The woman's cry cut through the vibrant noises of nature dusting the grounds like a sword-thrust. "Trunks-chan, chotto kokoni kite!"
The lavender-haired teenager blanched at the boisterous yell and shifted beneath the shade of the tree, his shadow blotting out the sporadic puddles of weak sunlight that filtered down through the branches as he put down the doujinshi he was reading.
"Naniga hoshiino?" he yelled back, his deep voice echoing off the surrounding out-buildings. At the lack of a reply, he sighed and rolled his eyes with the teenage comprehension of being ignored until needed, and muttered at the injustice of it all. "Can't go a day without her wanting me to do something." He complained to the open, fluttering pages with their black and white images.
They stared back at him blankly, the faces with their soft contours and grey shading gazing lovingly at their pencil-contoured and shounen-glossed partner with heavy-lidded, lust-filled eyes. He sighed again, wishing with lonesome longing that for just a moment someone would look at him like that.
"Oh well, might as well see what she wants." he muttered, heaving himself to his feet and casually glancing around the slowly rejuvenating Capsule Corporation grounds, his cobalt blue eyes veined with their slashes of silver taking in the newly repaired out-buildings with a sheen of pleasure.
The repairs had started off slowly, too slowly for his mothers liking, but after a few weeks the work had begun to shed new hope with the workers, and with increasing vigour the repairs had picked up speed. Now there were few, if any, buildings on the Capsule Corporation grounds that needed little more than a broken window replaced here and there and a good coat of the customary white paint. Pretty soon things would be back to the way they were before the androids had reared their artificial human heads. Of course, Trunks couldn't remember back that far due to the fact that he was only an infant when they had begun their massacre, but he looked forward to the past's return none-the-less.
As he weaved his way through the out-buildings towards the main laboratory where as near as he could tell the shout had come from, he reflected on the nightmare of the past eight years of his life and how he'd realized that despite how hard he or anybody tried, nothing was ever going to be completely fixed - no matter how much his mother wished it. Beneath the new stark white paint the scorch marks were still baked into the stone, and beyond all the recently lain plaster and concrete were the cracked and shattered remains of what had once stood before. Not everything could be removed, not everything could be hidden.
Especially the pain that shattered in his mothers eyes.
He kicked at a small stone lying placidly in his way as if it were the bane of the universe, and hearing it clicking against a nearby building; he closed his eyes momentarily with remembered pain. The sorrow dancing within his mothers eyes like a flickering blue flame had been heart-wrenching enough before, after the deaths of her friends and her husband, Vegeta, his father. But when Gohan died... something just broke. Her last tie to the past had snapped, had been torn from her. Her one last reminder of how her life had been before the nightmares of the Jinzouningen had descended upon them was ripped away.
But what had hurt the most was that the pain that swum just below the surface of his mothers eyes was not for the loss of Gohan's life, for though she had loved him, she had been prepared for his eventual downfall. No, the pain that ricocheted within those glass blue orbs like shattered lead was for the loss of not Gohan's life, but his father's.
Unconsciously, Trunks's fists clenched. He had been so angry when he'd first realized how his mother had cared for his sensei's otousan; those tears in her eyes should have been for his father, not for his sensei's! It had taken a while, but eventually he had calmed down, and he had understood. His mother had loved his father, still did judging by the way she pined some nights. But that had only been love, they hadn't actually liked each other so she said, and now that Trunks had gone back in time and actually met his otousan he understood why. The man was almost impossible to talk to. Imposing, intimidating, arrogant, self-consumed with the need to prove himself... everything his mother had said he was. But with Son Goku it had been friendship first, and the love had built up with it as its base. It was stronger, more solid than the tempestuous grounds on which his mother and father's relationship had been built, and now that he had gone back and met him too, he understood completely why she felt that way. In his mother's eyes Goku was the last chance that never fell through, the final say that was never questioned, the last hope that never failed. So when he had been killed by something as mundane as a heart disease, in the last place he could ever have wanted to die, sick and bed-ridden, it was a blow not only to her heart, but to her hope.
He turned around the side of one of the newly rebuilt hangers and entered through a door-less opening leading into a hall massed with both closed and open doors to either side. He passed a few, then turned into an open door on the right from which bright slashes of sparks sent their collective light splashing against the opposite wall in the corridor.
He paused for a moment in the entrance to the laboratory, his eyes taking in the figure of the middle-aged, aqua-haired woman half-bent over an open panel in the smooth yellow metal casing of the tall, narrow egg-shaped ship that dominated the better part of the lab. Bright yellow and red-gold sparks flew away from either side of her, giving her the appearance of a giant Roman Candle in full explosion. He smiled at the familiar sight, and stepping into the room, he tried for her distraction.
He had to shout twice more and wave his arms wildly like a freed jack-in-the-box before he successfully captured her attention and she put down the wielder, pulling back the protective visor of the half-helmet she was wearing to keep her safe from the hot sparks of metal her wielding threw up.
"Trunks-chan!" she smiled, the shadowed pain in her eyes fading behind the bright liquid warmth her pleasure at seeing him evoked. "Look what I've done." She gestured at the open panel in the ship he had flown to the other dimension in.
Trunks moved forwards to her shoulder and peered down at the panel. With vibrant eyes almost the same colour as his mother's he noticed a new, bright and shiny metal component nestled amongst the tarnished and occasionally charred surface of numerous others. "Uhh, that's good, mum. But why does the ship need an extra power cell? It's not like I'm going to need to use it again."
His mother smiled up at him again, pulling the half-helmet off her head and tossing it onto a near-by bench, followed closely by the thick, bulky gloves she had been wearing to protect her hands. She shrugged. "You never know, Trunks. Maybe you might someday want to go back."
"And do what?"
She shrugged again. "Visit your father, maybe. I know you want to know more about him. It would be nice to see Gohan again, too, wouldn't it? Seeing him so young must have been confusing." She sighed in remembrance. "Such a sweet kid."
Trunks was beginning to get annoyed with all this cheery talk. He wanted a reason for the interruption of his quality doujinshi reading-time, and he wanted it soon.
But she bet him to it. Waving a hand flippantly she interrupted him mid-word. "Anyway, that's not why I called you here. I want you to go into town and get some more groceries. With all this 'training' you've been doing, you've started to increase your eating, as if it wasn't already enough to be rendering the cupboards bare every five days. It's a wonder you're not fat, young man. I envy your Saiyan metabolism. But still, we need food, and because you seem to be eating the majority of it all, I've decided that you can go and get it this time."
Inwardly Trunks groaned. So much for being able to finish that doujinshi. Now he had to wait to see what happened between Duo Maxwell and Chang Wufei. Damn his eternally grumbling stomach. "Sure, 'kassan, okay. What do you want?"
He watched with placid eyes as his aqua-haired mother stuffed a hand into one of the deep pockets in her red overalls and rummaged around for something. Long moments later amidst a barrage of grunting, mumbling, and cursing was a cried "Aha!" and with a huge grin at her impatient son, she withdrew a small wad of rolled paper and deposited it in his open palm. "Here's the list."
Trunks took one look at it and groaned. "It's gonna take forever to carry all this home."
Bulma smiled again and wagged a finger at him. "Then you better start now. I'd say you have about three hours until the sun sets, so get cracking. I don't want you out there after dark any longer than you have to be." As Trunks turned, pocketing the list, and started back down the corridor, she called after him. "I don't care that you've defeated Cell and the androids! There are worse things out there, Trunks-chan, so be careful!"
"I will, 'kassan." He called back over his shoulder to her. "Don't worry."
"I always do!" she shouted back as he stepped out of the shade of the corridor and out into the waning light of the late afternoon, squinting at the sudden change in light. "I'm your mother!"
Trunks smiled at the last shout, patting the pocket he'd stuffed the grocery list in to make sure it was there, zipping it closed so that it wouldn't fall out while he was flying, and glanced around at the horizons. To the west and south it was clear save for the occasional dots of white in the distance, but to the north and east dark clouds rolled and a storm was brewing. Trunks groaned again. That was where town was, and he hated flying when it was raining. If only he could take one of the air cars, but he'd busted the last one a week ago and his mother had forbidden him from driving another until after he had his license. "Damn rain." he swore. "I guess there's no way to avoid it." So saying, he zipped up his jacket, pulled the collar up high around his ears, and channelling his ki through his legs, took to the sky. He looped once around the Capsule Corp. grounds in a sentry manoeuvre he just couldn't shake, then swerved to the north-east and headed towards the Northern Quarter of East Kong, the only part of the once prosperous city that hadn't been destroyed by the androids.
He had been flying for almost a quarter of an hour when the first scattering of rain-drops started to fall. He had been over the lighter damage of the city, and was now entering the section where the heaviest casualties had been. The dark, broken part of the city that had reverted to an almost barbaric state after the androids attacks. He preferred to swerve around this area completely, but as his mother wanted him back as soon as possible, and that to either side that he might hope to go to avoid the area, the clouds looked even darker and more menacing - he had no choice. The thought of risking it and getting struck by a bolt of lightning did not appeal to him all that much, so with a steeling of will, he headed straight into the dark part of the city he least wanted to fly over.
After a few minutes he began to feel slightly uneasy. It wasn't a particularly strong feeling to begin with, more like a hinting of something to come, but it gnawed at him, and the deeper he flew into the ruins the stronger it became. The dark clouds closed in around him, rolling in great waves like an oceans waters, and the sky darkened to a deep, black-grey. It was almost as if night had stolen over in a few seconds, and as the air suddenly thickened, the first loud boom of thunder sounded from overhead. The air shook with the fury of that first explosion of sound that inexplicably felt inaccurate and misplaced, and it wasn't until a few moments later that Trunks realized what was wrong with it.
There had been no lightning.
And there was something else, a brief flicker of energies that felt somehow familiar yet strangely wrong. But he was distracted from his thoughts as a sharp shaft of bright white light cut through the clouds about ten yards off to his left, and as the lightning left jagged streaks against the closed lids of his eyes, the following thunder shook the air around him and a furious wind began to blast from all directions. He swerved lower into the dark city, descending between the emaciated buildings to avoid the choking wind that tore the breath from his nostrils before he could inhale.
"Fat chance of getting the groceries home in this." Trunks muttered to himself, trying to out-run the blasting wind and get into the more prosperous part of the city in record time. Ahead the way was cloudy, sporadic sheets of rain obscuring the buildings in the distance, but at least the rain hadn't become too heavy where he was and was still only spitting little drops at him. Suddenly, the press of buildings to either side of him broadened and he found himself entering into a large plaza that once would have graced the foyers of huge corporate company buildings. It now stood empty and desecrated, broken, mournful and colourless. He had almost passed over the plaza completely before he caught the small flash of colour in the otherwise grey surroundings in the corner of his eye. Turning his head and unconsciously slowing his speed, he followed the flash with his eyes. What he saw made him stop short. Turning fully around, he stared at the body sprawled face-down in the centre of the plaza for a moment as if considering whether he should go down and inspect or not. The former won, of course. His mother would kill him if he didn't at least check whether they were alive or not.
His feet touched the cracked and powdered flagstones with a grating of stone against stone, and he paused again momentarily before warily approaching the body. The flash of colour he had seen while passing over had been the orange label adorning the open breast of the shirt that the man, or teenage boy, judging by his size, was wearing. Coming to the body, his boots splashing in the deep puddle of brackish water pooling to the side, Trunks crouched down, and leaning over him, pressed two fingers to the side of the rain-splattered neck to check for a pulse. To his amazement, there was one.
He grasped the soggy shoulders and turned the body over.
With a strangled gasp of shock he fell back, and in his alarmed confusion he spoke aloud.
Almost immediately he grabbed hold of his reeling emotions. Steeling himself, he stared down hard at the smooth, unlined face of the unconscious boy and convinced himself he was just seeing things. This guy couldn't possibly be Gohan. His mentor was dead, and that other Gohan he'd left back in the other dimension was, what, eleven? He swallowed, this guy just happened to bear an uncanny resemblance to his sensei Son Gohan. And he also... his eyes widened even further as he took this in... just happened to be wearing the crest of a school that hadn't been in existence for the past ten years.
To Trunks, it seemed as though the temperature had dropped by a sudden ten degrees.
He glanced around the ruins with a trained eye. Although he'd dealt with the androids a few months ago, and Cell a couple of weeks after that, West Kong was still not a safe place. There were worse things lurking in the skeleton city than homicidal Jinzouningen and oversized roaches. Much worse. Trunks knew that fear made people do stupid things. And the small scattering of survivors cowering in the shadows and bowels of the city were very much afraid. It was a bad place to be in alone, and even worse when you were unconscious.
Steeling himself once more, he leaned down over the dark-haired, pale-faced young man and lifted him up into his arms.
The guy was heavy. Much heavier than he expected. But it wasn't as if he couldn't handle it. It was just - he juggled the body in his arms - the guy obviously worked out. Which made his current state even more to worry about. As well as looking almost exactly like his sensei, he was built like him too. He had the same compact bulk as all users of ki, tight and fast. He found himself wondering what colour his eyes were. He envisioned them being a deep, rich chocolate brown, almost black, warm and inviting... and his voice, smooth and deep, speaking his name with a quiet tenderness that made his breath catch in his throat and sent his pulse racing.
He snapped out of it.
"Whoa - I must be losing it!" he exclaimed to himself. He cast another wary glance around the scorched and rubble-strewn plaza with its cracked flagstones and lonely, broken benches. It was hard to believe that once this small sanction from the offices in the high-rise buildings looming above, dark and faceless, was once full. Now it was empty, desolate, the rain continuously seeping from the dark clouds above making the place a grey and mournful reminder of what used to be.
Trunks swallowed and held back the wave of sadness that threatened to wash over him. He doubted he'd ever stop feeling sad at what had been done to the people and the city. Although he'd never seen the city before the androids arrived - he was still a baby when Goku had died - he still felt the regret. Maybe it was just foolish sentimentality, but he felt it all the same. He adjusted the limp body in his arms before flaring his ki, channelling it through his legs and out his feet, and took to the skies.
Wind roared thunderously in his ears as icy cold rain stung his flesh like thousands of tiny needles despite his burning ki. His lavender hair stuck to his face in long saturated strands, and he shivered uncontrollably. His heavy denim jacket was doing nothing to stop the freezing cold wind and rain from chilling him deep into his bones. His chest and stomach were the only dry places and the only parts of him still warm due to the body of the unconscious boy he held cradled in his arms. He flew between the shattered and decimated buildings, their skeletons offering little but appreciated shelter from the full force of the wind. Weaving in and out of windowless skyscrapers and through the abandoned squares with their tattoo's of soot-black carbon scoring, he thought about the boy he'd found.
He looked around his age, maybe a little younger, and standing up was probably taller than he was. His clothes looked new, which was puzzling, as most of the survivors could only find old, torn and ragged garments to wear, and none of what he wore bore the Capsule Corporation logo, unlike the clothes his mother was donating. And the crest... he knew the school it belonged to, it was only a couple of minutes to the east of where he was right now. But the school hadn't been open for at least ten years, and the jacket looked brand new. Trunks puzzled over it for a moment before coming to the conclusion that the guy must have stolen it. There was no other possible explanation.
The rain suddenly intensified. What had been a cold blasting of small droplets became a heavy pounding of fat drops with hard, frozen centres. Trunks kept his head down and his shoulders hunched, slowing his speed in a futile attempt to reduce the sting of the rain when it struck the back of his neck and pounded against his back through the blue denim jacket and muscle shirt he wore underneath. He watched his barely discernible shadow on the dark tarmac below, glancing up quickly every few seconds to make sure he wasn't going to crash into anything. He squinted against the wind, small water drops dripping off the tips of his lashes to splash against his cheeks.
He felt the body stir in his arms, and he looked down into the face just as the boy groaned, regaining consciousness, and his eyes fluttered open.
Trunks found himself holding his breath as large, dark brown eyes framed by long, wet, kohl black lashes stared sleepily up at him. The lips parted, small white teeth flashing momentarily, and warm breath fogged between them like spring mist.
Hey people! I just thought I'd add a little explanation down here as to why it took Trunks so long to get through the city... I think it needs explaining myself, just so I don't get yelled at.
Alright. Anyone who had seen certain episodes of Dragonball and checked out some of Toriyama-sensei's maps would know that Capsule Corp. is placed well within the borders of West Kong, so the concept of Trunks taking fifteen minutes to fly over to a supermarket (no matter where in the city it is) seems rather ludicrous.
Well, I see West City as being something of a rival to New York. Meaning it's VERY big, and no matter how fast I've seen all the DBZ characters fly, none of them are anywhere near as fast as Superman. In fact, I can seem to recall it taking AGES for them to get ANYWHERE by power of ki-propulsion flight. So, for the sake of this fic, let us assume that because of West Kong's extremely large size, it DOES take the purple-haired no Ouji fifteen minutes to get to the other side of town.
Also because I'm the author and I say so.
There. That was a rather informative explanation, don't you think? Now... *Strikes a Superman pose* Onwards to finishing up the next chapter! Dum, da-dadada-dum, dum, da-dum!