Goku woke slowly, sighing and beginning to tighten his body in preparation for stretching. Then he abruptly became aware of the weight on top of him and the sensation of warm breath against his chest. Carefully, he relaxed again, not wanting to disturb his prince, and opened his eyes.
The fire had died to nothing but smoldering embers in the fireplace, and the light of early morning was pouring in through the windows, promising a warm day to come. Vejiita had slid to the side a little at some point during the night and was now sleeping with his cheek on Gokuís chest, his arm over his stomach and his leg draped across Gokuís thighs. His face was relaxed, for once free of tension and completely peaceful. Feeling his throat tighten, Goku gently stroked his hand over Vejiitaís shoulder and down his back, the skin warm and smooth beneath his touch.
He could feel a cramp beginning in his leg and the stiffness of muscles throughout his body but he remained still, continuing to caress Vejiitaís back, wanting to allow the prince to sleep for as long as possible.
He gazed down at the smaller Saiya-jin as he ran his fingers along Vejiitaís spine, the previous night replaying in his head. When the pounding on his door had driven him out of his warm, comfortable bed and heíd discovered Vejiita on his doorstep, he had been surprised, to say the least. Surprise had quickly changed to concern, though, as heíd observed Vejiitaís distraught state. It was obvious that he, too, had just left his bed, and the princeís bloodshot eyes and trembling hands had not escaped his attention.
Somewhat amazed that Vejiita had come to him, heíd invited the prince inside, careful to keep his voice quiet and non-threatening. It was clear as Vejiita began pacing around the room that holding him would not be a good idea, and so heíd remained still and silent, waiting for the other Saiya-jin to speak. When the prince had begun to stammer about a dream heíd had, Goku had felt his throat tighten. It was so hard for Vejiita to talk to him about this; to talk to anyone about anything, really. But the fact that he had come at all, that he had sought him out in his distress had touched Goku deeply.
Heíd moved to stand next to Vejiita by the fireplace but refrained from touching him, not wanting to do anything that might possibly upset Vejiita further. It was hard for him to be so restrained when it was in his nature to act on what he felt, but he wanted what was best for Vejiita, and so he learned to hold himself back.
When Vejiita had mumbled that Goku had touched him, he had unintentionally made a soft, surprised sound. And then... ĎI... what you did... I... I... liked it...í At that moment he had wanted to touch Vejiita so badly he was nearly shaking. As it was heíd leaned toward him until mere inches separated them, stunned by Vejiitaís admission.
Then, when Vejiita had tried to tell him something else, suddenly becoming upset and turning away, heíd only wanted to keep him from leaving. He wanted to be there for Vejiita. He didnít want to force the prince to tell him anything, but knowing that Vejiita had come to him, wanting, needing to talk, he didnít want him to leave without unburdening himself.
And then Vejiita had told him that, in his dream, he had hurt him. For a while he hadnít known how to respond, until heíd finally pressed a little and Vejiita had confirmed that in the dream he had raped him.
He frowned as he smoothed his fingers through the hair at the back of Vejiitaís neck, remembering the sick feeling that had filled him. Despite the fact that it had been a dream, the thought of hurting Vejiita in any way disgusted him. And the fact that Vejiita had dreamt about it... suggested a lot of problems.
Sighing, he brought up his other hand to stroke Vejiitaís thick black locks, gazing out the window at the brightening sky. And then there was Frieza. That Vejiitaís dream had turned him into Frieza bothered him greatly. Obviously, Vejiita was subconsciously afraid that Goku would try to repeat Friezaís actions from his childhood.
He was distracted momentarily as Vejiita shifted slightly, his tail moving to loosely curl around Gokuís leg. Goku smiled faintly, gently brushing his thumb across Vejiitaís cheek before returning to his musing. Vejiitaís dream suggested so many things to him. The most hopeful was that, on some level, he was attracted to Goku. On some level he wanted Gokuís touch. Nothing else explained why he had dreamt about, and enjoyed, Goku coming to him like that. But he had already guessed as much. What the dream also said was that Vejiita was afraid. He was afraid of intimacy; afraid that heíd be hurt again, afraid of betrayal. The fact that Vejiita subconsciously associated him with Frieza was an enormous obstacle to overcome.
His eyes were again drawn to the prince as Vejiita made a soft sound low in his throat, shifting again and stretching slightly. It wouldnít be long before he woke up. A slight pang tightened his chest at the thought. In a few more minutes this moment would be lost. He knew better than to think Vejiita would be willing to stay. It was very likely heíd leave as soon as he woke up, humiliated that he had let his guard down and afraid of the intimacy the night had created. Still... Goku was pleased. He hadnít thought Vejiita trusted him this much. The prince had slept deeply, no trace of tension or unease in him.
Gokuís throat tightened as he gently embraced the smaller Saiya-jin. Vejiita, I love you. He wished that he dared say it to the princeís face. But he was afraid that the confession would terrify Vejiita to the point that he would never come back. Or that the prince would laugh at him, rejecting his offer of love outright. That was what he was truly afraid of. Vejiitaís rejection. He couldnít really think of anything about himself that was remarkable or interesting enough to capture someone like Vejiita. Someone so unique, so exotic. Vejiita continued to fascinate him even now, more than twenty years after their first meeting. He doubted he had ever fascinated Vejiita at all.
Shaking himself, he pushed the thoughts away before he could become depressed, instead just focusing on the little time he had left to treasure this moment. Closing his eyes, he inhaled the scent of Vejiitaís hair; it smelled of shampoo, and, beneath that, wind and sunlight and the strong, masculine fragrance that was simply Vejiita. With a faint sigh he ran his hands down Vejiitaís back, then up to his shoulders, smoothing over the muscles in the arm laying across his stomach, his hand slipping all the way down to Vejiitaís fingertips. Then Vejiita moaned slightly, his body stretching out and his tail unfurling from Gokuís leg. His lips parted, his mouth opening widely as he yawned, twisting so the back of his head was now resting on Gokuís chest, rather than his cheek. He groaned softly and then his eyes finally opened, blinking up at the ceiling.
Goku found himself holding his breath, waiting for the princeís reaction. For a while he did nothing, his body still relaxed against Gokuís, as though he hadnít actually thought about the position he was in yet. He briefly closed his eyes again, sighing and turning his head slightly, and Goku fought the urge to squirm as the black spikes of his hair tickled his chest. Abruptly, though, the prince became very still, looking up at the ceiling for a long moment. Then, very slowly, he twisted around, one elbow on the couch, the other arm braced against Gokuís stomach. His eyes lifted to Gokuís face.
Goku looked back at him steadily, and when Vejiitaís eyes met his, a flush colored the princeís face, his lips parting but no words coming out. Goku smiled sadly, wondering if Vejiita had been hoping he was still asleep so he could quietly sneak out. Still, he was unable to keep himself from reaching out, and he gently smoothed the backs of his knuckles down Vejiitaís cheek, then slid his hand around to briefly cup the princeís chin.
"Good morning, l-" he began, then abruptly caught himself, shivering at his mistake. He had very nearly said, ĎGood morning, love.í
Vejiita looked at him, and for what seemed an endless moment, he remained still, Gokuís hand cupping his chin as their dark eyes locked. Then he mumbled something that might have been a returned greeting, pulling himself into a sitting position and glancing out the window.
Once the prince had removed his weight, Goku dragged himself upright, stretching his arms over his head and then twisting from one side to the other, groaning as bones cracked and sore muscles strained. Hissing, he arched his back, his head pressed against the back of the couch and his feet extended far out in front of him, nearly sliding off the couch with the intensity of his stretch. He caught himself at the last moment, scrambling somewhat ungracefully to his feet and then turning to look at Vejiita.
The Saiya-jin prince was watching him, faint amusement in his eyes and his face astonishingly unguarded. Goku caught the expression for only a moment, though, before Vejiita realized he was looking him and glanced away, the softness disappearing. The sunlight splashing through the window set the princeís hair on fire with golden highlights, gleaming off his bronzed skin and glittering softly in his black eyes. Goku caught his breath, his heart aching at Vejiitaís unconscious beauty. Biting his lip, he turned away for a moment, wanting him so badly he was nearly shaking with it. Closing his eyes tightly, he took a slow breath, forcing himself to be calm. He could not let Vejiita know how intensely he wanted to run his tongue over his chest, to peel off those black pants and smooth his hands down his thighs, make him scream with ecstasy and show him- Stop! He clenched his teeth to keep from groaning. He could not think about this, not now. I canít do this... He doesnít need this right now, the time is completely wrong. This isnít the kind of attention he needs from me. What Vejiita did need was someone he could trust to be his friend, not someone looking to tumble him into bed. He took another breath, letting it out slowly and forcing his desire out with it. He forced himself to think of all the abuse Vejiita had suffered, the tears he had shed the night before, and brought himself back under control. Slowly, he turned back to the prince.
Vejiita had risen to his feet, running his hands through his hair and looking intently at the rug. There was an awkward silence as each searched for something to say.
They both paused and Vejiita glanced up at him briefly. Then the prince turned toward the door, one of his hands curling into a fist and tapping idly against his thigh as he hesitated. "I... Kakarrot... I want..." He paused, then seemed to change his mind about whatever he had been about to say. "I have to go."
"I- Vejiita!" Goku said as the prince moved forward and set his hand on the door handle. He paused, his tail curling and uncurling slightly as he waited. Goku searched for something to say, simply standing with his mouth open like a fool for several moments, then blurted, "Iíll stop and see you later!"
Vejiita stood for long moments, not looking at him. Then he nodded once and went out.
Goku stood looking at the closed door for several minutes, letting what had just happened sink in. Heíd hardly been aware of what he was saying until after heíd said it, and then heíd winced inwardly, waiting for Vejiitaís rejection. Heíd expected the other Saiya-jin to slap him down, wanting to avoid contact with him after all that had happened the night before. But the prince had nodded. He had quietly accepted Gokuís offer and left.
Goku remained staring at the door for another minute, a foolish smile on his face as an odd warmth filled his chest. Then he shook himself and headed down the hallway to take a shower.
Vejiita flew homeward slowly, the wind fluttering through his hair as the sun shone warmly on his naked back. His arms were crossed over his chest as he gazed vaguely at the landscape passing below him, his eyes not really taking it in. He was still trying to deal with everything that had happened between last night and this moment.
He frowned, feeling his cheeks heat slightly. Now, as he recalled everything he had done, all he had said, he realized it was horribly embarrassing. He had made a fool of himself, breaking down like that in front of Kakarrot. His teeth clenched as he remembered clinging to the other Saiya-jin, sobbing uncontrollably into his shoulder... And he remembered Kakarrot holding him, never speaking, never pushing or asking stupid questions. He remembered melting against him when Goku had come up behind him and embraced him. He remembered the sense of utter security that had filled him when they had laid down together on the couch... He could not remember the last time he had slept so deeply.
He shook his head, swallowing. He had been far, far too vulnerable. He had never before in his life betrayed such an inexcusable weakness. He didnít know why he had sought Kakarrot out in the first place. He should have been able to deal with what had happened on his own. It was only a dream. A silly dream and he had run to Goku like a child, needing protection from his imaginary monsters. How pathetic.
He growled, rubbing a hand over his face. And now he was allowing the fool to come see him. Instead of telling him to mind his own business, like he should have, he had accepted Gokuís offer without protest.
Spiraling downward as Capsule Corporation came into site, he landed on the doorstep and let himself in. The smell of frying bacon and eggs assaulted his senses, along with the clatter of pans and utensils and the sound of bread popping up from the toaster. His mouth watered despite himself, his stomach growling as he took in the sight of Trunks and Goten sitting at the kitchen table, helping themselves to heaping portions of eggs and bacon, pouring tall glasses of milk and orange juice and slathering their toast with butter. Mrs. Briefs was standing by the stove, pouring more scrambled eggs into the pan for cooking, humming cheerfully to herself. Goten was the first to acknowledge his presence.
"Hey, Vejiita!" he said around a mouthful of food, giving him a little wave. Vejiita inclined his head slightly in returned greeting at the same time Trunks looked up from his meal.
"Hi, Dad!" he said after swallowing. Reaching out, he dragged one of the empty chairs back from the table in invitation. "Come on and eat with us!"
Vejiita hesitated, still standing in front of the door. He was hungry, but dare he brave a breakfast table with two teenage boys?
Mrs. Briefs turned around and saw him standing awkwardly in the entryway. "Oh, Vejiita!" she cried in her girlish voice, "Hi! Itís been so long since Iíve seen you!"
She bustled over to him, her curly, dyed-blond hair bouncing with each step. She was smiling so widely he thought she must surely be hurting her face, giggling like a schoolgirl as she approached him.
"My goodness, look at you! Youíre still as handsome as ever!" she tittered and Vejiita felt his face flush. "Oh, if only I was single and you werenít my son-in-law!"
Vejiita shifted his weight from one foot to the other, his blush deepening as he heard Trunks and Goten choking while trying to stifle laughter, bent intently over their plates. He didnít know when Mrs. Briefs had gotten the idea that he was her son-in-law, as he and Bulma had never been married, but she always insisted on it nonetheless. He knew she was only teasing him, but it still left him rather tongue-tied, a situation he rarely found himself in.
She continued coming toward him until she was only inches away. By the time he realized her intentions it was too late to escape, and she hugged him tightly, squeezing her still-slim figure to him. "Itís so good to see you!"
"Uh," he fumbled, standing helplessly and looking down at her, at a loss. He glared over at Trunks who was turning red in the face and pressing a hand tightly to his mouth. Goten was bent over, making strangling noises while trying to chew his food, one hand shredding his napkin to bits. Thinking that Mrs. Briefs wasnít going to release him until he acknowledged her in some way, he grunted something unintelligible and awkwardly patted her shoulder.
She giggled again and stepped back. "Yeah, youíre still exactly the same!" She looked him over again, then her eyes widened and she cooed. "Except for this!"
She pointed at the tail that was waving in the air behind him and he abruptly made sure to keep it out of her reach. "Your tail grew back! Goodness, itís so cute!"
That was too much and Vejiita growled low in his throat, irritation getting the better of him. She just laughed again, stepping backward. "Come on in and sit down, Vejiita! Youíre part of the family, too!"
Vejiita sighed, then decided it wasnít worth the fight and slid into the chair Trunks had offered to him as Mrs. Briefs went to get another plate and began loading it with food. Trunks looked over at him, his eyes sparkling, and Vejiita glared at him again, snarling almost inaudibly. It seemed odd to sit at a table with even two other people at it, and he realized that it was a rare thing even for he and Trunks to be eating at the same time, much less with Goten and Bulmaís mother. He raised an eyebrow as he watched Goten and his son stuff their faces like starving wolves, leaning back in his chair and shaking his head slightly. A moment later Mrs. Briefs set down a plate heaped with eggs and bacon and topped with four slices of buttery toast in front of him. His stomach growled again and he immediately began to eat, though he managed to maintain a little more dignity than his offspring and the boyís best friend. It wasnít long before he had polished off the entire thing with plenty of room to spare. As soon as heíd finished chewing the last bite, Mrs. Briefs swept up his plate, flitted to the stove, and a moment later returned again, the plate newly laden with food. Goten and Trunks were already on their third helpings and still going strong, and Vejiita watched in faint admiration as Mrs. Briefs managed to keep up with them. Subduing the Saiya-jin appetite was not an easy thing.
Once Trunks and Goten were cleaning up their fourth helpings and Vejiita was working on his third, Mrs. Briefs announced that she had a date to go shopping and that there was another pan of eggs and plate of bacon on the stove for them to help themselves to.
"Bye-bye, guys!" she called cheerily, flying out the door.
"Bye, Grandma!" Trunks called after her, "Thanks for breakfast!"
"Anytime, dearheart!" she sent over her shoulder, and was gone.
Vejiita barely restrained a sigh of relief once the door closed after her, and Trunks finally broke into open laughter, smacking the table and rattling the dishes. "Oh my God, Dad!" he cried, "You should have seen yourself! The look on your face when she hugged you was priceless!"
Goten laughed as well, wiping his hands on a napkin. "Iím surprised you controlled yourself as well as you did. Iím impressed!"
Vejiita smirked slightly, allowing their good-natured ribbing as he continued to eat.
"Honestly, I canít believe Grandma sometimes!" Trunks continued, still laughing and taking a swallow of orange juice. "Youíd think she was a little girl sometimes, or at least still a young woman. She flirts with every male she sees, even me!"
Goten grinned as he and Vejiita simultaneously got up for more food. "I think sheís funny. I never knew either of my grandmas."
"Hey, Dad," Trunks interjected suddenly, changing the subject, "Where were you anyway?"
Vejiita stiffened momentarily. There was no way he was going to say he was over at Gokuís house, especially not with Kakarrotís son sitting right there. Finally he shrugged and said, forcing nonchalance into his voice, "I didnít sleep well. I went out."
It was the truth. He hadnít slept well... until heíd been sleeping with Kakarrot.
Trunks didnít pursue the issue, instead leaning back in his chair and looking Vejiita over. "You know, Dad, itís been a while since we sparred. You feel up to it in a little while?"
Vejiita glanced at him in surprise. It was a rare thing for Trunks to come to him offering to spar. Then he grinned, bearing his full set of teeth as he threw his son a challenge. "I donít think youíre up to par with me, boy."
Trunks laughed, folding his arms and tossing lavender hair out of his eyes. "You donít think so, huh?"
Vejiita set his fork down, raising an eyebrow and smirking confidently.
"Hn, well if thatís the case, then why donít you take both of us on?" Trunks challenged in return, nodding his head in Gotenís direction.
Vejiitaís smirk widened as his eyes narrowed, intrigued by the prospect. Goten looked slightly alarmed to suddenly be included in the little match, but after a moment his face relaxed into shared amusement.
"Yeah," Trunks grinned, nodding again. "I bet the two of us could drop you."
Vejiita actually laughed out loud, rising to his feet. "Youíre on, boy!" he growled, grinning, "Just let me get changed."
"Right!" Trunks agreed, allowing his chair to fall to the floor and beginning to quickly gather the dishes on the table. Vejiita went up to his room, stripping off the black pants he wore to bed and pulling a navy blue workout suit from his dresser, the spandex stretching to hug his body as he drew it on. He stepped into his white boots and pulled on his gloves, still grinning and wondering how both his son and Kakarrotís together would match up against him.
He descended the stairs again to see Trunks and Goten still cleaning up the kitchen and was eager enough for the fight that he joined them to hurry their progress.
"Iíll finish here, you go change," he said a minute later.
"Ah, looking forward to your defeat, huh?" Trunks laughed, heading toward the stairs.
Vejiita grinned dangerously in response and his son shook his head, smiling. The two boys charged up the stairs to Trunksí room. It was only a minute before they were coming down again, prepared for the workout. Vejiita was just finishing up and a moment later the trio headed outside.
They blasted into the sky high above Capsule Corporation, Vejiita hanging in the air with his arms folded and his tail swaying from side to side in anticipation.
"So," he called, eyes glittering, "What decides who wins?"
Trunks grinned back at him. "Until one side or the other says Ďuncleí."
"Ha!" Vejiita laughed. "Very well. Shall we begin?"
Trunks and Goten both nodded. "Letís go!"
The air crackled and snapped, golden light blazing outward as all three of them simultaneously lept to Super Saiya-jin. Trunks immediately charged straight at him while Goten swung wide, trying to maneuver around behind. Vejiita went for Trunks head-on, momentarily distancing himself from Goten, and when he and his son were about to collide, dropped like a stone, causing Trunks to sail over him, then caught himself, came up and spun into a powerful kick. He only hit air, however, as Trunks had immediately flung himself to the side, avoiding the blow. It was Vejiitaís turn to dodge as Gotenís fist came flying at his head, and he slipped to the side, feeling the rush of air as the strike missed by centimeters.
Goten, however, was not used to fighting him and hadnít counted on his speed. Even as he moved out of the way, he twisted, reaching back and caught Gotenís wrist, swinging the boy around and then sending him sailing toward the ground, preparing to fire a low-intensity ki blast at him as he fell. He never got the chance, however, as Trunksí heel connected solidly with his side, throwing him back several hundred feet. By the time he recovered himself, both boys were heading toward him from either side, their movements blurring as they increased to their top speeds. Instead of dodging as they anticipated, he gathered himself, and, when they attacked from both sides, pushed all of his own speed into blocking both of them.
For a while he was successful, but it was extremely difficult to keep track of both of their movements at once as they both used arms and legs to attack. Trunks swung his knee toward Vejiitaís stomach and the prince brought up his own leg, blocking the attack with his shin. Suddenly the boy laughed, distracting Vejiita momentarily, and at that precise second Gotenís fist crashed into his face, snapping his head backward and allowing Trunks to kick him away from them.
Vejiita growled, but even as he flew backward he twisted his body and snagged Gotenís ankle, whipping the boy around and then releasing him. He laughed as Kakarrotís son crashed solidly into Trunks, using the confusion caused by tangled limbs to hit them both with a ki blast that, while not dangerous, was painful. The point was to get them to beg for mercy, after all.
He also took the opportunity to power up to SSJ2, knowing he would need at least that advantage to handle both of them. Then he grinned as he realized he had a huge ace up his sleeve. Trunks still didnít know he had reached Super Saiya-jin level three.
Once the two boys had gotten untangled, Trunks, also, increased to SSJ2. Goten lacked the ability to do so, having only ever reached the basic Super Saiya-jin form.
The fight resumed again immediately and went on for nearly an hour, at which point all three of them paused, gazing across the open space between them and panting. All of them were streaked with sweat and blood, singed clothing showing where ki blasts had connected.
As far as damage went, though, Trunks and Goten were the worse for wear. Neither of them trained with the intensity Vejiita and Goku did, and this kind of extended workout was unusual for both of them.
"I have to admit," Vejiita called, leaning back in the air and folding his arms behind his head as he grinned, "I didnít think the two of you would last even this long! Iím impressed!"
Trunks glared at him, breathing heavily and spitting blood, then suddenly glanced at Goten. The other boy looked back at him, and some unspoken agreement passed between them. Goten actually laughed out loud, his eyes glittering dangerously.
Trunks grinned at Vejiita. "Donít get too cocky yet, Father!"
Suddenly the two drifted a little further apart, then each spun into an odd little dance, the one the mirror image of the other. Vejiitaís eyes widened and he lunged upright in the air at the same moment they were sliding next to each other, arching over, and pressing their fists together, each shouting, "Fusion!" at the same moment.
Vejiita snarled, cursing himself for not seeing it coming as a blazing golden light forced him to squint and shield his eyes. "Shimata!"
When the light faded, he looked up to see one person hovering where the two had been, golden aura blazing brightly, dressed in white gi pants and the black and orange fusion jacket.
"Ha!" Gotenks laughed, his voice an eerie mixture of both Gotenís and Trunksí, "So you think you can defeat me, Vejiita?! Iíll have you smeared across the ground before you can blink!"
Gotenks suddenly threw his head back and screamed, his aura flaring as his hair sprayed outward and he jumped to SSJ3.
Vejiita hissed under his breath. This could be a slight problem. Gotenks was far more dangerous on his own then Trunks and Goten were together. While neither of them could make it to SSJ3 on their own, somehow the fusion they created was able to hit that level.
For a moment he glared while Gotenks smirked arrogantly. Then he suddenly grinned, deciding it was time to play his own ace. He could surprise the cocky little bastard yet.
"Hn," he purred, his hands curling into fists and his body tensing as he gazed steadily at Gotenks, "Weíll see."
His own head fell backward as his scream ripped from his throat, his body tightening as he gathered his ki into himself, aura raging wildly, then let it explode outward, feeling his hair grow heavy and tumble down his back, his muscles expanding as his power level soared. For a moment his eyes closed as he gloried in the energy racing through him, his lips curled back from his teeth in a feral smile. Then he slowly lowered his head, his hands falling back to his sides and his eyes narrowing as he looked at Gotenks.
The fused Saiya-jin was gaping at him, his eyes wide with disbelief as he stared in shock. "What!?" he cried finally, sounding almost betrayed, "How long have you been level three?!"
Vejiita smirked, his tail snapping as he gloated at his opponent. "For some time now."
His smile widened. Another thing he doubted either Trunks or Goten knew was that, with the regeneration of his tail, his power had again increased dramatically. When his tail had been lost more than twenty years ago, it had cut his power tremendously, as well as depriving him of the option to turn Ozaruu. Now that it had regrown, he was certainly a match for Gotenks. In fact, it was extremely unlikely that the cocky Saiya-jin would manage to defeat him.
He laughed lowly, holding out his hand and gesturing for Gotenks to come and get him.
With a roar of rage, his opponent complied, his aura blazing around him as he rushed across the gap. Vejiita stood his ground, and the explosion when the two met rocketed through the air for miles. Their movements blurred beyond the range of normal vision as Gotenks attacked Vejiita wildly, Vejiita deciding he was content to remain on the defensive for the moment. Suddenly, though, Gotenks blurred to one side and reached outward, a dark smile on his lips. At the very last second possible Vejiita understood what he was doing and, his heart lurching into his throat, he twisted around in the air so Gotenks flew over him, his hand closing violently where Vejiitaís tail had just been.
Exhaling a slightly unsteady breath at that near-miss, Vejiita winced inwardly as he thought of the pain he had just avoided. Then he righted himself and glared at Gotenks, who laughed back at him in that odd, dual voice that all fused Saiya-jins had. He ground his teeth together, snarling at both Gotenks and himself. He was thinking of Gotenks as Trunks and Goten simply squeezed into one body, with their personalities and misgivings. But he was a totally separate person and far less scrupulous than either his son or Son Goten, neither of which would have thought to pull his tail. Vejiita smiled tightly. He himself was the only person he knew of who would have tried such a thing, and even he probably wouldnít have done it to his own son, knowing the intensity of the pain it caused first hand.
Gotenks laughed again. "Whatís the matter, Vejiita?" he sneered, "You look a little shaken up!"
Vejiita drifted slightly sideways in the air, narrowing his eyes as he looked at the other Saiya-jin. Then he wrapped his tail around his waist and grinned. "Enough of this."
His teeth clenched as he powered up until his aura was raging around him, then flew straight at Gotenks. The fused Saiya-jin dodged his first strike, and then proceeded to block most of the rest of them, their fists nearly invisible as Vejiita pushed him backward through the air, refusing to give him the slightest break. Gotenksí arrogant smirk had soon faded to a look of intense concentration as he struggled to keep track of Vejiitaís movements. After several minutes, though, Vejiitaís onslaught broke through his defenses, one fist slamming into Gotenksí ribs with bone-crunching force, the other connecting with his face half a moment later.
Gotenks spiraled backward, but, rather than allow him a moment to recover himself, Vejiita pulled his ki into blazing attack that sprayed across the other Saiya-jinís body, causing him to scream in pain and anger, then dove after him, striking him repeatedly, checking the blows just enough to keep from breaking bones or causing internal damage.
Screaming in rage, Gotenks managed to slam his knee deep into Vejiitaís stomach. The prince grunted in pain, but refused to allow it to distract him, and, after knocking Gotenks slightly below him, laced his fingers together and brought his hands down on the back of the Saiya-jinís neck, sending him racing downward to smash face-first into the ground.
Again, he followed his opponent down, and immediately crouched over him, one knee planted against the small of his back, holding him down. Gotenks had lost his SSJ3 form, his hair fading to black spikes streaked with lavender on either side. He growled, trying to squirm out from under Vejiitaís knee and free himself, but Vejiita refused to budge until he heard a certain word.
"Get off me!" Gotenks shouted, trying to claw his way from beneath Vejiitaís weight.
The Saiya-jin prince laughed. "As soon as you say, Ďuncleí, as we agreed."
An angry growl slid through Gotenksí clenched teeth as a shiver of rage passed through his body, but he said nothing, continuing to fight Vejiitaís hold. He had no chance, though, as Vejiita was still in his level three Super Saiya-jin form, while Gotenks had lost hold of his and reverted to his normal appearance.
"Say it," Vejiita smirked, "Or weíll be here all day."
"Screw you," Gotenks hissed, twisting his head to the side to glare up at Vejiita out of the corner of his eye.
"Ah!" Vejiita warned, lightly cuffing Gotenksí head. If he hadnít been aware that his son and Goten would take the damage he did to Gotenksí body, he would have slammed him into next week.
Suddenly a golden light suffused the body beneath his knee and it seemed like a crack appeared running down Gotenksí middle. Grinning, Vejiita lifted his weight for a moment as Trunks and Goten split apart, half an hour having passed and the fusion dissolving. As soon as they appeared he caught each of them by the back of the neck and held them down with their cheeks pressed against the grass, crouched between them.
"Dammit," Trunks puffed under his breath, trying to toss his hair out of his eyes in order to look up at his father. Goten grimaced, obviously feeling the new aches and pains in his body.
Vejiita raised his eyebrows as he looked down at them. "Do you have something to say?"
"Uncle!" Goten said immediately, looking more than a little intimidated by Vejiita. The boy didnít know him well, and the little he did know probably wasnít very reassuring. Taking pity on him, Vejiita released him without any jibes or mockery, allowing Kakarrotís son to sit up rather unsteadily. His son, however, was a different matter.
Trunks was determinedly clenching his teeth, glaring up at his father and refusing to speak. Vejiita saw himself in the boy, in the bright pride shining in his eyes that refused to admit defeat. Still, he tightened his grip on his sonís neck to the point that it was uncomfortable without being truly painful.
"Come now, boy," he pressured, "Youíre the one who set the terms."
Trunks eyes slid from one side to the other, obviously searching for a way out of his predicament. Goten could no longer be of any help, and there was nothing he could use anywhere near him. There was quite obviously no escape.
"Just say it, Trunks," Goten said, rubbing a hand through his hair and frowning as if his head was paining him.
Vejiita gazed down at the boy as the one blue eye he could see glared stubbornly back up at him. Suddenly feeling the effort of holding onto the extremely tiring SSJ3 form, he dropped to first level Super Saiya-jin, still holding Trunks down as he looked at him. They were so alike, he and his son, but so different at the same time. Vejiita felt pride tighten his throat. The boy had all of his few virtues and none of his faults. He smiled faintly. Except maybe a bit of his temper. The smile faded as he continued to meet Trunksí gaze, and he realized just how much he loved his son.
The look in Trunks eyes had changed, becoming curious, faintly questioning as he obviously sensed some difference in his father. Even Goten was silent, realizing some kind of silent communication was passing between them. Vejiitaís hand gentled against Trunksí neck, though he didnít release him. He spoke softly.
"Trunks, Iíve learned the hard way that there is no shame in knowing when you are beaten."
Trunks eyes softened and Vejiita felt him relax.
Vejiita smiled slightly, the gold of his hair bleeding into black as he lifted his hand and rose to his feet. Offering Trunks his hand, he pulled his son up beside him.
He grinned, rolling his head back on his shoulders to loosen his neck. "Hn, you two surprised me when you fused. I wasnít thinking about that."
"Yeah, well," Trunks snorted, brushing grass off his pants and out of his hair, "I think your surprise was the better one. You never told me youíd reached level three!"
Vejiita laughed, peeling off his blood-spattered gloves as the trio began drifting toward the house. "I just never thought to bring it up, I guess. There hasnít really been an opportunity for me to use it until now." He grinned. "Would you still have challenged me if Iíd told you?"
Trunks frowned thoughtfully, pushing the loose strands of his hair back behind his ears. He smiled. "I think so," he said finally, glancing at Vejiita, "But I would have been a lot less cocky about it!"
Goten grimaced. "Yeah, well, if Iíd known there wouldíve been no way youíd have gotten me into this fight!"
"Nah, you would have!" Trunks grinned, punching his friendís arm lightly, "You just wouldíve complained a lot more!"
Goten gave a long-suffering sigh, then grinned back at him. "Youíre probably right. You would have convinced me somehow. You always seem to get me to go along with your stupidity, and I canít figure out why."
A slight smile pulled at Vejiitaís lips as he listened to their banter, hanging back slightly to watch them. Suddenly Trunks twisted around to look at him.
"You were great, though, Dad," he said sincerely, "Really good."
Vejiita glanced to the side, feeling slightly embarrassed by his sonís praise, then lifted a shoulder in feigned nonchalance. They reached the door into Capsule Corporation and Goten darted inside to gather his things while Vejiita and Trunks paused on the outside.
"I never realized how strong you are," Trunks continued, and Vejiita folded his arms across his chest, kicking at the dirt beneath his booted feet. He didnít know how to behave in the face of compliments. "Really, when did you turn level three?"
Vejiita frowned, mentally counting the days since... that day. He shrugged. "A little over a month ago."
Goten suddenly slid outside again, flashing between them. "I gotta go, you guys! Bye! See you later, Trunks!"
"Bye, Goten!" Trunks called, and Vejiita lifted his hand briefly in acknowledgment. Once Kakarrotís son was gone, Trunks turned back to him.
"Wow. What made it happen?"
Vejiita paused, his body tensing. He tried to think of something to tell the boy without really revealing the details of what had happened. "I... It just-" he fumbled, "Kakarrot and I were sparring, and I... there were some problems..." he finished lamely.
Trunks looked at him silently for a moment, but seemed to understand that it was a sensitive issue and thankfully did not push it. He smiled. "Well, anyway, I was impressed." His smile broadened. "So was Gotenks."
Vejiita laughed shortly. "Un, well," he confessed finally, "This helped." He indicated his tail with a wave of his hand. "Did you know that a Saiya-jinís power is cut dramatically by the loss of his tail?"
"No," Trunks replied, his brow furrowing with interest. "But thatís kind of interesting. You and Goku are both level three now, but you have your tail. So what do you think?" He grinned. "Would you be able to take Goku out?"
Vejiita tipped his head to the side, considering the question. He and Kakarrot hadnít had a serious sparring session for... a while now. He shrugged, glancing at his son. "I donít know. Thereís a good chance, I guess."
Trunks looked at him for a long moment, something strange in his eyes. He glanced at the ground, then back up at him, biting his lip. "Dad, youíve changed a lot. Youíre so powerful, and..." He extended his hand, then hesitated. "Iím... Iím really proud of you."
Vejiita stared at him, feeling his throat tighten. Trunks was proud of him? It seemed too ridiculous to be true. Why should his son be proud of him? What had he ever done to make his son proud of him?
It seemed that Trunks could almost sense his thoughts. As he opened his mouth, struggling for something to say, the boy stepped toward him and tentatively, almost fearfully, he hugged him.
"I-I-" Vejiita gasped, his voice slightly strangled as his son embraced him. He brought his hands up, then hesitated just short of actually touching the boy for a moment. And he remembered all the time he had sacrificed, all the hugs he had missed for the sake of his pride. Trunks was already eighteen years old.
Pushing aside any last doubts, he closed his eyes and wrapped Trunks in his arms. He realized that his son needed this reassurance, that the boy was hugging him as much for his own sake as for Vejiitaís. Trunks needed to know... that he cared for him. Gently, he stroked the smooth lavender hair at the back of Trunksí head, as though he were still a young child in need of comfort. And in some ways, he was. Vejiita had never given him this when he was a child.
Several moments later Trunks slowly pulled away from him and Vejiita allowed his hands to fall to his sides. He glanced at his son to see the boy blinking rapidly, the telling brightness in his eyes betraying his tears. Trunks bit his lip and glanced at the ground, flushing slightly. Vejiita hesitated a moment longer, slightly embarrassed himself, then mumbled, "I have to go... take a shower."
Trunks nodded, shoving a hand through his bangs, and Vejiita quietly stepped into the house, knowing the boy would follow when he was ready. He moved up the stairs to his bedroom, pulling out a set of clean clothing and heading toward the bathroom with a remarkable peace in his heart.