Title: Looking Up
Premise, or Lack Thereof: Character study of Vegeta through Future Trunks’ perspective
Reason for Banishment: Too disconnected and reliant on series canon in order to work
Father had a way of looking down at everyone, even people who were taller than him.
Maybe it was because of his prominent widow’s peak that accentuated his locked eyebrows. Maybe it was because he could look right through you as if you didn’t exist, or glare at you, making you wonder what you did wrong. Maybe it was because of his small but pointed nose. Maybe it was his mouth, which either frowned with cold indifference or smiled with sardonic contempt. Maybe it was the entire thing put together, which gave all of us the impression that his face was always angled downward as if we were so beneath him he had to squint to see us. But whatever it was, when he ‘looked down’ on you, you felt inferior; you found yourself cowering beneath his presence. And when Father crossed his arms and leaned against whatever he found convenient to lean against, that was the ultimate message of disdain. You felt like he was scrutinizing you, testing you to see if you were worthy of his attention.
Most of the time, you weren’t.
~ o o ~
Mom had warned me not to hold any expectations of having a father-son relationship, because I would be disappointed. She told me that Father was proud of himself, so much that he acted like an asshole most of the time. I asked her at once what ‘most of the time’ meant, but she didn’t answer, just repeated that my father’s ego got in the way of everything. Still, I held onto the inkling of hope that there was some kindness in Father, some that he would show to me.
The first time that I was face to face with him, though, that hope was almost crushed. Since there were almost no pictures of Father, and he had died before I was one, I wanted to get a good look at him. But Father noticed my scrutiny and scowled.
“What the hell are you looking at?” He demanded. “If you really are a Saiyan, then I’m nothing special.” Of course, all I could do was just mumble an apology and turn away; not even Goku-san believed that I was Father’s son when I had told him so.
~ o o ~
The second time we met, I was disillusioned. There were two other Artificial Humans, one of whom my father had blown to bits. The other one was being pursued by him, Piccolo, and Krillin when I joined up with them. Mom (the one in the past) wanted a good look at the Artificial Humans, so she flew by in her hovercraft. What’s worse, she attracted attention to herself by waving at us. The robot, of course, tried to kill Mom. But Father just stood there! He didn’t even make a move to save her! And when I asked him whether he cared about his wife and son, he just laughed.
“Should I care?” He asked me in return. He was about to take off after the Artificial Human (who had split right after he tried to kill Mom) when I blocked him.
“Please!” I begged, and I had to stop myself from adding ‘Father’ to my plea. “Don’t do it!” Don’t throw your life away! I was determined that this Trunks would grow up with a father.
“Get out of my way.” I didn’t budge. And then Father—why did he have to be my father?—sucker punched me in the stomach. The air knocked out of me, I doubled over, and Father flew past me.
“Dammit.” I clenched my fist as I watched Father disappear. I took off after him, resolved to make him stop. Of course, he didn’t.
“When will you quit following me? Go away!” He made it clear that he was annoyed, but I persisted. Still, Father kept going. To this day I still have nightmares where I am chasing Father’s ever retreating back, never able to catch up, and watching in helpless horror as he dies, again and again.
~ o o ~
I still wasn’t able to stop him from chasing Eighteen, not even after she just about killed both of us. He just flew away, hollering that he was the greatest and that he would not admit losing. Once, when I asked Mom about Father, she said that “he was too full of pride to show his love”. Now, as I watched my father leave me yet again I wonder whether he had any love to begin with. I felt my heart growing colder and colder and he went further and further away.
In the year that we trained in the Room of Spirit and Time, I was face-to-face with Father at last—but that was just when he sparred, and used me as a punching bag. I gave him a good run for his money, too, but I was still afraid of hurting him and held back, and Father capitalized on that. While we didn’t spar Father pretty much ignored me, even though I tried to reach out to him again and again. I wanted his acceptance and his love to the point of desperation—and I was certain he likewise needed mine, but he would never admit that. I tried to make that clear to him, but few times did Father respond, and it was in his typical way. And so the year passed, and my opinion of my father didn’t change much; I had learned, like my mother had advised me, to doubt that Father could ever live up to my expectations of him.
~ o o ~
After Father came out of the Room, he became much stronger, even stronger than Second Form Cell, who got a bad beating. But his ego also seemed to grow with his strength, because when he found out that Cell could become even stronger, he decided to let it do just that. That was the final straw; I turned Super Saiyan and tried to stop Father, again without much success.
“If I have to fight my father to save the world, then so be it,” I told him, but it hurt me to say that. Father knew it too, and he was more than happy to get me out of his way. In the brief moment that I fought against Father I was distracted from my real task—keep Cell from absorbing Eighteen—and in the next few seconds the entire world was turned upside down.
Cell became perfect.
His energy grew larger until it exceeded even my own, and I had discovered a stage higher than the ‘Ultra Super Saiyan’ which Father was so proud of. Father didn’t last five seconds against him. And neither did I, not even after I had made myself stronger. Cell pointed out my stupidity, then announced the ‘Cell Game’ that would determine the fate of humanity and the entire universe.
~ o o ~
To no one’s surprise, Father decided to return to the Room of Spirit and Time again.
“I don’t care how many people die; but I won’t rest until I beat him!” He answered when Bulma asked him why. Anyone else listening would have thought that Father was being a sore loser, but I preferred to think that it was because he felt responsible for destroying Cell, since he had in a way created it. And when I volunteered to join him, Father didn’t say anything one way or another, but at least he didn’t say ‘no’.
Alone with him again, I tried to reach out to him again. Father still pretty much ignored me, but he didn’t act annoyed when I got ‘sentimental’. It was disheartening, though; I felt like I was talking to a brick wall.
I gave up. Mom was right: Father was more interested in protecting his reputation than in me, even though I was his flesh and blood. I found myself wondering why Mom ever fell in love with Father in the first place.
And then he asked me whether it was hard to grow up without a father. The conversation didn’t quite go in the way that I had intended it to, but once I felt myself fill with the hope that maybe somewhere in his heart, Father cared about me. Even though all he had said was: “If I didn’t care about you or your mother, would I have thrown my life away like that?” I knew that, as much as he valued his pride, he wouldn’t have gotten himself killed over something so petty; it wasn’t worth dying for. But his woman, and his child—
~ o o ~
I did not know for sure that this was the case until I had stared death in the face and came back.
“When Cell killed you,” Yamcha told me, “your father was furious! He just charged at Cell without thinking.”
“Father?” I stared at him. Yamcha nodded. I smiled to myself; the corner of my eyes grew wet. “Dad,” I murmured. At long last I saw the person my mother had seen and fallen in love with. At long last I knew for sure that he cared. At long last I found the father I never had and always needed.
When it was time for me to leave, Dad was there. He was in his usual ‘I’m-better-than-you’ pose, but in his eyes I saw something more, something I interpreted as love. And when he lifted two fingers in response to my smile, I allowed myself to be surprised that Dad, the ‘Prince of the Saiyans’, had dared to risk hurting his pride in front of all of the others.
And when I took off in my time capsule, Dad looked at me straight in the eye for the first time since we met.
Unnecessarily Long and Tiresome Authoress’ Notes:
The first paragraph came out of a writing assignment for my creative writing class back when I was in college to write about a character describing another character. I’d created the first portion pretty much with Father in mind, turned it in, got a good grade, and filled in the rest of it to make a complete story.