MK08 – Thank you so much for your review. It means worlds to me! I really have put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (mostly tears, haha) into this story and it's wonderful to know you got so much out of it. I'm glad you liked the involvement of Piccolo and Vegeta. I couldn't leave them out; they're 2 of my favorite characters ;)

Vegeta and Bulma Fan – Glad you liked it! I really made you wait long this time. Hope it will be worth it.

Chapter 18

It felt like they had been kissing for hours and that was just fine with Trunks. He loved kissing and, besides, Gohan was good at it. Really good.

They had decided to take advantage of the tropical weather and take a midnight dip in the temperate waters of the South Pacific. Now the two stood on one of many sandbars in the shallow sea surrounding the beach, their naked legs intertwined under the water. With his arms wrapped around the taller demi's neck, Trunks's toes barely skimmed the sand beneath.

Out here, there was only the endless black ocean, the sound of moving water, and the moon shining down on it all, illuminating the crest of each miniature wave so that it sparkled. Trunks wasn't sure whether it was the cool water lapping at his skin that gave him chills or the way Gohan's tongue traced his upper lip.

"Mmm, why'd you stop?" he asked when the older man pulled away.

"You're distracted."

"I'm not."

"You are."

Gohan couldn't help but stare as, at length, a guilty smile graced the prince's features. With his wet hair matted against his head, slicked back away from his face, he looked . . . different somehow. Older. Much less like the little boy Gohan had grown up with and more like the man he was becoming.

"I'm curious whether you've been playing hard to get all this time just to make me crazy," the teen admitted. "I can't help but wonder where all your righteous reservations are now."

Gohan smiled meekly. "To be honest, Goten deserves the credit for my change of heart. He's the one who finally made me realize what an ass I was being."

"If that's all it took, I could've told you weeks ago that you were being an ass."

Gohan cringed, though he knew he deserved it. "No need for name-calling. I promised I'd make it up to you and I meant that."

The prince's eyes sparkled; challenging. "And how do you propose to do that?"

"Well," Gohan nudged him playfully under the water with his hips. "Let's just say I'm pretty sure that by the time the sun comes up tomorrow I can repay my debt to you in full iwith/i interest."

"So you think you can buy me off with cheap sex?"

"Yes," the other answered, matter-of-factly. "Yes, I do."

Trunks raised an eyebrow, looking with extraordinary scrutiny upon the elder Son. Finally he smiled. "I guess you know me pretty well then."

"You're a nineteen-year-old boy. You're not so hard to figure out."

"Yeah, well, I just hope you can keep up with me, Old Man."

"Oh," this time Gohan laughed, "I don't think it's me who needs to worry."

His dark eyes, though warm, were clouded with something that made the prince shiver. He swallowed, thinking of the last time he heard Gohan use that I-know-something-you-don't-know tone. If memory served, he had ended up unconscious on the floor of the gravity room.

Before Trunks knew it, they were approaching the shore, and he tripped over himself as the sand sloped rapidly upwards toward the beach. When he faltered, Gohan caught him, his arms like steel and the rest of his body just as hard. This time when Gohan kissed him, Trunks could feel his blood rush; hear it in his ears. It warmed skin that was still cold from the water, and his body broke out in goose bumps all over.

But uncertainty overcame desire as they toppled onto the blanket and the teen stiffened, stopping the other in his tracks with a serious whisper.

"Gohan."

He looked up at the dark-haired demi and Gohan pushed himself up on his arms, suddenly worried he was rushing the teen. It had become clear in retrospect that the last time they were together, Trunks was far from ready to move on and Gohan wondered if, in his eagerness to make amends, he had somehow missed the same signs again. Come to think of it, hadn't the other mentioned something about taking things slower this time around?

But the younger boy had no objection to the situation he found himself in. He only wondered how, against all odds, they had gotten here. Despite his meaningful chat with Goten in space, the brothers' apparent discussion on the topic, and Gohan's minimal explanation regarding his change of heart, Trunks was still having trouble wrapping his mind around everything. During the last week he had convinced himself that he was utterly alone in his misery while the two Sons moved on, only too happy to leave him behind. But he was beginning to understand that it hadn't been so simple for either of them.

And he just had to know, "Did you think of me at all? This week while you were gone?"

Gohan reached up to touch Trunks's wet hair, dragging the lavender strands across his forehead. He wondered if he could tell Trunks, without sounding completely obsessive, how many times he'd thought about that hair in the last week – the way it fanned out on the prince's pillow when he slept or the way it felt between his fingers. The way it framed those impossibly blue eyes.

"I never stopped thinking about you," he answered finally and his companion smiled.

"And what exactly did these thoughts entail?"

"I'll tell you when you're older."

Trunks rolled over so that it was Gohan who was pinned to the blanket. The moonlight made his pale skin look like alabaster and Trunks traced the perfectly molded lines of his chest, thinking the elder Son could've been carved right out of the stuff. He explored the same pathways with his tongue and salty drips of ocean water mixed with the taste of the other's skin. The effect was intoxicating.

As he worked his way back to Gohan's mouth, he guided the other demi's hand downward until it cupped one flawlessly rounded cheek. He had been thinking about Gohan, too, and he wasn't willing to wait any longer to make those fantasies a reality. Besides, the older demi didn't have to tell Trunks what he was thinking. The way he looked at the prince just then told him everything he needed to know.

While Gohan's hands wandered, Trunks set his mouth to work on the other's neck, going rather automatically for that sensitive bit of skin just below his earlobe. Surprisingly or not, Gohan moaned softly at the contact, turning his head to allow for better access, and Trunks couldn't help but smile against the skin.

He stifled his amusement quickly but not before the elder Son noticed.

"Something funny?" His voice was husky.

"Oh, it's nothing but a little family resemblance is all."

Gohan groaned, rolling his eyes. "I'm sorry I asked." He had come to terms with the boys' extensive history, but he didn't particularly want to imagine his baby brother in the same position that he was in now. Eager to get the image out of his head before it could ruin the moment entirely, he slid out from under Trunks, leaving him face-down on the blanket. "Anyone ever tell you that you talk too much?"

When the teenager stifled another giggle, Gohan slapped a palm over his mouth. "Don't answer that," he instructed, leaning down to whisper into his hair.

The playful mood changed swiftly as the older demi used his knee to spread Trunks's legs. The boy rubbed against him, riding the muscular thigh that slipped further between his own. He had his eyes closed, the sounds he was making muffled by Gohan's palm, and the elder Son couldn't ignore the way it made his own groin ache. He had to admit that he loved Trunks like this; abdicating the control he so relished outside the bedroom.

He worked his way worshipfully down the other's spine with his lips, blazing a fiery trail along the cool skin. When he let go of the teen, Trunks stretched out beneath him like a cat and Gohan paused to drag his tongue upwards along the small of his back. From the way the prince shuddered as he did so, it was clear that this was one of his more sensitive, if less obvious, erogenous zones. He paid particular attention to that place, teasing the shallow dimples at the base of his spine and admiring the younger Saiyan's all-over tan.

The boy was like hard candy and he wanted nothing more than to taste him from the inside out.

Every inch of Trunks's skin was tingling by the time Gohan's tongue slipped into the crease between his legs and he whimpered at the contact, at once so gratifying and so frustratingly insufficient. He lifted himself higher off of the blanket, encouraging the warm, wet probing but squirmed all the same, unable to decide whether he wanted to escape or wanted more. The firstborn decided for him, strong hands wrapping around his ankles, forcing his legs apart as surely as they held him in place. Not an inch of skin was spared and, primed as he was, Trunks could feel every breath the other took against his body.

Gohan pressed as deeply as he could, frustrated as the younger boy with the shallow penetration. The way the other trembled at the tip of his tongue only made Gohan want to ravage him more and he feasted on the teen as a Saiyan would any meal: with utter abandon and an insatiable appetite.

Trunks gasped when a particularly violent tremor shook his body. Opening his eyes, Gohan stared up the boy's spine where his shoulder blades lifted and fell with each breath. His right arm jerked as he milked the last drops of orgasm.

"Well, that was fast."

"No worries," Trunks breathed. "There's tons more where that came from."

The kid was positively shameless; though Gohan thought in this particular context it was one of his sexier qualities. He watched Trunks sit up on his knees, reach back and push now-slippery fingers inside himself. It was an erotic sight, watching the other prepare for him – especially when he closed his eyes and licked his lips like that – and Gohan's appreciation for the display was evident.

He grabbed the teen's hips, digging demanding fingers into the flesh. Something about Trunks's willing submissiveness spoke to every instinct that told him to dominate; every cell inside him that was still untamed primate and he was driven by a force he didn't entirely understand and very rarely acknowledged. He always had to be so careful with Videl, even during their most passionate encounters, and there was an undeniable sense of freedom in the realization that the same concerns were non-existent with Trunks.

The royal demi could feel the hardness of the other's erection at his back. He grasped it with one hand, guiding Gohan between his legs. The slick substance that coated him made it easy for the older man to slip inside. He didn't, though; only moving up and down along that inviting trail, prolonging the moment.

Wanting to hear the other ask him for it.

Trunks arched so that he could reach Gohan's ear, whispering one quiet command – two whole syllables – punctuating the sentence with his tongue and dropping onto all fours in case the message wasn't entirely clear.

He forced himself relax as much as possible, silently talking himself through it as the elder Son breached the entrance. It wasn't exactly his fledgling experience, but Gohan was bigger than his little brother and Trunks hadn't known before their first time together how much difference a little surface area could make.

Plus, his partner didn't seem quite so patient this time around.

The teen gritted his teeth at the burning sensation and it seemed an eternity before he felt the other's hips connect with his own.

Gohan had all the enthusiasm of a boy scout tempered by the precision of a perfectionist and it wasn't long before his punishing pace had Trunks feeling dizzy, barely aware enough of his own pathetic moans to have the sense to muffle them with a fistful of goose down. Something about the curve, the thickness, the rock solid hardness of the other's cock hit a spot inside him never before explored and at this rate it wouldn't be long before he was up two-zero on his partner.

Gohan would've thought he was hurting the younger boy except for the way Trunks began pushing back against him, arms stretched out on the blanket, hands gripping the comforter tightly. The drops of ocean water on his skin had been replaced by beads of concentration and his body shone enticingly in the moonlight. He ran one hand up the royal demi's back, entangling it in his hair to pull him up so they knelt facing the palm trees. The angle increased the intensity of everything Trunks was feeling and he fought to maintain control, clenching his jaw around one tightly balled fist to keep quiet.

Gohan realized that years of secrecy would have conditioned him to be silent, but there was no need for restraint in this deserted place. And, besides, something irrational inside him wanted Trunks to know that he wasn't in Goten's bed anymore.

He took the teenager's hand from his mouth and held it behind his back, twisting only enough to let Trunks know that struggle would be pointless. With his other arm around the royal demi's waist, there was nowhere for Trunks to go and the relentless pounding wrested ever more urgent cries from his throat.

When he finally uttered those magic words, he made Gohan's name sound like a plea for release; one the dark-haired demi could not refuse. He traced the prince's jaw with his fingers, turning Trunks to face him. An endearing blush covered the younger one's cheeks and he reached for Gohan's mouth with his own despite the unnatural angle.

Losing himself to carnal impulse, the elder Son attacked his lips until he tasted blood on his tongue, felt it trickle between their chins, and heard the prince's muffled cry as once again hot liquid spilled down his shaft, decorating his thighs. Gohan withdrew, his own orgasm dripping from Trunks's body and over his knuckles.

The teen's legs were trembling by the time they collapsed onto the blanket together, Trunks with slightly less grace than Gohan.

"That was uh—. Amazing," his voice was shaky.

Gohan touched his lips to Trunks's forehead, kissing the feverish skin there and barely registering the compliment. Not very long ago he'd been sure they'd never be together again and he was already wondering what he would've done if that was the case. Somewhere along the line being around the prince had become an addiction and like a junkie craving a fix, moderation wasn't an option.

Trunks rolled onto his back, as the other licked his way along the chiseled contours of his abdomen. He whimpered when Gohan bypassed the neglected shaft, going instead for his inner thighs, hooking one leg over his shoulder. He suckled the sensitive skin there, collecting drops of climax where they had rained down on the boy's legs.

Trunks swooned when those lips finally wrapped around his cock. He was quickly getting used to vocalizing his pleasure and showered the other with passionate words of encouragement. Gohan's mouth was so hot and the feeling spread through him like there was magma in his veins. He entangled his fingers in the other's hair and couldn't help but rock his hips as he buried the toes of one foot in the sand. "Gohan, mmm . . . . Don't stop . . . ."

The younger demi didn't have the same inhibitions the older one did and he gave himself over to the corporeal entirely, easily leaving everything else behind. Not seeing, not thinking, only feeling; and it was easy to see what made the prince so sensual. He needed this, Gohan realized. Adoration. Intimacy. Connection. It was his way of escaping himself and he needed it almost as much as he needed to breathe.

Gohan still had one leg draped over his shoulder when he pulled himself up the other's torso and kissed his lips.

"You ready for the next installment?"

"Oh, sweetheart, I thought you'd never ask."

Goten stood in front of a thin whitewashed door in a bright hallway. It was a Sunday morning at WCU and the dorms were just beginning to come to life. He could hear the sounds of female voices inside and all around. He listened to the steady din for a moment while he hesitated, then knocked three times on the door.

When it opened, the bright smile that greeted him quickly faded.

"Goten," Tiffany observed with disappointment. "What are you doing here?"

"I just came to apologize, Tiffany." The demi-Saiyan pushed his bangs away from his face. "I feel really bad about the way everything happened between us."

She crossed her arms over her bare stomach, visible beneath the short shirt she wore. Since it seemed that at least she wasn't going to close the door in his face, Goten continued.

"I've been going through a lot of stuff this semester. But I never should have gotten you involved and I'm sorry."

"Goten?"

He looked to his right where Kim had just exited the community kitchen that was next door to their dorm room. She was dressed in jeans and a WCU sweatshirt, eating a bagel. She wiped some cream cheese from her bottom lip with the back of her hand and, suddenly self-conscious, tossed the rest of the bagel into the trash can by the door.

"Ah!" Goten gasped, holding his hand out. "If you weren't going to eat that, I—."

"Is food all you ever think about?" Tiffany cried. "I believe you were in the middle of apologizing to me."

"Oh, yeah," Goten agreed. "It's just that I'm going to be in class again starting on Monday and I don't want there to be any hard feelings between us. I think you're a really great person and I hope we can still be friends."

The blonde sighed then shrugged her shoulders. "Yeah, sure. I guess so."

"Great," Goten smiled.

"So you're . . . coming back?" Kim hoped her voice wouldn't betray how happy she was to hear that.

"Uh huh. Oh," Goten bit his bottom lip. "I could really use some help catching up on last week's assignments. I mean, if you wouldn't mind."

"Yeah! I mean no. Of course I wouldn't. Mind, that is." Kim closed her eyes for a moment, praying that her face didn't look as warm as it felt.

"Thanks."

Tiffany leaned against the door frame twisting a lock of golden hair between her fingers. "Why don't you just ask your smarty pants best friend to help you?"

"Tiff," Kim shot her a warning glare, knowing that Trunks must be a sore subject for Goten. "He doesn't go to school here anymore, remember?"

"Oh, right." The blonde sounded bored. "I forgot. Not all of us stalk the kid twenty-four seven."

"I don't stalk him!" Kim insisted defensively. "We really did have plans on Friday night."

The Capsule heir had never shown up to meet her for drinks and, to her great embarrassment, Kim ended up walking out of the restaurant bar alone after waiting for over an hour. Most of her friends didn't believe her in the first place when she'd turned down plans with them to meet up with Trunks and she felt like an idiot when she showed up at the dorms alone, confirming their suspicions.

Goten's already big brown eyes widened. "No way. You were the dinner date?" He couldn't help but laugh, sure that his brother would be exceptionally happy to hear that.

"What's so funny?" Kim demanded.

"Sorry." His apology was sincere. "I'm sure Trunks felt really bad about not making it. But actually something important came up and we had to go out of town for a while."

The coed blinked at him, confused. Why was Goten talking about Trunks so casually? Had they really been together on Friday night? Only the night before that, the lavender-haired boy told her that they couldn't be in the same room without violence erupting.

"Ew!" Tiffany chimed in again, interrupting her thoughts. "So he really did stand you up – and to hang out with Goten, no less!" She shot a dismissive glance at their visitor. "You know, I wouldn't sweat him so much if I were you, Kim. I'm really starting to think that kid is gay."

The dark-haired girl put a palm to her forehead. "I don't 'sweat' him, Tiff. I just—ugh. Nevermind."

Before the conversation could continue Goten became aware of someone approaching from behind. He spun to face a tall, muscular guy wearing a football uniform. The new arrival ran a hand through his sandy blond hair and Goten involuntarily took a step back. The uniform smelled like it had been through more than a few games without a good wash.

"Hi, Tad!" Tiffany beamed as she pushed Goten aside to pounce on the other man. She rested her forearms on his chest and gazed up adoringly. "How was practice?"

"Awesome, babe. Coach made us run until we threw up."

"That's gross," the blonde informed him, but forgot about the offensive comment quickly enough. She batted long eyelashes at him. "I hope you still have a ilittle/i energy left."

"Oh, you know it." The new guy winked.

Tiffany crinkled her nose in Goten's direction. "Not here," she said. "Can we go to your dorm?"

"I don't think so, babe. My roommates are all home."

"Oh, you're so silly, sweetie," she pushed him off toward the nearby elevator. "That's even better."

Goten tilted his head as he watched them walk away.

"It was really sweet of you to stop by," Kim said wryly as she joined him at the door to their room. "But, alas, as you can see, she'll live to screw another day."

The demi-Saiyan couldn't help the snort that escaped as he tried not to laugh. But in his head, he chastised himself. No matter how quickly Tiffany had moved on, it still wasn't right what he'd done to her. In retrospect, he realized he only kissed her that day in the library because it had become clear that Trunks wouldn't let him go without a fight. A fight that Goten desperately wanted to avoid and, knowing how possessive the other boy was, betrayal seemed his only surefire way out. It was cowardly and unfair and he had seriously hurt two people he cared about in the process; one much more than the other.

"Hey, Goten?" Kim was unable to keep her curiosity at bay. "What happened between you and Trunks? It's just that the last time I talked to him it sounded like your friendship was over for good, and now—."

"I'll tell you the whole story," he promised with a smile. "But can we get lunch first? I'm starving."

She agreed, disappearing into her room for a moment to retrieve her cafeteria card and key, then locked the door behind them. The two started toward the stairs, which would be faster than waiting for the elevators, but at the idea of Trunks and Goten spending any amount of time together, a startling thought occurred to Kim.

"Uh . . . Trunks didn't say anything to you about . . . about ime/i. Did he?"

The demi-Saiyan blinked. "Like what?"

"Oh, nothing," Kim waved it off with a relieved sigh, thinking their mutual friend might have actually managed to keep his big mouth shut for once. She paused, though, as they entered the stairwell. "Oh, and Goten . . . ."

"Yes?"

"When you say you had to go out of town, it wasn't by any chance to . . ." she rapidly spilled out the rest of the words, feeling silly, but needing to know the answer, "to visit your alien father's home planet – or something like that – was it?"

He looked at her like she had two heads and started to laugh. "Of course not!"

"Oh, thank god!" The coed slapped two hands over her heart, then reached for the banister to follow Goten. He headed toward the bottom taking the stairs two by two.

"I dunno where you'd get an idea like that," he noted as an afterthought, shouting over his shoulder. "Everybody knows that planet blew up decades ago."

Gohan's damp hair stuck to his forehead as he landed heavily on his back on the blanket and Trunks collapsed on top of him. The sun was already high above the horizon and the palm trees no longer offered any protection from its rays. He closed his eyes against the bright light and felt sweat trickle down his temple. He was sure Trunks could hear his heart pounding as he carelessly trailed a few fingers through messy hair. He couldn't remember the last time he had been so exhausted - or so thankful for Saiyan endurance. But the sun that beat down on them meant their passionate reunion was necessarily coming to an end.

"We'd better get back to West City," he observed, still breathless, opening one eye to squint at the sky. "Trunks," he squeezed the other's shoulder. But when he received no response, he glanced down at the teen. His eyes were closed and his breathing – hot and heavy only a few moments ago – was peaceful and even.

"Whoa, kiddo, you can't sleep now."

The boy groaned and rolled off of him, wrapping himself in the white comforter. Gohan didn't particularly want to move either; but if he didn't get Trunks back for training there would be hell to pay and he didn't want to see the young prince painted black and blue again. With some effort, he pushed himself to his feet and fished Trunks's hand from the blankets. He pulled, but the other was like dead weight and made no move to get up.

"C'mon, Gohan," he whined, his voice muffled by the cover. "I didn't sleep at all last night."

"I know. I was there."

Trunks pulled the blanket off his head, smiling sleepily as he stared up at the older man. "Yeah ya were."

"Alright." Gohan dropped onto one knee, exasperated, and prepared to toss the royal demi over his shoulder if he had to. "C'mon, Sleeping Beauty. You know how Vegeta feels about punctuality."

But at the mention of his father's name, Trunks sat bolt upright, knocking the firstborn on his backside. He blinked panicked blue eyes and, here and there, strands of violet hair stood on end. "What time is it?"

Gohan rubbed his jaw where the teen's hard head had hit it. He forgot just how well that little trick worked. Though Trunks was decidedly cute when half asleep and in mortal fear of Vegeta.

"We still have time. But I was thinking we might get something to eat on our way back. I won't hand you over to him on an empty stomach again."

The prince yawned, relieved, then leaned back on his hands. "Aww. No breakfast in bed this morning?"

"No way," the elder Son bristled, standing and pulling Trunks to his feet as well. "No offense, kid, but I'm not letting you out of my sight this time."

Within moments, they were in Trunks's bedroom at the apartment. "Hey, nice!" Gohan exclaimed, looking down at his feet. "I even got the blanket!"

The Capsule heir slapped a palm to his forehead. "ITing with you is a disaster waiting to happen," he grumbled. Turning in the direction of the bathroom, he kicked a red-orange crab that was scampering sideways across the floor back toward Gohan, who bent down to pick it up.

"Don't mind him," the older man explained quietly when the sound of the shower water reached him. "Trunks is always cranky in the mornings."

"I heard that!"

Fifteen minutes later, the royal demi appeared in the dining room fresh and clean, wearing black unisex yoga pants and a blue sleeveless shirt. His own name was printed in yellow block letters across the front. Gohan sat a large bowl of scrambled eggs with cheese on the table and a plate piled high with buttered toast right next to it. His bedroom and bathroom were now empty, so he had prepared breakfast while waiting to use Trunks's shower.

"Mmm. Is that crabmeat I taste?" The teen's question was muffled by a mouthful of eggs. He was famished and had shoveled another half-dozen forkfuls into his mouth by the time he turned his eyes to the chef. "Hey, those are my underwear."

Gohan was clad in a pair of blue boxer-briefs Trunks was sure he recognized. He tilted his head to get a better view.

"Yeah, I hope you don't mind."

"Not at all . . . ." He kept staring as he licked melted cheese off his fork.

"I'll have to borrow your soap and towels, too. All of my things are back at Mount Paozu," Gohan explained. He hoped that Trunks would invite him to move back in, though they hadn't really had a chance to discuss it yet. With an expectant grin, he decided to just throw it out there. "I . . . was considering going to get some of them today while you're training. What do you think?"

The statement got the younger boy's attention and he lifted his gaze to meet Gohan's eyes, though the older demi couldn't read his expression. Shortly, Trunks turned to survey the rest of the apartment. Much of the furniture Bulma had bought specifically for the place, but there were noticeable vacancies where Gohan had removed wall art and other personal items. The cherry wood shelves that surrounded their flat screen TV were conspicuously void of books and photos. Only a few randomly placed candles and some video game discs remained.

Had Gohan really cleaned out every one of his things? Not even a pair of underwear left in the apartment? Not a single bar of soap?

Even as Trunks pushed his plate away and headed down the hall toward his roommate's old bedroom, he knew he was being ridiculous. His mother had told him exactly what to expect we he got home, and he had prepared himself for it the night before. But for some reason in the light of day things always seemed so much more stark and undeniable; and that reality stared him in the face as Gohan's bedroom door opened.

With no curtains on the windows, bright morning light poured into the room, illuminating its spotless, empty corners. When Trunks felt Gohan's hand on his shoulder, he shrugged it off, refusing to meet the other's eyes.

It wasn't that he was mad. It was fear that was blurring his vision as he stared at the opposite wall. Growing up a superhero had a funny way of making a person feel invincible, but Trunks had recently learned the hard way that he was anything but. The thought of being hurt again was terrifying, and even though Gohan had the same uncanny ability as his father to make everyone around him feel safe and protected, it suddenly occurred to Trunks that the elder Son might be no more careful with his feelings than his little brother had been. The sight of the empty room reminded him just how close he'd come to losing it all and he supposed that, after the night they'd just spent together, his emotions were particularly raw.

"Trunks." Gohan's tone was soft and apologetic, though he didn't attempt to touch the boy again. "If I come back here – that is, if you want me to – I don't want it to be as just your roommate, okay? I want to do things right this time around." He paused and Trunks glanced at him, his eyes giving Gohan hope that he was at least listening. "Maybe we could look at this like a new start," he suggested. "Rather than bringing all my old stuff back, we could even go out and buy some new stuff. Redecorate, you know? Together."

Even if it was only furniture, getting rid of some of the baggage of their past relationships had to be a good thing, Gohan thought, and his optimism rose as Trunks raised an eyebrow.

"Really?"

Gohan nodded. "Yeah."

"Could . . . we go with a contemporary Asian motif?"

"Huh? Oh, sure," the elder Son shrugged accommodatingly. "Whatever you want."

"Well . . . ." Blue eyes swept the room. "I'd like dark furniture. Something minimalist and urban. Maybe with shoji screens on the windows and—. Come to think of it, I saw this one designer on 'MTV Cribs' who specializes in—."

Gohan drowned him out, scratching the back of his head nervously. He'd been imagining a new bed and maybe a throw rug or two and he vaguely wondered whose money Trunks was planning to spend on this famous and sought-after designer. But he couldn't exactly take the offer back now.

A pointed stare interrupted his thoughts as though the other boy could read them. "I'm assuming, of course, that money is no object."

"Uh, right . . . of course not."

"And when we're done," Trunks decided, sounding more excited already, "we'll have a big dinner party so that everyone can see what great taste we have and how fantastic we are."

"Heh . . . ." Gohan eyed him dubiously. He would have to remember in the future that there was really no such thing as 'giving an inch' with Trunks. But for now, he was just glad to have avoided disaster.

"Sounds like a plan," he agreed with as much enthusiasm as possible, steering the teen back toward the table. When Trunks had settled happily into his chair and served himself another helping of eggs, Gohan cautiously continued. "Anyway . . . do you have a shirt I could borrow for now? I think my pants from yesterday can be salvaged but the rest is a mess."

Trunks thought about it for a moment. "I have a striped polo in my closet that would match. Look for the maroon and white one. It should fit you."

"Thanks."

He pushed his chair back on two legs and watched Gohan make his way down the hall in the opposite direction. "You could always leave your clothes at Mount Paozu, too, you know," he shouted after the other man. "While we're redecorating, might as well revamp your wardrobe, right?"

Gohan smiled, being sure to keep his back to the dining room.

"Quit while you're ahead, Trunks," he warned, pushing open the teen's bedroom door. But his smile faded as he walked to the bathroom and got in the shower, turning his attention to his next major feat of diplomacy. He had a sinking feeling that his mother wouldn't be nearly so easy to appease.

"So he ended up with Gohan." Bulma spoke behind the ceramic mug she was sipping from. She'd stepped out onto the large balcony at Capsule Corp. to enjoy her third cup of coffee that morning and saw the boys touch down on the lawn near the gravity room. She didn't fail to notice that they came from the direction of Trunks's apartment. Neither one knew she was there by the looks of it, and she smiled as she watched them exchange awkward goodbyes.

After they had whispered some words she couldn't hear, Trunks lifted one hand to see the other off at the same time that Gohan bent down to peck him on the lips. It was clear her son wasn't expecting it and he glanced away at the last moment, nearly causing the older demi to miss his mark. She could see both of them smile and try again, Trunks hesitating noticeably before lifting his chin to briefly meet Gohan's. She giggled to herself, remembering exactly what those days felt like; though for Bulma they were a long time ago now.

"He's a little old for the boy, don't you think?" came a voice from behind.

"Oh, I don't know, honey." She shot a critical look in his direction. "To be honest, I'm a little bit jealous. Gohan seems very romantic." The Saiyan prince didn't take the bait, only rolling his eyes as if to tell her not to expect any dramatic overtures from him anytime soon. "Besides," she continued, "I thought when you were Trunks's age, you were commanding entire armies and all—."

Vegeta cut her off impatiently with a wave of his hand. Damned woman had a fine selective memory. She was right, though, even if he wouldn't admit it.

Looking at Trunks, he almost couldn't believe what his own life had been like at that age. Though technically an adult, the teen seemed far too young to have seen the things that Vegeta had seen by then. To have done the things he had done. Maybe the pureblood was as guilty as Bulma of pampering him; but who could blame him for trying to give his son the uncorrupted youth he himself had never known?

That was all it was that made him narrow his eyes in the direction of the dark-haired demi as he disappeared toward the countryside.

Not some ridiculous daddy's-little-girl mentality.

Not in the least.

With an annoyed growl, Vegeta jumped the balcony rail, forgetting about Gohan and deciding to take his hostility out on Trunks. He was likely the one to blame for all this anyway. Much like both his mother and his father, he wasn't big on taking 'no' for an answer and, Vegeta supposed, at least in this time line Gohan had the decency to wait until he was legal.

Trunks was oblivious to his father's approach, confirming Vegeta's suspicions that he was tired and distracted, two conditions that were inexcusable in battle. The Saiyan prince got his attention by swiping his feet out from under him so that Trunks landed on his stomach with a huff.

"Ow . . . ."

Vegeta planted one clean, white boot between his shoulder blades and leaned down on his knee. "One thousand push-ups. Now."

"Geez, Dad. Just give me one second to get—."

"Make it ten!"

The teenager clenched his jaw but remained silent and after a moment planted his palms on the ground.

"One . . . two . . . three . . . four . . . ."

"Who said you could use both hands? Start over."

"One . . . two . . . three . . . ."

Bulma wiped her hands on her pink apron when the telephone rang. The enormous lunch she was making was almost ready and not a moment too soon. Trunks would be finished training before long and with any luck, she could bribe him to stick around a while with a home-cooked meal. She had to admit it wasn't only concern for the teen that had prompted her to invite him to move back home. It was just too quiet around there without him. And, while she was happy to see Trunks becoming more self-sufficient, a small part of her missed the days when he relied on her for almost everything.

For a mother, it seemed, watching her baby grow up was almost as difficult as it was rewarding. She had to force the sentimental thoughts from her mind as she picked up the phone.

"Bulma here."

"Where is my son?" the caller demanded. "Where is Gohan? You'd better tell me if he's there!"

"I don't know, Chichi," Bulma cried, the other woman's angry tone putting her immediately on the defensive. "What in the world is wrong?"

"That delinquent little brat of yours is what's wrong!" The younger of the two paused to sob loudly. "He has completely turned my Gohan against me!"

"Chichi, you're not making any sense. Trunks would never do anything to come between you."

This wasn't the first irate phone call she'd gotten from Chichi on account of her son but it was hard to imagine what Trunks could've done to anger her today when, to the best of Bulma's knowledge, he hadn't been anywhere near Mount Paozu.

"Oh, let's be honest," Chichi's tone dripped with repugnance. "From what I can tell, there aren't a whole lot of things he wouldn't do for a cheap thrill. You should have known he would turn out this way when you sent him to those all-boys private schools!" she wailed.

"Ooh! You'd better watch your mouth!" the blue-haired woman warned, her voice wavering with the effort it took to keep her temper in check. Goku's wife wasn't at the Lookout with the rest of the crew two nights before to witness the boys' reunion. Gohan hadn't thought she would handle it well and that suspicion must have been confirmed today. Bulma remembered that Gohan was headed in the direction of home when he took off from Capsule earlier that morning and it was easy to imagine what had happened.

The older woman's knuckles turned white as she gripped the phone tighter, trying to remind herself that – as ignorant as Chichi was – she must have somehow believed she was protecting her children.

"It's disgraceful," Chichi continued. "And if you won't put a stop to it, I will! Oh, my gosh," she exclaimed as though she'd only just realized the true horror of the situation. "If Videl ever finds out about this, it'll ruin any chance Gohan has of getting her back—."

"Why would you want him to get back with her?" Bulma shouted, cutting in as her anger erupted. "Your ex-daughter-in-law is a liar and a cheater who doesn't give a damn about your son. And if that's the kind of person you want him to be with, then I have to wonder how much iyou/i care about him and how much you're thinking of yourself. I don't know why you can't just be happy for them."

"Happy for them? You act as if they're in a proper relationship!" Chichi spat. "Well let me tell you something, Bulma – Gohan is not thinking with his head right now. He'll come to his senses and when he does I don't ever want to see you or Trunks around him again. And the same goes for Goten."

"So help me, Kami," Bulma glanced skyward, her whole body shaking. "I won't listen to this!" she cried, but there was no one on the line. With the sound of the dial tone buzzing in her ear, she threw the phone against a nearby wall, plastic pieces flying as it crashed to the floor.

"Mom?"

She spun around with tears in her eyes to face concerned blue ones. Trunks's brow creased with worry and he took a few steps toward her. Gohan, who had entered along with him, stood at the door, a frown marring his handsome features.

"Are you okay?" her son asked and she forced a smile.

"I'm fine," Bulma sniffled, attempting to reassure him.

"Are … you sure? Cuz you seem kind of upset."

She reached out to smooth down the front of his rumpled shirt. "Oh, sweetie, you look a mess," she scolded in the harshest tone she could manage. "You're not sitting down at the table like this. Go and clean yourself up before we have lunch."

He stared at her suspiciously for a moment before agreeing with a quick look at Gohan, reassuring himself that the other would care for her while he was gone. "Alright, but I'll be right back."

She waited as long as she could after Trunks left before leaning back onto the counter and dropping her head into her hands.

"I'm guessing that was my mother." Gohan was embarrassed. "I'm sorry for whatever she said to upset you. I just came back from talking with her and it . . . it didn't go well. To say the least."

"Oh, Gohan," Bulma dried her tears on the same apron, telling herself to pull it together for the boys' sake. She was angry more than anything else and she would get over it. But she could only imagine the conflicting emotions Gohan must be feeling. "I'm the one who's sorry."

He shrugged, still annoyed with himself for expecting anything more from Chichi. But her reaction didn't change anything. Much like he had told his mother, whether she was supportive or not, he had made up his mind. After all that he and Trunks had overcome to be together, he wasn't going to let anything divide them now.

Gohan raised his eyes from the floor to meet Bulma's.

"I didn't tell him," he admitted.

The blue-haired woman nodded in silent agreement, knowing Gohan's reasons for keeping it to himself were the same as her own.

"What about Goten? Is he okay?"

"He's fine." Gohan relaxed a bit as he shared the news. "He's hardly even been at the house, actually. Dad suggested that he move into my old place. Figured it'd give Goten a little of the independence he's been wanting, but keep him close enough to look after. And," he added after a pause, "it'll keep him out of harm's way while she's … adjusting to everything."

"That Goku. He's smarter than he looks sometimes, isn't he?"

Gohan returned her smile and the two were grinning at each other by the time Trunks returned.

"Did you just say Goten moved out?" he asked. If he had heard anything else, he didn't bring it up.

"Uh, yeah," the other demi nodded, taking a seat at the table next to him. "I bet you'll be getting a call from him tonight. Dad says he can't wait to tell you the news."

"Awesome." Trunks rubbed his hands together. "Housewarming party."

"Hey, criminal mastermind," Gohan waved one hand in front of the teenager to get his attention, "why not put that brain of yours to work thinking of what we're going to tell Francis when we get home this afternoon?"

"You think of something," Trunks said dismissively, reaching for a crusty loaf of bread and ripping off a chunk. "You're the one whose bright idea it was to go flying around downtown."

"Hmm," Gohan frowned and Bulma dropped the Sunday edition of the West City Chronicle on the table in front of them.

"Don't you two ever read the paper?" she teased. "That's old news."

Gohan picked it up, alarmed to see a picture of the two of them in the bottom right corner of the front page. It was from the evening before. One of the bystanders must've used a cell phone to snap a photo of the Saiyans hovering above the sidewalk.

Bulma continued. "I guess someone recognized Trunks because the reporters called Capsule Corp. to get some answers. According to the article, Meena told them you two were testing a new personal propulsion system that still had a few glitches. After that, people lost interest pretty quickly." She smiled, quoting from the article. "Just another one of the Briefs' crazy inventions."

"Now that's a loyal employee," Gohan noted.

"Wow. And I always thought she hated me."

"Who could hate you?" the older demi teased before Bulma could ask the question for real. "You're so darn cute."

"Shut up." Trunks swatted at him with the newspaper but gave up the assault when he remembered his shredded muscles.

"Now, now. You stop giving my son a hard time," Bulma scolded as she placed a pair of steaming hot bowls in front of them. "That's what Vegeta's here for."

"That's right," the Saiyan prince agreed as he entered the room, his cocky swagger letting the three of them know they were in the presence of royalty. He helped himself to the soup then exited the same way he'd entered. "And you'd better bring your A-game tomorrow, Trunks. I could've destroyed you today."

The teen swallowed the piece of bread he was chewing and, unfazed, reached for another. It was only when they heard the door close behind Vegeta that Trunks answered sweetly, "I love you, too, Dad." And for the rest of the afternoon, the sound of laughter could be heard echoing from the kitchen and far beyond.

An orange-haired woman strode into Capsule Corp., as she did every weekday, though significantly later that morning than every other. Not that it mattered much, since she was personal assistant to a man who worked one day a week, if that. It was a promotion she'd been given the year before, when Bulma announced that her son would be working at the family company when he graduated high school. Before that she'd been the head front desk receptionist and moving up twenty-five floors on the corporate ladder had come not only with a nice pay raise but a much quieter work day.

That was, as long as Trunks was in a good mood.

"Capsule Corporation. How may I direct your call? One moment please." The younger woman who'd taken over her position looked up from her desk in the lobby, where multiple lights flickered on one of several phones. "Capsule Corporation. Please hold."

She addressed her next comment to the orange-haired assistant. "Oh, Meena, I'm so glad you're finally here. Mr. Briefs is in today. He's been here since nine."

Hazel eyes widened. "Oh, but—. It's only Monday! I didn't think he'd be here until Friday—."

"I don't know why he's here," the other girl stated. "But he's been down three times already looking for you. I told him about your little boy and he started asking me all sorts of questions. I hope I didn't say anything I shouldn't have, but he just makes me so nervous—."

"Oh, it's not your fault, sweetie," Meena attempted to reassure her as she rushed towards the elevators. "I'd better hurry upstairs."

"Let me know how it goes!"

Meena swallowed when the lift stopped at the twenty-fifth floor and she saw that the double doors that led to their office suite were already wide open, all the lights on inside. She crept toward the entrance and, in her uneasiness, jumped when she saw her boss there, leaning back against her desk, one ankle crossed over the other. He was looking down at some kind of portfolio, a shiny white folder with a few pieces of paper inside.

"It's about time."

"I'm so sorry," she apologized, dropping her purse on a chair and hurrying to open the blinds on the floor to ceiling windows at the north side of room. "My son had baseball tryouts this morning and I promised him I would be there to watch. I didn't know you'd be in today or I would've asked in advance. It's just, he loves baseball and this is the first year he's old enough for the team—."

She stopped herself, unsure why she was carrying on. She couldn't imagine there was anything less interesting to her boss than her ten-year-old's favorite sport.

"Can I . . . get you anything?" she asked, turning around to face him when the room was cast in just the right amount of subdued sunlight.

"Did he make it?"

"I'm sorry?"

"Did he make the team?"

"Oh—yes." She couldn't help the smile that flitted across her features. "Yes, he did."

Trunks closed the folder he'd been looking at and took a few steps toward her. When he moved, Meena could see a glass vase on her desk, wrapped with cream-colored ribbon fastened at the top with pearl-studded pins. It was full of roses. Twenty-four blue ones to be exact; extremely rare, genetically engineered, and most certainly expensive.

He handed her the pamphlet he'd been leafing through. "My congratulations. I hope that he'll enjoy these. Season tickets to West City Stadium for the spring. Right behind the batter's box. I'm told they're the best seats in the house."

Meena only looked at him, speechless – a rare quality for her indeed.

"I read what you told the paper about me. You really saved my ass." The Capsule heir flashed a perfect smile and it put his assistant at ease. He glanced at the clock. It was already five after twelve. "I would've taken you out to eat, but you know my lunch hour is sacrosanct."

"Oh!" Meena gasped. "And I've already made you late. Your father will be so angry!"

He only winked at her before walking out of the room, the mischievous sparkle in his eye reminding her how young he really was. It was easy to forget sometimes, when he was playing the corporate executive. The stunned woman followed him as far as the door.

"Thank you, Mr. Briefs! Thank you so much!"

With that, she rushed to the telephone and punched in a few numbers. "Janine? It's Meena. You will never believe what just happened . . . !"

Gohan tapped a pencil against his chin then dropped it onto his desk among the stacks of paper piled there. It was already after one o'clock and he was starting to lose focus after a fairly productive morning. He figured a diet soda would get him through his last meeting of the day and then he could go to a late lunch. Maybe Trunks would want to come.

The dark-haired demi exited his office only to be pushed back inside by five fingers planted in the middle of his chest.

"Where do you think you're going?" Trunks kicked the door shut behind him, shooting Gohan a disturbingly Vegeta-like smirk. It actually made the older demi hesitate before answering.

"I … was going to get a Coke?"

But he got the feeling Trunks wasn't really listening. He wasn't even looking Gohan in the face. Rather his blue eyes were drinking in the rest of him, from pinstriped button-down to tightly laced loafers. The teen grabbed him by the tie.

"I really love this sexy professor thing you've got going on."

"I don't think that I, uh, have anything going on—." Gohan glanced backwards when his legs hit the edge of his desk and realized he couldn't back up any further. The teen took the opportunity to pounce on him, propping himself up on the desk, his knees on either side of the other.

"What if I told you I didn't do my homework? Would you teach me a lesson?"

"Trunks . . . ." Gohan could feel his skin warming even as his eyes shot nervously toward the door. "What's gotten into you?" he whispered, returning his gaze to the younger boy.

Instead of his usual suit, Trunks wore a green gi with an orange belt that looked alarmingly like the one he had as a kid. It made Gohan irrationally ashamed of the raging hard-on he'd acquired since the other entered the room. "Did you just come back from training or something?"

Trunks kissed him rather than answering. Gohan had absolutely no will to fight it and it wasn't until young prince needed air that their mouths parted again. He reached down to pull Gohan's shirt from where it tucked into his pants.

"I can't," the older protested, half-heartedly. "Especially not with you wearing that."

"If you don't like it, I can take it off."

"No, wait," Gohan instructed as fabric started to rustle above him, but the boy had already stripped to the waist. "I have a meeting scheduled with your mother at one."

"So what?" Trunks landed on his feet again, reaching for the elder Son's belt and pulling the leather from its clasp with a clicking sound. "Skip it."

"That's the thing. We're sort of . . . meeting in my office."

As if on cue, there was a knock on the door. "Gohan?" An easily recognizable voice came from the other side. "Are you in there?"

Bulma tried the handle and the metal knob on their side shook.

"Put your clothes back on!" the dark-haired demi whispered fiercely, but Trunks only put a finger to his own lips, shushing him.

Soundlessly, he reached out to flip the lock on the nearest window and slid it open. "C'mon."

He held out one hand and Gohan looked at the door reluctantly. There was no way this was a good decision. It was completely inappropriate, Bulma would be furious, and if he was any other employee, there was no way he'd escape getting fired.

But . . . .

He looked at Trunks again. Bulma was one of his oldest friends. She'd find a way to forgive him. Right?

The pounding on the door became more insistent as he took the prince's hand and climbed onto the ledge.

"Dammit, Trunks!" The woman on the other side shouted, throwing in a kick for good measure. "What did I tell you about ground rules? He is mine from nine to five!"

End.