Dragon Ball/Z/GT Fan Fiction ❯ Touketsu ❯ Red Sands ( Chapter 4 )
Dawn broke over West City as Vegeta exited from the gravity simulator, having completed his early morning workout routine. He wiped the sweat from his face with the towel that hung around his neck and looked up to the sky. The rosy hue of sunrise was giving way to gold, and Vegeta felt a lightening in his spirit. He looked forward to the milestone that his son would achieve. Yes, Goku had won the race to the Ascension, and if Vegeta no longer had the opportunity to prove himself against the younger Saiyan then at the very least his son would ascend before Gohan had. Vegeta smirked to himself. Beating out the younger, Kakarot carbon copy in the process would be an added bonus.
After a shower and breakfast Vegeta had donned his usual blue, light training gear, boots and gloves. He had made the decision to bring Trunks with him to a remote desert area for his Super Saiyan training. He didn't want to risk a gravity room accident, and given the boy's inexperience, training near any civilization was out of the question.
It was early yet, and Bulma stood by the doorway still in her bathrobe. Chewing her lip anxiously, she watched the pair as they walked past her to leave. She reached out and stopped Vegeta, taking him by the arm. "Hey, just go easy on him, ok? He just turned 7. Even Gohan was like, 10 years old before he went Super and he still had to train with Goku for a whole year in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber-"
"He'll be fine woman," Vegeta interrupted impatiently. "He's already stronger than Kakarot's eldest at his age. He's more than ready for this."
"Yeah mom, I got this! Don't worry!" Trunks piped up. The little boy was practically swimming in the yellow tank top and blue shorts he was wearing.
Bulma glanced over at her son. He was so little yet! Tightening her lips, she breathed out through her nose in resignation and she gave a short nod. "Alright. You listen to your father, ok Trunks?"
"K, mom" Trunks smiled.
"Now if we're all done here wasting time I'd like to get moving before the day is over," Vegeta droned sarcastically. "Let's go, brat." With that, the two took to the sky and headed off for their chosen training ground.
The massive, gold sand dunes stood out against the brilliant blue sky of the desert, the blazing sun beating down from above. Vegeta and Trunks touched down in the desert sands. It was a good place to train; the arid region was virtually without life and other than leveling a few sand dunes the landscape wouldn't be terribly affected from the training that was about to commence.
"Wow, it's like a giant sandbox!" Trunks said in wonder as he shielded his eyes from the sun. He had done his share of traveling with his adventure seeking mother, but this was the first time he had been to a place quite like this. There was nothing but sand as far as the eye could see.
Vegeta ignored his comment. "Alright, boy. Let's get right down to it. Now, in order to achieve Super Saiyan, your body must react in response to a deep need. Is there anything you can think of that you feel a strong need to do?"
"Well…I have to pee pretty bad."
Vegeta's eye twitched. This may be harder than he thought. "Just…go take a piss then, kid! We're basically in a giant cat box, " he huffed.
"Ok!" Trunks proceeded to do his business.
Vegeta grumbled and pinched the bridge of his nose while he waited for Trunks to finish. He glanced up, exasperated already. "Alright are you ready?"
Vegeta rolled his eyes and made a silent prayer to the gods for some patience. "Ok, Trunks. Now, you must summon your energy and think of something you feel strongly about - something that angers you. Rage is the trigger behind the Super Saiyan transformation. You must hold onto that rage and push your energy as high as you can go, then keep going. Understand?"
Trunks nodded eagerly. "Yeah Dad!"
"HEYAAAHH!" Trunks clenched his small hands into fists and brought his arms down quickly to his sides as his aura burst forth. The sands swirled around him and upwards in response as a small cyclone ensued. Vegeta crossed his arms and looked on, taking note of the little boy's rising power level. After about a minute Trunks's aura dropped and the sands collapsed around him. He bent over, his hands planted on his knees as he panted hard.
Vegeta raised an eyebrow. That's it, huh? he thought with some disappointment. True, he hadn't expected much on the very first try. Still….there was that little part of him that had hoped. "So, Trunks. Share what you were thinking."
Trunks looked up at his father, and his little face hardened. "I was thinking about when Goten broke my Optimus Prime."
Vegeta blinked. "Your what?"
"My Transformer toy, Dad!" Trunks whined emphatically.
Vegeta planted his hands on his hips and lowered his head. He let out a great sigh before looking back up again. "Alright, Trunks. We're going to try a different tack. You're going to spar with me. We're going to train longer and harder than we ever have before. You up for it?"
"Yeah!" Trunks yelled enthusiastically while jumping up and pumping a fist in the air. Trunks loved sparring with his dad. It was just about the only thing they did together, and Trunks reveled in the one-on-one time he spent with his father.
Vegeta smirked with pride. He planted one foot behind him, standing sideways, and beckoned to Trunks. "Let's go, boy."
They sparred for hours. Vegeta hadn't let up even to break for food or water, and the grueling training was beginning to wear his young son down. Vegeta barely took notice; his one track mind had taken over.
Damnit, how he wished he knew how Kakarot had gone about training Gohan in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. Teaching a boy to go Super Saiyan for the first time was proving much more difficult than he had anticipated, and the doubts began to creep in. As a child, Gohan had faced threats to life and limb at the age of five, his year-long training before his and Nappa's arrival to Earth not withstanding. From then on, Kakarot's first born had been subjected to one battle after the other: he fought Nappa. He went toe-toe with Vegeta himself. He battled Frieza's men on Namek, even taking on the Ginyu force. He had even faced Frieza. He had prepared to fight the Androids and then trained in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber before facing Cell, becoming a Super Saiyan at the mere age of 10. A short while later on the battlefield, he had ascended to the astonishing level of Super Saiyan 2 to at last obliterate the seemingly indestructible Cell. It was all the more disappointing to Vegeta that Gohan had made those gains only to essentially say to hell with it and basically quit once the fight was over.
Then there was Trunks from the alternate future. He had made the ascension at the age of 14, and it took a lifetime of terrorization at the hands of the Androids and Gohan's death to do it. His son in this timeline had lived a safe existence. He had not seen battle once. Free-falling in the downed jet all those years ago was as close to a threat to his life that the boy had experienced, and he was obviously too young at the time to even remember it. Vegeta had the errant thought that if Trunk's future counterpart hadn't saved him and his fool mother, then maybe the infant's natural instincts would have been allowed to kick in.
Vegeta grit his teeth in frustration. His boy was weak by mere virtue of the fact that he had a good life - a safe one, a secure one. Vegeta was suddenly overcome with the anxiety that Trunks may already be far behind. Perhaps he would never catch up! Here he thought he was ahead of the game, training the boy early for Super Saiyan, when in fact Trunks's ascension could well be doomed from the start. Gohan and Future Trunks had a lifetime of battles under their belt at a very young age. They were necessary for the transformation! Trunks's pampered, spoiled life was inhibiting that.
Vegeta's internal litany was interrupted. "Dad? Can we please stop and get something to eat? I'm really hungry!" Trunks wailed pitiably.
Vegeta growled impatiently. Spoiled and weak - case in point. "Trunks!" He shouted. "If you ever hope to become a Super Saiyan, you must push through your limitations. The more difficult it feels - the more you want to stop - THAT is when you keep going. Now get your guard up, boy!" he shouted as he ascended to Super Saiyan. Vegeta had been holding back before, having assumed that his base level was more than enough challenge for the boy. He had wasted enough time today. The kid needed a push!
The pair continued their sparring some 100 feet off the ground. The sun began to set, the softening blue sky fading to the horizon in graduated hues of lavender and rose. The now full moon overlooked their dueling, hovering like a translucent specter in a sky still light with the passing day. The sun meanwhile continued its inexorable descent, at last disappearing below the horizon. The dunes, bathed blood red in the dying light, cast long purple shadows across the land.
In spite of his missing tail, Vegeta could feel the moon's undeniable influence on his mind and body. It was something he hadn't expected; it occurred to him that he had never experienced the presence of a full moon without also having his tail. He felt more alive and more driven than he had in months. In fact, he felt almost rabid with energy.
Bulma had made an excellent wish.
With a cry, Vegeta ascended all the way to Super Saiyan 2. No more holding back. This could actually be it. This could be the key, Vegeta thought to himself as he continued the relentless sparring with his son. He's exhausted, starving, thirsty. He's been fighting the entire day and running on empty. He's up against Super Saiyan 2! This could be enough to trigger his survival instincts-
His thoughts came screeching to a halt when his fist connected full force with the now exhausted little boy's jaw, and Trunks went soaring through the air before his trajectory lowered and he went crashing through a sand dune.
Vegeta was momentarily stunned, his transformation dropping completely. He then blasted down to where his son had landed. He couldn't see Trunks; he was buried somewhere deep in the sand. It was then Vegeta realized he could barely feel his ki. Suppressing his rising panic, Vegeta summoned his ki and with an outward sweep of his arms he cleared away the sands. His eyes scanned frantically for his son when he spotted a rounded object sticking out of the sand; it was the top of Trunks's head, his lavender hair barely visible. Vegeta quickly got down on his hands and knees before thrusting his arms deep into the sand. He quickly but gently lifted the boy out before placing him back down. The left side of Trunks's jaw was swollen and appeared broken, and the entire right side of his head was caked in dark sand saturated with blood. Blood streamed from his mouth and nose, and his eyes were closed. It was difficult to tell whether or not he was breathing. Rising fear for his son overtook Vegeta. He quickly put two fingers to Trunks's neck. There was a pulse, but it felt fluttery and weak. He slid a hand beneath his neck as he attempted to pull him into a sitting position when he froze, his stomach dropping: through his son's neck, he felt broken bones.
Gods, no. What have I done? he thought frantically. "Trunks - Trunks can you hear me?!" Trunks could well be paralyzed or dead any moment. Vegeta visibly grappled with his panic and tried to maintain focus. What the hell could he do? Wait - there was a single senzu bean left in his nightstand back at Capsule Corp. Bulma had appealed to Krillin to secure her some in the event that Vegeta pushed himself too hard in his non-stop training. Gods knew he would have never asked the midget for such a thing. He was grateful Bulma did.
Damnit, why the hell didn't I think to bring it here? he thought. The only thing he could do was to fly Trunks back home as fast as he could. He didn't dare entertain the thought that he may not make it. Vegeta cradled the boy's head and gently lifted his limp body up, pulling him close to his chest. Ascending to Super Saiyan 2, he blasted into the air.
Night had long since fallen. Bulma was dressed in her blue silk nightgown as she lie on her side in their king-sized bed, her head propped up on one hand as she read her novel. She glanced up at the digital alarm clock on her nightstand and suppressed her feelings of worry. When the hell were they coming back? Damnit, she hated not knowing what was going on! Would that she could communicate telepathically like the Z Senshi. She wondered idly if should could learn.
"Wish I could get that guy to carry a frikin' cell phone," she grumbled to herself as she returned to her novel. She should have bought that smartphone for Trunks's birthday. He was young, but between him and his father he'd actually be the more reliable person to carry one.
Bulma snapped out of her musings when she heard the glass door to the balcony slide open. She looked over her shoulder to see that Vegeta had returned with Trunks. Finally! For a fleeting moment she thought that the boy had fallen asleep. Then she noticed the blood all over his head. Her eyes now wide with alarm, Bulma threw her book aside and leapt up.
"Oh my god, Trunks!" she cried. She tried reaching for him. "Is he -"
"Move, MOVE," Vegeta gruffly ordered as he dropped out of his transformation. He pushed past her and lay the boy on the bed, Bulma hovering anxiously behind him. Vegeta yanked open the drawer to his nightstand and after several seconds of tense rummaging he found the senzu bean. He sat down on the edge of the bed and gently grasped Trunks by the chin to open his mouth a little. He pushed the bean in, massaged the boy's throat to help it go down, and waited. The seconds felt like hours. Finally, there was a grimace of pain from the little boy as bones mended and flesh healed. Trunks's eyes fluttered open.
Bulma and Vegeta released the collective breaths they were holding. Bulma circled the bed and was immediately at Trunks's side.
"Trunks, baby are you ok?" Bulma asked, her voice trembling as she cupped his little face in her hands.
"Trunks - move your legs for me," Vegeta commanded. "Can you make a fist?"
"Hm. Yeah," Trunks groggily replied, wiggling his feet. He pushed himself into a sitting position and held up a small fist as his father ordered.
Vegeta's shoulders dropped as the tension at last left his body. Thank Kami, he thought. He didn't look Bulma in the eye, but he could feel her gaze boring into him.
Bulma returned her attention to Trunks. "Come on sweetie, let's get you cleaned up," she said softly.
"I'm hungry, mom."
"Sure baby, we'll take care of all of that."
Bulma led Trunks out of the room to give him a bath and some much needed nourishment. Vegeta watched them leave out of the corner of his eye as he sat unmoving for several moments. Finally, he ran a hand over his face before getting up and going to their adjoining bathroom for a shower.
Vegeta sat on the edge of the bed, now showered and wearing a pair of black boxers. He leaned forward and covered his face as he propped his elbows on his knees. He sighed, and his fingers raked up into his raven hair. By the gods, he had come so close to killing him. How could he have lost control like that? Bulma had not yet returned to their room. No doubt while the boy was being cleaned, dressed for bed, and fed, she had been interrogating him as to what had happened.
He looked up when he heard Bulma enter the bedroom. She had stayed with Trunks in his room until he fell asleep, which didn't take terribly long. Vegeta slowly rose, his dark eyes locked on hers. He met her furious gaze stoically, though his face betrayed the barest hint of the tremendous guilt he was feeling. Bulma stalked up to him and slapped him hard in the face, snapping his head to the side.
"WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!" Bulma shrieked. "Were you thinking at all?!"
He glared sightlessly at the wall across from him, the muscles in his jaw flexing as he grit his teeth behind a tightly closed mouth. Accepting her expected wrath, Vegeta had not attempted to get his guard up. With as much as he hated himself in that moment he knew he deserved to be struck. Nonetheless, he found himself clenching his fists as he grappled with his reactive nature.
Bulma leaned forward, glaring at his profile as she laid into him. "Look, you can kill yourself training for…whatever the fuck. That's what you do. But don't you project your sick, obsessive tendencies on our son! He's only seven years old! He's not going off to fight Cell or some intergalactic warlord!"
Vegeta's eye twitched rhythmically in growing agitation. He felt overwhelmingly guilty about what had happened to Trunks under his watch. In fact, he felt like a failure. Is this what it was to have a family? To feel like a failure? He already felt like one as it was: Kakarot, Frieza, 18, Cell; just failure after failure after failure. He didn't need this shit. All the darkness that had been building up in him slowly over the years, climaxing in the last few months, finally clawed its way up to the surface. He never wanted a family. Apart from some enemy exploiting them against him, he didn't want to be the failure that his own father turned out to be, and he didn't want these attachments weakening him. Yet, here he was. Vegeta slowly turned his head back to Bulma, his eyes cold. If it wasn't for the woman standing in front of him he wouldn't still be here on this planet. His damnable pride reared its unrepentant head, and he redirected all of his self loathing right back at her as he doubled down on his defense.
"In an alternate timeline, our son did just that," he spoke slowly, his voice low with barely contained rage. "He would be living in the hell those tin cans created RIGHT NOW if we hadn't been warned about them. This planet has faced one threat after the other: Frieza, the Androids, Cell! Oh, yes - and me. Are you forgetting about all of that, genius?! Our boy is weak by mere virtue of the fact that he is living in a time of peace. It WON'T last, woman. It never does! I'm training him to be prepared!"
Bulma was livid, and all her pent up frustration with him had reached a boiling point. She had done everything that she could possible think of to make things easier for him. She had given him space, she had offered him support, she backed off the moment he made it clear that he did not want to discuss a topic. She had tried to include him, and she offered him smiles and warmth even as his sullen attitude was draining her and leaving her cold. But this? This was it. If he didn't want to accept her help then that was on him. He was a grown-ass man. But to drag their child down into his personal hell was the line, and he had crossed it. She wasn't going to tip-toe around his issues anymore.
"You're training him to be prepared," she echoed, planting her hands on her hips. "Is that what this is about? Is it?" She looked him dead in the eye. "Or is this about some unfinished business with Goku?" His eyes flashed with anger at the mention of that clown's name. Damn her and her ability to see right through him. "Yeah, that's what I thought. It's like this year after year with you Vegeta, and every year you seem to get pulled down deeper over it. But now, you're dragging us down with you! You know, you were just telling me last night that the past is over and done with, and live in the now…but look at you! You're frozen in that time and place, brooding over something that is DONE and forgetting about where you are now! I just don't understand-"
"THAT'S RIGHT! YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!" he roared as Bulma flinched from his outburst. "You don't understand what it is to be Saiyan!"
"And whose fault is that, huh?!" she shot back. "You won't tell me anything, Vegeta! God knows I try to get you to talk to me when something's troubling you, and all you can do is brush me off and tell me it's nothing! I'm not a mind reader! Take some fucking responsibility and just tell me what it is you need, damn it!"
"Hn," he snorted in disgust. "Nothing you could ever give." Bulma recoiled as though slapped, and he took advantage of her momentary speechlessness. "I'm a Saiyan warrior. Battle is in my blood. And while you claim to know that, you don't understand it. I'm not human, Bulma."
"No shit, Vegeta! I know what you are, I-"
"Like hell you do!" He got right up to her face. "I enjoy crushing an enemy's life in my hands. I enjoy battle and conquest. From the very beginning you've been aware of my past, but you were all too ready to look beyond it." His voice dropped as he looked at her intensely. "If you had actually been there, if you had been in my mind and seen what I had done, I guarantee you wouldn't have found it so easy to accept me for what I am." He paused, sneering. "You never knew what I was then, and you don't know who I am now. You only think you do. Just because I killed under Frieza's orders didn't mean I didn't enjoy it. I did. My working for him simply satisfied a lust that had always been there and WILL always be there."
"Vegeta, we've been over all this forever ago! Why are you dredging this all up now?" she exclaimed, completely exasperated.
"This," he replied sarcastically, "has always been here, woman. You're the one who refuses to see it. You and your race and…Kakarot under its influence. You all wax on about your blasted feelings all the time so maybe you'll understand this: I feel like I'm in purgatory."
Bulma was taken aback. "Wha-what do you mean?"
"This shit existence you humans consider a life," he spat. "Your pointless, drifting peace. It's living death to me."
Coldness washed over Bulma at his ugly words and she instantly felt numb. She wrapped her arms around herself and took a step back away from him. Swallowing, she gave a stiff nod. Her usually fiery blue eyes became as cold as ice. "So that's what this it to you," she finally replied, her voice thick as her throat began to tighten. She took a deep breath. "No one's ever made you stay here, you know that. Not me, not Trunks. You've always been free to choose what you want to do or where you want to go. If you're this miserable here, then maybe you should go find what makes you happy."
He glared at her for several moments before abruptly turning and making a bee-line for their spacious walk-in closet. Bulma turned to watch him disappear into the closet, her arms tightening over her chest as she felt her eyes begin to burn. She knew what he was after, and she bit back her crippling disappointment.
After a moment of rummaging he found the capsule containing one of the several sets of armor and uniforms that Bulma had created, largely unused since the Cell Games. He deployed it and quickly got dressed. He wouldn't stay here - he couldn't stay. He desperately needed an out. His tortured thoughts were a maelstrom of agonizing emotion. The call to lose himself in destruction beckoned to him now more than ever before. All his life it was the only way he had ever coped with the dark thoughts and chaotic emotions, the only thing that enabled him to regain some semblance of control. He didn't know where he was going, and he had no idea when he was coming back. He emerged from the closet clad in his Saiyan armor, tugging his white gloves over his hands.
At the sight of him leaving, Bulma couldn't help herself as her rage flared up again. He nearly killed their son and here he was flipping the argument and running away from her as though she was the problem? She stalked up to stand in front of him. "Color me not surprised," she snapped. "You'd never let anyone call you a coward but then you pull this shit. You go on about standing your ground to face the fight but that doesn't apply to me and Trunks, does it? That's all you ever do is run off!" Focused on pulling on his other glove, Vegeta acted as though she wasn't even there. Expressionless and not even sparing her a glance, he brushed past her towards the balcony doorway.
"Well don't worry about us," she spat sarcastically as she followed after him. "Over the years I've gotten pretty used to you never being around. I'm sure Trunks is getting used to that now too." He stepped out onto the balcony and blasted into the air as she screamed out, "We won't miss you!" He was gone from her view in seconds.
Bulma turned her back, bitterly wiping a stray tear of overwhelming frustration. "Fucking asshole," she hissed, her voice cracking.