Darling
by Flipfloppandas     More by this Writer
It's Christmas Eve, and even though his parents are out of town, and his sister is with another family, Trunks isn't lonely. He's too old to be lonely on Christmas. Goten, of course, is smart and doesn't believe him.

Art Source :

https://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?id=4763925

Christmas was such a gorgeous time of year, which was really its only saving grace in Trunks' opinion. In the day it was pretty—bright skies; barren trees capped with purity; people with flecks of powder sparkling in their hair and skin and clothes that had just previously fell down freely from above them.

Pretty as it was in the day, though, the yuletide was definitely at its most beautiful at night. It seemed that at night, the snow fell a bit differently than it did in the daytime. At this time, the snow would fall down slow, blanketing the land below it in graceful evenness, covering the busy foot-shaped snow prints from earlier. It was at night when people turned their holiday houselights on, brightening the snow with the glowing arrays of random color, even though most people would be too busy basking in the warmth of their own homes to see it. It was at this time that there was no other life out to disturb the barren nature that somehow made its way into the heart of the unusually quiet city.

And quiet all was. There were no creatures stirring—no mice and certainly no humans, as was to be expected in the late night before Christmas day. All of the children would be asleep by now, or on their way to being, awaiting the breaking and entering of an obese, red-clad European baring the same gifts that could conveniently be found in any and all toy store in the country.

Which was why Trunks was out here now, walking himself up and down the streets neighboring his own on the Eve of his nineteenth Christmas. He admired the imitation icicles, and plastic candy canes, and blow-up snowmen, and nativity scenes, and over-sized snow globes—all of which were complemented by the bright, matching lights woven around porch railings, and roof edges, and windows, and bushes, and trees. All of these decorations paled in comparison to the ones the robots had placed outside of his house, but they still held enough beauty to deserve a stop and stare.

It was cold—bitterly so. His exposed cheeks were burning an unhealthy red, and his toes were raw and aching in his thick socks, but still he kept going. He had no destination of course—no store would dare be open this late of all days, and he did not have any particular people he wished to visit. His walk as a whole was pointless, but there were decorations that still needed to be admired, and snow that still needed to be marveled at. No one else was going to do it and he had nothing better to do anyway, so why not him?

Trunks paused, because his cellphone was vibrating and chiming from his pocket. Shifting, he reached his thickly-gloved hand into his front pants pocket, and pulled the shaky device out. Just as expected, it was Goten's name and face that glowed on the screen. Again. For the third time that day.

Even still, Trunks found himself unable to fight the smile that was slowly beginning to take over his face. Goten never really knew when to leave well enough alone, but Trunks would be lying if he said he wasn't looking forward to the many phone calls. The Son had been paying a lot of particular attention to him lately, and Trunks, surprisingly did not mind it one bit. Who didn't like being the center of someone's affection for a bit?

Trunks answered the call, and pressed the phone up against his ear. "Yes, Goten?"

"Bet you thought I was done bothering you!" Goten exclaimed, his voice loud against festive background noises.

Trunks rolled his eyes, annoyed more with himself that he could not wipe the silly school-girl grin off of his face. Even under these circumstances, there was no reason that Goten's voice should lift his spirits this much. "I knew better than to hope. How is your party?"

"It's alright. Not enough booze if you ask me—" because booze totally would have been appropriate at a family-oriented holiday party "—but still pretty good."

Trunks nodded and laughed in response, all while fully aware of the fact that if someone were to see him now, they would think he was talking to a newly-loved lover, instead of a childhood best friend. "Is Bra having fun?"

"Oh yeah, definitely. It seems that she's hit it off with one of the village boys. He fixed her bow when it fell out of her hair. You better watch out, big brother."

Trunks laughed again, his breath clouding out around his face. "Well it's good she's enjoying herself. Just make sure she's not having too much fun. You know kids these days move awfully fast."

"Yeah, you're right there, I don't even want to think about the whole fiasco with Pan and her 'boyfriend'." There was a pause for them to be properly amused. Once it was through, Goten spoke again, accusation leaking into his voice, "... Are you having fun?"

Fun wasn't really the right word... "I guess so. Freezing my assets off is totally fun."

"Are you outside? What the heck, isn't it like 10 degrees in West City? Get your assets in the house!"

"I will, I will, it's just..." he didn't really want to. "... well I figured I'd take a break and do some snow-watching since I got bored so…" That was the wrong thing to say.

"You're bored?" Goten questioned, leaping at the opportunity that had just presented itself, "Of course, you're bored! That's why you should just come dooooown."

"Goten, I caaaan't," Trunks replied mockingly.

Goten groaned loudly. "Seriously, Trunks, you can be so annoying sometimes. Do I need to come down there and drag you here by your pretty boy hair?"

"Um, no, please don't." Of course, this little declaration isn't really all that grand, considering that he's apparently been annoying Goten all month. First it was not telling him what he wanted for Christmas (which he still hadn't, because no such thing existed), and now this.

"Come on, Trunks! We've got food, and beverages, and internet, and presents, and television... and love."

"As tempting as that is, I have to decline. We already talked about this, multiple times if I may add."

"Come on, Trunks, really." Goten's voice had taken on a different note entirely, his goofiness gone so suddenly Trunks was left reeling for a moment. "Just come. There's no reason for you not to be here."

"I—" Trunks licked his lip—chapped from the cold. "Goten, I really can't, I'm still very busy—"

"Trunks, even your mother isn't that busy—I can guarantee you that even her files have been put on hold for the while. What's the real reason you won't come?"

The 'real reason' was so nonexistent it wasn't even worth mentioning. "Really, Goten, I am busy. I'm already behind schedule; I've still got documents to read over, and files to process... If I don't get these done before my mother gets ba—"

"Bra wants to see you."

Trunks bit his lip as his words died, his chest thrumming with unpleasantness. He knew that of course. It was not rocket science to know that she was feeling that way, but having it said out loud somehow made it... hit harder.

Of course she would want to see her big brother on Christmas.

"I want to see you," Goten finished, and that had Trunks' chest twisting in a similar, yet uncomfortably different way. Why did Goten always have to say weird things like that? It was as he was purposely trying to lead Trunks on...

Still, Trunks played along, because it took his mind off the little girl who had been denied the one person in her life that she wanted and could have. "I'll see you and Bra on Christmas, when I come to pick her up, remember?"

"You mean the three minutes you'll spend gathering her things while denying all invitations to at least stay for dinner? I'm not stupid, Trunks, I know you're avoiding us."

"I'm not—"

"Trunks."

He sighed, the hand he had run over his head jostling his hat. "Look, Goten, I really, really, really have work to do—"

"Bring it with you—people do that nowadays. You know flash drives?"

Trunks rolled his eyes. "Yes, Goten, I know what a flash drive does, but what would be the point in me coming if I'm only going to be doing work? I won't be much company."

"Your presence is enough to suffice. Stop being stupid, Trunks. There is no reason for you to force yourself to spend Christmas by yourself."

Goten's partially right, of course, but that's not enough to make Trunks give in. "As tempting as the offer is, I really do have to decline. I'll see you tomorrow night, okay? I just want to... get my work done, okay?" That was the most unconvincing sentence he might have ever uttered in his life.

"Trunks, tell me what's wrong."

Trunks hesitates, because how does one respond to a question they aren't used to being asked? If he waited too long though, that would only give Goten more reason to believe there was a problem, when really there wasn't. "I—nothing is wrong, Goten, I just—"

He stops because he's interrupted by cries of "Goten! Goten!" coming from voices that were too small to belong to anyone over the age of seven. He hears Goten talking back to them, the background noise growing louder as he's no doubt dragged back to the party. It only takes a second for Trunks to conclude that Goten must have forgotten that the call was still connected, so he promptly hangs up, re-pockets his cellphone, and resumes his walk.

That would be the last he'd hear of Goten tonight, this he's sure off.

The air around Trunks suddenly whipped hard, so he pulled his hat further down over his head and crossed his arms tightly in reply. The conversation he had just had with Goten was still replaying in his mind; despite the fact that they've had to have had at least six other ones exactly like it. Still, Goten could call him all the times he wanted and guilt him all he pleased, but Trunks would stand by his choice. He would not go to the Christmas Eve party in Ox kingdom, open to the public, but still only entertaining about thirty people. He had no reason too.

Pushing Christmas parties and Goten from his head, he shuffled along down the sidewalk. Bra liked to take walks like this, admiring the snow that fell onto the sidewalk, which would no doubt be gone in the morning once people threw their salt down. Sometimes when he would travel to the Mount Paozu, it would be Goten he would walk with, gawking at the snow that seemed so different in a forest than it did in a city. Sometimes all three of them went together.

Despite how annoying Goten could be, Trunks won't deny that he wanted him here, watching the peaceful snow with him. He wanted his sister too, because the smile she would put on as she caught the flakes with her tongue was one he wanted to see all the time. It was silly, because Trunks' solitude had no effect on the snow. He may have been the only one witnessing it, but that did not make the snow any less attractive.

Snow would always be snow, and alone or not, snow would always be beautiful.

His mother was gone. If he wanted to be technical, it would be more accurate to say that she had been gone all month—possibly even longer than that. It mostly had to do with him, of course. His mother had always been a busy woman, but with his twentieth birthday already less than six months away—thus making the transfer of Capsule Corporations into his name less than six months—the word 'busy' hardly even applied anymore. There were many meetings that still needed to be had, projects that needed to be finalized, documents and contracts that all needed signatures before his mother could allow herself to officially retire and allow him to take over. For now, the company was still hers, and she would milk out everything she had to offer it while she still had the chance.

Of course, this meant traveling, and all-day gatherings, and a mother so tired by nighttime she could not even make it downstairs to eat her dinner, no less help her daughter get ready for sleep herself. Trunks did not blame her—he could never blame someone who worked as hard as her, and really, it was not that hard on him. He was practically an adult—only six months away from being legally so. He did not need a mother to hug and kiss him, or tuck him into bed, or eat meals with him, or simply be in his line of sight every day anymore. Those days were gone and to be honest he did not really miss them.

The thing that bothered him, he supposed, was the simple fact that the same did not apply to Bra. She was not nineteen. She was not independent. She was a five year old who needed her mother to be there in the morning when she woke up, and be there at night when she went to sleep. It couldn't be helped, of course—Mom had work, simple as that. He just did not like to think about how hard it must be on a little kid, to only see her mother for hardly an hour every other day—during the holiday season, no less. At least when Trunks was a kid he had his grandparents. All Bra had was him.

So naturally, Trunks stepped up. He was the one who took her out and taught her how to ice-skate. He was the one sat her on his shoulders to see the floats at the holiday parade. He was the one who sat in the audience for an hour and a half and listened to tone-deaf six year olds at her winter choir concert. He was the one who baked a gingerbread house with her, and played in the snow, and watched all the holiday specials, and drank hot chocolate, and decorated the tree, and danced with her to all of her favorite Christmas songs.

Still, as much as he could entertain her, and keep her smiling even though the sight of all the other children bonding with their parents made her want to cry, Trunks wasn't enough. Trunks couldn't replace her mom. Trunks couldn't replace an entire family.

But the Sons could, so he sent her there.

Of course, the big question in all of this is: why in the world was he not over there with her? That had a very simple answer, of course. He, quite simply, did not need to be. Trunks was not a five year old child. He was an adult—there was no reason for him to impose on another family's Christmas.

It was different for Bra, of course. One child would only add to the festivities and love that seemed to flow around those people at all hours of the day. Trunks wasn't needed there. He would only get in the way; barging in on a family he had no claims too.

Besides, this Christmas was special. They were spending it in Ox village for the first time, and Goku would be home for the first time in nearly a year. Sure they had the other villagers there, but once the party was over, they would all return to their own homes and families. Trunks would be expected to spend his night there, overstaying his welcome and bringing down everyone else with the less than cheerful mood he was undergoing for reasons he did not know.

His sister may miss him, but she did not need him to have a good Christmas. The Sons would make her happy, happier than an empty house that was far too big for a little girl and her brother could. Goten really pulled through for him this time—he did not need him to do anymore. There was nothing else for him to do. Goten could speculate all he wanted, but there was nothing to be found; no underlining meaning; no sad little boy who needed saving.

Trunks was fine, obviously. He was too old for Christmas anyway. It was no longer magical—it was just another day of December to him, honestly. There was no present he did not already have, no song or story he did not already know... he didn't need anything. He just needed the space to live out his bad mood in private, and finish up the work he needed to get done. Paperwork did not wait for jingle bells.

Trunks was okay—there was no reason for him not to be. He may not be feeling exactly peachy right now, but that's not because he's spending the twenty-fifth day of December by himself. If anything, it's probably just some ill-emotions he was feeling towards his parents for abandoning Bra, even though they did not have a choice.

Or well, Dad had a choice, but that did not really count. Throughout all the month he had been there of course, locked away in the gravity room as usual. Trunks is certain that if had Bra asked, Vegeta would have no doubt done all the silly things Trunks had done if it would make his princess happy. She didn't though, because she knew there would be no point. To put it bluntly, Vegeta just did not care about Christmas. It wasn't that he was particularly hostile towards it, that's just how he was with all holidays. Trunks did not blame him—it was only to be expected from someone who had never celebrated anything in his life—did not even understand why people celebrated anything. As willing as Vegeta could be to participate, it was pointless when the person in question so clearly was indifferent, and thought it was all useless.

Bra didn't mind, and Trunks hasn't cared since he was her age, so when Bulma asked Vegeta to come and keep her company on her trip, Bra kissed him and promised that they would open his gift when he returned on December 27th.

Maybe that's what pissed him off. He understands why his mother had to leave, but regardless of how Vegeta felt towards celebrations, didn't she think Bra needed her daddy a little bit more than she needed a cuddle buddy?

Whatever. It didn't really matter. He had succeeded in making Bra happy, and now all Trunks had to do was go home, finish all the work he had scheduled for today, find something to eat even though it was already an ungodly hour, then go to sleep.

Yes, Trunks was fine.

He's pulled from his thoughts because suddenly there is a sound louder than the snow crunching underneath his boots. He looks up and sees that the world is not entirely dead, and watches as a single car pulls up to the glowing red light ahead of it. There's music pouring out of the car, and it does not take Trunks long to pick up the words.

Tis the season to be jolly

But how can I be when I have nobody?

The yuletide carol doesn't make it better

Knowing that we won't be together.

A silent night, I know it's gonna be

Joy to the world but it's gonna be sad for me.

Trunks furrowed his brow and wrinkled his nose. That wasn't very cheerful at all. They made sad Christmas songs?

… And lovers can kiss beneath the mistletoe

The choirs can sing those glorious songs of old

But what is left, oh, for me to do

Now that it's Christmas and I don't have you?

What do the lonely do at Christmas?

He doesn't know. He's not lonely.

It's when a blinding green coats the snow-covered ground and the car is speeding away with the distant call of 'Oh, what do they do, what do they do at Christmas?' that he realizes he had really just stopped awkwardly in the middle of the sidewalk to listen. Annoyed with himself, he trains his eyes forward, and stomps the rest of the way home.

He had only gotten about a quarter of his work done before he decided he could do it no longer. His mood had fallen more and more with each page he flipped, and he supposed that the thing that annoyed him the most was that he had no idea why.

Still, he could not let his emotions (as inconvenient as they were) cloud his performance, so he called it quits, and resigned himself to sleeping the rest of the night away.

He changed out of his clothes, and into the reindeer and candy cane pajamas pants Bra made him buy when he bought hers. Warm and maybe a bit snugly, he had then lied down in his bed, stared at his dark ceiling for what had to be a solid half an hour, before he gave up. He could not force himself to sleep. There must be something to do that would properly tire him out.

So he left his bedroom and found his way into his kitchen, the tiles cold beneath his bare feet. He searched through his refrigerator, and then his cupboards, but found nothing he had an appetite for, which was outrageous, because there was no such thing as a food that didn't exist in his home. Annoyed once again and maybe a bit desperate, he scoured through again, actually moving aside cartons and boxes in hopes to find something, anything that could satisfy him. Despite his desperation, and the fact that he had skipped out on dinner, he was not hungry, and thus was quickly losing hope in finding the proper remedy to help him try and sleep again.

Then he found a box of filled with hot chocolate packets. It was the caramel, french vanilla-flavored one that Bra had wanted to make with their mother when the woman was pulled away on an urgent phone call to negotiate the partnership with a big name company in Singapore.

He then finds himself curled up on the couch in his living room, a blanket wrapped over his body, a pillow under his head, and a hot mug of the beverage he always had a taste for in his hands.

The house is quiet, no background voices of a holiday television program (he can't find the remote); no hum of a gravity chamber; no frantic yet professional words being spoken into a telephone; no endless chatter from a certain talkative little girl.

There is nothing, no mother; no father; no sister; no straggling employees; no nothing. The house is undoubtedly empty.

When his grandparents were around, the house was never this lifeless in December, especially not on the twenty-fourth day.

It's okay though. He's used to it.

He takes a sip of his drink, savoring the creamy chocolate that slides slowly down his throat. The rest of the house is dark, so there's not much to look at except for the only operating light source—the Christmas tree.

It's humongous, and for once real, because Bra wanted it so badly he could not even dream of denying her, and while he was annoyed with how cold it had been at the tree-yard where she spent at least twenty minutes picking out the 'perfect tree', he decided it was worth when she was practically peeing herself in joy while he and Goten struggled to tie it too the roof of their vehicle. Bra insisted that Goten help decorate, and they all decided on using green, blue, pink, and purple bulbs. They then used some weird trick that Goten learned from his mother to string up popcorn, and then wrap it around the tree, which Trunks would pull popped kernels off and throw at Bra's head when she wasn't looking. It was a childish-looking tree, but a happy one. The tree was good.

This hot chocolate he's drinking is good too. It's so good that he moans (no one can hear him anyway), but still, it's not as good as when he had made this same exact flavor with Bra earlier. Maybe she put something in the mix when he wasn't looking.

He wonders what she's doing. She was probably finishing up her dinner. Or maybe she's opening her Christmas eve gift, all while eyeing the two big boxes under the tree with her name on them. He knows what those gifts are: a hot pink air scooter from Mom, and a life-size doll house decorated with real diamonds and pearls and imitation ivory from him. Neither of the parties who bought them will see her open them, but that's okay. She'll still love them. She'll still be happy.

The quietness of the house is starting to bother him. He blames it on the decorations: the tree; the lights in the window; the garland that covered the mantle; the snowflake stickers covering the walls; the angels and Santa statues that stood atop each surface. The house is beautiful of course, but the silence doesn't complement it at all. The silence makes it seem even more empty, like not even he was here. He wishes he had the remote controller, but it's not in his immediate sight, and he's too comfortable to get up and look for it. Still, he needed something—anything to fill the silence that had long since become deafening.

His cellphone. That can certainly make noise.

He pulls out his phone and his earbuds, before deciding that they aren't necessary in a house as empty as this, and puts them back in his fuzzy pocket. He unlocks his phone (a new one no doubt wrapped under the tree along with the other presents he'll open by himself tomorrow), and sees he already has ten notifications from the social media sites he frequents. He ignores them. He doesn't want to see pictures of Christmas parties, and sparkling food, and the single eve present everyone is opening except him.

Instead, he goes onto his radio, and deciding that maybe a bit of festive cheer would do his mood some good, so he puts on the holiday mash-up. He expects something fast-paced, which would no doubt be obnoxiously loud and make the quietness of his empty house even more obvious, but that's not what cuts on.

Greeting cards have all been sent

The Christmas rush is through

It's slow and calm, blending into the room and actually making it feel a little less empty than it already was. He's surprised that this was the first choice out of all Christmas songs out there, but hey he's not complaining, so he closes his eyes, and just listens.

Holidays are joyful

There's always something new

But every day's a holiday

When I'm near to you

Trunks thinks about Goten then, and wonders what he's doing. He's probably dancing, or singing, or doing something else annoying and no doubt Goten-like. It's silly, he knows, thinking about Goten at a time like this. He feels corny, describing him using someone else's lyrics, but they worked, he supposed. Goten certainly did, even at eighteen, make holidays childishly joyful, and well, Goten could definitely make every day childishly joyful,December or otherwise.

Merry Christmas, darling

We're apart, that's true

... They were far apart. Not that Trunks was sad about that... it was just... true.

But I can dream

And in my dreams

I'm Christmasing with you

That's where the song is wrong. Aside from these last two days, Goten had been there, the whole time. He had been there when his mother told them she wouldn't be home for Christmas. He had been there when he tried to find fun things to take Bra's mind off of it. He had been there when Trunks was wrapping gifts, and baking cookies, and buying all new decorations that they would all put up by themselves. He was annoying of course: always hugging Trunks in ways that weren't exactly normal; teasing him when he messed up the words to a song; forcefully teaching him how to waltz so he could do it with Bra; desperately wanting to know what Trunks wanted for Christmas even though there was genuinely nothing he wanted. He wouldn't change how the past month went. He was never lonely with Goten and his sister.

Despite spending the actual day itself alone, the Christmas he did not really care had been a happy one.

The logs on the fire

Fill me with desire

To see you and to say

That I wish you Merry Christmas

Happy New Year too

His fireplace was false and had no logs, but the sentiment was the same. He wished Goten a merry Christmas. He knew he must have been having one, surrounded by the people he loved. It must be nice, Trunks thinks, and maybe if the situation had been a bit different, he wouldn't have minded being there too.

They weren't together, but it was okay. Trunks was alone, but just knowing that Goten and Bra were together and happy, made him feel better.

He's tired now, perfectly comfortable curled up on his couch with his blanket. Even still, he's not asleep just quite yet, so he finds himself muttering in tune the last part, even though he wasn't sure how true they were. He didn't need Goten or anyone else; he already made it clear he didn't need anything this 25th of December, but still, had it been an option, a viable one...

"I've just one wish on this Christmas Eve. I wish I were with you. I wish I were with you~"

"Well, Trunks, all you had to do was ask."

Trunks screams in a rather unmanly fashion, throwing out his fist upon instinct. His fist connects with nothing and is easily caught, long fingers threading through his.

Goten is smiling down at him, the silver card that unlocks the main entrance of Capsule Corps held up in his other hand, gleaming in the tree lights. "I'm so glad you gave me this and told me the password. You are literally the most easily terrified person ever."

"Well of course I'd be terrified if someone just randomly decides to break into my house!" Trunks says defensively, his heart still hammering in his chest. "What are you doing here?!"

Goten doesn't answer him see as how he was already gone, standing in front of the main door he supposedly had just came from. Trunks watches as he smiles, winks, and pulls the door open.

Then there is noise.

It's the rustling of wrapping paper and thick coats he hears as person after person enters his home. When hats and scarves are removed he sees Chi-Chi, then Gohan and Videl, Pan drowsy in her grandmother's arms. When he looks over he sees Goku kicking off his shoes, Bra sitting atop his broad shoulders, smiling so widely she forgets to remove her own sparkly purple boots, so Goku does it for her.

It's when the Ox King finally fits himself through the inadequately-sized door that they all turn to him, eyes bright and smiles big. "Happy Christmas!"

Trunks stares at them, trying to comprehend the fact that the entire Son family was suddenly standing in his living room. "I-uh... what..."

They laugh, and it's Goku—who Trunks can the number of times they have spoken to each other on his hands—who says: "We heard you were all by yourself, so we figured we'd stop by!"

"Yeah, after we invited you and everything," Gohan spoke, helping his mother remove Pan's coat, while Videl began placing presents under the tree. "What's up with that? We were looking forward to seeing you."

"I—I mean, I—"

Chi-Chi takes that moment to stomp up to him, her stature short but her eyes so intense he almost shrinks. Her brows furrow for another moment, before finally she says: "You haven't eaten have you? Well, it's a good thing we brought the food over. Videl, could you set it up, please? Goku, help her."

It's while Goku is setting Bra back onto the floor and leaving to do as his wife said that Pan finally seems a bit more aware of her surroundings. Chi-Chi looks at her, and softens her voice to the one that everyone used when addressing children. "Are you awake now, baby? We're here now. Didn't you want to tell Trunks happy Christmas?"

The girl looks over at him, mumbles: "Happy Christmas," and collapses onto his chest. Chi-Chi passes her off, and Trunks shifts her so that her drowsy head rested more comfortable on his shoulder, still dumbfounded about the fact that she was even here.

Bra has come over, so he picks her up too, and holding both kids close, he looks to the adults still in the room, because now that he's got his baring together, he has to ask: "You all came down... because you thought I was lonely?"

"Yup, it appears that way," Gohan answers, now sprawled out on the couch. "We would have gotten here earlier, but it's too cold out to fly and the only air vehicle we had that would fit all of us was rather slow."

Trunks stares at him. "But... what happened to the party?"

"Oh please, Trunks, those villagers are such lightweights. Another round of carols and all of them were staggering back to their homes half-unconscious," Videl answered upon her return, turning her gaze over to the big man across from her. "No offense, Ox King."

The man laughed, and too be honest, Trunks didn't even know the king knew his name. "None taken! You're right, after all!"

They all laugh, but Trunks doesn't, because he still doesn't understand. He doesn't understand any of it. "But, you didn't have too—"

"Of course we did!" Bra exclaims, her determined eyes turned on him. "We wanted to see you—we all did! We... we didn't want you to be lonely."

Trunks blinks at her, lost for words, so she continues, "You aren't lonely anymore, right? Aren't you glad we came?"

Trunks thinks about it for a moment, and then nibbles on his lip to hold back the grin that's threatening to take over his face as he answers: "Yes, I'm very happy you're here."

Her smile is back, but Trunks wants to put her down. He wants them all to leave, just for a moment, because there's a lump forming in his throat, and steady words are becoming harder and harder to say. There's too much right now, and emotions he didn't even know he was hiding were showing themselves much too fast.

He was happy that they were here. He was very happy.

He's saved by Goku popping his unruly head through and announcing that the food was set.

"Great! That journey over here sure has me starved," the king exclaimed, earning an exasperated look from his daughter. One by one each person moves towards the dining room, Pan and Bra hopping down to follow after until it's just him and Goten. Goten doesn't say anything though, just watches him with that smug grin that Trunks only just realizes he had been giving him the entire time, before turning and following after the others.

Once Trunks has regained control of himself, he follows as well.

Needless to say, his night is a bit more hectic than the one he had originally planned.

The Son's stayed. The music he was playing was turned up a bit louder, and was indeed a bit more fast-paced. He talked a bit with each member of the gathered, and sang along to whatever songs he knew. They turned on the television for a bit and watched a short Christmas special until the girls could barely stand straight, and were sent up to Bra's room for the night.

Before they left, he made them and himself steaming cups of hot chocolate. It's definitely sweeter this time, and he now he knows why.

He also opened his Christmas Eve gift: A scarf from Chi-Chi. It was different—certainly not the thinly-furred, seventy-dollar charcoal grey one he had seen in one of the shop windows that he had contemplated buying for himself. It was knitted, etched with a design that was nowhere near simple, and not a color he would have particularly chosen for himself. Even still, it was so beautiful that he felt like he wanted to cry again.

He didn't though. Instead, he promised himself that he would get a gift for her too. He would make it, too. He had a couple of hours to come up with something, and he knew that he would. He had too, because every time he thinks about the scarf he had wrapped loosely around his neck, he thinks of about how she really sat down one day—no, multiple days, and knitted for hours. For him. She knitted for him, because he had been on her mind. She thought about the smile that would no doubt be on him face when he opened it.

She thought about him.

He wasn't her son; he wasn't her baby; he wasn't her family, but she had thought about him as if he was.

Then he thinks about his own mother, about how peeved with her he had been, and the wrapped presents under the tree. She may not have handmade him anything, but she had thought about him when she went out shopping for him. At one point she had found the time in her unbreakable schedule to go out and buy him things he somehow did not already have and would like, because she wanted to see his smile too, and that made him feel a bit differently about those gifts.

He was excited for once about the presents with his name on them, even if he had to wait a few days so she would be there to see him open them.

It was one in the morning, officially Christmas, when all of the Son's finally slithered off to the guest rooms. He was tired too, but he wanted to have a plan for the gifts he would get everyone in the morning, so he stayed awake, staring at the glowing lights on the Christmas tree. The amount of presents under the tree had since tripled, and the whole living room would no doubt be drowning in shiny paper tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow Bra would open her dollhouse, and the dolls the Trunks bought for it, and she would probably scream in delight. She would play with them all day, maybe even share with Pan. The dollhouse would hold her off until she could open her scooter and all the other presents with their mother's name (and their father's name in their mother's handwriting) on them.

She was waiting for Mom and Dad to come back too.

He's aware that he's not alone, but he lets Goten watch him for a few more minutes before he stands to his feet and turns to face him. They didn't talk much the whole night—too many other people for any real conversation between them to truly pass. His face is dark in the light of the tree, his hair practically invisible in the darkness of the rest of the house. He's smiling. Presents or not, Goten's always smiling.

He wonders what present he's going to get for Goten.

He wonders what present Goten got him, because despite Trunks noncooperation, there's no doubt that he did. It must be something good, considering the way he's looking at him.

"So it appears I've got you all figured out," Goten says, but smugness is missing from his smile.

Trunks shrugs, a bit embarrassed, because when he thinks about it, he can admit he might have been a bit silly about the whole thing. Mainly he feels guilty that they all traveled this way in the dead of night when he could have just come over himself, but what's done is done. He'll do better next year.

Of course next year he'll have his parents, and he won't let them go so easily that time.

Goten steps in closer, the light illuminating more of his face. His hair was still shadowing most of it. "Of course, all this detective bull crap could have been avoided if you had just told me the truth, but well, I guess you wouldn't be Trunks if you made things easy."

To Trunks' rolled eyes, Goten's smile widened in amusement. "I guess it's not a total lose. I got to hear you sing about me."

Trunks felt his cheeks burn red. "I was not singing about you."

"Sure you weren't. I don't blame you, of course. I do make a wonderful gift, if I do say so myself."

Trunks was going to come up with a retort, but Goten continued on, producing a box from somewhere behind him, and pushing it into Trunks' hands. "I have a real one for you, though, and I figured that it would only be fitting for my gift to be the first one you opened on Christmas day. Besides, this is something that you might want to open with a... minimal audience."

Trunks narrowed his eyes. "Goten, this better not be something weird."

He shrugged. "I guess it depends on how you interpret it."

Trunks kept his narrowed brows on him for a few moments, before turning down to the gift in his hand. He ripped through the red paper, and met with a small white box. He pulls open the box and inside is a... plant?

He grasps and lifts the red ribbon holding the small bundle together and then corrects himself, because it's not just any plant—it's mistletoe.

Before he can come up with any number of reasons as to why Goten would give him such a thing, there are lips pressing against his.

His eyes are wide, and he can feel Goten's nervousness in his kiss. Despite the fact that Trunks is having a bit of a 'what the hell' moment, he still finds it in himself to reach out, and grasp Goten's hand in his, the box discarded to the floor.

Goten pulls back to make their eyes meet, before leaning in again, leaving another chaste kiss that Trunks was more prepared for, and could properly enjoy.

Secretly, he revels a bit in the fact that Goten was finally wrong about something tonight. This was not the gift he wanted from Goten, because he already got it. He wanted Chi-Chi, and Goku, and Ox King, and Gohan, and Videl, and Pan, and his sister here. He wanted his mother here and he wanted his father here, and even though he had to wait a bit, he had that too.

He wanted Goten here. Goten brought all of them here. Goten was here. Technically, he already won.

The kiss was just a really unexpected, but still really sweet bonus.

When Goten pulls back the second time there's a smile on his face. "Happy Christmas, Trunks."

He turns then, heading toward the staircase. Trunks watches him go for a moment, because a moment is all he needs to reply in a voice that's barely over a mutter:

"Happy Christmas, Darling."

He doesn't need to see the twitch of Goten's lips to know that he caught what was said, but that was okay. Trunks meant to be heard.

The End

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