Over the course of the time he was stuck at home, Trunks came up with a plan to get himself kicked out of S.S. No. 18 for good. He thought that if his father understood just how determined he was to escape conventional schooling that he would finally give in an get him a private tutor. The only problem with his plan was trying to come up with something that would only get him expelled and not arrested.

So he borrowed a copy of the student handbook from the library his first day back at school. The librarian beamed at him when she wrote the due date on the paper in the back, probably pleased to see a student taking an interest in the rules and regulations of the school. If only she knew the real reason behind his sudden interest in school policy. It would probably turn the rest of her hair gray.

He had been transferred from Mr. Rhuka's class to Mrs. Felip's. She was a young human woman, maybe around the age of twenty-three or so, and very pretty. Trunks thought she was more suited to modeling than to teaching sixth graders, but it was probably her beauty that kept her students in line. People were always more likely to be kind to someone pleasing to the eye than to someone who wasn't.

Trunks was on his best behavior the entire first day as he had a feeling that his new teacher was going to be making a report to the principal after class was over for the day. She was constantly watching him whenever she thought he wasn't paying attention.

After returning home he sequestered himself in his new room. It was still pretty plain and not at all up to his specifications, but he'd only been using it for a week. He and his father had plans to go and purchase a can of paint, new curtains, and new bed linens on Friday. He was thinking black and silver for the color scheme but Vegeta was trying to steer him towards red.

He pulled his homework and the slim paperback handbook from his backpack and settled down to work. Half an hour passed by relatively quickly and most of it he'd spent studying the rules and imagining possible scenarios. The homework, of course, had only taken him ten minutes to complete.

When Vegeta came home, he checked on Trunks and was pleased to see him behaving for once. Not that his son was a bad kid, but he was a mischievous little wannabe adult. After informing Trunks that dinner would be ready in a little while, he went off to the kitchen to prepare his gourmet "just add meat" meal.

Trunks' mind was hardly on dinner as he sat there running scenarios in his mind. His first instinct was to play a prank on Mr. Rhuka for treating him like a little kid but didn't see how it could reasonably work since he was no longer in his class. His new teacher was always a possibility but he liked her too much to humiliate her. Then he thought of the principal. At the mandatory meeting he and his father had had with the man, he'd taken an instant dislike to him. Not only did he treat him like a kid like most of the adults around him, he also treated him like a future felon. While he loved causing mayhem, Trunks wasn't stupid enough to do something that would land him in prison. That is, he wasn't stupid enough to commit a felony and get caught afterward.

The boy was startled by the feel of water sprinkling down on him from above. "Huh? What?" He looked up at the amused face of his father and began running his fingers through his hair to get rid of the excess moisture. "What was that for?"

"You were sitting there like you were trying to grow roots so I thought I better water you so you wouldn't wither away and die."

"Very funny," the boy told him in the most sarcastic voice he could manage.

"Yeah, I thought so too." Vegeta grabbed his chin and tilted his face upward. "What's going on in that devious little mind of yours?"

Blue eyes widened with mock innocence. "Whatever do you mean, dear father?"

The two of them stared at each other, neither backing down. In the end, Vegeta released his son's face and shook his head. "You better not be planning something that's going to get you into trouble again."

"Of course not!" Trunks said in a dramatically offended tone of voice.

"Hmph." Vegeta went over to the sink and began to fill it with hot water, muttering all the while about "precocious little brats who don't have the sense God gave a rock". Trunks knew his father didn't believe in a higher power (neither did he) so it was pretty amusing to hear him say something like that.

"I'm going to my room to finish my homework."

"They actually gave you something that could occupy you for more than a few seconds?"

He thought he was on to him and his heart began to pound double-time. He frantically tried to come up with something to say that would successfully distract his father. "Okay, so I'm really going to my room so that I can jerk off. What do you expect, I'm an almost-twelve-year-old boy." He heard the tell-tale clink of a plate hitting the metal bottom of the sink as Vegeta's fingers suddenly became nerveless in his surprise. Snickering, Trunks went back to his room to scheme even further.

It took a few days of preparation before he could execute what he had come to call Operation Expulsion. He had decided to target Mr. Dorino, S.S. No. 18's illustrious principal. There was just something about that man that made him think he had a lot of embarrassing secrets. Because he knew that sexual secrets wouldn't be as hilarious to the other kids as they would be to him, he figured he could find something that people of all ages would find funny. Trunks decided to take his camera with him to school so that he would be able to get evidence after he followed Mr. Dorino home. It was a pricey piece of electronic equipment that could take stills as well as high quality video.

For the fourth day in a row he was a model student. His teacher was starting to adore him and the other kids constantly tried to start conversations with him. He responded to each of them with nothing but the utmost respect while internally mocking them. Finally the time came when Mr. Dorino headed straight home after school instead of staying behind. The day before he'd waited half an hour before heading home and, fortunately, his father hadn't made it there yet. Vegeta had a brand new job and refused to tell him what it was, which made him believe it was definitely something worth knowing about. On Saturday he planned to follow his father and see why he was so embarrassed by his job.

Anyway, he followed his principal, making sure to keep far enough behind him that he would be able to hide if the man happened to turn around.

He was led to a small brown apartment building that was surrounded by buildings of five stories or more. It was strange to see a building so small on Solaris but perhaps the Department of Housing Development had future plans to build upward.

There was no downstairs security door either because the colony felt that the neighborhood was safe or they were too lazy to install one. Well, he wasn't going to complain about it since it granted him entry into the building. Once inside, however, he was confronted with a problem. What if Dorino lived on an upper floor? How in the world was he going to get any "incriminating" evidence? As he couldn't hear the man's footsteps in the downstairs hall, he assumed that he'd climbed the stairs. Quickly, he followed and hoped he hadn't missed him entering his apartment.

Crouched on the stairs leading to the top floor, he watched as his principal unlocked his door and went inside, shutting it firmly and locking it behind him. Well, that avenue was out. Feeling frustrated, Trunks returned to the ground floor and exited the building.

He took a seat on the stoop as he pondered his latest problem. How could he see inside of his principal's third floor apartment without borrowing one of the city's cherry pickers or stealing someone's ladder? He got up and walked around the building while staring upward at it. There was a very narrow ledge running around it that was right below the windows, too narrow for him to use. Upon reaching the back of the building, he noted the fire escape and smiled. Of course there would be an outside emergency exit, how could he ever forget such a thing? Unfortunately the ladder was out of his reach as it had been pulled upward so that people like him couldn't use it.

Was this even the correct side of the building? He tried to visualize the building's layout and realized that Dorino's apartment was on the other side. Fortunately there was a fire escape on that one, too. Even better, the ladder was down far enough for him to reach if he climbed on top of something. Spying a metal garbage can in the alley, he quickly pushed it into place and used it as a step stool. In mere minutes he was exactly where he needed to be.

The window was in the living room and Dorino was nowhere to be found. The television was on and tuned into the news, the sound muffled through the glass. There was a small black cat curled on top of it, seemingly unaffected by the noise below.

His principal reappeared in casual clothing and sat down on the couch. The cat immediately joined him. He petted the cat while talking to it as if it were human then settled down to catch up on the latest Intergal news. Trunks yawned and rested his chin on the windowsill, utterly bored.

It wasn't until twenty minutes later that Dorino moved again. He got up from the couch and entered the small kitchen that was right beside the window. If Trunks changed his angle he had a good view of the area. Sensing that something interesting was finally going to happen, he set the camera to record and settled down to watch the show.

He pulled out a mop and then a bucket. After disappearing briefly to fill the plastic bucket with soapy water, he reentered the kitchen and then turned on the radio. As he was now closer to the window, Trunks could hear him hum to himself as he mopped the floor. Then the song changed (followed closely by Dorino's behavior). His humming transformed into singing and he began to dance with the mop around the kitchen.

Trunks covered his mouth with both hands to stifle his laughter. The man was so lonely he was waltzing with his mop. When Dorino lowered it into a dip, he completely lost it and lay helplessly on the steel floor of the fire escape, laughing hysterically. He calmed himself just in time to witness the grand finale as Dorino planted a big wet one right on the plastic mop handle. Trunks let out a loud bark of laughter by mistake and his principal's head jerked up at the sound. His eyes scanned the apartment for the source and eventually landed on the window to the fire escape.

"Fuck!" Dorino cursed loudly. "You little shit! I'm gonna kill you!"

That stopped his laughter pretty quickly. Trunks grabbed his camera and hurriedly stuffed it into his backpack and was halfway down the first ladder before Dorino had even squeezed his overweight body through the window.

Once he was safely on the ground he undid his belt, dropped his pants, and mooned his principal. "Kiss ass, old man!" Then he took off for home as fast as he could, laughing the entire way.

When he finally made it to the street he lived on his father was coming home from the opposite direction. There was a fierce frown on his face and he looked tired. Obviously his new job didn't agree with him. Trunks slowed his pace until he was stopped in front of the building and waited for Vegeta to meet up with him.

"Hey, how's it goin'?" he asked.

The small man gave him a hard look. "Why are you down here when you should be up there? And why do you have your backpack?"

Nothing escaped his notice. "Um, it's a funny story, actually."

"I'm waiting."

So much for hoping he would drop the subject. Trunks didn't have an explanation prepared because he'd expected to be home long before his father arrived. It was all that stupid Dances-With-Mop's fault for taking so long to humiliate himself.

Instead of offering an explanation, he asked innocently, "You never did tell me where you work now, you know."

Vegeta paled and then changed the subject. "C'mon, I bet you're hungry. I think we have some pizza in the freezer."

Trunks had enough sense to wait until his father's back was turned to grin. "Score!" he whispered.

They had a quiet dinner. Trunks was highly aware of the unconscious signs of suspicious behavior he could be sending his father and tried his best to dampen them. Vegeta, on the other hand, was almost praying that his son didn't ask any more questions about his job. After the pizza was devoured, Trunks took their plates and empty glasses to the kitchen and returned to the living room to watch more tv. His father went to sleep around eleven, warning him not to stay up to late lest he wanted to face dire consequences. Trunks raised his hand in acknowledgement of his words and then promptly decided to ignore them. One a.m. wasn't all that late and he would still be rested enough to get up for school the next day. He had his master plan to execute, after all.

He ended up falling asleep in front of the television with it turned to one of the channels he wasn't supposed to know that his father subscribed to. Fortunately he woke up when his father got up to shower or else he would have been in some deep doo-doo. Waiting until he heard the sound of the bathroom door closing, Trunks darted into his bedroom and slid beneath the covers. He ended up returning to sleep rather quickly.

Only to be awakened again ten minutes later. After a quick shower since he was running short on time, Trunks staggered into the kitchen to grab a granola bar and ended up falling asleep while leaning against the counter. Vegeta rolled his eyes at the boy and then slammed his hands onto the table mercilessly, smirking on the wall. Trunks literally jumped and spun around, his blue eyes as wide and as round as saucers. His father again took in his tired eyes and listless behavior and said, "I thought I told you to go to sleep at a decent hour."

"I-I did."

"And I thought you had more sense than to be watching porn at your age."

Trunks blushed then began to stammer even worse. "I-I-I don't have any idea w-w-what you're talking about."

"All those close-ups of pussy might have scarred you for life."

The boy stopped blushing to cock his head curiously at his father. "I'd've thought you would like close-ups of pussy."

As if realizing his mistake, Vegeta said, "Well, yeah, but not so many. Go get your shoes on and go to school before you're late. And take the train. You definitely won't make it in time by walking as slowly as you are this morning."

"Gotcha. See ya, Papa. I'm glad we had this enlightening talk about pussy close-ups."


"What's on tomorrow's agenda? Dick shots?"

Vegeta told him to "go" again but it was somewhat muffled by his laughter. He got himself together by the time the front door closed and was shaking his head in disbelief at his son's antics. Who would have thought an almost-twelve-year-old would be so entertaining?

Then his smile faded as he glanced at the time. He had to leave for work. He hoped to eventually get a better job, but he didn't exactly have a work history due to his off-the-record former career and his lack of a secondary education. Grabbing his house keys and his wallet, Vegeta locked up and headed off to work like a man heading off to his execution.

Trunks went over his plan again on his way to school on the inter-sector Solaran transit system. He didn't usually take the train to school as he liked walking more, but his father had been right that he would have been late if he used his usual method of transportation. The train was noisy and often crowded with school-age kids and adults heading off to work. He couldn't get a seat, and he was too short to grab the cords hanging from the ceiling to steady himself, so he clutched a thin metal pole and prayed that he wouldn't fall over and embarrass himself. In actuality he probably would have been perfectly fine not holding onto anything at all since the press of people around him would have kept him in place. All those people invading his personal space was making him shudder.

He began fighting his way to the front long before his stop or else he would have missed it. It was fortunate that he was small or he might have never been able to get off until rush hour was over. He burst forth from the train car with a look of utter relief on his face and began to sprint out of the station and to his soon-to-be-former school. The sooner he got there the sooner this could be all over.

There were only a few minutes before the morning bell and the halls were practically empty. Trunks walked with false nonchalance down to the Audio/Visual room (which was empty at that time of day). Pulling out a set of lockpicks that would definitely piss his mother off if she knew that he possessed them, the eleven-year-old picked the lock on the door and slipped inside.

The room was about the size of a broom closet. In the wall on the right there was a ordinary-looking television with ordinary-looking controls. On the right there was a console that definitely looked extraordinary. Trunks pulled out the thin case that held the micro-disc from his camera and inserted it into the drive. Then he stared at the equipment, completely at a loss as to what to do next.

In every classroom there was a projector that was hooked up to the school's A/V system. On Friday afternoons they showed a children's movie to every class, but usually the teachers used the projector to show educational films. Trunks knew that you could program the system to show a film to either a particular classroom or to the entire school. He'd only been around one Friday so far and was pretty impressed at the quality of the system. The projector had descended from the ceiling and the center panel of the white board had slid aside to reveal a screen the kind they had in movie theaters.

As it was Friday once more he could either wait until the weekly movie that afternoon or execute his plan right now. On one hand, the person who usually handled things in the A/V room knew exactly what they were doing. On the other, he had no idea how he would ensure that the disc he or she chose was the one he'd made. With that in mind, he began to play around with the system with the hope that he would be able to transmit the image to everyone at once. The screen in the wall popped on and he smiled in memory when he saw Dorino's kitchen. After one final tap on the screen, he decided that he'd done all he could and it would be wise to get his ass to class. Although his goal was to get expelled, he wasn't going to suffer the indignity of being caught red-handed. Dorino would know who'd revealed his secret to the world.

When he strolled into class several minutes late his teacher was nowhere to be found but his classmates were laughing and generally running wild. On the screen was Dorino and he smiled with satisfaction. Hopefully the video was being shown to everyone.

Just as he was taking his seat, the door slammed open and in walked Dorino himself. His face was red with rage and his fists were clenched at his sides. The class fell completely silent and more than a few kids wore terrified expressions. Trunks, though he was a little nervous, didn't allow it to show.

"May we help you?" he asked politely.

"Get over here. NOW!"

Trunks said in a cool tone, "I'm not sure I want to go anywhere with a man who looks like he's about to explode."

Mrs. Felip rushed over to get between the two of them. "Now, Mr. Dorino, you have no proof at all that Trunks was the one to do this."

"How about the fact that he's a smart-assed little brat? Or the fact that I saw him peeping in my apartment window with a video camera last night?!"

Mrs. Felip paled and glanced back at her student. The other kids stared at Trunks with varying degrees of awe. "Oh," the woman said weakly.

"You're coming with me," Dorino growled at Trunks.

"Do you promise not to murder me then bury my body on the playground?"

"Trunks!" Felip gasped.

"What? I thought it was a valid question considering the circumstances," he protested. Seeing that Dorino was about one second away from wrapping his big, thick-fingered hands around his throat, Trunks finally grabbed his backpack and did as ordered.

The walk to Dorino's office was tense, to say the least. The principal's back was ramrod straight and his hands hadn't relaxed at all. Trunks was somewhat surprised that the man still physically capable of yelling at him. He would have thought that his sky-high blood pressure would have caused him to have a heart attack by now.

"Sit!" Dorino barked. Trunks, again, did as told. The principal began to pace the small area behind his desk, the red color finally fading from his face. "Why?" he asked after a moment. "Do you really hate me this much?"

"Don't flatter yourself. You were just a means to an end." Dorino nearly flinched at his tone of voice. It was flat and completely unemotional as if he could care less about Dorino or his humiliation. He would have never thought a child so young could be so dead inside.

"I'm sure you know that I'm going to call your... father?" The principal finally sat down and keyed in the appropriate commands to bring up Trunks' personal record. "Here for less than a month and already you're going to be expelled. Mere suspension is too good for you."

"If you didn't expel me, my opinion of you would suffer for it." Trunks allowed one corner of his mouth to twitch upward in carefully calculated derision. "Well it would if my opinion of you really could get any lower." The man's redness was returning. Trunks leaned back in his chair with a feeling of intense satisfaction.

It seemed like it took mere moments for his father to arrive at the school, but it had to have been at least a half hour. Vegeta showed up and his facial expression was like a thunderstorm: dark and threatening. For a moment Trunks' stomach sank and he regretted misbehaving, but then it was gone when he remembered that he would be free of S.S. No. 18 in just a short while.

After filling on the appropriate paperwork stating that Vegeta had been informed of the principal's decision and agreed with it, he and Trunks left the building. The light outside seemed brighter than usual which reflected Trunks' current mood. For a moment, anyway. Then Vegeta was grabbing his son by the shoulder in a grip that did hurt, and was forcing him to face him.

"You are a little shit," Vegeta informed him. "I should send you back to your mother."

A stricken look settled on Trunks' face and he tried desperately not to cry. "If-if you think that's best," he said softly. He had never thought that he would push his father to the point when he would go back on his promise.

The devastated look on his son's face calmed Vegeta down a little and he realized what he'd done. He had made it his personal credo long ago to never break a promise, to never go back on his word, to never become his father. While he had no intention whatsoever to send Trunks away, he'd still implied that he would in a moment of anger and that hadn't been right. "Trunks, I'm not going to send you back. I didn't mean it. You know that people say things they don't mean when they're pissed off."

"Not Okaasan," the boy informed him with a stray sniffle. "She's always more truthful when she's mad than when she isn't."

"Well, like I said before, I'm not your mother. If I say something stupid like that again when I'm mad, just ignore me, okay? But I am angry and you are going to be punished within an inch of your life."

"Please don't bring out the hot irons and the flogger," he cried. "Please! I promise to never do it again!"

"Hot irons...? Flogger? What?"

Trunks sniggered. "Just joking with you. I am really sorry, though. What I did was stupid but I didn't want to go to that school anymore. I want to have private instruction."

"Well, it doesn't matter what you want. Right now we're going home and tomorrow I'm going to see about enrolling you in S.S. No. 19."

"What? No!"

"Do I have to talk slower for you to understand?"

"No, Papa," he grumbled. "This freakin' sucks."

"Well, life sucks so get used to it."
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