Disclaimer: Dragonball and Dragonball Z are (c) Akira Toriyama. This is amateur fiction, strictly for fun and nonprofit.


In one day the Earth had been destroyed and brought back. In one day, its defenders had seen everything that they loved wiped away, one piece at a time. Old loves and hatreds, rivalries and friendships had been shuffled like a deck of cards, and now ...

... now ...

How could you spend the rest of a day like that?

For some, the answer was obvious. All Chi-Chi had to do was bribe Goku with the offer of a home-cooked meal, the first one he'd had in seven years. "And not just food," she promised, blushing at her own audacity. Goku grinned, swept an arm around her waist and teleported them both away.

Gohan discreetly left them alone for a time. He went flying with Videl, and the two of them cruised above the landscape, marveling at how lush and green it was -- all the marks of the Buu fight erased as if, well, as if by magic, not surprising considering that was exactly what had happened.

"What do you intend to do now?" Videl asked him.

Gohan grinned the grin she'd come to love, the grin that was at once shy and bold, tentative and knowing. "Go back to school, I guess, if I can. Go back to being a normal teenager if they'll let me. Finish my degree. I don't want to fight anymore; I think my mother is right, and I'm meant to be a scholar, not a fighter."

"What about the Great Saiyaman?" Videl challenged.

A faint blush crept up his cheeks. "Well ... that's different. I mean, I have all this power -- it would be irresponsible of me not to use it to help people. I don't have any interest in fighting for the sake of fighting; that's what I mean."

For a few minutes they flew in silence, the only sound the rush of the wind in their hair. Then Videl said, "You told me ... that costume you have ... Bulma-san made that for you, didn't she?"

Gohan nodded.

"Do ... uh, do you ..." Videl suddenly found great fascination in staring at a passing cloud. "Do you think she might make another one?"

"But what's wrong with my old -- oh." Gohan trailed off into silence. "I bet she would," he said at last.

"Cool." Videl smiled at him, and after a moment more, they both moved their hands toward each other at once, with the result that they bumped knuckles and knocked each other's hand away. They both laughed shyly, and tried again, this time in better sync. Videl's hand slipped into Gohan's as if it was made to be there.

They flew the afternoon away, and finally, in the blaze of a mountain sunset, Videl murmured that her father was expecting her for dinner. With a final squeeze of the fingers, they parted and she flew off towards her home, while Gohan flew to his.

He landed in the yard and pushed the door open. And froze. He couldn't help it. Goku was sitting at the kitchen table, plowing his way through what looked like at least his 18th plate of Chi-Chi's cooking, while she scolded him gently from the stove. It was so like the homecoming that had greeted him nearly every day until his father died in the Cell Games ... Gohan felt as if he'd stepped backwards through time, and blinked his eyes rapidly, feeling tears threaten.

It's really going to be all right this time. For the first time since the end of the fight with Buu, he felt that warm conviction settle onto him. It's over. The fighting is over. My father isn't dead any more. He's home, and ...

... and everything is all right ...

He leaned against the doorframe, suddenly weak. Just then Chi-Chi looked up and saw him, and a smile broke across her face. "Gohan! Come in, and eat!"

Gohan grinned, and took a seat at the table. "Hi, Dad," he said a bit shyly.

"Hi!" Goku greeted him cheerfully, not pausing in his eating.

"Where's Goten?" Gohan asked his mother as she set a plate of food in front of him.

"He's over at Bulma's." Chi-Chi slapped a spoon into the palm of her hand. "And he was supposed to be home hours ago. How are we supposed to have a family meal without the whole family? Goku! Would you use your Instantaneous Transmission to go over and bring your son home?"

"But Chi-Chi, I'm eating."

"And you've been eating for the last hour. It won't hurt you to take a break."

Goku grinned good-naturedly, and touched his fingers to his forehead. Before he vanished, he asked Gohan, "So how is your girlfriend?"

Gohan blushed all the way up to his eyebrows. "Just great, Dad," he mumbled.

"That's good. Be right back!" Goku vanished.

Gohan turned his head to see his mother gazing at him with sparkles in her eyes. He gulped and tried to back away, but he wasn't fast enough.

"Have you asked her yet, Gohan-chan?"

"Asked her what?" Gohan stammered, bumping into the table.

"To marry you, of course." Chi-Chi clasped her hands together, oblivious to her oldest son's shock and horror. "Rich grandchildren ..." she sighed blissfully, her gaze turned up to the ceiling.


Meanwhile, Goku materialized in the Briefs' living room just as Bulma was walking in from the kitchen with a tray of drinks. "GAAAHHHH!" She jumped two feet in the air. Goku, with Saiyajin speed, caught the tray before it could spill.

"Warn a person!" Bulma snapped, hand pressed to her heart. Then her eyes brimmed suddenly with tears. "Oh, Son-kun!" She flung her arms around him. Goku had to do a quick juggling act to keep from spilling the drinks. "You're back," Bulma whispered. "You're really back. For good."

"Yeah, I'm back." Goku awkwardly patted her back until she let go.

"Sorry. I've been a wreck all afternoon. I guess getting killed and coming back to life messes up your emotions. It's probably hell on the hormones." She took the tray back from him. "We were just about to watch a movie. Would you like to join us?"

"Hi, Uncle Goku!" Trunks hollered from the living-room couch, waving to him.

Goku shook his head. "Naw. I mean, I'd like to, but I just came to bring Goten home. Chi-Chi's orders." He laughed sheepishly, hand behind his head.

"He's asleep," Trunks said disgustedly. "The little baby." Goten was curled up on the couch beside Trunks, a thumb stuck in his mouth. "Wake up," Trunks ordered, kicking his friend lightly in the ribs.

Goten mumbled in his sleep and curled into a tighter ball.

"He sleeps like a rock," Trunks informed the adults.

Goku reached down and gently picked up the sleeping boy, realizing as he did so that he hadn't know Goten was a heavy sleeper. He was looking forward to finding out the hundred more little things that he did not know about his youngest child. Or about Gohan, or Chi-Chi ...

It was good to be home.

As he raised his fingers to his forehead, Bulma caught his arm. "Son-kun, could I talk to you for just a moment?"

"Sure." Puzzled, Goku allowed himself to be led into the kitchen, with Goten draped limply over his arms.

"Hey, Mom!" Trunks called. "Should I start the movie?"

"Yes, go ahead! I'll be there in a minute," she called back.

In the brightly lit kitchen, Goku looked down at Bulma and saw the things he had not noticed before, with everything happening so fast: the new lines around her mouth and eyes, the weariness and stress in her face. She was seven years older than when he'd known her before, he reminded himself. "Bulma, is everything all right?"

"Oh yes, it's fine. Well, no, it's not fine." Bulma rubbed wearily at her eyes with her thumb and forefinger.

"Mom!" Trunks hollered from the living room. "D'you want me to pause it when the actual movie starts?"

"Do what you like!" Bulma yelled back at him. "I told you I'll be there in a minute!"

"Bulma, I don't understand," Goku said, concerned. "Wait ..." He wasn't always the most intuitive person when it came to people, but in Bulma's case, there was only one reason why she could possibly want his advice. "Is this about Vegeta by any chance?"

Bulma nodded.

"Isn't everything all right? He's alive again, right?"

"Yes, but ... but I just don't know!" Bulma burst out, clenching her hands into fists.

"You don't know if he's alive?"

"No, no, no. He's very alive." Bulma sighed, and turned away, leaning on the counter. "It's just .. he's acting ... so ..."

"He's acting how?"

"Distant," Bulma said.

Goku laughed. "Well, that's Vegeta."

"Yes, but not like this." Bulma turned to look up at him, her blue eyes shadowed. "Son-kun, the last couple of years before you came back, he was ... I don't know, starting to warm up to us a little bit, I guess. He'd do stuff with Trunks, actually spar with him and everything. He and I, um ..." She bit her lip. "We were ... good. But ever since he came back to life, he won't look at us, at either me or Trunks. When we all split up at Kami's Lookout, Vegeta went off somewhere on his own. I mean, I know he likes his solitude, but we were all just dead for Pete's sake. He hasn't shown the slightest interest in even seeing us. Can you tell where he is now?"

Goku concentrated. Vegeta's ki was easy for him to find, as easy as his own family's. "He's off flying around, out in the wastelands."

"I was afraid of that." Bulma bit her fingernails anxiously. "Son-kun, I don't know what to do. What's wrong with him? Why doesn't he want to see us? Do you think he's worried that I'll be mad about the things he did at the Tenkaichi Budokai? That's all been explained and I understand why he did it, why he hurt those people. It's over now. I'm not angry."

"I don't think it's that," Goku said slowly.

"Well, what then? Was it something I said? Son-kun, I don't understand."

Goku thought about it, about the things he'd seen in the last twenty-four hours. Finally he said, "Bulma, I don't know for sure if I'm the best person to ask. I don't understand people very well."

"But you do understand Vegeta. You know him. You're the closest thing he has to a friend, Son-kun."

It was the first time Goku had heard someone else say that. Is it true, then? As much as he wanted it to be true, had always wanted it to be true, he wasn't sure if the proud prince was anywhere near accepting Goku as a friend.

But he did know Vegeta fairly well; that much was true, at least. And thinking about it, he did understand.

"I think it's because of things that have changed inside Vegeta, that's why he feels he can't come home," Goku said slowly.

"What do you mean?"

Goku looked down into her trusting blue eyes, and wondered what he could say, how he could explain. "Bulma ... Vegeta has changed a lot since he died. The biggest change of all is that he realized how much you and Trunks meant to him. He realized it when he died ... that for the first time in his life, he had found something he was willing to die to protect. He had never admitted it to himself before. Now, he doesn't know how to act with you. How to act with himself."

Bulma stared at him.

"What?" Goku asked, grinning sheepishly. "Did I say something wrong?"

"No, no." Bulma shook her head. "I keep forgetting that as often as you act naive, or stupid, you are neither. Especially when it comes to your friends." She smiled, and lightly touched his arm. "Do you think he'll come home on his own, then?"

When it comes to Vegeta, you really never know. "He cares about the two of you, more than he's ever cared about anything," he said. "That's all I really know."

Bulma smiled and squeezed his arm.

"Mom!" Trunks yelled from the living room. "You're missing the best part!"

Bulma sighed. "I'm being paged --" she began, then felt the sudden rush of air, and looking back towards Goku, found the kitchen empty.

"You're right, of course," she said aloud to the empty air. "So knowing that, Son-kun, what do I do about it?"

There was no answer, of course. She had not expected that she'd get even as much as she had.

Bulma sighed and went into the living room to join her son on the couch ... and wait for her husband to work through his inner demons and come home.

As Bulma settled in beside Trunks, Goku teleported back into the Son kitchen, where Gohan was just finishing up his dinner.

"What took so long? Did Bulma feed you too?" Chi-Chi demanded, then saw the sleeping child in Goku's arms, and her face softened -- not just at Goten's curled-up sleeping form, but also the way that Goku's muscular arms cradled the child, just as he had held Gohan when Gohan was an infant. Goku was a natural-born father, even if he didn't seem to realize it -- his innate combination of natural empathy and protectiveness tailor-made him for the job.

"He's all worn out from the day he's had," Goku said, handing the boy to his mother.

Chi-Chi nodded, holding Goten against her chest. "Has he eaten tonight? Did Bulma feed him, do you know?" At Goku's blank look, she sighed. "Let me guess: you have no idea. That's my Goku." She kissed him on the cheek, and went to take Goten upstairs to bed.

"Chi-Chi, where's the rest of my food?" Goku asked plaintively, and Chi-Chi reminded herself why her husband always used to drive her crazy.

"In the kitchen!" Chi-Chi called back down the stairs. "I'll be right back down ... oh ..."

As she carried Goten into his dark bedroom, she heard clattering downstairs, and what sounded like Goku's voice saying "Oops." Hopefully he wouldn't manage to destroy half her kitchen before she made it back down.

Chi-Chi was startled to find tears seeping from beneath her closed eyelids. She opened her eyes and stood in the middle of Goten's bedroom, the boy's warm, heavy body cradled in her arms, listening to the familiar sound of Goku and Gohan's voices downstairs, too distant to make out any words -- just a soothing murmur, the sound of her family together again.

By the time she came back downstairs, Goku and Gohan had already left the kitchen in its usual mess and gone out on the porch. Chi-Chi looked around at the dirty dishes, the bits of rice scattered on the tablecloth, the chairs tipped back untidily, and once again she had to blink tears back from her eyes. She went to run water into the sink to wash dishes.

This was what she had always wanted.

This was what she loved.

Cooking for a family. Cleaning for a family. She had done some fighting in the past, but she wasn't a fighter by nature; she wasn't a warrior or an adventurer. She was a wife and a mom. For the last seven years, she'd had to be not just mother, but provider and protector to her two sons. Now, she could relax at last into the role she had chosen for herself all those years ago.

Chi-Chi leaned across the sink and pushed open the window. As hot, sudsy water flooded over her hands, she closed her eyes, listening to the voices of her husband and son drift into the kitchen along with the warm, fragrant night air. She opened her eyes and gazed out the now-open window, at the small sparks of fireflies drifting in the dark woods.

It was a perfect night.

Chi-Chi smiled to herself, and began to scrub rice from a plate. She had never been happier in her life.


Outside, Goku and Gohan sat on the edge of the porch for a while, talking. There was so much to talk about, so many recollections from seven long years. The night was warm and fireflies danced in the air, like a galaxy of sparks, a whirling skyful of tiny stars to wish upon. Eventually the two of them left the porch and went to lie down in the grass, as they used to do when Gohan was much younger.

Goku became aware of a familiar ki in the woods. It had been suppressed; now it had raised a little, just enough to let him know it was there, sort of a polite Saiyajin way to say hello. He could tell that Gohan wasn't aware of it; either Gohan's ki-sense was less sharp than it used to be, or else Goku himself was so attuned to this particular ki that he could have sensed it when it was too low for anyone else to detect.

Goku rose. "Gohan, I'll be right back."

Gohan nodded sleepily and rolled onto his side in the grass, pillowing his head on his arm.

Goku walked into the shadowy edge of the forest. Under the trees, it was pitch-black except for the glimmering of the fireflies, blinking all around him like captive stars.

"Are you watching the fireflies, Vegeta?" he asked softly into the darkness.

There was a long silence, then one patch of darkness moved, and he could see a pale face and arms, the rest lost to shadows. "Is that what they are called?"

Goku laughed quietly. "You lived on Earth for seven years and you've never seen fireflies?"

"I hardly spent time taking in the sights, Kakarrot."

"I know. You were training to beat me."

"One day I'll do it, damn you," Vegeta told him. "You may be stronger than me now ... but someday ..."

He stopped, near enough that he could almost have reached out and touched Goku, if he had been so inclined. Fireflies glimmered between them, creating light but illuminating nothing.

"I don't even know why I'm here," he said at last.

"I do," Goku said, but didn't elaborate, and Vegeta said nothing. Finally Goku said, "There are other things in life than training. You know that now, don't you?"

Vegeta didn't speak.

"Bulma was wondering where you were earlier."

He saw Vegeta's head turn, as the prince stared off into the shadows. "Damn woman asks too many questions. Can't just leave me alone."

"Vegeta," Goku said softly. "Go home to your family."

Vegeta's shoulders tensed, his hands clenching. Under his breath, so quietly that Goku almost couldn't hear him, he said, "I don't know how."

"Nothing's different, not really," Goku said.

In the same soft, flat tone, Vegeta said, "Everything's different."

"They loved you before. They love you now."

"Kakarrot --!" Vegeta hissed angrily, and trailed off. After a moment he said, "I've changed."

"For the better," Goku said.

"Have I?" Vegeta demanded, still in that quiet tone. "What do you know about me, Kakarrot?"

Goku's lips curved in a slight smile. "That no matter how hard you try not to be, you're a decent person. That no matter how often you deny it or how much it embarrasses you, you care about your wife and son. That you helped defeat Buu at great cost to yourself. That you're a hero, even if you don't want to be --"

"You can shut up now, Kakarrot," Vegeta said shortly, but his tone was lighter, less weighed down by darkness.

"Go home, Vegeta."

Vegeta hesitated, and his shoulders slumped just a little bit, a change so slight that only someone who knew him very well would notice that one small concession to weariness. "I ... I don't ..."

"It isn't only you," Goku said with a trace of a grin.

He sensed, rather than saw, Vegeta's scowl. "Now what are you blathering about? What isn't only me?"

"It isn't only you who has trouble facing somebody after you've admitted affection for them. A lot of humans have that problem too. It's fear of rejection, I guess ... and embarrassment ... and a lot of it I don't understand at all."

He reached out and touched Vegeta's shoulder, feeling the prince flinch slightly away from the touch, and then, just as imperceptibly, relax. The thick muscles of his shoulder were bound into hard knots.

"Go home," Goku said. "All they want is to see you and be with you."

"Damn it, Kakarrot ..."

"I can teleport you if you'd like."

"There is no need for that. I'm perfectly capable of flying," Vegeta said stiffly.

"Okay," Goku said. He squeezed Vegeta's shoulder lightly and then let go.

There was a brief, awkward silence, the only movement the flickering of the fireflies.

"Say, Kakarrot."


"You said earlier that you know why I'm here, talking to you." In some way he couldn't quite define, even though it was too dark to see, Goku could sense Vegeta's lips quirk into a faint grin. "I don't see how you could when I don't even know. I was flying ... just flying, without a destination. Yet somehow I ended up in your infernal firefly-infested woods."

"It's pretty simple, Vegeta. You were a little bit confused, so you wanted a friend to talk to. That's all."

Vegeta bristled. "I'm a Saiyajin warrior, Kakarrot! We do not have 'friends'."

"You do now," Goku said simply.

Vegeta quivered with irritation; then again, as he had earlier, he subsided. There was not a whole lot he could do in the face of Goku's particular brand of logic.

"Kakarrot?" he said.


Vegeta looked around him, at the glimmering lights dancing in the woods. "These fireflies ... what do they do?"

"Do? What do you mean?"

"I mean ... are they good for anything?"

"I dunno." The thought had never occurred to Goku to wonder. "I suppose not. They're just pretty, and fun to watch."

"Like so many things on this planet," Vegeta sighed. "Utterly pointless."

"Your planet," Goku reminded him.

There was a silence, and then a resigned sigh. "Yes, Kakarrot. My planet." Then Vegeta's ki flared and he was gone into the night sky.

Goku smiled and closed his eyes briefly, wishing the prince well. Then he turned around and walked back to the Son clearing through the firefly-lit night. Gohan was still lying on the grass. "Was that Vegeta's ki I felt just now?" he asked sleepily.

Goku nodded as he sat down, then remembered that Gohan couldn't see him in the darkness. "Yeah."

"What did he want?"

"He just wanted to talk a little bit." Goku lay back down, folding his hands under his head.



"Wanted to talk to you?"

"I guess so. He doesn't really have anybody to talk to. It must be pretty lonely, being him."

"He's got Bulma," Gohan said. "And Trunks."

Goku closed his eyes in the quiet of the summer night, smiling, at peace with himself and his world, and relieved, at last, that Vegeta could perhaps experience the same. "Yes. He has them."


Bulma sat on the bed in her room, brushing her hair. Trunks had fallen asleep in front of the TV and she'd taken him upstairs to bed. As she tucked him in, he stirred sleepily, and asked her where his father was.

"I don't know."

"Isn't he coming home, Mom?"

"Of course he's coming home." She brushed his lavender hair out of his eyes. Oh, how Trunks idolized his father. She hoped that Vegeta had the sense to understand how much that meant, to treat that kind of love with the care it deserved.

Now she sat crosslegged on the bed, combing out her short blue hair. Maybe she would let it grow again for a while. She'd changed in a silky robe with the Capsule Corporation logo embroidered on the shoulder. Fingering it, Bulma thought suddenly of the future version of her son. Sometimes it was hard to believe that "her" rowdy, boisterous Trunks could possibly be the same person. Yet as much as her little son's mischievousness annoyed her at times, she would gladly put up with it forever if it meant that he didn't have to go through the same traumas that had made Future Trunks so quiet, so serious all the time.

No child should have to grow up without a father.

Vegeta, where ARE you?

She turned out all the lights except the soft bed lamp, and curled up with her nighttime reading material: the latest copy of Satan City Popular Mechanics.

Oh, honestly, how ridiculous, she thought, studying the diagrams critically. Cold fusion, my butt. That stupid device would never work. Now if you shifted this electrode and doubled the voltage ... and this part should definitely be made out of zinc, not copper, or it'll never ...

Something brushed the back of her neck. "EEE-GAAAAH!" Bulma shrieked, slapping at what felt to her like a giant moth landing under the fringe of her short-trimmed blue hair.

It wasn't a moth. It seized her hand, trapping her fingers in an iron prison that was, somehow, so gentle that it did not damage a single one of the soft hairs on the backs of her fingers.

Bulma tipped her head back and felt the crown of her skull meet resistance as it tipped into her husband's chest. He was still pinning her hand behind her neck. "And how exactly did you get in here? I didn't hear a thing."

"I'm a hunter," Vegeta said, and she could hear the smirk in his voice. Bulma tilted back her head a little farther, far enough to see the upward tilt of his lips.

"Stalking me, then?"


She rubbed her head against his chest. "Silly hunter. You let your prey know you are stalking it. How will you ever catch it now?"

Vegeta relaxed slowly against her, playing along with her game. "But didn't I already catch it?"

Bulma rolled her head backwards, gazing up at him, her blue eyes wide and bright. "What? Caught? Am I now?"

Vegeta smiled slowly.

Bulma smiled, too, but her smile turned slightly predatory. "And you still have to say good night to your son."

Vegeta bared his teeth slightly.

"He adores you. Go do it. I'll still be here when you get back."

Vegeta sighed and rose, stalking out into the dark hallway. He pursued the warm glow of his son's ki down to the end of the hallway, where Trunks lay in his bedroom, sleeping.

And what now, woman? How do you expect me to say "good night" to the brat? I have no idea how to pursue your human custom or even why I or my son would want to.

He entered Trunks's room, irked at Bulma and also, obscurely, at Kakarrot, who had encouraged him to come back here. Trunks was asleep, one small chubby fist thrown up over his head. In the last twenty-four hours, the eight-year-old boy had fought the most powerful enemy ever to attack the Earth -- but now he was deeply and completely asleep, sunk into the fast reaches of his childhood dreams.

Vegeta stood still in the dark room, watching the child sleep. His dark thoughts faded slowly. Never, not even when Trunks was a baby, had he simply stood and watched him sleep. He found himself wondering, and couldn't even understand why -- had his father once watched him like this, when he was small?

Trunks flung his head to one side and mumbled in his sleep. "Papa ..." His lips shaped the word before fading back into the looseness of slumber.

Vegeta tilted his head to one side. What was the brat dreaming about? Dreams ... a foolish affectation, but something that both Saiyajin and human were prey to. His hand crept out, almost without his conscious direction, and rested lightly against the boy's soft cheek.

The reaction was unexpected. Trunks flinched violently and came quickly awake, a ball of ki forming in his upraised hand. Vegeta instinctively seized his wrist and held it while the child came fully awake.

"Oh ..." Trunks blinked his blue eyes -- his eyes so like Bulma's, so completely un-Saiyajin. "Papa ..."

And to Vegeta's complete shock, Trunks bolted forward, flinging his arms about his father's waist. "Papa ..." he said, his eyes closed. "I thought you were still dead. I tried to get to you but I couldn't ..."

Vegeta stood still, unsure how to react to the child's foolishness. He brought a hand down and touched Trunks's hair. The boy responded, the tension in his young muscles relaxing.

"It was a dream," Vegeta said harshly. "Don't be a fool."

Trunks tilted his head back and looked up at his stern father. "I guess so," he faltered. "I ... you were gone a long time."

"I'm your father. Where I go is none of your business, boy." And then he added, once again motivated by a side of himself he could not understand: "You know I'll come back."

Trunks nodded, sniffling a bit but wisely keeping his tears to himself. He crawled back into bed.

"Tomorrow ..." Vegeta said, and trailed off.

Trunks turned his head, his pale hair spilling around his face on the pillow. "Tomorrow?" he asked.

"Tomorrow," Vegeta said shortly, turning his back on the boy as he prepared to leave the room. "Tomorrow we will train in the gravity room. You did well in the fight against Buu; I was watching you. But there are fatal weaknesses in your technique. Too much time with Kakarrot's brat."

Trunks had apparently stopped listening after the first sentence. "The gravity room! All right!" He bounced upright in bed. "Hey, can Goten come too?"

Vegeta looked over his shoulder in shock. "What?"

"Can Goten come? He doesn't have anything like that, living out in the woods like he does. He's never even been inside except for that one .... oops." He clamped his hand over his mouth. Vegeta glared at him.

"Have you been sneaking into my gravity room, brat?"

"I had to show it to Goten," Trunks mumbled, fixedly studying the twitching mounds of his feet under the blankets.

"Yes. Well, the gravity room is dangerous for a brat such as yourself. I expect you to enter it with me only. If I find out that either of you has been inside without permission, your foot will not darken its doorstep again."

"'Kay," Trunks mumbled, wriggling his foot, and then looked up, rebounding back towards cheerfulness. "Does that mean Goten can come?"

"No," Vegeta snapped.

Trunks's face fell.

"What I mean is," Vegeta backpedaled hastily. "Goten will probably want to spend time with his father, don't you think?"

"Oh. I guess that's true," Trunks admitted, then perked up. "So can he come train with us after that?"

Vegeta heaved a sigh. "We'll see," he snapped -- proving that Saiyajin parents, even royal ones, were no more effective than human parents when it came to dealing with whiny eight-year-olds. "And there will be no training at all if you don't sleep," he added sharply.

"Oh," Trunks said quickly, and flopped himself down in bed, closing his eyes.

Vegeta fought a losing battle against the grin that kept trying to twist the corners of his mouth as he closed the door softly behind him. Kami, it was getting to be a habit. He'd probably smiled more in the last 24 hours than in the previous 24 years.

Damn Kakarrot, he thought irrationally, falling back into his usual habit of blaming Kakarrot for everything. Although in this particular case, it probably was Goku's fault, at least a little bit.

Reaching the door to the bedroom, Vegeta paused. There was no strip of light underneath it. That perverse woman hadn't gone to sleep, had she? He opened the door a crack, and discovered -- as his sharp Saiyajin eyes could see fairly well in the dark -- that while she was in the bed, she was not by any means asleep.

Vegeta reached a hand over his shoulder, and fired a small blast of ki towards the light in the hall. It disintegrated into darkness in a shower of sparks, falling like fireflies into the hall.

Bulma's giggle sounded from inside the bedroom. "That'll have to be replaced."

"What are you whining about now? You have money, woman," he retorted, shrugging out of his blue tank top as he opened the door.

"And that's not all I've got," Bulma said, laughing again.

Vegeta closed the door, as the last artificial fireflies spiraled into the hall.

And then there was only darkness, until morning would bring the first touches of dawn to a newborn planet.