Trunks leaned over the railing of the balcony, looking over the city. It had been a disaster zone when he'd been growing up before the cyborgs had been defeated. Now, it was quiet and little by little becoming more like a city than a pile of rubble.
He smiled to himself, allowing himself a bit of pride and looking a lot like his father, the Saiyajin prince Vegeta. He was the reason why things were finally settling down. After training with Goku and the other warriors he'd returned to his rightful time to defeat the cyborgs. Nothing had made him happier when people were finally able to walk around without fear, when his mother was finally able to smile again. But...
Trunks breathed in the fresh air, but the ache in his heart didn't go away. Despite all the triumphs, he still felt something was missing. Bulma had slyly suggested that maybe he should go out more. He tried, but no matter how many women he met and went out with something was missing. Something so important that he hadn't been able to get a decent night sleep for weeks.
Bulma looked up as she made her way to the front door of the Capsule Corp. compound. She could see her son's long lavender hair--he'd stopped trimming it and let it grow to his shoulders--flying around his face. A face that was so familiar it was painful. Bulma couldn't even begin to count how many times she'd seen the same look on Vegeta's face. The brooding, sullen look that had first warned her to stay away from the Prince was becoming frequent on Trunks' face.
It had been over ten years, close to twelve, since he'd gone back to the past, but he'd never been able to shake off the cloud that had been hanging over his head. There were a couple months when Bulma was sure he'd be okay, then he'd go back to his old ways. She had tried to make him talk to her, hoping it would make him feel better, but it didn't help. He was as closemouthed about his thoughts as his father had been.
Maybe meeting him hadn't been such a good idea, she thought to herself. Ever since Trunks had come back from the past, he had revealed just how many of his father's old habits he'd picked up, and almost on a daily basis.
She hadn't realized how long she'd been staring up at him until he'd looked down at her and smiled, becoming the sweet boy she'd raised in an instant. He jumped down from the third story balcony and swept her off her feet.
Shrieking with laughter, Bulma allowed herself to be carried by her son into the house. He set her down on her feet and kissed her forehead.
"Hi, Mom," he said.
"What have you been doing all day?" she asked, patting his cheek and moving to the kitchen. He followed her and they began putting the groceries away.
"Nothing much," Trunks replied. "Just thinking."
"You need to stop doing that," Bulma said with a gentle smile. "Too much thinking can be a bad thing."
He shrugged. "What else can I do?"
Bulma opened her mouth to reply, but he silenced her with an annoyed look.
"You must be the only mother in existence who insists that her son go out whoring nightly," he said, smirking.
Bulma smacked his head lightly. "Don't use that kind of language around me."
He kissed her cheek. "Sorry, but it's true."
"I know," she sighed. She stopped stacking cans and turned to face him. "But I don't know what else to do. You've been like this for too long, Trunks. You're worrying your poor mother to death."
He smiled, but it didn't quite reach the sky blue eyes that were once clear, but were now cloudy. "I'm sorry."
Bulma crossed the kitchen and hugged him, feeling the powerful body that had once been chubby and very huggable.
"You need to shake it off, Kid," she said softly.
"I can't," he said, sounding pained and as close to tears as she'd ever heard him.
He pulled away from her and grabbed his jacket from the hook by the front door.
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"Fly around for a while," he replied and shut the door quietly behind him.
Trunks landed softly on the cliff. The sea crashed against the rocks at his feet. He sat down, his legs dangling. He breathed in the salty sea air. You need to stop thinking, he told himself, echoing his mother's words. He knew she was right. Every few months, he would hit depression again. He would let his hair grow long and then he'd sulk for weeks on end. Then, one day he would wake up and the sun couldn't seem brighter or the sky bluer. He'd get his hair cut and help his mother around the house. He'd go out on dates, sometimes even have a girlfriend for a short time.
He frowned. Then, a day would come when all the colors seemed dull and lifeless. The sunshine hurt his eyes, and his hair would grow and whip wildly around his face. It seemed inevitable that this would happen. And so a cycle formed, unchanging as the seasons. Trunks lowered his head, his eyes smarting. He missed them.
He looked out into the sea as if if he stared long and hard enough, he would see Kame Island. He would see them waving at him, their smiling faces inviting and making him feel warm inside.
Trunks sighed. His mother did what she could, but she couldn't fill the void that had appeared after he'd left the past. He wanted the company of the other warriors, other Saiyajins. He could hardly talk to his mother about how he'd smashed a tree in half with barely a flick of a finger.
Enough with this self-pity, he told himself.
He stood, and after one last glance at the sea, flew back home.
Trunks watched the figure make its way down the street. He'd been watching for several minutes, since the stooped posture had caught his eye. His eyes narrowed as it tripped and nearly fell. Without a second thought, Trunks jumped down from the balcony and ran to give the figure some help.
The boy looked up when Trunks neared. Dressed in rags, and most of his head hidden by a hood, it was hard to see his face. That is, until he raised his head and looked Trunks straight in the eye. The young face surprised Trunks. Judging by the weariness in the his stance, he would had expected an older man or woman.
"Can I help you?" Trunks asked gently.
The boy's lips thinned. This long haired stranger with the sad eyes was dressed in a black tanktop and black pants, and he looked more like a mugger than anything else, but the soft, gentle voice told the boy otherwise.
"I'm looking for Capsule Corporation," he answered, his voice higher than Trunks had expected and a little raspy. The boy was younger than he had first thought.
"Is it on this street?"
Trunks' eyebrows arched. The boy must have come from out of town, for everyone in the city knew where Capsule Corp. was.
"Why are you going there?"
The boy's eyes never left Trunks' face. "I need to see Trunks."
"I want him to teach me."
Trunks couldn't keep the astonishment off his face. "Teach you? To do what?"
Trunks reflexively took a step back. His eyes narrowed suspiciously. "There's no more need for fighting."
A muscle underneath the boy's eye jumped. "But--I need to fight. It's my...my heritage. My destiny."
The words were said simply, but the strength in their meaning reached Trunks. He nodded. He wasn't sure he wanted to teach anyone to fight, especially someone whom he'd just met, but something about this boy intrigued him. The determination on his face was something quite formidable, especially coming from someone so young.
"I'm Trunks. Come on, I'll take you to my home."
The boy followed Trunks, a little surprised that Trunks had turned his back on a stranger. Who knew what he could do? But then again, Trunks was a powerful warrior. He would be able to take him down in a flash.
Trunks led the boy inside the house and to the kitchen. He poured him a glass of orange juice and set it on the table. The boy hesitantly sat down and drank it.
"What's your name?" Trunks inquired.
"Napan," he answered with a barely perceptible pause.
"Why don't you take off your cloak?" Trunks offered.
The boy gulped down the rest of his juice and stood. He shrugged off the tattered cloak, revealing a filthy brown sweater and baggy gray pants with holes on the knees. He was short, the top of his head barely brushing the underside of Trunks' chin, all the more convincing him that Napan was only barely a teenager. His black hair was cut short, and dropped in thick, greasy wedges around a face smudged by dirt. Trunks wondered when was the last time he'd had a bath.
"Why do you say that fighting is your heritage? Was your father a fighter?" Trunks asked.
Napan sat back down and clasped his hands together. "Yes, he was. I never knew him, but my mother told me all she knew about him. She wanted me to become a fighter like him so she taught me how to fight and condition myself."
"You mother was a fighter too?"
"Yes. Not as powerful as my father, but she was still able."
"Where is she now?"
Napan nodded, staring at his glass. Trunks was quiet as he thought about what he should do. He barely knew Napan, but deep down he knew that the boy wasn't lying to him. Maybe he could be to this boy what Gohan was to him, a mentor and a teacher, even perhaps a friend.
Napan was a boy with nothing. He reminded Trunks of himself. They may have grown up on opposites sides of the financial scale, but when it came down to it the expression in Napan's eyes was the same expression Trunks saw every time he looked in the mirror. The look that came with the feeling that something was unfinished, that something was missing.
"I'll show you to your room," Trunks said, standing.
Napan looked up, startled. "You mean you'll train me?"
Napan smiled, his face lighting up. "Thank you."
"Are you sure about this?" Bulma asked uncertainly. "We don't know anything about this boy and you have him staying in our home."
"If he tries anything, I'll cut him down," Trunks reassured her. But I don't think he'll do anything to make me have to kill him."
Bulma was aghast. "Trunks! All this talk about killing doesn't sound like you at all."
Trunks shrugged, his hair falling into his eyes. Bulma's fingers itched to brush them away, but was half-afraid he'd break her arm. There was an edge, a ruthlessness, to him these days that made him seem more like a stranger than the son she'd borne. She sighed.
"I'll go check on him and bring him here so you can meet him," he said, walking out of the kitchen.
Bulma chopped up vegetables until she heard two sets of footsteps nearing her. One was as familiar as the back of her hand, while the other was light. She turned and saw a slender figure next to her son. Napan glanced shyly at Bulma, his eyes silently pleading for acceptance.
"Hello," Bulma said gently, sounding like Trunks. "I'm Bulma. You must be Napan. I heard you were going to be staying with us for a while."
"I hope I won't be an inconvenience," Napan said. "If I am--"
"No," Bulma said. "There's lots of room in here. You're very welcome to stay."
Trunks smiled gratefully at his mother. Napan lips stretched to a small smile. Bulma turned back to her vegetables.
"Why don't you set the table, Napan?" she said. "Trunks will show you where everything is."
Trunks directed Napan in the task as she finished slicing the carrots. The pot on the stove bubbled, and heavenly scents filled the kitchen. Napan felt his mouth water. Trunks caught the famished look on Napan's face. He looked at his mother and saw that she noticed.
"I cooked a lot, so eat as much as you like," she said, turning to pick up the large pot and sounding nonchalant.
She set it on the table. Trunks lifted the lid and served Napan. He smothered a smile. He had to hand it to the kid. He didn't attack--and he did attack--the food until after Bulma had been served. To Trunks' and Bulma's astonishment, Napan packed away nearly half the pot of stew before stopping. His eyes darted from Trunks to Bulma and his cheeks pinked slightly.
"I'm sorry. I was just so hungry," he said quietly.
"Trunks eats a lot more when he isn't hungry," Bulma said, patting his hand. "You've got nothing on him."
"Thanks a lot, Mom," Trunks retorted.
Napan smiled his little smile. He couldn't seem to manage to make it much bigger. Bulma guessed that the boy had had a hard life, and felt a tug on her heartstrings. Trunks was right in bringing him in. He needed a little happiness, and a little love. She smiled kindly at Napan.
They finished dinner and he helped clear the table. It was Trunks' night to wash the dishes, and he dried them. Trunks snuck peeks at the boy from the corner of his eye. The expression in Napan's eyes belied his age, which Trunks guessed to be around thirteen or fourteen years old. But I guess that's what happens when you grow up on the streets--you grow up too fast.
Napan sensed Trunks' scrutiny and was careful not to give anything away. He wiped the dishes as if they were his sole mission in life. When the dishes were finally put away, Trunks and Napan retreated to the living room. Trunks flicked on the television. There were hardly any new shows on. Instead, television stations played reruns of the old sitcoms. Most of the stars that were in them were killed, and those that had lived had moved on. He found one of his favorites and settled in to enjoy it.
"Have you heard of this one?" he asked Napan several minutes into the show.
When there was no answer, Trunks glanced at his companion in time to see Napan slump to his side and rest his head on Trunks' shoulder. At first, Trunks stiffened. Then, he relaxed, remembering how many times he'd done that to Gohan. He turned back to the television and watched.
Napan awoke the next day in his room. He frowned, not remembering how he got there. He felt embarrassed, when he remembered falling asleep in front of the television. Trunks must have brought him to his room. In any case, he did remember thinking that Trunks had a very comfortable shoulder.
Napan blushed. You shouldn't be thinking like that. Trunks is your sensei--your teacher. That's all.
He got up and did his morning ablutions. It was fairly early in the morning and his sensitive hearing told him that no one was up yet in Capsule Corp. Headquarters. He dressed in his pure white gi, the only thing he owned that didn't have holes, and went outside to start his kata.
Bulma watched Napan from her bedroom window. She frowned. There was something familiar about Napan, but she couldn't put her finger on it. She watched as he worked, his movements fluid and clean. Whoever was his teacher was as good as Gohan. After watching Trunks and Gohan train for hours on end, Bulma knew Gohan's style, and Napan's kata was something he would approve of.
She had a feeling that part of the reason Trunks took Napan in because he wanted to be to the boy what Gohan was to him. Bulma felt enormous pride upon that, and secretly hoped that Napan would get Trunks off his slump. She heard footsteps go past her bedroom door and knew that her son was up. That was a good sign. The day before he didn't get up until past noon.
Napan heard Trunks coming and stopped moving. He turned to his teacher and bowed. Trunks bowed back. He tightened the belt of his orange gi, identical to the one that Gohan and Goku had worn, and went down to fighting stance.
"Show me what you've got," he said without preamble.
Napan nodded and went down to his own fighting stance. He met Trunks' eyes in challenge. He then attacked low, before letting loose a roundhouse kick. Trunks blocked all of it cleanly, measuring Napan's strength at the same time. The boy was pretty strong, but Trunks knew that Napan was holding back. His brow furrowed. Just how strong is he?
Napan let loose kick after kick, punch after punch. He never landed a hit, but he'd impressed Trunks. The teacher raised a hand, signaling for Napan to stop.
"That was pretty good," Trunks said. "Your mother was a good teacher."
"My father taught her, and she taught me. He was a good fighter," Napan said, not as breathless as Trunks expected him to be. He was in pretty good shape.
"Excellent. I did notice a few things." Trunks listed off a few mistakes Napan had made, demonstrating what he did, then showing him what to do instead. Napan listened intently.
They worked for another two hours before coming in for an early lunch. Bulma had lunch all ready for them, knowing that both of them would be famished. What she didn't expect was the food Napan could pack away. He ate almost like a Saiyajin.
To Chapter Two