Of Chopsticks and Pudding Cups
His stomach clawed against his skin with hunger. Pausing his video game, he stared at it as if it were mutated livestock. His mother was gone on a business trip, leaving him alone with his father. He didn't mind, he actually really like it when it was just the two of them, whether in training or simply sharing the same room for an hour or so, he just enjoyed his father's presence. It was strong and steady, like a warrior's heartbeat. Then again, he was a warrior, so it fit.
Trunks frowned as his belly growled once more, and stood to get a snack. He floated up to reach the higher shelves and cabinets, searching for something adequate. Of course, what was a snack for him was a feast to a human, but he never really paid much mind to it. Eventually, he landed and rubbed his chin in thought. Snapping his fingers as the solution came to him, he dashed to the pantry, and emerged with dozens of packages of pudding cups overflowing his arms.
He let them fall onto the table as he opened several drawers in search for his favorite set of black ceramic chop sticks. They weren't really good for anything other than this, letting noodles slip and making his fingers go stiff eating other foods with them, he saved them for these occasions when he really needed a pudding fix.
Finding them, he hopped on his chair and pulled the first cup open. Three puddings later, he found himself staring almost absently at the wall, sticks half raised to his mouth.
It had been about a month since the World Martial Arts Tournament. Since his father had died trying to save them. He realized he was lingering on old thoughts and feelings, but didn't have the energy to stop his mind as it wandered down darker roads.
Those were the worst days of his young life, ever. Not only had he been killed and his planet destroyed, but his father had. No, his father killed himself in a suicide attack to take the freak out and it didn't work. He had been there. He'd been hugged. He'd been told those treasured words of "I'm proud" and he never wanted to hear them again if that was what it took for them to emerge.
Honest to goodness, it had torn him apart when he learned he was dead. What he had thought would be his last memory of him both saddened him and made him happy. Vegeta had hugged him, told him he was proud. He did two of the things he'd always wanted from him. Of course, he had always known, but it felt different for it to be expressed as such. He remembered that when he was younger, he would catch the man staring at him, uncomfortable. He understood that he didn't really know much about being a parent, his mother had told him as much, but he felt disappointed that he was the cause of that confliction. He didn't want his dad to be upset because of him.
He never questioned that Vegeta cared about him. Ever. Buu was only further proof. The kids at a school he went to once had teased him relentlessly. They asked what he did with his father for fun, and his answer had not been the typical fishing or baseball to say the least. They had begun to say that if that was his dad's idea of fun, than his dad must hate him. Then an older boy pointed out that his parents hadn't publically validated their legal marriage, and that they weren't even together, (which they were) and so for the rest of the week he was called 'bastard kid.' He knew that it wasn't true, but they kept attacking his father! The Prince of Saiyans! One day a kid came up and wouldn't leave him alone. Trunks came out going to a different school. Suffice to say, that boy didn't get off so lightly.
Buu had ripped their family apart for those hours. The empty place where his dad should have been had tugged on him then, and it only worsened with Bulma's death. He'd felt like he was going to cave in. To completely lose it. And then everything got better. And it had been terrifying. But he was there now, even if Trunks had frequent nightmares about the incident. Lost sleep meant little if he could make sure he wasn't caught in that mess again.
"Trunks, what are you doing?" The peculiar sight of the boy glaring at the wall with chopsticks and pudding in hand may have been comical any other time, but as his ki was fluctuating with distress, Vegeta was more inclined to ask what was troubling him.
Seeming to blink out of his trance, Trunks faced his dad as a faint blush spread. "I was getting a snack…"
"And you eat that repulsive substance with those? I thought I taught you about efficiency in battle. It applies elsewhere as well, you know." Vegeta tilted his head as he approached the table, pulling out the chair adjacent to his son's.
As he sat down, Trunks replied, "Pudding tastes good, Dad! And it's more fun to eat it this way."
"No it's not."
"How would you know? You've never tried it!" He countered defensively. Maybe he could goad him into something. He loved playing 'deal' with his father. He got to meet new challenges and spend time with him in one go while his father…he actually didn't know what he got out of it, but he wasn't about to bring that up. He took another jab. "Besides, you're the one who drinks applesauce. You have no right to judge."
"I am your father. Of course it's my prerogative."
"Prero-what-a-what?" After going back and forth, Vegeta finally relented and grabbed his own set of eating sticks. He opened one of the cups and pinched under the substance as he lifted it to his mouth. Trunks smiled. He cocked an eyebrow at his son as he slowly continued. Trunks allowed a victory smirk to grace his features before he realized what was happening as Vegeta reached for his fourth cup.
No way was he letting his dad eat it all!
After fifteen minutes of racing to eat the most, all of the dessert was gone, the plastic containers being all that remained. But, that sorely left Trunks with nothing to distract him from his earlier musings, and he found his eyes downcast as he set the chopsticks down.
"What is it, Trunks?"
"Nothing, Papa." He moved from his chair and went to watch T.V. in the den. Vegeta knew he was lying. Strong as he may be, the child was never good at hiding his emotions. It was made especially clear that something was bothering him when he called him 'Papa,' something he only did when he was truly upset. Vegeta didn't think he was even aware that he did it. He always had, ever since he was a toddler.
Guilt and worry stirred in his chest. It hadn't been that long since the whole Buu fiasco, and he and Trunks had yet to breathe a word about it. Physically, they were much closer, training together more often, sharing the same room as they went about their daily activities, sitting next to each other at meals, and once even reading the same book. Mentally, however, they were closed off for some reason.
He got up and followed the boy into the room, crossing his arms with mild confusion as his small hand held the remote, but the screen remained blank. He couldn't help the flash of worry that it was somehow his fault, that he wasn't doing something right, that Trunks thought he wasn't proud. Then there it was again, that tightening in his chest that made him want to hold the boy close. He'd learned not to dismiss it as weakness after Buu, but he was yet to be comfortable with it. When he had yet to acknowledge him, he inquired, "Have I done something, Trunks?"
Again, his attention snapped to his father, expecting him to be angry, but was pleasantly surprised to find that he wasn't. "No, why do you ask?"
"You can't lie to me, son. Tell me what's bothering you." He sat next to him of the couch feeling embarrassment crawl up his spine with discomfort.
Trunks sighed as he weighed his options. On one hand, he could continue his avoidance, which would undoubtedly make things worse, or he could confront it like a true saiyan. He slept on it for about five more seconds. "It's just…it hurt really badly when Goten's dad said you died."
Vegeta faced him as he absently stared at the floor. It had hurt him as well when the boy and Bulma had died. A fury he had not felt since Frieza killed… But it had been different. There had been a chance that time. "It wouldn't have happened had I not been…if I hadn't lost..." He didn't know where to continue. "I'm…sorry, Trunks. I'm just not the best father that I could be."
"What? No!" He grabbed his father's arm. "You're the best, Papa! Don't say stuff like that!" He hugged Vegeta's forearm and buried his face in the crook of his elbow.
"Trunks…" He almost subconsciously stroked the boy's hair before picking him up and holding him in his lap. Trunks gasped as he felt his dad's arms circle around him. He stiffened.
"You're not leaving again, are you, Papa?" He clutched his shirt as tears pricked at the corners of his eyes.
"No. It's fine Trunks. I'm not leaving. Relax. That won't ever happen again." When Frieza had killed the king, all of those years ago, something broke inside of him. The knowledge that he couldn't protect him brought an onslaught of emotions and pain that kept him up every night for almost a year. The circumstances were different, but what happened remained the same. He knew what Trunks felt. He tightened his grip on the child, pulling him close to his chest.
Trunks closed his eyes in effort to prevent tears from leaking. He was paranoid. The last time his father hugged him he died, but Vegeta's reassurances replayed in his mind and he released some of the tension in his body as he slumped in his dad's arms. While his sense of smell wasn't as good as a full-blooded-saiyan's he could catch his Papa's strong musk anywhere. It calmed him, comforted him and he sometimes wished that everything smelled like him, but then it wouldn't be special. It was soothing.
Vegeta exhaled as lavender hair became the only part of his son's head that he could see, Trunks was snuggled against him so deeply. He was still uncomfortable with these kinds of emotional things, but they didn't bother him as much as they did before. He waited for the moment to pass until he broke it. "By the way, what, exactly, is wrong with drinking applesauce? Is it not a liquid?"
Trunks giggled and reluctantly pulled away. He blushed again. "I've – uh – never actually tried it."
He could have made a scathing remark about Trunks' own hypocritical thinking, but refrained as he stood, the child still clinging on to him, and went back into the kitchen as he grabbed six huge jars of applesauce. "Now then," he started as he lowered trunks into his usual chair. "Let's deal. I will take you for ice cream after dinner if you can finish this before me," he said as he pushed three jars in front of Trunks.
"Now you're talking, Dad!"
A/N: Aww. I love the character-development/relationship between Trunks and 'Geta. You guys voted and so this is what I got. I got the idea for this from my own little quirks and habits, and my parents always say I'm weird for it.
I'm having huge writer's block with Rise and Fall right now, so just hang on. I have basketball practice after school so I don't have as much time as I'm used to. Water polo starts almost immediately afterwards.
My rant is complete. Please review. =^l