Just a Nightmare
(Part II: Enter the Nightmare)
Early one January morning, Goten sat at the kitchen table in his new home and came to a conclusion: he was quitting school. He'd followed the advice of Vegeta, given to him secondhand by Trunks, and chose his own path. He saw the benefit of attending college and earning a degree, but it just wasn't for him.
He worried more about his mate's reaction than his brother's. Even though he seemed to support him, Goten wasn't sure if Trunks had really meant what he'd said. How would he feel being mated to someone who didn't seem to have a future?
The light snapped on in the room, momentarily blinding the demi-Saiya-jin. "Chibi, why are you sitting here in the dark?"
"I made up my mind, Trunks," Goten said as his sight gradually returned. "I'm not going back."
It took him only a moment to figure out what he was talking about. "This was the best choice for you?"
"Hai. I think I can get by just fine without higher education." Goten looked down at the table. "I'm not all that smart, anyway."
Trunks sat down across from him, a serious expression on his face. "What makes you think that?"
He looked up with an expression of annoyance. "Don't pretend like I I have no idea what I'm talking about. We both know that it takes me longer to figure things out than it does for you."
"That shouldn't make you feel stupid, Chibi. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Besides, I have a genius IQ so, compared to me, most people look stupid."
Goten glared at him. "That goes a long way towards making me feel better. Thanks a lot, Trunks."
The lavender-haired demi-Saiya-jin (who completely missed the sarcasm) beamed. "No problem."
"Stupid, conceited people," the younger man muttered as he stomped out of the kitchen. "Since you're Vegeta's son, I shouldn't be surprised." He left his bewildered mate behind and went outside to take a walk.
How could Trunks be so insensitive? He'd known for a long time that the older demi-Saiya-jin was often unable to concern himself with other people's feelings or problems, but Goten would have never thought that he was on the list. They had a bond, something so strong it was almost unheard of, yet nothing had changed. "He still doesn't think very much of me."
Unconsciously, he found himself reaching inside his shirt to clutch the solid gold locket Trunks had given him on Christmas Day. There was a picture of the two of them inside with their arms around each other's shoulders, one that had been taken when they were kids. Both boys' clothes were just about torn to shreds from an intensive sparring match, but they were smiling brightly at the camera. Inscribed on the lid were the words "young love".
He'd cried when he saw the photo and engraving, remembering the day it had been taken. It had been when he realized that Trunks did, in fact, love him. At the time he thought it was only brotherly love, but now he knew different.
Even though he hadn't shown it before, Trunks did still love him. He could feel it in his heart. However, loving someone and enjoying their company were two very different things.
Where was all of the doubt coming from? He'd never had any second thoughts about bonding with the older demi-Saiya-jin before, but now...
"Trunks loves me," Goten whispered to himself. "He would tell me the truth if I asked him to. Would I hurt him by doing so?" Ultimately, it all came down to trust. Did he trust Trunks enough to believe that he told him the truth before? "I-I... don't." He frowned, disappointed in himself. "I could try to read his mind and see for myself, but that goes beyond mistrust into suspicion."
Even though he knew that it might damage their relationship beyond repair, his mind would never be at ease unless he was one-hundred percent sure. Sitting down upon a park bench, he closed his eyes and concentrated.
"What are you doing?!" he immediately heard Trunks ask him. Goten ignored his question and continued to probe. His mate quickly tried to strengthen his defenses by throwing up shields, but it was too late.
"You do think I'm wasting my life! How could you lie to me twice, Trunks?"
"What could I have told you? 'Goten, you're not smart enough to get a job without many years of education'?!" The profound hurt he felt came through the connection, overwhelming Trunks with its intensity. "You see? I couldn't have told you!"
"It hurts because of the lie, not because of what you think. I don't know how I could ever trust you again."
The heat of Trunks' anger caused Goten to flinch slightly. "Oh really? Who gave you permission to go through my mind, anyway? You wouldn't have ever found out if you hadn't been trespassing. My thoughts are my own." In the midst of his anger, he said something he knew would hurt Goten even more. "I want it back."
"Excuse me?" he asked in a shaking voice, hoping that he hadn't heard him correctly.
"The locket. I want it back." Goten saw Trunks slide the ring he'd given him from his finger and drop it upon the desk in his room. A choked sob escaped his throat before he could stop it. "I don't want this anymore."
"Trunks..." He received no response; the connection was closed.
Goten dropped his head to his hands, tears flowing freely. "What have I done?"
"Chibi, wake up," Trunks said worriedly as he shook his mate. He'd been awakened five minutes before by a combination of heart-wrenching sobs coming from Goten's body and waves of sadness coming through the connection.
After about another full minute of soothing whispers and gentle shaking (during which Trunks was climbing the walls with distress), Goten's eyes flew open. With a flood of tears, he grabbed Trunks and buried his head into his shoulder.
"Shh, Chibi. It was just a nightmare." He softly petted his hair as his sobs slowly faded. "Everything's okay, now. Do you want to talk about it?"
Goten remembered how mistrustful he'd been of Trunks in his dream and shook his head. He didn't want his mate to think less of him.
Still able to sense his anxiety, Trunks didn't want to just drop the subject. Seeing as his mate refused to cooperate, he had no other choice. "Alright. I'm going to make us breakfast, you can come down whenever you're ready."
"Okay," he answered dully as he stared at the wall. With a lingering backward glance, Trunks left the room.
He heard someone pounding on the door as he descending the stairs. "What maniac would go over to someone's house this early in the morning?" He rolled his eyes as he opened the door. "Oh, this maniac."
Gohan glared at him, definitely not amused. "Where is your father?"
"Why?" Trunks was suspicious of the reason behind his visit. His new brother looked angrier than he'd seen him in a long time. "What did papa ever do to you?"
Laughing bitterly, he said, "You want a list?"
Trunks blocked the doorway with his body. "I'm not letting you in here when you're pissed. Who knows what destruction you'd cause!"
"Think you can stop me?" Gohan asked. "You aren't as powerful as I am, Trunks. No one is."
The demi-Saiya-jin knew this, but he wasn't one to back down from a challenge. "You haven't been training lately.... I'm sure you can't live up to that boast." He crouched down and extended his hands. Gohan did the same. "Bring it on."
"Hold it!" Goku interrupted as he came downstairs. "Trunks, let him in."
"But Tousan, look at him!"
His words made Gohan's face turned a darker red color as his anger grew. "Don't call him that! He's not your otousan!"
"Will you shut up for once?! I'm sick and tired this! You've already made your opinion very clear, Gohan. There's no need to constantly force your views on us!" Before Trunks could block or dodge, Gohan's tightly clenched fist made painful contact with his jaw. He staggered backward from the force of the blow and tenderly touched the bruised area. "Oh, that's it."
Goku grabbed him by the arms and stopped him from lunging forward. "Stop it right now! Trunks, leave Gohan and I alone for a little while. Put some ice on your jaw."
"Alright," he mumbled as the bruise began to stiffen up. Trunks was pretty sure that he was lucky it hadn't been broken.
"I'm very disappointed in you, son," Goku sighed. Gohan hung his head in shame. Those were words he thought he hoped to never hear from his father. "Don't you know that my number one wish is for my family to get along without trying to kill each other?"
"I wasn't going to kill him," he said quietly. "Just bruise him a little."
"Mission accomplished," the Saiya-jin said dryly. "Look, I understand how you feel. You don't trust Vegeta, or even like him all that much. Are you afraid that he's going to hurt me some day?"
Gohan nodded. "Tousan, he was evil for more than half his life. That's pretty hard to forget."
"Anyone can change if they want to bad enough. Try to get to know him better. I promise that it's worth it." Goku fixed Gohan with a pleading look. "For me."
He gave in. "Oh, alright. I would like for us to get along as well. Just.... Can I tell him off for what he did last night?"
Grinning, Goku nodded. "I'll allow that. He needs to learn tact."
"Um, Tousan? You've been different for a while now and I was just wondering...."
"That's a question for another time," he said quickly. "Let's go surprise Vegeta."
Bra was building an igloo from melting snow in the front yard with Pan that afternoon when a shiver went down her spine. She immediately looked upward with an expression of concern on her face. "Did you feel that, Pan-chan?"
"Feel what?" the younger girl asked. "I just feel the wind and the cold."
"Nevermind." Frowning, she went back to her creation.... only to feel the same sensation a few minutes later. Bra's eyes scanned the surrounding area carefully as Pan continued to create, blissfully unaware of the unease her best-friend was experiencing. She could have sworn that she saw a dark spot against the light gray of the sky from the corner of her right eye but, when she turned for a better look, it was gone. Definitely something she would keep a watch on. "I'll be right back, okay? I need to tell papa something."
Her fathers were sparring in the backyard despite the several inches of snow on the ground. For a moment she just watched them go full-out and, again, marveled at how fantastic they looked, before interrupting them.
"Um, guys?" she said tentatively. Between the various battle cries and the shock wave explosions that occurred every time their auras overlapped, her voice was drowned out. Then Bra inhaled deeply and shouted at the top of her lungs. "GUYS, I HAVE SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO TELL YOU!" Both Goku and Vegeta froze mid-motion and stared at her. "Arigatou," she said sweetly. "Papa, Tousan, I think something's out there. Something bad."
Vegeta looked at his mate who, in turn, concentrated fully on his surroundings. "I'm not getting anything. How about you, 'geta?"
Dropping to the ground, Goku placed his arm around the girl. "Maybe, because you're so afraid of something bad happening, you're imagining things. Just tell yourself that there's nothing to worry about and everything will be fine."
"I am not imagining things!" she exclaimed. "There was something there! It's not my fault neither of you can feel it." Bra shuddered. "It was awful."
"Can you show us where you saw the evil?" Vegeta asked. He could almost picture the words "the evil" in bold, capital letters.
She led them around the house and pointed to a spot above a nearby apartment building. "Over there. It was like an ink stain against the sky." Of course they went to investigate the rooftop and found absolutely nothing. Bra, certain she'd seen something up there, continued to search for ten minutes more. "It's not here... I can't believe it."
Goku smiled, inwardly relieved that there hadn't been anything to find. He loved a good fight as much as the next guy, but really hated the risk that usually went along with fighting evil. People could only be resurrected so many times. "It's gone, Bra. Now you can relax again."
Looking up at him, she sighed. "I can still feel it, Tousan. Just not in any specific place. Whether you like it or not, we're going to have to fight this thing before it does something really awful."
"You can't sense it, remember?" She smiled grimly. "I'm like your demi-Saiya-jin radar. Without me, finding the thing would be next to impossible." Levitating slightly above the roof, she started off back towards the Capsule Corporation. "We have to plan."
Brother against brother. Mate against mate. If a rift was created between the senshi, then they would be so preoccupied that none would notice the death and destruction that Nightmare would cause -- none who could stop him, anyway. The demon considered it one of his best plans and was just waiting for the right time to strike the Universe's strongest.
There were serious things troubling the mind of Vegeta-ouji, some of which even he had never seen the likes of before. How easy it would be to surface those dark thoughts and cast him into a deep pit of despair. He then would be too afraid to sleep and the deprivation would play havoc upon even a Saiya-jin's system.
How long would it take to have an effect? Days? Weeks? Months? He would wait forever, but didn't relish the thought of doing so. Eventually his opening would come; not even a Saiya-jin could resist the effects that lack of sleep would cause.
Nightmare crouched silently on the balcony outside the room the ouji and his mate shared. With his current method, he'd successfully irritated or worried or terrified three of the Universe's strongest warriors. Now if only he could cause a combination of the three within both Goku and Vegeta.
"Do you really think Bra saw something out there today?" Goku asked as he undressed for bed. "We haven't had to fight anything evil in over ten years."
Vegeta smirked at him. "This is perfect, Kakarotto. Just the thing I need to change the mundanity of my life." He could have hit himself when he realized how bad that sounded. "I also need to discover just when to keep comments like that to myself."
"Your impulsiveness is nice sometimes. This time, however, it really annoyed me." Goku fixed him with a look that caused the ouji's stomach to knot uncomfortably. "Why would the possibility of dying, or having someone that you love die, be exciting to you?" Vegeta opened his mouth and the look became even harder. "If you use that 'we're Saiya-jin' excuse, I'm going to hurt you."
"Nothing's going to kill us because we're the strongest there is! There will be no one else!" Vegeta puffed out his chest in pride. "I worked years on my fighting ability and ki level just to reach a point of security. It has not all been in vain."
Goku shook his head and slipped beneath the covers. "Vegeta, your arrogance is showing."
A pleased smirk. "I know."
The demon felt anger spark in his heart. How dare the little Saiya-jin proclaim that no one was stronger than he and his mate! "Just wait, Vegeta. You will soon meet your better. I guarantee a battle unlike any you've ever fought before."