A/N: I hammered this out after watching the first disc of season 8 (Majin Vegeta) in Japanese and waiting for my boyfriend to edit a song we're recording. I'm a little inebriated.
Chapter 7 for Play Dead is on the way.
There were bullets being fired everywhere, so he ducked behind a piece of crumbled wall. A body nearby caught his attention, so he crept forward and dug through the dead man's pockets. Ammo, mostly, but he also had an unused pistol, so he tucked it into his vest. Around the wall, the enemies had lost track of him, so it would be safe to make a run for the nearest building where his best friend was waiting for him. They needed to do some planning.
'Trunks!' his friend yelled into his earpiece, making him wince. 'Where are you?'
"I'm coming," he groaned, and dashed out from his hiding place. Someone caught sight of him and started firing; he rolled and shot back. Trunks assumed he aimed right, because the gunfire stopped. Goten was right where he'd said he would be, though he was still focusing out of another door; Trunks covered the one he'd come through.
"What's the plan?" Goten asked.
"Well, we need to take the base, and we're surrounded on all sides. Where's that helicopter?"
"I dunno, it vanished a minute ago."
"Crap. That means it'll circle back around again pretty soon, get away from that door."
"But how can I shoot it down?"
Trunks rolled his eyes. "Didn't you check upstairs for anything useful, Goten?"
"Huh?" His friend turned to face him. "Oh, no. Okay."
His companion ran off, and Trunks sighed; Goten would be useless on his own. A few dogs ran in front of him, catching him by surprise. He cried out and started shooting.
"Trunks!" Goten shouted in his ear. "What's going on?"
"Dogs, dogs, dogs! Crap!"
"The Hell are you screaming about, boy?"
Trunks immediately paused his game. Goten was about to say something, probably ask him what was up, when Trunks stammered out, "Oh, hey Dad. Goten, take a break, okay?" Without waiting for a response, he pulled his headset off and set it on the ground beside him. Vegeta was standing with his arms crossed and one brow cocked upwards, staring at the screen as if it were a talking pig. Trunks fought back laughter.
"What were you shouting about?" Vegeta reiterated, not looking away from the screen.
"Uh, I was being attacked by dogs. Or, I was in the game."
"Hn." He stared a minute longer, his expression slowly melting into his standard look of displeased boredom. Trunks wanted his dad to leave so he could get back to his game, but he knew better than to say something. One wrong word, and Vegeta might just tell him he was spending too much time being idle and needed to be training. Instead, he just watched the elder and hoped Goten wouldn't end up wandering off for too long.
To his utter surprise, Vegeta walked further into the room and sat down beside his son. Trunks couldn't help but stare open-mouthed at him. "Explain this to me. What is the purpose?"
"Uh, it's, uh…" He swallowed. "It's a war game. The purpose of this level is to take the enemies' base."
"And you're teamed up with Kakarot's youngest?" Trunks nodded and motioned toward his headset.
"We use that to communicate."
Vegeta picked up the contraption and stared at it; his son could have sworn he saw amusement in his eyes. "I used to use something similar, though not this low-tech, when I was younger." He handed it back to his son, who stared in amazement.
"What did you use if for?" he asked in awe.
Vegeta shrugged, nonchalant. "Communication, mostly." He turned his eyes back towards the television screen. "So, your aim is to take the base. What is your strategy?"
Trunks grinned. "Storm in, shoot anything that moves, hole up somewhere, bottleneck the entrances, and wear away at their numbers." His father was shaking his head, frowning heavily. "What?"
"That is a terrible plan," he scorned. "If your enemy has the power, they can knock down the walls of wherever you're hiding. When you're caught in the rubble and at your most defenseless, they'll overpower you. You won't get the chance to surrender; they'll simply destroy whatever building you're in."
Trunks blinked up at his father, slack jawed. "Wow. I… I hadn't thought of that."
"Tch," Vegeta scoffed. "That much is obvious."
The boy stared at the screen a moment, and his father watched the gears turning behind those big, blue eyes. Before long, Trunks pulled the headset back over his skull. "Goten, you there? Alright, new strategy. Uh…" He turned to his father then, timid. "What is the new strategy?"
His father grinned, pleased and dangerous, and nodded at the screen. "Sneak in and attack their base from the inside. They won't destroy their own building."
Bulma walked towards the kitchen, tired from a day of working in Capsule Corp. It had been almost a month since the whole Majin Buu incident, and she was finding it terribly difficult to just return to life as normal. The image of Vegeta, blond and powerful in the heart of the Tenkaichi Budokai arena, still haunted her; the memory of Trunks weeping over the death of his father occasionally presented itself to her out of nowhere. She wondered if they even could go back to normal. The boys certainly seemed to think so, but the scientist wasn't so sure. How could she know Vegeta wouldn't just up and abandon them for the depths of space? How could Goku be so sure he wouldn't try to destroy the Earth again? How could she sleep next to this monster in good faith?
She sighed. It was late. Trunks needed to be in bed, he had school in the morning. No doubt, he was still in the living room, playing video games with Goten, while Vegeta trained in his precious Gravity Chamber, leaving the parenting duties to her.
"Careful, duck behind the wall."
"Use your knife."
Stopping behind the corner, Bulma dared a peek. Vegeta and Trunks sat on their knees, staring at the tv screen, where Trunks was playing one of his video games with Goten. Vegeta was directing and guiding the boys, and his son would sometimes relay a message to his partner. They seemed really immersed in the game, but that wasn't why she didn't walk in and tell the boy to go to bed. They were spending time together, time not spent on training. Sure, it was still battle of some kind, but Vegeta was teaching Trunks strategy in a second-hand way.
"Goten! No gunfire! They'll find us!"
Vegeta turned his head slightly to the left. His ebony gaze latched on to Bulma's, and she thought she saw him smile before turning back to his son and telling him to check a body for weapons, they might have 'that thing that makes the shots quieter.'
Turning, Bulma went upstairs. She wasn't going to interrupt her boys for something as pointless as bedtime.
It was late, Trunks was very aware of it, when Goten was finally ordered off to bed, and he was worried his father would soon tell him to do the same, but Vegeta stared only at the screen, analyzing the map of the next level the boys were going to attempt.
He'd heard stories of his father being a tactical genius, mostly from Gohan and Mr. Piccolo. He'd heard rumors that his father had once been a monster, only turned good by the love and kindness of his mother. He'd been told he got his brains from both his parents, not just his mother. He'd heard many things. Now, he wanted to hear more.
"What happened at the Budokai after we left?"
Trunks blinked. "Huh?"
Vegeta finally turned to him, leaning his weight back on his hand. "After Kakarot, Gohan, the others, and I left, what took place? I heard the toast… Android 18 lost to that joker, Satan, but I haven't heard any more. What happened?"
Knowing full well that his father was steering the topic away from any inquisition Trunks might have, he answered anyway, "Well, Goten and I snuck into the adult's competition."
Heavy eyebrows shot upward. "Really?" He sounded amused.
"Yeah. We knocked a guy called Mighty Mask out, took his costume, and acted like him for a while. I sat on Goten's shoulders most of the time." Vegeta threw his head back and laughed at that. Trunks grinned. "When the crowd started getting impatient, they imposed a Battle Royale."
His father scowled. "The Hell is that?"
"It's a, uh, an all-out fight between all of the contestants." At his father's nod, he went on. "Well, 18 knocked out this guy with long hair, and we knocked out this big, dark guy. Then it was between 18 and us."
The elder was frowning heavily and made a motion for his son to continue.
"We had her on the ropes for a while, really showing her whose boss, and then we went Super and she caught on and came at us with a Kienzan. Goten went the wrong way and she ended up cutting our costume in half. Then the announcer guy said we can't fight as two people and we were disqualified, so we ran off."
Surprisingly, Vegeta was grinning. "You boys were faring well against the toaster, though?" Trunks smiled back and nodded. His father let out a barking laugh. "She's an awful one to go against; she still thinks she's stronger than the rest of us, and I'd love an opportunity to prove her wrong. But it's good to hear she was getting beaten by children. That should put her in her place."
Trunks wondered why his father sounded so bitter about 18, but decided he didn't want to push it. He was being civil, friendly even, and he didn't want to upset him and make him leave. Instead, his mind wandered back to his father's tactical genius. It was astounding to know that his father wasn't just strong or just smart; he was downright brilliant. He wondered, though, if it wasn't instinct guiding Vegeta, if it wasn't maybe experience.
"Hey, Dad?" Black eyes snapped toward his son, not hostile, but certainly critical. It took everything in Trunks not to cringe away. "H-How… I mean, you don't have to tell me, I'm just curious, but… How do you know so much about battle? I mean, I know you fought alongside Goten's dad and Piccolo and Krillin, but that's different. You know a lot about, like…war."
The look Vegeta gave him was unreadable. It was impossible for Trunks to recognize it, analyze it. He'd never seen his father look at him like that before. Vegeta did the unthinkable, then:
He looked away.
"That's none of your business, Trunks."
He was quiet, his voice soft. He wouldn't look up. His son stared at him in open-mouthed shock. "Why?"
Vegeta was quiet another moment, then sighed. "I… I'll tell you when you're older. When you're ready." He swallowed, and his throat clicked. Trunks stared another moment, then nodded.
"Okay." The boy turned off his game system and turned to leave. "Goodnight, Dad." Vegeta hummed a response, but his knees were pulled up and his arms were resting on them; he looked very distracted. Trunks wondered what could be so dramatic that his father wouldn't tell him until he was ready.
A little voice in his mind said, Or maybe he's not ready to tell you.
Trunks didn't go to sleep until very late that night.