"Dad…" Trunks' voice sounded tired. "It's been ten days. Mom says you don't even come to bed anymore. I just don't know what you want me to do. I've already apologized. I don't know what more you want. Whatever it is, I'll…"
His voice cracked. Vegeta opened the door.
"Get in here," he ordered, ignoring the pathetic expression on his son's face. He shut the door and stood, immobile, studying his son, who looked terrible.
"The hell's the matter with you?" he asked gruffly. Trunks' expression quirked briefly into annoyance.
"Oh, gee, dad, I dunno, just a little worried that I've done the impossible and mortally offended you. Just a few sleepless nights. No big deal or anything."
Vegeta snorted. Trunks glared.
"I'm serious. I know I crossed a line yelling at Bra, but don't you think you're overreacting?"
As he sometimes did during moments like these, Vegeta suddenly thought of Raditz. He'd only been about ten years older than him, and they had developed a kind of twisted camaraderie in their years together. For whatever reason, Raditz had never been able to take the younger boy very seriously, and Vegeta, though he found it annoying, had never quite been able to bring himself to kill him for his insolence. It had been kind of refreshing, in its own way: not being sucked up to or talked down to, but argued with, as equals. It had turned out to be one of his favorite pastimes.
"I was not in here sulking," Vegeta informed his son.
Trunks threw up his hands. "Then what?"
"…I was thinking."
The look his son gave him was frankly disbelieving.
Vegeta stood, arms folded over his chest, for a long moment. Then he spoke.
"You are wrong," he said. "I do not favor Bra over you. But I could, perhaps, stand to be more clear about why I treat her differently than I treated you."
Trunks looked shocked. Vegeta continued calmly.
"Trunks, I am not going to stand here and make excuses. I am a terrible father, and we both know this. When you were young, I was still trying to come to terms with the fact that I even had a son, much less whether I wanted to raise you or not. I had a shitty childhood myself, and I had no idea what a Saiyan father was supposed to do, much less a human one. So I did the only thing I could think of: I trained you." He paused, hoping Trunks would not take the opportunity to interrupt. He did not. "When… before I died… that was the first time it ever occurred to me that I could have done things differently. Your mother was always getting after me to be a better father, but I dismissed her advice and everyone else's because I hated the idea that I was doing it wrong. It occurred to me then that whether I had been doing it wrong or not didn't matter, because I had about thirty seconds left and I had to make them count. I…"
Vegeta passed a hand over his face, not wanting to look at Trunk's expression.
"When Bra was born I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that it took me eight goddamn years to tell you I was proud of you. I still don't know what the hell I'm supposed to do as a father, but I have some ideas about what not to do, and damn it if I'm not going to do that much, at least. Playing favorites was hardly my intention, and I know you know that, so if you're waiting for an apology, you can forget it."
He stopped, the speech not having gone exactly as planned, but close enough. Trunks had his hands in his pockets, and was looking distinctly uncomfortable. There was a moment of silence during which Trunks poked the toe of his boot against the floor and fought down his embarrassment.
"Okay," he said. "Thanks."
"Am I—Can I—Am I still uninvited?"
"…no. This place is as much yours as it is mine."
The smile that spread all the way across Trunks' face made his stomach squirm, and he shoved the boy hard as he walked past him to the door. Trunks stumbled, laughing, and jogged to catch up to his father.
"What are you going to do if she does want to train someday?" he asked, as they walked back to the main compound, and Vegeta felt sick to his stomach at the thought.
"Kill myself," he deadpanned, and Trunks laughed again.
"Am I still grounded?" he asked hopefully.
"Hell yes," Vegeta said.
They walked back to the main compound together.