Dragon Ball/Z/GT Fan Fiction ❯ Hate Is Just Another Kind of Love ❯ second chances ( Chapter 2 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

[Insert standard disclaimer here] This has gone through some basic revision; please let me know what you think.
Fathers and sons are not so different, no matter the distance and time.
Trunks watched the bustling little town, and tried not to touch the pommel of his sword. Six years of freedom, and the human race was staggering back to its knees; everyone had been doing fine, getting on with their lives, rebuilding after the Saiyajin. Statues were popping up all over the place, for all the brave souls who'd died fighting.
Brave souls my ass, Trunks thought as the people bustled past him on the busy street. He sat under the canopy of the little cantina, watching the humming street, perfectly still as the crowd gathered to watch the figures in the center of the square. Some had fought, some had submitted, and most had died; life wasn't eventualities, it was casualties. Most of the half-breeds had razed the pens and pits, and slaves had melted down their shackles to make farming implements.
Six years of peace, and the human race was moving on.
Trunks let the deadly calm of waiting for a battle settle over him as he watched the crowd watching Raditz and Kakarrot. They were sitting at the well in the center of the town, just waiting. Their ship had landed yesterday; without harming anyone, they'd made it perfectly clear that no damage would ensue, as long as Trunks Briefs turned up and accepted the message he'd been sent from Prince Vegeta. King Vegeta, now.
“You think it's worth listening to?” Trunks asked Yaumcha, not turning to see the reaction on the scarred face. It was already set in a hard mask, and Trunks knew that Yaumcha was waiting in the same pool of deadly calm that he was in; Yaumcha had taught him how to find it.
“The call's on you, kid.” Yaumcha spoke without taking his eyes off the Saiyajin in the square. Trunks disregarded the `kid' part, mostly out of deference for his old teacher, but in part because the man had set four separate pens loose the night before they'd driven Vegeta off the planet. Trunks didn't feel bad about the sparse details he'd given Yaumcha - Bulma was dead, Vegeta was making a coup, they had two days. There was nothing to regret, because they'd won.
Trunks didn't care that it had been a hollow victory.
“If it's not important, we can just kill them and leave it at that,” Krillin shrugged and sipped his can of grape soda. Trunks shrugged, a physical indication that he'd heard the shorter man. Krillin and Roshi had been fun to train with, although it had come after the Saiyajin; they'd been at the final battle, though, somehow reached through his mothers networks.
“It's the third one I'm worried about,” Tien recrossed his legs without taking them off the little table, and then recrossed his arms.
“Gohan and Racine are tailing the third one. Anyone else think it's weird, the way he looks just like Kakarrot?” Piccolo said from the shade, a few feet behind the members sitting around the table.
They're collective eyes turned toward the third Saiyajin as he walked towards the well. He was old for a Saiyajin, with peppered hair and a red bandana, and a crossed scar on his cheek. Raditz and Kakarrot were automatically deferential as he approached, which didn't bode well, because they'd been Vegeta's main flunkies. It was more widely known, now, that they'd been sneaking humans out under Vegeta's nose, but they'd had to kill to keep their cover. Trunks watched with narrowed eyes, a minor detail nagging at the back of his mind.
“Vegeta could've sent them for any number of reasons. Hey, Gohan, Racine; what's up?” Trunks stood to greet the two half-breeds as they circled around the building, deliberately turning his back to the Saiyajin in the square.
“He just flew around, checking shit out,” Racine eyed the three over Trunks' shoulder, his tail lashing behind him in agitation.
“Kind of touristy, you know?” Gohan stuck his thumbs into his jean pockets, rocked back on his heels, and looked pensive for a moment. “Definitely knew we were there. Powerful, but he's not nobility. If you're gonna see what it's all about, then Racine and I will go with you. Everyone else should hang back.” Gohan nudged Racine, who agreed with a non-committal grunt. “Don't you want to, cousin?”
“I want to rip the bastard's heart out,” Racine growled, hate seeping out of him as he glared across the way.
“Don't be stupid,” the bark was sharp and unexpected, coming from Gohan. “Your mother died because he loved her, not because he actually killed her. If you're going to kill him, then pick a better reason. There are plenty.”
“Forgive my lack of moral high ground,” Racine snarled, his tail puffing up as it lashed.
“Its not moral high ground, its common sense. I don't want to kill Kakarrot because he abandoned me; I want to kill him because he killed hundreds of thousands of people. It's that simple.” Gohan turned from his cousin and raised his eyebrows at Trunks. “You ready?”
“Let's roll,” Trunks grinned as he turned toward the Saiyajin. The older men turned to focus on the trio as they walked closer, waiting patiently.
“You're looking for Trunks Briefs?” Trunks asked, speaking to Raditz and Kakarrot; they both turned to look at the older one, deferential without even thinking about it.
“Yeah, we're lookin' for ya, kid. Your father sent you a little note.” Trunks froze, searching for the face in his memory. He'd heard the voice before, a long time ago. He caught the holographic projector out of habit, not out of focus, and kept staring at the man.
“How do you know who my father is?” He didn't mean for his voice to be so hard, but the anger was boiling up. He clamped down on the power, kept his ki low, and watched them.
“I was there, kid, the night you got that useless stick, and at that last little skirmish. You did a good job; it's hard to fake killing someone.” The man grinned, not watching Trunks, but Gohan and Racine. “How much do your little friends know, kid?”
He could feel the look Gohan and Racine were sharing behind his back, that sidelong glance thing they did that made it look like they'd had the same thought at the same time. Trunks had let a few things slip when they'd trained together, and maybe they'd added it up before this, but the confirmation? When it doubt, bluff.
“They know everything. Everyone who knows is here. Watching you, and waiting for my signal, on weather or not you leave this planet alive.” Trunks didn't have to look over his shoulder to know that Gohan and Racine were starting to smirk a little, but the old man laughed hard, and it caught him off guard.
“You're okay, kid. You'll give your old man a run for his money.” And the name hit him, across the years.
“You'd know that better than I would, Bardock. Now, can you tell me what he really wants? Because he sure as hell isn't going to say it in this,” he waved the holographic recording for emphasis.
“You'd be surprised, but sure. It's pretty easy if you understand the politics. Daddy quarantined the fuck out of this rock when we left, made it look liked he'd run out when the going got tough, and came back to the so-called shelter of Vegetasie. We figured his major enemies would out themselves within the first year, and sure, the dumb-fucks died first, but now we've got a little revolution brewing. Daddy made himself look too weak for too long, and now the commoners don't know what to do. Don't know how much you know about Freeza, but for as bad as you think the Saiyajin are, we ain't got nothin' on this sick bastard. We've got a couple treaties with him, but the minute your father screws up, the entire Saiyajin race goes bye-bye, and along with it, all the red tape protecting this little mud-ball. So come to Vegetasie with me, kill all the Saiyajin standing in our way, and Earth stays happy and healthy. You come with me, and I'll leave my boys here to protect it for you while you're gone.”
“Do you want them to die? Your boys,” Racine spat the word, “Have killed millions of our people, and now you think we're going to let them `protect' us? Not fuckin' likely,” he'd come a little forward, stood shoulder to shoulder with Trunks, and cocked his chin in such a way that would have gotten him beat to death just over six years ago.
“How many did they save?” Bardock asked sharply. “A man who loses a son has lost the greatest treasure of his life; a man who finds a son is given a second chance at a life he never knew he could have. And every man deserves a second chance.” Bardock cocked his chin in exactly the same manner, and grinned.
“Too little, too late, Mr. Bardock. We don't care about what they want. The people they killed didn't get a second chance, and neither will they.” Gohan could look hard, when he wanted to, and it was scary to see that in someone so gentle.
“What about what your mother wants?” Bardock said the words calmly, but Raditz jumped to his feet, and Trunks just barely caught Racine as he lunged. “Sit down.” The tone brooked no argument, and for the first time in his life, Trunks saw a Saiyajin sulk.
“You promised.” Raditz snarled, his tail lashing behind him, puffed out in his fury.
“Not my fault that a woman is a mans greatest weakness. Just look where it's gotten His Highness. You're lucky there's even some part of her that's still alive. I know I am.”
There was a long, low growl, and Raditz and Bardock turned exasperated looks toward Kakarrot. “Didn't we just feed you? Raditz, when did your brother last eat?”
“We only had breakfast two hours ago, Dad, and it was fruit, I cant help it if we didn't have anything that sticks to the ribs, and you said we couldn't go hunting because we'd scare the humans, and-”
“Kakarrot, you and your brother might both be mine, but you're both pure-bred halfwits. Raditz, go feed your brother, and you two,” he motioned to Gohan and Racine, “keep these two idiots out of trouble for longer than three minutes. It's harder than you think. You, kid, go find some place quiet and listen to that a few times. I expect the four of you back within thirty minutes, and you've got 'till sundown. Fuck off now, all of you.”
Kakarrot was in the air before Bardock had finished speaking, and Trunks hung around just long enough to see Bardock walking towards the table he'd left Yaumcha, Krillin, and Tien sitting at, waving a pack of battered cards. Well, there were worse things.
He flew to the crater where the pens had been, just in case his father said anything sentimental. Wouldn't be Vegeta's style, but precautions never hurt anyone. He'd only been in the pens once, less than an hour after his mother had died. He'd gone straight to Yaumcha, hoping his old teacher had an idea. Gohan and Racine had been there, looking a hell of a lot worse for wear than the last time Trunks had seen them. Trunks had only found out later why they were in there to begin with; at the time, he'd had two days to pull off the miracle that his mother hadn't managed to pull off for fifteen years.
He looked around at the charred earth, and wondered. Saiyajin that had fathered half-breed children weren't allowed to keep them, mostly because half-breeds on principal were weak, and therefore unworthy. Their entertainment value was pretty high; to a 'true' Saiyajin, Trunks imagined that they likened half-breeds fighting in the pits to gladiator fights. Throw two of them in a pit, and bet on which one dies first. And if they didn't fight, send a real Saiyajin in to beat them to death. Gohan had explained the basics, but he wouldn't talk about the six months he and his cousin had spent in the pens, waiting to die. Racine had only alluded to it once, and Gohan had broken three of his ribs for it. Saiyajin would pay to see just about anything fight, though.
Humans, on the other hand - and what a hand it was - had been slaves meant for work and occasional entertainment, although procreating with them was looked down on by the Saiyajin snobs fresh from Vegetasie. Most of the half-breeds that had survived had never known their fathers, or refused to talk about them. Racine and Gohan had been well hidden and well cared for by their fathers, which was odd, and why they didn't talk about it. When Trunks had first met them - he must have been seven at the time, just after the first time his father had spoken to him - the two had genuinely loved their fathers. Trunks knew he did not, nor ever would, understand, and left it at that. The hate had settled in and become familiar to them, which was just love in another form. Trunks had watched his parents confront each other on numerous occasions; he had always doubted, always been unsure, and for as much as he hated Vegeta for what had been done, every boy wants to love their father.
Trunks hit the play button, dropped the hologram in the dirt, and stepped back. His father's image shot up, blue and translucent, facing just a little to the right of where Trunks was standing. He moved around so that his father was looking him in the eye, while someone out of the picture muttered about lighting and angle.
“Is it on? I don't give a fuck how it looks you idiot, just get out!” Vegeta barked, waited for the hurried slam of a door, and spoke again. “Trunks Briefs.” A long, indrawn breath and a heavy sigh. “Fuck, boy, I honestly know nothing about you to persuade you to haul your ass halfway across the galaxy just to save my throne. If you come, then Earth and Vegetasie will be safe for the foreseeable future. If you don't, then you'll have to kill your enemies as they come to your door, but at least you'll have gotten what your mother wanted. I need two things from you, boy. A lot of Saiyajin dead, and an heir. I can't put you on the throne, and I am…unable to conceive. But a mostly Saiyajin grandson, that I can pass off as my own son, is the best solution. Which brings us to another point, because I'll need you to stick around long enough to train the boy. Freeza is going to come knocking at my door as soon as this revolution is over, demanding my heir in payment for not blowing us to kingdom come, because he knows I'm not going to honor my father's treaty with him. You think the pens were bad, boy? Live with Freeza for ten years, and tell me how much worse off those half-breeds were. At least they knew we wouldn't rape them for sport, and they knew how they'd die.” Vegeta paused for a long moment, looking down and far away. When he spoke again, he wasn't anything other than a tired man. “If nothing else, let me see you one last time, before I die.” Men like Vegeta never begged, but they never asked for anything unless there was absolutely no other alternative.
The image of Vegeta reached out and turned the recording device off, and the picture disappeared. Trunks stared at the little blue oval for a long time, then at the surrounding remains. Things had already started growing here, and an alter had been set up some ways away, where the survivors came to remember their friends, or the ones they'd killed to stay alive. Often both. If there were ever even an attempt to repeat what they Saiyajin had done…the human race wouldn't survive something so horrific with so little time to heal. Protect the people, at all costs. His mother hadn't taught him that, but he'd learned it the hard way, over the past six years. He scooped up the holographic projector, and walked all the way back to the little town he'd left Bardock in. It took him a few hours, time enough to weigh the pros and cons, and to change his mind. He didn't, though, and as he walked up to the little table, he smiled as all of his old teachers yelled and cheated and glared, focused hard on the battered cards. Yaumcha must have talked Piccolo into playing, because the Namek was hunched suspiciously over his hand, eyeing the other players. He stopped at Bardock's elbow, and waited until he'd gotten their full attention. It only took a couple of moments of looming quietly.
“I'll be going with you to Vegetasie.”
“Fuckin' beautiful. Do me a favor, and go find my half-breeds, and see if they've managed to keep my halfwits from giving each other even more brain damage. I severely doubt it, but a man can hope.” Bardock didn't even look up from the cards, but Trunks smiled.
“You guys need anything before I go?” He knew Krillin would want -
“Grape soda, please!” And Yaumcha would want -
“Bourbon.” And Tien usually chimed in around now -
“Bourbon and a chaser.” Piccolo didn't usually -
Trunks smiled, and went into the cantina for the drink order; when he came back out with it, they were still absorbed enough in their card game that when he took off to go find Gohan and Racine, they didn't notice him go.
Trunks had known their mothers briefly, had fought their fathers alongside them…and fathers and sons each deserved the chance to get to know each other.
Every one gets a second chance, he thought as he flew towards the bright points of their ki, but not all of us take them.
I will.