Chapter two

Zarbon was nearly bowled over by an absolutely livid Jeice and sullen Dodoria as he came around the last bend of the long corridor that led to Lord Frieza’s chambers.

Looking up at the taller man with hate-filled eyes--red face purple with rage, the seething member of the Ginyu Force snarled, “You knew I wanted the little monkey prince. I’ve never even seen you give him a second glance. Hope you know how to put him to good use.” With that he shoved past the startled Megalian and out of sight.

Zarbon felt a faint apprehension fist in his gut. Somehow that last comment had seemed like a threat. He brought his right hand up to flip his braid over his shoulder in agitation.

Dodoria didn’t bother speaking to him at all. His larger counterpart merely nodded his neckless head curtly and went off in search of some comfort food.

~Twelve years of staying on everyone’s good side shot to hell.~

He entered his master’s apartments to see the changeling sitting in his hover chair with an unreadable expression on his face. Even after a dozen years in his employ, the ice lord never ceased to awe him. Cunning…brutal…perhaps a bit mad, he was definitely power-hungry; but he was also capable of great generosity to those who served him loyally. Working for him these many years had been the happiest time of Zarbon’s life. Dread overcame him with the possibility that Lord Frieza might be displeased with him and he bit his upper lip in consternation.

As if sensing the reason for his subordinate’s discomfort, Frieza broke into his more characteristic grin--his white teeth flashing in stark contrast to his purple lips--and chirped, “I guess you ran into the unhappy petitioners on your way in. They were less than pleased to hear that Vegeta would be moving in with you—although Dodoria wasn’t so much surprised as he was disappointed.” He motioned Zarbon into a chair with a tilt of his horned head before continuing. “As for Jeice…I’d have to say you’ve made an enemy in that one. He’s been sniffing after our little Saiyan for a couple years now and isn’t taking too well to having his plans thwarted.”

Stepping off the hover chair, the changeling walked quickly in the direction of his inner sanctuary. Before the deceptively small form disappeared from view he said conspiratorily, “I believe I have something to help smooth things over with Dodoria.”

Zarbon didn’t have long to ponder on what Frieza had in mind as it was only a scant couple of minutes before he reappeared with a long rectangular box wrapped in a bright red tinfoil. Seeming inordinately pleased with himself, he set the box before his companion.

Puzzled, Zarbon asked, “What…?”

“It’s a box of candied Belltower blossoms. Dodoria sampled one of these on Arteris last year when we were picking up some supplies for our mess--You know how enamored of sweets he is. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any available in stock as the Belltower plant only flowers for a week on Cappilus after the rainy season.” Pausing before smiling smugly he went on, “I figured this might make a special present for Dodoria at some point so I made sure to reserve a box ahead of time and have them ship it to me. It arrived just two weeks ago.” With his explanation finished he looked at Zarbon for praise.

“Thank you my lord. You spoil us all.”

Sometimes the ice lord acted almost child-like. But being the favored son of an indulgent father, it was perhaps to be anticipated. He had been denied nothing and therefore expected everything. Still, he was perfectly willing to share…as long as he dictated what games were to be played.

“I’m afraid that a box of candy won’t help you with Jeice,” the changeling said, facade serious once more. “He seems to feel that there is a motive besides lust in your unexpected interest in the Saiyan prince.” Peering intensely at the golden orbs of the Megalian, Frieza commented offhandedly, “I must admit that your request surprised me as well.” As if in idle curiosity he queried, “Why did you step forward? I wasn’t aware that you and Vegeta had any association beyond the work environment.”

~How do I respond?~ Words and their impact had been a large part of his business the years in Frieza’s employ so he fell into them nearly effortlessly.

“We don’t my lord….But I do find him attractive.” Looking directly into the scarlet eyes of his master, Zarbon continued almost in apology, “I’ve found myself longing for some physical intimacy at this point in my life. I wouldn’t have seriously considered the prince at this juncture due to his youth, but after hearing Dodoria and Jeice express their own desires, I thought I might also ask for claim to him. Vegeta’s young but he’ll soon physically be an adult. It might as well be me to take advantage of that.”

Zarbon silently thanked the gods that this explanation seemed to be what his lord had hoped to hear as Frieza was once again smiling. However, he was reminded of the ice lord’s capricious nature when he then announced somewhat ominously, “Make sure that you do take advantage. Jeice will be watching the development of your relationship very closely.”

Peace offering tucked securely under his arm, Zarbon left to find Dodoria. As he did he found himself pondering what he had told Lord Frieza. He couldn’t very well tell his master that he had felt compelled to speak up to protect the boy from the unwelcome advances of Jeice and Dodoria…No…He had to say he wanted the boy for his own gratification. But it wasn’t the frightening concept that he could lie to the tyrant that was disturbing him the most at the moment. It was the realization that there had been some truth in what he had said. Even as the words had left his mouth, he had felt the dawning of comprehension. ~Incredible. I...I am attracted…to that boy.~

Meanwhile, the boy in question was busily stuffing his possessions into a travel bag. ~Damn that fucking lizard, his army of perverts and the twisted humor of fate.~

He had hoped that his time in the training facility-- punching and kicking the crap out of the five cocky soldiers who had been foolish enough to accept his challenge-- would have given him some small sense of satisfaction. But even the music of bones crunching and the perfume of blood and sweat brought him no relief. The Prince of Saiyans was a servant…vulnerable to the whims of a lunatic authority.

And now he had to face his men. What would Nappa and Raditz think of him now. Although he was just a child when they had all been made homeless, he was their prince…and he was strong. They had always treated him with deference. Would they still see him the same way? Or would they finally see a boy too weak to defend his own honor…too weak to follow with the blind loyalty he had seemed to instill in them? He punched his mattress in his frustration, sending the bed crashing to the floor.

Bursting through the doors to his quarters, Nappa and Raditz appeared before him, ready to do battle against any threat to their leader.

“My prince. Are you okay? We heard a crash. What happened?” This from Raditz who was already relaxing when he noticed no visible threat to his sovereign.

Nappa grinned at the young man after eyeing the bed on the floor and said, “A bit too forceful beating the lumps out of the mattress, I see.”

Nappa had known the young prince his entire life and felt more comfortable joking with him than Raditz did. The interactions between Raditz and Vegeta had maintained an air of formality to them even after ten years. What the towering bald Saiyan failed to comprehend (which seemed all too clear to Raditz) was the simmering resentment the prince held within. They were his guards—older than he. Yet he had been the one to protect them.

Ignoring the questions and comment Vegeta decided to just come out with it.

Arms folded over his chest, he said, “You will be moving to your new quarters on deck two when it has been renovated. I will be moving tonight.”

“Wow! What have we done to warrant a move to the pampered pet’s housing?” asked Nappa.

Cheeks reddening slightly at the question, Vegeta merely said, “You’ll be informed of the time of your move. I suspect it will only be a couple days. Be ready.”

“But what about you my lord? Are your quarters prepared?” asked Nappa.

With just a slight hesitation Vegeta responded, “I will be sharing quarters with Zarbon.”

“What…you’re not serious. Why--?”

Interrupting Nappa before the idiot could embarrass their prince further, Raditz bowed to Vegeta and said, “As you wish highness.” He had not missed the quick flash of shame in the boy’s black eyes. If only there wasn’t this class difference between them….If only they could be friends…If only Vegeta wasn’t Vegeta. Perhaps then he could have comforted him. As it stood he did the best he could. He took Nappa away with him and left Vegeta with some shreds of his dignity.

Prince Vegeta stared after the backs of the two larger Saiyans for several minutes before picking up his possessions and heading to the door. Then he stepped out of his chambers and began the walk to his future.

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