Light and Darkness

Light and Darkness

Vejiita was sprawled on the couch in a half doze, his hair now nearly dry, dressed in a worn pair of blue jeans and another sleeveless white T-shirt, his bare feet crossed at the ankle. The house was entirely quiet, Trunks having left about twenty minutes ago, mumbling something about a party being thrown by one of his friends from school.

Vejiita sighed deeply, relaxing into the soft leather cushions, his tail hanging over the side as the tip curled and uncurled repeatedly, oddly catlike. One arm stretched over his head as he prepared to allow himself a short nap. And at that precise moment the doorbell rang.

He groaned, throwing his arm over his eyes, and considered ignoring it. Then, abruptly, he tensed, realizing that it had to be Goku. He sat up quickly, thoughts of sleep having vanished, then hesitated, again thinking of ignoring it, though for different reasons. But then he would have to be a coward. Kakarrot would know he was home, it didnít make sense for him to be anywhere else unless he was avoiding the other Saiya-jin.

Cursing, feeling a nervous knot tighten his chest, Vejiita slid to his feet and left the den, heading for the door. When he reached it he paused with his hand on the knob, closing his eyes for a moment and taking a shallow breath. Then, relaxing his features, he turned the handle and pulled the door open.

Kakarrot was standing on the doorstep with his hands in his pockets, looking oddly uncertain as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He, too, was dressed in blue jeans, and he wore tennis shoes and a red, short-sleeved shirt that buttoned up the front.

"Hey," he said softly.

For long moments the two stood in awkward silence, staring at each other. Finally Vejiita moved to the side, holding the door open, and something that looked almost like relief crossed Gokuís face as he stepped through the doorway and into the house.

Vejiita quietly shut the door behind him, then slowly turned to face him, annoyed at his own nervousness as he slid his fingers into the pockets of his jeans, gazing at the floor. Goku rocked back and forth on his heels for a moment, glancing around the kitchen in silence. Finally Vejiita grunted slightly and moved past the other Saiya-jin, his bare feet making no noise on the floor. When he reached the hallway he paused, looking back at Goku, who was still standing uncomfortably in the entryway.

He didnít know why he felt compelled to say anything. Heíd told himself that he didnít want to see Kakarrot, that he needed to reestablish the distance between them. Still, he stopped, turning toward the other Saiya-jin.

"Are you coming?" he asked gruffly.

Goku looked at him in surprise, then quickly kicked off his shoes and headed toward Vejiita. Turning away again, Vejiita headed a short way down the hallway and then made a left, back into the den he had just vacated, stopping to lean against the doorjamb. Goku slipped through the doorway and took several steps into the room, then stopped and swiveled to face Vejiita. Another awkward silence fell, Vejiita standing with his arms folded across his chest, Goku idly drumming his fingers against his thigh. Vejiitaís gaze was drawn to that movement, watching as the strong, tanned fingers tapped rhythmically against the denim covering Gokuís leg. Against his will, his eyes slid downward, taking in the areas where the jeans stretched tightly over hardened muscle, then returning to the other Saiya-jinís fingers. Vejiitaís mouth was dry as he forced himself to close his eyes, to keep from looking.

He vaguely heard Kakarrotís voice, and, opening his eyes again, only managed to catch the tail end of his statement. "...with Goten."

"What?" he said stupidly, focusing on Gokuís face. The other Saiya-jin shrugged, running his hand through his thick black hair, a faint smile on his lips. "I said I heard you were sparring with Goten. It was kind of obvious heíd been through a workout when he came home, and he told me about your fight."

Vejiita felt a flush creeping up his throat and he shifted his weight uneasily, wondering if Kakarrot was upset with him. He hadnít exactly gone easy on the boy. He hadnít done anything cruel or unreasonable, either, but he knew Kakarrot was extremely protective of his children.

"I," he began, then cleared his throat, "We went out after breakfast." He didnít add that heíd been more than ready for a workout after Mrs. Briefís antics. "Goten and Trunks thought they could defeat me if they worked together."

Goku grinned at him. "So he told me. Trunks didnít know youíd reached level three, huh?" He laughed. "I would have liked to see their expressions when you turned."

Vejiita relaxed slightly, finding that a slight smile was pulling at his lips as well. "Well, they had fused into Gotenks at the time, so I didnít see them, exactly."

He straightened up from the wall and moved further into the room, his arms dropping as he slid his hands into his pockets again. Goku smiled. "Iím glad you got him to fight you. He needed a good workout. I know I go too easy on him, but I canít seem to help it."

Vejiita looked at him in surprise, an odd feeling in his chest. "Youíre glad I fought him?"

Gokuís eyebrows furrowed slightly. "Sure. Why wouldnít I be?"

Vejiita coughed, lifting a shoulder uncomfortably. It just felt strange, that Kakarrot should be pleased to hear he had spent any time with his son, much less sparring with him. He frowned remembering the time several years ago when Krillen and Juuhachigo had wanted to go out. Since neither Goku or Gohan were able to watch Marron, Goku had innocently suggested they leave her with Vejiita. They had looked at him like he was crazy.

Goku was looking at him more intently now, obviously sensing that something was wrong. "Why would you think I wouldnít want you around Goten, Vejiita?"

"Because Iím not the kind of person most parents trust with their children!" Vejiita snapped, folding his arms again and avoiding Gokuís eyes. It was one thing for Kakarrot himself to be willing to be around him, another entirely for him to let his son do the same.

The other Saiya-jin frowned. "Of course I trust you, Vejiita," he said seriously, "I know youíd never hurt Goten."

Vejiita swallowed, turning his head to the side and biting his lip briefly, feeling oddly touched. Then he frowned, cursing himself for being a sentimental fool, and walked across the room to gaze out the window.

Goku watched him for a moment, then took several steps toward him, only to stumble slightly as his foot hooked on something. Vejiita turned to look at him as he twisted around and bent over, wrapping his fingers around the black cord that had caught his toes. The other Saiya-jin straightened, his brows furrowing in puzzlement as he held the cord up for Vejiita to look at. Hanging from one end was an odd grey device, strangely shaped.

"Whatís this?"

Vejiita rolled his eyes. "You havenít seen one before? Itís a device that is used for playing some kind of game on that thing." He pointed to the grey box below the TV, to which the other end of the cord was attached.

"A game?" Goku replied, looking slightly intrigued. "What kind of game?"

Vejiita sighed. "When you turn that box, I believe it is called a Playstation, on, along with the television, a screen comes up where you can choose characters and use those," he gestured to the object Goku was holding, "to control them."

"Oh yeah, yeah!" Goku exclaimed suddenly, his confusion vanishing as he realized what Vejiita was talking about. "A video game, or something."

Vejiita nodded. "Trunks always plays it with Goten when he comes over here."

"Huh. So whatís the point of the game?"

The Saiya-jin prince shrugged. "Apparently, your characters fight each other, and the point is simply to win the match."

Goku pursed his lips for a moment, looking down at the controller in his hand. Then he looked at Vejiita again and grinned. "Why donít we try it?"

Vejiita stared at him, wondering if heíd lost his mind. "What?"

"Yeah, come on," he urged, kneeling down to examine the Playstation. "Itíll probably be fun."

"Eh..." Vejiita began.

Goku twisted to look at him, his eyes glittering playfully. "What, are you afraid youíre going to lose?"

Vejiitaís own eyes narrowed and he glared at the other Saiya-jin. "Of course not!"

"Then letís go," Goku grinned.

Vejiita hesitated a moment longer, then growled under his breath and stalked over to the other Saiya-jin, dropping down on his knees beside him, catching the other cord in his fingers and pulling on it until the controller tumbled into sight. Goku curiously pushed the "Open" button on the Playstation, watching as the circular cover lifted to reveal the disk inside. He plucked it out, examining it briefly, then set it back inside and pressed the cover shut. Reaching across him, Vejiita pushed the power button on the television, snarling as some womanís face appeared on the screen and began screeching hysterically that her fiancť was having an affair. He immediately turned the volume all the way down.

Goku pressed the Power button on the Playstation, and the two waited for it to start. Nothing happened. Frowning, Goku turned the Playstation off, then back on again. Still nothing. They checked the little light on the grey box and found it to be glowing, signifying that it was hooked up, and they could, in fact, hear the CD turning. Goku looked at Vejiita for help.

The prince frowned, trying to remember what his son did when he wanted to play the game. "Hn," he said after a moment, "I think Trunks usually pushes another button on the television to start it."

They simultaneously leaned toward the row of buttons beneath the TV screen, nearly bumping heads in their attempt to read the lettering below each one.

"Ah!" Goku said after a moment. "It must be this one!"

Reaching out, he pushed the TV/video button. The screen darkened for a moment, then suddenly brightened to reveal a menu screen with an arrow currently pointing to the "Arcade" selection.

"There!" Goku cried triumphantly, turning up the volume and then scooting backward to lean against the base of the couch. Vejiita did the same, leaving several feet of space between them. Frowning, he experimentally pushed the button that looked like a downward-pointing arrow and was rewarded to see the cursor scroll down to the next selection, "Verses". Pushing it several more times, he watched the menu move through about five other options before returning to the first one they had seen, "Arcade".

"It must be Ďversusí," he said finally.

Goku nodded in agreement and, after glancing at the controller, Vejiita pushed the Ďstartí button.

A new screen came up, showing the portraits of about twenty different fighters, blinking boxes highlighting the ones they currently had selected.

"Well, how are we supposed to know who to choose?" Vejiita asked irritably. "It doesnít say anything about them."

Goku shrugged, grinning. "Who cares? Just pick anyone."

Sighing, Vejiita pushed the directional buttons a few times, then randomly selected one of the characters. Goku did the same, and before long the screen had changed again, showing their characters standing on the screen opposite each other. A male voice said enthusiastically, "Round one. Fight!"

For a moment they both sat staring at the screen. Then Vejiita looked down at his controller again and pushed several of the circular buttons on the right side. On the screen, his character simultaneously threw several punches and kicks.

"Just push the buttons, Kakarrot," he mumbled to the other Saiya-jin.

For while they did nothing but experiment with their controllers and watch what happened. Finally, Goku grinned and sent his character running at Vejiitaís, pushed the up arrow to make him jump and kicked at the same time. The character Vejiita was playing was knocked backward, and the health bar above his head went partly red.

"What?!" Vejiita snarled. Leaning forward slightly, he attacked Goku the same way, and before long the two were pushing buttons furiously, neither having any real idea what they were doing. The fight ended with Vejiitaís character knocked unconscious, the announcer declaring Goku the winner.

Hissing, Vejiita quickly chose a new character, Goku doing the same. More random button-pushing lead to the discovery that hitting the buttons in a certain pattern made their characters do specific moves. Goku howled in triumph when he finally landed one of these attacks on Vejiita, earning himself a smack from the Saiya-jin prince.

"Shut up, you fool!"

Several fights later, they were both becoming more refined in their techniques and deciding which characters they liked. Strangely caught up in the competition of playing the game, they completely lost track of time. They finally entered a fight where they seemed very evenly matched, the first round stretching to a ridiculous length before Goku finally knocked out Vejiitaís character.

"Dammit!" Vejiita snapped, lurching forward onto his knees as though that would help him play better. His tail whipped from side to side in agitation. Goku laughed out loud, also leaning toward the screen as the announcer began round two. This time Vejiitaís character emerged victorious, and Vejiita smirked while Goku yelped indignantly, scrambling to his feet.

When the final round began, they were both standing, teeth clenched, nearly growling in anticipation. The fight began and they lunged at each other, each voicing their hits or misses loudly. Neither noticed as their eyes turned aqua and their hair blazed gold, focused too intently on the television screen. Finally Vejiita landed a killing blow and Gokuís character slumped to the ground, defeated. Vejiita shouted in triumph, dropping the controller and grinning widely.

"Oh, come on!" Goku moaned, dropping his controller in a much more defeated fashion. "No way, I had you!"

"You lose, Kakarrot!" Vejiita smirked, sticking his finger in Gokuís face.

Suddenly the two actually looked at each other and stopped short, blinking as they realized they had both turned Super Saiya-jin.

"Huh," Goku said after a moment. "Well, I think thatís about enough of that."

Crouching down, he turned off the TV and the Playstation, then turned back to Vejiita. The princeís hair flickered into to black and he sank back to the floor, leaning against the couch again. Goku joined him, also releasing his SSJ form, and for a moment they both relaxed, their heads resting against the cushions as they gazed at the ceiling. Then, at almost exactly the same time, they rolled their heads to the side to look at each other.

After a moment of silence, Goku started laughing. Vejiita struggled to keep a straight face, but found that his lips would not obey him and grinned back. Gokuís eyes were sparkling.

"I canít believe we turned Super Saiya-jin."

Vejiita sighed, still smiling. "Hm. Well. Maybe I can understand why Trunks likes that so much after all."

Goku nudged him. "I told you it would be fun." He twisted to the side so he was facing Vejiita more fully, his elbow on the couch and his hand bracing his head. "You got a little worked up for a while when you were losing. I donít think Iíve ever heard that many swear words strung together in one sentence before."

Vejiita snorted. Then, unable to hold it back, he laughed out loud. "Hn, you turned Super Saiya-jin, too. Donít tell me you werenít into it."

Goku grinned. "I bet if we counted, I won more matches."

Vejiita grunted, wondering vaguely why he couldnít stop smiling. He allowed his head to roll back so he was facing the ceiling again. "Whatever, Kakarrot."

A relaxed silence fell. Vejiita could hear the clock ticking. He could hear Gokuís breathing, soft and even. Slowly, he became aware of how close they were now sitting. Gokuís knee was nearly touching his thigh, the arm braced on the couch only a few inches from his head. He could feel Kakarrotís eyes on him and took a shallow breath, forcing himself to keep his gaze on the ceiling. Then Kakarrotís fingers touched his cheek.

He caught his breath as Gokuís touch tipped his head to the side, toward the other Saiya-jin. The dark eyes that met his were tender, faintly questioning. He felt his heart beat accelerate and his breathing become louder as Gokuís fingers smoothed down his cheek, curling around his ear and then softly tracing his jawline. Vejiita couldnít look away from him. And then he bent his head, lightly touching his lips to Vejiitaís.

The contact was faint, the merest breath of warmth against his mouth, but Vejiita shivered violently, his eyes closing. Goku came back to him, more fully this time, his lips caressing, softly, gently, his hand slipping around to cradle Vejiitaís nape. The tender pressure of his lips begged for a response, and Vejiitaís mouth trembled open, granting entrance.

Goku kissed him like it was the first time, his tongue slipping gently between Vejiitaís lips as he tasted him with tender restraint, never rushing or asking Vejiita for anything he wasnít ready to give. Vejiitaís entire body was trembling, and Gokuís arms slid around to gently support him, his mouth playing over Vejiitaís very softly, even as the kiss deepened. Vejiitaís arms slid upward to wrap around his shoulders, his fingers clenching in Gokuís shirt, and he moaned against his lips as the other Saiya-jin pulled him closer.

Oh... God...

Vejiita made a soft sound as their bodies pressed together, a spasm sweeping him. Gokuís chest was solid against his and Vejiita could feel his heart keeping pace with his own. He could not think beyond the feeling of Gokuís mouth touching his; soft, warm lips caressing, coaxing, gently teasing. He tentatively met Gokuís tongue with his own, heated wetness twining together, and moaned again at the sensation.

He didnít know how long it had been before Goku drew back, nipping gently at his lips as he pulled away. Vejiitaís eyes opened and he stared up at him, his body still trembling as he gasped for breath. Gokuís face was only inches away as he gazed back down at him, his dark eyes searching. Bending his head, he dropped another light, brief kiss on Vejiitaís lips, lifting his hand to softly stroke Vejiitaís cheek.

"Are you all right?" he whispered finally.

It took Vejiita a moment to realize what he had said, his mouth opening as he tried to answer. But he found that he couldnít speak, his throat working silently as he struggled with himself. Goku remained silent, giving him time while he lightly kissed his chin.

"I-I-I..." Vejiita stammered finally, then blushed.

Gokuís eyes smiled at him for a moment before he lost sight of them, the other Saiya-jin lowering his head to briefly nuzzle his cheek, then brushing his lips along Vejiitaís jawline. A moment later Vejiita felt his mouth against his throat and his eyes closed again, his head falling backward. Goku traced a path up his neck with his tongue, then kissed his way back down, pausing to suckle gently, leaving a faintly red mark on Vejiitaís skin when he drew back slightly. Vejiita felt Gokuís fingers slide through his hair, then drop downwards to stroke his back. Gokuís lips softly brushed his eyes, moved to the side to kiss his temple.

The other Saiya-jin moaned quietly, pulling Vejiita tightly against him. "Oh, God... Vejiita..."

Vejiita pressed his forehead against Gokuís shoulder, breathing heavily as he tightened his arms around him. For a moment they didnít move, Goku holding him close and pressing his face to Vejiitaís hair. Then the other Saiya-jin set him back slightly, lowering his head and kissing Vejiitaís collarbone, his fingers making soothing circles against Vejiitaís back. Vejiita panted lightly as Goku ran his tongue over the place his lips had just kissed, pressing his head back into the soft cushions of the couch.

"Kakarrot..." he whispered, his throat tight. He couldnít believe what was happening. This was different... different than the other times Goku had touched him. It had never been... so slow, so very gentle. Before it had always been blind instinct; they had acted recklessly and without thought. Now they were both aware; he knew what was happening, what Goku was doing. He felt every touch, the sweep of Gokuís breath against his skin, the pressure of his fingertips against his back....

Gokuís touch slid around, his hand splaying over Vejiitaís stomach. Slowly, he traced the ridges of muscle, slipping his fingers along the waistband of Vejiitaís jeans, then letting his hand travel upward to rest against Vejiitaís chest.

Lifting his head, Goku kissed him again, flicking his tongue over Vejiitaís lips before pulling back to look at him. His eyes searched Vejiitaís face, a question in their depths as they slid over his features.

"Youíre all right?" he asked again, his voice soft. Vejiita could feel Kakarrotís fingers idly stroking his chest through the fabric of his shirt.

"I..." he whispered, searching wildly for the right response, trying to remember what he was supposed to say, what he would normally say. But he could only find the truth. "Yes... I-Iím... Yes."

With a quiet sigh Goku leaned forward and kissed him again, lightly, his lips coaxing a response from Vejiita who slowly kissed him in return. Vejiitaís body tightened as he felt Gokuís hand flatten against his chest, his splayed fingers curving over hardened muscle. Gradually, his hand slipped downward, caressing, and then his fingers fluttered over Vejiitaís nipple.

"Ah," Vejiita gasped softly, his eyes closing and his head tipping backward. A low moan, nearly a growl escaped him as Goku gently massaged the sensitive area through his shirt, teasing the little bud to hardness. Vejiita fought the urge to squirm, his body shivering against the couch as he kept his eyes closed, feeling Gokuís lips brush his throat.

The Saiya-jinís other hand slid down his back, and Vejiita half-stiffened, then cried out, his body arching forward as Gokuís fingers threaded through the fur at the base of his tail. He groaned, clenching his teeth as the other Saiya-jin ruffled his fur, lightly sifting through the soft brown strands.

Vejiita was hardly aware that he was in Gokuís lap, straddling the other Saiya-jinís thighs as he clung to him tightly, pressing their bodies together. He nearly whimpered as Gokuís other hand joined the first on his tail, fingers stroking and caressing until he was gasping for breath. Unable to help himself, he pressed breathless kisses along Gokuís jaw, down his neck, his hands smoothing over Gokuís back. Driven by something he didnít understand, Vejiita reached up, his fingers catching the collar of Gokuís shirt and pulling it aside to bare the skin beneath. Panting softly, unconsciously rocking his hips against the other Saiya-jinís, Vejiita trailed his lips downward until he found the point where Gokuís neck met his shoulder. Growling quietly, he opened his mouth, bathing the skin with his tongue and felt the vibration as Goku moaned softly. Acting on instinct, Vejiitaís lips curled upward and he lightly scraped Gokuís skin with his teeth; a prelude to something else. Then he froze.

Oh my God, what am I doing? What am I doing here, like this?

He slowly realized how he was sitting, realized that his other hand was threaded through Gokuís hair, his lips against Gokuís neck. Sudden despair flooded through him. Kakarrot was touching him, touching him in a way that he had almost believed wasnít possible. But it was wrong, it shouldnít happen. He didnít deserve it.

A choked sob escaped him and he struggled clumsily to pull away from the other Saiya-jin.

"Stop... Kakarrot, stop, please," he whispered, his throat aching.

This canít be happening. He doesnít realize... what heís doing. I donít deserve this, he shouldnít be doing this... Not for me.

Slowly, Gokuís hands fell away from his tail to rest on Vejiitaís thighs and the other Saiya-jin lifted his head, his dark eyes pained. "Vejiita," he whispered, his voice tight, "Whatís wrong? Iím sorry, I didnít-"

With a bitter, wrenching laugh that turned into a sob halfway Vejiita twisted away from him, pressing back against the couch and away from his touch. "Donít be stupid, Kakarrot. It wasnít you..."

"What... what is it?" Goku asked, his voice worried, "Vejiita, please... please donít do this. Tell me. If it was me, thatís... thatís all right, Iíll understand. I will. But-"

"It wasnít you!" Vejiita snapped, his voice rough, wondering vaguely why he felt the need to reassure the other Saiya-jin.

Vejiita felt Gokuís hand touch his shoulder and flinched, jerking away from the contact. "Stop," he whispered. "Donít touch me, Kakarrot, you shouldnít. You shouldnít..."

Clenching his teeth he pressed his face into the cushions of the couch, telling himself that he would not cry, not again.

"I shouldnít...?" Goku repeated, his voice uncertain. "Why... why not?"

Vejiita groaned, his body shuddering. "Donít you understand, you fool!? Iím not... not right. For any of this. I donít want you to touch me because youíre defiling yourself. You have... some kind of deluded idea that Iím a good person, that maybe I was misunderstood, that-" Vejiitaís voice broke as he lost the battle with his tears, but he continued anyway, the words tumbling out of him. "Iím not. I am evil Kakarrot, you donít know... You have no idea... some of the things I have done... I have killed.... thousands of people, more people than you can imagine, for years... And I..." His hands clenched into fists, the muscles in his arms trembling. "I still... feel... this anger sometimes. I know it is still there, that rage that lets me kill without mercy... You donít understand, you canít possibly. If you knew, really, the things inside me... You would want to kill me yourself."

Vejiita hunched forward slightly, his tail wrapping around his waist. "But you are innocent. You... You believe in me, I donít know why. But youíre wrong, Kakarrot. There is nothing inside me that is worth redeeming. Youíre bright and pure, and.... if you just leave me alone youíll stay that way. Please..." Vejiita swiped at the tears that marred his cheeks, smearing them across his skin. "Please, Kakarrot... I-I..."

There was a very long silence. Vejiita shivered with the effort to contain the bitter grief he felt, closing his eyes and remaining curled against the couch with his back to Goku. His body tightened sharply when he once more felt Gokuís hand on his shoulder.

"Vejiita..." the other Saiya-jin said quietly, "why do you do this to yourself? I donít understand how... how you... Youíre not evil, donít you see? Look at how... You... youíve changed so much... You are... You are the most-"

"Stop!" Vejiitaís voice was a harsh whisper. "No, Kakarrot, you donít understand. You didnít see, you werenít there. You donít know the things that I know. Just... believe me when I tell you that I... I am wrong. Believe me when I tell you that there is s.. something twisted inside me. And just.... l-leave me alone."

Again, the silence was heavy. Vejiita swallowed, folding his arms over his chest and pulling his knees toward himself. When he spoke his voice was barely audible. "Go away, Kakarrot."

There was a slight rustle as Goku shifted uncertainly. "I... Vejiita..."

"Leave me alone!" Vejiita snarled.

Several seconds tripped by before Vejiita heard Goku slowly climb to his feet. The other Saiya-jinís voice was a strained whisper. "All right."

Vejiita felt something cold clench in his chest, but he refused to turn and look, refused to acknowledge Gokuís statement, remaining curled against the couch. He heard the faint sound of Gokuís footsteps as the Saiya-jin quietly left the room, and a few moments later the front door closed softly.

Vejiita took a shallow gasping breath, resting his forehead on his knees. Heíd wanted Goku to leave. It was what heíd wanted, what heíd told him to do. But then, why did he feel like this? Why did some part of him somehow wish Goku had refused? He almost felt abandoned, almost betrayed. But that was ridiculous. This was what he had asked for.

Slowly, he dragged himself onto the couch and lay on his stomach, his throat achingly tight. It was better like this anyway. Maybe heíd made Kakarrot understand, just a little. He was not the kind of person someone like Goku needed. He knew it was true. Kakarrot was light where he was darkness. Kakarrot was innocence where he was corruption. He did not question it. And if Kakarrot believed him, they were both better off for it. But it still hurt.

Vejiitaís grief finally escaped him in painful, wrenching sobs, tearing his throat raw. God, he wished... Heíd wanted... But it didnít matter. Love was not for him. Life was not for him, he no longer had any right to claim it. And on a level he didnít wish to acknowledge, a level he pushed into a deep corner of his subconscious, heíd thought if Kakarrot had stayed there might have been hope for him. If Goku had... believed in him enough, that it might have been true. But Goku had left. And it was better that way. It was the way it should be. There was no redemption for him, it was just a fleeting hope, a product of wishful thinking. He had known, really, that this would be his truth.

But it hurt.


Trunks pushed open the door of the house, grinning as he shrugged out of his jacket and turned to place it on one of the hooks by the door. The party had gone pretty smoothly until a couple of hot-headed jocks had gotten drunk. Theyíd started a brawl and ended up challenging Trunks. His grin widened. Heíd rather enjoyed himself.

Itís good to be a Saiya-jin, he laughed to himself, remembering the astonishment on their faces. Or a half-Saiya-jin....

Running a hand through his hair in an attempt to straighten it after his wild flight, he slipped quietly down the hallway, glancing into the den on his way to his bedroom. He almost continued on his way, then suddenly froze, taking several steps backward and looking again, his lips parting in silent shock.

His father was curled up on the couch, his face pressed against the cushions, and it looked like he was shaking. For a moment Trunks told himself that it couldnít possibly be what it seemed, that it was completely ridiculous and he should just keep heading toward his room. And then he heard Vejiita sobbing.

Trunks gasped faintly, his eyes widening as his chest tightened and he slowly crept forward into the room, moving until he was standing beside the couch, looking down at the Saiya-jin prince who was yet unaware of his presense. Wondering frantically what could have brought his father to this, Trunks reached out slightly, stopping just short of actually touching the prince.

"Dad?" he whispered, his voice taught with concern.

Vejiita stiffened, the muscles in his back tightening visibly as he choked back his tears, his fingers sinking into the soft leather cushions. He didnít look up.

"Shimata," he whispered after a moment, slowly drawing his knees beneath him until he was in a semi-upright position, though he was still hunched over. His breathing was ragged and uneven, his body shuddering as he tried to contain the sobs that wanted to keep coming.

Trunks sank down on the couch beside him, daring to set his hand on Vejiitaís back. "Dad...? What happened? Whatís wrong?"

After a quiet gasp for breath Vejiita whispered, "Nothing... Trunks. Just... let me be..."

Trunks ignored the request, not about to leave his father alone like this. He shifted slightly, his arm moving to wrap around Vejiitaís shoulders. "No, Dad... what is it?"

Vejiita pressed his face to his hands. "Trunks, I canít... I canít tell you this... Itís not... I canít... please..."

Trunks shook his head slightly, still badly wanting to know what was going on, but it was more important that he help his father right now.

"Thatís all right, Dad," he whispered. He could feel Vejiitaís body trembling, feel the anguish simmering beneath the surface. It seemed unreal that this could be his arrogant, invincible father. Deeply concerned, he pulled the prince into his embrace, despite his low-throated protest, holding him so Vejiitaís head was on his shoulder.

"Itís all right... Itís all right, Daddy," he murmured, vaguely astonished that the endearment had escaped his lips. He could feel something else, feel that somehow Vejiita desperately needed reassurance. "Itís all right... I love you."

Vejiita shivered violently, an agonized sound escaping him, and Trunks felt the moist heat of his fatherís tears dampening his shirt. Tightening his arms around him, Trunks rocked gently, wondering how it was that he had become the comforter. Vejiita had always been so strong; if anyone had cried it had been Trunks. But that didnít matter right now. Soothing whatever was hurting his father was all that was important.

Closing his eyes, Trunks held him close.


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