, shouldn't have allowed Goten to go out by himself. It would have saved a lot of heartache, at least for the moment.
Silently, Mirai sent up a prayer up to Gohan. His best friend, his mentor, his dead lover.
He knew the Gohan in his timeline wasn't Goten's actual brother, but that wouldn't stop the older man from knowing what to do. Despite everything Gohan would have welcomed Goten with open arms, just like Chichi had done. He would have loved everything about the young saiyan. How happy he was, how he'd grown up in a world without devastation.
Goten was nothing like the Gohan Mirai knew. He was loud, excitable, and affectionate. The years had worn Gohan down in to a man of stone, only smiling the briefest of moments and laughing even rarer. Back then, Mirai remembered his own infatuation with his mentor. How he wanted nothing more than to be Gohan's friend, then his brother, then more…
He'd been so young and Gohan had known it. Mirai hadn't been lying when he told Goten that Gohan had been his first love, but that wasn't the whole story. Nothing had ever transpired between them do to Gohan's strong will.
The only act of love he had ever shown Mirai led to his death. Leaving a wound that still hurt to this day.
He never thought he would fall in love again, didn't want to after the androids were destroyed. Girls wailed for his attention, but life was a fleeting thing and Mirai felt no connection to the human women like he had felt with Gohan.
Long ago he'd decided he would live his life alone, and then… Goten came.
Goten had saved him.
In the years since his return to the future, he'd forgotten how good it felt to train with another saiyan. To have someone who he could talk to. Someone who laughed with him, eat with him, and look at him with absolute devotion.
Goten looked at him differently than Gohan. Mirai remembered well the set in Gohan's dark eyes, the fondness that was a whole different level of love then what Mirai had wanted to see. Goten gave him the look he had sought after for years.
The first time the teen laid eyes on him he had that look, and Mirai fell in love.
A pink energy blast zoomed in front of him, just a few feet short from hitting its mark. Mirai immediately paused, stunned at the close proximity of the blast. He needed to concentrate, as much as he loved Goten, the earth had to come first. He'd fought too long and too hard to lose now.
Looking towards the ground, he saw only a few Elysians firing at him. Their numbers seemed to dwindle the closer he got to Capsule Corp, which meant they were still trying to make their way West. Good, Mirai thought as he fired a blast down at the soldiers. They died instantly and he continued towards his home.
Capsule Corp was just as empty and dark as when he left it. Mirai barged in through a side door, closest to the garage. He could hear the howling noise metal being welded together, warning him that his mother was just fine and still hard at work.
As soon as he opened the door to the garage Bulma paused in her work. Looking up from the table and pulling off a pair of goggles with her free hand. "Trunks," she smiled at him, but it died immediately as she took in the look on his face. Carefully, she set down her tools and moved towards him, "What's wrong? Did something happen to Goten?"
The worry in her voice caused the lump in his throat to return. Yes, he wanted to say, I happened.
Before he could find the proper words to utter, his mother's hand was already cupping his cheek. A soothing touch of warm skin, he closed his eyes and for a moment the invasion and his fight with Goten felt far away. Even farther away was a insistant voice telling him not to go and fight, he wasn't ready, he would not win.
"Trunks you're flushed," Bulma said softly, "Maybe you should sit down."
"I can't," He had to force the words out. His father would be ashamed. In the past he had faced the odds before and won. A warrior doesn't count the odds, Vegeta would say. Mirai swallowed those words and opened his eyes to face his mother. "The Elysians have unleashed a full scale attack. They've brought reinforcements."
"Reinforcements?" Bulma repeated, as if hearing the word for the first time. Her lips pursed in confusion and then resignation. "How many?"
"Thousands," he answered grimly, "Goten and I are going to try to take out as many of the underlings as we can, but we'll still need the Ki Manipulator for the Captains."
"Its days from being done," Bulma gawked. Surprise flickered across her face, she now understood his grim expression.
"We can maybe hold them off for a day," Mirai said honestly, "and I need one more thing from you."
Bulma laughed, her smile was shaky at best, "I can only work one miracle at a time Trunks."
He gave her a reassuring smile and held out his arms. His mother accepted the invitation and collapsed against his chest. They held each other silently, unsure and unwilling to talk about the hours that laid ahead. Mirai pressed on, "I know you have some sensu beans stashed away. We're going to need them."
His mother shifted against him, so her large blue eyes could look up to deliver a stern look. "I have a sensu bean left," she answered, "the rest were spent on the numerous near death experiences you've had the last couple of years."
Mirai's heart fell a little at the news but it was better than nothing. "I'll take it."
Bulma nodded before hurrying over to a small safe that laid on the ground. Dented and dirty, it was a place where his mother kept all her treasures. A few photos from the past, legal documents that no longer had any value, and an old dragon radar that still worked.
Mirai waited as she searched for what she was looking for. In the distance he could feel the strong presence of Goten's ki, burning brightly as he fought on.
The energy wasn't nearly as powerful as it usually was and it was deflating quickly. Mirai frowned as he concentrated on the presence, the distance between them made it feel weaker than reality but he still worried.
He knew Goten had been hurt when he took out one of the ships, yet Mirai let him go off on his own anyway. Maybe it had been an action of his own anger, now guilt hit his gut like a hard kick.
Then, suddenly, the ki flickered out completely. Like a candle blow out with a single breath of air. Mirai gasped when it happened, causing Bulma to look over, her face twisted in concern. "Trunks what is it?"
Concentrating harder, he focused on the spot where he had felt Goten just seconds ago. His ki had spiked and then fell away as if it hadn't been there at all.
"Trunks?" Bulma asked again.
No... No No No Nononono.
Mirai kept searching, looking as hard as he could and... there it was. Faint like a slow pulse. He was alive, but completely exhausted.
Not good. Goten was a easy target in his weakened state.
Even if he was the last person Goten wanted to see, Mirai needed to get to him. If Goten died there wouldn't be any hope to defeat the Elysians.
If Goten died he wouldn't have any reason to defeat them at all.
The thought struck him like lightning, setting every nerve ablaze and running deeper than Mirai thought possible. It felt as if his base instincts had awoken and screaming at him not to lose another person. Especially not this person.
His mother was still watching him, a small pouch that contained the only sensu bean laid limply in her hand. Without wasting another second Mirai snatched the pouch and sprinted for the door. "I have to go..."
"Trunks!" Bulma called after him. When he didn't stop her voice cried out again, "Be careful son!"
He would try his best to fulfill her wishes but if Goten was in trouble like he feared… Mirai would move heaven and hell to protect him.
Author's Notes: If your curious about Snow, she's from Dragonball (one of my favorite girls from dragonball.) I decided to throw her in here because I imagine she would grow up to be a bamf! Once again, sorry about the spelling errors. I was eager to post this chapter since everyone has been so awesome. I really appreciate the support for this story.
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