Trunks sighed as he collapsed onto the sofa. He knew Bulma would not be happy with him dripping sweat onto the upholstery, but after several hours of training in the Gravity Room, he was far too tired to care.
Trunks casually draped one arm over his face, shielding his eyes from the Saturday afternoon sun. It had been a long week. Eight days had passed since he'd left the Pendulum Room, and those days had been filled with near-constant training. His mother had been less than pleased when she'd learned that his "training trip" had actually consisted of a single, 72-hour training session, but she had given up on trying to convince the teenager to take a day or two to rest. Trunks understood that she meant well, but he also knew that he had already wasted enough time.
"It wouldn't kill you to shower first," a familiar, feminine voice broke into Trunks' thoughts. The teenager removed his arm from his face, half sitting so he could face Bulma.
"Mother," he greeted her. "You're home."
"My three o'clock cancelled," Bulma replied, taking a seat on the chair opposite Trunks. "You look terrible, you know."
Trunks was taken aback. "I've just been training," he said, giving his mother a puzzled frown.
"That's what I mean," Bulma said, folding her arms. "You're running yourself ragged."
Trunks sat up fully, swinging his legs over the side of the couch. "Mother—"
"Don't you 'mother' me. You know full well that you're pushing yourself too hard. Between your sessions with Goku and that damn Gravity Room—"
"Mother," Trunks interrupted. "We've been through this a thousand times. I know what I'm doing."
"What happened to occasionally pretending that you're a normal teenager?" Bulma continued, ignoring Trunks' words. "When was the last time you spent any time with Gohan and his friends out in Satan City?"
Trunks pursed his lips tightly. He hadn't spoken to Gohan once since their training session in the Pendulum Room. Trunks wasn't entirely sure what he would say to the other teenager the next time he saw him, and he was not at all eager to find out. Of course, he hadn't explained any of this to Bulma, nor did he particularly want to discuss the incident.
"I've just been busy," Trunks finally offered by way of explanation. "I've had more important things to take care of."
Bulma narrowed her eyes at her teenaged son. "I don't care who raised you, you are definitely your father's son." Trunks was about to protest when the phone rang, cutting him off. Bulma reached for the cordless phone on the side table, answering it.
"Hello?" Bulma said briskly. Trunks watched a look of mild surprise come over his mother's face. "Oh, Videl? What can I do for you?" There was another short pause before Bulma spoke again. "Huh? Who's Pikkon?"
Trunks sighed, rolling his eyes upward. "That's for me." He took the phone from Bulma, quickly greeting the girl on the other end of the line.
Videl didn't bother with exchanging pleasantries. "Hey, you need to head over to Satan City right away."
Trunks' heart skipped a beat. "What? Why?" He swallowed loudly, his thoughts racing. "Did something happen to Gohan?" Immediately, he began going over their foray into the Pendulum Room and wondering if, despite Dende's assurances, his friend might be suffering from some lingering effects from their training session.
"No, nothing like that," Videl said, cutting off Trunks' frantic train of thought. "We're housesitting my dad's place this weekend and you should come over."
Trunks' face fell at Videl's explanation, his relief suddenly replaced with trepidation. He could hear at least one other girl giggling, and he heard an unfamiliar male voice say something in the background. "Um," Trunks said, "I'm not sure. I'm kinda busy—"
"You come here right now," Videl interrupted, "or I will give Angela your phone number and address."
Trunks heard Gohan's voice call out in the background. "She'll do it!"
Trunks' frown deepened. "You wouldn't."
He heard another giggle before Videl spoke again. "Try me."
Trunks let out a soft groan as he leaned back against the couch cushions. "What time?" he asked, his voice heavy with resignation.
"Come out as soon as you can. We're having a monster movie marathon and ordering enough pizza to feed an army. Or Gohan."
"Duly noted," Trunks grumbled. "I'll be there in a couple of hours." Without another word, he hung up, setting the phone back down on the coffee table.
Bulma raised one eyebrow at the teenager. "What was all that about?"
"Apparently I am now housesitting the Satan estate."
Bulma let out a soft laugh. "From my lips to Videl's ears," she said with a smile. "How'd she talk you into it?"
Trunks narrowed his eyes at his mother. "Blackmail. Dirty, dirty blackmail."
"Yeah, she's good at that." Bulma laughed again. "I'm pretty sure that's how she and Gohan started dating."
"He mentioned something about that." He rolled his eyes upward as he stood from the couch. "I'd better go shower and change." He turned and started making his way toward the staircase. "Not like I have anything more pressing to deal with," he said under his breath.
"Trunks," Bulma said sternly. Trunks stopped in his tracks, pinching the bridge of his nose. He turned around to face his mother again and bracing himself for another lecture. Instead, the woman's expression softened. Trunks stood uncomfortably as his mother stared at him from her chair. Several moments passed before she spoke again.
"You don't have to feel guilty about having fun sometimes, you know."
Trunks pursed his lips, doing his best to ignore the hard knot that had formed in his stomach. "I'd better go shower," he repeated, abruptly turning and making his way upstairs.
Dusk had already settled by the time Trunks arrived at the Satan residence. Videl had greeted him at the door, explaining that her father had gone on a week-long publicity tour. Videl, meanwhile, had made the executive decision to give the estate's staff the week off, meaning that the teenagers would have the house entirely to themselves.
Trunks nodded, slipping his capsule plane into his pocket. Videl quickly led him inside, all but dragging him to the large living room on the west side of the mansion. He saw three girls and one boy, all of whom appeared to be around his age, perched either on one of the sofas or on the many cushions that littered the living room floor.
"Hey, guys," Videl said, getting the four teenagers' attention, "this is Pikkon. Pikkon, these are Erasa's housemates—" Videl pointed at two of the girls seated on the sofa—"Sana and Rei, and our friends Prue and Falla."
"Ah," one of the girls said with a sly grin, "so you're Gohan's cute friend."
"Uh . . ." Trunks felt a slight blush begin to heat his cheeks. "Well, I'm Gohan's friend, anyway."
Trunks heard another familiar female voice speak up behind him. "Sana, cut it out." Trunks turned to see Erasa step into the living room. "You're embarrassing him."
Sana rolled her eyes upward. "You're the one who described him as the cutie with the ponytail. I was just agreeing with you."
Trunks' cheeks glowed hotter. "Uh, nice to see you, Erasa," he said, stepping aside to create more space between himself and the bubbly blonde.
Erasa shot him a brilliant grin. "Glad you could make it." Without further warning, she raised the camera strapped around her wrist and pointed it at the group of teenagers seated in front of her, snapping a photo.
Another one of the girls scowled, blinking rapidly to clear the glare of the flash from her eyes. "Damnit, do you go anywhere without that stupid camera?"
"Nowhere fun, Rei," Erasa said with a soft laugh. Trunks watched as Erasa turned the camera toward Videl, quickly taking another picture.
Videl reached for Erasa's hand, snatching the camera from her grip. "Erasa, I swear, if you don't quit it, I will make you eat this thing."
"Sheesh," Erasa said, raising her hands up in front of her in a gesture of surrender. "Alright, alright, enough pictures for one night. Just give me back my camera."
Videl opened her mouth to protest when the doorbell rang. The girl instantly perked up at the sound. "Perfect, food's here," she said, tossing the camera back to her blonde friend as she ran off to answer the door.
Erasa caught the camera midair and set it down on the large circular coffee table. "So," she said, turning her attention back to Trunks. "I haven't seen you all month. How've you been?"
"Uh, fine I guess," Trunks said, again backing away slightly from the blonde. "Busy."
"Too busy to have a little fun?" Erasa asked with a grin.
Trunks cleared his throat, doing his best to ignore the stifled giggles coming from the girls on the couch. "Where is Gohan, anyway?" he asked in an attempt to change the subject.
"He's in the kitchen with Sharpner," she said, pointing down the hallway. "I think they're digging up some drinks."
"Uh, I'll go see if they need help carting anything out here." Before Erasa had the opportunity to object, Trunks quickly stalked out of the living room toward the kitchen. He could hear two voices arguing as he made his way down the hallway.
"Damnit, Brains," a familiar voice complained, "I thought you said the beer would be in the fridge."
"I thought it was. It's not like I'm here that often."
"This is your girlfriend's house."
"No, it's her father's house. You've probably spent more time here than I have."
Trunks tentatively stepped into the kitchen. He saw Gohan and Sharpner both leaning into the large refrigerator, shoving at each other as they rustled through its contents. Trunks cleared his throat to make his presence known. Startled, Sharpner, jerked up, hitting his head loudly on one of the shelves before unleashing a torrent of curses.
Gohan laughed as he turned his head slightly to face Sharpner. "Serves you right."
"Oh yeah?" With that, Sharpner quickly pushed the refrigerator door, clocking Gohan in the head.
"Ow!" Gohan stood up, rubbing the side of his head. "What was that for?"
"Aw, stop being such a baby." Sharpner closed the refrigerator door. "I'm gonna check the big fridge down in the basement. It's probably down there."
Gohan frowned. "This place has a basement?"
Sharpner rolled his eyes. "You really haven't spent much time here." He walked out of the kitchen, giving Trunks a cursory wave as he exited.
Trunks watched Sharpner stride out of the kitchen before turning back to Gohan. They both stood quietly for a few seconds before Trunks broke the silence. "Are you sure you guys are friends?"
Gohan shrugged as a small smile came over his face. "I wonder sometimes." The smile faded as he looked at the other teenager. "I, uh, haven't heard from you in a while."
"I've just been busy training is all."
"Fair enough." Gohan began rubbing uncomfortably at the back of his neck. "So, uh, speaking of training."
Trunks raised an eyebrow at the other boy. "Yeah?"
"About last week," Gohan began after a moment's hesitation. "In the pendulum room."
Trunks leaned back against the kitchen counter. "Gohan, would you please drop it?"
"I actually wanted to apologize," Gohan said.
"You don't have anything to apologize for," Trunks replied icily.
"Yeah, I do. I shouldn't have said what I did. You did what you had to."
"It's fine," Trunks said with a scowl. "Drop it."
"It's just, I haven't seen you since. And you're obviously still upset."
"And you think that's why?" Trunks folded his arms in front of him. "Gohan, your damn heart stopped." He looked down at his feet before speaking again, this time more quietly. "I thought you were dead."
"Oh." Gohan began fidgeting with his thumbs as he searched for the right words. "I, uh, wasn't."
Trunks rolled his eyes upward. "Well, obviously," he said, an uncharacteristic harshness in his voice.
"And, I mean, I was just going to wake up out in the real world . . ." Gohan trailed off, unable to think of anything more to say.
"Yeah, that would have been nice to know going in."
"Besides, you're the one who . . ." Again, Gohan trailed off.
"I died," Trunks said bluntly.
"It's not like any of it was real."
"I know, I know," Trunks said. He kept his arms folded as he again broke eye contact with the older demi-Saiyan. "Sure felt real, though. Like with Cell."
Gohan stared at his friend for a few seconds, studying the younger boy before speaking again. "It freaked you out, didn't it?"
"I'm fine," came Trunks' curt reply.
"You know that's nothing to be ashamed of, right?" Gohan asked sympathetically.
Trunks sighed softly, shaking his head. "It's been a long couple of weeks," he said, evading Gohan's question.
"Believe me, I understand," Gohan said, shooting the other teenager a sympathetic smile. "So why we don't join the others for some junk food and really bad movies?"
Trunks shrugged listlessly. "I guess."
"Are you sure you're okay? You seem a little . . ." Gohan trailed off, unsure how to continue.
"I said I'm in, alright?" Trunks said tersely.
"I know. You just seem preoccupied."
"Preoccupied," Trunks said, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Gohan, a week ago I thought I watched you die. Again. And then had a hole blasted through my chest. Again. Yeah, I'm a little preoccupied."
"But it wasn't re—"
"I know it wasn't real!" Trunks snapped. "But there's no reset button when I go back to the future. No simulation to wake up from, no Dragonballs. And instead of training, I'm here hanging out in some blithering idiot's mansion with a bunch of kids I don't even know!"
Gohan stepped back, startled by his friend's outburst. Trunks folded his arms, turning his head to stare off into the corner. Another several moments of silence passed before Gohan again spoke up. "Look, I can't make you stay if you don't want to. I'll smooth things over with the others if you decide to head back to West City. But I really think you should give yourself a chance to relax."
"I know," Trunks sighed out. "And I know one night won't actually make a difference, but . . ."
"Believe me, I get it," Gohan said gently. "You don't want to take any chances. You're scared of failing."
"I can't fail." Trunks' shoulders slumped as he continued, more to himself than to Gohan. "I guess that simulation just reminded me what the stakes were."
Gohan mulled over his words for a few moments before responding. "You can't let the pressure get to you, or you'll burn out."
"So everyone keeps telling me," Trunks said.
They were interrupted by a loud clinking noise behind them as Sharpner reentered the kitchen. "Hey, are you ladies going to stand here talking all night?" the blond teenager said, gently shaking the six pack in his hand. "Or are you going to come into the living room for Kidney Slashers III?"
Trunks whipped around to respond. "Is that the name of the movie or that awful beer you're holding?"
A look of surprised briefly came over Sharpner's face before he laughed. "Ponytail's got a mouth on him. You could learn something, Brains."
"Guys!" Videl called out from down the hall. "Movie's starting! Where's that beer?"
"We're coming!" Sharpner called back. "Seriously, you guys can fuck off if you want, I'm going."
"Yeah, we're in," Gohan said as Sharpner left the kitchen. He turned to Trunks once more. "Are we?"
A deep frown settled over Trunks' features before he responded. "He's going to call me 'Ponytail' forever now, isn't he?"
Gohan laughed at the frustrated look on Trunks' face. "No question."
Trunks let out a soft groan as he opened his eyes. His back was more than slightly achy—the couch he'd fallen asleep on may have been stylish, but was far too stiff to be comfortable. He couldn't remember actually having fallen asleep, but he could recall that the group of teenagers had been in the middle of their third utterly incomprehensible, near-comically violent science fiction movie before the evening went blank.
His eyes finally adjusted to the bright light streaming in through the windows. He sat up, doing his best to ignore the knots in his back and the aches behind his eyes and in his throat as he looked around the room. He was mildly surprised to find that he was the only one awake.
Trunks' quiet contemplation did not last long. A few moments later, a loud beeping noise began to ring throughout the living room. Trunks quickly fumbled with his watch, trying to turn off the digital alarm before it woke any of the other teenagers.
His efforts were in vain. Mere seconds later, a deep, irate voice began to speak. "Who's the wiseguy waking us all up at the asscrack of dawn?" Sharpner asked, sitting up from the pile of cushions on which he'd fallen asleep the night before.
"It's ten," Trunks said defensively.
"Like I said, asscrack of dawn," Sharpner said, falling back onto his cushions.
"We should be getting up anyway," Videl said around a yawn. "Housekeepers usually get here at eleven on Sundays."
"I thought you gave the staff the week off," Erasa said, rubbing some of the sleep out of her eyes.
"I did," Videl said. "But the cleaning service isn't part of the regular staff. They come once a week from a separate contracting company."
"And you didn't cancel?" asked Sharpner, his voice slightly muffled by the billow beneath his face.
"Do you want to clean this whole place before my dad gets home?"
"Fair enough," Sharpner mumbled. "So is someone going to put on a pot of coffee on or not?"
"You know where everything is," Videl said. "You do it."
Sharpner sat up to glare at her. "Some hostess you are."
"I'll do it," Erasa interrupted, cutting off the argument before it could get too heated. Her tone immediately softened as she turned to Trunks, shooting him a bright smile. "Pikkon? Can you help me in the kitchen?"
"Uh," Trunks said with no small amount of hesitation, "I actually think I need to get going. I wasn't expecting to sleep in this late."
"Oh." Erasa's face fell. "Okay. Rei, Sana, come on?" Erasa made her way back toward the kitchen, with the two other girls following closely behind.
Videl narrowed her eyes at Trunks. "A word, Pikkon?" she asked. Without waiting for an answer, Videl stepped over to the sofa where Trunks was seated, grabbed the boy by the arm and dragged him toward the atrium. She only stopped pulling on the younger teenager when she was out of earshot from the living room.
"Videl, what are you doing?" Trunks asked, gently wresting his arm from her surprisingly strong grip.
"I know Erasa can be a little . . . pushy," Videl said, folding her arms. "But she's really not that bad."
"It's not Erasa," Trunks insisted. When met with Videl's incredulous stare, Trunks admitted, "Well, not just Erasa, anyway. I really should get going."
"Why?" said Videl, looking slightly bewildered."
"How much has Gohan told you about why I'm here?"
"Not much. He's mentioned that you've been doing some training with his dad while you're here, but that's about it."
"Well, I am." Trunks paused for a moment, gathering his words. "So, uh, you remember everything that happened with Majin Buu?"
"No," Videl said sarcastically. "I forgot all about the crazy pink demon that killed everyone and everything on the planet and spit out the blubber-monster that's now living at my dad's house."
"Right," Trunks continued, ignoring Videl's remark, "well, none of that happened in my timeline. Short version, I think I'm going to have to fight him when I get back to my future."
"Oh." Videl's eyes widened. "That's, uh . . . that's pretty major."
"Yeah, that's one way of putting it," said Trunks. "He's not going to be as strong as he was here. But I have to take him seriously. So I've been training with Goku most every day."
"Yeah, that makes sense," Videl said as she nodded thoughtfully. "Okay, you're off the hook for now. But don't go vanishing on us for another month."
"I'll do my best." Trunks shrugged, but smiled. "But I really don't want to keep Goku waiting." Trunks reached into his pocket for his plane capsule. "Thanks for having me over."
"Like I gave you much choice," Videl said. "I seriously will give Angela your number if you keep blowing us off."
"I'd really rather you didn't," Trunks laughed nervously. "I'm guessing that was your call. Gohan doesn't seem much the type for blackmail."
"You kidding me? I had to swipe your number from his phone book."
Trunks frowned at the petite girl before him. "Wait, so this was all your idea? Why?"
"Trunks, you've met my friends. They're great, but other than Gohan, they're morons." Videl rolled her eyes. "We could use another set of brains in the group."
Trunks bit his lip to keep from laughing aloud. "That's not a very nice thing to say about your friends, Videl."
"Oh yeah, I'm real mean. How could I ever insult Sharpner's intelligence?"
Trunks coughed into his palm, stifling another laugh. "Tell Gohan I said bye," he said, grabbing his jacket as he made his way toward the exit.
It had been nearly a month since Goku had started training Trunks. Though they'd spent hours training on a nearly-daily basis, most of their sessions had focused on basic sparring moves, training in energy manipulation, and generally rebuilding Trunks' combat skills from the ground up.
Which was why Trunks was surprised when Goku had ended their sparring a few minutes in, telling the teenager, "Okay, I want you to transform and power up to full strength."
Trunks frowned. "Full strength?"
Trunks shrugged, but frowned in concentration as he gathered his energy and quickly transformed into his Super Saiyan form. "Alright," Trunks said, "now what?"
"No, no," Goku said, shaking his head and clicking his tongue in dissatisfaction. "C'mon, I know you can do better than that. Power up."
"Alright," Trunks said hesitantly. He closed his eyes, focusing on gathering all his latent energy. A few moments passed before he felt the ki surge through his body, bringing his power to its maximum.
"Better," Goku said as Trunks opened his eyes. Trunks nodded, stepping into a fighting stance. He was taken aback when Goku again shook his head.
"No," instructed Goku, "I want you to cross your legs and sit on the ground."
Trunks raised an eyebrow at his master. "What?"
"Just do it."
Trunks nodded, sitting on the grass and crossing his legs into a standard lotus position. He looked up to see Goku frowning at him.
"I didn't tell you to power down."
"You want me to meditate at my maximum strength?" Trunks asked incredulously.
"That's exactly what I'm telling you to do."
Trunks nodded, again closing his eyes and trying to raise his energy levels. He furrowed his brow, trying to keep his ki at a consistent level despite his relaxed position.
"Trunks." Trunks' eyes snapped open to see Goku sitting cross-legged opposite him on the ground.
"You're not keeping up your ki levels."
Trunks swallowed loudly. "I'm sorry, Goku."
"You have to be able to control your energy under all circumstances. Not just when you're fighting."
Trunks lowered his gaze, suddenly taking interest in a particular blade of grass by his left foot. "I'm not sure I can."
"Look at me," Goku ordered. Reluctantly, Trunks looked up to meet his master's gaze. "I don't want to hear you say that again."
"Don't be sorry. Just do what I say." Trunks nodded, closing his eyes once more. Again, he struggled to keep his energy levels constant. Several long moments passed before Goku's voice interrupted his thoughts again.
"Trunks," Goku said. The teenager opened his eyes, again meeting his mentor's stare. "Listen, I know how strong you are. And I know what kind of fighter you are. You can do this. You just have to remember that you control your power, it doesn't control you."
Trunks nodded, trying to ignore the slight heat that crept into his face. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, quieting his thoughts as he focused on keeping his power levels steady. Several moments passed before he heard his mentor speak again.
"Good, very good," Goku said. "Keep doing what you're doing. Clear your mind and focus on your own energy. Nothing else."
Trunks did not respond, instead continuing to focus on his ki. He sat on the grass for some time, concentrating solely on the energy flowing through his body. Trunks was not sure how long he sat, meditating on the damp, cool grass, but it felt as though several minutes passed before he heard Goku speak again.
"Keep your eyes closed," a deep, resonant voice broke into Trunks thoughts, "but listen closely." Trunks nodded, but did not say anything in response. A few moments later, Goku went on.
"Remember what you're doing all this for," the elder Saiyan said. "Really remember." Trunks' eyes remained closed as he visualized his home world. He let his mind wander through the streets of his own timeline's version of West City. His mind's eye focused on the newly-paved streets and rebuilt schoolyards, on children playing in open parks for the first time in their lives, on the sight of his mother seated behind her desk at Capsule Corp.
"Now," Goku broke into Trunks's thoughts again, "imagine all that destroyed. Imagine everything you've known, everything you've fought for, gone."
Trunks' throat tightened as he felt an almost electric charge shoot through him, to the pit of his stomach. It was all too easy to imagine his world in shambles. A different set of memories from West City cropped into his mind—buildings reduced to smoldering piles of rubble, children huddled in alleys fearing for their lives, mutilated bodies littering the streets.
"You have the power to stop it. You do. But you have to let it out."
Trunks sucked in a deep breath through his teeth. His heart was racing, pumping ice water through his veins as he took in his mentor's words.
"You're stronger than this body. You can do this."
Stronger than this body. The words rang through Trunks' psyche as his heart continued to pound. Soon, he felt an odd, new energy, quite unlike anything he'd felt before, building in his chest.
"Let it go!"
That strange new energy continued to build. Trunks' couldn't tell, now, if Goku was still speaking; he couldn't hear anything over the blood rushing through his own ears. He strained for breath as he felt his lungs fill with ice water, his stomach churning as bright lights flashed before his closed eyes. The energy began to spread through him, filling his back, his shoulders, his neck—
Trunks' eyes snapped open. Moments later, he fell backwards onto the damp grass.
"Are you alright?" Trunks heard Goku ask after a few moments.
"Yeah," Trunks said around a gasp as he struggled to fill his lungs with air. "Yeah, just a little dizzy."
"No problem," Goku said, the earlier intensity gone from his voice. "Take all the time you need." Trunks nodded weakly as he lay on the cool grass, feeling the dew soak through his jacket and into his back. After what felt like a minute or two, Trunks slowly sat up, propping himself up on his forearms as he looked up at his master.
"Sorry about that," Trunks said, his head somewhat clearer. "Do you want me to try again?"
Goku shook his head as he reached one hand down. "Have you been training on your own, too?" he asked, helping Trunks to his feet.
"Of course I have," Trunks said as he steadied himself.
"Hmm," Goku said with a thoughtful nod. "I think you're over-training."
"You need to give your body a chance to recover. If you push yourself too hard, too fast, you won't make any progress."
"I appreciate the concern, Goku," Trunks said, "but I think I'll be alright. I don't want to waste more time than I already have."
"Our session's over, Trunks," Goku insisted. "Go home, get some rest."
Trunks wanted to argue, to insist that his dizzy spell had only been a momentary setback, but the look on Goku's face made it clear that the man would hear none of it. Trunks sighed, putting his hands together and bowing quickly. "See you tomorrow?"
"Alright," Goku said. "But promise me you won't train before our session tomorrow afternoon."
"Sure," Trunks said with a nod. "Thanks again." With that, he took flight and began to make his way back toward West City.
Trunks awoke with a gasp.
The teenager stared at his bedroom ceiling, trying to get his ragged breathing and pounding heartbeat under control. Slowly, he raised one slightly shaking hand to his forehead, wiping the cold sweat that had beaded there. After a few moments, he let his eyes slip shut again.
"It's only a dream," Trunks muttered to himself, letting his head sink back into his pillows. "Same one you've been having for years." He turned onto his side, trying to find a comfortable position on his bed. He tried to banish the nightmare—or, more accurately, the nightmarish memory—to the recesses of his mind once again. He'd often dreamt of his first battle against the androids at the Super World amusement park, of the battle that had left him near death and Gohan missing one arm, but rarely were the dreams so vivid.
Trunks sighed as he tossed onto his other side. His body was achy and tense, and his bedroom felt both chilly and uncomfortably warm. Though he's fallen asleep relatively early the night before, he still felt fatigued.
After several more minutes of tossing and turning, Trunks sat up in his bed. It was no use; he was rarely able to fall back asleep after waking from a nightmare. Beside that, the unusual soreness in his body made it difficult to find a comfortable position.
Trunks stepped out of his bed, stretching in an attempt to loosen his tight muscles. It was futile—he needed a way to work through the tension, and performing basic stretches in his bedroom was not going to do the trick.
Trunks stepped into the hallway. The house was quiet, suggesting that all its other occupants were still asleep. He slowly walked down the stairs, avoiding the few creaky segments of the staircase in an attempt to keep quiet. As he reached to bottom step, he glanced toward the corridor leading to the rear of the Capsule Corp compound.
He had promised Goku that he wouldn't train before their session, but he needed to work through the tension that filled his every nerve and muscle. Surely a few simple exercises would do no harm.
Goku frowned and folded his arms as he stood at the edge of the clearing, squinting slightly as he peered out into the distance. Trunks had been due to arrive fifteen minutes earlier, and his student had never been late for a session before. A few more minutes passed before he felt a familiar energy signature nearing; he looked up toward the horizon to see Trunks approaching the clearing.
Trunks landed on the grass, walking toward Goku as he waved a greeting. Goku raised an eyebrow at his pupil. "You're late."
Trunks frowned. "I am?" He looked down at his watch before a look of surprise came over him. "Wow, I must've been flying slower than I'd realized. I'm sorry."
"Don't worry about it," Goku said, reaching into his pocked. "Let's just get to sparring." He then tossed a small, black strip of cloth at his student, who caught it before looking back up at his mentor.
"What is this?" Trunks asked, a quizzical look on his face.
"It's a blindfold," Goku explained. "You've improved, but you depend too much on your eyes. Blindfold yourself and we'll get started."
Trunks' eyes widened. "You want me to fight you blindfolded?"
"That's what I said. You can't always count on being able to see—and I can tell you, Buu's got no interest in fighting fair."
Trunks nodded tentatively, but complied. Once the blindfold was secure, the teenager got into sparring form. Goku quickly followed. "Whenever you're ready," the older Saiyan said, inviting Trunks to make the first move.
Several moments passed before Trunks obliged. The teenager came toward Goku, ready to strike; the older man easily avoided the blow. Goku moved with a counterstrike, fully expecting Trunks to either block or dodge the attack. The older Saiyan was taken aback when the blow landed, knocking Trunks off his feet.
Goku frowned as he reached down to help his student up. "You're usually better about sensing energy," he said. "Come on, let's try this again."
"Right," Trunks said. "Just, just one minute." Goku's frown deepened as he watched Trunks rest his hands on his knees, apparently out of breath. Still, he kept silent as Trunks once again moved into sparring form.
Goku resumed his stance, again waiting for Trunks to make the first move. Trunks once more took the offensive, rushing at Goku. This time, he remained on the defensive, allowing Trunks to swing wildly in his general direction as he effortlessly avoided every strike. The teenager's fighting form was uncharacteristically poor; his movements were slower than usual, and he seemed to lack his usual level of grace and balance.
Suspicion began to arise in Goku's mind as he caught one of Trunks' arms, easily twisting it behind the youth's back. This was a simple hold, one that Trunks had escaped numerous times before. This time, however, Trunks struggled uselessly for several moments before Goku let him go.
Goku pulled back, landing on the ground several feet behind Trunks before he spoke. "Lose the blindfold." Trunks obeyed, turning to face his master. Goku was surprised to see that Trunks face was fully flushed, and his eyes appeared strangely unfocused.
"Alright," Goku said, his voice filled with a combination of annoyance and concern. "What's going on, Trunks?"
"Guess I'm not in top form today," Trunks admitted, shrugging one shoulder.
"Not in top form?" Goku said incredulously. "I've never seen you this sloppy."
Trunks shrugged again, casting his eyes downward. "I don't know. Just having an off day."
"Trunks, this isn't an off day. This is—"
Before Goku could finish his thought, Trunks hit the ground.
Trunks blinked several times as he stared up at the ceiling. Something seemed off; the room was brighter than usual, and the ceiling appeared to be lower than he was used to. He frowned, trying to orient himself as he rubbed his eyes with one hand.
"Are you alright?" A deep male voice startled Trunks. He turned his head to see Goku standing next to him. He furrowed his brow in confusion, wondering what had brought the older man to West City.
"You collapsed in the middle of your lesson, Trunks," Goku said. It finally dawned on Trunks that he was not at Capsule Corp, but rather in what appeared to be Goku's living room. Slowly, he began to recall their earlier lesson—he could remember a brief, blindfolded sparring session, but his memory went blank after that.
"Are you alright?" Goku repeated, sitting on the edge of the coffee table next to the couch.
"I think so," Trunks said, his voice hoarse. "Head's pounding, though."
Trunks was surprised when he saw Goku fold his arms, narrowing his gaze at his student. "You lied to me."
"What?" Trunks asked, taken aback by the undertone of anger in his master's voice.
"You said you would get some rest. Obviously you didn't."
Goku cut him off, placing one cool palm on his forehead. "Now you're too sick to train."
Trunks winced slightly. He wondered how a gesture could be so comforting and, at the same time, so intimidating. "I'm fine," Trunks insisted as Goku removed his hand from his forehead. He sat up quickly, but immediately regretted it as the blood rushed from his head and he fell back down onto the cushions.
"I can't teach you anything if you're too sick to even move," Goku said, shaking his head. "When I tell you to take it easy, it's not just for your benefit. If you wear yourself out, then training's just gonna be a waste of both our time."
"You're not stupid," Goku said, again cutting Trunks off mid-sentence. "So don't act like it." Trunks swallowed loudly as he sat up, more slowly this time. He kept his silence, not trusting himself to respond. Though this wasn't the first time he'd seen an angry Goku, he'd never been on the receiving end of the man's temper.
"I'm taking you back to Capsule Corp," Goku continued. "And if I here one word from Bulma about you training before your fever breaks . . ." Goku trailed off, apparently unable to think of a proper threat. "Point is, I'm taking you home, and you are going to get some rest. Got it?"
Trunks nodded, carefully setting his feet on the floor and standing. Goku wrapped one arm around Trunks' back, helping steady him. A moment later, Trunks felt a strange, mildly uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach; he blinked to find himself standing, still propped up by Goku, in the Capsule Corp compound's spacious living room.
Goku pulled back slowly, giving Trunks a moment to get his bearings. "Can you make it upstairs?" Goku asked, somewhat gentler than before.
"I think so," Trunks said with a nod. He began walking toward the staircase, but only made it a few steps before losing his balance and once again falling to the floor. "Or not," Trunks said, his words somewhat muffled by the carpet. "I'm . . . just going to lie down here for a while."
Despite himself, Goku let out a soft chuckle. "Come on, I'll fly you up." Goku again reached down to help Trunks to his feet, wrapping one arm around the boy's waist and placing Trunks' arm around his shoulder. Goku immediately began to levitate, then quickly flew Trunks toward his bedroom.
Goku set Trunks down at the edge of the bed. Trunks sat down, staring at the floor and refusing to make eye contact with his teacher.
"I'm really sorry about this," Trunks said quietly. He kept his gaze cast downward; between his guilt at having wasted his mentor's time and his embarrassment at having been carried home mid-session, he couldn't bring himself to look at Goku.
"I don't want you to be sorry," Goku said. "Just listen to me next time." Trunks simply nodded in response.
Goku's expression softened slightly as he folded his arms, shaking his head at the stubborn teenager. "Feel better, okay?" He didn't wait for a response before exiting the bedroom.
"That can't be right."
Bulma frowned at the screen in front of her. Over the last several weeks, she had observed the energy signatures she was picking from Trunks' alternate timeline fluctuate wildly, far more than the signatures from her own world. That was to be expected, if the timestream from Trunks' universe had indeed become destabilized as they believed.
What was unexpected were the readings Bulma had picked up over the last several minutes. For a brief period of time, the energy signatures from Trunks' alternate Earth had ceased to fluctuate they way they'd been doing for weeks. In fact, for just under five minutes, the readings from Trunks' timeline were identical to the readings from the present timeline. Then, suddenly, the readings returned to their usual erratic state.
Bulma stared at her lab equipment, furrowing her brow at the dark matter that provided the nexus between Trunks' timeline and her own . "What's going on here?" she asked aloud, as though the dark matter apparatus could answer. "Is the timestream repairing itself?"
She continued to stare at the readings on the screen before her, pondering what the sudden, brief change could possibly signify. She was startled out of her thoughts when she heard a knock on the door of her laboratory.
"Come in!" she called out, turning toward the door. She had expected to see her teenage son, or possibly Vegeta, standing on the other side; instead, she was surprised to see Goku standing before her as the heavy door swung open.
"Goku," she said, rising from her desk and stepping over to greet her friend. "What brings you out here?"
"Well," Goku said sheepishly. "Okay, I don't want to worry you—"
"Worry me?" Bulma said, her eyebrows shooting up to her hairline. "What happened?"
"Um, everything's okay and he's upstairs now, but I thought I should let you know that Trunks got sick during our session this afternoon."
"Sick?" she asked worriedly. "How sick?"
"Pretty sick. Really sick, actually. He, uh, kind of collapsed."
"He what?" Bulma demanded, her eyes widening. "Did he pass out?"
"He's awake now," Goku assured her. "But he's got a pretty high fever. You'll probably want to check up on him."
"Yes, of course," Bulma said, nodding as she ran one hand through her short hair. "I told that boy he was running himself ragged. Should have known something like this would happen."
"Yeah," Goku said, "I told him the same thing. He can have a pretty hard head, though."
"You don't know the half of it," Bulma said with a soft, somewhat anxious laugh. "Thanks for bringing him home," she continued as she walked Goku out of her laboratory and up the stairs. "He might actually listen to you." Goku nodded before bidding her goodbye and placing two fingers at his forehead, instantly transmitting himself back to Mount Paozu. Bulma watched Goku vanish before making her way up the stairs toward Trunks bedroom, the strange readings from her lab equipment forgotten.