Gravity
by Dr. Trunks Briefs     More by this Writer
After a long and difficult battle with cervical cancer, the world-famous and beloved Videl is dead. Gohan and Pan are left behind to pick up what remains of their life, but how can you fly when gravity is so strong? The media invades their lives, making an impossible situation worse. Can Trunks catch Gohan and his daughter before they hit the ground?

Author's Notes : For the sake of this fic, GT never happened. This is to be treated as a direct continuation of DBZ. The only GT character or theme that exists in this fic is Valese.

At the start of this fic, Gohan is 32. Trunks is 23. Goten is 22. Pan is 10. Bra is 9.



Chapter One : Gravity Is Working Against Me
It was a frozen December morning. The air was thick and still, fitting for a day like today. A beautiful casket, decorated with glittering ribbons and crisp flowers, stood in the middle of a large cemetery. Behind it was a small stage, equally as beautiful and decorated. Around the stage stood rows and rows of seats, filled to the point of overcrowding by loving fans, who were all looking out at the somber display. Outside of the cemetery, around Satan City, and all across the country were people standing in dismal silence, watching the service in the freezing cold. Though the sun shined uncharacteristically bright for a December afternoon, dark air surrounded the family and friends of the deceased, who stood in front of the casket.

No amount of sunshine or beauty could fix this darkness, for someone they loved was dead. Gohan, with his stone grey eyes, stared at nothing. He thought of nothing. He heard nothing. Inside of that beautifully decorated casket, sitting in the frozen air under glittering sunshine, his wife, his Videl, was dead forever. Between him and Hercule, Videl's world renowned father, stood Pan. She was small and frail compared to the two large men. As two women stepped onto the stage and sung a chilling song that cut through the thick air, Pan's eyes filled with tears. She leaned into her father, clinging to his black suit. She tried to hold herself up, but it was no use. Gohan, though still numb, picked her up in a mechanical fashion. She wrapped her arms around his neck, burying her red-splotched face into his shoulder, and sobbed. He didn't say anything to her. No one said anything. He just held her on his hip, feeling the cries shake her small frame in his arms. He couldn't hear her, even as her cries rose to yelling, screaming for her mother. He only felt the vibration of her voice and her warm tears seeping through his jacket. To his right, Chichi covered her mouth and turned into Goku's chest, muffling her cries. Goku placed an arm around her back, but didn't move to comfort anyone else, even as their friends standing behind them began to sniffle and cry quietly.

As the song ended, the casket was lowered. Hercule trembled, anguish finally taking him over. The large man, known for his confidence and power, fell to his knees and wept into the dormant grass.

"Don't put my baby girl in there," he cried. "Please. Please, just bring her back…" Though he was the world champion in martial arts, he looked so old and defeated.

As they left the cemetery, people with cameras and microphones attempted to draw a comment from them. Gohan, still holding his daughter, said nothing to them. He didn't meet anyone's eyes, thank anyone for their condolences, or even speak at all to comfort Pan, who hadn't lifted her head from his shoulder. Even she was silent now. Gohan carried Pan as he climbed into Hercule's jet copter, following the other members of Earth's Special Forces to the Satan mansion for the wake. He sat next to his father-in-law, who was crumpled into his seat, crying softly into his hands. Gohan didn't look at him. He didn't bother forcing Pan into a seat of her own. He just held her there, on his lap, to his chest. By this point, she was the only thing keeping him warm enough to live, for he was so, so cold. Silent. Numb. Mechanical. Untouched.

They reached the Satan mansion just as the sun fell behind the horizon. Inside, it was lit brightly and decorated with pictures of Videl all throughout her life. Her many medals and certificates of achievement were all displayed, courtesy of the Satan City Police Department where she worked most of her life. Her friends from high school brought in pictures and videos of her life in school, from both before and after she met Gohan. Even her wedding dress, complete with a replica bouquet, stood with the other artifacts to honor her life. Her friends and family all stood in the giant, marble family room of the Satan mansion, drinking and eating and laughing away as they shared stories of Videl's love and accomplishments. Even Pan, who is finally on her feet again, smiles as she listens to Bra talk away. Despite the much warmer, cheerier atmosphere, however, Gohan is unaffected by it. He leans against the wall, tall and dark against the merry backdrop of the party. A blur of faces pass him and talk to him, some he knows, some he knew, and some he doesn't recognize. Many held cameras and microphones, others held only expressions of concern, speaking to him with words he couldn't process. Even Pan talked to him, but her voice was lost among the fuzz of noises echoing in the room.

A tan hand is placed on her head. She looks up, nods, and walks away with Bra, into the crowd where Gohan can't see her. The hand is on his shoulder and a familiar word echoes through his mind. He follows the hand with his eyes, up a familiar arm, and to a familiar face. Angular, thin, pointed nose, royal blue eyes, soft lavender hair pulled back into a ponytail…

"Gohan," he says. The familiar word was his name. Gohan blinks several times, finally seeing the man in front of him. "Let's get some fresh air," Trunks says in his deep, warm voice. Gohan nods once, letting Trunks lead him outside to the garden. It's dark out now, their breath visible in the cold air. Gohan looks up at the black sky, but there aren't any stars. Just planes and copters, all flying far above, blinking at him. Trunks removes his hand from Gohan's back, making Gohan look at him. His eyes are black in the shade; heavy shadows cast over his thin face from the light of the party behind them.

"I don't want you to come into work for a while longer," Trunks tells him. Looking at him with those sharp blue eyes – though usually poised, they were soft as they stared at him. Gohan narrows his eyes, having to actively process what the younger man is telling him. That's right, Trunks became the CEO of Capsule Corporation two years ago. Though Gohan was hired by Bulma over a decade ago, Trunks was now technically his boss. "It's alright," Trunks says, "I want you to stay away as long as you need. I'll have someone cover your lectures and I'll put your projects in the engineering department on hold until further notice." Gohan watches his lips move in fascination. His speech is gentle and careful. Familiar.

Trunks watches Gohan stare at him, as if he were speaking a different language. Dark grey, almond-shaped eyes drift from his face down to his feet, then back up, as if Gohan were looking at an alien. Trunks places a tentative hand on Gohan's arm, making him jump as if he were burned. Trunks looks at him in surprise, but keeps his hand firmly placed on Gohan's arm. Gohan looks at him now, eyes wide, as if seeing him finally.

"When did you grow up?" Gohan asks, voice cracking from underuse. "You were a little kid ten minutes ago, hanging onto my hand and begging me to play with you. I had to bend down to see you eye-to-eye, and now…" Gohan looks back into his eyes, as if he were lost. "Now you're almost as big as I am. When did that happen?" Trunks frowns, unsure of how to respond. He's never seen Gohan this way – confused, distraught, staring at him as if he hasn't seen him in a long time. "You've suddenly turned into… that Trunks."

"Excuse me," a young lady approaches them from the glass double doors, where Gohan can suddenly hear the party continuing without them. "I have a few questions," she says. A man with a camera on his shoulder follows her. "We're from Satan News Channel 6. You're Gohan Son, correct?" She holds a microphone up to Gohan's mouth, but he turns away. Trunks looks from Gohan's face to the reporter's, who doesn't even look flustered from the refusal. She just continues, "We're live, by the way."

"Get lost," Gohan says darkly, not looking at her. The reporter ignores him, "How do you feel?" She asks. No response. Trunks looks at Gohan, who is staring hard through the dark, out at the gardens. The reporter takes a step forward, unhindered by the cold shoulder. "What did you think of the funeral service?" She asks. Still no answer. Trunks notices how stiff Gohan's posture has gotten. The reporter lifts a hand to touch his shoulder. Gohan's tension builds. "Are you going to remarry?" As soon as the words leave her lips, Gohan spins around, dark eyes burning like coals, but he doesn't get to say anything. Trunks is between him and the reporter, holding her hand.

"Now's not a good time," Trunks says smoothly. He smiles apologetically at the young reporter, gently releasing her hand. "Please go," he says. Gohan's anger dissipates immediately as the reporter nods, a small blush on her cheeks. She turns to her cameraman. "Sorry folks," she says to the camera, and leads the camera back inside.

Gohan watches him turn around and look up at him with those sharp blues. "Thank you," he says softly. Trunks smiles and shakes his head.

"No problem," the younger man says, stepping back a little. "I'm here for you, Gohan," he says, smiling gently. "And remember; don't come back into work until you're ready. There's no rush, really," he assures before turning to go back inside.

"Wait – …" Gohan says suddenly, holding out his hand. Trunks turns and looks at him in surprise. He's caught off guard as the older man hugs him, but quickly regains his composure and places his hands on Gohan's back. "I'm sorry," he says, releasing Trunks slowly. Trunks looks at him curiously, tilting his head.

"For?" He prods.

"For not noticing you've grown up. I… I want to be here for you, too," he ends awkwardly. Trunks nods in understanding and turns back to the party, one hand still on Gohan's back.

"Come on, it's freezing out here." Inside, people were already starting to fall asleep. It was nearing 1 AM and the bar was nearly empty – cans and bottles and glasses were scattered around the room. People were sleeping pretty much anywhere they dropped, including Pan and Bra, who were sleeping on an armchair together. Gohan lifts them both, one in each arm, but they don't budge. Trunks leans over and hoists a dead-asleep Goten over his shoulders. "See you in the morning, Gohan," Trunks says, giving him a small smile. Gohan nods. Hercule approaches him from behind, placing a large hand on his back.

"Feel free to sleep in Videl's old bedroom," he says. "It's a king, so it should be big enough if you want to sleep with Panny." Gohan thanks him, looking up at his father-in-law. He looks so, so old. Sunken eyes, thin skin, wrinkles littering his face. When did Hercule grow old? He claps Gohan firmly on the back before slowly walking back to his own bedroom. Gohan, still holding the girls, steps over sleeping bodies and climbs the stairs up to the bedrooms. He follows the familiar hallways to Videl's old bedroom, having walked them a million times in his teenage and young adult years. He nudges the white wood door open with his hip, letting it silently swing open. It's a large room, covered with pale pink carpet and pink floral wallpaper. The room is decorated with old, wooden, white-painted furniture. A pair of white French doors leads to a balcony overlooking the city and the gardens below.

Gohan kicks back the comforter with his foot before gently lying Bra down, who grumbles and rolls over on the comfortable sheets. He walks to the other side and places Pan down, brushing the soft black locks out of her face. He takes off her shoes and places them by the bed before leaning over and kissing her forehead. She's snoring softly, a deep sleeper. He studies her for the first time since her mother died – Long, black hair that frames a heart-shaped face. She has her mother's small nose and tiny mouth, along with her thick, baby-ish eyebrows and long black lashes. Gohan tucks a strand of wild hair behind her small ears, tracing the soft curve of her jaw. She's a beautiful girl, just like her mother. Other than his colors, she doesn't look a thing like him. He kisses her forehead again before pulling the comforter up to her chin. Gohan then walks around to the other side and removes Bra's shoes before pulling the comforter up to her chin, too. He looks down at her for a moment. She looks just like Bulma – big lips, teal hair, gentle curve to her cheeks… nothing like Trunks, who takes strongly after Vegeta.

A fleeting thought occurs to him – If he and Videl had a son after Pan, would he look like Gohan? He shakes his head, letting the thought fall away. There's no guarantee that his son would look like him – after all, while his own facial features greatly resemble Goku's, Goten looks more like their mother. Although, when Goten was a kid, they tried very hard to make him take after their father. This was mostly because his personality was very similar to their father's.

Gohan walks around Videl's girlhood bedroom silently, running his fingers over each surface he comes close to, admiring all the things she kept from her childhood. Though she didn't act like it, Videl was a sentimental person. Dozens of pictures of friends from high school and college were strung up on the walls, including a large section dedicated to just photos of herself and Gohan. Posters from the World Martial Arts Tournaments were hung all around the walls, featuring her favorite fighters from even before she started fighting on her own. On her desk, which was still littered with school notes from years ago, sat a ticket stub from the 25th World Martial Arts Tournament. Written in sloppy script was her name, Videl Satan, qualifier #9. As he moved to pick it up, a sparkle caught his eye. He quietly opened the ajar drawer, revealing the small, golden metallic bands inside. He picked them up, letting them hang off of his long, pale fingers.

…You… like girls… with short hair, Gohan?

Her voice was so clear in his memory, like a bell. He shook his head, clearing the memory away, and pocketed the metal hairbands. As he left, he looked back at his little daughter, curled up in her mother's large, fluffy bed. She looked so much like her mother.

He walked along the dark hallway to his brother's bedroom, where he could hear Goten snoring away. He quietly opened the door and shut it behind him. In the queen-sized guest bed Goten and Trunks slept peacefully. His brother, mouth wide open and arms splayed across the mattress, looked older as well – a young man. Wild black hair, which hung just past the nape of his neck, was spread out on the pillow like a halo. He was oval-faced like their mother, but had the same long, straight nose as himself and their father. When did they grow to be so old? Trunks was curled up, lying on his side, facing away from the mess that was Goten. Gohan walked over and picked up one of the extra pillows off of the floor. He quietly walked to Trunks's side, where there was more room. The floor creaked with his step, making Trunks open his eyes wide. He looked up, surprised.

"Gohan?" he asked, his voice thick with sleep.

"I'm sorry," Gohan apologized softly, "I didn't want to make Bra uncomfortable by sleeping with her and Pan, and I don't want to sleep alone. Can I sleep here?" Trunks nods, moving back to give him more room. Goten groans and rolls over, muttering something about dinosaurs in his sleep before resuming his snoring. Gohan edges in, placing his pillow at an angle, and lies down on the edge. Trunks frowns, able to see him in the dark.

"You can get closer, you know," he says quietly. "You can't be comfortable." Gohan, without turning to him or saying anything, moves a few inches further onto the bed. Trunks yawns and turns onto his back, closing his eyes and falling back to sleep quickly. However, Gohan lays awake, still and silent, staring at the window across the room. He begged for the sweet escape that was sleep, but it never came. When the clock on the night stand clicked over to 5 AM, Gohan quietly lifted himself off of the bed, careful not to make too much noise. He leaves the room, leaving it as if he was never there at all. As he walked back through the halls, he pulled off his tie and began unbuttoning his shirt, wadding them together without much care. He quietly walked into Videl's old bedroom where his and Pan's suitcases sat. Without waking the girls, he dropped off his shirt, tie, and belt, then took some fresh clothes from his bag. He walked over to the bed where Pan was still snoring softly, splayed out on the mattress like her uncle.

Gohan brushed hair out of her face, looking her over carefully, before leaving the room. He walked further down the hall to the large bathroom to shower. Once he changed into his fresh clothes and dropped his old ones off at his suitcase, he headed downstairs where people were still sprawled across the furniture, dead to the world after their drunken night. He headed to the kitchen, already occupied by chefs, who all looked up at him in surprise.

"Uh – sorry, I was just going to look for some coffee…" he said before turning to leave. The chef stopped him, telling him he came to the right place, and told him to wait while he prepared it. Gohan insisted that he could make it himself, but the chef wouldn't budge. Gohan was soon walking outside into the gardens with a cup of hot coffee, which he was sure was delicious and high quality, but he couldn't bring himself to drink it. In fact, he realized, he hadn't eaten or had anything to drink in nearly two days. Looking down at the black drink, sparkling in the early morning sun, his stomach churned. He sat the cup on the ledge, abandoning it.

The gardens were beautiful, even in the late December cold. Hercule paid good money to keep them in top shape and they were often in popular gardening magazines and on outdoor TV shows. Not to mention they were huge, so it was easy for Gohan to get lost in them. Eventually, he came upon a clearing, where he found his father already awake and doing his morning workout. Goku hovered in the air, doing a series of quick kicks and punches at an invisible enemy, until he noticed his eldest standing nearby. He lands softly on the dormant grass and gives his son a smile.

"Mornin', kid," he says with a lift in his voice, though not too cheery. He frowns when Gohan doesn't say anything back. "You get 'ne sleep?" he asks. Gohan shakes his head. Goku tilts his head. "Wanna spar?" Gohan shakes his head again. Goku gives him another smile. "C'mon. Doing something with your hands might make ya feel better." Gohan looked up at him, thought for a moment, and then nodded. He was sluggish and sloppy in his form, so the fight didn't last very long before Goku threw him onto his back. He waited for his son to hop back to his feet, but unsurprisingly, Gohan didn't.

Goku floated down to the ground and kneeled next to Gohan's head, smiling down at him. "You been hittin' the books too hard. You gotta hit people more often." A small smile tugged at the corner of Gohan's mouth. He sat up, letting Goku sit next to him on the cold ground. The two sat in silence, watching the sun rise over the hedges in the distance.

"Everything reminds me of her," Gohan says softly without looking at his father. Goku doesn't move. "I can't get away from it. It's eating me alive." He looks down at his lap, white hands gripping his slacks. "I've felt loss before," he says, eyeing Goku out of the corner of his eye, "but it's never been this intense. It feels like my soul has been completely removed from my body. I can't feel anything I touch. Everything is mechanical. Everyone walks by in a blur of colors that I don't really see or sounds that I don't really hear. I can't recall a word of the funeral yesterday. I'm starving but I can't eat, tired but I can't sleep, devastated but I can't cry or scream or laugh. It's like time has stopped and I can't make it move again…" His voice trailed off into silence.

Without looking at him, Goku reached over and pulled Gohan's head to rest on his shoulder. They don't look at each other and they don't touch otherwise. Gohan stays that way, leaning against his father, sitting on the cold ground in the early morning twilight.

"Y'know," Goku says gently, "when you we're a lil' thing your mom was worried that you would never walk. You were like two years old and you hadn't walked yet. We tried real hard to get you to do it, but you were a stubborn kid. We'd pull ya up onto your feet, hold your hands, walk ya 'cross the room, let go, and you'd just sit back down and look up at us.

"It wasn't 'til I had to go out one day that you finally did it. I remember it like it was yesterday. You were sittin' in the family room, readin' on your little books, when you saw me walk out. I hadn't told ya that I was leavin' or how long I'd be gone, and you got real worried I was gonna leave forever. I remember you yelled at me from the family room as I was walkin' out, but I didn't stop. You got up so fast and you sprinted across the room and out into the yard, tears all runnin' down your face, huggin' on me." Goku chuckled. "I'd never seen your mom so mad and so excited at the same time. From that day on we couldn't keep you outta stuff. You were always wanderin' off on your own, explorin' the forest and gettin' lost. Your mom would worry about ya, but you'd always bring her back some kind of weed that you thought was a flower, or a neat lookin' rock or bug or somethin'."

Goku glanced down at his son out of the corner of his eye, but Gohan was sleeping, head still resting on his father's shoulder. Goku smiled and looked up at the golden clouds hanging in the sky. "I kept tellin' her you'd be fine, that no matter what, I'd always come an' find you – that I'd always protect you from whatever big bad evil thing was out in those woods. And look at you, Gohan… You're a grown man with a lil' kid of your own. You got a good job and you got stuff to deal with that me or your mom never even had to think about, but every time I look at ya, every time I hear you speak, you still look and sound like that lil' tiny thing that ran out after me, holdin' on to me and cryin'. And no matter how hard you try, how grown up you get, how many doctorates you have, or how many problems you manage… you'll always be my lil' boy and I'll always come find you when you get lost."

Gohan slept there for a long time, until the sun was high in the sky. He shifted and blinked sleepily, pulling himself out from under the heavy blanket of sleep. His father was still there, unmoved and meditating in the December sun. "Sorry," Gohan apologized softly, "I fell asleep during your story…" Goku smiled at him and shook his head.

"Can't blame ya, you were dead tired." Goku reached high in the sky in a stretch, feeling his back bones pop from being still for so long. He sighed and hopped to his feet, extending a hand to his son. "C'mon, let's go see if there's any food or somethin'. I'm starving!" Gohan smiles a bit at him and takes his hand, standing up himself. They walked through the maze of hedges and flowers, eventually finding the party of people standing on the large back patio. Unlike last night, media was not allowed, so all of the people were people Gohan knew. As they climbed the stairs to the stone patio, the sight and smell of food hit Gohan like a brick. His stomach growled, making him suddenly realize how hungry he was. Goku laughed softly and clapped a strong hand on his shoulder.

"I'll get ya something. See if you can find Pan."

Gohan smiled at his father and nodded, then scanned the crowd. There she was. Long black hair, naturally tan skin, dark grey eyes… his Panny. She was smiling, enamored by some handheld device Trunks built last year – the Pocket Computer, or Pocom, as he affectionately nicknamed it. It was a huge hit, especially with the younger crowd. Pan glanced up and caught her father's eye, giving him a cute grin.

"Papa," she said in her lilted voice. Bra looked up and gave him a cheeky smile. "Hey Gohan!" she greeted casually, even though he was much older than her.

"Hello, Bra," Gohan greeted back and placed his hand on Pan's head. "Panny, have you said good morning to your grandfather, yet?" Pan tilts her head.

"But it's past noon." Gohan blinked at her. How long had he been sleeping? Bra laughs at him with good humor.

"You missed Satan trying to throw all those reporters out. I bet you they're still crowded around the gate out there, like vultures!" says the little blue-haired girl with a smirk. Gohan frowns at her, unsure of how to feel about it. Neither he nor his family grew up in the limelight, so marrying Videl came with the added consequence of constantly being in the public eye. He looked down at Pan, who was smiling up at him. Even now, it was a hassle getting Pan to and from school without people harassing them for pictures or questions. Over time, Gohan has grown to dislike the limelight, and to know that they're probably outside the walls of the mansion waiting for them to come out…

"Don't be rude, Bra," Trunks scolds her as he approaches them. She sticks her tongue out at her older brother. Gohan looks at the younger man apologetically.

"Oh, Trunks, sorry for last night…" Trunks gives him a confused look, but soon remembers and shakes his head.

"Don't apologize," he says, smiling gently. Bra glares cutely up at them.

"Apologize for what? What happened last night?" she asks. Trunks frowns at her and pulls her ear, making her yelp. From across the patio, Hercule is grinning and laughing loudly, dancing with random people to the loud music. The hybrid Saiyans watch him, amused. "That old man's pretty eccentric, isn't he?" Bra asks, earning another ear pull. "Ow!" Gohan takes Pan's hand and leads her to her grandfather, who gladly scoops her into his arms and dances with her, making her squeal and laugh with delight. Gohan smiles and steps back, out of the way, and watches Hercule spin Pan around. He's obviously drunk, but he seems alive. Goku taps his son on the shoulder, handing him a plate of food. Gohan's stomach growls again.

"Thanks," he says softly and leans against a nearby empty table. Goku shakes his head, smiling. Gohan eats quickly, the food filling him up like rocks in his stomach. But… at least it's something. After he's done, he sighs and smiles at his father.

"You look better already," Goku says with a grin. He looks up, noticing two people approaching them. "You know them?" he asks, pointing. Gohan looks up, surprised, as Sharpner and Erasa stroll up to them. He nods once.

"Hey, Gohan!" Erasa greets him with a cheery smile. "Gosh, it's been a while, right?" She suddenly wraps her arms around his chest, giving him a quick hug. Stunned, he puts a hand on her back.

"Yeah…" He shakes Sharpner's hand. "I haven't seen you guys since we graduated high school." Sharpner nods. Neither of them looked much different from the old days, except older, of course. Goku elbows him in the rib suddenly. "Oh! Err, this is my father, Goku Son," Gohan says awkwardly. Goku grins at them. "Dad, this is Sharpner and Erasa. They were friends of mine when I went to Orange Star High School."

Sharpner holds out an eager hand, which Goku takes happily. "It's nice to meet you, sir," Sharpner says, brown eyes wide. "I like to call myself a fighter, but I'm nowhere near your status." He gushes, making Goku chuckle.

"Aw, I ain't that good. But it's nice to meet some old friends of Gohan." He looks over at his son, "Good to meet the people he was getting in trouble with at school." Gohan blushes and looks away, making his father and old friends snicker. He places a strong hand on Gohan's shoulder before leaving the three of them alone. Erasa smiled up at him, though it was sad.

"I wish we could have met under better circumstances…" she says softly. Gohan frowns and nods slightly. Erasa reaches into her pocket and pulls out a faded photo of the four of them, standing in front of their old high school. It was back when Videl still had pigtails – before they started dating. "I miss the old days," Erasa says with a sad smile. Gohan and Sharpner agree. Gohan asks them how they've been, changing the subject quickly. Sharpner and Erasa fill him in, how they've gotten married to other people and have kids of their own now. Sharpner is a professional boxer and Erasa is an actress with her own TV talk show in the city. Gohan listens dutifully, glad to hear that the world was still turning for other people. "And you, Gohan? What did you do after high school?"

"Not much. I earned a degree in astronautic engineering and started working for Capsule Corporation." Erasa and Sharpner looked at each other with a smirk.

"Not much, huh?" Sharpner says, "You always were kind of a brainiac." Gohan smiles at him. Sharpner turns to look at Hercule, who has finally gotten too tired to dance. He sits now at a table, listening to Pan excitedly tell him about Pocoms and all the cool apps there are for them. "She's your daughter, isn't she?" he asks. Gohan nods, smiling at her fondly. "She looks a lot like Videl." Gohan nods again, smile slipping.

"Yeah. She's a beautiful girl," Gohan says softly. Erasa grins at him.

"You know she looks a lot like you, too. She's definitely got your hair and eyes, not to mention she's tall and skinny for her age. Like someone I know." Erasa flashes playful pale blue eyes at him. Gohan smiles back.

A few hours later, people finally begin to disperse. The guests are stopped by reporters, who, as Bra predicted, were waiting outside of the walls of the mansion for snap second interviews. A common question among the reporters was, "How did Gohan Son act?" to which some rather nasty comments were made by the guests about how little he spoke, how he ignored the others, and how little he comforted his grieving daughter. "He seemed so cold," one guest mentions snottily. "Yeah, he didn't even talk to Pan that much… he mostly just stared off into space. I tried talking to him, but I might as well have been talking to a house plant." The only guests that were not part of Earth's Special Forces that made a point of Gohan's behavior being a side effect of his pain and loss were Erasa and Sharpner. Otherwise, only Bulma, Krillen, and the others had anything understanding or sympathetic to say.

Inside, Gohan helped his daughter pack her suitcase for the trip home. "Don't forget these," he says, handing her a pair of her usual yellow boots. She takes them and turns to her suitcase, but a sparkle from the inside of her father's bag catches her eye.

"What are these?" she asks, pulling the round metallic bands out. Gohan smiles gently and pulls the picture Erasa gave to him from his pocket.

"They belonged to your mother. See?" he pointed to the picture. Pan smiles and clips the bands into her hair after brushing it into low pigtails. Gohan smiles at her. "Very pretty," he says. "They suit you. You can keep them if you want, but only if you take good care of them." Pan grins and nods. "Here," he says, handing her the picture. "Keep it for me." Pan holds the picture in both hands, studying it with a focused expression. Quietly, she slips the photo into her pants pocket. Gohan places a gentle hand on her head, making her look up at him. "You look a lot like her," he says softly. She smiles. Gohan smiles back and hands Pan her little suitcase. As they leave, he shuts off the light and turns around to look at the room. It's tidy, as if they'd never been there.

In his teenage years, he snuck into this room so many times in the middle of the night. He and Videl experienced many new things together here, shared hopes and dreams here, and even had some of their worst fights here. And here he was, leaving it again, though it was empty. Gohan turned away and shut the door tight.

…A few weeks later…

"She had cervical cancer," the talk show's guest, a woman who went to college with Videl, said. "She was diagnosed right after their daughter was born. Videl had to have a hysterectomy, but the cancer metastasized and eventually took her life. It was slow and horrible."

"She still worked, though, except for the last few months, right?" the talk show host said. "She was very serious about her work and continued to save people's lives even into her last year. She was very passionate about her police duties, even after her husband left the force."

"Ugh," the woman scoffed, "Don't even get me started on Gohan. The man knew his wife is sick and dying in her last months, but he didn't even leave work until, like, the last couple of days. I guarantee he was cheating on her – why else would he work for so long even with Videl sick in the hospital?" The guest crosses her arms and glares at the host. "Did you know he didn't even talk to anyone at the wake? It was like he didn't even care. I didn't see him hug his daughter once, or even talk to her that much."

The talk show host nodded his head and gestured to his laptop. "We've been trying to get Gohan Son in for an interview, but he apparently never checks his e-mail. I haven't seen any other shows in the city get him on, either. He's definitely hard to reach."

Trunks, who is watching the interview from his office at Capsule Corporation, sighs and looks to his computer. Gohan's work e-mail is pulled up, blinking every few seconds with a new message. Trunks has rigged the Capsule Corp. host to filter out every email that mentions the wordinterview, conference, consultation, and the like. In the past three and a half weeks, the filter has logged over a thousand e-mails with those words in them. Gohan, who isn't really savvy with technology that isn't a spaceship, was none the wiser. Trunks opened a few of the new messages, half-listening to the interview going on and on about Gohan's behavior. Some were very professional, others were informal, and some were rather hostile.

Leaning back in his leather executive desk chair, Trunks rubs his face and sighs. He catches words from the interview such as abuse and infidelity regarding Gohan and Videl's relationship. "Please don't come back to work anytime soon, Gohan. It isn't pretty." The phone on his desk rings. Trunks switches off the television and flips on his Bluetooth earpiece. "Trunks Briefs," he says in his best boss voice.

"Sir… you wanted me to tell you when Gohan Son returned to lecturing," his secretary said uncertainly. Trunks pinched the bridge of his nose. Shit.

"Yes…" Trunks prods.

"Well, Gohan Son has returned to lecturing as of this morning." Trunks rubs his face again. Fuck fuck fuck.

"Thanks. Listen, forward my calls. I want to go to campus and welcome him back personally. I'll be back before the meeting starts."

Though he wants to fly from the business quarter of Capsule Corporation to the campus quarter where Gohan lectures, Trunks walks the long walkway connecting the two. He smiles and greets others as he passes, keeping up a friendly appearance. Passersby – employees, students, and tourists alike – greet him back happily, thrilled to be addressed by the CEO of the most powerful company in the world.

"He's so personable!"

"You can tell he's intelligent."

"He's so handsome!"

"Dr. Briefs is so approachable…"

"It's almost as if he's regal."

Though Trunks wants to blast through the walls of the astrophysics building and beat Gohan for coming back to work after only three and a half weeks, he keeps a firm grasp on his composure, fronting the outgoing yet powerful air he and his family are known for. As he approaches the astrophysics building, he wonders what he'll say to the man. It's still early – Gohan's morning lecture wouldn't have released just yet. Knowing how passionate Gohan is about his field of study, he'll certainly keep the students until the last minute. Not that the students usually mind – Gohan is known for being very capable of relating the information in an interesting and clear way. He climbs the stairs and navigates through the crowds of students to Gohan's office. Trunks swipes his card on the electric lock and lets himself in. Glancing at the clock, he notes that he has fifteen minutes before Gohan's 10 AM class releases.

The window on Gohan's door is covered, so the students and faculty outside can't see Trunks walk through the small office. The walls were lined with bookshelves, all filled to the max with textbooks, papers, and notebooks. Across the office was a large bay window with the best view in the building – the view of the Capsule Corporation nature parks. Back when Trunks's mother hired Gohan onto the team, she made sure he got the best office they had to offer. Trunks sits at Gohan's desk, which is covered in notes and papers. He leans back and stretches, lazily looking around the room.

All of the pictures of Videl and Pan that once were scattered across the room were missing. Gohan must have taken them down this morning when he arrived. Trunks hops out of the chair and walks over to the window. He opens the blinds, letting the morning light flood the small office. He smiles and strolls innocently over to the desk again. Though he often scolds Bra for being nosy, he shamelessly opens the desk drawers and snoops through them. He's known Gohan all his life – is it really still nosy of him to look through Gohan's things? He knows what his mother would say.

"You and Bra! Geez! You need to respect other people's privacy!" Trunks smirks. She knows their curiosity comes from her, because it sure as hell doesn't come from their father. Trunks pauses, staring down into the bottom drawer where the frames of Gohan's family are stashed. On the very top of the stack is a picture of Videl from when she was younger, grinning at the camera in her Saiyagirl uniform. Scribbled in black marker on the corner of the photograph, I'll miss you on the force! Enjoy your spaceships or whatever, Professor! Trunks smiles gently.

The sounds of feet shuffling and voices come from the hallway as the 10 AM block releases. Trunks shuts the drawer and sits on the desk, watching the door patiently. He didn't have to wait too long, as Gohan opened the door, listening and talking to one of his students about the lecture. Out in the hallway, Trunks hears others say such things as, "Welcome back, Dr. Son," and "Good to see you again, Professor." Gohan nods without smiling, thanking them, before shutting the door, effectively muffling the noises.

He's not at all surprised to see Trunks sitting there, smiling at him. "How are you?" Trunks asks, to which Gohan responds the usual, "Fine, getting along, alright," as he walks to his desk and lays his bag on the desk behind Trunks. Trunks frowns at him and hops onto his feet, giving him a serious look. "How are you?" he asks again, sternly meeting Gohan's dark grey eyes. He looks so, so tired. Gohan stares at him a moment, sliding his jacket off and laying it on the back of his office chair. As Trunks watches him, he thinks back to the absurdity of the television talk show from earlier that morning. Those people don't know Gohan – they don't understand how he deals with stress. Yes, Gohan worked at Capsule Corporation until the very end of Videl's life. His engineering and lecturing are escapes. There's nothing more opposite of your wife dying of cancer than the deadening silence of space or the art of building machines. Gohan has never dealt with stress or pain well, so working was a sweet escape from the gravity of reality.

Finally, Gohan looks away and takes a deep breath. "Pan and I have been living with my parents and Goten. She sleeps in my old study, in my old bed, and Goten and I sleep in our old room in his bed. It's not exactly comfortable – you know how Goten is, snoring and taking up most of the room – but it's better than sleeping in my house and in my bed. I've tried. I can't sleep by myself anymore." As he speaks he walks to the window and closes the blinds again, never meeting Trunks's eyes. "On average, I get about four hours of sleep every night, if I sleep. I haven't had much contact with the outside world, besides talking to Bulma or Krillen or Hercule on the phone. My students are the first people to see me in almost a month. The lecturer and my students looked really surprised to see me," he said with a wry laugh. He walked over and leaned against the desk, Trunks standing in front of him, watching him carefully. Though he didn't meet his eyes, he could feel those blues on him.

"My class went well this morning, but my students were all acting overly worried. They kept asking me how I was or if I'd been keeping up with the news – small talk or something. Though they don't say anything, I know they're thinking things like, Oh poor Dr. Son, he must be so angry or sad or whatever, which messes with me the most because it's so obviously written across their faces." He takes a deep breath and tangles his fingers in his black hair, pulling in frustration. Slowly, he releases the breath. Finally, he meets Trunks's gaze, but only fleetingly. Gohan turns away and crosses his arms.

"I'm trying to filter the real world back into my life, but it feels like I'm holding back a waterfall. The longer I wait or the more I hold back, it just keeps building. I know it's all going to come down eventually, and when it does, I'm afraid it will knock me down so hard that I won't be able to get back on my feet." Finally, Gohan is silent. He still doesn't face Trunks, but he can feel Trunks staring at him.

"You need to take things one day at a time. Don't rush back into work – you can come in whenever you feel like you can handle it," Trunks says in his deep, warm voice. Gohan leans against the window sill and smiles cynically.

"That's what Bulma and my mom told me." Trunks slowly circles Gohan's desk, trailing his fingers over the surface.

"You know when Majin Buu was attacking Earth, back when Babidi still had control over him, Goku told us you and my father were dead. Obviously you weren't actually dead, Gohan, but we thought so until you showed up back on Earth and kicked Majin Buu's ass. When your dad told me you had died, I was devastated. Goten and I both were. You know I was a cocky kid and so I didn't like to cry much, but that was one of the worst pains I've ever felt in my life, even now. I felt lost. I was angry and distraught and scared and I didn't know what to do, even when Goku and Piccolo told me what I had to do. It wasn't until I saw Goten moving that I was able to move, too.

"I was able to follow him back into action. I still don't know how he did it, but he did. Because of Goten, I was able to find the strength and the willpower to do something." Trunks keeps a steady gaze on Gohan, who is watching him from the corner of his eye. "I truly had my confidence back when you returned to Earth, Gohan. You were so cool and self-assured because you knew you could handle whatever Majin Buu had to throw at you. You Sons are strong and resilient people and you never cease to amaze me." Trunks leans against the edge of the desk on the side closest to Gohan. He smiles gently, Gohan having turned to face him now. "Despite what goes on in the world, time continues to pass, and it will pass whether or not you want it to.

"You are strong and resilient, and you've rebounded from so much already. You can't fall down yet because there's the most important person in your life who is like I was when I thought you died. She's angry and distraught and scared and she doesn't know what to do. She's waiting for you to move first." Gohan smiles a real smile at him, watching him fondly.

"Thank you," he says softly. Trunks smiles back. Gohan gives a soft laugh and looks away, tangling one hand in his already messy black locks. Trunks turns his head inquisitively. "You remind me so much of your future self – the Trunks who came back in time all those years ago to help us. It was him who helped me through my father's death back then. He was wise and steady even through all the pain and destruction the androids and Cell caused. Those same qualities are present in you, too, Trunks," Gohan smiles at him again, facing him once more. Trunks returns the smile and takes a step closer. He places a tentative hand on Gohan's shoulder, but this time Gohan doesn't jump.

"I'm sure that many qualities in you are in the future Gohan as well – the Gohan who lost almost everyone, yet he was still able to stand up for the future Trunks and Bulma until the very end."

The day passed by quickly. Gohan's 2 PM class came and went smoothly, though his afternoon students were just as surprised to see him. Thanks to Trunks, though, Gohan found himself in higher spirits. After class, he stayed behind to answer questions about the lecture and the material that students didn't quite understand. While elaborating, Gohan noticed a few students running by the room, down the hall.

"They're outside," he heard. "They just showed up about ten minutes ago." As students hurried by the door, they glanced in, occasionally and – as it seemed – accidentally making eye contact with their professor. "Don't let him see," he heard a student whisper as she hurried by. Now abandoning his elaboration entirely, Gohan walked to the doorway and looked into the hall. Everyone was headed downstairs in a hurry.

"Do you know what that's about?" Gohan asked one of his students, who shook her head with wide eyes. He narrowed her eyes at her, but she blushed, flustered, insisting she had no idea. "Don't lie to me," he says, speaking to her as if she were his child. She shook her head faster, stammering through a lame question about the lecture. Gohan ignored her and walked out into the hallway, heading for the stairs. The student walked after him, asking more distracting questions. "You're one of my best students," Gohan said as he opened the door to the stairway, "You can't possibly not understand that theory…" He headed downstairs, much to her protest.

In the business quarter of Capsule Corporation, Trunks's meeting was going smoothly. That is, however, until what was gathering outside caught his attention. He stopped in mid-sentence and walked over to the window, attracting the attention of his guests. "Looks like some kind of protest outside of the campus quarter, Dr. Briefs," one of the guests mumbles. Trunks concentrates on one of the signs. Suddenly, all of the color drains from his face. It's a picture of Videl, blown-up to a gigantic poster. She looks sickly and weak – obviously a photo snapped when her health took a turn for the worst. But it was the sentence plastered on the photo in large, bold print that made Trunks's blood run ice cold.

GOOD THING SHE'S DEAD

Trunks ripped away from the window, nearly knocking over his guests. "The meeting is over. You," Trunks pointed at a scrawny employee of his, who jumped at the sudden address, "go to my office and close the blinds, now." The employee nodded, watching Trunks sprint out of the meeting room and down the hall, easily skirting around surprised people. He flipped on his Bluetooth earpiece. "Security, I want you on the campus quarter and in the astrophysics building, now."

"Yes sir!"

In the campus quarter, Gohan was becoming quickly agitated. Though he finally made it to the ground floor of the astrophysics building, he was stopped by a wall of students – some he recognized, some he didn't – all asking him ridiculous and obviously made-up questions, blocking his path to the commotion outside. The lobby was quickly filling with more students, all shouting at him for his attention.

"Uh, how do you spell your name again?"

"I'm sorry, Dr. Son, it's crowded in here, can we go back to your office?"

"Where's the bathroom?!"

Gohan sighs in frustration, running one hand through his black hair. "What is going on?" he asks in a growl. His students stare at him in false confusion. Gohan sighs again and looks up at the windows and glass doors lining the walls of the lobby, but he can't see outside because students are pressed against them, holding up laptops and notebooks and textbooks – anything to block the view to the outside. Security guards filed in through the doors, pushing through the overcrowded lobby. "What's going on?" Gohan asked again, louder, speaking over his students' nonsense requests.

Where it took Trunks nearly half an hour to stroll from his office to the campus quarter before, he sprinted there in less than a minute, ignoring everyone he passed. From outside, he could see people pressed against the windows of the astrophysics lobby, both inside and out. The protest was just outside of the windows, being harassed by students and faculty alike for their signs. Inside, Trunks was relieved that at least Gohan's pupils and team members still stood for him. Maybe he hasn't seen the commotion? He pushed through the doors, nudging by students, who were all shocked to see him as he forced his way through. He found Gohan immediately amongst the loud and rowdy crowd. Trunks grabbed Gohan's arm and spun him around to face him. Gohan blinked at him, surprised, but it was only for a moment. Gohan glared at him in a serious way.

"What's going on?" he asks lowly. Trunks grips Gohan's forearms tightly and stares at Gohan with importance.

"Come with me to my office," Trunks says in his best boss voice. "Now." Gohan's glare deepens.

"Tell me!" he says, muscles tensing. Students stand by and watch in awe, though they're still loud, shouting at each other, easily drowning out the shouting from the protestors outside. Trunks takes in a steady breath.

"We've been friends for a very, very long time, Gohan, right?" The older man frowns, distressed, but eventually gives a curt nod. Trunks tightens his grip on Gohan's arms. "Then you'll trust me when I tell you that you need to come to my office right now. Don't look anywhere, don't look at anyone, and especially don't talk to anyone. Do you trust me enough to do as I say right now?" Gohan continues glaring, but finally nods again, this time slowly. Trunks releases the breath he didn't realize he was holding. He pulled away from Gohan, leaning over to the police chief that was standing nearby, but keeping one hand wrapped tightly around Gohan's wrist. "I want those psychos off of my property and I wanted it yesterday," he says darkly.

"Consider it done, sir," the chief says definitely.

"Also…" Trunks glances back to Gohan, who is being distracted by his students again. Trunks looks back to the chief and says in a lower tone, "Call to Satan City police and tip them off about the protesters. They're likely headed to Orange Star Elementary School next. Have them escort Pan home and don't let her see those assholes." The police chief nodded and called to his officers. Trunks stepped back to Gohan and guided his arm around his shoulders, making Gohan look at him. "Let's go, and remember what I said about not looking at anything or talking to anyone. Just keep your eyes down." Trunks hooked his arm around Gohan's thin waist, effectively letting him direct the taller man through the crowd. Gohan stared down at the floor, heart thumping quickly. What was out there? What was it that managed to provoke so many people, including Trunks? Out of the corner of his eye, he looked at the younger man, who had a very determined look on his face as they exited the building. Gohan glanced over his shoulder at his students, who all watched with worried looks.

The afternoon light hit him, as did a roar of angry voices. "Concentrate on the pathway," Trunks reminds him, but it's difficult. People are shoving microphones and cameras in his face, yelling a range of inappropriate questions at him. Trunks tightens his arm around Gohan's waist, walking him quickly down the pathway that only seemed to grow longer and longer. He wanted to just fly overhead and land in his office window, but then he'd risk Gohan seeing the protestors over the crowding group of reporters. Though, the media certainly wasn't there to help them. He could feel Gohan growing tense.

"Did you want your wife to die?"

"How long had you been abusing her?"

"Were you wanting a divorce?"

"How long have you been cheating on her?"

Gohan's hand tightens on Trunks's shoulder. Trunks can feel him begin to fall behind, but he keeps him steady. "Listen to me," Trunks says gently. He begins telling Gohan about how he and Goten impersonated Mighty Mask in the tournament when they were kids. Gohan concentrated hard on his story, attempting to drown out the incessant questions the reporters were throwing at him. He concentrated on Trunks's deep voice, kind and steady. They were nearly to the business quarter. White, even stones beneath his shoes. Gentle voice in his ears. Firm hands wrapped around his wrist and his waist. Late January sun on his face.

Only one question cut through it all.

"Did you kill Videl?" Gohan's dark grey eyes snapped up, staring at the reporter with shock and anguish. He knitted his eyebrows together, gawking at her.

"What?" he asked incredulously. He felt weak as the reporters pounced on him.

"Sometimes cervical cancer is caused by HPV, a sexually transmitted disease."

"If you infected her, you must have killed her."

"Did you infect her?"

"You cheated on her, didn't you? That's how you got it?" Gohan stared at her. Trunks pushed on his back, but Gohan was frozen as he looked from face to face.

"You're… you're horrible… You have no idea what caused her sickness and that's what you jump to…" he said, voice fading into silence. Finally, Trunks managed to push Gohan through the entrance of the main business quarter of Capsule Corporation. The reporters attempted to follow him in, but he turned to them, fire in his blue eyes.

"Get the fuck out of here," Trunks growls angrily, face twisted in fury – an expression he's never shown the public before. They stared at him, wide-eyed, as he shut the doors. He turned on his heel and took Gohan's wrist again, guiding it back around his shoulders. As they climbed onto the elevator, Trunks was practically holding Gohan on his feet. They were completely silent. As they reached the top floor where Trunks's office was, the younger man hooked his arm around Gohan's waist again. The doors slid open and he guided Gohan through the lobby and between the secretaries' desks. "No calls or visitors," Trunks said to one stunned secretary. Trunks released Gohan's wrist to open his office door and press him inside.

Gohan walked slowly into the office without Trunks's support. As Trunks closed the blinds on the door's window and the blinds on the glass panes separating his office from the lobby, Gohan numbly walked over to the window. As Trunks asked when he left his meeting earlier, the blinds were closed, throwing the office into filtered sunlight. Gohan leaned against the wall, slowly sliding down to a sitting position. Trunks locked the door and turned to him, watching him crumple onto the floor.

"They're saying those things?" he asks softly, voice cracking. "They're making up awful rumors and spreading it around like fact?" Trunks frowns and walks closer. He sits on the arm of one of the armchairs that sit in front of his large desk.

"They started saying those things right after the wake. It's only escalated since then." His voice is gentle, watching Gohan tangle his hands into his black hair and draw his knees to his chest. "It started with just one news station, but many of them have picked it up now…" He watches as Gohan presses his forehead to his knees, his shoulders trembling. Trunks walks over as Gohan lets out a choking sob. He slides down the wall next to him, placing a tentative hand on Gohan's back. "I know it's not true," Trunks says softly. "Me, my mom, Krillen, your family… We know the real you – we knew her." He can't stop the cries from coming. They wouldn't stop. Not knowing what else to do, Trunks gently pulls Gohan close to him, who is too weak and distraught to object. Trunks guides Gohan's arms to circle his back and places his hand on the back of Gohan's head, pressing his face to his shoulder. Gohan weakly curls his fingers into Trunks's suit jacket, crumpling the fabric, and sobs onto his shoulder.

He can't hold it back anymore. He releases a month's worth of the worst pain he's ever experienced – worse than Cell, worse than losing his father, worse than years of adult responsibility on young shoulders. It was more than just the accusations the media was throwing on him and spreading around like a disease – Gohan cried for the loss of his soulmate. Trunks held him there, letting him finally release all of his stifled pain. As he held him, he realized how small Gohan seemed. The older man was always larger and brighter than Trunks himself, but as he sobbed, Trunks realized Gohan was someone who has already experienced so much anguish and devastation. He holds onto pain for long periods of time, not letting anyone see it – something he'd been doing since Piccolo trained him, Trunks remembered his mother saying.

"He was just a normal little kid who laughed and cried, but after being with Piccolo for so long and that battle with your father… On Namek, especially, it was like he was an adult, too." Gohan's been an adult for so long that Trunks never saw him as anything other. Until now, that is, as Gohan cries and clings to him. Gohan is someone who has been strong for far too long.

They stayed that way for a long time. The sun was beginning to set, casting the office into dark shadows and orange light. Gohan's sobs had subsided, but Trunks still held him until he made a move to pull away. Trunks's hand lingers around Gohan's back, but he doesn't protest. Gohan looks at him, eyes dry and red, dark grey eyes pitch black in the shadows.

"I'm sorry," Gohan apologizes softly. Trunks tilts his head inquisitively. Gohan looks down at Trunks's shoulder. "Your jacket is wet and crumpled. I'm sorry for crying on you." He glances back up to Trunks's wide blue eyes. The younger man smiles gently and shakes his head.

"Don't worry about that," he says. "It's just a suit." Gohan smiles wryly and leans his head against the wall, closing his eyes. He takes in a deep, shaking breath, and glances at Trunks from the corner of his eye.

"Am I still strong even after crying on you and ruining your suit?" Trunks slides his hand to Gohan's arm, giving it a light squeeze.

"Displaying sorrow does not equal weakness, no matter what my father says," he says with a smirk. Gohan smiles a real smile this time and closes his eyes again.

"Still, I'm sorry about your suit. I'll have it cleaned." He turns his head to meet Trunks's eyes, "I want to thank you. Please come over to my parents' house tonight, we'll make you dinner." He frowns and looks away. "It's a little short notice, isn't it? You can come by tomorrow or the next day, too, if you want – …"

"Dinner at the Sons' tonight sounds great," Trunks says, smiling at him. Gohan smiles back. His eyes widen, suddenly gasping, catching Trunks by surprise.

"What time is it?" Gohan asks, jumping to his feet. "Pan gets done with her after school programs at 4:30." The clock on Trunks's desk reads 5:15. Gohan groans and pulls at his hair, walking toward the door. "She's going to be waiting for me. What if those assholes are still there? What if they're harassing her – …"

Trunks places a hand on Gohan's arm, pulling him away from the door and out of his panicked rant. "Don't worry," he says gently. "After that mess on campus I sent a word to Satan City to remove Pan from school. She's been at home for the past hour." Gohan blinks and extends his senses. Sure enough, his little girl was by Mount Paozu with his parents and brother. He looks at Trunks in awe.

"Th-thank you…" he says. "I was so overwhelmed that it never occurred to me that she might be in danger, yet you thought of it immediately." He puts a hand to his forehead and turns away. "How could I not think of her?" Trunks shakes his head, turning Gohan around to face him again.

"Don't think about that. Like you said, you were overwhelmed. There's no reason to beat yourself up, especially since she's unharmed." Gohan nods, though still in shock by his own carelessness. "Come on, she's probably wondering where you are." Trunks leads Gohan out of the office and up to the roof, where he lifts off and floats in the air. Gohan grabs his wrist, making Trunks look at him in surprise.

"Trunks, really," he says, still holding onto him, "thank you. For everything. You're…" he looks down, then back up, smiling, "you're a hero." Trunks laughs softly. Together they take off into the air, undetected by the citizens below.

In the next chapter…

Trunks walks quickly from Capsule Corporation's residential quarter to the campus quarter, cutting through the large nature parks in the quadrangle. He has to consciously remind himself to smile and greet people as he passes, balancing his books in one hand and coffee in the other. Still… his mind can't help but drift back to the night before. Gohan, peacefully sleeping nearby, lit only by the moonlight… Trunks shook his head, sending the thoughts away. Suddenly all he could hear was his little sister, Aaah~ Trunks has a crush on Gohan! Trunks blushes and glares at his cup, still walking quickly through the parks. Very few people knew his sexuality. He wasn't sure who knew besides his family and Goten. Otherwise, Trunks has never come out and stated it publicly and no one has approached him on it yet.

Besides… even if he did somehow develop a romantic interest in the eldest half-Saiyan, there's no chance Gohan would hold the same feelings. Aside from the fact that he recently become a widower, was Gohan even interested in men? Much less someone like Trunks, who Gohan knew as an infant. Trunks groans in frustration from his thoughts – shit, how does he turn them off? It's entirely inappropriate and insensitive to think such things about someone who still has fresh wounds. But… could Gohan share his feelings someday in the future? It was something he hadn't seriously thought about since he was just a kid with a silly crush. Could Gohan love him someday?

Lost in his thoughts, Trunks forgets to watch where he's going until he bumps into a girl, spilling his coffee all over her books and dress. She stands there, dumbstruck, staring up at the beautiful CEO, who quickly becomes flustered over his stupid mistake.

"I'm so, so sorry," he apologizes over and over, shifting his books into the crook of his arm and switching his now empty coffee cup to his free hand. He places a large, tanned hand on her small white (and now wet) arm. "Are you hurt?" he asks, but she doesn't respond. She just stares at him, mouth open slightly, brown eyes wide. Trunks tilts his head inquisitively, purple hair sliding over his shoulders like silk, shining in the light. She watches him, still silent. Trunks frowns and squeezes his arm. "I said, are you alright?"

The girl finally responds, blinking quickly and closing her mouth. "Uh- oh, yeah, um… it's cold," she says, finally looking down at her ruined dress and coffee-covered books. By now, people around them have started to stop and stare. He gives her a charming smile.

"That's good," he says with a chuckle. "You worried me." She looks up at him again, brown eyes still wide. "What's your name?"

"V-Valese."

He nods, "Nice to meet you, Valese. You're a student, right? Come with me to my office on campus, I'll have your things replaced." Hand still on her arm, he turns her toward campus and leads her to the main robotics building. She complies easily, stammering a thank you.



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