The "little get-together" that Giselle had proposed at the school open house a month ago actually came to fruition. This was, most likely, due to the dog-like tenacity of Giselle herself. Against his will Vegeta found himself walking alongside Trunks as they headed over to the Aros sector one relatively bright Saturday morning. He was carrying a store-bought chocolate cake, as per Trunks' suggestion that they bring something. Since it would take them a while to get there, his son had decided that dessert would be best.
It had been a month since he'd seen Goku last, not that he was going out of his way to avoid him or anything. Their paths just didn't cross, which was perfectly understandable since they lived in different sectors. He found himself thinking about the other man at the oddest moments and told himself that it was only because he was another adult Saiya-jin. He had seen few Saiya-jin since he left his home planet and fewer still that had actually wanted to talk to him. Those he had run across had all been transplants from Planet Vegeta and had known that he was the runaway prince. Most were too afraid to say something to him lest they make a faux pas and he killed them for disrespect. Others disapproved of his actions and it was evident in their facial expressions when they looked at him. In the opinion of most of his former people he should have been unwaveringly obedient and allowed his father to do whatever he wanted to him and to his life.
On Vegeta life had been less than pleasant, and not just for him. Their planet had little in the way of natural resources so they had to practically sell their souls to obtain the materials they needed to survive and reasonably prosper. A generation earlier his grandfather had sold what had remained of Saiya-jin dignity to a Changeling named Furiza in exchange for goods. They became ruthless pirates, stealing things that didn't belong to them and killing anyone who got in the way (which Furiza said was their right as a warrior race). An entire generation grew up being spoon-fed the Changeling's rhetoric and more than a few Saiya-jin had become mindless psychopaths who thrived on death and destruction.
But not him. He had done his best to escape from that, to escape what his father had deemed his fate. For that he was considered a traitor and to return to Vegeta would be a death sentence. No one he'd met after he left knew of these things. Vegeta was a very private person, after all, and he had never gotten close enough to anyone. He hoped that Trunks would never ask him about his past but knew that the odds were high that he would one day. He could only try to delay the inevitable as long as he could so that there would be more opportunity for time to further dull his pain.
"What are you thinking about?" Trunks asked as he pushed the button to open the air lock.
Vegeta came back to the present with a start. "Nothing."
"Doesn't look like nothing."
"Well, then, nothing I'm willing to share. You don't need to be burdened with my problems."
Of course Trunks had noticed that his father seemed a little... off at times, but never had it been that bad. It had all started at the open house and, at first, Trunks had thought that his preoccupation had something to do with his academic performance. But when he was finally able to view his grade report over the 'Net, he had discovered that he'd received perfect scores in every subject just as he had expected. So there was something else bothering him, but what?
At the sound of the chime, the hydraulic system powering the doors hissed open and they were allowed entrance into the Aros sector. Trunks dashed ahead excitedly, hurrying his father along with over-the-top hand gestures. Vegeta ignored him and continued to walk at his own pace.
"Look, if you want to run ahead, I don't care."
"Really? I can?" Trunks froze with anticipation.
"Yes. You're driving me nuts, anyway."
"Thanks, Papa!" He dashed down the narrow street. Right before he was out of sight, he turned around and shouted, "Hope you make it sometime this century, old man!"
If Vegeta had had his hands free, he would have flipped him off. Instead he settled for sticking out his tongue in a childish fashion. Trunks laughed and then kept going.
He wasn't looking forward to seeing Goku again. After that strange moment they'd shared a month ago, he had no idea what to expect from him. Would he bring it up with the hope that Vegeta could explain to him what had happened? If so he would be shit out of luck since Vegeta was equally as clueless. Never before had that happened with anyone, male or female.
Buruma, that bitch, had been a diversion, nothing more. He'd had sex with her under the impression that human females couldn't become pregnant by Saiya-jin sperm. He'd known that their genetic make-up was similar to his own but also knew that they were two completely separate races. It shouldn't have been possible, but life rarely behaved the way you expected it to.
So then, eight months later, he had a son. Of course he hadn't been told about Trunks until he was nearly a year old. Buruma's reason? She had been "too busy" to track him down. Apparently it had been simply too strenuous to use the comm number he'd given her until after his son was walking.
He wanted to label having anything to do with Buruma Briefs as a mistake of epic proportions, but then he'd gotten Trunks out of the deal and he would never consider him to be a mistake. He preferred not to think about her, really, and he had a feeling that Trunks did as well. The part of their lives that involved her was now over and they were free to recover from it.
Coming up ahead was the park the parents agreed to meet at. It was Giselle who'd made all the arrangements, including the date and the location. The park was actually only a few blocks from the building where Goten and Chisa lived and, though small, it was kept neat and the playground equipment was in good repair.
Attending a get-together was a new thing for Vegeta. His father had never learned what the word "fun" meant and the idea of him taking his son out anywhere as a child was laughable. He didn't remember his mother and didn't even know who she was. Sometimes he wondered if he'd ever had one. It wasn't unusual for a Saiya-jin child to not know who his or her parents were as most came to full term in incubation tanks and were then sent to centers soon after birth. That was just the way things were done on Vegeta, the way they'd been done for generations.
Trunks was running wide, endless circles around the adults with Goten and Chisa chasing after him. Vegeta had never seen him act so much like a, well, child before. Kira was nowhere to be seen and since Giselle could be spotted a mile away he knew that they had yet to arrive. Goku was unpacking food from a huge portable cool unit on wheels and setting it out on a nearby picnic table while Reina retrieved two bottles of something out of a smaller unit, one each for herself and for her husband. Vegeta smirked to himself as he eyed Chisa's father. He was a boring-looking felid, to say the least. He also looked mutinous. Reina had probably threatened him with something to get him to attend.
"Hi, Vegeta!" Reina greeted as she spotted him. "C'mon over, have a seat. This guy beside me is Chisa's father, though you probably already guessed. Reymund, this is Trunks' father, Vegeta."
"Hello," Reymund said politely. "It's nice to meet you."
"Same here." He hoped his instant dislike of the man didn't show. Walking over, he set the cake on the picnic table (right in the center) and took a seat on Reina's other side. "Uh, nice day."
"It is, isn't it?" She leaned back against the table and tilted her head upward. "It's been a long time since I took the time to stop and just enjoy life, you know? I'm always so busy trying to accomplish the impossible in my career. Can you believe there's still age-old prejudices about women floating around? A female still has to be ten-times more successful than a male who is her equal to get anywhere."
"Reina," Reymund muttered, "I'm sure he doesn't want to hear any of that."
Across Reina's lap, Vegeta met Reymund's eyes and said, "I don't mind. Really."
"No, he's right. It's my problem. I'm sorry for burdening you with it." She opened her eyes and added an honest smile to her apology. Vegeta couldn't see how a nice woman like Reina ended up with a stifling, boring man like Reymund. He was sure that Chisa had inherited nothing from her father.
Goku didn't start grilling up the food until after Giselle and Kira had arrived. They came bearing gifts -- lots of them. Giselle had brought along a large dolly similar to the one he'd borrowed from the dock all those months ago and it was piled high.
"My mother told me when I was a kid to never show up at a party empty handed," she informed them while making a production of pulling off the sheet covering everything. "So I brought stuff for us to play with and a few party favors to take home."
"I'm an adult," Reymund objected.
"Who said that you weren't?" Giselle asked. "But even adults need to have a little fun now and then. Don't you wish sometimes that you were still a kid?"
Vegeta could honestly say that he did not but could see where she was coming from.
This time Giselle wore a pair of bright yellow short-shorts and a neon purple halter top. On her feet were a pair of purple thong sandals. By comparison, in her plain jeans and t-shirt, Kira looked downright conservative. Was there anything in that woman's closet that didn't look like a rainbow had exploded all over it?
"Ooh, a volleyball net!" Goten said while tugging it off the cart. Grinning, Kira produced a ball and a handful of plastic stakes to hold it down with. "Does anyone want to play with us?" the boy asked.
"I think I will." Reina looked like she couldn't wait. Unfortunately that made the teams uneven. Reymund looked as if he was trying to grow roots, Goku was cooking, and Giselle was setting up a folding chair so that she could read what looked to be a trashy romance novel. That left only one person.
"Papa..." Trunks began in a pleading tone.
Vegeta frowned at him. "I don't do team sports."
"Aw c'mon, Vegeta!" Goku said. "It'll probably be fun." Vegeta tried desperately not to look at him for fear that he wouldn't be able to stop.
"Fine," he eventually agreed. Rising from the picnic bench, he followed the kids over to a flat grassy area and helped them set up the net. Then he wondered what he was supposed to do next. Of course he'd heard of volleyball before but he had never seen anyone play it, let alone play it himself. The kids had played it in school before, however. They knew the rules and were actually pretty good. They got through a game before Goku announced that lunch was ready. As soon as the words left his mouth the kids were all running over at top speed to where Giselle had set up all of the side dishes and the condiments, leaving Vegeta to carry the ball back over so that it didn't get lost. Reina smiled over at him (she was usually smiling) and commented on how happy the children were. He couldn't help but to agree.
The meal was more pleasant than Vegeta had thought it would be. While the kids had to be reprimanded a few times about not talking with their mouths full, everything else was perfect. Reymund kept his mouth shut most of the time (which pleased Vegeta to no end) and he was separated from Goku by Trunks and Chisa. He also took the time to surreptitiously watch how his son and Goku's behaved around each other. The kids rarely went over to Hedin so he hardly got to see how they interacted with each other. It just made more sense for them to play in Aros since three-out-of-four members of the group lived there.
There were many smiles shared between them when they thought the adults weren't paying attention. He couldn't really see his son's facial expression, but if Goten's was any indication they had fallen pretty hard for each other. Over the weeks since he'd first stumbled across the feelings the two boys had for each other, he'd had a lot of time to think. He knew Trunks didn't act his age most of the time which meant that if he thought he was in love with Son Goten then he would be pretty damn serious about it. Trunks just wasn't the type of person to do anything halfway.
Now Goten he wasn't too familiar with, but the boy was currently gazing at Trunks like the sun rose and set by his command. That was a pretty good sign that he was as serious as Trunks when it came to their relationship. The thought of two grade school kids pledging their undying love and devotion to each other was a little silly, but this relationship seemed like it would last a while. Or at least until Trunks graduated to middle school.
The adults spend the remainder of the day snacking and chatting while the kids ran around like chickens with their heads cut off. About an hour before sunset Reymund finally began loosening up, but that was probably due to the six beers he'd consumed by then. The man slowly sipped and savored each and every one like it would be the last he would ever have for the rest of his life.
Vegeta was almost asleep when Goku finally initiated the Conversation. From beneath lazy eyelids he gazed at the other man, his drowsy mind processing how handsome he was without protest from its owner. He didn't try to deny it like he had before, instead he accepted it as truth. Vegeta was suspended in a world between waking and dreaming, a world where everything was non-threatening. Goku could have declared his love to him and he would have taken it in stride.
"So it's time, hmmm?" he asked, struggling to find the energy to sit up straighter. He blinked in slow-motion, his eyelids taking up arms against the invading arm of Sleep in an epic battle to stay open.
The other Saiya-jin was confused, to say the least. "Time? Time for what?"
"Time for the Conversation." The word definitely had a capital letter when it said it. "Okay, so talk."
"Um, I'm not sure what you want me to say."
"Yes, you do, you just don't know it." Vegeta's eyelids lost the battle and they closed completely. Just when Goku thought he'd fallen asleep, the man began to speak again. His words were slowly paced and slightly slurred. "Something passed between us, ya know? Something deep and meaning-" He yawned hugely. "-ful."
Goku smiled as he thought of that moment. "Yeah, it did."
"It scares me." He hadn't meant for that to slip out and when his brain registered that it did, his eyes snapped open. "I didn't say that. You didn't hear a thing."
"Of course I didn't."
Adrenaline pumped through his body from the alarm his admission caused within him. It did wonders to push his sleepiness away. "I should go. It's almost dark and Trunks has probably passed out by now."
But he didn't wait. "Trunks, it's time to go." The kids were nowhere to be found. He wasn't particularly worried about them since they more than likely knew Aros like the backs of their hands, but being forced to wait until his son showed up again meant that Goku would have the chance to talk.
Goku moved so that he was standing in front of Vegeta and asked, "Why are you running from this?"
"I'm not running."
"Yes, you are. What's so bad about feeling this way? I'm attracted to you. You're attracted to me..."
"I don't know where you got that idea." His voice was slightly high-pitched with panic. Now that sleep had been driven back, the comfortable haze surrounding his mind was completely gone and he didn't feel at all ready to handle a Conversation with Goku.
Goku stepped back, sensing that pushing Vegeta right now was not a wise move to make. "Alright, I'll stop. For now. But this isn't over. Not by a long shot." And with those ominous words, Goku turned and began to pack up the food still remaining on the table.
It was another ten minutes before the kids returned. Tired and dirty, they stumbled over to their parents and each requested to go home. Trunks was only semi-conscious so Vegeta decided to carry him home. He was small, just like his father, so his weight wouldn't be much of a problem. Kira was settled on the dolly amongst the remainder of the stuff Giselle had brought, Chisa was nestled in her father's arms, but Goten had to walk since Goku had to tug along the cooling unit. The little boy didn't look like he would make it very far before he collapsed so it was fortunate that they were so close to home.
"See you later," Trunks called out to his friends. The other three replied with equally-as-sleepy mumblings. Before Vegeta had even gotten three blocks away, Trunks was fast asleep.
All-in-all, it had been a good day. Even with cameo appearance that the dreaded Conversation had made in the end.
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