A/N: Originally written on December 24, 2011, as a Christmas present for my two sisters. I have no idea if this story is true to DBZ, because I don't know how much time passed between Goku's death and the androids' arrival. I'm also unsure whether or not Vegeta was living at the Briefs' house at the beginning of the Future Trunks timeline. Horizontal lines indicate a shift forward in time. Rated K+ for intimidation.

Disclaimer: Do I LOOK like I own Dragon Ball Z? That ownership belongs to Akira Toriyama, Shonen Jump magazine (I think), and all those other wonderful, nameless people. If I could make money with DBZ, that would be awesome, but I can't, so I'm not.

Fondest Farewell

Trunks's wailing voice was almost eclipsed by the blaring television. Bulma had turned on a news channel once again. A young, female news reporter who was at the scene was relating the situation in a shaky voice.

"As you can see behind me, the west side of North City is in flames, and the fire is rapidly spreading. I don't have all the details right now, but we suspect that the two aliens are behind this newest attack."

"They are not aliens! They're androids!" Bulma shouted irritably at the television. Perhaps she thought that if she shouted loudly enough, the young reporter would hear her and affirm her knowledge.

Though Vegeta would never tell her openly, he respected her brilliance. The androids had arrived almost two months ago. From the moment that Bulma had seen their Red Ribbon insignia on television, she had known about their origins. She had immediately conducted further research and discovered the identities of Android 17 and Android 18. Bulma had passed on this information to many news stations, including the station that was currently airing. To Bulma's fury, this particular news station had declared the Capsule Corporation's claims to be inconclusive and had dismissed them. In Vegeta's opinion, whether or not the androids were referred to as such was unimportant. But for Bulma, it was a matter of pride; and pride was something Vegeta understood extremely well.

The phone rang, and Vegeta knew who would be on the other end before Bulma picked up the phone. The woman had been calling Bulma at least once a week ever since Kakarrot's death. He watched as Bulma lifted the phone to her ear, bouncing a squalling Trunks on one hip and keeping her eyes on the television.

"Hey, Chi-Chi. How are things at home?" she asked.

"Hi, Bulma. It's better today. Gohan has been so helpful. He's such a good boy. Some days I wake up and things are going well. And some days I wake up and . . ." Her voice dissolved into sobs. "I can't believe he's gone. It's been over a year—"

"One year, two months, sixteen days, and two hours. I really do miss him," Bulma sighed.

Things had been very dull ever since a sudden heart disease had taken Kakarrot's life. Vegeta no longer had a goal to train toward, no longer had a warrior to surpass. Becoming a Super Saiyan did not thrill him as much anymore, because he had never been able to see the look on Kakarrot's face when he had achieved his new level of power.

With the arrival of the androids, Vegeta had a reason to resume his training. He wanted to fight them. He wanted to feel his fist crushing the body of a sentient being. He wanted to feel his blood rushing through his body as he gave himself over to the battle. He wanted to show Kakarrot, wherever that clown was, that he could wipe out powerful foes just as well as Kakarrot could. He wanted to prove his overreaching superiority as the prince of the Saiyan race.

A particularly loud squeal from Trunks caused Vegeta to lose the last of his patience. He snatched the baby from Bulma's arms.

"Stop your incessant crying, you little whelp!" he barked.

"Vegeta!" Bulma cried. "Chi-Chi, I'll call you back," she said in a rush. She tried to take Trunks from Vegeta, but he turned his back to block her attempts. "Vegeta, he's just a baby!

Don't hurt him!"

"Will you stop your babbling?"

"Give him to me. He wants his mama. I'll make him stop crying."

"You've done a fine job so far." Vegeta raised his hand to silence Trunks's cries.

"Vegeta, don't!" Bulma shrieked.

"Shut up!"

Vegeta had planned to hit the boy, or knock him into an unconscious state. But his resolve softened when he looked at the baby more closely. He was small and helpless, very different from a solid Saiyan baby. His Human half gave him a fragile infant body. Vegeta laid his index finger on the boy's lips. Trunks's sobs turned to whines, and his whines turned to whimpers. Taking Vegeta's finger in his fist, Trunks opened his mouth and shoved the finger into it. To Vegeta's relief, Trunks stayed quiet as he sucked his finger. From underneath the ridiculous pointy-eared hat Trunks's eyes watched him trustfully. Although his blue eyes bespoke his Human heritage, it was his Saiyan heritage that made his eyes shine with such wonderful intelligence. When Vegeta was sure that Trunks had calmed down, he eased his finger out of his son's mouth and passed him to Bulma.

Bulma received Trunks with a sigh of relief. "Thank you, Vegeta." He watched her lift Trunks into the air and grin at him. "Daddy's in such a good mood today, isn't he, Trunks? Yes, he is! Yes, he is!" she cooed. Trunks giggled happily as Bulma swung him through the air.

Irritated by the sentimental display, Vegeta left the house. He paused long enough to call over his shoulder, "I'm going to train!" Then he crossed the yard and entered the enhanced spaceship that Bulma's father had built for him. After programming the ship's gravity level to two hundred times that of Earth's, Vegeta stood on his hands and began to repeatedly lift his own weight off the ground.

Pizza was one of the few things that made living on Earth worthwhile. There were so many different delicious foods that could cover the top of the flat bread. Earth was an ugly dust ball compared to Planet Vegeta, but Earthlings were brilliant in the art of food preparation. The only hindrance to Vegeta's enjoyment of his pizza was that Trunks decided to throw another crying fit during supper.

He glared at his upset son and the boy's mother. Seeing his anger, Bulma made numerous silly faces at Trunks to try to calm him. Then, for some reason, she turned toward Vegeta and smiled.

"Vegeta, why don't you try? Your finger worked so well before."

"I am not giving that sniveling brat my finger again! You're smart enough. You figure something out!" Vegeta grumbled.

Why was she still smiling, he wondered?

"Trunks, did you hear that? Daddy thinks that Mommy is smart!" Her happy laughter enticed Trunks to laugh as well. "Thank you, Vegeta. I knew I would get a compliment from you one of these days. I have too many wonderful traits for you to hold back compliments for long."

Vegeta snorted disdainfully. "Don't get used to it. You're so self-absorbed, you don't need any compliments from me."

"Self-absorbed? That's funny coming from a spoiled rotten prince who throws a fit whenever he can't get what he wants!" Bulma shot back.

"I do not throw fits!" Vegeta bellowed.

"You're throwing one right now!"

Trunks's loud sobs interrupted their yelling.

"Now look what you made him do!" Bulma accused him.

"Me? You're the one who started it!"

"You called me self-absorbed!"

"That's because you are!"

"I am not!"

"Yes, you are!"

Their squabbling continued through the evening news. Vegeta's shouting match with Bulma was punctuated by a bawling Trunks and the androids' televised destruction. Only when Bulma put Trunks to bed were they forced to quiet their voices and end their argument.

Late that night, with Bulma curled up next to him in the bed, Vegeta arose and slipped into his blue uniform and form-fitting armor. Now was the time for him to fight the androids. He would not wake Bulma. If she found out where he was going, she would call him crazy and try to dissuade him from leaving. She did not believe that he was strong enough to destroy the androids, but she was wrong. He would dispose of them and enjoy the shock on her face when he returned.

He lingered by Trunks's crib. Carefully, so that he would not wake his son, he reached down and ran one finger through the thin tuft of hair on the boy's forehead. Trunks would grow up to be a powerful Saiyan warrior. Vegeta waited for the day when they would stand side by side as Super Saiyans.

Stepping toward the bed, he kneeled and stroked Bulma's hair. She was loud-mouthed, petulant, stubborn . . . and so beautiful. He kissed her forehead, her cheek, the corner of her open mouth, her other cheek, her neck. When she began to stir, he stopped kissing her and pulled away. With otherworldly speed, Vegeta exited the bedroom quietly and stood just outside the bedroom door.

"Vegeta?" Bulma mumbled sleepily.

He heard apprehension in her voice. Did she know what he was about to do? He fought the strange desire to return to bed and soothe her fears. He refused to let her make a sentimental fool out of him.

Once he was outside, Vegeta summoned his energy and flew away from Capsule Corporation without looking back. He kept flying until he reached a secluded outcropping of rocks. There he landed to wait for dawn. Once morning came, he would fight. To test the limits of his power and to protect his wife and son, he would wipe out the androids for good.

And if he should fail?

He laughed wryly. "Curse you, woman, for planting doubts in my head," he muttered affectionately.

If he should fail, then he would never see his family again. But he had the satisfaction of knowing that he had given them his fondest farewell.

^The End^

A/N: Ah, lovely Vegeta angst. He's easily the best character in DBZ. Read and review before I shoot energy at you!