With Bulma Briefs and the Prince of all Saiyans as his parents, it was a surprise to no one that Trunks was impatient by nature. Bulma often joked that the boy had been impatient even in the womb, having arrived on the scene weeks ahead of his scheduled delivery. Still, if there was ever a time for patience, it was definitely during the most important week of the year for Trunks:
His birthday week.
The week had finally come again, and Trunks was pacing back and forth in his room, trying to calm down from his excitement. He had learned from experience that it was always best to let his parents bring up the topic of his birthday; they were much more receptive to hear his ideas and do as he wanted, if he let them bring it up first. The year of his ninth birthday, Trunks had hounded his parents about his birthday day in and day out for weeks leading up to the big day, nonstop, constantly, until his parents snapped. At their wits end, Bulma and Vegeta had finally threatened to throw out all of his video games and force the boy to spend his ninth birthday in the most brutal training session of his life, respectively, if he asked about his birthday one more time. Although the threats never came to fruition and he got everything he wanted for his birthday that year, the message had been clear: his impatience would never quite match that of his parents.
But it was a new year now. He was older, wiser, taller, almost an official teenager now. Most importantly, Trunks knew how his parents worked, and if history was any indication, the topic of his birthday would come up that day. When it did, he would be ready and would calmly state what he wanted. If he stayed out of trouble for the week, he'd be sure to get it. After all, money was no issue and he knew it.
Trunks nodded at his reflection, smirking with determination. He was wearing a nice shirt that morning for school, his mother's favorite shirt for him. A few extra points surely wouldn't hurt, especially with his request for this year. Satisfied with his appearance, Trunks finally headed downstairs for breakfast.
To his surprise though, only his father was at the kitchen table. The prince was sitting in his usual seat, features set in concentration, his morning mug of coffee in one hand. His other hand was preoccupied with a touchscreen tablet that was laid on the table in front of him, his fingers swiping at the screen every few seconds as he scrolled through something.
"Hey Dad, good morning," Trunks greeted cheerfully. Vegeta grunted in acknowledgement, raising his mug for a sip of coffee, his eyes never leaving what he was reading.
"Your mother left breakfast," he gruffly announced.
"She left her tablet too, huh?"
"So it seems," Vegeta muttered, unimpressed with the gadget, having seen much better from Bulma alone, to say nothing about the technology he'd been exposed to in space. Still, it did beat a newspaper. He would likely have to keep it and have Bulma get herself another one.
"Does she need it? I can return it to her, if she does," Trunks volunteered. Vegeta's eyes shot up at the rare offer, one eyebrow going up in curiosity. His curiosity turned into suspicion when he saw the sheepish grin his son gave him, but it only took him a few moments to put two and two together.
"You want something," he knowingly said, pushing the tablet away from him. He then leaned back against his chair, bringing his mug up for another sip while his eyes scrutinized his son. After a few seconds, Vegeta lowered his mug, eyes narrowed. "And your 12th birthday is in exactly seven days, so it's likely to do with that. You want to get into my good graces so I'll comply with your request. Am I correct?"
"Uhhhh…yeah, I guess," Trunks conceded, blinking a bit. Had his father read his mind? No, he couldn't have. Trunks' control over his telepathy had increased drastically over the last year-
"I didn't read your mind," Vegeta commented, startling Trunks. At the look of shock on the boy's face, the prince snorted in mild amusement. "You're transparent, just like your mother. Let's just get on with it. What do you want for next week?"
Trunks bit the bottom of his lip, wondering what tactic to take. He thought this would be easier going through Bulma. Yes, perhaps that was still a good plan; he already knew his father's answer to his question anyway. Looking as nonchalant as possible, he gave a careless shrug, turning towards the impressive breakfast spread laid out for him and his father.
"Ah, you know, whatever you guys wanna get me is fine," Trunks casually said, taking a plate and rapidly starting to fill it.
"I won't ask you again, boy," Vegeta tersely replied. Trunks froze for a second, his plate only half-filled. His mind raced, and then he spun back around to face his father, his words spilling out before he could stop himself.
"I was gonna ask if I could get a huge new TV for my room cause the color on my TV isn't looking as good these days and also I want to get Goten a TV cause he doesn't have one but I don't want to give him mine cause of the colors, and-" Trunks voice cracked, but he took a deep breath and continued on,"and I want the newest virtual playstation that just came out that'd be SO MUCH FUN, and also Videl's pregnant and Goten's gonna be an uncle and I was wondering if you and Mom could maybe, you know, get me a little brother maybe." Trunks took another deep breath, and then finished with an enormous smile that worked on his mother 8 times out of 10.
Unfortunately, Vegeta's facial expression hadn't changed during his son's entire spiel. Even now that Trunks was done, the prince merely stared at the boy with his stoic gaze, and the boy stared back expectantly. Several moments passed before Vegeta grunted, and stood up, lifting his mug of coffee and the tablet with him.
"Eat your breakfast, boy," he ordered. "Kakarot's devil spawn will be here momentarily, and he will undoubtedly eat the food your mother set aside for you. And do not be late for school, or I will never hear the end of it from your mother and in turn, I will pound you into the dirt. Understand?"
Trunks' face fell as Vegeta turned to head out. "Wait, where are you going?"
"To put your scatterbrained mother's computer device back in its place, and then to begin my morning training session. The same thing I do every morning, Trunks," Vegeta drawled while heading into the living room, as though stating the obvious.
"But Dad, what about what I asked for?" Trunks borderline whined.
"Your requests have been noted. I will pass them along to your mother."
Trunks' smile instantly spread over his face, and he couldn't resist chasing after his father. "You mean you're not saying no? To any of them? Even the one about a baby brother?!"
Vegeta paused, and turned just enough to level his son with a cold glare of warning. The boy instantly took a step back, raising his hands innocently even though he couldn't get rid of his smile.
"Right, right, it's been noted. I'll just go eat my breakfast then! Have a good day, Dad!"
Vegeta absent-mindedly grunted, turning and walking away. Trunks resisted the urge to holler in happiness as he spun around and ran back into the kitchen. He instantly picked up his plate, overloaded it in a second, and then sat down to eat with gusto.
It turned out to be good timing for the prince, since he narrowly avoided having to see Goten that morning. Even though he could begrudgingly admit that the boy was starting to grow on him, when he and Trunks were together, they were barely tolerable. Vegeta found this to be especially true when he hadn't finished his morning coffee.
Hours later, and all was well with the world. Bulma was at work, Trunks and Goten were at school, and Vegeta was working up a sweat in his afternoon training session. He was trying his best to focus on his routine, but he was distracted by the conversation with his son that morning. It was the first request for a sibling that Trunks had made in some months, but more importantly, it was the first time he hadn't immediately shot the request down, much to his own surprise. After all, little had changed. He and Bulma hadn't actually decided on trying again and still used their normal birth control. The topic hadn't been revisited in a long time. They both knew where each other stood: she was open to the idea, he didn't despise it, and they had left it at that.
He stopped midway through his pushups. The prince shifted over so he was sitting in the middle of the gravity room, forcing his heavy breathing to slow down as he shot a glance at the gravity reading. 600 times Earth's gravity. Vegeta lowered his head and ran one hand up through his sweaty hair. He was half-tempted to call it a day and enjoy a rare afternoon off to work through his thoughts, when there was a sharp knocking at the door. The prince rose to his feet in one smooth motion, going over to turn off the gravity. As soon as he did, the lights lifted and the door opened.
"And here I was enjoying peace and quiet for a change," he sneered, crossing his arms as he heard his wife walk in behind him.
"Oh, shut up, I forgot my tablet and you didn't even bother bringing it to me at work, jerk."
"Hn. I don't know what you are talking about."
"Oh yeah? Then I guess it was Trunks watching graphic videos about lions mauling humans first thing in the morning?"
"Nothing like beginning the day with quality entertainment," Vegeta drawled, smirking with morbid amusement. He jumped in surprise when he felt a hard pinch on his behind. "Woman!" he growled, finally whirling around to face a very smug looking Bulma.
"Sorry, couldn't help it. Your butt looks cute in that spandex," she teased, giving him a wink as she lowered her shades back down over her eyes. "Now that I finally have your attention though, did you ask Trunks what he wanted for his birthday?"
Vegeta grunted, crossing his arms firmly over his chest. "The boy wants a television box for himself and for Kakarot's second spawn. He also requested some new virtual game nonsense."
"Alright, that shouldn't be bad. We should be able to get both in an hour, tops. We'll definitely have it done before he gets back from school," Bulma planned out loud, taking out her cell phone to check her schedule as her husband scoffed.
"What the hell do you mean, we? I got the intel you wanted. You handle it, woman," he ordered, turning back towards the console in the middle of the room as lowering his arms to his sides. As soon as he did, Bulma took hold of one of his hands. He frowned, eyeing her out of the corner of his eye.
"Oh come on, Vegeta, don't be difficult. It'll move faster if we go together. I got an afternoon off, and I'd like to enjoy it with my handsome husband," Bulma informed him, leaning in close enough to kiss him by his ear. The prince rolled his eyes, but did nothing to pull away as she whispered in his ear, "My very sexy husband."
Vegeta snorted, but when he finally turned to face her again, his stoic expression had lost its usual hard edge. His dark eyes were still as intense as ever though as they settled right on hers. Bulma met his hard gaze with a warm, inviting smile.
"I do not know how I've let you live this long," he grumbled. Bulma's smile grew until it was dazzling.
"Because I'm gorgeous and brilliant and you love me?" she playfully asked, unable to keep from appreciating the view of his body in front of him. The heat he was still giving off from his training session was delicious.
He noticed her roaming eyes, and was quick to return the favor. She was still in her lab coat from work, but underneath that she was wearing a very snug black tube top that left little to his imagination. The best part though was her short blue skirt that showed off just enough of her smooth thighs. Oh, how easily he could disintegrate her clothing…
"You are utterly insufferable," he growled, sounding legitimately angry to anyone who didn't know him as well as the woman before him did. But she recognized that edge in his voice.
Bulma was about to respond, when he grabbed her around the waist and hauled her right up against him. She opened her mouth in surprise as he tossed her shades aside, but any words on her tongue died in Vegeta's mouth as he forcefully took charge. His kiss was dominant, and so were the hands holding her firmly against his hot, bare skin. The rough feel of his fingers conveyed his underlying need, slipping inside her coat and under the back of her top, brushing against her soft skin-
"Vegeta," she breathed, making his heart pound. His name never had and never would sound better than the times Bulma said it like that. Her coat was off in fractions of a second, his mouth moving from her lips to her neck as he continued tasting her skin as though it was the first time. She leaned her head back, her arms going around his neck as though to brace herself against his onslaught, licking her lips when she felt the hard erection pressing against her. "You're so sweaty, and…I'm gonna need…a shower…we're on a schedule…" she groaned, half in desire and half in protest.
"You're already sweating, woman," Vegeta chuckled against her skin. He pulled back though, and slightly dazed, she met his hot gaze. With an arrogance that could only come with royalty, he cocked an eyebrow and flashed her an infuriating smirk. "Or would you rather wait until another time?"
Bulma moved her hands to his shoulders, and then down his bare chest, to his abs. Without breaking their intense, challenging eye contact, she returned his smirk with a smug one of her own as she caught the top of his spandex shorts between two fingers, sliding his shorts down as far as she could.
"I didn't say stop," she whispered against his lips, her hand wrapping around his hot erection. "Now aren't you glad that you've left me alive?"
"Hn. You serve your purpose, I suppose."
"Is that right?" Bulma dangerously asked.
Her grip tightened painfully hard on him, purposely digging her nails into his sensitive flesh. A surprised hiss of pain escaped him through his teeth, followed by a low moan that he couldn't bite down as he closed his eyes in surrender. Taking advantage of literally having the mighty Prince of Saiyans right in the palm of her hand, Bulma instantly seized his lips with hers with a passionate kiss Vegeta eagerly returned, relishing in that taste she still hadn't tired of.
His chest rumbled with a low growl when she pulled away from their kiss moments later.
"I suppose you serve your purpose too, jackass."
Vegeta snorted, his features easing into a brief, rare, and genuine smile. He had her backed up against the wall an instant later, her clothes sliding off her skin in pieces from a flash of his ki she never even saw. He easily hoisted her up against him, her nails digging into his shoulders, her legs wrapping around him, her name lost in an urgent breath between their lips.
It was not the break he had in mind, but he wasn't going to complain.
Bulma lit a cigarette on her balcony a couple hours later, taking a slow draw before exhaling in satisfaction. She could just barely make out the water running as her husband showered in their private bathroom, and she hoped she had left him enough hot water after her own shower. Tempting as it'd been to shower together, they'd had their share of fun for the afternoon, and then some. After all, they had a schedule to keep, and they were already running late. But at least she was dressed again, in her snug dark blue dress that easily cost over five thousand. There was no way in hell that she was letting her husband destroy this gorgeous dress.
When she finally heard the water stop running and the door open, she glanced over her shoulder to sneak a peek at the dripping wet, naked Saiyan prince. Vegeta flashed his ki, dissipating the water off his body before he disappeared into their enormous walk-in closet. Bulma turned and put out her cigarette in an ashtray on the rail, then headed back into their bedroom.
"Are you dressed yet?" she asked, right as Vegeta stepped out. The prince pulled down a black, long-sleeved shirt down over his head, and Bulma's nose crinkled when she saw that he was also wearing black jeans. "Geez. Going to a funeral?"
"My wife's, in fact," he snidely responded, going over to take a seat on their bed.
Bulma rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Alright. So all he asked for was a TV and that new virtual gaming system that just came out?"
Vegeta grunted, keeping his eyes on his boots as he laced them up. When he didn't hear anything else from his wife, he glanced up to find her staring incredulously at him.
"What now?" he demanded.
"Was that all he asked for?" she demanded, matching his tone.
They both stared at each other for several long moments, before Vegeta exhaled slowly through his nose. He looked back down, a muscle in his jaw flexing as he resumed tying up his boots, this time tighter than before.
"He made another request for a sibling. A brother, to be precise," he admitted.
Bulma quietly sighed. She went over and took a seat next to him, smoothing her dress over her thighs. He finished lacing his boots, and then settled his gaze directly on the wall in front of him, his features set in a hard frown.
"Were you going to tell me?" she calmly asked.
"I just did."
"We haven't talked about it in a while. Have you given any more thought to it?"
"Have you?" Vegeta countered, raising an eyebrow in curiosity as he turned his head to her. Bulma shrugged, and couldn't hide the little smile on her face. The prince closed his eyes and inwardly groaned, turning his head back so he was facing the wall. "You're not open to another child anymore. You outright want one, don't you?"
"I didn't say that."
"You didn't have to. You're transparent," he grumbled. "Everyone in this damn family is."
"Well, what do you think, hon?" Bulma asked, nudging his shoulder with hers. Vegeta reached up with one hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. He sighed, and it seemed to Bulma that hours had passed before he finally responded.
"I think the idea of actually planning and wanting this child…and doing it differently…has an appeal," he begrudgingly admitted.
"You didn't want me?"
Vegeta and Bulma both looked over in shock to see their son standing in the doorway to their bedroom, his bookbag slung over one shoulder. The prince stood up, floored that the boy had actually managed to sneak up on him without him noticing. But when he saw the look of hurt, anger, and disbelief on Trunks' face, he realized that he had bigger problems.
"Trunks…" Vegeta started, trying to say something to rid that look from his son's face. That was a look that he knew all too well, having worn it many times as a boy. To see it on Trunks now left him searching for words that would not come.
"Is it true, Mom?" Trunks demanded, his voice cracking and dropping as he shifted his suddenly intense gaze to Bulma as she approached him.
"Trunks, sweetie, I'm so sorry that you heard that. Your dad just meant that you were a nice surprise we hadn't planned on, that's all," Bulma soothingly informed him, pulling her son into a hug. Trunks allowed the embrace for a moment before looking back at his father expectantly.
"Dad? Is that what you meant?" he asked, unable to keep the hope out of his voice.
Father and son stared at each other for some long moments. The prince knew that one word here, and he would diffuse the whole situation. Unfortunately, Vegeta felt a heavy weight on his shoulders when he realized, like he had moments ago with Bulma, that he could not face his son and outright lie to the boy. And even if he could find it in him to do so, it would only postpone the inevitable. The truth would come out sooner or later, he had known that from the moment he realized he had a son, and he had done his best to push that moment back ever since.
Finally, he decided he'd pushed it back long enough.
"Trunks, you and I need to talk," Vegeta finally said, drawing Bulma's attention. They made brief eye contact, and she already knew. She visibly winced, and hugged Trunks a little tighter, as though trying to preserve his innocence a moment longer.
"Vegeta, why don't you wait until after his birthday?" Bulma suggested, knowing before the sentence was out that it was for naught, yet unable to stop herself from asking anyway. Trunks' brow furrowed in confusion as Vegeta shook his head. The prince then he walked past them, his posture the most rigid Trunks had seen since their battle against Buu.
Vegeta paused just past the entryway to their bedroom, looking over his shoulder at his son. "Be outside in the back, in one minute, boy."
Trunks watched him leave, and then looked back at Bulma as she let him go, not bothering to hide his confusion. "Am I in trouble?"
"No, honey, not at all," Bulma sighed, ruffling his hair. Trunks was scowling, and he looked so much like his father at that moment that it brought a fleeting smile to her face. Her son had grown; he was almost at her shoulder now in height, and his voice was changing. She reached down to his chin, raising his head so they were making eye contact. "Make sure you listen to your father. Let him finish, and don't interrupt. Just listen. Okay?"
Trunks nodded, giving his mother a small smile before venturing off after his father. Vegeta was waiting for him outside in the back, his head back as he gazed up at the afternoon sky, his eyes hard in concentration. When Trunks stepped out, Vegeta gave him a brief glance, before looking ahead.
"Not here. Follow me."
Trunks didn't get the chance to respond before Vegeta's ki ignited around him, then the prince was gone. Never one to be left behind, Trunks immediately followed suit. His dad hadn't ascended, keeping up with Vegeta's pace was still pushing his limits. Ever since the ordeal with Buu, Vegeta had eased up significantly on forcing Trunks to train, as though he could recognize his son's exhaustion after his first real taste of battle. Without his father's pressure to keep up, Trunks had gradually slacked off, and it had been at least a good year since he had truly tested his superhuman strength and speed. But seeing Vegeta's effortless speed now, and realizing he could barely keep up without ascending, Trunks realized he was sorely out of practice.
Finally, to Trunks' relief, they stopped. Vegeta silently dropped down onto a mountain ridge. Trunks landed right behind him, nearly losing his balance when the rocks under his feet gave way. He quickly found his footing, gazing over the scenery. There was no one nearby he could sense, and with good reason. They were in a valley with endless plateaus, and only some stubborn green shrubs sporadically growing in defiance of the intense heat. The air was dry, and he could already feel the sweat breaking out on his skin.
"So, uh, you wanted to talk?" Trunks asked warily, gazing up at his father.
Vegeta was on higher ground, and had his back to his son while he scanned the familiar surroundings and played out an old battle in his head that he had never forgotten. He leaned his head back, breathing in, only to find that the air still tasted the same even after all these years. Still, he would have preferred to relive that defeat than face the boy behind him. He'd known this day would come, but he hadn't planned it; hell, even them being there was the result of an impulsive decision. He didn't know what to say. He didn't know what Trunks would say. The boy was raised differently; he was raised better. Nothing might change, or everything could change. The prince was a man who liked to know exactly what was going to happen, and at what time. He hadn't felt this type of uncertainty in some years, and he hesitated.
But it was only momentary. After all, the Prince of Saiyans was no coward. He was going to tell his son the truth, and he would accept whatever happened afterwards.
"This is where I fought Kakarot and his weakling friends when I first came to Earth," Vegeta remarked, practically feeling Trunks' surprise behind him. He turned enough to look back at his son, who was looking around with wide eyes.
"It's a pretty good place for a fight," Trunks admitted, and Vegeta raised an eyebrow in curiosity.
"You've heard about it."
"A little, yeah. I heard that it was a good, tough sporting fight," Trunks announced proudly.
"Oh, and who told you that?"
"Goku did, when Goten and I asked. He said you were pretty tough!"
"Hn." Vegeta paused for a moment, frowning as he looked off to the side. "What else did he tell you?"
"That was it, that you guys fought at first but then you helped save everyone on Namek," Trunks answered with a shrug.
"Uh…I dunno," he said, scowling as he brushed his now-sweaty hair out of his eyes. "I think that's it."
Vegeta grunted and turned away again. He lapsed into a silence that seemed to stretch on for decades in Trunks' mind, but the boy bit down his impatience. He had learned the hard way over the years not to interrupt his father when he fell into these types of heavy silences. More than that though, he could feel a difference in Vegeta's ki. It was strumming low, and he could see how hard Vegeta's hands were gripped.
"Trunks, what I said earlier was true," Vegeta finally informed him, making Trunks' face scrunch up in confusion. The prince turned to face his son directly, his gruff voice making his words even more blunt. "Your mother might try to sugarcoat it, but I think you're old enough now to handle the truth. When I met your mother, I did not want children. I had never wanted children. You were not planned, and I…reacted poorly when I found out I had a son."
"Oh," Trunks softly said, forcing himself to swallow.
"You are not a mistake, Trunks. You're my son. If we still had a throne, you would be a worthy heir. Don't ever think otherwise," Vegeta clarified. Trunks breathed out, his shoulders relaxing, and he nodded. His father continued, "But I was a different man then. The only reason I even came to this planet was to get the Dragonballs. I wanted immortality so I could rule for all time. I would have done anything and killed anyone who got in my way."
Trunks suddenly felt cold as he mulled over his father's words. He studied Vegeta's eyes, seeing no trace of a lie. Sure, his father often threatened him and his mother, but they were half-hearted words, and after growing up with it, Trunks had never considered that his father was capable of following through. After all, Vegeta was one of the "good guys". He had saved the planet, Trunks had seen it himself. But there was a coldness to his father that he was seeing now that he'd never seen before.
"You've killed before," he realized.
Vegeta's gaze was hard. "You already knew that, Trunks. The incident with Buu. Remember?"
"Yeah, but that's cause you were possessed…" Trunks' voice trailed off as he studied his father for confirmation.
"I let it happen," the prince bluntly told him. "But the whole reason I was even targeted was because of my old nature. Son, that wasn't the first time I killed. I worked for an intergalactic tyrant named Frieza, for almost my entire life prior to coming to Earth. He ruled with an iron fist, and his tyranny did not end until Kakarot defeated him. Many were killed during his reign, many at my hands."
Vegeta forced himself to keep steady when he saw the flash of different emotions over his son's face. Surprise, a flash of disappointment, some wariness. Trunks cleared his throat.
"Were they bad? Is that why you did it?" he asked, his blue eyes still filled with hope. Vegeta took in the boy in front of him, the boy soon to become a teenager, and then a man. Time had slipped by, and how he wished he could preserve the boy's innocence. But the truth needed to be known.
"No," Vegeta finally answered. This time he couldn't quite keep his expression neutral, letting a fracture of regret creep through. His mouth felt dry, but he forced himself to continue. "There were a handful I killed, who did deserve to die. But the rest were innocent. Men, women…children. I spared no one. Most killings were done in mass, and were assigned to me. I couldn't have backed out even if I wanted to. But I won't lie to you, Trunks. Not every death at my hands was from an order. There were many who I killed, because I wanted to. The rush of power, the thrill of hunting down the next kill, I enjoyed it. And I was very good at it."
Vegeta's blunt admission struck Trunks like a punch to the chest. He desperately studied his father, hoping it was a lie, and just some kind of morbid test of fortitude. But when he saw nothing but cold truth in Vegeta's dark eyes, something inside of him broke. The boy took a step back away from his father, and then looked away, his fists clenched tightly at his sides.
"Mom knows," he stated weakly, not quite asking. Vegeta nodded. "Does everyone else know?"
"Everyone except you, Goten, and Marron."
Vegeta snorted. "Of course Gohan knows. I nearly killed him during the battle right here."
"It wasn't a sporting battle."
"No, that's just what was told to you and Goten. But it was not a sporting battle; it was life or death. If I would have won that fight, I would have killed everyone on this planet and you would not be here."
There was silence for a long time as father and son didn't move. Vegeta was trying hard to read the boy in front of him, but it seemed that his training had paid off well. Trunks was completely unreadable, his face neutral while he kept his ki strong and steady.
His voice, however, was not steady when he asked, "How many?"
"Too many to count."
"Then guess!" Trunks angrily shouted as he whirled back to face his father. Vegeta let the disrespect slide, instead taking a deep breath.
"Trunks, there are over seven billion people on this planet, so if I wiped this planet clean of life, that would be seven billion lives. But I purged hundreds of planets of life. If there was ever a count, I lost it a long time ago…Trunks," Vegeta started, taking a step forward when he saw the tears of red-hot rage in his son's eyes. "I was-"
"I don't care! You were worse than Buu and that Cell guy everyone talks about! You're worse than anyone that's ever threatened our planet!" Trunks borderline screamed, his voice cracking and dropping. He stopped in frustration that he couldn't control the ups and downs of his voice, and he stifled back his tears.
Once upon a time, Vegeta would have laughed and taken pride in the boy's words. But he nodded, accepting the words and his son's anger.
"I thought you were good," Trunks finally exhaled, now looking both disgusted and disappointed. "I know you're not like Goku, but I thought…I thought you were just as good as him, but you're not. It's like…it's like…it's like I don't know you at all."
"Trunks, this was a long time ago. I'm still your father-"
"Yeah well I wish you weren't!" Trunks snapped, the anger burning in his eyes again as his voice kept rising, his lip curling up in rage, "You're a monster, and I wished you had stayed dead when you died with Buu!"
Vegeta's eye twitched, but he said nothing. Nor did he make a move to stop his son when the boy's ki ignited around him, before he took off in the air. He knew instantly that Trunks was headed towards Goku's house. An effort to get comfort from friends, or an effort to rile up the troops to take the evil Saiyan Prince out? Vegeta reckoned the boy would be more successful with the former.
When the boy was out of sight, Vegeta let out a breath he wasn't aware he'd been holding. The prince lowered himself so he was sitting on the rocks, raising one knee. He stayed there for a long time.
Same location, another painful defeat.
Dinner that night was quiet. Bulma eyed her husband carefully while he ate, but he had been tight lipped since he got home, only telling her that the boy was at Kakarot's and would be home later. No matter how much she had prodded him, no matter how many tactics she used to get him to say more, Vegeta didn't say another word about his talk with their son. It was another reminder that when the man made up his mind about something, truly made up his mind, nothing could sway him otherwise – not even her.
Still, the fact that it was dark out and Trunks was still not home yet, and the fact that Vegeta was still on his first plate while she had already served herself seconds, told her everything she needed to know.
"I'll give him until tonight," Bulma finally announced when the silence became unbearable. Frowning, Vegeta looked up. "If he's not home by 10, I'm calling Chi-Chi to have Goku teleport his butt back home."
"You'll do no such thing," he said, his voice sounding tired. "Let the boy stay there until he is ready to return."
Bulma sighed, getting up to put her plate away for her bots to clean. Here she had ordered enough food to feed a hundred grown human men, to have enough for herself, her Saiyan husband, and their growing hybrid son. At least they were going to have leftovers. It was a small consolation.
When she came back, Vegeta was staring down at his plate. He was holding his utensils in both hands, but he had barely eaten a quarter of the food she had laid in front of him. His eyes were distant, and she recognized that look on his face all too well.
He blinked, brought out of it when he felt her arms wrapping around him tightly from behind. She was bent over, leaning against him as she rested her head against his shoulder.
"Remember what I told you when he was a baby. I won't let him hate you," Bulma whispered in his ear. "Your old life is in the past, and you're not the same man. I'll help him see that, even if it takes a little bit of time. He's stubborn, you know, since he is our kid. But Trunks loves you, and everything will be alright."
Vegeta frowned and didn't react for several seconds. Finally though, he leaned back against her, exhaling through his nose as he did.
"And you want to bring another child into this mess?" he grumbled.
"Um, excuse me. We are not a mess, we're a family, get it right, mister."
"What's the difference?" he snidely asked.
"Don't be so pessimistic, hon. Besides, kid #2 isn't even here yet."
"You mean potential kid #2."
"Right, well, we'll tell potential kid #2 together, how does that sound?"
"Oh, it sounds fantastic, now I'm really looking forward to it," he deadpanned. Bulma lightly smacked his chest as she pulled away from him, resting her hands on his shoulders while he reached for his glass of water.
"Yeah, yeah. Anyway, we'll handle the potential one later. Right now, we should focus on already-here kid #1," she informed him, looking at the enormous glass clock in their dining room. "It's getting late. You sure you don't want me to call?"
"Yes, just leave the boy for now," he gruffly told her, pushing his plate away as he stood up. "Give him at least one day before you call."
"You're not gonna finish your dinner?" Bulma asked, biting her lip a little as she eyed his food. Rare were the times when her husband didn't devour all of his dinner with his insatiable appetite. Oblivious to her concern, Vegeta waved it off with indifference as he made his way towards the living room.
"I'm going to change, then I'm going to train. Don't wait up," he called back, already heading upstairs. Bulma sighed again, looking back at the clock. One day so cooler heads would prevail. She'd grant Trunks one day, and not a minute more.
Meanwhile, a very sweaty Goku was happily carrying about twenty perfectly-balanced enormous logs over one shoulder as he trekked home, navigating through the woods. He could have easily used his Instant Transmission, but the evening was hot and he enjoyed the physical work. With the peace the planet had fallen into, he always took any opportunity for a physical workout that he could get.
Barefoot and only in his red gi pants, the Saiyan was whistling happily, wondering whether he was going to have a grandson or a granddaughter, when Trunks suddenly dropped down in front of him out of nowhere. With a surprised yelp, Goku dropped the logs and promptly fell backwards, landing sitting down.
"Ahhh, so that's what it feels like when I use my Instant Transmission to drop in on someone else," he chuckled, scratching the back of his head as he grinned. "Good job, Trunks. You should tell your dad that you managed to scare me, I'm sure he'd get a kick out of that."
"How can you talk like that about him, when you know what he's done?" Trunks demanded, his jaw set tightly and his fists clenched hard. His whole posture was tense, and he looked for all intents and purposes like he was ready for a fight.
Goku looked perplexed for a moment, and then realization dawned on him. He patiently smiled, nodding in understanding as he got back up on his feet, patting at his pants a bit to get the dirt off his hands.
"I guess Vegeta finally told ya, huh?" Goku asked as he began to pick up the dropped logs to hoist up over his shoulder.
Trunks leaned forward, putting his hands on his waist as he yelled, "Yeah, he did, even though apparently EVERYONE knew about it and no one told me!"
"It was no one's place to tell you except for your dad. If you're old enough that Vegeta thought you could handle it, then you're old enough to understand that, right?"
Trunks exhaled sharply through his nose, scowling as he angrily crossed his arms over his chest. Goku looked away as he smiled a little and picked up another log. The kid was definitely Bulma and Vegeta's, that was for sure.
"How come you let him get away with it?"
"Whattaya mean, Trunks?"
"I mean, you're the only one strong enough in the whole world to beat him, so why didn't you?"
"Hm, well, I've already beaten your dad. Once with some help, but I think I won the second fight too actually, since he used a cheap shot at the end…and our current spar count is…well I don't remember, but I do have 3 wins on him, so there's that," Goku pondered out loud. Suddenly remembering his audience, Goku shot Trunks a sheepish look, forcing an innocent chuckle as he gathered up all the logs onto his shoulder. "Don't tell him I said that though, he'll be madder than a hornet and I can't fight him tonight, Chi-Chi would have my head!"
"I'm SERIOUS, stop messing around! You had him beat when he first got to Earth, you had him, and you didn't finish it!" Trunks snapped, lowering his arms. "Why did you let him go?"
Goku paused for a moment. He exhaled, dropped all the logs again on the grassy ground, and then turned to face Trunks directly, his gaze curious.
"Trunks, are you asking me why I didn't kill your dad when he first came to Earth?" Goku slowly asked.
"Yeah! I mean, don't you know what he's done?" Trunks demanded, wondering why no one was taking such news seriously.
"I know everything Vegeta's ever done, and everything that's ever been done to him. I saw it all when we did Fusion a few years ago," Goku answered, his voice and expression suddenly serious. The Fusion had been worth it for the combined gain in strength, experience, and battle strategy from the two seasoned warriors, but he hadn't counted on the intensity of being able to see into Vegeta's mind and his memories.
"So you didn't know back then?"
"Well I didn't know everything back then, but I did get the idea. Your dad didn't exactly make it a secret, the things he was willing to do to get what he wanted."
"Then why did you still let him go?"
Goku raised an eyebrow. "You would have preferred that I had killed him?"
"I-" Trunks blinked at the question, and visibly flustered, yelled, "No! I didn't say that! I just…"
"You want to know what I saw in him?" Goku gently asked. Trunks frowned, unclenching his fists. He buried them in his jean pockets, and nodded. "Well, gee, Trunks. Well for starters, there weren't many Saiyans left, I didn't want to dwindle us down more! But also, it's the same thing I saw in Piccolo, and Tien. They weren't on the same level as Vegeta, of course, but still, I saw good there. That's all it was. I saw good in your dad. Your mom did too."
"Tch, what good? He killed so many people on so many planets! He doesn't even know how many!"
"I know. And he'll pay for that one day. Everyone has to answer for what they've done."
Trunks' anger gave way to confusion as he blinked. "He'll pay?" he asked warily.
"Yep, he knows it too. So does Bulma. Vegeta will pay by losing what he loves most. You and Bulma. He won't go where we go when we die, and he'll likely spend an eternity alone. That would be his kindest fate."
"Oh," Trunks softly replied, unable to stop the regret that flared up as he remembered the last thing he'd said to his dad. He forced himself to swallow.
"I know it's kinda tough to take in all at once. But what he told you doesn't change the last 12 years that he's been your dad, does it? Heck, if you had asked Gohan about eight years ago, he would've said Vegeta was a better dad than me!"
"It's true. I mean, man, Vegeta's been more a father figure to Goten than I have, I'm still trying to play catch-up for time I missed with Goten," he explained, with a bittersweet smile. "Still, Trunks. Vegeta's a good guy now. He sacrificed his life for you and your mom, he helped save this planet, and he's doing the best he can with you and your mom. I know he's got his hands full with both of you!" Goku chuckled, ruffling Trunks' hair. "I've made some mistakes, Trunks, but asking Krillin to spare your dad's life wasn't one of them. Besides, if I'd done that, you wouldn't be here, and who would be Goten's best friend?"
"Yeah, I guess," Trunks muttered, staring at the ground as he absently brushed at his nose.
"You know, I met this teenager once when you were a baby, and he really would've loved to be in your position. He didn't get to know his dad at all until he was already 18."
"Hn. I bet his dad wasn't like mine though."
Goku smiled. "You'd be surprised. In any case, it's a bit late, isn't it? You should start heading home. Your mom is probably wondering where you are. Your dad too. Besides, your birthday is coming up soon, right? I think that's what Goten said, and I'd make a bet you're going to get everything you want this year."
"Pssh, yeah, right," Trunks snorted, watching as Goku started picking up the logs again. He instantly started picking up some too, figuring he could help before he headed back home. "I asked for a little brother, and I mean, I would even settle for a little sister at this rate! But I'm sure I'm never ever getting one, ever," he grumbled in defeat.
Goku laughed, as they headed to his house together. "Never say never."
About an hour later, Vegeta was still awake and working up a hard sweat in the gravity room. He was training ascended at his maximum, panting as he worked in 650 times Earth's gravity. The entire time, he inwardly cursed himself as he tried to keep a familiar sense of self-loathing from rising. It was a struggle. His past was branded in his blood; he couldn't separate from what he had done any more than he could separate from his own skin. Trunks was his son, his only child, and the boy deserved to know who he was. For better or worse, he deserved the truth. And if that truth wound up costing him one of the only relationships that mattered to him, then so be it. There was no one to blame but himself.
Vegeta felt Trunks before he heard him. He froze, and then glanced back over his shoulder at the door as it opened. The gravity instantly disengaged, and the prince turned as his son stepped in. The boy was wearing a look in his eyes, of fearless determination; it was the same look the teenaged future version of his son had worn, day in and day out when they had trained together before the Cell games. Vegeta recognized it again now, and he gave Trunks his full attention.
The boy breathed in slowly, drawing up his nerve, not breaking eye contact from his father as he exhaled.
"You don't do any of that anymore, right?" he demanded. "None of that killing, not anymore, right?"
"You regret it?"
"There was no way to avoid all of it, Trunks…but…I certainly should have minimized some damage," Vegeta relented. Trunks nodded, eyeing the scars on his father's torso as though for the first time.
"Frieza did that to you?"
"He gave me most of them, yes," Vegeta replied, stepping towards his son. He gestured vaguely towards a few scars by his ribs as he stood in front of the boy. "These and a few others are from battle."
Trunks studied some of the deep scars, knowing that he himself had never been scarred from the training or the battles he engaged in during the Buu fiasco. Their Saiyan skin healed so well; he had never thought of it, and only now realized how hard his father must have been struck to leave such permanent marks on his body. The pain had gone, but the memories must have still lingered.
Father and son gazed at each other for several long moments, before the boy admitted, "I talked to Goku."
Trunks blinked. "How did you know?"
"There are only two individuals who know me well enough to handle your questions, and that's your mother and Kakarot. I know you haven't been home, so it was obvious."
"He said that when you die, you won't be with us," Trunks admitted, his voice unsteady. It was only after he had tasted and voiced the words, that he realized how badly he didn't want that to happen. He had already lost his dad once, he didn't want to lose him again.
"It's very likely."
"You knew that?"
"I've died twice already, Trunks. The good in my life will never outweigh the bad, so neither time was pleasant. The third time won't be either."
"Speaking of…" the boy awkwardly shifted his weight, suddenly looking down. "About what I said earlier-"
"It's just…you've done so many bad things," Trunks quietly said, still staring at the floor.
"I know, son," Vegeta replied, just as quietly. "I know."
"You would never hurt me and Mom, right?"
"Never," Vegeta answered with so much conviction, it left no doubt. Reaching out, he put a hand on Trunks' shoulder, giving a firm squeeze. "Nothing will happen to either of you, not by my hand or anyone else's, as long as I breathe. I give you my word, and I break my word for no one."
They lapsed into another silence, before Trunks looked up and ventured, "I finally snuck up on you today, y'know."
For the first time since that afternoon, Vegeta's features eased. "I know. You did well," he proudly informed his son.
"I know it's late and all, but ah, do you think maybe we could have a spar? It's been a really long time. I'm kinda rusty."
Vegeta smirked a little, giving a short nod. "Just don't tell your mother."
Things wouldn't be mended overnight between them, but Vegeta figured a late-night spar between father and son was more than a decent start.