He could hear his heart pounding in his ears, feel a strange, hollow tightness in his stomach. He didnít move, his eyes wide as he stared up toward the ceiling, the only sound in the room that of their breathing, quieting now. He could feel Kakarrotís chest rising and falling against his, feel the heat and slickness between them. He could feel the other Saiya-jinís heart, its rapid beat gradually slowing, evening out into a steady rhythm. His own heartbeat was still too rapid, his breathing too quick.
There was a long sigh, and then Goku slid off him, removing his weight but then drawing Vejiita into his arms, his eyes closing as he murmured the princeís name. He was already drifting toward sleep, his fingertips idly caressing Vejiitaís back as his breathing lengthened. For long moments Vejiita stared at him in the darkness, the face he sought obscured by shadows. He could feel sleep pulling at him too now, despite his shock, against his wishes. Trying to fight it, he slowly lifted a hand and touched Gokuís face. His fingertips ran over the bridge of the other Saiya-jinís nose, arched lightly over his cheekbones. Pushing the heavy black hair back, he traced his eyebrows, an odd, ironic amazement filling him as an almost-bitter smile twisted his lips. He had seen this face so often in his dreams... Hated so often, feared so often... Who... Who ever would have thought it would come to this. What a fool he was.
ĎI love you...í
Again it filled him, that strange hollow feeling, shock that couldnít allow him to process such a statement, fearing what it could mean and... refusing to believe it? He struggled feebly against the encroaching darkness as his eyelids were dragged downward, heavy, his relaxed body refusing to tighten up. No one... no one said that to him... Kakarrot in love with him? Impossible...
He was warm. There was warmth all around him and he sighed, rubbing his face against it. The faint scents of soap and fresh air filled his nose, soothing and familiar. He felt himself smile and wondered at it, the silly expression that must be on his face now. He didnít smile like this very often. But he couldnít remember the last time he had been so comfortable. He could feel the light softness of sheets against his bare skin, their easy touch caressing him with every movement, and he arched, pressing against the hard smoothness of the body beside him as he stretched. A contented growl escaped his throat and he slowly opened his eyes, blinking against the sunlight streaming down on the bed. Kakarrotís scent filled every breath he took and he shifted his gaze, eyes coming to rest on the other manís face.
It appeared he was still asleep, his face relaxed and his breathing even. Vejiita sat up suddenly, still staring down at him. A flush burned his cheeks as his mind replayed the events of the night before, touching on each moment, then away as if afraid to look at any too closely. Sudden panic tightened his throat and he drew in a ragged breath, his heart lurching. This was a situation he had never been in before, something he had never had to face, and he didnít know what to do, or what was expected of him. He was being drawn into something he didnít know if he would be able to get out of.
Abruptly, he rose from the bed, throwing back the covers and rising to his feet, his eyes still locked on Gokuís sleeping form. The younger Saiya-jin groaned softly, twisting to lay on his back and throwing an arm over his head.
Turning away jerkily, Vejiita stumbled into the bathroom and turned on the water in the tub, stepping in and splashing it onto himself, rinsing himself off quickly, his stomach lurching sickeningly as he scrubbed his own semen from his body.
What have I done?
For a moment he sagged against the wall of the bathtub, closing his eyes. What could he do now? He had opened himself and exposed a terrible vulnerability. Inexcusable weakness. Again. With Kakarrot of all people.
His lips twisted in disgust and he stood, stepping out of the tub and quickly drying himself off. Naked, he quietly returned to the bedroom, glancing around to find the clothing Kakarrot had given him puddled on the floor by the wall. Fighting down a flush, he walked over to them, picking up the sweatpants that were probably about four sizes two large and tugging them on, snarling as he was forced to roll up the ends to avoid tripping himself. Sighing, he threaded his tail through the hole he had made, running a hand down the fur to smooth it where it had ruffled with his agitation. For a moment he stared at it, his mind again returning to the night before, remembering Kakarrotís touch on his tail... His touch everywhere, really. He could still smell the other Saiya-jin on his skin. His gaze slowly shifted, returning to the man laying on the bed, his tall form bathed in sunlight. For a moment a painful longing filled him, rising from a place inside him he hadnít known existed, and he took a half-step toward the bed, a gentle expression on his face that no one had ever witnessed. Then, abruptly, he halted, and the steel trap of his mind snapped closed on the feeling, viciously cutting it off, silencing it before it could be truly acknowledged.
Twisting away from the sleeping Saiya-jin, he headed silently toward the door. The soft protests inside him, the small voice that pleaded with him to stay, were ruthlessly stifled. He could not allow such feelings to weaken him.
Even so, just as he reached the door, their was the faintest hesitation in his step, and he closed his eyes for the slightest moment.
You could still go back... You could still stay...
He set his hand on the knob and opened the door.
He froze, his eyes widening briefly as he remained facing away from the other Saiya-jin, staring through the open doorway and cursing his luck. He said nothing, standing in the doorway unmoving, refusing to turn back to the other man... The other man. His lover. His lips tightened. No. A senseless, one-time fling did not make them lovers.
Kakarrot spoke again, his voice soft.
Vejiitaís head dropped slightly, his eyes nearly slitting shut for a moment against the sound of that voice. The honesty inherent in it, honesty that showed all of the other Saiya-jinís pain, the hurt, even through the softness. There was no accusation in it. That was worst of all. The voice held him still, refused to let him continue out the door, and, even as he cursed himself, his hand slid from the handle to hang limply at his side.
"Why, Vejiita? What... What about it was wrong? What did I..."
Vejiitaís eyes closed briefly, and he turned away from the door, entering the room again, though he refused to look in Kakarrotís direction, folding his arms over his chest as he walked slowly along the wall, heading toward the other Saiya-jinís dresser. He wanted to leave. Every word Kakarrot spoke made a little chip in the defenses he had hastily erected, letting his feelings bleed through a little at a time.
He heard Kakarrot shift on the bed, could picture the other Saiya-jin leaning forward earnestly, his heart no doubt in his too-honest eyes.
The thought was frighteningly desperate, completely unfamiliar in its intensity, and he shied from it, even more determined not to look at the other man.
"What did I do, Vejiita? What did I do wrong...?"
A harsh breath escaped him at Kakarrotís words, and he struggled for a reply, searching for anything he could possibly say to the other man with any believability. The pain in Kakarrotís voice somehow made something inside him resonate sympathetically, sharing the feeling. He paused in front of the other Saiya-jinís mirror, gazing at his reflection, the stark emotion in his black eyes, the bruises from their fight marring his skin, the disheveled state of his swept-up hair. He struggled to speak.
"I... Itís not exactly what... Kakarrot... Last night we were-"
Abruptly he halted, distracted as his eyes caught sight of something else in the mirror. Very slowly, with something almost like dread, he lifted his fingertips to touch it. There, through the darkening bruises and scratches left from their battle of the night before, there was another mark, just above his right collarbone, in the heavy muscle where his shoulder met his neck. Two red, fresh wounds in the shape of half-moons. Until now he had been completely unaware of it, hadnít even felt it when it had happened. Now he stared at it, barely comprehending. A bite mark.
Kakarrotís voice broke through the sudden din in his mind, slightly hesitant. "Vejiita...?"
Cold shock washed through him, followed by blazing heat. A red fury that made his muscles lock, his teeth coming together until they ached as his hands curled into fists. Very slowly he turned, finally facing the other Saiya-jin. The look on his face must have been murderous, from the way Kakarrot froze, even recoiling slightly. When Vejiita finally spoke, his voice was tightly controlled and low with menace.
"Kakarrot.... What have you done?" He raised his fist in a vague gesture toward the other Saiya-jin.
Kakarrot swallowed, his eyes slightly wide as he clearly struggled to understand Vejiitaís sudden shift into fury. Vejiita could practically hear his thoughts racing as he tried to make sense of Vejiitaís words.
"I... What? Vejiita, what are you talking ab-"
"This!" the prince snarled, pointing jerkily to the teeth marks on his skin.
"I-" Goku gaped and stared at the mark like had never seen it before and was trying to place it. "Vejiita, I donít know, I-"
"Donít give me that, you fool!" Vejiita hissed, covering the bite with his hand for a moment. "I certainly didnít bite myself! How dare you..."
Kakarrotís eyes darkened. "Vejiita, look, Iím sorry. I didnít mean to do it, I donít even remember it, but whatís the big deal? Youíve received a lot worse than that in a fight before, it will heal in no time."
Vejiita growled in rage, frustrated to the point of screaming by Kakarrotís ignorance. "Youíve marked me, you brainless idiot! You have left your mark on my skin and claimed me! Of course the wound will heal, but the scar will stay, and I will be branded by you forever! I donít know how you could have known how to do it, but youíve managed it, regardless. You donít even realize- You- You-"
He could barely get the words out, could hardly believe them himself.
"Youíve made me your... your mate without my consent, taken what was never yours to have! It is my right to choose my mate, my right as your prince, and you have taken me like- like-"
He couldnít continue, his breathing ragged as he abruptly turned away from the other Saiya-jin. For long moments nothing was said, the room absolutely quiet but for Vejiitaís rapid exhalations. Finally, Goku spoke.
"Vejiita... Iím sorry, I swear I had no idea. I would never have done it if I had known, I donít even know what made me do it. I promise you, I donít even remember it, it wasnít my intention. But, please, Vejiita, what does it matter? Why is it so important now, when-"
"What does it matter?!" Vejiita whirled on him, angry disbelief on his features. "I canít believe you would even ask me that, Kakarrot!" He once more turned his back on the other Saiya-jin. "Obviously, you understand nothing at all. Iím through with you, Kakarrot, itís over. Donít follow me, donít talk to me." He strode quickly to the door, pausing to throw back one last comment. "I canít believe I let you touch me. I never want to lay eyes on you again."
And then he was out the door and gone, leaving silence in his wake.
Goku sat in his bed, staring at the closed door for long, endless minutes, a blank numbness descending over him. The entire scene that had just passed seemed too ridiculous to be real, like any moment he would wake and find the prince still sleeping beside him, warm and content and curled in his arms. Sickness rose in his stomach, the sudden, dull nausea that accompanies a terrible shock to the system, and he brought a hand to his mouth, pressing his palm tightly to his lips. His fingertips brushed wetness, and he moved his hand to trail down his cheek, looking at the glittering tears caught on his fingers. The sunlight sparkled in them brightly, oblivious to his pain as it was to everything else, and he closed his eyes, smearing the salt liquid against the bedsheets.
Slowly, he stumbled out of bed, the sheets dragged to the floor around him as he walked toward the dresser and began to get dressed, going through the motions mechanically as his mind played and replayed everything that had been said between himself and Vejiita.
When heíd woken to see Vejiita leaving his heart had nearly stopped, but as the prince moved back into the room to talk to him he had calmed slightly, though he was still very worried. For a moment he had even thought he was getting through to the other man when Vejiita had rounded on him with such fury in his eyes, and he had drawn back instinctively, trying to think what he could possibly have done.
What he had told Vejiita was the truth. He didnít remember biting the other Saiya-jin, it had certainly been nothing he had done intentionally. It had simply happened, and he didnít even know how.
When Vejiita had angrily explained the significance of the bite, he had felt something tighten inside him, the slightest thrill at the thought that he had made the proud prince his mate, but that was quickly overwhelmed by Vejiitaís utter rage.
What he truly didnít understand was why it mattered so much to Vejiita at this point. There was no one else who could possibly know the significance of the bite. Here on Earth no one would look at such a scar and realize it meant Vejiita was "claimed", much less by Goku. That was why Vejiitaís rage was so hard for him to comprehend. If he chose, the prince could simply continue as if it had never happened. If he hadnít taken the time to explain it, even Goku wouldnít have known the meaning of it.
ĎI never want to lay eyes on you again.í
Bitter pain washed through Gokuís chest as Vejiitaís departing words rang in his head and he recalled all the prince had said to him before leaving. Suddenly, though, anger rose as well, matching the sorrow, and his teeth clenched tightly. He was tired of this. Tired of giving Vejiita everything he had only to have the prince throw it back in his face at the slightest provocation. Or even when that provocation was nonexistent, only some imagined slight on the other Saiya-jinís part. He had done everything he could for Vejiita the night before, tried with everything he had to show the prince what it could be like, let him know that there was a difference, that there was a reason it was called making love. He had laid his heart at Vejiitaís feet and this was his reward for it. To be kicked into the gutter because of a mistake he hadnít even realized he was making, based on the customs of a world that no longer existed.
Roughly, he slammed the drawer shut, walking jerkily toward the bathroom and wiping angrily at the tears that were still slipping down his cheeks.
Vejiita didnít want him to follow him. Well, he wouldnít. There was only so much he could take. He would not go crawling back to the prince and beg to be allowed back into his life, ask forgiveness where none was needed, and hope to be awarded some scrap of affection whenever it amused Vejiita to give it. Even he had some pride.
Vejiita slowly drew his fingertips over the scar on his neck, the skin there a slightly shiny white, just another of the many scars covering his body. This one just happened to be in the shape of teeth. Kakarrotís teeth.
It had been eight days since he had left the other Saiya-jinís home in a rage, nearly blind with shocked anger and emotionally raw from all that had passed between them. Eight days in which he had not seen, spoken to, or heard from Kakarrot. It seemed that for once the other Saiya-jin was following his princeís command to the letter. And somehow Vejiita didnít know how he felt about that.
In the time that had passed, his initial rage had cooled to a dull resentment, and it no longer upset him every time he saw the scar in his reflection. He didnít know what to think now, but he knew he was unhappy. That was nothing new, he had always been unhappy, he supposed. Living with unhappiness was as natural to him as breathing, he hardly even noticed it. At least, he used to not notice it. He didnít notice it until he had something else to compare it to.
With Kakarrot... there had been moments when he had been... happy. Happy. The word repeated in his mind as he continued to gaze at his reflection, tracing the mirror image of the scar now. It was a foreign word, a foreign concept, strange in its newness, in its unfamiliarity.
He almost started at the sound of his own voice, then felt a faint heat in his cheeks as he realized he had stupidly said the word aloud, trying out the feel of it on his tongue. It somehow felt like he was speaking in another language, borrowing a word that should not belong to him. It was impossible for him to wrap his mind around the concept of being happy not only for a few minutes or even a few hours, but always. Kakarrot... was always happy.
Oh, certainly he became angry, or sad or worried, but at his heart... there was a boundless happiness that seemed to sweeten the very air.
Suddenly Vejiita drew away from the mirror, frowning in disgust at the path of his own thoughts.
Look what a weakling Iíve become. Pondering such flowery sentiments, even in my own mind, is pathetic.
As he moved to stand before the window, looking out at the afternoon sky, his foot caught on something soft, and he glanced down at the mound of darkness piled at his toes. Slowly, he bent to pick it up, the material tumbling to its full length in his fingers.
He was suddenly swept back to that night, his eyes closing unconsciously as he remembered... remembered the feel of Kakarrotís hands. He felt himself shudder as goosebumps prickled his skin at the phantom sensations of pleasure. And for the first time since that night he truly let himself acknowledge it. Acknowledge the depths of the pleasure he had received beneath Kakarrotís hands, beneath his mouth... He sagged weakly against the window frame, his eyes still closed, his hands curled in the fabric of the sweatpants. He suddenly wished for the other Saiya-jin to be there, wanted to feel Kakarrot take him in his mouth... Wanted to reaffirm that what he had felt that night was not a dream, not a mistake.
His fingers tightened in the soft fabric as he drew a breath through parted lips, his head leaning back against the window frame. Until now he had not allowed himself to think of it, and as he finally did, what truly struck him was the gentleness, the utter absence of pain. No hurt, no humiliation, just Kakarrotís touch on him... everywhere.
His eyes opened.
There it was in itself, something he could not allow, could never let happen. Kakarrot knew him, had an intimate knowledge of him that no one had ever had. Knew his body and his mind in ways that no one should.
You let him past all of your defenses, you weak, pathetic fool. You gave him control over you, something you swore you would never do again. You let him possess you, and even thought of letting him again. All so you could hide from your scary nightmares and forget your pains for a while, you worthless, fucking coward.
His teeth came together sharply and he crumpled the pants into a ball, throwing them into the garbage and turning to face the window again. Kakarrot was like a cancer, slowly weakening him from within.
He would not go back to him.
Trunks frowned thoughtfully, watching his fatherís workout as the prince moved through the gravity chamber with blinding speed, nearly too fast for Trunks to follow. Vejiita was training under 600gís. Just the thought of it was enough to make Trunks wince. Where he to even attempt to join his father he would find himself flat on his face, unable to move almost before he got into the room. Instead he simply watched from the high windows surrounding the gravity chamber, his frown deepening.
He was worried about his father. The prince hadnít been himself for days, but he absolutely refused to talk about what was bothering him. He hadnít been able to pry the smallest detail from Vejiitaís sealed lips, and that worried him even more. His father had never been one to talk openly about his feelings, but this degree of withdrawal was unusual even for him.
He could faintly hear Vejiitaís snarl of effort as he paused, holding position in his kata.
Trunks suspected that whatever was upsetting his father had something to do with Son Goku, but it made him uncomfortable to think of going to talk to the other Saiya-jin about it, for more than one reason. If Goku was an involved party in this it would seem unfair, and he didnít want to anger Vejiita. He needed to talk to someone else, someone who might be able to give him a new perspective on things...
For a moment the demi-Saiya-jin tapped his fingers against the window, considering, then turned to leave Capsule Corp.
He held the X-rays up to the light, frowning a bit and chewing on the end of his pen as he looked for signs of a malignant growth in the lungs. His head tipped to the side slightly as his eyes narrowed, then were suddenly drawn to a specific point, low on the left lung. There. It looked to be just beginning, but the-
A knock on the door interrupted his train of thought, and he blinked a few times to clear his head, still gazing at the X-ray.
"Ah, come in," he called distractedly, taking the pen from his teeth to write something on his chart.
He heard the door open, and a moment later a voice called out, almost too respectfully, "Dr. Son?"
Glancing over his shoulder, Gohan saw Trunks standing in the doorway, smiling a bit, his lavender hair pulled back in a ponytail as his eyes sparkled with slight mischief.
"Hey, Trunks. Iíll be with you in a sec, just let me finish up this report."
"Whatever you say, doctor," Trunks replied primly, again with that exaggerated respect in his voice.
Gohan smiled faintly, shaking his head as he continued filling the report, working down the page with brisk efficiency. When he reached the bottom he signed his name with the typical flourish and near-illegible scrawl of a doctor before handing it to the waiting nurse and turning back to his young visitor, running a hand through his short, dark hair and shrugging out of his lab coat.
"So what brings you here?" he asked curiously, gesturing for Trunks to follow him out of the lab as he headed for his locker. Quickly punching in his combination, he opened it and hung his coat inside, collecting several things and placing them in his briefcase before shutting and locking it again.
Trunks shoved his hands in the pockets of his jeans, frowning and glancing out the window for a moment. "Well I... I need to talk to someone... About my father."
Gohan paused in the act of loosening his tie, looking at Trunks in concern.
"Vejiita? Heís not- I mean, heís all right, isnít he? Weíre not having another crisis here, I hope...?"
"Oh, no, not," Trunks waved his hand, "not that... Itís just... Iím worried about him, and Iím not sure whatís wrong, he wonít talk about it. I just have a feeling it might have something to do with Goku, too, and I donít know what to do. I wanted to know if youíve noticed Goku acting at all strangely, lately, or anything. I donít know how often youíve seen him, but..."
"My father..." Gohan said musingly, frowning as he slowly finished pulling off his tie. "Actually, now that you mention it, that has been on my mind lately. The last couple times Iíve seen him he just seems... off, somehow."
"Really?" Trunks leaned forward slightly, his blue eyes widening as he looked at Gohan intently. "How do you mean? Have you talked to him about it?"
Gohan smiled slightly, rubbing the back of his head with his hand. "How about we get out of here and talk about this over a cup of coffee and dinner? Iíve been here all day and, honestly, Iím spent."
Half an hour later, the two half-Saiya-jins were commiserating over steaming cups of coffee, and warm plates of food, Gohan having insisted on paying the bill and telling Trunks to get whatever heíd like after the younger man had worried under his breath about the amount of cash he had on him.
"Iím not that old," heíd joked with a smile, "I still remember being eighteen and having to scrape for cash. Iím not a doctor for nothing, you know."
Now the dark-haired surgeon leaned back in his seat, holding his cup of coffee near his face and breathing in the steam as he frowned pensively.
"Dad seems really up-tight to me, not his usual self at all. Heís unbelievably short-tempered, the most I think Iíve ever seen him, actually. Heís always sorry right afterward and apologizes and feels really bad, but still, itís strange. Heís almost seemed to be brooding the last few times Iíve talked to him, and I havenít even been around him that much. Heís trying to hide it, but heís my father, and heís always been honest. Itís pretty easy to see through him."
Trunks nodded, swirling the noodles on his plate around his fork.
"My dad seems the same to me. I mean, heís never been the most social or fun-loving person," he said with a faint smile, "but lately heís just been really.... intense?"
Gohan Ďhmmmíd in agreement, taking a sip of his coffee and then setting it down, and biting at his lower lip thoughtfully.
"Itís very odd that theyíd both be acting so strangely at the same time. They must have had a fight or something... But they fight all the time. I canít imagine what could have happened to cause something like this."
Trunks bit the inside of his cheek, tapping a finger on the table for a moment before raising his eyes to Gohanís. "I think... weíd better find out, Gohan. Iíve tried to get Dad to tell me whatís wrong, but that just seems to push him farther away."
"I know. Maybe... Maybe we should try and get them together or something and see how they react. Then we might hear or see something that would clue us in. At least weíd probably be able to find out for sure that itís each other thatís been upsetting them."
"Yeah!" Trunks nodded. "It feels kind of sneaky, like weíll be spying on them, but I donít know what else to do. Itís pretty much impossible to make Dad talk about something when he doesnít want to."
Gohan grunted, lifting an eyebrow. "I can imagine, believe me. Maybe Iíll talk to Videl about throwing a party at our house or something. We havenít gotten everyone together in a while, that should be a good enough reason. Iím gonna have to let her in on the real reason, though, Trunks, I donít like keeping secrets from her."
Trunks waved a hand dismissively. "Thatís fine, I pretty much expected it anyway. We might want to get Gotenís point of view on whatís been going on too, actually, since he still lives with Goku."
"Right. So who are we gonna need to invite? Weíd better not miss anyone."
Trunks pursed his lips thoughtfully, ticking off names on his fingers. "You, me, Videl, Goten, Pan, Goku, and Dad makes seven. Then thereís Krillen, Juuhachigo, Marron, Yamcha-"
They finished their quick count of names and Gohan smiled a bit, running a hand through his hair. "Damn, weíre gonna have a full house. Hopefully Videl wonít mind," he said with a slight laugh, "Sheís pregnant now, too."
"Ouch. Maybe I could talk to Grandma. She loves to throw parties, Iím sure sheíd be glad to help."
Gohan nodded, grinning. "Assuming Vejiita can tolerate her for the whole length of the party."
Trunks laughed. "Well, heís put up with her this long, he should be able to deal with being in the same house with her for one evening."
Gohan laughed as well, rising and pulling on his jacket, leaving the bill and tip on the table. Trunks got up as well, smiling.
"No problem, Iíve been worried about this too. So now weíve set the trap, we just have to make sure the prey actually shows up. Iím not too worried about Dad, but are you sure youíll be able to convince Vejiita to come to a party?"
Trunks exhaled with a smile. "Iíll figure something out, believe me. If nothing else works, Iíll have to give him a guilt trip. Just as long as I donít mention Goku it should be fine."
"All right, then, Iím counting on you Trunks," Gohan said with a wink. "I gotta get going, though, Iíll get back to you soon."
"Right, talk to you then. Bye."
As Gohan left, Trunks finished gathering his things, his eyes narrowed in determination. Something was going on between Goku and Vejiita, that was obvious enough. He and Gohan were going to find out what it was.