Dragon Ball/Z/GT Fan Fiction ❯ Touketsu ❯ Lineage ( Chapter 19 )
Gohan, Piccolo, Trunks, and Goten waited in the large, darkened living room at Capsule Corp for Goku's arrival. Goku had informed Gohan that he would be bringing Bulma and Vegeta with him, and with a smile he relayed the news to Trunks. He was a little bewildered at Trunks's apprehensive expression.
"Trunks, is something wrong? Aren't you looking forward to seeing your dad?"
Trunks scuffed his feet a little, obviously not wanting to talk about it. "My Dad - he's different." He looked up a little through the lavender bangs that hung over his eyes. At the quizzical look Gohan was giving him, he elaborated. "He's changed. He still looks like that monster, and he…well he was still acting like it. He didn't recognize me and Mom, he didn't say anything to us…I…" he trailed off, dropping his head. "I don't even know if he can talk anymore," he confided, his voice cracking.
Gohan's brows drew together in concern. "Trunks, you mean to say he's not completely out of that Oozaru state?" He had gotten a glimpse of the beast when he had flown across the city to rescue Videl's father. At the time he had never considered that the strange looking creature was in fact some kind of Oozaru, much less Vegeta.
Head down, Trunks gave only a simple nod. While the boy had never seen an Oozaru himself, he heard the tales of the creatures that Gohan, Goku, and his father had once been able to transform into. Still blissfully ignorant of the true nature behind his father's first battle with Goku and the others, he had nonetheless heard how Gohan won the fight when he went Oozaru and basically sat on his father. It was a story that always left Trunks in stitches, and needless to say that Gohan only related the tale well out of Vegeta's earshot. Trunks had always secretly wished he could have seen his father's fabled Oozaru transformation. He regretted that now.
Gohan stood helplessly as he processed this new information. It troubled him more than anything that Trunks had been tasked with exterminating these shadow demons while carrying this burden all on his own. "Trunks, I'm sorry. I didn't know. You could have talked to us about it. You should have."
Head still lowered, Trunks only gave a half-hearted shrug in reply.
"Well, look. It's been a bit since you last saw him. He may be back to normal by now. His Oozaru transformation was very different from what I've seen in the memories Piccolo's projected to me in the past," he said, nodding to his mentor. "It may take him longer to come out of it."
"Gohan's got a good point, Trunks," Piccolo rumbled. "That wasn't a typical Oozaru transformation you father was in. He may just need more time."
"Yeah, I guess so," Trunks replied in a disbelieving tone.
Just then, Goku and the others suddenly appeared. Gohan broke out in a smile at the sight of his father before it was completely wiped off his face. He barely refrained from putting his hand over his mouth in dismay at the sight of Vegeta. He was almost unrecognizable; he looked like some bestial version of Frieza.
Arms crossed, Piccolo grimly took in the appearance of the transformed prince, now so much like the Saiyan's former employer. He betrayed a small shake of his head in disappointment. How did you let this happen to you, Vegeta?
Touketsu blinked. He was in some other living quarters, and there were four strangers standing across from him and the others. The first thing he noticed was the tall green man; he looked to be of the same species as the younger one that healed him. At the time he had pushed it to the back of his mind, but again he had that recurrent association with the mysterious green sky. His eyes went to the young man standing nearby. The teen's hard, angular eyes, subtle widow's peak, and errant forelock of hair immediately brought to mind the vision of that dark-haired, teenage soldier. He looked similar but not quite. Touketsu scowled, confused. Wouldn't the woman have mentioned that he had two sons?
Goten hid behind his older brother's leg. His uncle could be kind of scary at times, but he never felt afraid of him until now. He looked like one of those devils kids would dress up as on Halloween. "…Uncle Vegeta?"
Touketsu's eyes flicked down to the younger one clinging to the teenager's pant leg, and the boy immediately ducked back behind. He peered shyly out, his thumb now in his mouth. Touketsu scowled in annoyance when he took in the mass of haphazard spikes upon the boy's head. This one DEFINITELY belonged to the clown standing next to him. His eyes went to the lavender haired boy standing nearby, and his scowl relaxed. The boy; there he was.
Goku stepped towards the small group and looked to Touketsu. "Vegeta, these are my sons Gohan and Goten," he said motioning to his sons. "This here is Piccolo, and…this is Trunks. Your son."
Trunks could only stand and stare at his father, his blue eyes swimming with emotion. "Dad," he whispered. One year of his father's absence may as well have been twenty to the eight year old boy. His heart twisted as he was again subjected to the sight of his transformed father. He had harbored the tiniest bit of hope that Gohan and Mr. Piccolo had been right and that he had reverted back to normal. Tears began to well up in Trunks's eyes, and he self consciously wiped them. His father had always been very intolerant of the sight of any tears, but the eight year old was having trouble controlling them now. He looked back up to his father.
Touketsu took a wandering step back at the sight of those eyes when out of nowhere he was seized with a desperate, gut wrenching sense of anxiety and terror, the feelings paired with images of blood red sand. With difficulty, he maintained a stoic facade as he felt his spirit being brought to its knees. The onslaught kept coming. This boy, this complete stranger, was leveling him with a crippling sense of failure and self-loathing so deep he felt as though he was drowning in it. He swallowed. Keep your emotions on a leash.
Bulma quickly crossed over to kneel down next to her son, wrapping a comforting arm around his shoulders. "Trunks, honey, your father is having trouble with his memories. Go ahead and talk to him, just please understand that he's still adjusting."
Trunks's blue eyes were searching Touketsu's, hoping for some spark of recognition. Finally he spoke. "Dad…Where have you been? What happened to you?"
Touketsu didn't answer. He merely gazed back at him, his eyes impassive. Inside however, he felt utterly undone. His tail coiled and lashed once in agitation.
Trunks was hurt that his father still didn't seem to recognize him. "Do you remember what happened? Did…did those demons get you or something?" Trunks didn't want to believe that his father had been helping them on purpose. His mother told him how he had once worked for some evil Freezer guy and that he hated it. He only did it because the other guy was stronger. But, that was long before his father went Super. His dad was the strongest person he had ever known, and next to his mother, the smartest. Those things couldn't have overpowered him or tricked him…could they? He wished his father had just gone to sleep that night instead of up and leaving. Maybe none of this would have ever happened. "Why did you leave, Dad?" He asked quietly.
Silent, Touketsu remained expressionless.
Trunks's hurt grew along with his frustration. His young face drew into a scowl. "So why were you with those monsters? You didn't join them, did you?"
"Trunks," Bulma warned, uneasy.
Touketsu maintained eye contact with the boy, but his brow briefly furrowed as the pain continued to crush his heart.
"Is that why you left us?!" Trunks accused.
"Trunks, hush!" Bulma hissed.
Trunks ignored his mother's insistence to calm himself, his tearful blue eyes flaring with growing anger. "Did you forget about me and mom? Why don't you say something, Dad? Can you even speak anymore!?" he spat.
"Trunks, that's enough!" Bulma admonished sternly.
Touketsu began to experience that feeling he had a short while ago when he realized he had injured the female: guilt. This sense of guilt however was enormous and crushing. It was suffocating and completely bewildering. He was locked in place under the tear-filled, accusatory gaze of the boy, and to his growing alarm he felt his own eyes starting to burn. With a hiss he turned away, giving them his back. He squeezed his eyes shut. "Leave me. Now," he finally rasped, his throat so tight he could barely utter the words.
Trunks' face fell. His father finally spoke to him. It was the first thing he had said to him after disappearing nearly a year ago…and he was telling him to go away. The tears finally spilled over Trunks's cheeks. "Dad," He spoke softly, his voice cracking. Touketsu's shoulders hunched up imperceptibly at the sound of rejection in the boy's voice.
Bulma's heart broke for her son at the sight of his face. "Come on, baby. Come with me to the kitchen and I'll explain," she spoke in a comforting, hushed voice as she steered him into the other room. Goku began to follow them, his hand drifting up to clutch his chest as an expression of mild discomfort flashed across his features. He subtly motioning with his head to the others to take his lead. It was obvious that Vegeta was upset. They would give him space, and Goku would continue to track his ki from the kitchen. Touketsu was left alone in the darkened living room.
A moment later the small group entered the kitchen. Bulma took Trunks aside to gently explain the ongoing situation as Gohan looked to his father in concern. He had noticed the way Goku had clutched at his chest.
"Dad? Are you ok?" Gohan asked, putting a hand over his father's shoulder.
"Well, for being technically dead I guess I'm all right," Goku chuckled. "That reminds me that I only have so much time here," he said, his hand drifting up to clutch his heart again.
"But Dad, we're not even close to going through 24 hours yet," Gohan said with some concern.
"Yeah, I know. That last Instant Transmission seemed to take something out of me."
Piccolo quirked a brow at that. "That weakened you? That doesn't make any sense Goku."
"Yeah, I'm not sure why-" Goku stopped mid-sentence as realization suddenly lit his features. "Oh crap. I think it's Super Saiyan 3." He looked to the others. "I didn't feel so hot the last time I used it. This is the first time I used it on the material plane. The transformation must be more taxing on a physical body. Damn, I didn't think of that…"
"Dad, are you saying it took too much out of you?" Gohan asked, his brows furrowing.
"Yeah, I think so Gohan. I first used it against - well, Vegeta…when he was that Oozaru. Then I used it later to get rid of most of the Kagemazoku. I kind of wish I hadn't done that. I'm starting to feel the strain when I channel my ki for, well, anything. My body might end up dissolving before the 24 hours are up."
"Well don't let that happen," Bulma called emphatically from the nearby laundry room. She had disappeared into it to change into some clean (undamaged) clothes, and reemerged into the kitchen wearing dark blue jeans and a white button down blouse. "We need you Goku," she told her friend as she buttoned the sleeves halfway up her arms. "You'd better make sure you can stay as long as you can."
"Then I'd better do whatever I can to conserve me energy. I won't try Super Saiyan 3 anymore, that's for sure. I'd better avoid Instant Transmission too. If we come across the Kagemazoku again I'll need to put all my energy into fighting them without burning through my life force too fast. Hopefully Super Saiyan 1 will be enough. If not, then the most I should try is Super Saiyan 2."
Bulma bit her lip in thought. "Well, if IT'ing back here to summon Shenron is out of the question, then I should bring the six I've got with us. If we're in the clear to make our wishes after we get the last Dragon Ball, I'd feel a lot better doing it right away.
Goku nodded. "Okay then, let's do it." He looked to Piccolo. "Piccolo, after Bulma, Yamcha, Vegeta and I leave, I need you, Gohan, and the boys here to fan out and look for any more of those demons and take them out. Look especially to cities. You'll need to scour the rest of the planet, so you have your work cut out for you. If it looks like you've gotten rid of them all, let me know," he said, tapping his temple for emphasis. "I want to avoid using a wish to get rid of these guys if we can. We'll need to restore the damage they've done to the planet, and restoring the lives they've taken could use up the last two wishes." Piccolo nodded in affirmation.
"Mom, I want to come with you guys," Trunks piped up, looking to Bulma.
"Now Trunks, we need your help here," Goku told him kindly but firmly.
Bulma looked down at her son, noting the very Vegeta-like scowl affixed to his young face. Sighing, she knelt down until she was eye-level with him and put her hands on his shoulders. A sad smile quirked her lips. "I know you want to see him, sweetheart. You want to be with him, and you want him to remember. Your father just - he needs some time."
"Yeah, I know," he muttered sadly. Trunks's face cracked a little. "Did those things get him? Is that what happened?"
Bulma sighed, studying Trunks's face. "I think so, sweetie," she said regretfully. "But he's not with them anymore, he's fighting them. He's on our side." She cupped her son's face in her hands. "Listen, Trunks. He's still your father. He'll be back to normal before too long. Ok?" She hoped Trunks couldn't hear the uncertainty in her voice.
Trunks nodded. "Ok, Mom," he answered quietly.
Alone in the living room, Touketsu clenched his fists. He was completely unnerved by the profound, debilitating effect that simply looking upon the cub did to him. He felt destroyed. The more he was around these people, the more he was being subjected to these torturous feelings. Taking a deep breath, he slowly straightened. He was standing next to a fireplace when he noticed movement from the corner of his eye.
It was his reflection. There was a broad mirror affixed to the wall above the mantel piece. He turned to face it fully, taking a step towards it. He had seen his faint reflection in the dark ice before destroying Zhernobog, but this was the first time he had really gotten a good look at himself. He studied the white face and red eyes for a moment. He still found it a little difficult to accept that Frieza hadn't been his father.
His eyes scanned the framed photographs that adorned the mantelpiece. Most of them were pictures of the woman and the boy. Some included the two people he saw at the Lookout - most likely her parents. Finally, his eyes settled on a picture behind the others. His breath caught in his throat, and he reached out to it. Carefully, he picked the framed photo up and brought it up to his eyes.
It was him. Or who he had been: Vegeta. He could see now that the person in the photo and the teenager from his vision were one and the same. In awe, he looked up to his reflection for a moment before returning his attention to the photo. He could believe that he had once been this man; aside from the shorter hair, dark eyes, and tanned skin, the Saiyan's features looked identical to his own. Vegeta was grimacing while a lavender haired baby sat on his shoulders and clung to one side of his face, absolute glee on the infant's features. The boy Trunks, no doubt. Behind the two, the blue haired woman was laughing at the sight.
He glanced at the photos of the boy that lined the mantelpiece before looking back to the picture in his hand. He shook his head. The kid looked nothing like him…or Vegeta for that matter: purple hair, blue eyes. Well, maybe there was something about those eyes. If he imagined those eyes were red instead of blue, he supposed they did look a lot like his own.
He thought back on those blue eyes that had left him completely undone, and his gaze hardened as he stared at Vegeta. Just what had the man done to scar him with this kind of pain at the mere sight of a boy? He caught his own ghostly white face barely being reflected from the glass, and his grip on the picture increased.
"Your emotions can lead you down dangerous paths."
Cracks began spreading out from the glass beneath his fingers. Touketsu continued to stare sightlessly down at the picture.
"You need not repeat the same mistakes as he did, Touketsu. You have a chance at a new life."
Touketsu stood motionless in front of the fireplace, his posture tense as the seconds ticked by. He viciously swung the picture down hard on the edge of the mantlepiece, shattering it to pieces. He gripped what remained of the ruined picture in a tight fist, shards of glass and splintered wood puncturing the flesh of his palm. He didn't notice it. Touketsu leaned heavily against the mantel and let out the breath he was holding. He scowled, his lips drawing up into a snarl. Damn Vegeta. Damn his family. He was at their mercy. "That's it," he hissed quietly. I'm forging my own way. If I'm going to be free of this weakness I have to cut ties with this Vegeta and-"
With a gasp of surprise Touketsu whirled around. It was the woman, Bulma. Touketsu grimaced inwardly, his tail lashing in consternation. How had she snuck up on him like that? All the more proof he needed that the ghosts of Vegeta's emotions were weakening him...
Bulma looked down at the shattered bits of glass on the floor before looking at what Touketsu gripped in his right hand. She slowly walked up to him, sidestepping the debris. Touketsu stood his ground, his back rigid. Bulma reached out and touched his hand as Touketsu kept his eyes trained on her with complete attention. She gently turned his hand over and observed the damaged photo still partially held by what remained of the wooden frame. He allowed her to gently pull his fingers apart and carefully take the picture, which she set aside on the coffee table. She turned back to him and inspected his bloody hand, noting the lacerations and the shards of glass still embedded in it. She sniffed a little, then sighed.
"We get you all fixed up and you go and hurt yourself again a few minutes later. That's you all right," she finally said, looking up at him. She smiled, but it was forced. "Come on. Let's go get you taken care of."
Almost in a trance, and despite his logic screaming at him not to, he allowed her to lead him to a bathroom as they walked past the ruined picture on the coffee table.
A short while later, Touketsu was sitting upon the countertop of the bathroom sink as Bulma tended to his hand, his face turned away from her. She had just finished removing the last of the glass.
"I'm going to disinfect this. It's going to sting a bit, ok?" She informed him, fully focused on her task.
Touketsu hissed a bit as she applied the alcohol. He turned back to her, watching her with an unreadable expression as she began to wrap his palm in gauze. His eyes softened. Her touch was so gentle…very different from anything he had experienced thus far. For the most part, he wasn't touched unless he was being struck in some way. He reflected on that moment when she had touched his face, and he felt as though he had been slapped. What was that? He was drawn out of his musings when he felt her begin to gingerly massage his hand.
Bulma had paused for a moment, lightly rubbing his icy hand with her thumb as her brow furrowed. "Why do you always feel so cold now?" she said softly, almost to herself. She resumed wrapping the gauze. There was silence between them for several moments.
"…Well…I think you're hot."
Bulma looked up at him in some surprise. He looked completely serious. Quite against her will a smile tugged at her lips, her expression lightening. She began to giggle.
Touketsu's brows drew together in bewilderment. "What?" he demanded a little self-consciously. "You didn't think that maybe you're the abnormal - what? What's so funny?"
She shook her head, still smiling. "Nothing." she said, clear amusement in her voice as she returned her attention back to his hand. Vegeta had never been very familiar with Earth's many colloquialisms.
He studied her for a moment. Why did his face suddenly feel so warm? That was different. He felt embarrassed for some reason but also strangely gratified that he had made her laugh. He cleared his throat awkwardly and changed the subject. "I..," he corrected himself, "Vegeta looked pretty annoyed in that picture."
Bulma glanced up at him, smiling a bit before focusing again on dressing his hand. "You were still getting used to being a father. You were quite a lone wolf before settling down with us."
"Lone wolf?" Touketsu queried, quirking one eyebrow up in confusion.
Bulma smiled up at him patiently. "It's a saying. A person is called a lone wolf if he or she keeps to themselves. Wolves usually live with their family - their pack mates - unless they decide to leave.
Touketsu scowled thoughtfully and looked away. "Hn." He mused for a moment in silence. "Why would a wolf want to leave its family?"
Bulma had just finished dressing his hand when she looked up at him. His head was turned away again, making it impossible for her to read him. She looked back down, pursing her lips in thought. "I don't know too much about animals," she admitted, shrugging as she released his hand and stood up. I only know a little from the few documentaries I watched with Trunks, back when he was all into wildlife. I think in most cases though a wolf will leave its pack to find a mate and start a new one. Then it would be the pack leader."
Touketsu mulled over this in silence before speaking again. "So it wants to be in command. It wants control." Several moments of silence passed. "So when a wolf finds his mate to start their pack, they stay together?"
Bulma shifted on her feet. She was beginning to feel unsettled by the cryptic conversation. "That's considered normal behavior for their kind, yeah. Wolves tend to mate for life."
More silence. "What's considered normal for your kind?"
Bulma blinked. "Uh...what do you mean?"
He slowly looked back at her, fixing her in place with his eyes as he planted both palms on the countertop. "Your species. Does your species mate for life?"
"Well, I suppose some people try," she replied carefully, looking thoughtful. She crossed her arms and looked away at nothing in particular. "Some relationships don't always work out in the long run, though."
"Is that how it was for you and that scar-faced male?" he asked, his voice taking on a challenging tone.
Bulma looked back at him with some surprise before her brows drew together in confusion. "What? Vegeta-"
Touketsu stood suddenly, his eyes never leaving her. Bulma's back stiffened and her heart sped up with his sudden movement. He scowled down at her. "I could tell you both have some history. The way his scent changes when he's around you, the way he…covets you," he spat. His voice began to rise. "Is he your mate too? Is this something you planned on telling me about? Or are you keeping information from me as well?" He took a step towards her, closing the distance between them in the small room. "I don't appreciate having things kept from me, Bulma," he spoke dangerously, the tone of his voice dropping. "If Zhernobog was still here he could attest to that."
Bulma swallowed but stood her ground as she looked up at him. "Vegeta it's not like that," she responded calmly, focusing with all her might to keep her voice from shaking. She took a deep breath. "I did have a previous relationship with Yamcha, yes, but you knew that. Yamcha and I dated for a while before you and I ever met." When she saw the hint of confusion in his eyes she elaborated. "Dating is not the same as being married. It's a period where two people will see each other for a while. The relationship may grow or it may not."
"You copulated with him?"
"Wha? Um…yes," she replied as her cheeks began to turn red.
"You mated with him. How are you not mates then?" he pressed. Bulma was momentarily speechless. "Did you bear any offspring with him?"
That snapped her out of it. "No! No, we didn't have any children together-"
"You're certain sure that boy is Vegeta's?"
Bulma's mouth hung open in shock for a moment before her expression became offended. "Yes, I'm certain of that, Vegeta." Touketsu backed off at the tone of her voice. She certainly seemed to be telling the truth. When he didn't challenge her answer, she relaxed a bit and continued. "The relationship I was in with Yamcha wasn't very serious. We were kind of off again, on again."
Touketsu snorted. "Seems like you didn't know what you wanted."
"I suppose I didn't at the time," Bulma replied, a little defensively. "But he was familiar. I was comfortable around him, even if our relationship wasn't going anywhere. Then, I met you."
"Hn. Really?" he replied dryly. "Sounds to me like you were mates to two different people at the same time. And when I was this Vegeta, I accepted this?
Bulma had been growing weary of his interrogating, and more than a little intimidated. Her patience finally gave way as she huffed, "I was NOT mates to both of you, JUST you. No, you never liked him, but you accepted that I used to have a relationship with him."
"You're correct about one thing," he said, scowling. "I DO NOT like him. Why the hell is he still sniffing around here?"
"Look, Vegeta…" Bulma began, struggling for words. "Yamcha is still my friend. We didn't work out as…mates….but he's still my friend. When you disappeared, he was there for me-"
Touketsu's eyes flashed. "He was there for you?"
"Vegeta!" she finally exclaimed, completely exasperated at this point. Touketsu straightened and scowled down at her, but allowed her to speak uninterrupted. "There is nothing between us! There hasn't been since you and I began seeing each other. He did nothing more than offer me emotional support when you went missing. Can't you at least try to understand that?"
Touketsu seemed to relent, and Bulma calmed herself as she looked imploringly into his eyes. She reached out and took his bandaged hand in hers, her other hand gently going up his forearm in a soothing gesture. His posture remained rigid, but after a few moments Bulma could feel his muscles relax a bit. "Losing you was like losing a piece of myself. I was starting to unravel, but I couldn't afford to get pulled into a cycle of grief. I was focused on finding you, but I also had to take care of Trunks and be strong for him. Yamcha helped share some of my burden. He lightened the load for me. Vegeta, if you could have seen how your disappearance affected Trunks," she trailed off, shaking her head as she collected her thoughts. She looked back up at him. "No one can go it alone forever."
Touketsu held her gaze. The inexplicable guilt he felt when he finally met the boy face to face came rushing back. How could he be subjected to this loathsome weakness and yet…be drawn to its source? It made no sense. He wanted to sever ties with Vegeta's past attachments. It shouldn't matter if the scar-faced male coveted her. Hell, he should step back and let the other male claim her if that's what it came to. Nonetheless, the thought of her belonging to anyone else made his blood boil. The muscle in his jaw flexed as he grit his teeth, barely breaking his stoic facade. These conflicting feelings were torturous and confusing. He shoved them aside.
"Fair enough," he finally said as he slowly pulled his hand out from her grasp. "Let's be on our way then and find this Dragon Ball."