It had been five days since his entire world had died. And today - at this very moment, in fact - they were burying it beneath the soil of this cursed planet. They were burying her.
Bulma. He could barely tolerate the merest whisper of her name through his mind. Dead less than a week, and already he missed her. He who had never needed anyone else in his entire life - he needed her. A pitiful, weak human. Bulma.
He had spent years wandering the galaxy with no other companions besides Nappa and Radditsu. He had felt no particular need of their presence, despite the knowledge that the three of them were virtually the sole remaining survivors of their race. He had been content to be alone then, perfectly at ease when he learned of Radditsu's death, and when he delivered Nappa to his eternal rest.
However, from the moment he had first seen her upon Namek, pathetically weak and helpless - yet with a spirit that showed glimmerings of true strength - from that moment on, he had felt a stirring within the depths of his soul. Depths which had not been stirred for the majority of his life...
She had brought a spark of interest in life to him, who had only thought of death and battles. She had provoked him into expanding his mind, learning far more about the joys of life beyond fighting than he had ever dreamed he would... And she had given him fights of a different nature. Their constant verbal sparring had been a source of annoyance at first - but he had grown to enjoy the disputes. They had become an integral part of his everyday life on this planet...
He stood, at a distance, watching her coffin as it was lowered into the hole in the earth. The earth that had swallowed his pride. And what little joy he had ever experienced.
All of her friends had come to say farewell to her: Kakarotto's family, Kurilin and his family, including that old pervert Kamesennin, Yamucha, and all the others... He had stayed far away from them. They had tried to offer him their 'condolences'... But what good would 'condolences' do him? He was without Bulma, and would be for the rest of his life. Nothing could change that. Not even the Dragonballs. They could not revive someone who had died a natural death.
He stared sightlessly as they dropped handfuls of dirt over the coffin. Her body would be trapped in there, decaying away until she was no more...
No. That wasn't right. She was - had been - far more than a mere mortal body made of fallible flesh and blood...
The other mourners drifted past him slowly, most hesitant, not knowing what to say... A weak half-smile of sympathy here, some half-murmured words of regret there... It was all the same. None of it made any difference. Just another reminder.
"Vegeta." The sound of his own name caught his attention briefly. Son Gohan stood before him, sadness etched into his face and manner. "Is there anything...?"
Anything? There was nothing. Nothing anyone could do or say could restore the missing half of his soul.
Gohan sighed. "Vegeta, I'm sorry."
Why should he be sorry? He was not the one who had lived with her for so many years, never telling her...
"Vegeta, what about - ?"
"Otousan?" A young voice interrupted. Small hands clutched at the cloth covering his leg desperately. He gazed down to meet clear blue eyes - her eyes! - and was instantly lost in their depths.
Distantly he remembered the first time he had seen her eyes in another's face - the face of the boy who had come from the future. Mirai no Trunks. He had not known the boy's identity at the time, but he had recognized those eyes that watched him ever so carefully. Eyes that were touched with sorrow, and a need that he had not wanted to face then, especially when he had learned just who it was those eyes belonged to...
He had never had such a need for a father when he was a child. Or rather, he had not been permitted to have such a need. Such fragile bonds as those between family were serious flaws in any Saiyajin, weaknesses to be exploited. Only the low-bred such as Kakarotto's family could even consider such an attachment. In any noble family, especially the royal family, it would have been a death sentence. Any position in what court there was on Vegetasei depended on the death of your predecessor, by whatever means. Historically that had led to a very unstable period of government, until a tradition had been established. Only those powerful enough to both take and hold a position had the right to it. And this was doubly true for the line of Vegeta.
Any Saiyajin who dared to claim the name Vegeta had to prove himself worthy of it - to the entirety of the Saiyan race. The penalty of failure was instant death. At the hands of the King.
He recalled the day he had laid his claim before his father. He recalled the look in his father's eyes.
No. Family ties held no place in the traditions of the Saiyajin.
But Trunks was half human.
And he was the only full-blooded Saiyajin left.
"Trunks, perhaps you'd better stay with us a little longer..." Gohan's gentle voice intruded into his thoughts.
Blue eyes closed sadly, hints of glistening tears barely visible.
Without a word he lifted his son into his arms, rising swiftly to the sky, away from the grave of his son's mother.
Trunks squirmed briefly, before settling into his father's arms, watching with wide eyes as the world flashed past them. After some time, he turned his head to gaze into his father's eyes. His father stared directly ahead, his face expressionless.
"Where are we going, Tousan?"
The question was whipped into his face like the silken strands of his son's pale hair, and was whisked past, still unanswered.
Trunks sighed, and turned his attention in the direction of his father's flight.
The ground beneath them was desolate and barren. There were no signs of life of any sort.
Eventually, a small series of hills could be seen, brown and dusty - but with the barest hint of green just visible in a valley... Vegeta dove for the glimpse of green, unerringly.
As they descended, Trunks was able to discern the small group of trees and bushes that composed the patch of green. Vegeta placed him on his feet in the middle of the island of life, and let him go.
Trunks turned his head to glance questioningly at his father, blue eyes serious and penetrating.
Vegeta simply gazed back, unmoving.
Trunks frowned a little, then moved to explore the tiny green valley. Vegeta followed his movements for a few minutes, then took to the air once more. Within moments he was standing on an outcropping that had become very familiar to him over the past ten years.
He had first come here soon after Nameksei had been destroyed. He had realized, somewhat unpleasantly, that he had nothing left to do in life - besides defeat Kakarotto. So he had set about training himself accordingly, until the time that Kakarotto should return to his home world. Bulma had, at the time, driven him to distraction with her constant nagging and arguments. So he had left Capsule Corp one day, and come here.
'Here' was nothing much, not really. Just a huge wasteland with a bare spark of life concealed within its core. It had suited him perfectly. Here no-one bothered him, he could be completely alone...
That prospect had been most appealing - at first. But as time passed by he felt a growing urge to return to Capsule Corp. He had dismissed it at first, then passed it off as eagerness to see Kakarotto's return so that he might challenge him once more...
But he was puzzled by a pair of clear blue eyes.
He hated puzzles.
The mystery that Mirai no Trunks had brought with him had only added to his confusion; but ultimately it had been the first pair that had ensnared him so thoroughly that there was simply no escape.
And that had led to a third pair of blue eyes.
Her eyes, in his face. His son. Their son. Her son.
He was all that remained of her, bar memories. But memories would fade. He would live, and grow.
A sudden weight against his legs startled him out of his introspective contemplation. Trunks had flung both arms around his legs, clinging to them with all the might in his young Saiyan body.
"Nani?!" Vegeta blinked in surprise as his son raised blue eyes misted with tears to meet his own dark gaze.
"Don't you leave, too, Otousan!"
Vegeta frowned, then knelt before his son, their eyes level with one another's.
"I'm not going anywhere, Trunks. Not without you. And neither has your mother."
Trunks blinked back up at him, bewilderment evident in his expression.
Vegeta picked his son up once more, and carried him over to the tiny pool of springwater that was the source of this valley's life. He set him down carefully beside it, and leaned out over the water. He watched as Trunks fixed his eyes on their reflection in the unbroken surface, then lifted a hand to his son's pale hair.
"Take a good look, Trunks. That's your mother's hair, your mother's eyes that you're looking at. You'll take her with you, always, wherever you go."
Trunks stared in astonishment at his own reflection, then twisted to face his father.
"I have Kaasan's eyes and hair... and your face, Tousan!"
"Uhn," his father grunted agreement. "And I'll always be with you, too."
Trunks smiled in delight, and threw his arms around his father, resting his head against his father's chest. Ever so slowly, Vegeta lifted his arms in response, returning his son's hug, and the comfort it brought.
Yes, he would always watch over their son, and care for him. And this time he would not conceal the love he felt behind curtains of pride and arrogance. She would have wanted that. She would probably have preferred that he had told her, though...
Perhaps she already knew, wherever she was now, just how much she had meant to him. How much she still meant to him.
Perhaps she could forgive him for not being able to admit that he loved her.
He certainly hoped so.
Otherwise eternity would be very long indeed, without her clear blue eyes for company...
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