Letting Go
by Marc     More by this Writer
A confused Mirai Trunks finds himself stranded in the past. An engaged, college-bound Gohan may have gotten in over his head as the young demi from the future struggles to move on from his tragic past.

Author’s Notes: Begins roughly one year after Mirai Trunks returns to his own timeline; he defeated Cell 3 weeks after defeating the androids, rather than 3 years. Present timeline setting will be roughly one month after the defeat of Majin Buu. Warning in advance that there will *eventually* and *probably* be sex and some violence. There will be depressing discussion of canon deaths and possibly a few new ones, but the boys are safe.



Chapter 01
Chapter 1: Behest

Trunks rolled the still-twitching mass of steel over in the soft soil. It deactivated with a defeated sort of whir and ceased moving. He lifted it gingerly onto his shoulder, wincing a bit as the scalding metal touched the bare skin above his black tank top. Then he trudged his way back to the misshapen dome structure on the opposite side of the fields. ‘Third time this month,’ he thought, casting a glance at the robot as he lugged it into the workshop.

Pressing the buzzer to indicate to his mother – doubtlessly busy elsewhere inside the old Capsule Corp headquarters – that he needed to see her, Trunks lifted a hand to wipe the sweat from his brow and re-tuck his silky purple bangs behind his ears. It had been nearly a year since he’d returned to his own timeline and defeated the last legacies of Dr. Gero and his world was well on its way to recovery. His family, or what was left of it, had again taken its place at the forefront of technology and was providing essential robotics solutions to relieve the strains of depopulation and devastation.

It was tedious work that he still felt somewhat unaccustomed to. While he’d spent a far greater portion of his life helping his mother with the various projects she undertook in their underground hideaway, he’d always felt more fulfilled in the short spans that he got to train with Gohan and the Z-Fighters of the past timeline. It was no secret here who had finally stopped the androids’ reign of terror, yet Trunks was vaguely aware of the fear with which people looked at him. He couldn’t blame them for fearing that which they couldn’t understand, but it still unsettled him. He felt like an outsider, even here in the city he grew up in.

The brooding look on his face must have shown as Bulma rounded the corner into the sunlit workshop. “Boy Trunks, if I didn’t know better I’d say you didn’t enjoy this,” she teased with a wink as she approached the defunct model. “Oh, this guy again?” she sighed.

“Yes, again,” said Trunks with an exaggerated grimace. “It only knocked down one row of corn this time, but it also completely totaled two of the harvesters,” he nodded toward a heap of twisted metal that certainly did not look like a corn-harvesting robot.

“Alright, this is the last time. It’s got to be something with the behavioral processor and I want to know what’s wrong here,” his mother’s tone was all business but he could see the grave look as she closely examined the smooth chassis: she was afraid the next malfunction would involve a person. That and she was just a bit too proud, taking any malfunction of her creations as a personal slight. Trunks suppressed a smile.

“This is always my favorite part,” Trunks said as he delicately started to pry what they called the unit’s “head” apart. The part he was looking for was wedged deep inside, connected to over a dozen different modules and took extreme care to extract. His lips parted slightly, and he clicked his tongue in impatience as he continued to wriggle the small module out of place.

Bulma was all too aware of her son’s predicament. He’d lost everyone, with the exception of her, and Gohan’s sacrifice in particular took its toll on the young demi-Saiyan. There was no one left in this world that was like him, with whom he could spar or interact or even simply converse. He missed the company of those his age. Most people looked at him with fear and she knew it ate at him. He had powers that nobody else could – or should, in their minds – attain, and after the androids the possibility of another such being picking up their line of work was alarming. What they didn’t realize was that this boy had suffered just as much as them. Despite his extraordinary talents and intellect, he’d never had a chance to go to school, go to college, to pursue a career, to find love, to simply live. In that regard he was less fortunate than even she had been, and she regretted it deeply.

Of course, this absence of normalcy brought its own experiences: he’d learned things most kids his age would want nothing to do with. He’d built machines and robots of all sorts, and even had the entirely unique experience of traveling to the past in a time machine they had built together. Bulma allowed herself a small smile at the memory of Trunks’s return. He looked so much like a man, but there’d been something else underlying his slightly changed appearance, intangible. As she endured countless hours of him recounting all the things he’d seen in just a few short days in the past – his favourites to tell her about several times daily usually involved Vegeta or the young Gohan – it began to dawn on her just what in his attitude seemed so different.

For the first time she could remember, he was happy.

His mood turned to jubilation when he took his revenge on Androids #17 and #18, as well as the monster Cell. As peace returned to the Earth, however, so did the young prince’s subdued manner. With each passing day set between his present and his exhilarating adventures in time, Trunks withdrew further into a sort of depression. Bulma watched helplessly as his moods became more restrained, his sociability dropped off almost completely, and he spent the days wandering the compound or countryside, perhaps symbolically looking for something to do. She suggested that he visit the past a few times, and while she was sure he wanted to, he would not. Whether for her sake, or because he didn’t want to tease himself, or perhaps because he felt it wasn’t his place, Trunks had never seemed to seriously consider it.

With another sad smile at her son, hunched over the task he’d immersed himself in, Bulma decided it was worth another shot. Trying to sound casual she spoke, “You know, Trunks. You don’t have to stay here forever.”

“Huh?” Trunks responded idly, apparently paying no attention. There was a short pause, a click, and his hands emerged from within the large robot cradling a small rectangular box with many connectors hanging off. He wrapped it in a dingy cloth before beginning to wipe his hands, and asking, “What do you mean, ‘I don’t have to stay here forever’?”

“Trunks, you’re twenty-one years old,” her tone was matter-of-fact but her vibrant blue eyes regarded him imploringly. “When I was your age I was in college, I’d had a lifetime of adventures with Goku, I had friends, I had a boyfriend!” she exclaimed, her voice rising steadily, and on the last word she averted her eyes and blushed a little. “I just think that you’ve more than earned the right to live for yourself for once.”

Trunks hesitated and allowed his eyes to rake over his mother’s face. Quietly he asked, “What about you?”

She was prepared for it this time. “What about me? I can take care of myself, and I’m not some big fat anchor holding you in place,” she shot back, inflecting some irritation into her voice. Maybe this could work? “I just want you to be happy, son,” she whispered as she lovingly brushed a few loose strands of silky, lavender hair out of his eyes.

Trunks met the blue gaze so similar to his own. He knew exactly what she was getting at and that she knew it tempted him, but he’d made a promise to himself. He was not so selfish: nobody deserves to be so alone, especially not his mother. “I won’t abandon you,” he said flatly, before giving her a quick hug and heading out the door back to the fields.

‘He’s so stubborn. Just like his father,’ she thought to herself with a sigh of affection. ‘He’ll torpedo his own life until I kick the bucket, or else until I figure out how to make him leave.’ She continued to peer, eyes unfocused, in the direction her son had just departed, until a small look of shock crept up her face, quickly replaced by a devilish grin.

“Oh, Bulma, you are a genius,” she declared to no one in particular as she retreated back up the staircase.

***********************************

Tipping the last misshapen, mountainous block of concrete into the massive dumpster at the edge of the clearance site, Trunks dusted off his hands and looked to the sky. He didn’t give a second thought to the feat of strength he’d just displayed – he never did – which was again eliciting stares of awe from his co-workers. The sky was mostly cloudless, except to the west, and reflected in his blue eyes by the light of fading sunlight. Glancing at his watch, he realized that his shift had already ended. He turned and headed for the short row of lockers where the rest of the crew was mumbling anxiously.

“I’m not so sure; he’s just a kid…” Trunks overheard one of the men whispering before being hushed at his approach.

The young demi-Saiyan pretended not to have heard as he opened his locker. He lifted the unnecessary, bright orange protection helmet from his head, allowing the loose strands of lavender hair that were too short to clump into his ponytail to curtain his face. He pulled a blue Capsule Corp. jacket over the black tank top he always wore as he snapped his locker shut. Giving a brief, absent nod to the men whose conversation he’d been ignoring, he strode toward the gate in the tall white fence that enclosed the worksite.

“Hey, kid, wait up,” someone called out. He heard the voice, but it didn’t register until someone punctuated it with his name, “Trunks!” The lavender-haired youth turned to face his coworker, a look of slight confusion on his face. He seldom spoke to any of them, and he wondered at first how they knew his name before remembering that he was still somewhat famous – or infamous, he wasn’t sure which.

“Hey there, er,” Trunks broke off as it occurred to him that the shorter, somewhat slighter man in front of him was not famous. He didn’t know his name.

“Patrick,” he said with a small grin, holding out his hand. After the slightest hesitation Trunks took it in his and shook. “I know we haven’t talked much, but me and some of the guys are headed over to the pub down on Fifth from here and you’re welcome to join us,” Patrick blurted. His invitation was fast enough to be almost unintelligible. He looked downright uncomfortable.

Trunks considered him a moment, his face expressionless. If he was honest with himself the offer was tempting. He’d never been approached for a social outing like this before and he wasn’t sure he wouldn’t enjoy it. He was on the verge of accepting when reality came crashing back to him: he couldn’t really be himself around these men, a truth reflected when he glanced at the group hovering in the background. There was apprehension etched all over their faces, and he knew why. With a sigh, Trunks shook his head.

“No, thank you,” he said with a cordial smile. “I have an errand to run and I really do need to get home. Maybe some other time,” he finished with a quick look at the group waiting behind Patrick and again turned to make his way.

‘It wasn’t a lie,’ he reminded himself, shuffling his feet a bit on the pavement. He couldn’t blame them for not understanding. Trunks was, after all, the last of a dead race on an alien world. He’d known for years now – since Gohan’s death – that he was completely alone. There was always his mother, of course, but there were things he could never talk to her about. A doting mother was hardly objective company for a demi-Saiyan lacking a sense of purpose.

Purpose was definitely something Trunks had felt like he’d been lacking since disposing of 17, 18, and Cell. His entire life had been defined by the struggle against the androids, the pace set by their rampage against humanity. Now that the world was safe, the cities being rebuilt, and life on the long road to recovery he felt like he’d lost meaning in it all. Certainly, he had learned enough in his years with his brilliant mother to put to practical use, but without the constant pressure in the back of his mind he felt almost restless, like the world wasn’t moving quickly enough.

The world was moving very quickly, though, especially here in New West City. The number of clearance sites where buildings had collapsed or rubble was otherwise obstructing had dwindled to a handful. A majority of the buildings, including the famous Capsule Corporation dome, had been restored, though the few high-rises remained severely damaged and ghostly. The streets were all cleared and open to traffic, and small businesses lined the windows as people put their skills back to work. The progress was extraordinary, as was the way the survivors continued to band together to make the best of what was left, but Trunks wished the rebuilding and reminders would soon be over, and the world returned to normal.

He chuckled to himself at the thought. He was unsure how he defined a normal world when he thought about it. What threshold was there that needed to be crossed so that he’d feel society was sufficiently healed? Perhaps it was when the cities started growing again, rather than rebuilding what was within their devastated limits. Or perhaps he just wanted the world to bury the whole wretched android affair and never be reminded of it again, so that he could do the same.

‘If only it were that simple,’ Trunks thought to himself, not noticing the car that almost ploughed into him at the cross-walk. He didn’t want to forget those who sacrificed their lives against the androids, the life he never had, or the pain that they caused. He didn’t want to forget his best friend, mentor, master, father, brother, and more… But the fits and nightmares were getting more lucid, more real, more threatening, and he didn’t know of any other way he could rid himself of them than to simply put the past to rest for good.

Mulling it all over in his head, Trunks didn’t realize until he’d walked another block that he’d passed the neon purple sign of the post warehouse. Hurrying back, he pushed all thoughts from his mind and concentrated on what he was there for. A small bell tinkled above the door as he pushed it lightly open, entering a small office with two leather armchairs, many small mailboxes along the back wall, and a tall counter behind which stood a very pretty young woman. Trunks blushed a bit, feeling self-conscious about his unkempt appearance in the presence of this girl who was no less than immaculate. She giggled a little as he approached the counter, exasperating his discomfort.

“You must be Mr. Brief,” she said.

Trunks, utterly nonplussed as yet another person he’d never spoken to knew his name, merely nodded.

“You’re just in time before we close up,” she continued, brushing a few strands of auburn hair out of her eyes. “Your mother called this morning and said you’d be retrieving a package for Capsule that was scheduled to arrive today.” She winked at him and pressed on, unfazed by his lack of response, “I’m Evita. Let me have someone check if it’s come in yet.” She practically leapt the distance to the wall where the intercom was mounted, speaking clearly into it, “Delivery check on name Brief, Bulma.”

Trunks began lightly tapping his left foot and drumming his fingers on the counter to ease his anxiety. Aware that she was smiling at him as she made her way back to her chair beside the telephone, he gave her a quick glance, a nervous smile, and said simply, “Thanks.”

He continued staring around the room, trying his best to avoid her gaze which he was all too sure was fixed on him. After a minute or two she cleared her throat softly and asked, “So, you work in the city? Construction, from the looks of it.”

“Er, yeah. Clearance site on the upper East side. Today, anyway.”

“Ah,” Evita responded. She breathed in and was on the verge of speech when the intercom buzzed loudly, prompting her to give a startled yelp.

“Delivery for Bulma Brief, Capsule Corporation. It’s a doozy,” the voice emitted from the speaker was deep and gravelly.

“Great. I’ll just need to see some I.D., please, Trunks,” Evita said, shaking her long hair back behind her shoulders. Trunks quickly produced his Capsule Corp. employee identification, wondering why she hadn’t asked for this sooner, and was soon guided through a door to the left of the counter into the warehouse itself. “Right this way,” she said airily, turning down one of the long rows.

The building was massive, much more so than he had observed from the outside. Trunks followed her tantalizingly slow strides, unable to fathom why someone who sat behind a desk at a warehouse all day would wear high-heeled shoes. Before he could give it too much thought, however, she spoke again.

“Most days it’s just me in the office and the boys who work back here. It can get pretty lonely, most customers that order shipments of the size we handle just routinely pick them up from the back and bypass the office altogether,” she explained, waving her hands at the many crates with a distinct air of boredom. Trunks said nothing and they continued on in silence for some time.

“Here we are,” she said sweetly, and Trunks looked down at his hands to make sure he hadn’t developed any wrinkles. “Looks like they loaded it up already! Just follow me and we can get this put on your truck.”

He simply stared back at the package, dumbstruck. It was as tall as he was, at least eight times as wide, and three times as deep. His mother knew he walked home, so how did she expect him to get this back to Capsule Corp. without attracting attention? He followed Evita’s beeping forklift, trying to figure out how he was going to manage this. He was still grumbling angrily under his breath when it stopped, and he walked into it. Evita gave him a little smile of pity, and Trunks understood that he was starting to give her the impression that he was mentally handicapped.

She pressed a button on the forklift controls which started a massive metal door along its motorized tracks, spilling weak sunlight into the wide opening. She drove the forklift outside and lowered the massive box slightly, then cut the ignition and stepped out.

“Well, here we are. If you can just pull your truck around we can get it loaded up and send you on your merry way,” Evita said with another cheesy smile. Trunks grimaced.

“Could you just uh, put it down? Here. And then I’ll uh, go get my… truck. And load it up. Myself.” Trunks knew at the sight of the grin on her face that it wasn’t going to fly. He wished he simply could.

“Afraid to show me your ride, huh?” She gave a knowing nod. “It’s okay, I drive a beat up old sedan.” She giggled girlishly and Trunks felt nausea gripping his stomach. Apparently she mistook the look of revulsion on his face, however, because she remarked, seemingly in response to it, “You’re so sweet Trunks; strong and silent, just my type! We should go out some time!”

This time, nobody could be thick enough to mistake the look of sheer horror on Trunks’s face as he made repeated attempts at speech. “I uh-… really, that’s… but well… er… very… and so…”

Recognizing his failure at expressing a cohesive thought, his fight-or-flight survival instincts kicked in. He reached up, heaved the massive package his mother had ordered from HFIL for him to retrieve, and took to the air. He flew up and away towards Capsule so fast that he almost didn’t register the shriek of terror as the force of his take-off nearly crushed the beast from which he fled under a toppling forklift.

It didn’t take long for Trunks to regain his sense and realize that he had just screwed up very badly. Unfortunately, before he could even think of what to do, the people below realized this too. With a pang of guilt he heard shouts and screams of terror and, distinctly, a number of people saying the word “android”. He glanced down and saw a number of them running in the opposite direction, with a few simply watching in terror as he flew. Not knowing what else to do, he flew as quickly as he could to Capsule Corp.

He hoped nobody was looking as he touched down, though he knew he probably couldn’t be that lucky. He dropped the massive bulk on his shoulders to the ground a bit harder than he should have, and bolted inside. On his way up the staircase to his mother’s office, he ran into the teal-haired genius, looking quite beside herself.

“Trunks! Thank goodness! What’s happening? They said there’s been an android attack and— ”

“Attack?! I didn’t attack anybody!”

Bulma’s eyes widened in shock. “It was you?”

“Of course it was me! Who else around here can fly? This is entirely your — what’s funny?”

Bulma had broken into a fit of giggles as Trunks shouted at her, his long lavender bangs clinging to the side of his face and looking quite disheveled. “Oh, well it’s just that… they said on the radio. The android that was seen was a girl.” She couldn’t contain herself anymore and doubled up laughing. Trunks’s face soon resembled a tomato and he clenched his fists, taking deep, calming breaths.

“I — do — not — look — like — a — GIRL!” Trunks raised his voice with each syllable, but on the last, as he attempted to shout, his voice broke and instead squealed the word. His mother, howling, rolled down the stairs to the landing below as he held his hands over his throat, considering strangling it for the betrayal. It took several minutes for them both to regain their composure.

“Oh, Trunks,” Bulma finally rasped over his mutinous mumbling. “You are so like your father sometimes. You gotta learn to laugh at yourself kiddo, the ladies will love it!” She gave him a quick hug and a wink, but there was a slight expression of guilt on her face. Eager to change the subject she asked, “Speaking of the ladies, how’d things with Evita go?”

At this, Trunks’s anger subsided as he blinked his bewilderment at her. He had a fleeting glimpse of the word “oops” written across her face before she seemed to become fascinated with the ceiling and started walking back up the stairs. He stared after her a moment and then asked, “What is that supposed to mean?”

When she did not answer, his suspicions heightened and he quickly strode the distance between them, blocking her just before she reached the door of her office. “How is it, exactly, that you know that girl, Mom?” He glared, daring her to confirm what he suspected.

“Oh, well, you know,” she started, shrugging and trying to sound casual. “Penny from accounting is her mother. They lost their whole family, too, you see, and Penny said she could use some company and I thought you could too, so I—”

“Set me up?” he asked shrewdly. He couldn’t explain the anger he was feeling, but it must have shown in his face. His mother instantly became defiant.

“Yes, that’s right! I set you up because I noticed that you refuse to make friends, or talk to anyone, or socialize at all! I thought that maybe you’d be happy to have some company!” She swelled up in indignation and got in his face, and to her surprise, Trunks relented. He simply sighed and started off down the stairs. Bemused, she called after him.

“Hey! Where are you going? I’m not done with you!”

“To socialize,” he spoke back, his voice quiet but clear enough to be heard as he disappeared around a corner at the foot of the stairway.

“Shouldn’t have asked,” Bulma said to herself, closing the office door behind her, looking decades older than she had just moments before.

***********************************

A small ripple spread through the grass where orange boots met softly with the hard clay of an unpaved road up Mt. Paozu. It was overgrown now with all sorts of vegetation but still clearly contrasted against the endless seas of green grass on either side. Winding up the gentle incline of the mountain, it came to an end at the threshold of a weather-beaten home adjacent a small hut with fading blue roof tiles. The windows were grimy and grass grew wildly up the foundations of both dwellings and the well they shared. Two trees had outgrown the small house, casting it half in shadow in the twilight.

The sight was peaceful, Trunks thought. It didn’t look dilapidated or run-down, but merely as if the owners had left home some time ago; a fitting headstone for the two who had indeed left, but whose bodies remained side-by-side under the massive, forlorn willow in the back yard. It was not they who he had come to see, however. With a twinge of remorse he turned away, remembering the tragic passing of the final member of the Son family so shortly after her son’s death. Unlike Trunks, she’d had no one left.

Squinting at the horizon he could just see the top of a wide deciduous tree over the crest of a hill. Burying his hands in his pockets Trunks shuffled forward, his head bowed and his hair obscuring his face. He breathed in the many smells that city life simply did not offer: the damp grass, the various flowering shrubs casting all manner of pleasing aromas, and the growing scent of soaked soil. As he overtook the hilltop and began down the somewhat lesser incline, the familiar lake came into view, its black surface glistening under the brightening starlight.

He approached the ancient tree with growing anxiety, his extremities shaking. The sense of loss was overwhelming, yet he was drawn to this place as much by the good memories as the bad. That was why he had chosen this place; Chi-Chi agreed. As he came around the vast trunk to the side that faced the lake, Trunks purposefully stepped over a broad patch of grass. The outline of the gravesite was etched permanently into his memory. He ran his bare hands along the surprisingly smooth wood: the same bare hands with which he had dug the grave. His fingers lightly traced the inscription he had carved there, worn with time but still unmistakable.

SON GOHAN

757 – 780

Tears stung in his eyes and a lump formed in his throat. He brushed over the name several times before moving along to the letters carved below that. These were somewhat sharper, visibly more recent:

NOT IN VAIN

He gulped at the cool night air, desperately trying to prevent the sobs from overtaking him. Trunks clutched at the tree as if his nails could pull from it the familiar orange gi and return to him the man who wore it. He leaned against the tree with a clenched fist for several minutes before regaining some semblance of self-control. Turning his back on the heart-wrenching epitaph, he sat down at the base of the tree, leaning his back against it and drawing his knees to his chest, resting his chin on his hands on top of them. He looked out across the lake, but his eyes saw nothing, their gaze fixed inward.

Gohan’s first assessment of him had been right, Trunks thought with derision. He was an emotional wreck. He wondered if Gohan would have been able to better teach him how to gain control over his emotions if not for his untimely death. The thought of several more years training with the person he treasured more than any other in his life pierced his heart like a blade. He was vaguely aware of the fresh tears sparkling in his eyes and again cursed at himself. That kind of dwelling on what could never be was not the type of control Gohan would have encouraged.

His entire life he had spent trying to be strong like Gohan, just as Gohan had spent his trying to outgrow the shadow of his father. That last word echoed in Trunks’s mind. Gohan had been his father, for all intents and purposes, but he was also so much more. Yet despite his influence Trunks had never gained the same confidence and sense of self that made the older demi such an inspiration.

Everything in his life had felt like a failure. He had failed to save his family. He had failed to save Gohan. He failed to save his world through his time travels. He had failed to save the alternate past timeline from the androids. He had exposed that timeline to Cell and other untold consequences, and the consequences of these failures were – just as in the theme park – blunted only by the strength of Gohan. The comparison was apt, he thought: in that final battle against Cell the younger version of his master had also lost use of his left arm, even if it was later restored.

Even the defeat of the androids in this time had been Gohan’s doing. It was the pain of losing him that had made Trunks a Super Saiyan. Gohan had foreseen it and had sacrificed his life willingly for that outcome. The high cost and the extremely late timing of his eventual triumph over the pair made the victory much more bitter than sweet. So he failed, too, at that which he wanted more than anything: to be like his master. He realized that this line of thinking constituted a self-fulfilling prophecy and that he would never be like Gohan if he was always putting himself down, but he had no method of dealing with these thoughts. There were no great challenges to focus him, so he simply wallowed helplessly in the darkest corners of his own mind.

Being in this place made Trunks feel physically numb. He sought it out because it virtually drowned him in everything he had left of Gohan. Because of this immersion, he hardly noticed the spider crawling across his vibrant boot, the gentle breeze causing his hair to tickle his face, or the voice that suddenly broke the silence.

“Are you still moping on about me?”

Trunks blinked as he considered what just happened. What he thought had just happened, anyway. It must’ve been his imagination. He’d obviously been thinking so hard about what Gohan would say to him now that he’d imagined actually hearing it. His eyelids drooped a bit at his rationalization as the voice rang again, a bit more sharply.

“Oh, sure. When I’m not there you do nothing but wish I was, but I try to hold a conversation with you and you ignore me!”

Trunks looked up, his eyes wide. He focused for a moment. He sensed no one and jumped dully to the only conclusion he could come up with, saying flatly aloud, “Oh, boy. I’ve finally cracked.”

“No, you haven’t,” Gohan chimed in cheerfully. “I’m in Otherworld, training on the Grand Kai’s planet with the Kai that oversees our part of the galaxy, and with my dad! King Kai is an expert in telepathy, so he lets me check in on you now and then. I’m really not supposed to interfere or communicate with anyone, but I win him a lot of fights so he’s letting me bend the rules a bit.”

“Oh.” Trunks couldn’t verbalize much more than that, afraid to dare to believe this was real.

“Get to the point,” barked a nasally voice that gave Trunks the image of a short, fat, extremely sour old man.

“Right. Trunks, I’m worried about you. It’s been five years since I died and you haven’t lived a day. Since you beat the androids you’ve been back at that spot three times a month brooding over the impossible. Do you remember the mantra that I pounded into that thick skull of yours when trying to get you to become a Super Saiyan?” Gohan’s voice was stern, but also hinted at the concern he was trying to convey. Trunks was overwhelmed at hearing that authoritative voice again and let it wash away all the doubts and fears and insecurities he’d been rolling in.

“Let it go,” he responded simply. His voice was croaky from the tears he could not stop. He felt fourteen again at the admonishing.

“Exactly. I died, Trunks, and I’ve moved on. You need to stop trying to keep me alive and move on, too. You finally beat the androids, King Kai let me watch. The righteousness and purpose in you, I’ve never been more proud dead or alive. But you’ve lost the way, Trunks. You need to find what makes you happy.” His voice softened as he spoke, conveying compassion over the immeasurable physical distance. Gohan wished he could reach out and give the aching young man the contact he desired, but he did his best to suppress this – for Trunks’s sake.

“You made me happy. You’re all that’s ever made me happy,” Trunks whispered, looking up to the sky in the vain hope that Gohan could see the conviction on his face.

“That isn’t true. You know it isn’t.” Gohan’s voice was stern again. “You don’t owe me or anybody else anything, but you owe yourself a decent life after the one of hardship and pain you’ve had so far. You see that etching on the tree you’re leaning against?”

Instinctively, Trunks turned and craned his head toward the spot that he could just barely make out in the starlit darkness.

“Your own words, buddy. Not in vain. So stop feeling guilty and stop feeling sorry for me and for yourself. That doesn’t do anyone any good.” His words hung in the air for a moment. Trunks had a feeling that Gohan had more to say, so he hesitated, unsure of what to say.

Then, King Kai cleared his throat pointedly, “So, can we wrap this up?”

“Well, I guess our time’s up! I hope I know you well enough to be sure that you’ll hang on every word I’ve said, Trunks. I expect you to have a whole lot of stories to tell when you finally make your trip to Otherworld!” Gohan was cheerful-sounding, and Trunks could just envision him in a broad grin, his hand absently scratching up and down the back of his head.

“Thanks, Gohan,” Trunks said feebly. “For telling me what I needed to hear. For letting me hear your voice one more time. For everything…” he trailed off, and again he couldn’t suppress the tears that flowed freely from his eyes.

“I’m proud of you, more proud than you can imagine. Good-bye for now, Trunks.” Even Gohan could not keep the deep sadness from his voice. Trunks was seized by an overwhelming compulsion to put into words just why the past five years had been so difficult.

“I love you, Gohan.” The words came smoothly from his mouth, much clearer than he could have imagined himself capable of in this state. He waited a moment for response, but knew at once that it would not come. He broke down completely, toppling onto all fours and pounding the ground with his fists as tears leaked copiously from his eyes to the ground below. Anger that he had again been denied the opportunity of expressing this innermost secret welled up inside of him and he roared at the stars. “Gohan! I love you, Gohan!”

***********************************

Trunks flew beneath the low clouds, his hands balled into fists at his sides. He hoped the cover of darkness would avoid anyone mistaking him for a flying female android again. He’d dealt with enough he couldn’t see for one night and doubted his own sense of direction at present. He was exhausted in every sense of the word and simply wanted to shut himself in his room and sleep for the rest of the weekend. Hopefully he’d be able to attain a bit more clarity when he was well-rested.

He landed soundlessly on the grass beside the front entrance to the familiar dome, a cool breeze prickling his skin and sending a shiver down his spine. After keying himself in, Trunks skulked his way through the corridors to where his room was. As he reached the final stretch he all but tiptoed his way past the half-open door that led down to his mother’s lab/workshop, which was illuminating most of the attached hallway. His door stood slightly ajar down the corridor on the opposite side, but as he reached it he heard a creak and felt his mother’s eyes burning into his back. With a sigh, he turned to face her.

“Thought you could get away without saying good-night, did you?” she asked indignantly. Her expression softened as she took in her son’s appearance. His hair had been released from its ponytail and now curtained his whole head; it was tangled in a way the wind couldn’t have managed. His eyes were red and puffy, his face covered in red blotches. It looked as if he’d chewed his bottom lip until it bled. What alarmed her most was that he was allowing her to see him like this. He’d always been too proud to face her with the trails of tears on his cheeks, and the defeated expression he wore indicated that he didn’t have the energy to enter their unique version of “communication”.

Immediately she knew something had devastated her son, and she had a good idea what.

With a graceful, fluid movement she was across the hall and embracing him, not knowing what else to do. “Trunks…” she muttered.

He returned her hug for a moment, gripping her tightly, before choking out, “Good-night, Mom.” She recognized the plea and let go, her heart sinking as he closed the door behind him.

It physically pained Bulma to see Trunks suffering in such a way. She didn’t want to lose him, yet she wasn’t sure how long he could go on like this. Her resolve hardened. She had to help him, and soon. Wiping the tears from her eyes and giving a small sniffle, she turned and strode back down the hall.

When he finally heard the door of his mother’s workshop creak closed again, Trunks leaned off the door. Ordinarily, his mother’s reaction to seeing him would have wrenched his heart; tonight, there was simply no further room for pain. He stripped off his filthy clothes and without even bothering to wash collapsed onto his back upon his bed. As he fell quickly into sleep, his ears did not register the soft rumble of distant thunder.

***********************************

The rain came on quickly. The dull plunks of water droplets splashing off the rooftops soon gave way to a continuous crashing sound as torrents of water poured from the skies above. The issuing black clouds crept invisibly across the sky, brief glimpses visible only by the intense flashes of brilliant white light, each bolt producing crackling booms that rattled the windows of the city below.

In spite of the assault on their senses, the people of New West City slept on through the deepest hours of the night. Thunderstorms were a common enough occurrences, and the only dangers they perceived were kept at bay by thick walls and extensive drainage systems.

There was one residence on the edge of town, however, where not all was peaceful and where the rain was dreaded beyond all else. As a particularly violent crack of thunder rattled his bedside window at Capsule Corporation, Trunks sat bolt upright in his bed, his hands clutching the sheet below him. Immediately the familiar sounds filled his ears. His eyes widening, he turned to see the water streaking down the glass. He shoved himself backwards, off the bed and onto the floor, as the room began to spin and dissolve from view…

————

Bulma furrowed her brow as she pounded away furiously at the keys beneath her fingertips. Completely oblivious to the late hour, her red-rimmed eyes were fixed on the luminous screen in front of her. The vigor with which she worked for so many hours straight belied her advancing age. She shifted her gaze and her right hand for a moment as she scribbled a few things down. A small frown of concentration played on her lips before she turned back to the computer. She began typing furiously again and muttering to herself.

“Hmm… April, yes. Leaves a few months. Yes, that should do it.”

She stopped typing and leaned back a bit, smirking a bit. She glanced over her shoulder and then back at the gauge at the edge of her screen. The humming of the various pieces of equipment engulfed her for a moment, and the particularly violent crack of thunder did not faze her as it normally would have. It clicked immediately after, however, as she next caught the sound of a deep, drawn-out scream that she knew all too well.

“Trunks, no!” She couldn’t have stopped the useless shout from escaping her lips any more than she could have stopped herself from launching across the room, almost overshooting the staircase as she dashed up to the hall. Few would have believed a fifty-three year old woman could move so fast had they not seen it for themselves.

Bulma flung open the door to her son’s room and stood in the doorway for a moment to gain a measure of the situation. Trunks was sitting beside his bed on the floor and his back to her, wearing nothing but his boxers. His knees were bent and he was leaning back on his hands, slowly pulling himself backwards and away from the window at which he was staring. He was drenched in sweat and shivering. His sheets were twisted, and from his proximity to the bed she gathered that he had just woken up to the violent storm. If he wasn’t far along, perhaps there was still time to bring him around…

Dashing forward across the small bedroom, she wrapped her arms around him and began whispering soothingly to him. “It’s okay Trunks. It’s okay, I’m here. You’re not alone. Come on Trunks, stay with me.”

Trunks gave no indication that he heard her. His eyes were unfocused and full of tears as he spoke in a small voice, “No… Oh gosh, no! What did they do to you, Gohan…”

“Come on Trunks. Please. Snap out of it. It’s over Trunks, please!” Bulma pleaded, squeezing him, rocking him, tears spilling down her cheeks as feelings of helplessness set in.

Trunks brought his hands up in front of him, pushing her to the side a little as he grasped at something she could not see. As the realization dawned on her of what he was re-living, she closed her eyes in revulsion and renewed her attempts to snap him out of it. Trunks simply mumbled things she couldn’t understand. Then, his body began to shake more violently and the tears flowed more rapidly down his cheeks.

“Gohan!” he shouted. “Gohan!” again, raising his voice again. “Gohan!” this time he released at the top of his lungs, and the last syllable turned into an endless, deep scream of agony.

Bulma clung to her son now out of terror as much as a desire to comfort him. His hands were balled into fists, his nails breaking the skin of his palms. His eyes were squeezed tightly shut, his entire face contorted by the vast extension of his jaw. Purple hair began fluttering around his head, as if caught in a breeze, and Bulma knew what was going to happen.

“Trunks, no!” she cried. “Trunks, stop! Please!” she couldn’t make herself any louder, yet still he did not hear her.

The entire room began to shake and Bulma felt as if a warm breeze was sweeping in from nowhere. The all-too-familiar golden glow was now visible and Trunks’s hair sprung out into a huge mass of spikes as it flashed a bright blonde. His eyes shot wide open to reveal their intense greenish-teal color, still unfocused and unseeing. The pained screaming continued.

Then, quite suddenly, all the muscles of Trunks’s body contracted and an unstoppable force hurled Bulma outward, away from her son. His scream grew even louder and more intense as things fell from the walls and shelves of his room and his mother slammed hard into the wall, crumpling into a heap on the floor.

And as abruptly as it had started, it ended. Trunks’s hair returned to its usual lavender and the irises of his eyes became blue and vibrant with lucidity once more. Panting, his voice rasp as he crawled over to her, he gasped out, “Mom! Mom, are you alright? Oh, please, no…”

He sat on his heels beside her and lifted her into his arms, her head resting lightly on his shoulder. Her eyes were closed and a quick assessment told him that she wasn’t bleeding and didn’t appear to have broken anything, yet she wasn’t responsive. He began to panic. Brushing her hair out of her face he stared down at her, and was shocked to see that she was smiling.

“That tickles.” Her eyes fluttered open. “I hope I didn’t scare you as badly as you scared me. How are you feeling, Trunks?” she asked, lifting herself up on her knees to give him a once-over, her expression full of motherly concern.

“I’m fine,” he said shortly. Then, again panicking, he tumbled into explanation, “Mom, I’m sorry, I don’t know… I couldn’t…”

“It’s alright, Trunks. I’m tougher than I look,” she said. “I’ll be fine. But will you?” she asked. The storm had subsided some and the rumbles of thunder were distant, the rain light.

“I’ll be okay now,” he said apprehensively. Then, realizing his state of undress and how profusely he’d been sweating, he blushed. “I think I could use a cold shower.”

Bulma gave him a stern, appraising look, trying to determine whether he was brushing off his condition to avoid inconveniencing her. Satisfied by the look of embarrassed innocence on his face she said, “Well, if you’re sure. I’ll go out to the kitchen and make tea. Just holler if you need anything, okay?”

Trunks nodded as he stood, then helped his mother to her feet. They hugged for a moment and she headed from the room to make tea. She’d inherited her belief that tea was the cure-all for every ill, physical or emotional, from her own mother. For all the bickering they did, he loved his mother, and the thought that he had almost harmed her tonight drove him to the brink of madness. Sighing, he gathered up a towel and headed into his attached bathroom.

The cold tile against his feet sent goose bumps popping up Trunks’s skin. Closing the door behind him, he looked into the mirror to size himself up. He had to admit, he was a bit of a wreck. The huge bags under his eyes certainly didn’t help. His face was still puffy and pale with red blotches all over, with the drying trails of sweat and tears giving him a somewhat grimy look. Or perhaps that was from the dirt that was variously visible on his forehead, in his hair, and all manner of other places. He was clammy from the effects of evaporation, and as he ran his hands over his skin he noticed that they had been bleeding.

He turned with a sigh away from the mirror and bowed his head as he faced the shower. This prompted another observation. He had not been aware of it until now, but there was something protruding a good distance out the fly of his boxers. ‘A mind of its own,’ Trunks thought to himself. Then he wondered just how long that had been there and whether he’d given his mother a bit more in that hug than he’d intended. Trying to force this from his mind Trunks put the cold water on and stepped into the shower, letting out a gasp as the icy water ran over him.

“What a day,” he muttered, spitting out the water he’d inadvertently taken in. Trunks found his mind to still be staggering through a haze. Visions and memories of Gohan that he knew were real, and very recent ones that he thought were real, swam in and out of focus in his head. He couldn’t understand it. He’d been a mess on other days, why did Gohan choose today to talk to him? His own behavior wasn’t new, so what prompted Gohan to try to intervene from beyond the grave? Was it Gohan’s bringing all of these raw emotions to the surface which triggered his violent outburst? Nothing seemed to make sense, and he groaned as he transitioned the water from cold to warm.

He stepped out of the shower a few moments later and reached for his towel, the same questions without answers tugging at his brain. He toweled himself dry and wrapped it around his waist. He pulled as much of his hair as he could back into a ponytail, though the bangs at the front escaped as usual and took their place at the sides of his face. He stepped carefully across his room, trying to avoid stepping on everything that had fallen to the floor. His eyes and hands brushed briefly over the familiar orange and blue gi he kept in the bottom drawer as he rummaged for some comfortable clothes. He settled on a pair of loose athletic pants and one of his black tank tops, dragging them on and ambling out the door.

Physically he felt much better thanks to the refreshing shower. Emotionally, however, he’d only gotten more confused and frustrated as he tried to make sense of things. He’d gotten past the disbelief – he accepted that he really had spoken to his old master under that tree. He knew that Gohan had been right on nearly every account, as well. Trunks wanted more than anything to take Gohan’s advice to heart, but these flashbacks, nightmares, whatever they were… it was like reliving the source of his pain on a regular basis. How could these wounds heal if they kept being torn open? Perhaps with tea, he mused, as the familiar aroma of his preferred Earl Grey reached him.

Trunks stepped into the open kitchen to see his mother placing a mug down in front of a chair she was reaching her legs around to sit in. What was clearly his mug was already sitting at a place on an adjacent side of the square wooden table on the far side of the kitchen. She gave him a warm smile that invited him to sit down. She spoke as he closed the distance to the table.

“Milk and two sugars, just the way you like,” she told him, indicating his mug. He sat down and took a long draught of the hot liquid, relishing the way it seemed to burn feeling back into him. He looked without expression into his mother’s eyes, wondering what sort of answers she was expecting to glean from the impending conversation. He wasn’t going to try to avoid it this time; she deserved to know what little he could tell her. She broke the silence of their staring contest first.

“Trunks,” she began, and she reached out and took his hands in her own. “I love you so much, more than you will ever know, and I’m so proud of you, more than I could ever say.” She almost seemed to be pleading with him. Trunks squeezed his mother’s hands gently.

“I love you, too, Mom.” He tried to put a lot of meaning behind the words and matched her expression in contact and intensity. She looked nervous – very nervous. The unease in her eyes was almost as strong as the concern, and as if he’d been punched in the stomach Trunks realized why.

She was afraid of him. He could have killed her and just like everyone else, she was scared of what he could do if he lost control.

“Don’t you dare blame yourself, Trunks,” she said. He wished he could stop showcasing his emotions on his face, though he suspected that she’d be able to tell what he was thinking even if he wore a bag on his head. “For any of this. You didn’t choose this life or what it’s thrown at you, so stop putting yourself down about it,” her voice was firm and he knew there was no point trying to argue with her. Trunks merely nodded, looking down at the mug he was swirling in his hand.

“Now, tell me,” she continued, “What happened at Mount Paozu that had you so rattled when you came home?”

Trunks looked up in shock. “How did you—” he croaked, but Bulma interrupted him.

“You may think you’re so stealthy, mister, but do you really think I’ve survived this long by being totally oblivious? Now what happened?”

Trunks shifted uncomfortably. The revelation that his mother apparently knew where he’d been disappearing to all these months was not a bar didn’t surprise him as much as it unsettled him. What was worse is that she seemingly also realized that this particular visit to his master’s grave had been different. He couldn’t tell her. Between his little nightmare and admitting he was hearing disembodied voices he was certain she’d think he had gone completely bonkers. She’d have a good point, he thought. He sighed audibly.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” he mumbled indistinctly, half hoping she didn’t hear him.

“Try me,” she said with burning defiance that made him wince.

He hesitated, but he knew that he couldn’t back away from this one. That glare would bind him to the chair until he spilled the beans, and with resignation he began. “He spoke to me,” he said, barely above a whisper. “Gohan. I heard his voice and it… well, it responded,” he finished.

After a moment, Bulma’s expression softened a bit as she raised her eyebrows and said, “And? What did he say?”

That wasn’t quite the response Trunks had expected and he stumbled to answer his mother’s probing. “He— well, he said… He said he was worried about me, said I needed to,” he paused and swallowed hard before finishing in a quiet croak, “Stop blaming myself.”

She sighed and smiled warmly at her son, “Well I’m glad we reached the same conclusion.”

Trunks was gripped by disbelief again. His brain was getting sluggish and he gulped down the rest of his tea while he tried to think how to verbalize the question that burned at him. “So you… You believe me? I mean,” he paused, mentally trying to kick his mind for its poor performance. “You don’t think I’m crazy?”

His mother laughed at him. “Oh, Trunks,” she said with a grin. “I knew Gohan his entire life, his father was my best friend, we spent months on a spaceship and an alien planet together. I saw and did things you wouldn’t believe with those two,” she paused and laughed again, her eyes misty. “If I told you I was once transposed into the body of an alien frog, wouldn’t you believe me?”

Trunks merely looked at his mother, blinking a couple times as he gained a measure of what she was saying. She didn’t wait for an answer, though.

“If Gohan wanted to speak to you, Trunks, I know a silly little thing like being dead wouldn’t stop him,” she said simply. “Now,” she continued with her voice stern again. “You still haven’t explained why you were so distraught by Gohan simply telling you to stop blaming yourself. Or was it something else?”

Trunks damned his mother’s persistence. He couldn’t keep up with this conversation, let alone jog his memory to properly remember what Gohan had said. His eyelids were starting to feel heavy, so he hastened to explain as best he could.

“He said something, something else. He said I—” he paused, his brow furrowing in concentration as he fought the fog filling his mind. His mother stared at him sadly as he struggled, “I need to start living… Living for myself. Need to… Move on,” he stammered. “But I can’t—”

His mother stood from her chair and then kneeled in front of him, and their eyes locked. The young demi-Saiyan could just see the tears in her eyes as she slid in and out of focus. Then she spoke very clearly in spite of them, “Trunks, there is something I learned from your father. It is the hardest lesson I have ever learned, but please take it to heart.” He nodded.

“Sometimes the things we love most are the things we cannot have, and that separation only intensifies the desire. Trunks, even with those we love most, there comes a time when we have to let go and move on, for their sake and for your own,” Bulma continued as tears streaked her face. Trunks tried his best to absorb the words, to hold on to them as he heard the urgency in her voice. She pressed on, “Let go and move on Trunks, please.”

The aging blue-haired woman leaned up and hugged her son tightly, no longer able to suppress a sob. He returned the display of affection, fighting with everything he had against the onset of sleep. Then she let go and held his hands tightly in hers and spoke, much less composed than she had been just a moment before.

“I love you, my son. Never forget that.”

“I love… you too, Mom,” he stumbled out, giving a faint smile before his eyes rolled into his head and darkness engulfed him.

***********************************

Bulma hurried down the stairs, her feet making pronounced clangs on the metal steps disproportionate to her size. She crossed the spacious workshop in two strides and sat sideways in front of the computer she had abandoned not so long ago. She saw the gauge at just under half, reading 43%. She frowned.

It was enough for one journey. She knew when she’d made her decision that there would be no turning back for either her son or herself, but it didn’t please her nonetheless. It took a 40% charge to simply make the jump, the machine would be running on empty when he arrived. She decided she’d give it as much time as she could and dashed back into the hall, down the corridor to her son’s room.

As she flicked on the light, she couldn’t help but remember fondly when her son’s room was this messy merely because he refused to clean it. Bulma looked around and a great weight fell on her heart. This all seemed surreal, and for a moment she considered calling the whole thing off. Then her eyes came to rest on the cracked wall she’d visited earlier. With a sigh, she set about encapsuling all her son’s possessions.

Digging through this cluttered wardrobe and emptying all his clothes, she came to a sheathed sword leaning against the back corner. She picked it up, gently pulling the blade from its holster, until the shattered portion emerged. She slid it back in and placed it gingerly on top of the piled clothes. He’d never told her where the sword had come from, but she remembered the regret on his face when he informed her that it had been broken by an android in the past.

She moved over to his dresser. His wallet sat between two framed photos: one was of herself holding him close in a hug as he tried to wriggle free. He looked about 6. She looked over to the other, where he sat on Gohan’s shoulder. They both wore delighted grins, standing beside the trunk of what must’ve been an enormous tree, in front of a lake of deep blue. Trunks was wearing a pair of Gohan’s sunglasses that were much too big for him and looked no more than ten years old. Gohan looked about eighteen, but there was still that intangible look of pain behind his dark eyes that gave the impression of great maturity, even in a moment of such happiness.

Bulma removed the three items, a tear splashing from her eye onto the hard wood surface of the dresser, and placed them into a small box of his more delicate possessions. Then she went about removing the clothes and contents of his drawers. Among a collection of old junk which ranged from clothespins to bouncy balls to a rusty tape measure, she found two more pictures. The first made her gasp. There was Trunks, not much younger than he was currently, standing with one hand lifted to chest height in a “victory” sign and the other resting on the shoulder of a considerably shorter man, grinning ear-to-ear. His hair stuck up straight at a slight angle backwards from his head and was completely jet black. He was turned away from the direction of the camera, but his eyes were looking at it, his face unsmiling. One arm was held across his chest, and the other looked like it had been in the same position until he removed his hand, one arm still tucked under the other, making an identical “victory” sign. They wore identical, beat-up versions of what she recognized as Saiyan armor.

She looked at it long and hard before shuffling it back to see the other picture. Again, she was shocked. Here was her son again, apparently on the same day as he was still clad in the battered blue and white armor. He was grinning again, standing under a large tree in front of a lake, with a younger boy sitting on his shoulder. Bulma marveled at the younger Gohan, sitting there with the most innocent grin almost identical to his father’s. He was wearing what must have once been a set of purple gi, though the legs were all torn up and only one arm hole remained over his right shoulder. Shaking her head, she placed the two photos on top of the framed pair, one of which was so eerily similar to the one she’d just seen.

Moving down the drawers she continued to empty her son’s possessions into little containers for transport. She came to the bottom drawer and removed some old clothes she wasn’t sure he’d even wear anymore when, on the bottom, she came to a neatly-folded garment she knew well. It was an orange and blue gi, with blue wristbands lying upon it, and the han kanji in black and white facing upward. She knew he wouldn’t wear this, but she also knew he’d never forgive her if it got left behind. Actually, she wasn’t sure he’d ever forgive her for sending him back like this. She placed the garment at the top of the same box where the photos were and slid the drawer closed.

From inside her Capsule Corporation jacket she withdrew a small white envelope which had been sealed, the name “Trunks” written across the front. Squeezing it a little, as if it was entirely this letter’s fault that she was losing her son…

No, not losing. Giving up. She breathed deeply, and tucked it securely into Gohan’s gi. She knew that if Trunks ever needed closure, he would find it. With a last sweep of the now-bare room, she clicked his worldly goods into their capsules and tucked them into her pocket. Not wanting to spend another second there, she switched off the light and closed the door lightly behind her as she withdrew from her son’s old bedroom.

Suppressing the emotions welling up inside of her, she marched back down to her workshop. She saw with annoyance that the time machine was now at just 46% power, but it would be enough to get him there in one piece. She double-checked the coordinates and made sure everything was set before disconnecting it from the computer system. Brushing her hand against the word “HOPE!!” painted on the side, she encapsulated the time machine and stuffed it in her pocket. She pulled open a drawer on her desk and pulled out two other capsules, then withdrew from the room. She knew if she lingered anywhere too long the doubts would start to set in.

Trunks was exactly where she had left him, slumped over the kitchen table. He was out cold, his mouth hanging open slightly and his bangs fluttering slightly at his breath. She clicked the two capsules she’d removed from her desk and two large, humanoid robots appeared in a whirring puff of smoke. They looked at each other and then at her for instructions.

“Hey, boys,” she said. “Could you pick him up,” she indicated Trunks, “and carry him – gently – out back for me?”

“Of course Ms. Briefs,” they chorused in tinny voices. They immediately set about their task, following Bulma closely through a number of corridors as they emerged into the cool air outside.

The ground was still very wet and the air was humid, but the storm had blown itself out some time ago. Some of the stars shifted in and out of view as the remaining clouds passed rapidly through the sky above. Bulma pulled the time machine’s capsule from her pocket and clicked it, and a short moment later it had appeared in the grass some distance behind the large dome they resided in.

“Alright,” she addressed the robots behind her. “Please seat him in there. Carefully, now. He’s not made of iron.”

The metal behemoths clicked their acknowledgment and set about their task. It wasn’t easy for them, even at their size, to lift him as high as the time machine’s seat. After a brief struggle that got them admonished for mishandling their precious cargo, they managed to slump him into the cramped cockpit. Bulma sighed with relief: moving him once he was unconscious would be the biggest obstacle, she knew.

“That will be all, you two,” she barked. The robots instantly turned back into capsules, giving off a big puff of smoke and a bang. Bulma climbed up the side of the large apparatus toward the cockpit. With no need to hold back she was crying freely now.

For the last time, the mother looked upon her son’s face. She absorbed every feature, admired the perfection she saw in the young man who was apparently sleeping peacefully. She gasped at the air heavily as she pushed some hair from his forehead, brushing the tops of her fingers lightly down his cheek. She leaned in and kissed the side of his face gently, then pulled the small box of capsules containing his belongings from her pocket and slid it into his.

“I love you, Trunks,” she whispered. Then she tore her eyes from him and to the illuminated panel in front of him. She again checked that the data was input correctly and then initiated the launch sequence. She leaned out of the cockpit and jumped to the ground, backing away quickly as the glass top came down. The engines on the side groaned as they thrust downward and the machine lifted slowly into the sky.

Despite the flowing tears, Bulma wouldn’t allow herself to blink as the two greatest achievements of her life glowed blue and vanished into nothingness.

[ End-of-story notes: This is the first fic I’ve written in years, my first DBZ fic, and my first fic of this scope and size. I don’t know that the forthcoming chapters will be quite as long but I won’t rule it out.

I hope for some honest, constructive criticism. I can handle it, and if you’re sugar-coating or BSing I’ll know. And I’ll poke your eyes out.

All credit goes to Veronica for inspiring me to write this, for beta-reading, for being a great person to bounce ideas off of, and all sorts of other awesomeness. Cheers.
]



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