Dragon Ball Z: Semblance
For a girl who had so much money that it made ever having a job completely unnecessary, Bulma was always amazed by how much work she ended up doing. You'd think she could have spent her whole life kicked back on some beach like a normal billionaire, but nope. Bulma, despite the endless possibilities of how she could spend her day, she always seemed to end up either in her bedroom or the workshop building something.
Of course, she supposed that was just inevitable. An incredible person like Bulma Brief just had to be doing something amazing every moment of every day.
There was another purpose to it though these days, she supposed. It gave her an excuse not to think too much. Even though it had been over a full year – nearly two now – since Goku's death, every once in a while she caught herself sad, thinking how much she missed him. It wasn't that she hadn't gone this long without seeing him before. Goku had always been overly talented at running off somewhere. And the guy had never even tried to use a phone. But this time, it was different. This time, they wouldn't just bump into each other somewhere, swapping stories and laughs. This time, he really was gone. Forever.
Though she liked to think of it even less, there was another reason for it too. It was a good excuse for Vegeta and her to give each other some space. She honestly couldn't believe it, that they were really giving this another try.
After the other, grown-up Trunks had returned to his own time and his own version of herself, she had wholly expected Vegeta would shoot off somewhere into space again. And he did go somewhere for three months – where she had never bothered to ask. All she knew is that one day he had just shown up at her door. She'd stood off with him with her best war face on, trying not to show she was happy to see him. He hadn't said a word. He had just stepped past her and looked about the hall, as if making sure everything was still in order and to his liking. Then, he had walked straight to her bedroom, undressed, climbed under her blankets, and gone to sleep. And no amount of yelling had deterred it.
She remembered after that she had stood at the foot of the bed, fuming for a while, but at the same time amazed. Finally, she had understood. Despite his horrid communication skills, the message had been clear. For some reason, he had decided he wanted to try to be her husband again. And for some dumb reason, she wanted him to try too.
Things were definitely different than before. Some part of Vegeta, that tenuous side of him that had made him go off like a firecracker at a moment's notice, had gone silent. It was honestly a relief. But it worried her at the same time. Part of her missed those early days. She remembered how vulnerable he had seemed at times, training like a mad man. It had made him kinda adorable in his own way. But as sweet as that time had been, the time that followed had been absolutely horrid in comparison.
She didn't even want to think about the nasty things he had said or half the crap he'd tried to pull.
The biggest difference, though, without a doubt, was their little Trunks.
"Trunks!" Bulma declared, sitting the wrench aside. She weaved her fingers together, stretching her arms over her head as she yawned. "Good thing I remembered," she said, looking at the clock, "It's almost his bedtime." Pushing her chair back and letting her blue hair out of its short pony tail, she walked briskly to the nursery. "Oh Trunks!" she called, the handle clicking as she opened the nursery door.
Big, blue eyes met her from under a baseball cap, a toy dinosaur in one hand and a little truck in the other. Bulma hummed a pleasant sigh, smiling thinly at her little boy. He was a toddler now, pushing three and growing up as fast as he could. Before he was even a full year old, he'd already pushed hard enough to learn to walk on his own. When presented with potty training, he'd gone at it like a champ and pretty much mastered it already. Bulma didn't care he hadn't fought off any monsters yet, that was impressive enough in her book.
"Time to get ready for bed," she told him. That violet, fixed brow studied her with a seriousness she had always found silly on a face that young. With a grunt, Trunks let go of his toys, got to his feet, and waddled firmly her way.
Bulma watched Trunks go through his nightly ritual of preparing himself for bed. Were most kids this independent at such a young age? He almost never asked her for help – in fact he deflected it usually when she tried. Bathing himself, dressing himself, brushing his own teeth – all with the same intense determination that made it hard not to laugh. Though, it also made instructing and correcting him horribly difficult. Who knew a kid could be so stubborn? Course, that was also pretty normal for a two year old.
"Here you go, Trunks," she smiled, pulling back the moon and star adorned blankets of his bed for him.
"Mmrr," the violet-haired toddler complained at the assistance, but climbing into bed all the same.
"What a little champ," she praised and teased, drawing the blankets up to his chin.
He gripped the top of the blanket as she let go, the red baseball cap still sitting on his head. It wasn't exactly what she'd want him to wear to bed, but he'd been pretty attached to it ever since his grandpa had given it to him a couple weeks ago. She straightened it with a smile and was about to leave when he spoke.
"Yes, Trunks?" she answered.
His sharp, pretty blue eyes drifted away a bit, his still babyish fingers fiddling with the blanket. "Why does Daddy hate me?"
Bulma's jaw instantly gaped with horror, her eyes wide at such a question. "What?!" she cried. She planted her hands down hard on the edge of the bed. "Why do you think your Daddy hates you?!" She raised a fist up at the ceiling and growled. "Oohh! Did he say something mean to you?! That dumb jerk!"
"No…" came his quiet reply.
"Huh?" she blinked, reverting back a second later, "Oohh! What did he do to you then?! I swear I'll kill him!"
Trunks shook his head.
"Uh?" she paused again, simply frowning now, "Well…what makes you think he hates you then?"
Trunks just shrugged, looking down.
Bulma sighed. "I guess it's expected. You're still at an age where you're still learning to talk about things." She knelt by the bed and rested her chin in her hands. "Hrrmm…"
She thought hard, trying to pin-point some incident that would have made Trunks think that Vegeta hated him. Of course, Vegeta wasn't exactly father of the year. She remembered that time after Trunks had just learned to walk. Vegeta had stopped by the nursery to observe their child in his unsure, but consistent steps. Trunks had wandered Vegeta's way and tumbled forward a bit, catching himself on Vegeta's pillar of a leg. Trunks had paused in seeming wonder at this physical contact, looking up at his father in a babyish smile that hoped for praise.
But instead, Vegeta had flicked his grip away, saying "That's enough of that."
Actually, the more she thought about it, she realized Vegeta was always doing things like that to Trunks all the time.
Whenever Trunks fell down. "Get up! Or do you prefer being on the ground that much?"
Whenever Trunks dug up worms in the garden. "Put that away! Disgusting."
Whenever Trunks presented him with a new toy. "Yes, I see it. Am I meant to be impressed?"
Whenever Trunks tried to put on Vegeta's armor. "That is for a warrior. Not a child's plaything!"
The list could honestly go on and on. But Trunks had never once cried at these remarks, so Bulma had let them go. Looking back, though, it's no wonder Trunks had come to such a conclusion.
But Bulma knew Vegeta didn't hate Trunks. If he hated him, Vegeta would have never come back to the Capsule Corp Mansion. If he hated him, Bulma would have never let him back into her life. Things had changed since Goku's death. Every day, Vegeta would take some time just to watch Trunks. He'd stand silently and observe him with a strange mixture of cloaked anticipation and frustration.
Bulma knew what he was watching and waiting for. He was looking for signs of the young man who had fought with him against Cell to emerge. With Goku gone, it was perhaps his new obsession – a quieter, more patient fixation.
Bulma studied the somber toddler as she thought of what to say. "Daddy doesn't hate you," she at last said, "Daddy just doesn't know how to say nice things like 'I love you'."
Trunks looked at her curiously. "Why?"
"I don't think he knows how," she sighed, resting her chin on the bedside, "You see…your Daddy can be a real jerk sometimes. But I know he doesn't hate you, Trunks."
She closed her eyes for a moment, trying to think of what else she could say. How could she explain his father to him when Bulma didn't fully understand him herself? But there was something there; something more than a man just waiting for a warrior to emerge.
Her mind drifted to what had become an almost precious memory. It was late evening, perhaps a month or so after Vegeta had returned to live with them again. She had just finished changing Trunks' diaper and now stood by his dragon-shaped crib, rocking it slowly back and forth. She remembered being surprised to hear his boots on the nursery carpet.
"I wish to see him for a moment."
"Huh?" she looked back at him.
"The child," he returned.
"You mean Trunks?"
He scowled at her slightly. "Is there another child I should be asking about?"
She scowled back. "No, but it wouldn't hurt for you to use his name, you know." He shifted, looking uncomfortable for a moment. She sighed. "Well, if you want to see him, he's right here, you know."
Vegeta approached the cradle, resting his hands on it next to hers. It was an oddly personal moment, the two of them looking down at their son together. Then, Vegeta had done the last thing she expected. He reached down into the crib and picked Trunks up, holding him out slightly in front of him.
"Uh," she blinked, "You…want to hold him? Well don't hold him like that!"
Vegeta's eyes followed her as she repositioned his arms, letting Trunks sit in the crook of them. Father and son stared at each other for a moment, studying one another with the same fixed brow. And then, Trunks did something she had never seen him do around his father before. He relaxed, yawned a little, and rested his head against Vegeta's shoulder.
Bulma's mind raced with the possibility. "Trunks hasn't had his formula yet," she suddenly mentioned, "Why don't you take a turn feeding him?"
Vegeta's head didn't turn. "Very well."
She could hardly believe it. Suddenly overwhelmed with excitement, she raced to fetch him a bottle. He took such a long moment looking at the thing, she started to think he was going to change his mind. But he accepted it into his powerful hand, sitting down with Trunks, and placing the nib into the child's mouth. Bulma remembered that as she watched Vegeta feeding their son, she felt for the very first time that they had achieved some semblance of a real family.
Trunks tilted his head to the side as Bulma giggled softly, her chin still resting on the side of his bed. "What's funny, Momma?"
"You and your father," she answered. Her blue eyes opened and she looked at him in a gentle manner. "You may not see it yet, but in some ways you're a lot like him."
"Like Daddy?" he asked, some of the sullenness lifting from his face.
"Mm-hm," she nodded, sure of herself, "You're a lot better looking than him – like Mommy – and I think you might be a bit smarter than him too. But you're a tough guy, just like Daddy is."
Trunks pushed up his cap and his eyes sparkled a little. "I'm tough?"
"You sure are!" she praised, "You're tough and work real hard. Daddy's like that too." She looked warmly up at the ceiling. "Your Daddy never lets anything hold him back. I see that in you all the time. You're growing up so fast, Trunks." She looked at him, the toddler listening with hope in his eyes. "And you know what? Your Daddy knows you're gonna be super strong someday, just like him. I think he's just impatient sometimes."
"I'm gonna be strong?!" he broke into a smile, sitting up.
"You bet!" she said with a wink, "So don't worry, Trunks. Someday, you and your Daddy will be a lot closer. I just know it."
At last, Trunks' head found its pillow and Bulma left him to sleep, pleased to have put the crisis to rest. The following morning, Vegeta rose up early as he always did to train in the gravity room. When he finished with his exercises, however, he was curious to find his half-saiyan son not eating breakfast with his mother, but waiting outside for him.
"Daddy!" Trunks cried, his fists excitedly clenched up by his breast.
Vegeta looked at him, beads of sweat still dampening his torso. "Yes, what is it, Trunks?" he flatly replied.
"Daddy, I'm…" His big, heavy blue eyes shined. "I'm gonna be strong like you, Daddy!"
Silence passed between them as Vegeta gazed down at his son. Trunks grunted and swallowed anxiously. Then, to his wonder, his father ever so slightly smiled. "Of course you will," he answered, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. He walked past him, but as he did, his finger-tips briefly brushed his cap-covered head. "You're my son."
Later that day, when Bulma came to visit Trunks in the nursery, she didn't find him playing with his toys, but performing clumsy, childish push-ups on the floor. At first, she was startled by the sight, but then she just smiled, leaning against the doorframe as she watched.
With the blue eyes and trade-mark violet hair, Trunks had always looked more like a Brief than a saiyan. But in that moment, she had to admit, the resemblance from father to son was uncanny.