Disclaimer: I own nothing. Sad day.

Author's Note: This is my first attempt at Dragon Ball Z fanfiction, despite being a fan for over ten years. Shame on me for waiting so long! I hope that everyone will read, enjoy, and review! I often reply to my reviewers at the end of the chapters, so feel free to ask questions or start a conversation with me. Constructive criticism is also appreciated.


IMPERFECT SYMMETRY

by Roseblade22

"If a coin comes down heads, that means that the possibility of its coming down tails has collapsed. Until that moment the two possibilities were equal.But on another world, it does come down tails. And when that happens, the two worlds split apart."

-Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass


PROLOGUE

Age 785

June 20th

Click. Click. Clickity-click.

Trunks cringed every time he heard the noise. It grated on his nerves like razors against his skin. The young Saiyan's brow furrowed in frustration; his nails dug deeply into the edge of the mahogany desk in front of him. Sprawled out on its polished surface were the blueprints for what would become the new Capsule Corporation headquarters. His mother's various etchings littered the vellum, her hastily scrawled handwriting looping across its smooth surface.

Click. Clickity-click.

Ever since he'd returned from his adventure in the past and destroyed Androids Seventeen and Eighteen a few weeks ago, Trunks had felt restless. He felt as though his entire life he'd spent cautiously holding in half a breath, and now that the threat was gone he was still reluctant to fill his aching lungs. His mother flitting about the compound rambling on about the numerous new additions, rising stocks, and pending patents was not helping his lingering anxiety.

Click. Click.

Neither did her unbreakable, insufferable habit of clicking her pen every time she worked.

Clickity-click. Click.

Finally the Saiyan youth spun around his chair. "Mother, would you please stop that?" he asked, only a slight trace of annoyance in his tone.

"Stop what, honey?" his mother replied unknowingly.

Bulma was bent over another desk, studying yet another set of annotated blueprints. She didn't look up over her shoulder to acknowledge his request. The hateful pen was clutched tightly in her hand, her thumb flicking the spring-loaded tip every few seconds. Trunks sighed and approached her. He leaded forward and gently grasped the offending hand, with pen still in place.

"You're doing it again," he sighed.

Bulma spun around, blinked at her son, and then glanced down. "Oh," she grunted, realization spreading across her features. "I'll never break that habit."

"Maybe we can get you a pencil to work with," the young man suggested, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "I know you're busy, but I just can't take any more clicking."

"Busy doesn't even begin to cover it," Bulma gushed, her massive smile eclipsing that of her son. "Ever since you destroyed the androids, business has been booming! By the way, have you had a chance to check over the blueprints for the new addition yet?"

Trunks's smile shrunk back. While he'd been feeling restless for what he thought was an entirely senseless reason, his mother had blossomed into the genius CEO of a company that was quickly and single-handedly reviving the world economy. This meant that he was also busy, desperately trying to help her keep up with the massive demand for Capsule Corp products. It meant that there were several dozen production plants being newly constructed or repaired across several continents. It also meant they were hurriedly trying to rebuild the previous 15 years of damage to their own headquarters. It didn't mean he enjoyed it.

"Sorry, mom," he shrugged his shoulders sheepishly. "I just couldn't focus today."

"Hm," Bulma frowned. "Are you feeling all right, Trunks?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Why?"

Bulma shot Trunks a suspicious look. "Don't you lie to me, Trunks Briefs."

"Mom, I'm fine—just—just a little bit uneasy, that's all."

"Uneasy? Why are you feeling uneasy? Everything is perfect now! The androids are gone, the company's doing great, we're doing great…"

"Mom," Trunks cut in, his pale blue eyes staring earnestly into her own, "I think that's the reason. Everything is going so well that I—I guess I'm not used to it yet."

Bulma's eyes lingered on her son for a moment longer, and she took in how much he'd grown while on his treacherous journey to the past. Trunks had explained to her how he and his father had spent a full two years inside the Hyperbolic Time Chamber training incessantly in a desperate bid to increase their fighting potential. Not only had Trunks grown older and taller, he'd grown to resemble Vegeta in more ways than one. This brooding temperament seemed to be the latest development. Bulma nodded her head in understanding and smiled.

"Well, thanks to you, we have all the time in the world for you to adjust," she consoled, patting her son gently on his shoulder. "Speaking of time, it's getting late. I think I'm going to head upstairs."

Trunks let her words sink in, but his expression remained unchanged as he watched his mother toss the pen back onto the desktop behind her and begin heading for the stairs that led up to the kitchen She flipped her long, blue hair and glanced over her shoulder.

"Would you like something to eat before bed?" she asked.

Trunks silently shook his head, returning to his seat at his own desk. "No thanks, Mom. I'll look over the plans before I come up, okay?"

"Sure," Bulma responded, her smile wavering slightly. "Good night, Trunks. I love you."

"G'night, Mom. Love you too."

As he listened to his mother's footfalls gradually fade, Trunks contemplated his mood. Maybe his mother was right. Perhaps time would be all it would take for him to adjust to a new life of peace. But after spending the most intense period of his life in the past, the notion of peace in the present was…well, boring. It wasn't that he missed being in near-constant danger, but he longed to feel adrenaline coursing through his veins again, he missed the camaraderie he'd shared in the past with his fellow fighters, and…

Trunks sighed, a frown creasing his features. He tapped his fingers on his desk. Why was the last reason so difficult to admit? It wasn't anything to be ashamed about, he rationalized. In fact, it was completely absurd that he was thinking about it in that way at all, so he decided to say it aloud.

"I miss you, Father," Trunks whispered softly.

The overwhelming silence was the only response to his quiet proclamation. Trunks sighed and turned back to the blueprints on the desk, resolving to abandon his emotional problems for the moment in order to finish his work. It was then that he heard a commotion upstairs.

The young Saiyan was on his feet in an instant, his senses on alert. His mother's voice, though muffled, was audible.

"No…no…no…ahhhh!" Bulma's shriek, followed by the loud sound of a pan clattering to the floor, was all it took for Trunks to burst into action. He sprung up the stairs into the kitchen in a matter of seconds, shrinking into a fighting stance and prepared to face a threat.

Instead, the youth found his mother bent over, cursing loudly at a heap of spilled food on the floor. The pan where the food had previously resided was upside-down a few feet away. Trunks let out an exasperated sigh, and approached the mess and his fuming mother. She flinched in surprise when she noticed him approach.

"Trunks! You snuck up on me!" she said, her temper withdrawing to reveal yet another smile. "Are you hungry after all?"

Trunks blinked for a moment, before he realized the absurdity of the actual reason he came up here. Of course there wasn't a threat—there couldn't be another threat. As far as Trunks knew, he was the most powerful person in this world.

The young Saiyan began to stutter sheepishly. "Um…well…"

"Well, we won't be having casserole," Bulma interrupted, glancing angrily back down at the lumpy slop that coated the floor in front of them. "I'm such a klutz. Good thing you didn't inherit that trait from me. Just my good looks."

Trunks managed to crack a small smile. "Are you okay? Do you need my help cleaning up?"

Bulma released a long, tired sigh. She opened her mouth to respond, when a loud thump made the both of them jump. Bulma's eyes widened at the noise, and she yelped as her son grabbed her wrist and pushed her down.

"Ow, Trunks,"she whined. "What'd you do that fo—"

"Quiet!" her son hissed, in a tone he would normally never use towards his mother.

Bulma immediately became serious and crouched down with him. Something was definitely wrong when Trunks spoke to her like that. She followed her son's intense gaze towards a door on the opposite wall. Bulma gulped. The door led directly to the outside.

Someone…or something…was trying to get into her house, Bulma realized. An icy feeling dug its way into her insides, the likes of which she hadn't felt since before Trunks had returned from the past. She shrunk back behind the young Saiyan, her eyes staying locked on the door.

Suddenly, there was another thump, a bit softer than the first. A few seconds later, and the first and second thumps were succeeded by a third, and finally a soft rasping sound.

"Maybe it's an animal," Bulma whispered, a quiver of fear in her voice.

Trunks remained frozen in place, his blue eyes glinting with intensity as he stared at the door. His mother was wrong. From outside the door, he could sense a pulsing, vibrating, and very definite energy signature. This was absolutely no animal. The signature was weak, however, and seemed to be fading with every second that passed. The Saiyan realized that such a mediocre energy level certainly didn't belong to anyone that could pose a threat to him, and he glanced back at his mother.

"Stay here," he commanded gently.

Bulma nodded, and watched her son rise and approach the door slowly. The tension in Trunks's body was gone, but he was still taking precautions. She shrank back behind a table as her son prepared to swing open the door and confront whatever it was that was trying to gain access. Trunks took a breath and grasped the door handle, the cool metal electrifying slightly as his energy coursed through it. He glanced back towards his cowering mother.

"Ready?" he whispered.

Bulma nodded in response, and shrank back a few more inches.

Trunks swallowed, briefly wondering if he was being foolish. An energy signature this low usually wasn't one he would bother being fearful about, but he knew that somewhere out there, an imperfect Cell was wandering the Earth, searching for the androids Trunks himself had destroyed. This could be a trick, and the young Saiyan wasn't going to be fooled.

One…two…three…

Trunks counted down the seconds in his head, and then violently swung the door open. His free hand shot out in front of him, prepared to strike down any possible threat. But what greeted him wasn't a monster, an android, or anything else remotely threatening. Instead, a dark, crumpled mass collapsed into the doorway at Trunks's feet. The boy blinked, and then gasped in surprise; he heard his mother's equally astonished intake of breath from across the room.

It was a body—the body of a man, to be specific. Trunks gaped at the form in front of him in disbelief. During his lifetime, Trunks had grown accustomed to the scent of blood, and he recognized the sickening, slightly metallic smell immediately. The person had been beaten to an absolute pulp. He was shocked even more when he remembered the energy signature he'd felt only moments ago. Kneeling down, the young man placed a tender hand on the back of the man who had fallen through the door into his home. Thankfully, he still felt a weak, lingering energy.

The man was alive—but just barely.

"Oh my gosh," Bulma blurted, and Trunks's head snapped up.

His mother had abandoned her hiding place behind the table and raced across the room. She knelt down in front of the body, her hands hesitantly reaching out to pull the person further inside so Trunks could shut the door. Blood still seeping from the wounds smeared bright red streaks onto the white kitchen tile, and when she withdrew her touch, her hands came away stained red. Bulma stared at her dripping palms in despair.

"We need a life support capsule, immediately," Trunks instructed. "He's fading fast!"

Bulma bounced up and nodded. "I'm on it!"

Trunks's eyes flickered to his mother long enough to see her scrambling to her feet. He turned back to the body and carefully began to turn the body over, but the slipperiness of the blood was making that task difficult. Finally, he succeeded in turning the mysterious victim onto his back, and Trunks felt his heart nearly turn to stone inside his chest.

"Mother, wait!"

Bulma spun around, her eyes filled with worry. "What?"

She glanced at her son, and the icy feeling snaked its way back into her stomach. The color had fled Trunk's complexion, his eyes had gone wide, and his mouth hung open. Her son looked as if he'd been struck to the bone with absolute shock and disbelief. And when Bulma turned to stare where Trunks was staring, she understood why.

"It can't be…" Trunks murmured, his voice quivering. "It's not possible!"

The dark, distinctive hairstyle, the sharp, pointed features, the compact muscular build—even the white and yellow armor, which Bulma had designed herself—screamed otherwise. Despite the utter impossibility of it, neither of them could deny what they saw in front of them. It was unmistakable-the broken, bloodied body belonged to none other than Vegeta, the prince of Saiyans.

And he was dying in front of them.


REVIEW RESPONSES:

No reviews yet, of course, but I would like to give a huge shout-out to my friends and fellow readers and writers at the Neo Z Fighter's forum. Thanks guys, for welcoming me into your community so warmly, for encouraging me to write this story, and (hopefully) for reading. I truly appreciate it. : )