Dragon Ball/Z/GT Fan Fiction ❯ Touketsu ❯ Family ( Chapter 2 )
Glittering stars blanketed the moonless night sky that stretched over the arid badlands. Vegeta sat upon a plateau lost in thought, his arm resting upon one drawn up knee. A breeze rustled through his hair and his light training clothes as he stared out at the eroded rock formations, their strange forms looking like twisted silhouettes.
He was sitting in the desert region where he had first battled Goku, the turning point in his life. It was the point when his whole world was turned upside down. It wasn't the first time he had found himself reflecting on that day; back when he was training for the upcoming battle with the Androids his thoughts frequently shifted to that first humiliating, jarring defeat. In his mind, analyzing was the only way to make any sense of a failure and avoid repeating the same mistake. More often than not though, it just seemed to drag him down further into the depths of his own mind. In that dark place, he never came up with any solutions, only more confusion.
Now in particular he felt conflicted about it. It was here that the events that lead up to his liberation from Frieza were set in motion. But at what cost? He had to die a slow, painful, humiliating death before he could be free of the emperor's reign. Unbidden, his mind strayed to that horrible day, the day he poured out his soul to his rival as quickly as his life's blood left him.
At the shameful memory of the outpouring of pent up emotion, he remembered the words of his father. At the time, the king had been berating a 3 year old Vegeta for his youthful, emotional displays.
"Emotions can get you killed on the battlefield. They can make you sloppy in your technique, and they can take away your focus. They can be used against you by an enemy. Do not ever show an enemy the effect he has on your mind."
It was advice that served Vegeta well during his entire tenure in the Planet Trade Organization. It was this advice in the form of an impassioned plea that he left with Goku as he lay dying in the bloody soil on Namek.
"Forget about your feelings. They'll get you killed! They'll get you killed, Kakarot!"
"I can't. I can't change who I am - not on the battlefield. My feelings are my guide."
Vegeta had been brought back to life only to have to live with more shame. It would not be he to avenge his fallen race, but Goku. Vegeta drew only marginal solace in the fact that it was his son from the future that ultimately put an end to Frieza. It was his rival however that had been the first to ascend and go on to become the Legendary: The Saiyan Messiah.
Vegeta was the prince of his people, the son of the king of the greatest warrior race the universe had ever known…or so he had been brought up to believe. Strength was everything to the Saiyan people. The strongest was the leader of his people. Period. If he was not the strongest, what did that make of him? What would his father think of him? Sighing, he lowered his head into the crook of his arm.
Vegeta's thoughts lingered on the man. He had not just been his father; he was his king. He had been very young, but he remembered how proud he was to be his son. His father was powerful, wise, and respected, and Vegeta was determined to be a great king, just like him. He had once looked upon him with nothing but deep admiration and respect. That is, until the day he handed him over to the tyrant that would hold him in bondage for the better part of his life. The betrayal he felt when his father announced that he would be living with Frieza was almost crippling.
Vegeta raised his head again to stare out at nothing. "He had no problem handing the heir to the Saiyan throne over to Frieza," he muttered to no one. " 'To preserve the ways of our people,' you told me. Huh. Yes, father." He scowled. "Or maybe you were just a coward. For all you preached to me of Saiyan strength, pride, heritage…you were in the end just a fucking coward." His thoughts drifted to his father's parting words of encouragement the day he left his planet forever to serve Frieza.
"There will come a day when the Saiyan Nation will overthrow Frieza and his Galactic Army. On that day I will come for you, my son, and you will be the next great king of Planet Vegeta."
Vegeta's features tightened. "…A coward and a liar," he hissed. He resented his father but still, sometimes he wondered what he would think of him now: settling down with a human woman, siring a hybrid…coming second in strength to a third class Saiyan. He snarled inwardly. Well, father's long dead so what does it matter?
He lay down on his back, one hand behind his head and the other on his stomach as he looked up at the expanse of stars above. He certainly had changed, but he wasn't so sure it was for the better. From the day he came into Frieza's service onward he had been concerned only with his own survival. He had no attachments to anyone, no obligations to fulfill to anyone but himself. His objective was simple: destroy Frieza and take his rightful place as the emperor of the universe. He would serve no one ever again.
Then he died.
When he came to this planet, his sense of direction and self were all but destroyed. His death on Namek finalized his old life, yet it wasn't completely gone. It followed him around like his shadow, and it haunted his memories. He didn't know if his frequent nightmares were conjurings of that past life or subconscious recollections of his brief time in Hell. They seemed about the same.
Things were so different now. Nearly ten years he had been living on this planet. He had never stayed on any planet for as long as he had here. Looking back, he had certainly never intended to stay here long. Upon learning of his destined death at the hands of the Androids, he had only stayed to train and finally ascend to the ranks of greatness as a Super Saiyan, facing the android threat head-on. After he defeated them he would crush Kakarot once and for all - and maybe destroy his precious Earth too. He would prove his worth to his dead father; he would at last prove it to himself. But then, the woman happened. Trunks happened. The Androids arrived. Cell arrived. And then…nothing. No battle on the horizon. No adversary to prove himself against. No purpose. Save, he supposed, his service to his wife and son.
During those three years before the arrival of the Androids he could bullshit himself as to why he stayed at Capsule Corp. He could tell himself that it was because of the company's state-of the-art training equipment, or that Bulma was a gorgeous woman and a convenient lay, or that she made him feel like a man at a time when he was filled with self doubt and felt like anything but. The truth of the matter, however, was that he had fallen for her. It wasn't immediate, but little by little he fell for her completely. He fell for her compassion, her unparalleled intelligence, her perseverance, her sense of humor, and yes, even her bravery. She'd have to be brave to associate with the likes of him. She had never given up on him.
Yes, he had grown to care for both Bulma and Trunks deeply. But…these past six years of peace felt like six years of complacency to him. He was continually encouraged by the progress his son made in his training, but his pride in his son was slowly being overshadowed by the growing emptiness he felt inside. He needed something more. It was something Bulma could never understand. His lust for battle and conquest could never be quenched. It was in his blood, and without it, he didn't feel whole.
With difficulty, he pushed the poisonous thoughts and old memories back down into the depths of his heart until he felt numb once more. Emotional detachment was a skill that had once been second nature to him. Indeed, it had been necessary during his days as a soldier in the Galactic Army. If he didn't give a shit about anything - his planet, his father, his people - then he couldn't miss them. Crippling loss only came if one cared, and a warrior could not afford to be crippled. Over the years however he found he had to make a conscious effort to shove such thoughts away. He could probably blame his family for that.
With a sigh, he draped his arm over his eyes.
Bulma awoke from her slumber at 3:00 am when she heard the balcony door to their bedroom slide open. She had her back to Vegeta and feigned sleep, listening to him as he got undressed and slid into bed next to her. He lay on his side, facing away. Bulma bit her lip and deliberated for a moment.
Vegeta felt his wife press up against him, one hand snaking under his arm and across his ribs, her hand finally resting over his heart. He slowly released his breath and closed his eyes as he felt the tension in his body leave in surrender. Shit. She always had a way of making him feel guilty simply by caring.
They lay that way in silence together for a while. Vegeta was wide awake as he listened to his wife breathing, her breath barely tickling the back of his neck. He finally concluded she had fallen asleep until she spoke, her voice the softest whisper.
"Please talk to me. What's wrong?"
He exhaled through his nose in consternation. He couldn't articulate to her what was troubling him, never mind that he didn't want to. He was never one to bare his emotions. The mere thought of trying to communicate all the myriad thoughts in his head made him want to pass out in exhaustion. Bulma however had always been able to read him like a book, and she had a stubbornness to match his own. She wasn't going to let this go, but that didn't mean he was going to spill his guts to her.
"Nothing is wrong, woman. I just left to train elsewhere tonight."
"Could you at least let me know beforehand if you're going to leave?"
"What difference does it make when and where I go?"
"It just bothers me is all," she sighed as she hugged him from behind, relishing in the now rare closeness. He was always so warm. Goku also had always radiated heat even just when standing nearby, so she had long since chalked up Vegeta's elevated body temperature to being a Saiyan thing. The uptick in Vegeta's extended, nightly departures left the bed feeling colder than she had ever remembered.
"You've been gone… a lot more lately," she ventured. "Vegeta, about earlier, it wasn't really about going out to the zoo. It's not about going to parades, or the park, or the movies. It's about spending some time with us."
"What are you talking about," he grumbled. "We live together, don't we?"
She sighed. "You've been absent a lot lately. I kinda feel like we're…losing you, a little." When she was met with silence she continued, "You don't think Trunks wants to spend more time with you?"
Vegeta looked over his shoulder at her and scoffed. "Nonsense. I train with the boy every day."
"You don't think Trunks wants to do more with you than just train?"
"No," he answered peevishly, dropping his head back to his pillow. "He enjoys our training sessions. It's enough."
Now very awake, Bulma decided to announce a plan she had been considering for a while. "Trunk's 7th birthday is coming up in less than a month."
"I'm well aware of that, woman," he drawled.
"Well, I was thinking about taking him on a Dragon Ball hunt."
Vegeta raised an eyebrow at this. Alone? He didn't harbor the same concerns when she took Trunks with her into the city for a shopping excursion or one of their frequent trips to the zoo or park. Bulma however could be absolutely fool-hardy when it came to exploration and adventure. There was something about the prospect of traveling into the unknown that brought out her risk-taking side. It was very Saiyan of her…and that didn't give him much peace of mind. She was so goddamn weak.
"What the hell for?" he asked neutrally. "The boy is spoiled enough as it is. Now you want to let him make three wishes?"
Bulma propped herself up on one arm and leaned down over him. "I never said I'd allow him to make any wish he wants. We'll decide on that together, geez. But that's not the point. He's never gone on one, and I thought it would be a great experience for him. We'd be traveling to new places, experiencing other cultures…"
"And you wish to disrupt his education for that?" he asked, looking up at the insistent woman leaning over him.
"I won't be disrupting anything, smart guy," she said, poking him in the shoulder. "He can attend his classes remotely, it's not a big deal. Besides, I've been supplementing his education with college level math, physics, and engineering. Have you forgotten that you married a genius?"
Rolling over onto his back, he smirked up at her. "How could I? You remind me enough about it." They were very alike in how they both strived to be the best - and they shared a vested interest in ensuring their son would also be the best in what he did. Vegeta's expression grew serious again. "Hn. You're seriously going to go gallivanting across this mudball with our barely 7 year old son? You are far too weak to defend yourself and he is too inexperienced to defend you without possibly blowing up a city in the process."
"Does that mean you'll be joining us?"
She was a devious one. He sighed in defeat and rolled his eyes. "Yes, woman," he grumbled.
Bulma's face lit up with relief and accomplishment. She leaned down and kissed him softly on the lips before resting her forehead on his."Thank you, Vegeta," she whispered. "I love you." She looked into his eyes for a moment before kissing him again, longer and deeper this time. It had been so long since they'd done anything intimate. He compliantly returned the kiss, but she could tell he wasn't fully into the act. Bulma conceded that he wasn't going to get over his withdrawal that easily, and she withdrew herself. She lay back down and settled next him. "Get some sleep, ok?" she said softly, not showing her disappointment.
"Hn. Leave me alone and I will," he grunted as he rolled over and gave her his back. He quickly added over his shoulder, "But I am NOT attending whatever ridiculous party you're going to be throwing for the boy."
There was a pause. "Will you at least be there when he blows out the candles?"
He dropped his head back down with a roll of his eyes. Damn these ridiculous Earth customs. Well, if it meant so much to her. "Fine," he spat. "Now are you gonna let me get some goddamn sleep or what?"
"Okay. Goodnight, Vegeta." she whispered. She snuggled up closer to him and kissed him behind the ear. While he hadn't exactly let her in they had nonetheless made some progress. For the first time since before the Cell Games anniversary he would be joining them out, never mind that she did a little manipulation on her part to ensure that it happened. Provided he didn't back out at the last second, they may be able to pull closer together as a family. Hopefully, he could leave behind whatever funk he had gotten himself into.
True to his word, Vegeta joined his family on the Dragon Ball hunt, if only to monitor his wife's impulsiveness. He did feel a lightening in his heart when they informed Trunks of their plans. The boy was overjoyed, and even though Vegeta wasn't exactly involved in the process of the hunt, his wife and son seemed to be happy that he was simply there. That was all fine and good with him, because he did not care to "absorb the culture" as Bulma put it. He didn't care what customs these humans had or what color they came in. As far as he was concerned they were all equally beneath him.
When they took breaks from their hunt to explore a city and visit the local shops, he simply relaxed on top of a nearby building and monitored his family's ki. He would never admit it, but he was surprised to find he was rather enjoying their little family vacation. He was still able to keep to himself as he preferred to do, but with the added benefit of some new scenery. Vegeta was a creature of habit; when he left the house to train, he tended to go to the same locations over and over again. After all, if he found a suitable place, why waste time seeking out another? Leave it to Bulma to break him out of his rut. He didn't even realize how bored he had been with his routine until now.
While he found mingling with any humans absolutely detestable, he did find himself becoming interested in the history behind some of the places they visited. It turned out, humans may have been more Saiyan in nature than he had ever given them credit for. Many of the places they visited featured ancient sculptures, murals, or wall reliefs that exalted battle and conquest: exquisite marble sculptures of physically impressive humans standing over their vanquished foes, or solitary soldiers dying with dignity. These humans of the past seemed to absolutely love conquest, for they represented war and battle with a sense of reverence and admiration.
Not so the humans today. Humans still engaged in constant war with each other, their weapons far more advanced than the swords and arrows their predecessors used. With the technology they had now they could decimate enemy forces more efficiently than ever before. And they did. Yet, they did not hold warfare in the high regard that their ancestors obviously had. Hell, when war was referenced today it was with derision and disgust. They were ashamed - and yet they still engaged in it. Vegeta stood in an expansive art museum, his arms crossed as he looked up at the enormous, beautiful oil painting before him. He narrowed his eyes, studying the romantic depiction of conquering soldiers gleefully raping and pillaging with abandon. Hm. at least these primitive humans were honest with themselves.
Vegeta only had to step in once to retrieve a Dragon Ball that was out of reach. They were touring the ruins of an ancient battle arena along with throngs of other tourists. According to the radar, the magical orb had landed somewhere below the main level of the ancient colosseum, where gladiators had once waited in their cells before being summoned to entertain with their blood. This area was restricted from tourists and was almost completely covered by a nearly finished reconstruction of the battle arena. The adults concluded that Trunks was a little too brash and inexperienced to handle subterfuge, in spite of his protests to the contrary. Using his speed and considerable skill in keeping a low profile, Vegeta managed to drop down into the lower level without being detected. It was easy enough, the bustling activity of the chatty tourists above demanding the attention of the security guards.
It was dark in this section of the colosseum, the light above barely reaching. The sound of the visitors was muffled. Verdant moss and other vegetation covered what remained of the stone walls. Here, armor-clad slaves and prisoners were once hustled along to go up and fight to the death while amused spectators gawked down imperiously like gods from a safe distance. Vegeta walked the grass covered passageways where the long dead warriors had once tread.
At last, he found the two star Dragon Ball in the corner of one of the many prisoner cells, having rolled in when it impacted. Vegeta knelt down on one knee and picked it up. He held it up to his face, studying it for a moment before huffing a tired sigh through his nose. His eyes lowered. It was these things that ultimately led him here to this point in his life.
Very suddenly, coldness washed over him. He slowly stood and rubbed his eyes. This excursion with his family had been unexpectedly beneficial, providing a distraction from the ever present shadows that followed him. Turning his back on them for a time however didn't mean they had left. They would always be there. Just like that, the Dragon Ball summoned the darkness back. It was a good thing this was the last one, because he was ready to conclude this trip. Wearily, he tucked it into his jacket pocket and left to rejoin his family.
Bulma was a little bewildered by Vegeta's sudden withdrawal. He had seemed to loosen up a bit over the course of their getaway, and she was beginning to think he was at last pulling out of his funk. Apparently that wasn't the case. She sighed inwardly. Oh well. He'd come around eventually, right? It wasn't the first time he had fallen into a period of brooding. Deep down though, she couldn't shake the feeling that this was a little different this time.
In typical Bulma fashion, she had originally been planning on making a public affair of the Dragon Balls, summoning Shenron as a high point during Trunk's birthday party. Now though, she was beginning to think that it would be better to keep the event exclusive. Vegeta had made it clear he wouldn't be attending the party, and she wanted to include him.
Later that day, the three of them stood upon a tall, rocky outcropping that overlooked a seaside city. The sun was setting over the soft turquoise waters, bathing the white houses beyond in a rosy hue and deepening the warm color of their terra-cotta roofs. There was a brief discussion between mother and son as to what kind of wishes should be made, Vegeta opting to bow out. After a few selfish suggestions were shot down, Trunks's face brightened and he suggested wishing that the tiger population would recover.
"That's a great idea, Trunks!" Bulma gushed. "Ok, that's one wish. I'll go next." Bulma briefly considered turning back the clock a bit for her body, but then dismissed the notion. She didn't look old - she looked like a goddamn rockstar! She glanced sidelong at Vegeta. Well…maybe she could stand to perk her breasts up a bit. That way it wouldn't be a completely selfish wish, right? Besides, it was easier than plastic surgery. She'd have to cover Trunk's ears when she made that wish, though. Now what of the last one?
"Vegeta, is there anything you want to wish for?"
Vegeta looked off to the side, his arms crossed. If he could, he'd wish that fool Kakarot back so he could finally kick his ass. But of course, it had already been established six years ago that the request was off the table. Briefly, he considered wishing back his tail, but what was the point? He never would have thought he'd not wish his tail back if given the chance, but time and circumstances certainly had a way of changing perspective. He had settled down on an alien planet populated by a tailless race of people. He was a private person, and with a tail he would stick out like sore thumb. That was the last thing he wanted. Additionally, having one now would only serve as a very physical reminder that he was the last of his kind - a proud warrior race all but extinct. He was a prince of no one; a joke. He dwelled upon that fact enough as it was.
He looked back at his wife with an unreadable expression. Not for the first time and regardless that it wasn't within Shenron's power, the unbidden notion of turning back time flirted with his mind. If given the chance would he make the same choices all over again? Would he settle on Earth to this life of mediocrity, or would he take his place as ruler of the universe as he always thought he would? He couldn't imagine his life without his family now, but then, it wouldn't be possible to miss them if he had never had them to begin with.
Bulma didn't like the distant look in his eyes. "Vegeta? she prompted. "Can you think of anything?"
Vegeta scowled and turned his head away again. "No."
Bulma sighed. She chewed her lip in thought as she gazed out at the sky, the setting sun illuminating the few clouds above in soft pinks and reds as the day slowly gave way to night. Then it occurred to her.
"Hey Vegeta, you've never seen our Earth's moon have you?"
Vegeta turned to her, his eyebrow raised. As a point of fact, he hadn't. He had learned later that the Namekian had long since destroyed it to reverse a four year old Gohan's Oozaru transformation. His curiosity peaked, he shook his head. "No, actually."
"Would you like to wish it back?"
Vegeta didn't see any reason why they shouldn't. Besides, the sooner they made these wishes the sooner they could just leave for home already. He shrugged. "Sure. Why not."