KT sat at the breakfast table, clutching the cell phone that bulma had gutted and rigged to be able to communicate with their spaceship. He'd been trying the line off and on all night, and they hadn't picked up.
Only one other person was in the kitchen with him. The perfect mirror image of himself sat sipping coffee from a mug, saying nothing. It was early yet, the sun just barely peeking through the window. The one acknowledgement between them so far had been a nod when the younger of the two walked in. Silence laid heavily between them until KT raised the phone to his ear for the hundredth time, dialing.
Trunks spoke first. "Like I said yesterday, the ship rarely picks up incoming calls. They have to call us."
"You also said they'd call last night," KT snapped.
Trunks sighed slightly and took another drink.
KT winced. "I'm sorry. For that, and for being a dick yesterday when you came back from lunch. You didn't abandon Bulla, you left her with Gohan, who's more than capable of protecting her. I'm just," he rubbed his face, "I'm not sleeping much."
Trunks nodded. "I figured."
"Because I'm a dick when I'm stressed, too."
KT chuckled. "Right."
"Your Mai is pregnant isn't she?"
KT raised an eyebrow. "How did you know?"
"Cause if I got my Mail pregnant, I think I'd be as jumpy as you are. If it was just a general run-of-the-mill villain about to destroy the Earth, I think you'd be calmer."
KT snorted. " Your Mai, huh? Is pregnancy a possibility?"
Trunks turned a bit red. "No, we're taking things slow. I kinda rushed into a few flings when I was younger, didn't want to screw it up. It's only been a couple of months."
KT smirked. "If you follow my path, you've got another six years or so before it goes further."
"What am I, a Boyscout? I'm not waiting that long."
"Well, now that you have your own Mai maybe you can stop looking at mine," he teased.
"Can you blame me? She's hot."
"I'll kick your ass."
Trunks scoffed. " What ? I'm way stronger than you are."
"You're a child."
"No, I'm not. I'm Eighteen."
KT laughed. "Oh, my mistake."
"Just because you're catching up to Mom doesn't mean you're more mature than me."
"I'm not catching up to Mom," KT argued. "I'm thirty-two. I'm in my prime, you're barely out of diapers. I have way more experience fighting than you do."
"Maybe, but you trained alone. I trained with Dad, he was super strict about martial arts," Trunks said, then suddenly stopped. "Uh… I didn't mean to--"
"Don't worry about it. My version of Dad died a long time ago, I don't think about it much. Besides, we share yours."
Trunks nodded, tapping his knuckle quietly on the table.
"Also," KT added suddenly, "I wasn't training alone. Until I was fourteen Gohan trained me."
Trunks blinked at him. "Gohan. You want to compare Dad and Gohan ?"
"Mine was different than yours," KT said quickly. "Not that I doubt that your Gohan could be powerful, but mine was a master . He gave everything to help us take down the androids, and he trained me to fight them myself. I never would have come to the future at all without him. He made me hopeful."
Trunks shrugged. "Just do me a favor and don't name the baby after him. We've got two Mai's and two Trunks' already, we need some news names in this damn family."
Just as KT chuckled, the phone rang.
"Mom?" He said, answering the phone immediately.
"Hey, Trunks," Bulma said sweetly. "Sorry I didn't get a chance to call last night. Your father had a… a weird experience yesterday, and I didn't want to go all the way back to the ship and leave him at the palace. It's really early here, I don't know the conversion, did I wake you?"
"This isn't Trunks," he said. "This is KT."
There was a pause on the other line. "KT? How?"
"I'm on Earth. Well, your timeline's Earth. I didn't know you guys were gone, we arrived yesterday."
"We?" Bulma asked. "Is Mai there?"
"Yes, but she's asleep," he said, conspicuously leaving out who else 'we' meant. "I'm sitting here with Trunks."
"Are you okay?" Bulma asked quickly. "I don't know how long Vegeta planned to stay here, but if we get ahold of Goku we could be back right away. Is one of you hurt?"
KT bit his lip, then looked over at Trunks. "Uh… no, we're okay. Don't rush back. Do you know when you might head back this way?"
"A few weeks, maybe, and then we have the trip home. That'll take a few weeks, even with a ship our speed. Will you guys be okay?"
KT seemed to be adding something up in his mind. "So a month? Yes. We can handle a month. We'll just stay here."
"Okay, if you're sure. Put Trunks on the phone."
KT passed the phone to his younger self, and Trunks spoke to her briefly.
"Yeah, I can do that. Bulla's good, she wore herself out pretty good last night. Yeah. Okay, Bye Mom." He hung up, handing it back to KT. "Mom wants me to get you and Mai both credit cards."
KT blinked. "Oh."
"Do you know what credit cards are?"
"Kind of. Mom had one when I was little, back when things were getting dark with the Androids. Didn't have much use for them after that."
Trunks chuckled. "Thank the gods you're having the first grandkid. She's going to spoil the hell out of it."
"So do I get a credit card?" Raditz said.
They whipped their heads to the sides to see the Saiyan leaning against the doorway, long hair tied back from his face.
Trunks' eyes widened. "Is that my Dad's bathrobe?"
Raditz touched the hem of the robe that hung just below his thigh. "That would explain why it's so short."
Trunks snorted. "He's going to kill you."
Raditz shrugged. "There was already like a fifty percent chance he'd do that anyway. So do I get a credit card?"
"You can use mine, Raditz," KT said, leaning an elbow back on his chair. "Honestly I don't know what I'd even buy."
"Um, kid stuff?" Trunks chuckled.
"So Peach Fuzz knows about the baby?" Raditz asked, pulling Vegeta's favorite mug out of a cupboard and heading for the coffee pot. "Do we tell the girl?"
"Don't tell Bulla anything you don't want the whole world to know," Trunks warned him.
KT smiled. "We'll wait a bit then. I do want to get Mai to a doctor before they get back."
"We know a doctor who deals in Saiyan-Human pregnancies," Trunks assured him. "No worries."
Raditz held his mug up to KT. It said 'Best Saiyan Dad' with the word 'World's' crossed out. "Maybe you should use this one. There's no way someone gave it to Vegeta unironically."
"Where are we going?" Bulma asked again.
Vegeta said nothing, walking down the long corridor. He had a bag slung over his shoulder, and was stubbornly refusing to explain where he was leading her. The corridor was mostly abandoned, with only a few other guests passing by them. It was early morning yet, and most of the palace was asleep.
When they reached the odd chamber in the northernmost court, she assumed it was unfinished, maybe under construction at the best. It was a let down, she thought, after seeing the decadence the rest of the palace had to offer, and she did not understand why they were here.
The chamber was large, walled in with stone on all sides, but the ceiling was almost pure glass. There was no floor whatsoever; the thick dark mud below it was exposed and looked fairly deep. In the center of the room was what looked like a still lake, but some primal instinct in her brain warned her this was nothing close to water. The liquid had a deep purple hue, and even from a distance she could tell it was slightly gelatinous.
Vegeta paused at the door, wearing the smirk she knew he brought out if he thought he was more knowledgeable about a subject than she was. He pulled off the light clothes he'd worn there, leaving on only a pair of swimming trunks. Her eyes went wide.
"You're kidding. We aren't going in there?"
"There are rooms for those who prefer to change privately," he said, pointing at wooden doors across the hall. "Put on your swimsuit and come join me."
"Is this like a swimming pool?"
He didn't answer her, tossing the bag at her before striding barefoot into the mud.
She carried the bag, casting another nervous glance towards the lake before she stepped into a small antechamber to change. She had just finished tying her bikini when the door opened, and a very small being walked in with a bag of clothes of her own.
"Gure!" Bulma smiled warmly.
"Hello, Bulma," the short white alien said.
"I didn't know you guys would be up so early."
Gure tilted her head slightly. "But Tarble said we were supposed to meet you here?"
Bulma blinked realizing the implications. "We have plans? Vegeta made plans? With other people?"
"I suppose so," Gure laughed, moving behind a curtain. "See you soon."
Bulma left the dressing room and headed to the edge of the strange muddy room. Vegeta lay next to the small lake, sinking partly into the mud, eyes closed and arms folded behind his head. Tarble sat next to him in swimming clothes, talking quickly about something Vegeta didn't seem to be paying attention to. He smiled and waved when he saw Bulma.
"Hello Bulma! Come in, it's very friendly, today!"
What's friendly? Bulma thought, afraid she'd find out the answer soon enough. She eased forward, touching the mud experimentally with her toe. When she stepped down she sank to her ankle, and the cool wet made a shiver run up her spine.
She heard Vegeta chuckle. "You won't sink any further, Woman, just walk through it."
Bulma trudged through the mud until she stood next to Vegeta. "What is this place?"
Vegeta clearly planned to hold his knowledge over her head for a while longer, but Tarble hadn't gotten the message.
"It's a Seihiri Soaking Pool," he said, tail swishing behind him. "They have them all over the planet, but they built the palace around the best ones. The pools are living beings that--"
"You talk too much, Tarble," Vegeta sighed, but there wasn't any malice in his voice.
Before he could answer they heard Gure at the entrance. "Tarble?"
"Coming, Honey!" Tarble said, slipping slightly in the mud as he ran to the entrance.
Bulma was about to ask what she needed help with, but as soon as Tarble picked his wife up she shut her mouth, quickly realizing the problem. The mud would have easily been up past Gure's legs. Tarble carried her to where the others were waiting, setting her on a small but firm platform he'd obviously put there for that reason.
"They couldn't have built a floor to this place?" Bulma asked, still trying to catch her footing.
"You put mud on your face back home," Vegeta said.
"Those are face masks," she said, crossing her arms. "They're good for your skin."
"So is this," Tarble told her, laying back in the mud. "Like I was saying, the pools and the mud around them are alive. They feed off skin cells and can speed up healing."
Bulma blanched slightly, looking at the purple pool. "It's alive?"
" Plants are alive," Vegeta reminded her. "And the pools are warm and easy to float in. They aren't terrible after a day of training."
"You two have to come to Earth and try a real spa with me one day," Bulma said, touching a bit of the mud to her face curiously.
"Would you like to try it, Bulma?" Gure asked. "I might just need you to help me get to the pool, but I can swim just fine."
Bulma bit the inside of her lip. Well, when in Rome…
Bulma took Gure's hand and helped her the short distance to the pool. Tarble settled down into the mud next to Vegeta, tucking his legs into the mud. Vegeta peeked at him, watching a small blush run into his brother's cheeks.
"What's wrong with you?" Vegeta muttered to him.
Tarble caught Vegeta looking at the women and he cast his eyes down sheepishly. "Sorry. Gure is just so pretty in her swimsuit. I'm so lucky to have her."
Vegeta glanced at the small creature with Bulma, and he pushed away his first instinct, clearing his throat. "Um, yes. Your wife is… very pretty. Her face is… very pale, today."
"Bulma seems very nice, too," he said quietly, making sure the others couldn't hear him. "But you can tell her I'm okay."
"She keeps talking about Earth," Tarble said softly. "But I don't mind not going there. Don't worry about what I said at dinner last night. I can tell it freaked you out. I don't need to meet your family, and you can ask Bulma not to say anything about me to them. Even if we leave Seihiri, Gure and I will stay out of your quadrant, okay?" He fidgeted. "I'm… I'm not really a prince, I know. Please don't tell the Ticriri. If you let us stay here, we can pretend we never even saw you guys."
Vegeta didn't answer right away, setting his jaw.
"Please, Brother? I'm not really strong enough to protect us anywhere else around here. We've got nowhere to go. I don't know if you've told them already, but--"
"Quit your groveling!" Vegeta snapped. "You're Saiyan royalty, have some pride."
Tarble blinked. "But I'm not--"
"And yes, I do consider Earth to be New Vegetasei, but don't tell the woman that. I'd never hear the end of it," he said, turning his face away. "However, seeing as Father is dead, and I am the eldest, that means the conditions of your banishment is in my hands. I do not think it is necessary to extend it to our new planet."
Tarble blinked. "What do you mean?"
Vegeta grumbled, turning to glare at him. "Exactly what I said. You are not banished from the Earth. Currently."
Tarble stared at him a long moment, a hopeful smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. "Do you mean… you don't care if Gure and I come and visit you?"
Vegeta waved a dismissive hand. "I have no control over what planets you visit, as you have no current restrictions. If you were to come to Earth, I'm sure Bulma would insist on some interaction--"
The smaller Saiyan jumped forward and wrapped Vegeta in a muddy hug.
Vegeta choked like he was being attacked. "Tarble!"
"Sorry!" Tarble said, hopping back, but he was still grinning. "I'm just excited! I can barely even remember a time before I was forbidden from being around other Saiyans."
"Not that there's many to be forbidden from ," Vegeta mused flippantly. "Not counting my son from another timeline there are only seven Saiyans in the universe, and you're still fourth in line for the throne."
Tarble smiled, hearing the gift of his birthright where others would have heard only an insult. "Thanks, Vegeta."