The Dawn Of A Rising Sun
by Lance Johnson     More by this Writer
Answer to the Gohan’s Birthday Dabble Challenge.

I try to move my feet closer but it’s always like this… I just can’t, it’s too painful to move another step. So, I settle for what I have always done and sit on the edge of the cliff with my back turned towards the stone slab marker. It has been another year but the pain never leaves, never ceases; in fact, it only grows – especially today, when it intensifies by leaps and bounds but it’s impossible to stay away; it always has been and always will be. I try to be strong but it is so incredibly hard whenever I come here. I sigh, gazing up into the incandescent night sky that is ablaze with colors I have never had a chance to enjoy until now but it never really is enjoyable. Nothing can be when you have no one to enjoy it with, to share these moments with but I will never have that moment… for the one person I wish to share everything with… it can never be. It's times like this that I truly wish the androids had taken me with you but it’s wrong and incredibly selfish of me to even think of such a thing. However, I can not help but feel that I have been shafted in life, at least in this one anyway.

Tears caress my cheeks as I gaze out into the horizon and I sigh again. Laying my back across the warm grass that covers the ledge, I close my eyes and inhale deeply. As I lay my hands at my side and open my eyes to the warm glow of the sunset across the distance, my voice escapes as mere whisper upon the gentle breeze. “It truly is beautiful. I only wish you were here to see it.”

My tears run freely now, no matter how hard I try to stop them. I try to be the man you always wanted me to be, but I can’t, not anymore. The pain is almost unbearable. “Why? Why did you leave me? Why couldn’t I have just gone with you? Why?” I know the answers to my questions, yet I can not help but ask them. They offer the comfort that I seek, a chance to release the anger that rages through me. I can no longer contain that which daunts every corner of my mind day by day; and I can no longer sustain this facade of stoic content. The pain is just too much to bear. “Why did you leave me Gohan!? WHY!? You weren’t supposed to die!” I stand up and yell into the horizon. “You weren’t su-supposed to die…” My legs give out beneath me as I crumble to my knees upon the soft grass. My tears are like rivers now but I care not. I have held this in for far too long.

Standing, I close my eyes and lift my head toward the ever-darkening sky. The cool breeze that soothes my skin comforts me, guiding me to relaxation. Wiping the tears away, I bow my head slightly. “Gohan…” I can hear longing in my voice but all I can think is that no words can begin to describe the deep-seeded emotions of regret, sorrow, and need that I feel on a day-to-day basis. A deep sigh escapes me as I gaze up at the sky – its dark now and I can see a shooting star in the distance. It is said that if you wish upon a shooting star then it will be granted – if only it were so… but I wish anyway, holding tightly to my feeble hope. “Gohan… I only wish-” My voice breaks, the emotion it carries is far too strong for my parched throat and dry cracked lips. It has taken me years to realize my true feelings and even more time to finally accept them. It is still so hard to speak the words out loud. It hurts too, to know that you can never have what you would give up everything to have in your arms for just one singular moment…

“I wish… I wish I could have told you that I…. that I lov-” My heart stops. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end as I feel the gentle warmth of someone’s hand upon my shoulder. For a moment, my heart stops beating before falling back into its quickening rhythm, yet, I dare not move. Instead, the person’s hand does. And, as that foreign limb trails over my tense body, my heart’s pace continues to hasten with each passing second.

“Trunks…” I hear the person say. I can feel myself becoming lightheaded and weak in the knees – I would know that voice anywhere.

“Trunks…” I hear the person say again and, this time, I collapse but, before I hit the ground, I feel myself captured by a warm and gentle embrace. An embrace so familiar that, even as I am imprisoned within these powerful arms, it makes my heart ache.

I am lowered to the ground, slow and steadily. My eyes are closed, as if my own body is afraid to open them, but I am not sure if I am. This feels all too surreal. I feel as if my body is on autopilot and my mind has retreated into the far depths of my subconscious.

“Trunks, it's okay, open your eyes.” I hear the distinctly male voice say. Willing myself, I open one eye slowly and I catch a glimpse of the person before me. He is an angel – my angel. I can feel myself become faint again, as if I am falling into my own personal nirvana. Such is the beauty of this heaven-sent creature that I wish for the image I see to forever remain etched into my mind.

“G-Gohan…” I hear myself say, but my mind does not believe nor comprehend. I feel my eyes widen as he warmly smiles down at me. He nods as if to reassure me.

“How are – how did – why are you here? How are you here?” My voice is choked and I can feel the forbidden tears resurfacing. I want to reach out and touch him, to see if he’s is real. So I do. I shock myself with such a forward action but I don’t care anymore. It is my last chance.

I reach out and cup his cheek – it’s solid. It’s real. The tears that have threatened to break my fragile control overwhelm me, tracing down their well-worn pathways once more, soaking my skin with their salty kisses.

With joyful eyes, he nods as he leans into my palm. “Yes Trunks, it’s me. I’m real, see.” He says as he smiles that smile I have grown to love dearly, yet never had the courage to tell him so.

I quickly jump to my feet and throw myself at him, tackling him to the ground. Wrapping my arms around him, tightly embracing him, I cry into his shoulder. “You’re real. You’re really real…” I sob, as he rubs my back soothingly. As I calm down, my emotions under some semblance of control once more, he lets me go. My mind screams at me, telling me to run back into his arms but I ignore the subconscious pleas. I have already embarrassed myself enough as it is, and yet, my heart aches for what my conscious mind will not allow me to take, knowing all too well that the consequences of my actions are far too much to bear.

As he stands back up, I can feel those intense dark eyes regarding me, carefully trailing over the lines of my body on a search for some detail left unknown to me. I can feel myself begin to fidget under his scrutiny, but the small smile that plays across his face eases my nerves. “You’ve grown squirt.” I hear him say, causing the blood to immediately rush to my cheeks, painting them a pale shade of scarlet.

Despite the words that warm my face, my shoulders slump at that name, squirt, a child’s name. Is that how he still sees me? A child? I can feel my heart begin to ache as I look at him. He seems puzzled by my demeanor – he really does still see me as his… little brother… “I’m not a kid anymore Gohan.” I reply as I look back up at him determinably.

He stares back at me for a second before turning away and, for the first time in my entire life… I’m watching Gohan blush. Could it be true? “I know…” He says as he turns to look at me. It is true – he is blushing. But why?

“Gohan…” The name leaves my lips but I still have a hard time believing this is true. “I-I can’t believe it’s you…” I wipe away the tears that have begun to collect within my eyes and, for the first time since that rainy night so long ago, my heart feels light, filled with a bundle of foreign emotions – blissful, unobstructed happiness. However, the new found joy is tainted with the fear that this is simply a dream and, in one fateful second, life will revert to its true form. That this happiness I have found will have been nothing more than a sick joke, a cruel twist of fate. The fear that I will wake up to find all the gods, goddesses, and every other divine being in this existence and any other extracting their revenge, stealing away that which stands before me. It is the all consuming fear that I will wake and – he – will be gone.

But when I look up… he’s still there – solid and whole. I really don’t know what to do at this point. I am still completely frightened by the thought that, if I move, he will vanish. But I do not have to move… he’s coming towards me. I can feel my muscles tense as each step he takes brings him that much closer to me and, just as he is within my grasp, he stops, a mere foot away. So close, yet so far as he gazes at me with those sad obsidian orbs. Impossibly dark eyes that twist my sinking heart at the pain I am able to read within their depths.

In an instant he closes the gap that separates us and wraps his arms around me in a warm embrace that I eagerly reciprocate. “I’m sorry Trunks, so, so sorry.” I can not believe what I’m feeling, this rising warmth, as his arms envelops me and I am pulled tight towards his torso. I have waited for a moment like this for so very long – I never want to let go.

I look up at him only to find an underlying pain and guilt within his eyes that threatens to overtake their endless depths. What I wouldn’t give to see that overwhelming pain taken from the seraph that stands before me. “S-Sorry for what?” I watch as he takes a deep breath, his arms dropping to his side, releasing me from that comforting embrace. I feel the loss of his gentle warmth as he steps away but I can only push that feeling aside and watch him, patiently waiting for his words. I can see the lump in his throat that rises and falls as he swallows nervously. He turns and walks to the edge of the cliff and I instinctively follow him. I watch as his eyes travel upward in contemplation, a heavy sigh escaping him as he exhales slowly. He looks as if he is having a hard time constructing the words he wishes to say. I want to go and comfort him but I know I must give him the space he needs.

“I’m sorry I left you. I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough. You shouldn’t have had to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. It’s all my fault.” He says as he bows his head. It is then that I give into my desires, ignoring the voice that cries out within me, and wrap my arms around him. I’m afraid of what he would think if he actually knew that none of my earlier actions were caused by any form of brotherly affection, but rather, quite the contrary. To my surprise – he allows it, returning the embrace just as before, leaving me to comfort him rather than him comforting me, as was the pattern.

“You tried your best Gohan. That’s all that matters. I’m just happy you’re here now.” It’s then that I release him, stepping back a foot or two to give him his space. He turns to me with those regretful eyes but just as quickly as that desperate emotion appeared, it vanishes, quickly replaced by an emotion that is all together different from its predecessor. I-I see… pride… but why? It surely could not be directed towards me – I am undeserving of such an honor – it must be a mistake on my part.

“Yes and my best was not good enough but yours was. I’m very proud of you, Trunks, we all are. You succeeded where we have all failed and saved Earth. You did it, no one else. You have done us all proud, especially your father.” He smiles at me as he finishes his speech, allowing me to process his words. And as those unfamiliar thoughts flow through me, ones I had never even dreamed of hearing, I can feel my knees growing weak.

“M-My father?” I don’t know what else to say. This is too much to take in at once.

He nods. “Yes, he sends his respects.”

“I-I don’t know what to say.” Father? I can’t believe…

“You don’t have to say anything at all.” I hear him say as I feel him move closer.

I look up at him and silently damn that smile of his. “Seven years, Gohan, it has been seven long years s-since you… died… I don’t know how I’ve survived this long without you to help me.”

He puts a hand on my shoulder reassuringly. I can already start to feel the reign on my emotions breaking at the strain of the day. “It’s because you’re strong.” I feel my tears begin to resurface, but I am able to hold them back. His words mean more to me than he could ever imagine and it takes every ounce of control I can summon to hold on to the last shred of dignity I have. I can not – will not – let him see me break down again.

He moves his hand from my shoulder – and I can already feel myself longing for the comfort that was once there. I watch as he turns around and takes a seat upon the ledge before turning back to me, gesturing toward the ground to his left. He looks so damn cute, just like I rem… wait a second… he’s using his left arm – he has his left arm! “Gohan! Your arm, it's back!” I exclaim my eyes wide and my mouth gaping like a fish.

His laugh echoes as he pats the ground again but my eyes and feet are still glued to their prospective places: my eyes on his arm and my feet to the ground. “Trunks,” I hear him say – oh, he wants me to sit down.

I hear him laugh again and I feel myself blush – I feel like such an idiot sometimes. “Yeah, I know, isn’t it great!?” Ah- the Son smile, Kami help me… “Since I was able to keep my body, Otherworld repaired the damage.”

“G-Gohan?” I’m stuttering. I can not believe I am actually stuttering; again no less!

“Yeah?” He questions as he turns toward me.

“I wanted to ask… well… it's not that I’m complaining, but it’s just that…. Well, I wanted to know, um, how do I put this-”

His amusement thickly laces his words. “You’re rambling Trunks.”

I feel my voice catch in my throat. I am unsure how to word this… “Well…. I was wondering-”

“Yeah…”

“Well… how are you here?” I mentally smack myself. ‘Way to go genius; talk about articulation people.’

“Is that all? You made it sound like it was a life or death situation.” He suddenly jerks his head up to look high above and laugh. “Well… I guess you can say that, can’t you? Actually, I’ve built up some credit in Otherworld, so they let me have some time down here.”

“I see.” I can hear the sadness in my voice. I knew it was too good to be true, some time.

“So, tell me how you’ve been. What has happened since I left? How’s Bulma doing?” He asks while lying a hand upon my shoulder, startling me out of my reverie. Forcing my bitter thoughts from my find, I recall a pair of innocent eyes jaded with battle in a timeline that I had molded with my own hands. Softly, I begin the tale of a world I had helped to create, one where our fears had never existed and our lives still remained, for better or worse, with new scars across our battle weary souls.

***

“…And that’s how it all happened.” I finish, slowly releasing the pent up air with a deep sigh. It’s been hours since I began speaking of my journey through time. Regarding his shocked expression, I know that the hours were well worth the stunned effect it had upon him. Even more valuable were the hours spent at his side, close to me once more.

“Wow… I sure could have used that kind of power back then.” He laughs and hits me playfully across the shoulder. I sigh wistfully. He used to do that all the time – when I was a kid.

“Something wrong Trunks?” He asks, his words tinged with worry.

“Gohan… There is something I’ve wanted to tell you for the longest time,” I look up to see his gentle smile, but it soon contorts into an unreadable expression. Nodding, he silently urges me to continue. “Gohan…” Looking out upon the horizon, avoiding his heavy gaze, I breathe in deeply, my words coming out unsure.

“I, well… there is something that has been on my mind, something that has been eating at me but I never truly understood it.” I say, turning to look him in the eyes. He seems hesitant but his eyes have never changed in their supporting and comforting gaze. “Well, what I’m trying to say is that, for the longest time – no, ever since I can remember, I have had this feeling. It is a feeling so indescribable that, when I was younger, I would stay awake for hours in an attempt to place a title upon it and with all that, I still could never understand what it was; that is, until now.” I watch as his jaw clenches, his muscles tense, almost nervous. It makes me want to stop but I know I can’t. I have gone this far and I refuse to turn back now. It’s taken a lifetime to build up this courage and I will be dammed if I allow self-doubt to destroy this fragile chance I hold. It’s now or never. “Gohan, I lo-” He stops me with the wave of a hand and the shake of his head. My voice catches within my throat and I am clueless as of what to say, of what to do – should I continue?

“Trunks… please… if you are going to say what I think you are… please don’t.” He replies quietly as he closes his eyes and bows his head. His entire body trembles, his shaking hands fisting at the material of his pants.

My eyes begin to water as I swallow thickly, my throat narrowing as I suppress the sobs that threaten to rise from within. The sinking feeling in my stomach grows by leaps and bounds – my worst fears are starting to come true. I do not know what to do at this point. I feel like I am stuck motionless, caught in my own personal limbo. “Trunks… please, whatever you were going to say – forget it. Please, for your sake and mine, I must ask you to forget whatever it is you were about to say.”

I can feel the liquid caresses of my tears as they trail down my face but I am beyond caring how he sees me anymore. “Your sake?” I ask perplexed as I wipe some of the tears from my eyes to clear my quickly blurring vision.

He nods and I see the lines of sadness that are etched around his dark eyes. “Yes, my sake, I don’t think I could bear the fact.”

My feet are rooted to the ground at his softly spoken words. “Y-You mean-”

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” I hear the voice of an old woman behind me. I move to turn around to see the owner but before I am able to do so, she is already in front of me, gazing at me with knowing eyes, old sad eyes but I do not need nor desire her pity. “Gohan, I am sorry but your time is up.”

I see Gohan nod to her sadly, “Alright Baba, but can you please give me a few more minutes to say goodbye?”

“But you can’t! You just got here!” I yell hysterically, my voice rising in pitch.

Gohan glances at me, then back to the woman I now know as Baba. I see her grim expression but it lightens somewhat. “Fine,” she says harshly but sighs afterwards. “One more minute but not a second longer.” She finishes almost kindly. Although, I could care less about what she thought at the moment. With a brief nod to Gohan and a wayward glance in my direction, she turns her back on us, disappearing from sight.

Gohan turns back toward me, sadness clearly evident in his expression. “Trunks…” I hear him say but my mind is a foregone conclusion. I throw myself into his arms and wrap my arms around him tightly. “Trunks please… don’t make this anymore difficult than it already is.”

“But you just got here! You c-can’t just leave me! I need you, can’t you see that?! I love you Gohan! I. Love. You! You can’t leave me!” I sob as he gently traces circles upon my back, soothing me.

“I will always be with you, just as I have always been.” I feel him rest his cheek upon my forehead making me want to cry harder, knowing that pressure will be gone forever soon enough. “In here,” his battle calloused hand traces softly over my chest, “and in here” he finishes as his fingers gently trail through my own lavender locks, resting upon my temple, “I am always here within you, Trunks.”

“NO! It’s not good enough, I want to go with you! I want to be with you! Can’t you see?! Please, please, let me be with you… I don’t think I can bear another moment without you anymore. I-It hurts too much.” I say while crying onto his shoulder and pulling him closer to myself.

I feel his chin rise as he lets go. Hesitantly glancing up, I see him looking down at me. “But who will protect the Earth if you left? Who will protect Bulma? Trunks… you must see that this world needs you.”

“But I need you!” His face contorts some as he pulls me back into his sweet embrace. Oh, how I wish I could be in his arms forever.

“Don’t worry Trunks. We’ll see each other again someday.”

“But not soon enough.” I hear the old woman grumble something incoherently, most likely announcing her presence. Yet, at this moment, she is the least of my worries. I will hold onto whatever I have for as long as I can.

“Gohan…” There she is again. The bitch that has come to strip me of everything I have ever desired. I feel his head turn away from me, most likely nodding to the old hag.

“Trunks…” He pulls away from me, his gentle hands carefully tracing over my own watery orbs, erasing the presence of my salty tears. “Trunks… Look at me.” I do and what I see makes me want to break down even more – his eyes are shining with tears as well.

“I want you to promise me something. Can you do that?” He asks, his deep voice resounding with melancholy.

“Yes, anything.” I respond, sniffing and wiping the tears away.

“Live your life, Trunks.” He says pulling away from me. I want to cling to him but I know that I can not. “Live your life and be happy because when it is over, I will be waiting, and I want to hear all about it.” I feel him pull me back in and I comply without hesitation. I feel his lips softly graze my forehead and gently travel downward, capturing my lips in a soft gentle kiss. I moan as the tears begin to appear once more, knowing that this is truly goodbye.

“Be happy Trunks, you have your whole life ahead of you. You have so much to experience and so much to learn. I want you to find someone to make you happy, someone to share your life with. You deserve to be happy.” With that said he released his hold upon me and stepped back. I feel my legs give some, but I manage to stay upright.

“NO! I need you to be happy Gohan…. you… and only you. Please Gohan, you have to see that!” I made my way over to him, I know I have to let go – but I can’t, it’s just so hard to.

“I’m sorry Trunks but my place isn’t here anymore.” He gazes at me with sad eyes and I can see the twin saline trails flowing down his cheeks and that’s when I realize – this must be just as hard for him. But all I can do is lower my head in submission. The pain is so great, so unbearable; it hurts just to look at him, knowing we can never be together in this life.

“Come along Gohan, your time is up.” I steal a glance and I see him nod – he’s leaving me.

“I’m sorry Trunks, I must go now.” I watch as he slowly lifts off of the ground, preparing to leave. My tears are flowing and my heart aches, but I know there is nothing I can do – which only makes the pain intensify.

“I-I love you Trunks…” I hear the words leave his mouth as he fades away and my heart skips a beat as I play it over again in my mind. And, for the first time, I actually feel a twinge of hope flow through me – he said he loves me. He said, he loves me… “HE SAID HE LOVES ME!” I yell into the sky. I can’t believe what I’m feeling. On what should be the saddest moment of my life, also happens to be the happiest.

Wiping away the last of my tears, I walk back over to the spot where we spent most of the night talking. I lay myself down and gaze out onto the horizon. The sun is just about to rise. I smile at the thought; today marks the day of a new dawning, a new beginning. My eyes stay transfixed across the ocean waves and I can see the rays rising above, ready to share its light with the world. “It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow but it will be someday. And I promise that when that day comes – you will be mine.” I smirk at the thought. Oh, how I await that fateful day. I lift myself off the ground and pay one last glance over the horizon…

After all, absence only makes the heart grow fonder…

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