He was the picture of a trained warrior, thought the man hidden behind the shadows, as he watched the man in the orange doji go through the motions of warming up. In the watcher's eyes, the scarred one-armed man was the perfection of his ideals personified. Once, he had been his sole mentor and close friend, and his protector as well. The stranger did not know why he had bothered to come back to this time, to observe the man known as Son Gohan for one last time.
The one-armed man's eyes widened, his steely eyes glinting, his body tense and alert. He shot a glance at where the stranger was concealed by a clump of trees, his brows furrowed in thought. The intruder gave a start, knowing full well that his presence had been detected by the warrior he had been keenly observing. Of course, he thought with some perplexion, his ki would alert the Son Gohan of his location. He sighed and stepped forward from his concealment.
The man in orange stared as he came face to face with the lavender-haired stranger. He was dressed in a black shirt, loose pants, and a Capsule Corp. jacket. Yet, his most remarkable feature was the huge broadsword strapped across his back. His features were sleek and handsome, with long purple hair falling across his shoulders. His eyes were hard and troubled, deep and unyielding.
The one-armed man's brows knitted, and he peered at his observer with an expression of curiosity and bafflement. The stranger, it seemed, was no true stranger after all. Rather, he was someone Gohan knew, or perhaps would have come to know had a few years passed. For the man was the boy he has been training -- Vejita's son, Trunks. The heir of lost hope.
"Trunks," he muttered the name in amazement. "Demo, masaka...you're supposed to be with Bulma-san, and you're not so old, and your ki...it can't be..."
"It is me, Gohan-san, in a manner of speaking," Trunks stated, approaching his former mentor with a slight, ironic smile that somehow seemed odd on his serious features. "And it is good...to see you again."
"You're not from this timeframe, ne?" Gohan stated, his eyes narrowing shrewdly, and he extended his arm to his visitor, which Trunks took and shook firmly. "You are Bulma's hope and legacy come back from the past."
"I never could put one past you, Gohan-san," Trunks laughed ruefully. "I did take okaasan's time machine and traveled back in time, but I suppose you've guessed that already."
"Bulma-san was always the smart one," Gohan said, a note of admiration and gentle regret in his deep voice. "And I wouldn't expect anything less than heroic from her son."
"Ano..." Trunks trailed off uneasily as he unstrapped his sword and sat beside Gohan, who gestured to the grass beside him as he lay idly sprawled on his back. Trunks stared speculatively into the horizon, noting that the sun was just beginning to set, its golden rays illuminating what was left of the fair earth below. This was the beauty and life they had been fighting to preserve all along.
"The past is secure, Gohan-san," Trunks began, his voice soft as he remembered the faces of the warriors he had met, and the stern face of his father. "Gokou-sama is alive and well, and so are the rest, now that Cell is gone, and the androids no longer a threat." He bit the bitterness back from his last statement, for his task in this world was not yet done.
"Otousan..." Gohan sighed, and Trunks noted the tears gently streaming from his mentor's cheeks. It was clear that Gohan still thought much about the past. "Picollo-san, and Kuririn-san...and all the others...safe. That is perhaps all I've ever dared hope for."
Gohan turned to Trunks, and a beatific smile lit up his scarref face. Trunks felt a chill, a premonition. He knew it would not be long before Son Gohan was to face the androids, and die. He wanted to prevent that from happening, for his battle-weary mentor did not have to lose his life. He could beat the androids now, he knew. And give them all a chance to live a peaceful life.
"Why did you come back, Trunks?" Gohan's question was penetratingly direct, and Trunks felt uneasy as the one-eyed man's unyielding gaze bore into his.
"I-I do not belong to the past," Trunks murmured, "and I have my own future to forge here. Dr. Gero's creations must go, so that hope will be borned into a ravaged world again. It is a world worth healing, ne? And...okaasan needs me...and so do you..."
Gohan laughed, and stood up. He faced the horizon and glanced at the sun, which had already dipped beyond the horizon, its last rays bidding the earth farewell with the promise of the next day to come. Gohan felt a strange peace come over him. His task was almost over, he knew. He had molded a fine warrior in Vejita's son. The boy's--no, the man's--spirit was strong. He was like a rock willing to face the raging tides--and would manage to remain firm.
"A, so desu, Trunks," Gohan said, laughing. Trunks stared at him in amazement. "Come to save me, eh? Feh, you should have known better, my friend. Yes, no longer my student, but dearest friend. We cannot--nah, will not--change what must come to pass.
"I miss my okaasan, you know, and the way she used to dote on me when I was a kid. She wanted me to be a scholar, much to otousan's secret dismay. She'd scold my father if he tried to train me. Of course, he still would, sometimes. And then, of course, there was Picollo-san."
Gohan paused, and Trunks marvelled at the depth of pain the man before him had gone through, and still seemed to feel. He knew that some part of Gohan was still trapped in the past, and that he did not wish to let go. For Gohan had seen the earth's protectors perish, and had to live with the fact of having seen his friends die all his life. Suddenly, Trunks felt more keenly than before the pain his mentor harbored, and shared in his deep regret for a brief instant. Then Gohan was stoic once more, his features may well have been chiseled from smooth marble. His mentor was like impenetrable fortress once again, assaulted by fate, yet holding on through the deep-seated need for revenge.
"Trunks," Gohan began, his eyes a mystery, "know this--I will not flinch from destiny. When I trained under Picollo-san before Vejita-san and Nappa came to earth, I knew that I was to become a warrior, because I had to defend the earth. You see, though I wanted peace more than anything else, I wanted to the world to be a place where death did not hang over people's head like a scarlet thread waiting to snap. Where one can appreciate the beauty of each passing sunset, and be able to greet each constant sunrise with a smile. True beauty is lost, you see, in a world where destruction and fear rule.
"I fight because I need to--that, I think, you know. Because I owe it to otousan's legacy, to okaasan, to Picollo-san, to Bulma-san, to all the others, and to you. Because in my veins beat the Saiyan blood, the legacy of battle. I fight to survive, in a way, and yet a court death with each passing day. She is probably all the wife I will ever need. Love I could wish for, but not here...I am weary, and what I hope for cannot be.
"But you shall leave a great legacy behind, son of Vejita. Your legacy will be hope, and ultimately peace. I know you can defeat the androids, but now is not the time. If you do not allow your present self in this particular time frame to develop, he will not have the strength of character I see in you. I would wish that you were less grim, but well, you did train under me, so I hold myself to blame there."
Trunks understood, and knew. That he could not change his mentor's fortune, nor would Gohan allow him to. He did wish that things could be otherwise. He sighed. The present Trunks did need to grow, and go back in time. He needed to experience grief, and anger, and pain, to be able to grow. To gain the courage and determination that was characteristic of Gokou's son. Destiny had brought the sons of Saiyans together, yet fortune was to tear them apart. Just so that hope might be born again in a scarred world, and triumph to heal the scars of yesterday.
"Come then, Trunks," Gohan said, crouching in a stance he knew so well, anticipation alight in his dark eyes. "Fight me this final time. Then go, heal the future, knowing full well that you need not regret for anything in yesterday."
And the two warriors clashed just as the first stars began to twinkle in the great vast sky. Their resounding blows echoed across a barren world reft with strife. And yet these blows marked the beginning of a new destiny. For even the darkest cover of night could not mar the single shaft of light called hope. For even if the tides of fortune were to reward Gokou's son with peace at last, he would go knowing the future's son bore hope of a new beginning.
Copyright 1997-1998 Elaine David
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Sayonara! Dewa ne!