Dragon Ball/Z/GT Fan Fiction ❯ Hate Is Just Another Kind of Love ❯ forgiveness ( Chapter 3 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

[Insert standard disclaimer here] This has gone through some basic revision; please let me know what you think.
Change is the only constant of the human heart.
Kakarrot stared at the long black wall full of names, arms folded and head slightly bowed. He'd been in the same position for several hours, hidden from view of the constant stream of mourners by the stand of trees several yards away. He finally turned as he felt Gohan edge closer, partially facing the younger man.
“Her name isn't on that wall.” Simple and direct, without guile; familiar to Gohan in ways he didn't want to remember.
“No.” He paused, debated weather or not to share the information, then relented. “There's a marker up where the cottage used to be. Just for her.”
“Used to be?”
“I blasted it.”
There was a long pause, and Kakarrot turned to face Gohan completely.
“Did it help?”
Kakarrot nodded, uncrossed his arms, and moved further back into the trees. Gohan followed him, telling himself the man couldn't be left alone for the sake of public safety.
“I looked in the pens for you,” Kakarrot didn't look back at the younger man as he spoke, keeping his eyes forward and unreadable.
“You didn't look hard enough.” Gohan barely saw the fist coming, but it only knocked him over, and didn't even draw blood.
“I looked!” Gohan stared up at his father for a long moment, weighing his options. He went with his gut, which hadn't steered him wrong so far.
“Its this way.” He leapt into the air, wondering why someone worse than Hitler deserved a second chance. Not a second chance, he told himself, although he had a terrible habit of not believing himself when he lied to his subconscious.
They landed in a clearing that had mostly grown over again; the ring of stones that marked where the house had once been, and at the center, a single black headstone. Kakarrot ran his hands over the smooth surface, kneeling in front of it like some kind of alter.
“I never thought it was wrong to kill, until I met her.”
Gohan almost gaped, then chose to keep his mouth shut.
“I killed the people I should have protected. I can feel it in my bones, everyday, just how wrong it was.” He leaned his forehead on the headstone, and his voice went softer. “You were right; it was too little, too late. I never should have left, Gohan.”
“Then why did you?” Gohan hadn't meant for his tone to be so harsh, especially in this place, at this time. But it was, and he wasn't particularly sorry.
“I thought my duty to my Prince outweighed my duty here.” Simple and to the point. And honest.
“What is your duty here?”
“You, mostly. But if Trunks fails, if he can't kill Freeza, then at least I'll die defending what I should have defended from the beginning.”
“Is he really that powerful?”
“Like you wouldn't believe, Gohan.”
They were silent for a long moment, before Gohan brushed the dirt off a box half-buried near the edge of the foundations. He pulled a cast iron skillet out of it, and brought it to Kakarrot.
“This one was her favorite. It's dented, from when she used to hit you over the head with it.”
Kakarrot laughed, and cradled the skillet for so long that Gohan had to look away. When he did speak, he stood, handing the skillet back.
“I'm hungry. You remember that lake we used to fish at? I bet there's some big ones swimming around down at the bottom.” Some inner switch flipped, and suddenly he was bright and happy and not at all the Saiyajin that had knelt at a human woman's grave. “Race you there!”
He was gone almost instantly, just a blue flash of ki across the sky. Gohan put the skillet back in its box and followed more sedately, wondering if he'd meant to take the second chance. He hadn't even known he'd been given one.
The wind whistled around Chi Chi's headstone, but she would have laughed to know that forgiveness had really been that simple.
“You are my sunshine,” Racine sang to the deer carcass as he cut into it, “My only sunshine,” he ignored the deliberate snapping twigs behind him, having already felt Raditz approach, “You make me happy, when skies are grey,”
“She used to sing that to you,” Raditz interrupted, and Racine spared a glance over his shoulder long enough to convey disdain and irritation in a single withering glare. “She used to give me that same look, too.”
“Take your bullshit somewhere else.” Racine carefully peeled the skin away from the meat, not bothering to look up again.
“You left the marker?” When Racine didn't dignify him with an answer, Raditz pressed harder. “That was her favorite spot. There used to be a swing on the tree. She'd walk up there with you, and push you on that thing while she sang to you-”
“I remember what she used to do!” Racine snapped, caught himself before he whirled around, and focused on the carcass again.
Raditz was silent for so long Racine thought he might leave; his shoulders slumped when the older man spoke again.
“Where you with her when Nappa came?”
Racine froze with surprise; he'd thought this might be some kind of game, egg the kid on until he does something stupid, ask incredibly painful questions in the hope of eliciting some kind of reaction…he wasn't sure where this was going to go.
“What the fuck does it matter to you?” Cold and callous, and maybe he'd go away…
“I almost caught up to you in the pens, right before the last uprising. You'd already been sent out to fight when I got there. I went to watch. Worst thing I could have done. Didn't know if you'd even live through it. But you won. And they whisked you off before I could even get close.”
“Yeah, I hear half-breeds are pretty good entertainment. I'm sure you had yourself a ball.” Snide, push him away, as hard and long and far as it took or he would go.
“You fought well.” Racine didn't know what he could possibly be choking on, but oh god, why didn't the man just shut up…“I was never more proud of you then at that last battle.”
And that was what really did it. Racine abandoned the dead deer, and tore after Raditz in an unprecedented fury. When the red finally faded from his vision, he didn't recognize what beach he was lying on, but Raditz was panting in the sand next to him, dripping blood and grinning. His armor had cracked, and Racine tore the shreds of his jacket off in disgust. He'd particularly liked that one, too.
“That,” Raditz laughed harder than Racine thought the situation merited, “was fun. Same time tomorrow.” And he took off into the fading light of the sun without so much as a backward glance.
Racine sighed, realized that he probably wasn't going to get a very philosophical relationship with a man who liked to hit things on principal, and settled for what he could get. It would do; it was certainly easier to let the bastard in, than to put up with that bullheaded stubbornness that would be more relentless than any other force on the planet. That was where Racine felt he took after his mother; he knew when to give in, especially when the second chance wasn't going to let him pass it by.
The cherry blossoms on Rachelle's grave were a surprise, though; he hadn't thought Saiyajin paid attention to things like a human woman's favorite flowers.