Dragon Ball/Z/GT Fan Fiction ❯ Touketsu ❯ Still There ( Chapter 21 )

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

Still There

Bulma sat back in the pilot's seat, blinking wearily. They were en route to the Imoy Mountain Range for the last Dragon Ball. It was painful to be returning to this place, the only real lead she had ever gotten as to her missing husband's whereabouts. All it reminded her of was false hope and crippling loss. Several clouds dotted the sky, partially obscuring a nearly full moon. Bulma flicked the controls to autopilot; while it was safe to do so she decided she should rest her eyes a bit. Yamcha was napping, and the thought of also getting a little shut eye was extremely appealing right now.

"Hey Goku, I'm going to squeeze in a 30 minute nap," she said, setting a timer on her smart watch. "Could you keep an eye on our course?"

Goku was sitting in the co-pilot seat to her right. "Sure thing Bulma," he replied, giving her a strained smile.

Bulma took no notice of his discomfort, and she reclined her seat before pulling her fleece coat over herself. "Wake me up if you need me for anything," she yawned. "And go grab something to eat whenever you need to, ok?"

"Don't have to tell me twice," Goku chuckled. He watched as Bulma settled in, dozing off within minutes. He was growing concerned. He technically had roughly 11 hours left on the Material Plane, but he could feel himself weakening. His Super Saiyan 3 transformation had helped eradicate the remaining Kagemazoku army in a very efficient manner, but it had taken a real toll on his energy.

Well, maybe some food will help. Goku glanced over his shoulder at Touketsu. He was leaning up cross-legged against the wall of the jet interior. His head drooped and his arms likewise crossed, he appeared to have fallen asleep.

Goku got up and walked back to the right of the aircraft where there was a small dining area in a separate room. Goku threw some instant udon in the microwave and sat down at the small table. There was no door, so from where he sat he could keep a close eye on the enigmatic incarnation of Vegeta.

Ten minutes and several microwave dinners later, a reasonably sated Goku crossed his arms over the table before laying his head down over them. I'll just rest my eyes for a minute. He quickly slipped into a deep sleep.

A peaceful silence descended over the aircraft, the gentle rumbling of its engine the only sound. The muted moonlight bathed the interior in an ethereal, pale glow.

Touketsu slowly opened one blood-red eye.

He remained motionless for several moments, his ears tuned into the rhythmic breathing of his travel companions. He opened his other eye and looked up in Goku's direction. He turned his head towards Yamcha, asleep on a cot towards the back. He looked over to his left at the sleeping woman in the pilot's seat. The knapsack containing the six Dragon Balls lay on the floor just under the console.

Touketsu had been strategizing, and he was about to attempt a change in course. The situation had been an ideal one; the woman had the six dragon balls, she knew the location of the final one, she had transportation, and most importantly, HE had her trust. After the two meddlesome males intruded however, the circumstances had become less than favorable. If he could manage to create just one portal to that last Dragon Ball, he could swipe the six and go straight to the final one.

He quietly got to his feet and held out his bandaged right hand. All right. I want the blasted thing. Just focus on it. He stood there for several seconds like that without results. He was beginning to feel like a fool, regardless that no one was awake to witness it.

He planted his hands on his hips and huffed in frustration. He had no clue how to go about this. He should have been practicing this every second he was alone. Granted, there had been few such opportunities.

If I knew how to do this, I would have created a portal straight from The Land of the Dead to every single one of these damn things. He had only managed the portal twice, and in both instances he had been filled with intense hatred towards his objectives. The Dragon Balls elicited some sense of anxiety, but it certainly wasn't hatred.

Touketsu mused for a moment. "Absolute conviction," Frieza said. Well…that just means I have to decide what I want. I HAVE. I want the Dragon Ball, so how the hell hard can this be!?

He stared straight ahead as he gamely made another attempt, putting all his focus into his objective. "Come on, come on," he growled softly. He tried visualizing the Dragon Ball. He tried to visualize himself conjuring the portal. He even tried duplicating those powerful feelings of hatred that he harbored towards Goku and Frieza. Nothing was working. He felt none of that powerful pull within, no cold fire that heralded the summoning of dark energy.

Yamcha let out a snort as he shifted in his sleep.

Touketsu started, his concentration broken. He sneered in the fighter's direction. Damn it, he was wasting time! It could take ages before he could gain some semblance of control over his power. These fools could wake up any minute. He considered another strategy.

Take them out while they're asleep.

There would be no better time to usurp control. Which one should he kill first? Goku was the more powerful of the two, but he remembered the exchange between Goku and Zhernobog: the Saiyan was a walking dead man. Touketsu noticed the way he had been clutching his chest earlier. Judging by that, Goku's departure would be sooner rather than later. The Saiyan fell asleep more recently, and given his increasing weakness he was likely to sleep deeply.

Touketsu turned and began to creep stealthily towards the former bandit. He would kill the scar-faced one first, then dispatch Goku. It would be no problem at all to intimidate the woman to his will.

He stopped and hesitantly glanced over at the sleeping woman. It was dark, but the waxing moon cast just enough light on her strange cerulean hair. His eyes softened. In spite of his resistance, his feelings for her had only been growing. He was suddenly finding it difficult to at last take advantage of her trust and put his plans into action. Those two were her friends. If he killed them she would be horrified. Something tore at his heart at the thought of her looking at him in terror. After the way she had been looking at him with such warmth…the way she held him back at the hangar…

She sank her claws into you. He scowled. Her influence was undermining his convictions, even now. He had to sever ties!

"Dispose of her," a thin voice not unlike Frieza's whispered from deep inside.

Touketsu's mouth dried up, and he immediately felt sick. His brow furrowed as he shook his head to himself. "No," he said silently. It didn't have to come to that did it? He had no desire to kill her. But, he wanted to be free of his past life, did he not? It made him weak. He was a weakling and a prisoner so long as he was shackled to it. She was a vestige of that life, as was the boy. It was becoming apparent that as long as they existed he was still bound to his previous existence.

He caught sight of something through the windshield, breaking through his internal litany of tortured thoughts. Light. The clouds had parted, and beautiful shimmering light in pinks and greens snaked across the sky towards the Imoy Moutain Range. He stared in awe. He had never seen anything like it.

He suddenly remembered that he had. A flurry of disjointed images flashed through his mind: falling mountains, furious golden power, torn apart animals…

That vicious slap to the face.

A gentle hand lay upon that same cheek. He and Bulma were standing in some dining area, the woman's sparkling blue eyes filled with warmth and affection for him. She was looking at him just like she did at the Lookout and since.

"I trust you, ok?"

Touketsu blinked, his hand drifting up to his cheek. His eyes shifted back to the sleeping woman. Touketsu stared hard, swallowing as he lowered his hand. He shook his head angrily. Don't. DON'T let Vegeta's influence sway you. Her hold on the prince is affecting you. Just kill these two! With grim determination he turned and continued to sneak up on her slumbering ex-lover. Don't think about what to do with her yet. Just focus on-

The alarm on Bulma's smart watch went off. Touketsu froze and looked over his shoulder to see Bulma begin to stir. He swung his head back over to Yamcha. He was still asleep.

"I trust you, ok?"

"Shit," he cursed softly to himself. He glanced back over his shoulder.

Bulma blinked sleepily, propping herself on one elbow and clumsily silencing her alarm. She became aware of the person standing a short distance away.

"Vegeta. Hey," she said quietly, her voice scratchy from sleep.

He nodded to her. "Bulma," he replied, his voice low. Inwardly, he was screaming at himself for his weakness. He had allowed himself to be distracted by her, again. If he were to try anything now she would start screaming and wake the others. He had missed his chance. His shoulders slumping in defeat, he slowly walked over to the co-pilot seat and dropped himself in with a grunt.

"You ok?"

He crossed his arms. "Fine," he grumbled, staring out through the windshield.

Bulma was setting her seat back in its upright position when she caught sight of the aurora borealis. "Oh wow," she breathed softly. "How beautiful." She admired the play of light for a minute, a small smile of wonderment and appreciation gracing her features, when a deep, quiet voice broke the silence.

"I've seen this place."

Bulma blinked and looked over to him. Not looking at her, Touketsu motioned with his chin. "This place…that big mountain up ahead. I've seen it."

Bulma's arms broke out in gooseflesh; the Imoy Mountain range was the last place Gohan had reported sensing his energy. She looked back out the windshield. "That's Mount Eroso," she said, pointing to the distinctive snow-capped peak. After a moment she added, "You know, I came looking for you here."

He looked back at her. "Here?"

"Yeah. Gohan - Goku's oldest son - he said he last felt your energy here. He was tracking your energy at the time."


"You were demolishing everything, so he was concerned you'd attack a city or something."

"That was typical behavior from me?"

"No! Well…it was something you used to do but that was before you went to Namek and eventually came to live here. Anyway, he and the others thought you just needed to blow off some steam so they didn't think more of it at the time."

He grunted, his eyes dropping down in thought. Drumming a finger on his bicep, he reflected on the latest wave of mental images he had been subjected to. Again, there had been that sensation of being struck by her. It was identical to the vision he had at the Lookout temple. "You slapped me."

Bulma's eyes widened. My God…

"You were angry with me. What did I do? Did I destroy a city like you just mentioned? Did I kill someone?"

Bulma tried to keep her voice steady when she replied. "We had a fight."

Touketsu cocked his head in her direction slightly, waiting for her to elaborate.

Unbidden, Bulma's eyes began to glisten at the memory. That was the last time she saw Vegeta before he returned to her like this. She looked away. When she replied her voice was thick. "I was furious with you. You almost killed him."

Touketsu caught the scent of her tears and he looked at her quizzically. "Who?"

"Our son," she whispered hoarsely.

Touketsu straightened in his seat, his brows drawing together. Was that why he felt the way he did when he looked at the boy?

"You were training him…training him to become a Super Saiyan. You were just so obsessed with power. You always were, really. But..I.." she trailed off, shaking her head again as she blinked back tears. "That night…that was the last time I saw you. The last Trunks saw of you," she said, looking over her shoulder back at him. Touketsu frowned and looked away.

"You disappeared just a week after his birthday." Bulma studied his profile for a moment. "Do you remember his birthday?" He gave a brief shake of his head. Bulma bit her lip, thinking. "Do you remember the Dragon Ball hunt we all went on together before that?"

After a moment Touketsu shook his head again, his eyes casting downward. "I don't remember any of that," he confessed quietly.

Bulma was suddenly hit with a wave of frustration. She grappled with the feeling and tried to tell herself it was irrational, but she succumbed. "Are sure you can't?" she asked, her voice borderline confrontational. "You don't think that deep down, maybe you won't?"

Touketsu's head snapped back over to her, not missing her accusatory tone. "Are you insinuating that I'm choosing not to remember?" he asked coldly.

Bulma reigned in her emotions and collected her thoughts before replying. "I think that…unconsciously…yes. You are."

A snarl tugged at Touketsu's upper lip. "Really?" he asked snidely. He swiveled towards her in his chair and leaned forwards, placing his elbows on his knees. "And why is that?"

Bulma spoke carefully, knowing how Vegeta would have reacted upon hearing what she would say next. "I think…that you're afraid."

Touketsu frowned and quickly stood, his shoulders squaring as though preparing for a fight. He stood over her. "I don't fear some weak woman and her runt cub," he hissed.

In the next moment Bulma stood, matching his intense gaze. "I think you're afraid of what else you'll remember. You recognized us when you were that animal. I saw the recognition in your eyes. But since then, you only seem to remember anything that angers you or upsets you. For some reason you want to hang onto that. Our family had good, Vegeta. Why is it that you can't remember anything good?"

Touketsu didn't have an answer. He stiffened when she stepped right up to him.

"I think that you can reach those memories of our family - the good as much as the bad - just like you can reach that power inside of you." Seeking to quell the smoldering rage burning in his eyes, Bulma carefully placed a hand on his cheek. A muscle in his jaw jumped at the contact, but Touketsu stood his ground.

Her sparkling blue eyes searched his own, her expression sober. "You never wanted attachments," she said with a shake of her head. "It's something you would tell me time and again. You…lost a lot before we met. I know because you told me." She softly caressed his cheek with her thumb and spoke knowingly, "You were afraid to care. A person can't feel the pain of loss unless they cared to begin with."

The softly pulsing light of the aurora-borealis illuminated her graceful features in the dark cockpit of the hoverjet. Behind his stern gaze, Touketsu felt uncharacteristically cowed by this diminutive woman. She looked like a goddess to him, and he suddenly had no doubt that she knew more about him than he knew of himself. His hard gaze softened ever so slightly.

"You didn't even want to believe someone else could care about you, so afraid of feeling loved only for it to be taken away. So, you'd distance yourself. You'd leave for days at a time. I always hated that, but I came to accept that it was something you needed to do sometimes." Her voice finally began to crack. "But the last time you left was the last time I saw you. When you disappeared, I experienced loss, Vegeta. Yes, It's painful. It left me a weakened wreck, but that's the trade-off when you love someone. Trunks and I….we missed you."

Touketsu's eyes widened.

"We won't miss you!"

"These…people you were speaking of…Trunks and Bulma."

"They caused you pain, did they?"

"Do you believe they miss you?"

Touketsu was being held up by the icy grip of his brothers, Zhernobog Daimao standing before him. His body stiff and cold, he felt the burn of deep lacerations on his arms, chest, and throat. He felt destroyed and abandoned. Tosho was plunged into his heart. He remembered the pain.

Touketsu blinked in shock. He stared hard at Bulma, his eyes wide with realization and a deep sense of betrayal. He began to draw away. "Zhernobog….and you…"

Bulma knit her brows in confusion. "What?"

Touketsu stepped back from her, nearly stumbling over the chair behind him. He gripped the headrest, his wide, accusing eyes locked with her own. Bewildered and her arm still slightly outstretched, Bulma looked at him with hurt etched in her features.

"You and that boy were used to torture me." He gripped the headrest hard, his claws digging in. "You…you two were the reason I was in that hell in the first place!"

Yamcha and Goku woke with a start at the sound of Touketsu's raised voice. Touketsu's skin began to darken as dark light started pulsing throughout his body.

"Vegeta," Bulma pleaded, her alarm growing. "What are you talking about?-"


The hoverjet suddenly lurched.

Their eyes wide in surprise, Touketsu leaned forward while Bulma stumbled back towards the pilot seat. "What the hell was that?!" she asked no one in particular. She slid back into her seat.

"Whoa, what was that?!" Goku echoed from the back, now fully awake.

Touketsu looked out the windshield, Yamcha staggering up behind Bulma's seat seconds later. Bulma quickly grabbed the jet's yoke and glanced at the control console to check the fuel gauge and their altitude. Everything looked normal.

Everyone made a collective gasp of surprise as the plane dropped out of the air momentarily before it leveled back out. Goku had been clambering up from the back and was now standing next to Yamcha, who was gripping the back of Bulma's pilot seat. "Bulma what's happening?"

"I don't know for sure. It..it may just be turbulence," her voice a bit shaky from the sudden rush of adrenaline.

The sound of something shattering cut through the air, and the jet suddenly banked sharply to the left. Yamcha lost his grip, colliding into Goku as they both fell to the floor in a tangle of limbs. Bulma tumbled out of her seat, and Touketsu lost his grip on the headrest. He slid forward and pitched over the pilot seat. The beeping of a siren and ominous red warning lights kicked on.

Leaning awkwardly over the seat, Touketsu looked up. The knapsack containing the Dragon Balls was sitting just under the console, steadily sliding away as the aircraft continued to lean. His eyes widened.

Grab the damn things and create a portal. Make it happen! LET THEM DIE! He reached out to it. Oblivious to his plotting, Bulma snatched it out of his grasp. Touketsu clenched his fist, his teeth grinding together in frustration.

"Quick we've got to get out of here!" she shouted, Yamcha scooping her up before she even finished her sentence.

Goku got to his feet as Touketsu pushed himself off the chair. "Vegeta! Quick, jump on my back!"

An expression of utter revulsion washed over Touketsu's face. "ABSOLUTELY NOT!" Mercifully, The red warning lights disguised the blush that flashed over his indignant features.

Just then, the fuselage tore open and Yamcha and Bulma were sucked out. Bulma screamed in surprise and mortal terror as she clung to Yamcha, who quickly regained control and began their descent safely towards the ground. Bulma could only look helplessly over Yamcha's shoulder and watch her ruined jet steadily going down.

Goku and Touketsu remained in the front end of the fuselage while the jet continued its rapid descent, billowing black smoke streaming from the left turbine before both wings tore off completely. Touketsu was gripping the top of the pilot seat between his clawed hands, resisting the vacuum threatening to suck him out. Facing the back of the destroyed fuselage, Touketsu threw out his right hand in a last ditch effort. That scar-faced bastard absconds with the woman, rescuing her like some hero?! Gods, he was done with these two idiots flaunting their abilities over him!

Goku lunged towards Touketsu's outstretched hand, grasping him by the wrist with the intention of flying them both out. "We're getting out of here!"


Touketsu's rage spiked the moment Goku laid his hand on him. In an instant a shadow and a pulse of dark energy enveloped his body before racing up his outstretched arm. It ripped apart the bandage that covered his palm to tear a hole into the atmosphere before them, revealing a field of white. The plummeting plane lurched again and they were sucked out - straight into the portal. The portal dumped them out several feet above the ground where they both tumbled out into the snow.

"Holy crap, where'd you guys come from?!" Yamcha exclaimed. He was standing in the snow not four feet away, Bulma still in his arms. He scowled in concern. That was definitely not Instant Transmission he had just witnessed.

Touketsu scrambled to his feet, kicking up snow as he whirled on Goku. "When I fucking need your help I'll ask for it!"

Goku got up, shaking the snow out of his hair. "Sorry. We were running out of time," he huffed.

Bulma dropped out of Yamcha's arms and ran to Touketsu. "Vegeta! Oh my god, you're all right! Was that-"

"The Dragon Balls. Do you have them?"

Bulma faltered. "Uh - yeah. They're all here in this bag. I packed a few capsules in here, but the bigger capsule case that I brought was left on the jet," she said with a frown as she began rifling through the knapsack.

Yamcha hugged his arms around himself and flared his ki. "Hope you have some parkas or something in those capsules. Man it's freezing!"

"Yeah, hang on a second. Ah! Here they are." Bulma pulled out a capsule, depressed the button and tossed it to the snow. A large case materialized containing parkas, gloves, and heavy snow boots. Goku, Bulma, and Yamcha began to put on the outerwear while Touketsu ignored them. He turned and took a few steps away, looking out to the smoke trail in the night sky. What had happened? For no reason that he could place, he felt uneasy.

Bulma finished pulling her gloves on and looked over to Touketsu, his back to her. She walked up to stand beside him and followed his line of sight. "What do you think it was?"

After a moment he gave a terse shake of his head. "Don't know."

There was silence for several moments before Bulma sighed. "Well, it looks like the front end of the jet went down in the direction where we were headed," she said, pointing to the trail as she traced its path with her finger. "The Dragon Ball will be nearby, but I was relying on the jet's GPS to take us straight to it. It will be hard to pinpoint now. Looks like I may have to put together some kind of Dragon Ball locator after all. I have a basic toolkit encapsulated with our other provisions here. We'll follow the smoke to the wreckage. Hopefully I can salvage some parts that I could use. Since we'll be very close to the Dragon Ball the device doesn't need to be all that sensitive to pick up on its precise location."

Touketsu looked over to her and cocked an eyebrow. "You can create useful equipment out of garbage?"

Bulma looked up at him and smirked a little. "Yes, I can," she replied with pure confidence. "Don't you remember our discussion back at Dende's Lookout? I am a technical genius."

"It's true," Goku chuckled behind them as he pulled on his gloves. "Bulma's crazy-smart. She can build anything, OUT of anything!"

"Hm. So you said," Touketsu replied, still skeptical. "I rather thought you were exaggerating your intelligence."

"Well I do run the biggest and most successful tech company on the planet. The lab we walked through is where I've developed some my best inventions. Geez, weren't you listening?" Bulma grinned widely when he self-consciously looked away. She chuckled. "Yeah I figured. You seemed to be paying more attention to our newest space-faring prototypes than me. You're usually only that distracted when you're eating," she laughed.

He changed the subject. "You created all of those?"

"Well, I designed them. Our staff helps with assembly. I can't take all the credit for my newer inventions though. You helped me a bit with research and development."

His brows drew together "Me?"

"Yeah, smart guy. You used to travel all over the galaxy, and you knew a thing or two about space travel. You've got nothing on my intelligence, but you still taught me a few things," she teased.

He snorted, shaking his head. "Arrogant female. How the hell did Vegeta put up with you?"

"Vegeta has high standards. I'm the whole package and you knew it. You actually have fantastic taste in women," she said with a playful wink.

Touketsu looked away again, his cheeks blushing as Bulma returned her attention to the knapsack as she dug around for any more useful items. He studied her appraisingly from the corner of his eye, admiration again blooming in his chest.

Behind them, Yamcha angrily zipped up his parka. He was well familiar with Bulma's flirtatious tone, and he found it unsettling that she was so comfortable around this demon. As far as he was concerned, Vegeta as Bulma remembered him was gone. "Guess love really is blind," he muttered to himself. Standing in front of Yamcha with his back to him, Touketsu's ears pricked up.

"I only have a couple vehicle capsules here that are suitable for this terrain," Bulma announced. "I've got a snowmobile and a small helicopter. I don't think the chopper would be such a great idea to use at this altitude, though."

Indeed, the wind was whipping their hair about and picking up speed as clouds again began to roll in. A light snow had begun to fall, and it was entirely possible it could get worse. Bulma was beginning to suspect that the incoming inclement weather could have been what caused the turbulence that brought the hoverjet down. It was definitely back to the drawing board with the CC-Z-15.

"The snowmobile will be fine," she said as she began to depress the capsule.

"Hang on, just save your fuel," Yamcha said, stepping forward. Yamcha and Touketsu locked eyes for a moment. "I'll fly you over. It will be faster anyway."

"He's right," Goku agreed as he re-encapsulated a fridge. He had a whole ham under his left arm and a turkey drumstick in his right hand. He ripped into the drumstick and spoke through his mouthful. "So long as Vegeta can keep up. You ok with that?" he asked, turning towards him.

Touketsu was still scowling in Yamcha's direction before glancing at Goku. "Please," he snorted as he began to stalk off ahead.

"Wait, Vegeta. Here, take a coat," she offered, handing him the garment.

He stopped and looked at it with disdain. Like a wild animal, the notion of clothing restricting his movement was extremely off-putting. "Hn. I don't need it. I'm not weak like you three," he sneered, looking pointedly at Yamcha before turning away.

She blinked. It was absolutely freezing here. "Doesn't the cold bother you?"

"No," he replied flatly. He bounded away on all fours up the slopes ahead.