Caught in the Act
Act One: The Cast
Goten was silently grateful for the navy blue blazer that shielded his broad frame against the early Autumn wind. His foot kicked idly at the brilliant crimson and gold product of the season, never breaking his stride, and sent the leaves scattering in several different directions, only to be caught and tossed by the very breeze he walked against. Hitching the padded strap of his book bag further up one shoulder, the young demi-Saiyan strode purposefully down the shaded asphalt lane, broken with diluted rays of afternoon sunlight that sliced through the patchwork frame of trees above him, casting soft grey shadows on the edges of his vision. Sure, he could have flown, but the day was too beautiful to take for granted, and so the youngest Son found himself virtually skipping down the road to Capsule Corporation.
It felt like absolute ages since he'd seen Trunks, and the prospect of meeting with the older boy had his stomach in an intricate knot work of uneasiness. They still spoke occasionally over the phone, though those precious moments had dwindled down to almost nothing since both had started school about two weeks ago. A scowl graced his youthful features as the thought flit across his wandering mind. Ever since his mother had placed him unwillingly into a private school.
Following the nature curve of the road, Goten disregarded the dark thought and found himself smiling widely as the first glint of sunlit white shone off the domed roof of his destination. Absently jerking the bag more firmly onto his shoulder, Goten quickened his step, relishing the comfortable sound of crunching leaves beneath his feet and the gentle wind in his ebony hair.
"Damn piece of shit..." Vegeta swore quietly, leaning farther over the mechanical contraption and putting forth a valiant effort to fit the tiny silver screw into the even smaller hole that was designed to hold it. For the thousandth time since he had sat down in his task, he cursed the absent mother of his children. Holding his lower lip tightly beneath his teeth, the Saiyan prince ceased all breathing and movement, focusing intently on the matter at hand. The driver in his hand turned obediently with the careful flicks of his wrist, fastening the plastic cover back into place. With a satisfied smirk, the man straightened his posture, the hands still curled around the various tools of his labour moving to rest on his hips. Nodding once, he bent again to examine the row of grey buttons that compiled the top of the machine. Furrowing his brow in concentration, one finger lifted to jab at the largest triangular shaped object containing the depressed indent of a small square.
Immediately his ears where assaulted with the loud, booming bass of one of his daughter's wretched CDs, still lodged within the closed compartment. Baring his teeth, the prince moved to turn down the volume, though only succeeded in worsening his predicament as a woman's husky voice broke through the pulsating beat-
Oh baby, baby...how was I supposed to know that something wasn't right...
Pausing above the button he knew would silence the debilitating noise, Vegeta stole a glance around the deserted kitchen. The woman was out, his son and daughter still at school...Unconsciously, his left foot began to tap in time to the horrendous beat.
Show me how you want it to be.
Tell me, baby, cause I need to know now!
Because, my loneliness, is killing me.
And I must confess I still believe (Still believe!)
When I'm not with you I lose my mind-
Give me a sign!
Hit me baby, one more time!
The youngest Son bit the inside of his lip, brow drawn in a moment of indecision. He'd pressed the little round circle twice already, listening intently for any response to the resounding ding of the doorbell. Music beating a soft cadence from within was the only indication that someone was at home. Moving closer to the wooden frame, he could almost make out the words of the song. Must be Bra, he mused, picking out the heavy tempo and chipmunk voice of the pop star the little girl loved so much. Shaking his head, Goten reached for the handle-no one would mind if he simply walked through the door. He'd had an open invitation to do so from the moment he and Trunks had been brought home from Kindergarten, scuffed and bloody after unsuccessfully trying to spar on the playground. Both families had realized the ultimate futility of attempting to keep the demi-Saiyans apart. Even Vegeta had overcome his irritation enough to allow his son to interact with "Kakarott's brat".
Stepping over the threshold, Goten was at once awash with the scent he had unconsciously been yearning for. This is home, he thought, rotating slightly to shut the door behind him, kicking out the mischievous leaves that danced inside, coaxed by the light rush of air his entrance created. This was were he had spent countless hours-hours that had bled into years of his youth. Here was a home that had a mother that didn't yell or constantly complain, and a father...
Inhaling deeply the interwoven aroma of Bulma's perfume and the ammonia based cleaner her robots used when picking up the house, Goten faintly recognized the undertone of something muskier that he had instinctually craved...Ever since Gohan finally told mom to go to hell and walked out the door...
The scent of another Saiyan. Three to be exact, one of which he was currently sensing from the direction of the kitchen.
Hiking the bag higher on his shoulder, Goten moved from the doorway and toward the source of both the sound and the smell that played a game of remembrance with his senses.
...There's nothing that I wouldn't do...
"Oh, Dende-sama..." his whisper was more of an enraptured exhale of shock. The concept of time was an alien thought in the boy's muddled mind as he watched the man he could almost call father dance to his daughter's favourite song.
Show me how you want it to be. Tell me baby, cause I need to know now!
Vegeta's slender hips had captured the rhythm perfectly, the tail that had grown back over a decade ago complimenting the erotic movement with long, sensuous sweeps of the air behind him. Those sculpted arms were pulled tightly to his body, and his hands...Goten finally found the muscle strength to swallow, saliva wetting a path down an uncomfortably dry mouth. The Saiyan prince was running his hands over his own figure in the most sexual fashion the demi-Saiyan had ever witnessed. Even when he and Trunks had managed to wire up the Spice channel in the Cable to his room upstairs, the young man had never seen such an arousing sight. No woman he had ever laid eyes upon had ever danced like this...It was like the prince was worshipping his body with his own hands, caressing the smooth, flawless skin in fluid motions of pure, animal grace.
...When I'm not with you I lose my mind-Give
me a sign!
Hit me, baby, one more time!
Goten's first sensation, when his brain finally began to respond to his silent, insistent screams of embarrassment, was of heat. The foreign fire that sparked in his loins, that, until this moment, had been reserved for the son of the man he now found himself unable to stop drooling over, and the rush of blood that surged to his face left him light-headed and breathless. With a violent shake of his head, the boy forced his gawking mouth to close. Dende, this man was like a father to him! Although...bless their Saiyan heritage; Vegeta looked barely half his fifty years.
Oh baby, baby...I shouldn't have let you go...
The music suddenly slowed considerably, dropping in volume. The revolution of the Saiyan's hips matched the pace, his incredibly built arms sliding up his body...
I must confess-my loneliness, is killing me now!
Entwining above his head to lock seductively behind his neck...
Don't you know I still believe!
Only to slide down his chest, over his denim-clad thighs...
That you will be here and give me a sign...
Continuing downward, his nimble body bending in half, giving the Son an excellent view of his rear...
That's it, Vegeta, Goten found himself thinking as his dark head bent with the beautiful figure before him, famished eyes devouring every single movement. Just a little further...
Although Vegeta had admittedly loosened up over his years of living on the miserable little planet he reluctantly dubbed home, he had never allowed himself to become so utterly relaxed. The thick, upbeat vibration that flowed from the little black box on the table surrounded his form, enticing his hips to move, his hands to follow, until all that remained still and unmoving were his feet on the floor. Even his tail was caressed by the infectious notes, snapping and waving in time to the cadence. He lost himself in the melody, dark eyes closing, the hard lines fading from his severe features as his body responded to the music.
Hit me baby, one more time!
The song was winding down, the pulsating tempo receding to a dull thumping rhythm. Goten has ceased all coherent thought, his adolescent hormones ravaging his poor mind until all he acknowledged was the sight of the man before him, though part of him absently wondered what Vegeta would do if he took the song's advice and slapped him on the ass... The fingers gripping his canvas bag grew slack; it slid, forgotten, off his shoulder and landed on the hard wood floor with an audible thud.
Instantly, Vegeta's body snapped into an upright position, brown tail coiling around his waist, deadly black eyes seeking the origin of the sound and the person that dared to interrupt him.
Goten froze, a rabbit pinned beneath the iron gaze of the wolf. He had no breath to draw, no heart to beat, as though remaining impeccably motionless could somehow throw the other man off his trail. With a final series of notes, the song ended, the player leaving them in deathly silence. Before another could begin, the prince reached over with a measure of practiced control and pressed the stop button, the CD winding down with a flurry of soft sound.
Shifting his feet uncertainly, the boy cast his wide eyes swiftly down, immediately discarding his irrational desire in favour of stark embarrassment.
Damn the boy's weak ki! Vegeta mentally swore, berating himself for letting his guard down completely enough for the demi-Saiyan to walk in entirely undetected. If Goten had been his father, this never would have happened. I could feel Kakarott from a mile away...But the boy wasn't his nemesis, and Vegeta had gotten used to his presence over the years-the quiet, willing figure that had tagged along in the shadow of his own son. He had the most insane urge to throw the offending machine against the far wall. Sighing, he released the young man's gaze. Then he'd have to fix the damn thing again. It wasn't worth it...
"What do you want?" Goten's eyes focused trailed up hesitantly from their blank stare on the floor. Bringing them to rest on those of the Saiyan prince, the young Son noticed exactly how difficult this was for the other man as well. He silently admired that Vegeta had the voice to speak after being caught in such a...compromising and uncharacteristic act. Black orbs widened ever so slightly as a fiery scarlet splashed the prince's well-defined cheekbones. Goten had never seen the man blush before. It was...awkward. Swallowing thickly, he fleetingly remembered the time he and an eight-year-old Trunks had accidentally walked in on the conception of his best friend's sister. Vegeta hadn't even bothered to pause in the act, let alone blushed, only thrown a pillow at the two slack-jawed boys and growled something unintelligible that one didn't have to be a genius to understand.
The beginnings of a smile dashed across his handsome Son features as the crimson stain intensified in the heavy silence, washing over his face and creeping down the prince's elegant throat. He couldn't help but think the man was kind of cute when he blushed...
Crossing his arms, Vegeta eyed the boy he had raised along side his own son, heartily attempting to quench the fire in his face. His natural scowl deepened as the boy regarded him with a look that the prince was hard pressed to identify. Before he could ponder it, the glance was gone, replaced by that infuriating Son smile that had become the bane of his royal existence.
"Well?" He snapped, irritated and at the end of his insufferably short rope. He was finished with feeling like he was on display for the boy's amusement.
The front door slammed, jarring the uncomfortable silence and causing tense muscles to jerk, his thumping heart to skip an unneeded beat. It was rapidly followed by an enthusiastic, girlish cry.
"Papa!" Vegeta's dark fathomless eyes blessedly left his own, sliding down to the little blue-haired streak that ran past him. With more speed than his eyes could follow, Bra was in her father's powerful arms, small white stockinged legs wrapped around his waist.
"Did you fix it?" Her feminine voice was pitched higher than he remembered. The little girl that had once been nothing more than a bundle in those thick arms was still small, but growing like a weed. No, make that a flower. She had inherited her mother's delicate frame, but artistically granted her father's devilish eyes. Both children had been graced with the blood chilling Saiyan glare.
Nodding, the prince hefted his daughter as if she were weightless, resting her against his hip and turning her toward the table. Greedy hands reached out to collect the cherished CD player, cradling the large object against her chest. With a genuine smile of affection, the girl planted a sloppy kiss on her father's cheek before squirming out of his arms and running to the door, burden held awkwardly in her small arms.
Skidding to a halt, Bra regarded the other demi-Saiyan with narrow, searching eyes. Goten couldn't help but notice the resemblance she held toward the elder Saiyan in the room and released a breath he hadn't realized he was holding as she broke into a broad grin.
"Goten-kun!" One arm was automatically thrown haphazardly around his waist, the machine balanced precariously between their bodies. With a laugh, Goten embraced the younger demi-Saiyan, squeezing her back with as much force as she had mustered in her tiny little frame. Struggling with the breath that was knocked carelessly from his body, the boy reflected that she even if she looked deceptively like her mother, Bra was definitely just like her father.
And then she was gone as fast as she had arrived, black shoes
clacking in a patter of running steps all the way up the stairs
to her room and mingling with the echo that lingered after her
energy-filled form had disappeared.
Silence descended like a black velvet curtain between the two men.
Clearing his dry throat, Goten gathered his courage and opened his mouth to speak.
"You fixed that? I thought Bulma did that kind of thing..." Vegeta seemed to physically relax as the boy spoke. Well, as relaxed as one could appear with an arms crossed stance and stern, piercing glare. He's probably just glad I didn't bring it up...though I'd love to compliment him on it. Nah. He'd probably beat me into the ground. Giving the young Son his back, the prince turned his attention to the kitchen table, occupying himself with cleaning the resulting mess of his labour.
"Woman's not here." Reaching down with one hand to grasp at the strap of his book bag, Goten let it dangle at his side as he made his way into the room.
"Did she have to work late again?" Vegeta's obvious snort of amusement snagged the wandering strand of his attention and he settled his black eyes on the smirking face of his best friend's father. A smile quirked at the edges of his lips as he set down his bag beside the leg of the table, pulling out a chair and seating himself comfortably within it's metal frame.
"What?" The prince's only response to his inquiry was to chuckle harder, hands skillfully collecting the small screwdrivers needed to repair such an intricately made piece of equipment. With a long, sweeping gesture, Vegeta scooped the half dozen meandering screws into his opposite hand. Glancing up at him over the raven ridge of his brow, the man gave him a conspiratorial grin.
"Yeah, working. I guess fucking your customers is like work, ne, boy?" Goten's jaw dropped, his mouth fumbling with nonexistent words. Leaning forward on his elbows, the Son couldn't help but whisper, as though seeking to hide the information from...who? Her husband apparently already knew her whereabouts.
"You're kidding! Bulma-san's having an affair?" The man nodded his affirmation, dumping his handful of small grey objects into the trash, a tiny shower of glittering silver. Goten really had been gone too long..."Well--well how do you know?"
Vegeta grinned ferally, hands braced against the slick surface of the table; the prince leaned forward until he was no more than a foot away from the demi-Saiyan's wide obsidian eyes.
"I can smell it on her."
Swallowing sharply, Goten sat back abruptly, hitting the chair with enough force to leave vertical, bar-shaped indents in the soft flesh of his back. Those eyes...it was all too easy to get lost in their inky depths. And that savage glint that lit the darkness within them was disturbing. Maybe because of its animal nature, though the boy knew subconsciously that it was because of the pure Saiyan quality that it held. A Saiyan virtue whose absence had been tearing at the filmy walls of his suffering humanity.
With another grunt and a lingering glance, the prince stood,
dusting his hands off on the faded denim of his blue jeans.
"Why are you here?"
Hn. Stupid Kakarott. If he had been around more and trained him properly, the damn kid wouldn't be so jumpy. Vegeta watched the friend of his eldest offspring with an interested air. He'd gotten a certain amount of satisfaction in shocking the boy-though that was one of his most coveted past times. It kept people on their toes and gave the prince a tactical advantage.
"I came by to see Trunks." The demi-Saiyan bent to retrieve something from the blue bag at his feet, ripping open the zipper. His dark head bobbed along the edge of the table as his hands sorted through the mess of his schoolwork. The rustle of papers and the sharp smack of books hitting the floor greeting the ears of the Saiyan prince. "I know it's in here somewhere..."
"He's not here." The boy's head rose slowly over the horizon of the table's edge, dark eyes filled with intense disappointment.
"Oh..." Long fingers gripped thoughtlessly at a paperback book in his hands, nervously flicking the tattered corners. "But he said..."
Vegeta's eyes narrowed. If his boy had broken another commitment, he was going to be pissed.
Goten forced the lump in his throat to dissolve enough to allow him speech, mistaking the warning tone in the prince's voice to be directed at himself.
"It's no big deal. He just said that he'd meet me after school today, to help me on a project..." The Son forced himself to shrug nonchalantly. "S'ok. He must have gotten the days confused, is all."
Vegeta's annoyed growl caused him to drop the book he was holding; it lay on the surface between them, the only thing besides the table itself that separated them. Goten may have grown up around the unpredictable Saiyan prince, but he had had his moments of abject terror in his youth when it came to the other man's actions. His mind engaged in a swift rundown of all the ways he could escape the building, should it come between fight or flight.
The prince swore fluently, fists curling in agitation. When would the boy start acting like the prince he was? It was dishonourable for royalty to break their word unless survival was at stake. And looking at the boy across from him, the man knew that he was no match for his heir. No, Trunks had not forgotten his meeting with Goten. He had simply chosen not to mind it.
Vowing to have a...talk with his son when he came home, the Saiyan prince carefully regarded the boy in front of him. He was trying so hard to hold the pretense of indifference. With a father like his, one could hardly blame him. Vegeta was sure that Goten had been given plenty of practice when it came to shouldering his disappointment.
"What do you need him for?" Shimmering ebony eyes blinked back an unwanted watery intrusion. Silently commending his effort to be strong in the face of obvious disenchantment, the prince awaited his response with something akin to paternal concern.
Goten wiped the back of his sleeve across the burning redness of his eyes. He wasn't about to break down in front of the man he admired most in the world and cry like a baby. Stifling a sniff, the young Son slowly pushed out of his chair. There was no reason to stay now...his stomach ignited in a panicking blaze of nervous agony. He really didn't want to go home. It was so...dark, and lonely, a complete and utter contrast to the brightly lit room he stood in. Hell, even if Vegeta and Bulma weren't on the best of terms, at least Trunks' father hadn't taken the ready excuse and left...
The Saiyan's question finally processed in his brain, and Goten turned in the course of stuffing his bag. Reaching for the book that lay discarded on the table, the demi-Saiyan replied, "I have to memorize part of a play for my acting class. He was going to help me with it."
"Hn." Sighing heavily, the demi-Saiyan fingered the little red paperback, hoisting his bag back over one shoulder. Funny, it felt even heavier now...
"Huh?" Goten looked up in confusion. Vegeta really wasn't acting himself today-dancing, repairing, and now asking the boy personal questions that didn't concern his father...He fleetingly wondered what kind of pills the man had been taking...
"Here." The prince eyed the offered copy as though somewhat wary of his intent before accepting it. "You can...read, can't you, Vegeta-san?" Black eyes snapped up at the comment and Goten was quick to put his hands up in a gesture of peace. "I only meant-I know this isn't your native language. Vegeta-sama."
The boy's good, the prince thought, biting the inside of his cheek to keep from allowing the smile to spread beyond a smirk. Looking down at the battered copy in his hands that bore the library code for the private school on the binding, Vegeta answered idly, flipping through the pages of a play by someone called Shakespeare.
"Of course I can read, boy. I make it a point to know the language of the culture I'm about to destroy. I need to know when I'm being insulted." He knew the boy was trying to hide his grin-after all, he was part human. He probably thought it morally wrong to find humor in his words.
The dank, musty smell of the old book was remarkably pleasant to his senses as he opened the cover. The first page bore the title in a cheap imitation of quality calligraphy:
Twelfth Night: A play in five acts by William Shakespeare.
Occupied with the ever-present dread of going home, Goten tried his damndest not to allow the ball of lead in his stomach to weigh him down. There was no use in regret-the way he and Trunks were steadily growing apart, he doubted if, a year hence, he'd be able to think of Capsule Corp. as home.
"I'll do it." The boy's gaze locked onto the obsidian eyes that stared at him from across the kitchen. His brow knit in immediate confusion. Wha...?
"What?" Vegeta leaned forward, dropping the book back down onto the table before resting against the counter, arms folding easily over his muscled chest.
"I said I'll do it. I'll read with you." Was this heaven or hell? Goten's raven eyes widened, brow drawn high in astonishment. But there was no mocking in Vegeta's somber eyes. He was really being serious...
The natural scowl that adorned his face deepened as he snarled, "Dammit, boy, do you want my help or not? I do have better things to do with my time then waste them on you."
Shaking his head furiously, Goten promptly decided that looking a gift prince in the mouth was not the most brilliant thing he'd ever done. "No, Vegeta-san! I'd love it if you'd help me...you just...surprised me is all."
"You have another one of those?" The prince indicated the book on the table with a sharp movement of his head.
"H-hai!" Grabbing a pen from the small compartment of his bag, Goten snatched the book off the table, flipping through the pages until he came upon the scene he was searching for. "Here," he drew a fine line under the words Scene IV. "This is the scene I need memorized. I have to be Viola, which means-"
"Isn't that a girl's name?" Goten paused in his task, dark eyes raising hesitantly to peer through thick lashes.
"Hai...but she's pretending to be a boy. Cesario..." He shrugged; he'd thought it stupid when it had been assigned to him too. "And it's an all boy's school anyway..."As if that explained it all. The demi-Saiyan glared down at the insignia on his jacket with bitter disgust. Damn his mother...
A moment of awkward silence ensued before Goten was able to regain the strain of his previous thought.
"Anyway, that makes you the Duke." The prince gave a satisfied nod. At least the title was royalty, even if it wasn't the one he was used to. "We still need one more person..."
"The girl will do it." The Son boy glanced over in surprise.
"You mean Bra?" Vegeta gave a curt nod, dismissing all contrary opposition with a well-directed glower. Of course his daughter would do it. She wasn't nearly as irritating as his insolent son.
Goten had the strangest feeling that if he were to look behind him, there would be white, feathery wings sprouting from his shoulder blades. He was soaring high and unfettered on cloud nine-he had no conceivable idea as to why Vegeta was offering to aid him, but if it meant spending more time with him, then who was he to find fault with it? Outlining the remaining scene, the young man capped his pen and closed the paperback.
"That should do it..." He wanted to hug the stoic man before him, though two things kept him from making a fool of himself and doing so: the simple fact that it was Vegeta, the prince of all Saiyans, including himself...and the mental image of his earlier dancing that randomly rose within the span of their dialogue to plague his thoughts. Even now the heat in his face threatened to reveal the subject of his musings. Swallowing and standing quickly, Goten shuffled his feet, distributing the weight of his pack to rest more easily on his shoulders.
The prince had not chosen to respond to his last comment, and Goten was in agony on how to end the conversation. He'd never really been around the man alone-Trunks had always been with him in the past, a living shield that separated him just enough to feel safe.
While his shoes were infinitely interesting, he wished he'd had the gumption to meet the other's intense stare. It was unnerving how long the man could go without speaking...
"Same time tomorrow?" He finally managed to mumble, having lost his steam in the horrid prospect of having to return home.
"Whatever." The prince shrugged, having apparently lost interest in their interaction. Goten took that motion as a dismissal, and gratefully fled the room as casually as he could.
Head cocked to one side, Vegeta watched the boy leave. He was a strange one, that was for damn sure. Kakarott's youngest seemed to both fear him, and yet appeared somewhat infatuated with the prince. The Saiyan had noticed all the times the demi-Saiyan had fixed his stare upon him and he had yet to determine if that was a compliment, or a sign of an impending problem. Vegeta snorted, pulling out the metal chair with a twisted flick of his foot. It more than likely had to do with the boy's immature father. Kakarott was not exactly what one would call the ideal parent.
Huh, neither am I, but at least my brats know what to call me. He could still picture the stark panic on Goten's face the first time he had met his father-when he had come running to the prince in dire need of a very simple answer-"What do I call him, Vegeta-san? Father? Papa? Goku? Kakarott? How can one person have so many names?"
Easing gracefully into the chair, the Saiyan prince crossed his legs beneath him and retrieved the fallen book. It wasn't his problem to sort through the Son's dirty laundry. Vegeta hadn't helped the young Son for any other reason than this--Saiyans needed to stick together.