a/n September 30, 2011 - Some minor edits; extra spaces to break apart the time, fixed a typo, and change one sentence the kept bothering me when I read it over. I really do need a Beta...

September 27-29, 2011

Missed Connection

"Here!" She tossed a capsule on the tabletop where it rolled, then rocked and finally stopped near the center. The faded teal Formica topper was cheery with its small grey-silver flecks; it was a fitting kitchen table. He has eaten at it nearly every day he has been on this planet since his resurrection, excluding the time he spent in the Chamber training.

"You'll never have it as good as you have it here. Know it or not you really are happy here, with us, with me. When you feel it, the sinking sensation in your gut," she patted a balled up fist to her abdomen. She could have been holding a knife in that very position, pushing the blade in, piercing her tender pale flesh, between the muscles, and through the belly – sacrificial, painful, fatal. Permanent. "I hope that something about it worms its way into your cold dead heart to remind you of this."

He is silent. She is infuriated.

"Go back to the stars. Go back to whatever it is you keep watching for, because it's certainly not here. Find someone else to shelter you, feed you…" She has lost her fire, its fading quickly from her eyes, surrender. "…to love you."

There is nothing more to say, she's had it out, one-sided or not, it was in the open. Met with a deafening silence she turned and left the room.

He can hear her steadily move up the stairs. Trunks, a child, whose previous demeanor rarely strayed from the happy side of the scale was howling for her. However, in the past six weeks, since the end of the Cell Games, and the departure of his older self, he'd been nearly inconsolable. He cried incessantly, and thumped his fists hard enough to cause bruises. He could not be out of his mother's presence without a ki-infused tantrum breaking out under the best of circumstances, unless he was in the presence of his Father.

In the morning Bulma is startled out of bed by the sudden howl from the monitor on her bedside. She sighs, too mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted to be able to process anything beyond the overall ache she feels deep in her bones. Trunks' wails are more piercing then ever, so much so that he seems to be hurting his own ears with his cries. Even without the benefit of a baby monitor she can still hear the frantic pounding from the room next door. Her child is standing, leaning forwards on the edge of his reinforced crib. His face is red as he screams, chubby hands pressed over his sensitive ears while alternating stomping and kicking his feet. Furniture is floating and rattling in the room, the air smells like a pending storm. She rushes to him and pulls him into her arms. The stomping and kicking stop, but the shrieks do not. Bulma catches a solid thump from one of his fists with her collar bone, he is undoubtedly his father's son. He presses his face into the side of her neck and quiets, like a switch he is silent and oddly pacified.

In the kitchen Bulma tries to place him into his seat to begin their morning rituals. Trunks will have none of it and refuses to be parted with his mother. He whimpers when she makes to separate them, resulting in her just giving up for the sake of one less fight. She settles for letting him eat a collection of bananas, a peach, and a plum while sitting on her lap. The young mother immediately compartmentalizes her reaction when upon cleaning off the table she finds no capsule. Perhaps Trunks was never intended to be raised alongside his father after all. Maybe the only difference from timeline to timeline was the reason for Vegeta's absence. She scowled at the unwanted revelation.

The need to work is pressing and into her lab she trots, child astride her hip. She stands over her desk looking at the blinking indicator light of her forgotten mobile. When she attempts to convince Trunks to stand on the desk, to relieve the weight on her hip, chaos erupts. The child grasps his mother's shirt tighter in his fists and kicks his legs up and down, in the preamble of a temper tantrum. The wall of bin organizers of screws nearby begins to click and clatter as the hardware begins to rise up and out of their assigned slots. One small foot catches onto the surface of the old wooden table resulting in a resounding crack. The leg closet to the impact site has collapsed spilling the contents of Bulma's desk into her shins and over the floor in a tsunami of paper.

"Oh Trunks! I'm not going anywhere." She sighs, rubbing the child's back, he presses closer and the whole outburst vanishes inwards. "I wish I understood why you're acting this way." While she moved him into a hug she bitterly agreed that maybe Vegeta had been right, she was coddling him too much. This sudden inexplicable unwillingness to be even slightly separated from her was just another symptom to add to the list of new behaviors her little boy had received from his father. She gave up on the lab and headed back to the house.

It'd been a numbing two weeks. Trunks seemed to have developed some sort of separation anxiety from his mother, and had barely accepted being away from Bulma's hold now that his father had left. It was Grandmother who finally convinced the sobbing child to unlatch himself. She'd came downstairs with one of his father's t-shirts and wrapped the boy in the fabric from behind. He immediately let go from his mother and turned into the shirt expecting to find his father under the thin fabric. His face wrinkled as Grandmother caught the boy and hauled him up into her lap where she turned on a small television nearby. The child's attention was immediately captivated. His father was there on the screen moving gracefully from fighting stance to fighting stance around the room.

The boy brightened and sat forwards, his face relaxed and he began to work his jaw around in earnest. "Go on Bulma, we're ok here." She smiled and bounced her grandson as he happily watched an old security tape from Capsule 4. Even if Bulma had proclaimed upon their return from their annual vacation that the nice young man had left for good, she didn't believe it. Not one word. He just needed more time to finish thinking about whatever had kept him away from his family these past few weeks.

In her lab Bulma paced, and poked at the mess on the floor. With a robotic crane attached to a chain hoist, which moved around the room on tracks on the underside of the exposed overhead beams, she removed the broken desk. In its place she wedged a new metal table, kicking papers and supplies out of the way of its legs. Hours later she'd organized the papers and her scattered supplies; much cleaner then it was before. Some of the anger had returned while she'd sorted through the mess, there was years of drawings and designs on that desk. The earliest dated to the diagram she'd been building when she'd accidentally blown up Radditz's pod. The last were the blueprints for Capsule 4's most recent, and probably final overhaul. It was contained in the capsule she'd tossed to him when she'd confronted him that last day.

Looking at the elegant, clean block letters from his hand next to her near-illegible scrawls made her eyes water. Turning around to look elsewhere was of no help, there were area after area set up for inventions to Vegeta's benefit. Tacked up on a corkboard were samples of his original battle suit; they were surrounded by diagnostic printouts and enlarged images showing the complex weave they sported. Since learning of the Androids there was little else she'd done but work to benefit everyone though Vegeta's strength.

She'd known since he'd returned what'd transpired between him and the elder Trunks. They'd never talked about it, as he'd only felt her worthy of once sentence since he'd returned. He'd wanted Capsule 4 made space worthy and stocked for a long voyage, immediately. Bulma had dragged her heels on the work taking nearly a month to complete the task. Vegeta had blocked her out resolutely, no verbal, or even physical interaction. If Goku's death had cracked her heart, then this was crushing it.

In logical part of her pointed out that her alien lover had always claimed he wanted off her planet of weak simpletons. He'd stated once or twice that his time on Earth was akin to scraping something distasteful off one's boot. Her brain also warned that he'd been plain in his intentions with her at the outset. There had never been any true affirmations of anything between them. Their relationship had been built on nearly nothing at all; lust, opportunity, and availability. Overarching their relationship and keeping them in proximity had been the threat of the last three years. After the culmination and end of it all, she'd just come to expect him in her bed, and at her table. While he appeared at the latter, he never returned to the former, and it was a deep wounding blow. Recognizing that she'd mislaid her trust, and her heart was a desolate experience. Naïve and foolish at some point she'd fallen in love she supposed, and this is what it felt like to have that connection severed forcefully. Bulma had built an entire theoretical future for herself, her son, and that son of a bitch on the idea, which he had never once dissuaded either, that there was something permanent in their arrangement. She felt stupid and childish, ignorant of the obvious, and right now wanted nothing more then to do some busywork. The knowledge that she was just a stop of the side of the highway and a notch in a bed post was too troubling to allow herself to dwell on.

There was a broom in the corner, and the floor did look like it needed a good sweep. The action of moving the tool from side to side helped her stop the build in her emotions. It evened her out, and allowed her to regain control. She wanted a cigarette, but instead remembered Vegeta's need to complain about the smell in the lab. She should really get behind the filing cabinets; it's been awhile since she'd last swept there.

Furiously she pressed her hand to her mouth and willed herself not to cry. This was harder then she'd thought, much harder. Everything reminded her of him, and his abandonment of them. There was nothing she could see, or do that wouldn't trigger a memory of him. In the 4 or 5 years since she'd first laid eyes on him, he'd influenced her. Now he was forever reminding her of his time spent on Earth, she couldn't even look at her own child without some sense of resentment and guilt. Bulma was angry with herself for his departure, feeling dejected that she hadn't been enough of whatever it was he'd needed to want to stay. It stung, and it hurt that much more when all she could see in her own child was his face. Her son looked just like his father in miniature, except for his hair and eyes.

Time was slowing; she'd found a dusty, sticky, crud covered capsule hidden in the mutated dust bunnies. Even filthy her felt pen lettering was easily read.

Capsule No.4 v.4.

"Oh…" The air escaped her lungs.

There was a string, inside him, and deep down he could feel it stretching, thinning, and unwinding. He'd never before had anything but his pride. Nothing he'd loved before had been taken away but, he had never loved before he'd been here. Love, he was discovering was painful in ways he'd never before speculated upon. The experience of love, it was so new and novel, he had little to no comprehension of its boundaries and range of influence. The death of his future son was a violently commanding emotional trigger. It started and peaked with his attack on Cell, and now it still raged quietly in the back of his mind. In the years since he'd been wished back to this tiny backwater planet, he'd stopped talking about the weakness of emotional attachments, and developed a few of his own. The abrupt end to Trunks' life shook the tentative understanding of the interpersonal relationships he had constructed here. He wanted to revert to his old self, to avoid ever having to risk the exquisite unending, pain he'd experienced during the Cell Games. It'd driven him into the madness he'd for so long held off.

After two weeks of staring at the stars from deep within a continent with a hot, dry climate he'd come to realize he had all he answers he could get out here.