So sorry you guys, here's the epilogue at last!
A cool wind blew. It sifted through deep forest and city alike, relieving the sweat-soaked individuals that it touched. People sighed as it passed, chimes tinkling softly, curtains ruffling in various homes. It blew across the form of a young girl, practicing a martial arts form in her yard, eyes closed. The breeze brought a tiny smile to her lips, bringing some small comfort from the heat, despite the fact that she had already moved beneath a weeping willow to avoid the heat.
Taking another step in her kata, she shifted two paces to the side, avoiding her father, meditating beside the thick trunk of the tree. Her eyes remained closed, allowing her sense of hearing and smell, as well as her sense of ki to alert her to obstacles that might hinder her training. She heard the man near her feet give a snort, half cough, his nose wrinkled in disgust. She could almost see the furrowed brow and downcast mouth as he scowled.
"Great gods, you reek girl," he noted, shifting a foot to one side as though he was attempting to escape the smell. She retained her concentration throughout his disruption, finishing the kata neatly. Finally she opened her eyes, to see the dark eyes of her father staring pointedly towards the house. She followed his gaze to a woman heavy with child, edging her way down the three stairs from the deck to the yard, three glasses of some cold drink in her hands. A low growl echoed from her father's throat. The woman neared, and glared at the girl's already-glaring father.
"I'm fine Vegeta, I'm not going to melt. You'd think he'd never seen me pregnant before," Bulma remarked, aiming the last remark at their daughter, who nodded. No matter that it was Bra's first time seeing her mother pregnant.
Ignoring her comment, Vegeta took a glass from her, downing the liquid hastily. Bra followed suit, while Bulma seated herself slowly on the ground, using her husband's forearm for support, much to his chagrin. Giving him a cheeky grin, she sipped at her own drink, relaxing back against the tree trunk.
"It's really not that hot out here," she noted, "Maybe you could work with Hiso a little when she and Kessho arrive."
"That girl needs more than work," Vegeta growled, "she's one of the most ungainly seven year olds I've ever seen..."
"And just how many have you seen?" Bulma prompted, eyebrows hiked in curiosity.
"Enough to know that her training should have started earlier. She's a mess, and so...bouncy."
"Maybe if you gave her something a little more strenuous to do that will wear her out for us. I don't expect Kessho and Hiro to pick her up early."
"Whatever. You, back in the house. I'm not rushing you to the emergency room for heat exhaustion." She didn't move an inch, determinedly withholding a grin when a muscle in Vegeta's jaw began to twitch with ire.
The sound of a car engine pulling into the drive directed their attention to a small hover car. It stopped and turned off, and a woman with dirty blond hair climbed out, slamming the door shut behind her. A tiny girl appeared from the other side, her pale lavender hair up in pigtails. Rushing to join her mother, she reached up to clasp Kessho's hand, her gait jerky and excited.
"Grandma!" She cried happily as they neared, breaking her hold on her mother to run to the blue-haired woman who appeared little older than her own mother. Bulma felt a grin steal across her face as she embraced the little girl. All too quickly the child squirmed out of her grip to attach herself to Vegeta's leg. "Grandpa!" she crowed, earning a scowl from the owner of the leg.
Kessho stood a few feet away, observing the scene with a smile. "How are you, Bra?" she questioned of the one person who had not yet been attacked.
I feel so alone
I know that I need you
To help me make it through the night
"I'm good, thanks," Bra returned, a small smile on her face. She excused herself and went inside, getting herself another drink. She scowled into the glass, feeling her anger swell. She knew this was not something to be angry about, but she couldn't help feeling betrayed on her brother's behalf. To Kessho's credit, it had been seven year's since Trunks' death, but the idea of her marrying another man still felt sour to Bra. She knew, knew that she couldn't expect the woman to remain alone all her days...
But it worried her. Would she be forgotten so quickly? How could Kessho look lovingly into the face of another man, and moments later see her daughter, one that resembled her father in so many ways? How could she not be reminded of him every time?
Hiso wandering into the kitchen pulled her from such thoughts. Bra plastered a perfect smile on her face, and asked if the child needed anything. Receiving an answer in the negative, she allowed the child to meander back outside. The smile quickly slid from Bra's face, a frown taking its place swiftly. She pitied the child, never being able to know her father. As bad as Kessho seemed to her at the moment, she knew that the older woman would never speak badly of the childs father, especially not to Hiso herself. Bra's frown deepened. Her own memories were growing dim. Being merely six years old when he had died…yes, they were growing too dim.
And I pray
That you believe in me
You gave me my strength
To face another day alone
Troubled by the thought, Bra retreated to her room. Sitting heavily on her bed, she picked up a photograph taken seven years previous. It showed Trunks holding a six-year-old Bra, the younger grinning while the elder remained stoic. Bringing the picture close to her face, Bra picked out the small sparkle in her brother's eyes, and she knew he was smiling. Emotion tugged at her throat, but she forced it away; she had had her fill of tears since his death, more wouldn't help anything. Blinking back tears, she replaced the picture, grasping blindly behind her for her pillow, tugging it around to hug tightly to her chest. It had been months since she'd thought so long about him, and the guilt of it weighed her down. Memories that still leaned towards faded washed through her unchecked, those of a happier time, and a sadder time.
And I need you now
More than you know
When will we meet again?
She gave in to the tears, shedding the crystalline liquid for him.
"I'll be back, don't worry," he assured. Speeding away before another word could escape the older woman's mouth, he delighted in the friction of air against his skin. He breathed deeply, recalling swiftly how it felt to have air fill his previously non-existent lungs. There was no need for such organs in Otherworld; no one there was alive. Nor was there air…how he had missed it.
Whooping loudly, he cavorted about, leaving an at times jagged and curvy trail of ki in the sky as he sped toward Capsule Corp. One energy signature in particular drew his attention; spiking and higher than normal from the agitation its owner was feeling.
He poured on the speed, his wide grin not so wide and slowly slipping from his face. All too soon he sighted the huge tan domes of the CC complex. He slowed and dropped to the ground less than a mile away. Quashing his ki, he crept around, fighting the urge to run to his parents out in the yard as he circled around them. He wisped out of sight, reappearing outside Bra's window. Silently he pulled open the screen, thankful that she had left it open. He could hear soft sobs, muffled by the pillow she had hugged to her chest. He paused for a moment, taking in her changed appearance.
She was so much bigger, no longer the tiny child he had known. Her limbs had lengthened making her seem almost gangly. She had lean muscle, and her hair was short, no longer in pigtails. A rectangular piece of wood and glass lay beside her. Keen sight took in the picture of himself, holding a much younger Bra. His frown deepened, brow creased.
Cause I can't let go
Quietly he sat on the bed, her head snapping up in shock as she felt the shift of weight from the mattress. Her head whipped towards him, her face a mixture of shock and disbelief. Her mouth worked without sound.
"Trunks?" She whispered softly, her voice cracking with emotion. He nodded.
His rear end hit the floor as a whirling mass of blue hair, lean muscle, and tears was hurled headlong into his arms. His grin returned as he joyously embraced the girl in his arms. She pulled away once to look at him, as though to reassure herself that Trunks was actually there.
And promptly burst into tears again. She pounded on his chest with small bony fists, and he swore in confusion and pain, vainly reaching for her hands to stop her attack.
"Hey, Bra! What's wrong?" He finally got a hold of her fists, holding her still. She glared at him.
"You're still dead! You're just here for a day, aren't you?" She ground out in a voice choked with anger and despair. "You got my hopes up, and you're just dragging us through the same shit again when you leave." His eyes widened with her use of language and what she was saying.
He closed his eyes, breathing deeply. "I knew I shouldn't have come," he murmured, his mind going wild with possibilities on how they had felt after he'd died. Would they hate him for returning? He had wanted nothing more than to ease their pain, and perhaps this was only making it worse.
"I'm sorry Bra…but I'm stuck here for a day. Can we make it good?" Sniffling, she nodded reluctantly, leaning up to kiss him on the cheek. "I love you Trunks," she whispered.
This world brings me down
My faith keeps me alive
"That's my girl," smiling, he kissed her forehead, "I love you too. Let's go see mom and dad, 'kay?" She looked at him curiously.
"You mean you haven't seen them yet?" He shook his head.
"You needed me more, I think…" she looked into his eyes sadly, and nodded.
"It's been lonely since Goten went, even though it wasn't long after you…Mom and Dad always have each other, and it…it gets lonely. Sometimes I wonder why I'm waiting till I'm 18, when I could be with you…" She confided, looking hard at the floor, sniffling again. He rubbed her back comfortingly and rose off the floor, carrying her as he descended to the living area. Her head stayed nestled against his neck, her hands clasped tightly behind his head. Her body heat seeped into him…heat, another part of life that he'd not felt in a long time. Everything and everyone in Otherworld was kept at the same comfortable temperature, unless you were in hell, he supposed.
He opened the door to the back deck, and stepped slowly into the sweltering heat and sunshine. His parents were seated under a large umbrella on said deck, with another woman across from them. He squinted, Kessho? A small girl with unmistakably lavender hair ran and clapped circles around her grandfather, who was doing his best to scowl and ignore her. Trunks resisted the strong urge to drop Bra and run to the child. He coughed softly, drawing attention from those seated at the shaded table.
It was a good thing that Bulma was seated, because she fainted dead away. Vegeta let his stoic façade fall, eyes widening and jaw dropping. Kessho's reaction was much the same. Bra squirmed to get down, scrubbing her face off with her hands. He set her feet on the floor, feeling keenly uncomfortable with the silence. Seeing that no one else was going to break the quiet, Trunks took it upon himself, gesturing vaguely at the child that was staring at him.
"Is…is she…mine?" He managed finally, finding it harder to speak than he had thought it would be. Bra, already comfortable with the newcomer, nodded.
"That's Hiso. She can get a little annoying, but on the whole she's not that bad. And yes she's yours…since when are you so possessive?" Bra answered honestly, planting a small smile on her brother's face. "I think you shocked them, Trunks." His name echoing through the quiet seemed to bring those seated to life. Bulma, now awake, was smiling widely at him. She rose from the chair and lumbered over to him, ignoring his wide-eyed look at her middle. She hugged him fiercely, wetting his shirt with silent tears.
Pulling away slightly, she raised a hand to brush hair out of his face, allowing her fingers to caress his cheek as she did so. "Trunks," she whispered, smiling beautifully at him, before dissolving into more tears, her head buried in his shoulder.
"I'm ok Mom…I missed you too," he murmured, glancing up as his father neared.
"You're drowning him," Vegeta informed his wife, a twitching frown set on his face as he fought the smile that was itching to appear on his lips. He settled on a smirk and looked ready to bodily remove Bulma from his son. Ever so reluctantly she moved back, allowing her son and husband to share a much shorter, manlier embrace. It held the same effect for Trunks, who could easily count on one hand the number of times he had received an embrace from the older man.
He turned expectantly to Kessho, curious about her reaction to his appearance. She was staring through him, hands clasped in front of her chest. Turning his attention to her hands, Trunks saw that they were not clasped. The fingers of her right hand were fiddling with two rings on her left hand. On the third finger…
His mind reeled at the thought of her being married, married to another. Another man was raising his child. He had tried so hard to convince himself that this was entirely possible, indeed, very likely, but no thought process, however logical, could prepare him for the reality of it.
But I feel like I just died inside
And I pray that you're the one
And she wasn't staring through him, rather at a man who had approached, who was now standing behind Trunks. Trunks turned to look between the stranger and Kessho. She turned her eyes to Trunks, and collapsed back into her chair, hands covering her face as she wept. Her own harsh reality had sunk in…harder than she had thought it would have. Trunks parents had informed her of the possibility of his return for a twenty-four hour period, and she had foolishly believed that it would have little affect on her.
They needed to talk, Trunks decided. And privately. He had no intentions of stealing her from anyone…but things could not stay as they now stood. He strode purposefully towards her, gathering her shaking form into his arms and launching them over the roof. She looked wide-eyed into his eyes, confusion painted clearly on her face. He set down on the other side of the complex, beneath a shady stand of trees near the edge of the cleared property. As soon as her feet touched earth Kessho moved away, glancing uncertainly at the father of her child.
"I don't know what to do," she stated shakily.
You gave me my strength
To face another day alone…
"Is there something you need to do? You shouldn't change anything because of me."
"But…I feel so…I've done wrong. I can't believe I was so stupid."
"You got married to someone else," he choked out, "it's not a crime. And I…I can't blame you for it."
"You say you can't, but you do," she replied, another tear slipping down her face.
Gently he reached up and wiped it away with his thumb. He couldn't stand her crying, not more, not over him.
"I'm not worth it Kessho, I'm not worth your staying alone the rest of your life."
"But if staying alone for a lifetime means I get to share eternity with you, how can I not? I got lonely, and he was there for me, and Hiso. And I do love him…" the last sounded almost uncertain as she refused to meet Trunks' eyes. "I love him enough to know that I don't love him enough. I can't give him all of me…and he deserves better, you know?" Trunks nodded.
"Did you just now figure all of this out?" He questioned incredulously. She shook her head fiercely, laying one hand on his cheek, he leaned into the caress without thought, eyes closing.
"I always had my doubts…but as I said, he said that whatever I could give would be enough. We were both foolish enough to believe that. I just…I can't…can't get over you, I guess," she finished, teary-eyed. He moved quickly, cupping her face in his hands and crushing his lips on hers. She moaned, responding hotly to his movements, one hand planted on his neck and the other circling around to touch his back. After a long moment they parted slightly and Kessho kept her forehead against his, looking cross-eyed into his blue gaze.
And I need you now
More than you know
"So today is the last time…" She whispered, eyes closing tightly as if it would shut out the pain.
"Don't dwell on it…let's enjoy what little time we have. Speaking of which…where's Hiso?" He pondered, eyes taking on a look of excitement that she had missed dearly. A look of…hope. A twinkle in his eyes that had not existed in many years. She smiled, caressing his cheek softly.
"Probably still over with your parents and Hiro…I'll have him go on home, this isn't his place, really. She's always asking to know about you, her usual bed time story is about you and your friends helping to save the earth." Now grinning also, Trunks clasped her hand and pulled her back towards the house, excitement seeping into his every motion. The girl was already wandering toward them from the direction of the house, her stepfather in tow. Bulma and Vegeta had known better than to interrupt the two, but Hiro's suspicions and Hiso's curiosity over the strange man had led them to search for the pair.
They met halfway, and once they were standing close, Trunks knelt to the girl's eye level, a bittersweet smile tugging his lips upward.
"You look like my dad," she noted.
"I am your dad," he stated bluntly, deciding quickly that he liked the sound of dad in reference to himself. Big blue eyes blinked at him as she processed the information he had just given her. They widened briefly, before small hands rose to take his face between her palms. He was surprised by the gesture, but it faded quickly. Surely his father had insisted on training the child.
"Are you an angel?" She questioned finally, head cocked to the side. Now Kessho joined them near the ground, drawing her daughter's attention. Hiro edged away slightly, very much aware of the feeling of family the three shared. Suddenly he was an outsider, no matter his attachment to Kessho.
When will we meet again?
Cause I can't let go
"He won't admit it, but he's my angel," Kessho noted as Hiso was scooped into her father's arms, both grinning from ear to ear. A family indeed.No, I can't…let…go…
Quiet tears were shed as Trunks flew off the following afternoon, but the act contained none of the pained urgency of his previous parting. It seemed more of a goodbye for now, than a son, brother, lover, giving his life for the sake of his family.
He faded out of sight, and those who could sense it felt for his ki to disappear from their senses, then all turned to head back inside. A flash of light and the sound of a booming engine returned their attention to the sky, where a craft was piloting down towards their location.
"Time machine…" Vegeta and Bra noted on the same breath when it was close enough for their sight to pick out.
It landed on the lawn nearby, kicking up debris before the engines shut down. The paint on the machine was chipped and faded, and dents and scratches marred the surface. Hairline cracks spidered over the dome of glass above the head of a blue haired woman. With a quiet hiss the capsule opened, and a worn and bloody Bulma clambered out. She took three steps away from the machine and collapsed, a single word escaping her lips as she passed into unconsciousness.
Wow…I can't believe it's over!!! *sobs brokenly* My baby! I love this fic! *sniff* I'm going to miss it so much…well, I'd miss it way more if I wasn't already planning the sequel. Yes, that is what that last bit was about, for those of you who hadn't guessed already.
Thank you so much to all those who reviewed, especially
Rae George, who helped with some of the planning that went into this, and was there for me to brainstorm with. She is also to thank for the name of Trunks and Kessho's daughter, Hiso. Thank you sooo much!! Love you hon'!
Saiyasith, who read and reviewed faithfully, and even put up a link to this one on her bio for a while. Hope you enjoyed reading!!
Hella, who also helped me to keep writing this by always leaving a very encouraging review. And for crying at the appropriate parts…I think I seriously desensitized myself on this one. Thanks hon!
And to all the others (can't name you all) who read and reviewed, you're the best!!
Look forward to the sequel once I've finished out a story or two, yeah? Yeah. :)