Trunks' heart stopped.
Those eyes... That voice... How did he know his name?
Lightening flashed suddenly directly above him, the sky sparking as the bolt of pure electricity shot down from the angry sky and struck the shell of the building next to him. He swerved madly away to avoid the blocks of concrete that plummeted down from the shattered building, and as the boom of thunder tore the air above him, he looked down at the face of the stranger in his arms.
The features were quiet, relaxed. He'd passed into unconsciousness again.
He stared down into the pale, relaxed face with a mixture of perplexity and shock. His lavender brows were creased in confusion, his cobalt blue eyes wide, and it took him a moment before he realized that he'd stopped midair. He slowly descended, his feet making a soft thudding sound as they contacted the hard concrete, and he quickly moved towards the relative shelter provided by a large slab of concrete leaning up against the inside of a building. The ruin had the upper floors blown out and the rain fell through from the open floors and roof above, large drops slipping from mangled support beams and fragments of steel and stone from what was left of the building's insides. His shoes made quiet squishing sounds as they sloshed through deep puddles filled with brackish water, towards the large slab of concrete.
Trunks bent low and ducked his head to get under the slab. It was dark inside, and empty. He'd been half expecting a survivor to be sheltering there, or maybe a group. But he was relieved to find there were none.
He gently lay the boy down against the inside of the slab, where any water that might trickle down through the minuscule gaps where the slabs edge was leaning up against the wall wouldn't touch him. He brushed aside flakes of ash and some small shards of stone and shattered tile, exposing some of the cracked and charred white squares which originally made up the floor of the ground story. Sitting down with his back pressed against the wall and his knees drawn up to his chest, he stared down into the shadowed, sleeping face. He wrapped his arms around his sodden knees and shuddered. He was cold, but at least they were out of the rain. With vibrant blue eyes he traced the lines of the sleeping face in front of him, his mind playing over and over the three whispered syllables that had shocked him to his very soul. He recalled the look in those dark eyes - that look of recognition. The stranger knew him. And his name - he'd said it with such a personal familiarity, and it was his full name - not just Trunks, but Torunkusu. And the way he'd said it... his sensei had never called him 'Kun'.
The unconscious boy in front of him wasn't Gohan. Couldn't be Gohan. Gohan was dead. At least three years now. And besides, Gohan had scars, and this boy's skin was smooth, unmarred, and he was much younger than Gohan should be.
A sudden chilling thought crossed his mind.
What if he was another of Dr. Gero's creations?
Trunks' blue eyes hardened. If he was then it'd be best for him to kill him now. He knew his name, and no doubt his mother's as well. And if that was so, then she was in danger, and there was no way in hell he was going to let anything happen to her. Not while he was still alive. She was all he had left now.
He looked at the sleeping face again and wondered if he could actually do it.
He didn't look dangerous, and so far hadn't shown any indication that he was.
But then again, Jyunanagou and Jyuhachigou hadn't seemed all that dangerous in first light, either.
Trunks swallowed down the anger that rose up in him at the memory of those two and what they'd done, and pushed the images deep down inside where he could deal with them later. Much later.
He glanced down at the figure and sighed. But it was true, he didn't look dangerous, and he couldn't be sure he was one of Dr. Gero's creations, either. Dr. Gero was destroyed long before Gohan had even reached the age of twelve, judging by what Perfect Cell had told them back in the other timeline.
Another thought crossed his mind. Perhaps it was Gohan from that timeline? But he discarded that theory as soon as it arose. It would be years before his mother in that dimension could build the fully-charged time machine, and when she could Gohan would be at least twenty-five.
He sighed, at another dead-end, and shivered again as he became aware of the cold once more. He gasped and jerked away from the wall as a rivulet of water ran down the back of his neck, chillingly cold.
Thunder crashed outside.
He watched the stranger with his deep eyes, listening to the even sounds of his breathing and the rain sheeting outside. He jumped as another boom of thunder followed quickly upon the heels of a lightening flash. A few pebbles fell from the edge of the slab above him, pattering on the tiles beside him and he hugged his knees tighter, gritting his teeth to keep them from chattering. This shelter would have to do until the storm eased. He would have trouble flying it alone, let alone carrying an unconscious person with him. He could leave him there, he supposed, but something inside of him told him that was not a good idea. Besides, if he was dangerous, wouldn't it be better to have the danger in front of him where he could see it, rather than behind him where it could sneak up unnoticed?
Trunks stifled a yawn, gritting his teeth harder to keep from making too loud a noise. He blinked the tears from his eyes and cast a glance out into the waning light, taking note that it was fast approaching dark and that the storm was showing no signs of lessening. It looked, in fact, to be growing steadily worse. Every five minutes or so the pouring rain would be interrupted by a few minutes of pelting hail, before it petered out and the rain started up again, seemingly worse than before.
As what little light there was faded from the dark clouds above, the temperature dropped to freezing. Trunks' jacket was almost frozen stiff, and he could no longer control his shivering. The strands of his hair were like icicles against his face.
He froze suddenly, his body rigid to attention as his ears picked up in the silence the sound of a boot scuffing against stone. A silhouette appeared at the opening to the shelter, paused, and peered in. Trunks growled, glaring into the shadow that was the silhouette's face.
"Mine." Was all he said.
The shadow hesitated for a moment, before moving on, and in the dusk Trunks could barely make out the small group of survivors moving on to another area for shelter.
He sighed. He wished he didn't have to turn out any of the survivors, but they'd sooner kill him while he was sleeping and steal his clothes than share shelter with him and let him awake in the morning with all his body parts still attached.
Leaning his head back against the cold, hard wall, Trunks closed his tired eyes. Sleep was hard-coming and when it did come, it was full of dreams of shadows, fear and death, and one image repeating over and over until finally, uttering a cry of anguish, Trunks jerked awake.
It was night, the sky was dark, and it was still raining. Trunks listened to the quiet breathing of the other boy for a few minutes until it was apparent that sleep wasn't going to bless him again for a while yet, and he resigned himself to staring futilely out into the dark and listening to the sound of thunder as it raged in the hills.
A sudden flash of lightening lit everything in stark contrast and Trunks closed his eyes as the afterimage imprinted itself on the inside of his eyelids. The thunder that followed shook the ground beneath him, and somewhere off in the distance he heard a child cry out.
Trunks found himself humming to fill in the silences in between the crashes of thunder. The words of the song came easily to him, and strangely, seemed appropriate for this night with its tumultuous sky and screaming wind. As he sang he watched the face of the sleeping boy in front of him, catching glimpses of his relaxed features in the sharp illumination from the lightening that tore the dark from the sky and stabbed its crooked daggers at the city.
He found himself contemplating the boy again, the strange way that he'd been sprawled face-down on the concrete in the plaza, his face mere inches from a puddle which, had he been a little to the left, he'd have drowned in. Just like Gohan. Only Gohan had been dead before he'd collapsed face-first into the pool of water. Killed by the androids.
His fists clenched.
Those androids. He'd made them pay for what they'd done. But if he could, he'd make them pay for it all over again. They'd taken from him one of the two people he'd ever loved. And there was no way to wish him back to life. No way. So the first person he loved had left him forever. It was all their damn fault.
His mind moved onwards to what his mother would say when he returned home in the morning. She'd probably want to know who the girl was he'd spent the night with. He wondered what she would say when he told her that it wasn't a girl, and how she would react to that little bit of information. Of course, she would take tonight all out of context, but still, it wouldn't make much of a difference to the facts. He just didn't see women in that way. She'd rant and rave, tell him that he was confused and that it was just a phase. In his worst imaginings she called him things, swore at him, using every name under the sun, then broke down into tears demanding why he'd done this to her, his mother of all people. But that was only in his worst imaginings. Still, there was no disguising the truth. He was gay. End of story. He wished he didn't have to tell her, though.
Another flash of lightning pierced his eyes, and against the searing pain, he closed them.
An image of Gohan came unbidden to his mind, the expression of calm and patient understanding smoothed across his features as he, a mere twelve then, kneeled on the ground before him, apologizing exhaustedly after his first failed attempt to go Super Saiyan. Gohan had just smiled at him, placing a large, heavy hand gently on his smaller shoulder and told him not to worry, that he'd go Super Saiyan when he was ready.
"Every Saiyan has a trigger." he'd told him in that deep, calm voice of his. "We have only to find yours."
He recalled lifting his head which had felt so amazingly heavy, and brushing the strands of his fringe back from his face. "What is your trigger, Gohan-san?" he'd asked, curious. He had wished later that he'd never asked that question, that he had restrained his wild curiosity just that once.
The pain and agony that had rippled across that smooth, unlined face save for the slightly puckered scar over his left eye was enough to make Trunks regret the foolish question instantly. Remembered pain as fresh as yesterday shone dully from the almost ebony eyes that stared deep into the paler iris' of his own, and then out through the back of his head to some distant place that Trunks couldn't reach.
"Self-loathing." he'd said then, and turned away from him.
He'd remained on his knees for long moments afterwards, staring up with large eyes at the back of his sensei, the broad and powerful shoulders rising and falling in deep even breaths. Even now, four years later, he could still recall the way the orange gi had shifted as he had breathed.
"I-I'm sorry." Trunks had finally managed to make himself say.
Gohan had turned around, a gentle smile once again in place, and held up a hand to excuse the apology.
"Don't worry about it, Trunks. Pain is something you have to accept, not hide from."
Trunks had nodded, but made sure he never asked Gohan of it again. It hurt to see him in pain, and even more to be the cause of such. He'd realized that day, when he was on his knees and Gohan stood before him with his back to his pained blue eyes, his shoulders still and strong, that he was in love with the older, darker Saiyan. Hopelessly, deeply in love.
Another stab of lightening split the night and tore him from his reverie. The thunder rolled incessantly, outburst after outburst, and with every echoing clap the lightening flickered and dazzled and split its ragged fire through the shuddering night. The song died on his lips, and licking them, he leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes.
He waited for sleep to take him. But his mind was a whirl with scrambled thoughts and feelings and the peaceful slumber was elusive. He opened his eyes and looked down at the sleeping face of the stranger. No matter what he did his eyes kept returning to those achingly familiar features. He swallowed. It was almost as if they were calling to him, somehow, trying to tell him something about this boy that had appeared out of nowhere. There was something he should know... something he should know.
He started singing again, the same song as before, aware that while his mind was as full as it was, running a mile a second, sleep was something he had no time for. He listened as he sung, to his voice echoing from the walls of stone all around him as the gusts of icy cold wind tore through the city streets and buildings like water through channels. He gasped and shivered as a gust burst through the shelter and scattered the ashes out into the building and under the open, crying sky. Another spear of lightening struck the city, the puddles collecting rain appearing like silver pools in the stark brightness that ran before the inevitable boom of following thunder.
A sudden scream pierced the night, and Trunks jumped. The wailing continued on for a minute, high, ululating, until it was abruptly cut short. Trunks hugged his knees tighter to his chest and considered going out there to see what that was, but decided against it. He couldn't leave the boy here alone, no matter how safe he thought he'd be in the shadows beneath the shelter, and he couldn't just go off chasing phantoms - not when one was lying right here in front of him.
With cobalt eyes he searched the shadows, knowing that from within the shelter he wouldn't even be able to tell from which direction the rain was coming from, but it was against instinct to not look. He could feel him out there, whoever or whatever it was. It'd been what had made that woman scream a few minutes before; he knew that deep down in the pit of his stomach. He'd been feeling it for weeks now, faint, barely even echoes. And it was elusive. A few days ago when he'd tried tracking it, it had leapt all over the place, leading him on a wild goose chase. It had barely left one area before it appeared in another. Eventually he had given up and gone back home with nothing but a splitting headache and an empty stomach. And now it had shown up again, barely even a flicker of... something. Whatever it was - it wasn't ki - was moving slowly, spluttering around the city like a dying flame that refused to be put out.
He sighed and closed his eyes, putting the ghostly energy out of his mind. If he couldn't sleep, he could at least meditate. He settled back against the cold wall and waited for the night to pass and the day to break. And eventually, sleep did sneak up on him, but it was a long time coming.
Sometime before dawn he awoke. A feeling, more than anything, had awakened him, and as his mind kicked into action his eyes almost instantly settled on the place where he had lain the unconscious stranger hours before.
He was gone.
Before he could leap to his feet a shadow moved in his peripheral vision, and he turned his head to see the stranger standing outside the entrance to the shelter, his back to him. It was still raining, and the stranger's khaki pants, skivvy and stolen school blazer were soaking wet, dripping lightening-kissed drops into the puddle at his feet.
"He's out there." He said, not turning around. Thunder crashed ominously.
Trunks swallowed. "Who is?" he asked, wondering how he knew he was awake.
"I can feel him." The stranger with Gohan's voice continued, ignoring him. "He's coming for us, Torunkusu, for you. We will be devoured."
Trunks swallowed again, but before he could demand how he knew, the stranger shuddered violently and, his knees sagging, collapsed to the ground with a weak cry.
Trunks rushed over to him and quickly dragged him back into the shelter where at least it was dry. He was unconscious.
"This guy must have a death wish." He muttered as he checked his pulse and breathing.
He exhaled a held breath he wasn't even aware of withholding when he detected the strong beats fluttering against his fingertips and the deep, even breaths. As he made to sit back, his long lavender hair brushed against the cheek of the unconscious boy, eliciting a soft sigh from him at the contact.
He paused, suddenly finding himself unable to breathe. He could only stare, with a strange feeling building within him, down into the face with its smooth, creamy skin, kohl black brows and lashes, and pink, parted lips. An invisible fist was buried in his chest, squeezing, playing with the beatings of his heart and he felt his breathing uncontrollably begin to quicken.
It would be so easy, here in the darkness before dawn with his long lavender hair falling around their faces like a curtain separating them from the rest of the world, to pretend that this was Gohan. The rain thrummed on the ground outside the shelter, mimicking the rhythm of his heated blood. It would be so easy... The whispered caress of the others' breath ran its warm, moist fingers over his lips and upon impulse, he inhaled. It was as if his body had been taken over by some deeper, hidden part of himself, and before he could stop himself, he was leaning down, their breaths mingling, to kiss him.
The shock of what he was about to do hit him moments before their lips touched.
He gasped and pulled back, his mind whirling with shock. He was going to kiss him. This boy, in the cold, wet darkness, that he didn't know. Perhaps he was the crazy one. What kind of baka was he? He looked down at the sleeping face again. Oh, but the urge was so strong, the tugging so insistent... He made himself look away. /Damn you and your hopeless romanticism./ He thought to himself. /Gohan is gone - get over it!/
The pain of the loss stabbed at him, the blade still as sharp as it had been that day he'd found his body, motionless, amongst the ruins. The pain dulled his urges, shocked him sober, and unbidden, the tears rose. He hadn't cried since the time he'd found him, not even when he'd finally revenged his death and the androids lay in shards at his feet, but now they came, hot, salty, burning, and Trunks let them come. The pain laced through him, tearing him, and quietly, in the darkness before the dawn, he added his own tears to the sky's.
Damn the nameless boy for making him remember.