Strength in Weakness

Strength in Weakness

 

Trunks lay on his back, staring up at the ceiling, eyes open in the darkness as he struggled with the thoughts rushing through his head. Sleep was impossible. It was already after two in the morning and he was no closer to rest than he had been when he had first climbed into bed. His father had not come home yet. And, somehow, he wasnít surprised.

He groaned, throwing an arm over his eyes as the scene with Gohan replayed in his head.

"Trunks, I need to talk to you..."

Of course, he had obligingly followed the older man upstairs, away from the noise, lights and laughter of the party. He was eager to know what Gohan had discovered, it was obvious that he had turned up something, from the tense look about him and the way he kept glancing around as if to make sure no one else was near. Finally he had ushered Trunks into his bedroom, turning the light on and then shutting the door and leaning against it. He seemed to be struggling for words, closing his eyes for a moment and pressing his lips together, then sighing. Suddenly feeling like he shouldnít press him, Trunks had said nothing, watching as Gohan had frowned and paced back and forth, running his hands through his hair and obviously considering carefully. And finally, the oddest question:

"Trunks, how do you feel about homosexuality?"

Trunks had stared at him, caught completely off guard and trying to suddenly shift his thought process to whatever obscure track Gohan seemed to be following. As he fumbled for words, Gohan had rephrased the question.

"I mean, how would you feel if, say, I told you I was seeing another man?"

Gohan had then hastened to assure him that he wasnít, it was a hypothetical question. Trunks had made some joking comment about wondering how Videl would react to that, and Gohan had brushed it aside impatiently, he was serious. Trunks had stared at him for long moments, trying to understand where he was going with this, then shrugged.

"I donít know, I guess... it would be kind of weird... but..."

"Would you feel differently about me? Would you be disgusted or uncomfortable around me?"

Trunks had frowned, saying of course he wouldnít. It might take some getting used to, but he didnít hate homosexuals or anything. Heíd had a few friends who were gay.

Then there had been another long silence from Gohan, before the doctor had given him a weary smile and asked him to sit down. Heíd sat down on the bed and Gohan had dragged a chair up to sit directly across from him, looking at him intently. And then heíd come out with it.

"All right, Trunks... Iíve been asking you all of this because our fathers, Goku and Vejiita, are... Theyíre involved."

And Trunks could not believe it. It just seemed impossible, after everything that had gone on between the two Saiya-jins, the fights and the competition and the anger, that they could be... together. He had been completely honest in that he didnít have a problem with homosexuality, but when it came to his father... It was just unbelievable. It might not even have been so shocking if it hadnít been Goku he was with. Goku. "Kakarrot".

He had talked with Gohan about it for a long time, surprised at how well Gohan seemed to be taking it. After his initial shock of stunned surprise, the young doctor seemed rather comfortable with the topic. Heíd been more worried about Trunks reaction. When Trunks had asked him about it, heíd smiled.

"Well, you know Trunks... The more I think about it, the more I think... That this could be a good thing. For both of them. Who could possibly understand the last two surviving Saiya-jins better than each other? Who could be a better match for them? What we need to worry about, in my opinion, is how to make sure they actually get together and stay that way."

And the more they had talked about it, the more Trunks had relaxed about it, the initial shock wearing off until he saw it in nearly the same light as Gohan.

Still... It was a lot to think about.

 

Goku sat, leaning against the headboard of his bed with his arms folded on his drawn-up knees, his head resting on them. Bitter anger and hurt simmered in his heart, and along with it a soul-wrenching weariness and grief. Vejiita had turned him away again, and he didnít know how many more times he could deal with it.

Sighing miserably, he curled one arm up to drape over his head, fingers clenching in his hair. He couldnít. That was simply it. He couldnít deal with it anymore, having his heart kicked back and stepped on every time he offered it.

Vejiita... Iím sorry...

He was sorry. Sorry that he couldnít seem to be what the prince needed, couldnít give enough to hold onto him. And he was sorry that he couldnít do it anymore. He had needs too. And one of them was not having a hole ripped in his chest every time he turned around.

He was not deluding himself. He was still in love with Vejiita. Not one of those foolish people who felt that love could simply end because you were angry or hurt. No, he was still in love. But it seemed it was destined to be something beyond his reach. Vejiita had been hurt too badly, and he was not good enough for the prince. It seemed he could not mend the wounds inside Vejiita, no matter how hard he tried or how desperately he wished. And the idea that someone like him would ever satisfy the prince of the Saiya-jins... was laughable.

He could feel himself crying, feel the dampness where his head rested on his arms.

He didnít want to give up, didnít want to back down, but he didnít know what else to do. He would take all of Vejiitaís pain onto himself if he could, but he sometimes wondered if he was only hurting the prince more with all he had done. And sometimes he felt angry. He was angry now, angry that Vejiita would not accept his love, angry that everything he had done had come to nothing. But that anger was muffled, dampened by the grief and the pain tearing at him, clawing at his chest.

Slowly, he rolled onto his side, laying the wrong way at the head of the bed, staring into the darkness. Maybe he would feel angrier later, but he doubted it. He had never been able to hold onto his anger for long. Vejiita had once said that made him weak. He wondered if that was true, if he was a weakling. He felt weak now.

 

Vejiita sank slowly until he was kneeling in the grass, shaking as he wrapped his arms around himself and closed his eyes. He snarled, hating himself, hating the absurdity of his entire situation.

He could smell Kakarrot, taste him, feel him still... The burn where their bodies had touched, the lingering sensation of the other Saiya-jinís hands on him, the flavor of his mouth on his lips.

And he felt fury and despair, that in his wretched weakness part of him, too much of him, wanted to go back, return to Kakarrotís arms and fall into his bed. And touch him. And be touched. And feel it again, that impossible, shattering glory that he had felt that night. It seemed impossibly long ago now, almost a dream, because something that pure should never have happened to him.

Again, disgust from somewhere deep inside him, somewhere conditioned to feel nothing but scorn and hatred, somewhere cynical and ugly. Revulsion that he could have become so weak as to feel, as to allow himself to be drawn into the downward spiral of gentler emotions.

"Kakarrot," he ground out, his face twisted and his voice agonized, "is nothing... I do not need him. I donít want him... He will be nothing to me... He is nothing to me. He is..."

God, Kakarrot, please come. Take me back, take me with you, donít leave me alone, Iím sorry...

And he struck himself, with his own hand across his face, for the pathetic weakling he was. For the need to be punished, and no one else was around to do it.

"God, fuck you for a dickless coward!" he snarled, half-sobbed at himself. "You pathetic bastard, youíve betrayed yourself..."

And he had, betrayed the standards he had set, broken his own promise to himself. He had fallen, he had felt, and he had exposed himself as he had sworn he would never do. If there was one part of himself he could keep untouched, unhurt and invulnerable, it was his mind and his soul. Freiza could never touch him there. If he could build a wall around himself thick enough and impenetrable enough, no one would ever get in and he would never get hurt. He had sworn to himself that this would be true, that he would never let those defenses crumble.

They had crumbled before Kakarrot.

And the worst, the most wretched thing of all now was that some of him still wanted, some of him still craved, so much of him wanted to go back. He could never, ever let this happen again.

He could not see Kakarrot.

 

There was something strange about Trunks. Vejiita had noticed over the past several days that the boy had seemed to be acting differently around him, looking at him more often, being a little quieter, appearing more thoughtful. It was disturbing him, the way the boy seemed to be constantly pondering him, looking like he was about to say something and then thinking better of it. And he seemed to know something was wrong.

He had done everything he could to prevent the boy from feeling or becoming aware of the distressed state of his mind and the confused jumble of his emotions. And yet his son continually pestered him with seemingly casual questions about his health, or how he was feeling, or, most gratingly, about Kakarrot. Just yesterday he had snapped and roared at him angrily before furiously leaving the boyís presence, struggling to bring himself back under control and embarrassed at his outburst. And, perhaps more strangely still, his son hadnít seemed terribly upset by his words or his actions; he seemed possessed of an almost irritating patience.

Now, as he stalked into the kitchen after his workout, looking for something to eat, the boy was sitting at the table, looking at him with the strangest expression on his face. His lips tightening, Vejiita ignored him, brushing past to open the refrigerator and glance around inside, his tail lashing slightly.

Trunks sighed. After another moment he spoke, his voice quiet. "Dad, are you going to tell me whatís going on?"

Vejiita stilled, still looking into the refrigerator for a long moment before slowly straightening, closing it and turning to face his son.

"What do you mean?"

Trunks gazed up at him, lifting an eyebrow slightly. "I think you know what I mean."

Vejiita stiffened, suddenly nervous and irritated at being put on the spot. His son didnít look like he was going to be willing to let it go this time.

"Why canít you tell me whatís bothering you?" Trunks questioned, "What is it youíre afraid of?"

Anger sparked in Vejiita. Anger helped to dull the pain. "Trunks..." he said warningly.

"No." The boy said, rising and coming toward him, stopping when he was just a few feet away. "Dad, I can tell somethingís wrong. Somethingís been bothering you for weeks and you wonít tell me what it is. This time Iím not letting you out of here until you talk to me. I care about you, I just want to help..."

Vejiita swallowed, glancing to the side briefly, searching for a way out of the situation. There was no way he could tell Trunks about... everything that had happened. He simply could not make himself, would not expose himself so terribly. But what could he do?
"Trunks..."

Suddenly the phone rang, seeming unnaturally loud as it broke through the silence. A brief look of irritation crossed Trunksí face before he sighed, stepping past Vejiita to snatch the phone from the receiver.

"Hello?"

Vejiita felt a slight rush of relief, thankful for the respite, and he began to head toward the door, intent on escaping while Trunks was on the phone.

"Gohan?"

He paused, then, hesitating in the doorway and glancing back toward his son. Something in the boyís voice had caught him, made him hesitate on the threshold. There was a tinge of something... wrong... in Trunksí tone.

"Whatís... Whatís the matter, whatís happe-"

Vejiita watched, alarm shooting through him as the color drained from the boyís face, and he stepped back into the room, slowly moving closer.

"Wha- How?! I donít-" Trunksí voice had risen in pitch, his knuckles whitening as he gripped the phone. "I canít believe that it could- It didnít..."

Vejiita could feel the beginnings of fear threading through him, made worse the longer he remained unaware of what was going on.

"Oh God, Goha- .... Iíll be there as soon as I can."

Trunks hung up the phone, almost missing the receiver, then suddenly sagged against the refrigerator, still deathly pale as he pressed a hand to his mouth. Vejiita stepped toward him, gripping his arm.

"Trunks...?"

"Oh God..." his son whispered. "Oh God, Oh God, Oh God..."

"Trunks!" Vejiita snapped, grabbing the boyís shoulders and giving him a quick, rough shake, his fear making him harsh. "Whatís happened?!"

Trunks stared at him for a moment. "Itís Goten..."

"What about Goten?!" Vejiita nearly shouted.

"Heís... Heís at the hospital..." As Trunks spoke, the dazed tone left his voice, his tone instead sharpening toward panic. "Oh, God, heís- Heís in intensive care, they think he might die, they- they-"

"What!" Vejiita shouted, "How could he possibly be in intensive care!? His father is a pure Saiya-jin, he canít be hurt like those weakling humans! What happened?!"

"He was- he... He got into a fight... at a club with a kid from school...."

Vejiita stared at him, stunned to speechless disbelief for a moment before sputtering, "A fight with a kid from school?! How the fuck could a God damn human child threaten his life?!"

Trunks stared at him, his hand near his throat. "A... A gunshot to the head at point-blank range... He wasnít expecting it, he... That could take down even a Saiya-jin, Dad, and Gotenís the weakest of us, oh God!"

Trunks suddenly shoved past him, lunging toward the door.

"I have to go to the hospital!"

Then he was gone, and Vejiita was staggered, bracing himself against the wall for a moment, his mind reeling as he struggled to accept what Trunks had just told him. It seemed impossible, almost laughable that something so ridiculous could have happened to one of them, to their invincible little force. A stupid joke, that someone as pathetic as a human schoolchild could threaten the life of one of their own. Kakarrotís son.

He suddenly froze, a vicious chill bleeding through him as his heart tightened in horror. Kakarrotís son.

Kakarrot...

He could only imagine what the other Saiya-jin was going through now, with his foolishly soft heart he must be...

Snatching his jacket without thinking about it, he bolted out the door.

 

It was quiet at the hospital. So quiet in the little room where they had all gathered, gathered to wait. They werenít allowed to see Goten yet.

Vejiita slipped in silently, calling no attention to himself, glancing around the room. Trunks was already there, sitting in a chair with his head in his hands, his lavender hair shielding his face. Pan sat beside him, her dark eyes wide and frightened as she leaned against him, biting her lip and occasionally looking to one of the adults as if hoping for guidance. Videl was sitting on a chair in the row across from them, her head bowed as she cried softly. Gohan was standing in the corner, his back to Vejiita. Piccolo was speaking to him, the Namekís voice low and comforting. They hadnít allowed Gohan to operate. He was too close to the patient. No one had been able to reach the others yet.

And Goku... Kakarrot was seated a few chairs down from Trunks, slouched in his seat, staring straight ahead, his black eyes lusterless. His hands curled limply over the arms of the chair, his legs stretched out haphazardly in front of him. He was emotionless. No tears, no anguish on his face. Simply nothing. His mind, when Vejiita reached out tentatively, was a solid wall, utterly closed off.

Trunks looked up and saw him, slowly rising from his chair, upsetting Pan as he did so, and staggering toward him, his eyes wildly distraught. Vejiita caught his arm as he approached, drawing him into the corner opposite Gohan and Piccolo, waiting to hear what he had to say.

"D-D-Dad..." He grasped Vejiitaís arm. "I- As I was coming in they were moving him and I saw that- It- There was blood everywhere.... H-He..."

Vejiita set both hands on his sonís arms, trying to steady him. Tears were building in the boyís eyes.

"Do you think... heís going to die...?" Trunks whispered, his voice strangled.

Vejiitaís lips parted and he hesitated, wondering what was the right thing to say. In the end he could only answer honestly. "I donít know," he said quietly.

Suddenly, almost startlingly, Trunks hunched forward, leaning against Vejiita and burying his head in his fatherís shoulder, muffling his sobs against his shirt. Vejiita glanced around uncomfortably, even now ill at ease with such a display of emotion, but no one was paying attention to them, too caught up in their own grief to notice.

Hesitantly, he set his hand on Trunksí back in awkward comfort and the boyís fingers clenched in his shirt.

"Oh, Dad, what if he dies...? What will I do?" Trunks cried, "Gotenís always been my best friend... He canít die... Not like this..."

"Trunks," Vejiita sighed, lifting his eyes briefly as he searched for anything he could say to his son, "Life is... never predictable. There are never any guarantees. There is nothing we can do but take what comes and move on..."

Vejiita nearly gagged as the hypocrisy of his own statement struck him.

You tried to take your own life such a short time ago, and youíre preaching about handling things and moving on?!

His lips tightening briefly, he pushed the thought aside. He had to say what was best for Trunks, regardless of his own personal problems, and could only hope the boy would believe what he said, his actions not withstanding.

"But Trunks," he said firmly, threading his fingers through the boyís hair and pulling his head off his shoulder, "you must be strong now. You cannot let the others see you break down like this, especially those who look up to you. Look to Pan over there, she... she adores you, and youíve frightened her with your crying. You must be in control for her if not for yourself. Now dry your eyes and go back there, she needs to be able to rely on you."

Trunks swallowed, forcing back further tears and shakily wiping his cheeks, his eyes downcast. Releasing the boyís hair, Vejiita gave him a light pat on the shoulder, trying to communicate some measure of affection, and, as the boy lifted his gaze, he forced a small smile. "Go on."

Nodding, Trunks gave him a feeble, watery smile in return and, taking a deep breath and making sure his cheeks were dry, he turned and went to sit beside Pan again, gently drawing her into a brief hug. The girl squeezed him back again for a moment, then whispered something softly in his ear before squirming off the chair. Vejiitaís eyebrows shot up as she tentatively approached him. Standing in front of him, she fidgeted for a moment, one hand twisting in her hair. Finally she asked softly, "Is Trunks all right...?"

Vejiita stared down at her for a moment before answering, keeping his voice quiet. "Yes heís fine. He just needed to talk for a minute."

"Oh... Oh, okay... Vejiita...?"

He raised an eyebrow. "Hmm?"

"Is... I-is Uncle Goten going to die?"

Vejiita suppressed a sigh, wondering why the girl felt the need to come to him for answers.

He leaned back against the wall, folding his arms over his chest and closing his eyes for a moment. "I donít know."

Pan bit her lip, glancing up at him, then away, twisting her hair around her fingers. "Oh... Iím worried about Daddy... And Grandpa."

That said, she turned and went back to her seat, crawling up beside Trunks and leaning on the boy again. Vejiita watched her, not really seeing her, a frown pulling at his lips. He was worried too.

His eyes shifted to Goku again. The other Saiya-jinís silence, his withdrawal was concerning him. He knew for certain that Kakarrot was no where near as emotionless as he appeared, but he was somehow keeping everything suppressed, very unlike himself. He glanced at Trunks for a moment. If it were the boy... who was in there being operated on right now, Vejiita could only imagine how heíd be feeling. And Kakarrot had always been more emotional, more caring, more easily hurt than Vejiita.

The princeís frown deepened and he crossed the room, passing around Goku to where Gohan and Piccolo were standing. The Namek looked up at his approach and Gohan turned to follow his gaze. Kakarrotís oldest son was pale, his face drawn and strained and his eyes bright with grief.

"Vejiita," he said in greeting, his voice quiet, though rough. "Thanks for coming."

Vejiita shrugged, brushing aside the young manís gratitude. "Forget that. What have you heard? How is he?"

Piccolo folded his arms across his chest, his face set in a frown as he glanced briefly toward the doorway, his deep voice subdued as he spoke. "Heís only been in surgery for about forty minutes so far. We might still have a long time to wait."

Gohan roughly rubbed a hand across his face. When he spoke his voice was a shattered whisper, pitched low enough that no one outside their little circle would hear it. "I just... I donít know how he can survive this... He was shot right in the forehead, Vejiita, from less than three yards away... I just... I just canít... Iím so afraid..." He drew in a harsh breath, covering his eyes with a trembling hand for a moment as he struggled to pull himself together. When he lifted his gaze to meet Vejiitaís once more, it was filled with desperate pleading, as though he was looking to the prince for reassurance, for hope. "I... Do you honestly think he has a chance, Vejiita? You know more about Saiya-jin physiology than anyone else, and I know heís only half-Saiya-jin, but... Do you think...?"

"If he were completely human he would almost certainly be dead already," Vejiita replied quietly, his voice grim. "As it is... his body has likely come close to shutting down as all his energy goes toward trying to repair the damage. Iím not going to lie to you. Itís very possible that he will die. And... even if he doesnít... thereís no way to know what the extent of the damage to his mind will be. I can tell you that if he does recover, he will do so much faster than a human. He does have a chance... I just canít say honestly that itís a good one."

Gohan nodded, sagging back against the wall and closing his eyes for a moment, his head bowed. Slowly, he lifted a hand and brushed at the few tears that slipped slowly down his cheeks, wiping them away on the lab coat he still wore. Piccolo set his hand on the young doctorís shoulder briefly, the expression on his face one of uncharacteristic sympathy.

After a moment Vejiita cleared his throat, shifting slightly. Slowly, Gohan opened his eyes to look at him again, the black depths despairing.

"How..." Vejiita spoke hesitantly, "How is Kakarrot handling this?"

Gohan straightened slightly, glancing over at Goku, who had hardly moved since Vejiita had arrived. "Dad...? I... I donít know... He seems strange, really quiet, ever since he got here. Iím worried about him but I... I donít know what to do. Heís scaring me a little... Usually heís so strong..."

Vejiita nodded, still looking at the other Saiya-jin. Finally, as he watched, a shudder of movement passed through Kakarrotís body and he leaned forward, bracing his elbows on his knees and pressing his face into his hands. Hesitantly reaching out now, he again brushed a tentative touch against the other Saiya-jinís mind. He could sense stresses, cracks appearing in that wall Kakarrot had built, his mental defenses teetering as he struggled to remain in control. Vejiita found himself taking a half-step toward the other Saiya-jin, as if there was anything he could possibly do to make it better.

Just then Krillen, Juuhachigo, Marron, Tenshinhan, Yamcha, Chaozu and Master Roshi rushed into the waiting room, all talking and asking questions at once. Krillen, Tenshinhan, Master Roshi, and Yamcha descended quickly toward Goku, firing loud, rapid questions at him.

"What happened?"

"Where is he, are they operating?"

"Did they tell you what his chances are?"

"What was he doing?"

"How long has it been?"

"Will he make it?"

Vejiita watched as Kakarrot slid his hands up to grip the sides of his head, his fingers clenching in his hair as he seemed to hunch further inward on himself. Then, when the relentless barrage showed no signs of ceasing, he abruptly shot to his feet, shoving through the small circle that had gathered around him and heading for the door, still holding his head. The people in the room stared after him, the noise level growing as they voiced their confusion or concern.

"Goku!"

"What happened?!"

"Where are you going?"

"Would someone explain exactly what is going on!!"

"You jerks, leave him alone! How dare you bother him like that!"

"Goku!"

"Whereís Goten?!"

Cursing, Vejiita snarled angrily, pressing Gohan back when the young man tried to step forward to calm everyone down.

"SHUT UP!!"

The entire group abruptly went quiet as everyone twisted to look toward Vejiita. The prince glared at them, disgust plain on his face. "Everyone, just shut the fuck up! Youíre all pathetic. Goten is in there, possibly dying, and none of you could find it in you to simply come here and be quiet and support his family through this. Instead you come in shouting and arguing and demanding answers, when one of your own is down." Vejiita made a disgusted noise deep in his throat. "You make me sick."

As the prince began to push his way toward the door, Yamchaís voice reached his ears. The man had never completely gotten over everything that had gone on between Vejiita and Bulma and a deep resentment still lingered.

"Oh, right, Vejiita, like youíre one to fucking talk, you heartless bastard."

Vejiita abruptly stopped, facing away from the other man for a moment, not speaking. Then he slowly turned around, moving forward to stand in front of the human, who took an unconscious step backward, fear sparking in his eyes.

"Be careful," the prince hissed, his voice low and dangerous. Reaching out, he grabbed the front of Yamchaís shirt, dragging him down and forward until their noses were nearly touching. When he spoke his tone was frigid and he pronounced every word with slow, deadly sharpness. "Donít fuck with me."

For a moment he still held onto the man, staring coldly into his eyes. Then he shoved him backward, nearly throwing him into the wall, before turning and walking through the absolutely silent room to the door. Once he reached it, though, he paused again, glancing back.

"When Kakarrot comes back you might want to try and extend him a little understanding. Itís his son thatís in that room. Remember that."

Stepping out into the hallway, he slipped around rushing doctors and nurses, dodging stretchers and frantic paramedics as he extended his senses. He located Gokuís ki without difficulty, slightly away from the frantic activity of the ER, and headed toward it, taking a slow breath to calm down as he did so. He moved into one of the quieter hallways of the hospital, following his senses to a room currently empty of patients. Kakarrot was there, having slipped inside in an attempt to escape the crazy, hectic rush surrounding them. Slowly, he stepped into the doorway, peering inside.

Kakarrot was there, seated on one of the empty hospital beds, his bowed head pressed to his hands. He was unmoving, utterly still but for the barely perceptible rise and fall of his chest as he breathed.

Quietly, Vejiita moved further into the room. "Kakarrot."

The man on the bed did not react for a moment, remaining motionless for several seconds before slowly lifting his head. His eyes were brimming, glittering brightly before he blinked, and Vejiita saw his throat move as he swallowed. He released a shaky sigh, looking away again. When he spoke his voice was dead.

"What do you want, Vejiita?"

Vejiita shrugged without speaking, the lack of a welcome not dissuading him as he moved closer to the other Saiya-jin. There was a short stretch of silence before the prince spoke softly.

"Iím sorry."

Kakarrot seemed to shudder them, his eyes squeezing closed as he brought a hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose, drawing in a breath that almost sounded like tears, but then wasnít. Vejiita felt pain, somehow, that Kakarrot was doing this, was restraining himself so badly when it was not in his nature to do so. Again he spoke, and he did not even recognize himself, the impossible gentleness in his voice.

"Are you all right?"

And of course he knew that the other man was not all right, that he couldnít possibly be, but the words were something, the words were an offering. They were an invitation, a signal that he was willing to listen.

Kakarrotís hand slid up from his nose to cover his eyes for a moment and he pressed his lips together, swallowing again. He exhaled slowly

"I-I..." he tried, his voice trembling, "I donít know how... I canít believe this... He was... He was just going out for the evening... Out with a few friends... And they werenít doing anything, just... they were just..."

Kakarrot shivered violently, pressing his hand to his mouth for a moment.

"Then I-I felt something... and I got a call... about... about what..."

A choked-off, anguished sound escaped him and he bowed his dark head, wrapping his arms around his stomach and rocking forward slightly. Stepping forward, Vejiita lifted his hand, reaching out. He hesitated for the slightest moment, then touched Kakarrotís shoulder, gripping him lightly. He felt another tremor run through the other Saiya-jinís body and Kakarrot turned his head toward him slightly.

"Vejiita... I... I donít know... what to do..."

Vejiitaís touch curved over to rest softly against the back of Kakarrotís neck.

A wrenching, vicious sob was torn from the other Saiya-jinís throat.

"Itís my son... my son, heís... heís..."

"Kakarrot..."

And then he was leaning forward, whether he moved or Vejiita drew him neither knew, but his face was pressed to Vejiitaís stomach, Vejiitaís hand on the back of his head, holding him there. And then the prince felt the damn burst.

Kakarrotís pain rushed through their link to meet him and tears sprang to Vejiitaís own eyes under the force of it, the fear and the grief. Kakarrot wept, first quietly, his shoulders shaking as he slowly wrapped his arms around Vejiitaís waste pulling him closer, then screaming with sobs, muffling the sounds against Vejiitaís body as he tore his throat raw. His grief was agonizing, the raw, tearing pain of a parent who adored his children and was now faced with their loss. Vejiita closed his eyes, clenching his teeth against it, feeling the ache in his throat as he shared Kakarrotís sorrow.

Drawing a shuddering breath, he wanted only to give comfort, to soothe the other Saiya-jinís pain. It didnít matter now, it couldnít, the part of him that raged against it; that voice was overpowered by so many others now. And... Kakarrot needed him.

Gently, trembling slightly, the prince threaded his fingers through the other Saiya-jinís hair, stroking him softly, lifting his other hand to do the same, cradling his head and feeling Kakarrot press his face harder against him, fighting to stifle his sobs. Still smoothing the other manís hair, Vejiita purred softly, letting one hand drop down to stroke Kakarrotís cheek. He could feel him calming, bringing himself under control, although the grief was still very present, wrapping itself around the other Saiya-jin. Still, there was a relief there now, a shivering gratefulness for the release he had been allowed.

Continuing to sift his fingers through thick black locks, Vejiita spoke softly.

"Shh... Kakarrot... Listen to me now. You must be strong, and you must try to project your love and warmth, confidence, even if you donít feel it. As a Saiya-jin you have a bond with your children, thatís what you felt when Goten was injured. Now, when your feelings are so intense, he may sense you, even unconsciously, and you must not feed him your fear or your grief. He needs your love and your support now, and that may help him where nothing else can, do you understand me?"

After a moment of stillness Goku leaned back slightly, and Vejiita found himself trailing his hands around to cradle the other Saiya-jinís cheeks as he gazed up at him. Without thought, he gently smoothed his thumb over Kakarrotís eye, smearing away lingering teardrops.

"Can you do it, Kakarrot?"

Staring up at him, his eyes searching, Goku nodded, drawing in a shaky breath. Slowly, his arms lowered until his hands were resting on Vejiitaís hips.

The two Saiya-jins stared at each other for a long moment before Goku finally dropped his hands, Vejiita doing the same.

"Vejiita... Thank you..." Goku said softly, almost whispering.

He got to his feet as the prince shrugged it off, rubbing his arm across his face and running his hands through his hair. Vejiita gestured toward the doorway, his black eyes gentle.

"Theyíre waiting for you."

Goku nodded, taking a step forward, then pausing to look at Vejiita once more. He seemed about to say something, then stopped, instead walking to the door. Vejiita followed him, and they made their way back to the waiting room in silence. As they entered everyone looked up, their eyes locking onto Goku, some of them rising to their feet.

A slightly awkward stillness followed before Krillen stepped forward slightly.

"Ah, Goku, I just wanted to say that-"

He paused, suddenly, as yet another person entered the room behind Vejiita and Goku. The two Saiya-jins twisted around to face a doctor, her mask drawn down around her neck, her scrubs red with blood as she stripped her gloves off.

"Son Goku?" She asked, her eyes settling on the taller Saiya-jin.

Goku nodded, apprehension and hope filling his face all at once.

"Iím Dr. Marlin, I need to speak with you."

 

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