Road to the Future

Chapter One: Finding Direction

Disclaimer: Characters and premise are the property of Akira Toriyama, I'm just borrowing them for a bit of non-profit fun.

Author's Notes: This is a post-DB:GT story. The notion for this story has been banging around in my head for a while and now it's finally getting on paper. But I'm going to warn you up-front: I can't promise quick updates. It's just over two months until I get married and I'm in the middle of writing a thesis, selling my house and looking for a job, real life is quite hectic at the moment.

Vegeta opened the door of the Gravity Room and stared down at the boy huddled miserably on the door step. It had been a long time since he'd found one of the brats waiting for him, even his little princess had gone and turned into a teenager.

"Well?" Vegeta asked gruffly.

Goten jerked in surprise at Vegeta's voice. He stared up at the older Saiyan with red-rimmed eyes. "Teach me how to fight?" he requested.

"You know how to fight," Vegeta stated. "Your father taught you."

Goten flinched as if Vegeta had struck him. Then he stood up and met Vegeta's gaze with determination. "You know I only ever played at training," he said. "I never took it seriously. And when I got older, well, you know, girls. Dad had to force me to do any training at all. Then he found Uub and he didn't bother anymore."

"What's changed?" Vegeta had an idea of what had brought this on, but he wanted to know the exact form it had taken.

Goten's posture crumpled, his gaze dropped to the ground at Vegeta's feet, ashamed, grieving. "They took the Dragon Balls because we relied on them too much," he said softly. "No matter what happened we could always use them to fix it. And we did. That's why they took them away."

Vegeta waited silently.

"That's why they took my dad too, isn't it?" Goten continued. "We always knew that when something bad happened he'd take care of it."

"Dad always wanted us to train. Gohan, Trunks and I are supposed to have more potential than you or Dad, but we never worked to bring it out. Well, Trunks and I didn't and Gohan stopped trying a long time ago."

"I guess we just assumed that if anything happened we'd have time to train then." Goten said. The look in his eyes turned desperate. "But we didn't. Baby came and he took us down like dominos."

Vegeta's mouth twisted in displeasure at the reminder.

"He started with the weak link and worked his way up," Goten continued bitterly. "And then Super 17, there wasn't any warning or time to get stronger, he just took us all out like it was nothing, then Dad took care of him. When the evil dragons started hatching we left Dad to take care of them too, we didn't even bother to try. Dad was out saving the world and we just went about our lives like it was nothing. When it turned out that he did need help you were the only one of us who came through. The rest of us were just worthless baggage."

Vegeta watched expressionlessly as tears welled up in the young demi-Saiyan's eyes.

"Even back when we fought Buu Dad wanted Trunks and I to step up as Earth's protectors. We never did, we just kept depending on him to take care of everything. It's just like the Dragon Balls, we depended on them to be there, to fix things whenever anyone died. So they too the Dragon Balls away, they took Dad away."

"I wouldn't have allowed you or Trunks to fight Buu," Vegeta pointed out. "You were still children."

Goten straightened, it emphasized the fact that he was nearly a foot taller than Vegeta. "I'm not a child anymore," he said. "Gohan has his family and his job and he's already done a lot. Trunks helped Dad get the Black Star Dragon Balls and he's got Capsule Crop to run. Hell, even Pan was there trying to help Dad with the Black Star Dragon Balls and the evil Dragons. Pan's got a lot more attitude than she's got power or skill, but at least she tried. I'm tired of being useless Uncle Vegeta! Please?"

Vegeta considered Goten for several moments. There had been a time when he would have dismissed Goten's request out of hand; because a student would take time out of his own training, because he'd hated the idea of helping anyone else become stronger. Vegeta had gotten over his arrogance during the battle against Buu. Being the strongest just didn't matter the way it had before. He'd learned to be at peace with himself. He didn't need solitary victories to prove his strength anymore. It was more important to be certain that his family and by extension his adopted planet were protected.

There weren't many fighters worth mentioning left. Kakarrot was gone. The Namek was gone. Even Kuririn was gone and with Kuririn's death 18 had sunken into a depression and didn't want to do much of anything anymore, their daughter was the only one left who could reach her.

Vegeta realized that he was going to miss the occasional, almost friendly spars, that he and Kakarrot had indulged in after they'd saved the world from Buu. If he ever wanted another sparring partner worth fighting, he was going to have to train one of the brats.

Gohan, despite all his potential, would never be a proper warrior. He was forever trapped between his fear of his berserker nature and his reliance on the same. Getting Gohan to train properly would be nothing but a headache.

As for Trunks; Vegeta repressed the urge to smirk; Trunks had a Saiyan's pride. He wouldn't stand by while Goten got stronger than he was. It had been too long since he and Trunks had shared any common interests. But if he tried to force Trunks to train all he'd get would be whining about Capsule Corps even though Vegeta knew very well that his son got bored senseless within five minutes of getting to his desk and would generally end up playing hooky by noon. But if he told Trunks that he was training Goten, it would only be a matter of time until Trunks demanded to train as well.

"I won't tolerate any nonsense," Vegeta stated harshly. "If I think you're doing any less than your best, I won't bother to open the door before I boot you out of it. Understood?"

Goten nodded. "Yes sir!"

"Meet me here tomorrow at five." Vegeta gave Goten a piercing glare. "And I do mean in the morning, brat."