[Song quoted herein is “Wicked Game” by Chris Issacs.]

The map is right where he said it would be. I’m trying to memorize it as I brush out my once again wet hair, but I’m failing miserably. I set the brush aside, and pick up the map, figuring I should find Kakarot again, he’s had plenty of alone time with Vegeta. I make my way to the little kitchen with few problems, but they’re not there anymore, just a pile of rinsed dishes in the sink. I peer at the map again, but have no idea where I would find Vegeta’s woman. My brother did say he needed to visit her. Hmm. I don’t really want to go wandering around the house uninvited, especially since I don’t know anybody here. I decide to head outside, instead, get a breath of fresh air.

A quick consultation of the map gets me to the front door, and the smell of rain-cleansed air fills my nostrils. I smile happily, looking around at the fertile grounds of Vegeta’s house. Though I suppose it isn’t really his house, it’s his woman’s. Either way, they have a lush lawn, a little grove of trees, and what looks like an extensive garden out back. I walk around the house, perusing the garden lazily. It’s heavy on sweet smelling flowers and fruit, but well maintained. I get lost in my examination of some sort of bush with white flowers on it, and don’t notice the woman walk up behind me.

“And you are?” Her voice is pleasant, but sharp. I turn to look, and see one of these humans. This one is rather pretty, with blue hair cut sensibly short and deep blue eyes that remind me of Trunks. I remember the pictures Goten showed me…this must be Bulma.

“I’m Raditz. Kakarot’s brother.”

She looks me up and down speculatively, her blue eyes as quick as her son’s, revealing the diamond sharp mind behind them. “Mmhmm…” she murmurs, then grins at me toothily, like a shark. “You’re quite a tasty package, aren’t you?” I blink at her in surprise.

“Uh…aren’t you…Vegeta’s woman?” Is everyone around here so damn unsettling? And on the prowl?

“No, Vegeta’s my man,” she says smugly. “Doesn’t stop me from admiring, though, and more. Vegeta and I have a little understanding…” and she drops me an exaggerated wink, running one finger down my forearm suggestively. I want to say something, but I have no idea how to get out of this one. Suddenly, she pulls back, and starts laughing, silvery bells chiming in the cool breeze.

“Oh, you should see your face!” she exclaims, reaching up to pat me on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about me, I know you don’t swing my way, Vegeta told me all about you.”

I can’t decide what’s worse, having to deal with Vegeta’s woman getting friendly with me, or knowing that he’s told her “all about” me. “Look, Bulma-“

She interrupts me without qualm. “Hey, you’re probably looking for your brother, right? He was going to head to the gravity chamber, to train with Vegeta. And-“ she adds, seeing me opening my mouth again, “His royal highness didn’t say anything too awful or scandalous about you. Just that you guys used to have a relationship. He won’t tell me much more than that…I wonder why?” Those wicked blue eyes sparkle alarmingly, and I wonder if I’m going to get out of here intact. My prince certainly found a good match in this hellcat…no wonder Trunks is so appealing!

“Look, on a more serious note, I want to thank you for getting Goku out of the house.” Her face has instantly transformed into maternal older woman. Quite amazing, really.

“I thought you advised him to give Chichi some time,” I say, a bit suspiciously.

“I did…but I think I was wrong. Goku’s such a great guy…I thought if Chichi got used to him being back, they’d work things out. But things were just getting worse and worse between them. I think they’ll both be happier apart. I mean, she never really got over him being dead for seven years, when he could have made the choice to come back. That’s hard for anyone…”

I have to admit, if someone I loved did that, it would be hard to deal with. I nod in understanding, and she smiles at me warmly. “I’m glad I got to meet you, Raditz. I’ll leave you to find Goku…oh, and before I forget, Piccolo called looking for you earlier this morning.” A slightly puzzled look crosses her features. “I didn’t even know he could use a phone…anyways, I got stuff to do, world-altering inventions to produce!” She waves cheerfully at me, and disappears into a little door at the end of the garden, back into the cavernous house.

Well, I can’t call Piccolo…does he have a phone? He must have found one somewhere to call here…why doesn’t he just use his mystic powers to think stuff to me? And why does he want to talk to me anyway? Simpler all around if I just find my brother, bug out for a few days or so, ignore the whole thing. I sigh. This little quest of my brother’s is starting to look better and better, but I can’t quite convince myself everything’s going to be okay when I get back. It’s just easier to put it off for awhile.

I meander back around to the front of the house and head back in, using the map again, getting lost only twice before I find the door to the gravity chamber. I look in the small window in the door, but I don’t see anyone in there. But I can here voices down the hall…well, one voice. It’s my brother. I follow my ears and come around a corner to find a very unsettled Vegeta. The cause for his unease is leaning against the wall; Kakarot has his hand over his face and is obviously crying, his shoulders hitching painfully.

Vegeta looks up at my arrival, and his black eyes are woefully lost, a trace of anger floating through their depths at his powerlessness over the situation. I step forward, ignoring him; instead I say softly, “Kakarot?”

He looks up at me, and his eyes have bled to that terrible red that signals real heartache. Real heartache is never pretty; it’s messy, sloppy, and downright ugly. “Y-yes?” he sniffles rather pathetically, and my heart goes out to him. Wordlessly I gather him into my arms, let him sob against my chest as I smooth my hands lightly down his back. I dip my head, letting my forehead press against that ragged spray of black hair, so like my own, but shorter.

“Shh, little brother. It’s going to be okay,” I speak in low tones to him, the way I might to a frightened animal. I can hear his voice muffled in my t-shirt.

“I just…don’t know what…what I’m going to do without her,” he moans brokenly, and I respond with little soothing noises in the back of my throat.

“It’s okay…it’s okay…” Almost unconsciously I begin to sway slightly, rocking him as I pet his hair softly. My eyes are closed as I keep up a continuous stream of soothing murmurs, barely noticing when I slip into old Saiyan. I can feel his tears soaking through my shirt, but the quaking of his body is slowing. I can hear the huge gasping breaths that are often the aftermath of serious crying. Gently, I wrap my tail around his waist.

It’s something of a surprise to me when I feel warm fingers collide with my own. I open my eyes to see Vegeta standing at Kakarot’s back. He’s put out one hand hesitantly and is running it in slow circles over my brother’s back. I look down at him warily, holding his eyes with some warning in my own. His answering gaze is fierce, but also somewhat confused. I wonder what he did when his own children cried? Did he hold and rock them? Or did he leave that to his woman? He seems to have no experience with this…but to my great shock he takes another step forward and wraps his arms around Kakarot’s waist, leaning his cheek against the broad expanse of my brother’s back. His arms are warm and heavy along the underside of my tail. Gods, but he looks so small, this close to me and Kakarot. His thick upsweep of hair brushes softly over my moving hands.

But Kakarot’s breathing is slowing, easing, and the tension in his body is also leaving him. He relaxes against my chest, his fingers no longer clutching the back of my shirt so desperately. Finally he pulls back, and wipes uselessly at his face, his eyes still downcast. I tilt his chin up, and catch his eyes, looking at him seriously. “Okay?” I ask softly.

He nods mutely, using his thumb to clear the salty pools beneath his eyes, and sniffing loudly. I allow a small smile to shine through, and to my gratification he smiles back, weakly. “I’m sorry, Raditz,” he mumbles. “I was doing okay this morning, but on the way to the gravity room, it hit me…” I brush away the moisture that has trailed down his cheeks.

“It’s okay, Kakarot. No one expects you to get through this without a hitch. You were with her for over 25 years.”

“I know. I was just thinking how she was going to be mad, because I was going to spar in my regular clothes…” he trails off, looking down at himself. “Isn’t that funny? I was thinking of her being angry, and it made me feel so sad.” He looks back up at me. “Is this going to go away?”

I sigh. I don’t know how to answer…clearly, it never went away for me. But I hope it will for Kakarot, not only for his sake, but because I’m not sure I can live with the guilt if it doesn’t. “Yeah, it will,” I answer as though sure of myself. “You just have to give it time, little brother.”

He smiles at me again, this time with more conviction. “Okay. Do you want to come spar with me and Vegeta? I was going to ask you earlier, but you took off so quickly, I didn’t have a chance.”

I look over my shoulder at Vegeta, long since moved away and now leaning against the wall, arms crossed solidly over his chest, scowling uncomfortably. “I’m hardly in your league,” I begin, glancing back to my brother.

“Oh, that’s okay. We won’t power up…” He touches his hand briefly to my shoulder. “Please, big brother?”

I have to grin at that. I think it’s the first time he’s used that title for me. “Okay, you win.”

He turns, looks down at Vegeta, and though I can’t see his face, I’m sure he’s smiling. Vegeta merely frowns back up at him, forefinger tapping impatiently against his elbow. “Thanks, Vegeta,” Kakarot says, and shockingly, Vegeta turns those deep black eyes to the ground, unable to answer. Kakarot pats him on the shoulder lightly, then turns back to me. “Come on, I’ll show you the gravity room.” I trail after him, glancing over my shoulder to see my prince following behind. He arches an eyebrow at me as our eyes meet, but that’s all. I wonder how much of what just happened is genuine sympathy for my brother, or a rather transparent ploy to get into his pants. And how much does it matter to me?

The gravity chamber is fairly plain, though vast, with a simple tile floor and a petite instrument panel in one corner. I glance around uninterestedly, watch my brother pull off his shirt in preparation. I wonder why he bothers…glancing over at Vegeta, I see the smaller man stretching gracefully, loosening his back with a series of muffled pops. I crouch down, wincing as my thigh muscles groan, still stiff from my vigil last night. I stand, rolling my neck loosely and shaking out my tail.

“We don’t really need to turn up the gravity for a spar,” Vegeta notes somewhat dispassionately, and my brother responds.

“No, not really. Raditz has never trained under higher gravity…have you?”

I shake my head, then amend, “Well, gravity on Vegeta-sei was higher than here on Earth…but that doesn’t really count.” My brother throws me a fleeting smile.

“Actually, if Vegeta doesn’t mind, I’d like to do some training in here with you. It’s been really helpful for me in becoming stronger. But for today, we’ll just have some fun.”

I grin toothily back at him, kicking off my shoes and bouncing forward on the balls of my feet. My tail lashes behind me in excitement. Despite all the confusion in my life, I am still a Saiyan. And fighting’s what I live for, the one thing that makes everything else seem petty and small. The one thing I can actually use to forget it all for awhile. I shake out my heavy mane of hair as I look over at Vegeta, who’s pressing one knee to his chest rhythmically. The graceful curves of his muscled body are clearly defined in the form fitting black spandex, and I no longer feel like biting my tongue, or pretending indifference. I openly admire him, letting my eyes roam over his body freely. He ignores me, finishing his warm-up stretches indifferently, but I smile to myself. He won’t be so indifferent when I get that perfect flesh under my fist…

“Hey, why don’t we do two against one, okay?” my brother throws out into the cavernous room, some of his old enthusiasm leaking through as the genetic vanguard to his youngest son. “You and Vegeta against me?”

Vegeta snorts, probably because to accept that challenge is to admit that he’s lesser than my brother, that he needs back-up, but Kakarot continues quickly, “I know you’ll both beat me pretty easily, but I’d like the challenge today.” Vegeta glances speculatively over at me, and I raise my eyebrows questioningly at him. Why not?

I walk over to Vegeta, the thought of fighting by his side only furthering my anticipation. I can hear my blood whisper softly in my head, and I clench my broad hands into fists. He looks up at me with a familiar smirk of violence and victory anticipated. It thrills me…brings back the prince I knew instead of this strange new creature that seems so uncontrolled, so soft. “Remember the mines of Hakush?” he almost purrs, and it takes me back.

There were times when Lord Frieza wanted only small sections of a planet cleared, so when he sent us Saiyans out to do the job, we landed together, in the same place, instead of spreading out to cause more destruction within a shorter period of time. On Hakush it had only been myself and Prince Vegeta. I don’t remember why Nappa wasn’t there. I hadn’t yet become involved with my prince, but looking back, that may have been the precursor to our relationship. We fought side by side in the close, damp quarters of the cobalt mines, and for a few glorious moments, we had meshed with each other, anticipating the other’s moves with clockwork precision.

I nod to him, and it only occurs to me a few moments later to wonder why he remembered it. But already I’m turning to face my brother, dropping into a ready crouch, feeling Vegeta do the same at my back. My smile mirrors Kakarot’s, two feral grins flashing at each other over the red tile floor as my tail uncurls from my waist, tensing behind me in anticipation. And then I’m lunging forward, diving for my brother with outstretched hands.

I duck under the punch he sends flying at my face, snagging his wrist as Vegeta uses my back for a boost, over me and slamming into Kakarot heavily. My brother staggers to the side but is held in place by my hand on his forearm. Quick to respond, his own hand wraps around my wrist, forming an unbreakable bond as he swings my body around, using me like a living bat. I have to wrench my body violently to stop my feet from impacting with a now crouching Vegeta. Instead I get slammed into the wall, knocking the breath from me noisily.

Kakarot lets loose my wrist, turning to Vegeta, but I don’t let my lack of ability to breathe stop me, doubling my fists and bringing them smashing down into Kakarot’s neck. He lets out two great lungfuls of air, but spins away from both of us, Vegeta following closely, throwing in a powerful kick to the solar plexus. It’s the impetus that sends Vegeta and I spinning around Kakarot, aiming flurries of furious punches and kicks to his body. He’s as good as I’ve expected, though, blocking some, dodging others, but keeping pace with the two of us attacking him.

As we three dance raggedly in and around each other, my focus narrows, concentrating only on the sights in front of me: the hint of blood at the corner of a mouth, the quick tension in a shoulder that heralds in incoming punch, the flick of black eyes that telegraphs a dodge. The sounds of struggle pound through my ears: thick thuds, meaty collisions, the creak of stressed bones, the slick sound of tongues wetting overheated lips, the chorus of grunts and groans that punctuate each blow with musical clarity. And overriding it all is the insistent pounding of the blood in my head, singing me out a rhythm that orchestrates my every move.

This is life. I hook my arm around Kakarot’s neck, pulling his body back into a severe arch. Vegeta takes the opportunity to pound in a few choice blows to his stomach. This is love. Kakarot flips me forward, over his body, retaining a hold on my neck. But I angle my body as I fly through the air, twisting sideways to force him to spiral around to follow me, bending him forward and to the side as he grinds his thick fingers into the flesh of my throat, bruising me, caressing me joyously. This is everything. Vegeta spins almost lazily, punching viciously into the small of Kakarot’s back, wringing a high pitched cry from him as he releases me.

Our dance continues, but now Vegeta and I are finding our groove, starting to move together without having to think about it, and Kakarot is falling back, forced into a more defensive stance as we weave around him. Vegeta is landing more hits than me, but I’m getting in my fair share, though I’m not sure how much damage I’m doing. I can taste the copper honey in my mouth, my own blood, flowing from the last good punch he got into my jaw. It complements perfectly the stinging smell of blood and sweat from the other two Saiyans, a riot on my senses. But still, we can’t quite break through Kakarot, he’s still holding us back, the dark gleam in his eyes testament to the effort it takes, and how much he’s enjoying it. Never let me claim again that the Earth has blunted my sibling.

I leap into the air before I even realize why I’m doing it, eyes catching Vegeta moving under my air-born body and slamming heavily into Kakarot. I flip neatly over my brother’s head, landing behind him, and again hook my arm over his neck, this time wrapping my other arm lower, around the bottom curve of his rib cage. Vegeta’s force sends us both back against the wall, but I cling on desperately, twisting my leg around to hook over his thigh, holding him to the ground. Vegeta straddles his lap, holding his hand like a blade to Kakarot’s throat, and I wrap my tail around my brother’s waist, effectively cocooning him with my body. It’s over. I blink, breathing heavily through the spiked mess of my brother’s hair.

“We win,” Vegeta rumbles from his perch atop Kakarot, and his grin is both bloody and primitive, calling forth some ancient voice within me to howl our triumph to the moon that no longer exists. Kakarot’s chest is heaving under my hand, his stomach pushing softly at my tail as he breaths out, then collapsing back in with an intake of air. I don’t have to see his face to know that he’s smiling just as fiercely back at Vegeta. My prince meets my eyes hungrily, letting his own obsidian depths crawl over the tangled pile of myself and my brother, eating us visually, and it seems right, proper. He is the Prince of all Saiyans, and isn’t it his right to take as he pleases from his subjects?

“Um, Vegeta, Raditz? You can let me up now.” My brother’s voice cuts annoyingly through the lustful red haze that’s clouding my mind, allowing the more self-conscious part of myself to wave a mental finger in front of me in an attempt to get my attention. I let my tail unwind loosely as Vegeta sits back. He does not, however, get up, which leaves me effectively trapped underneath my brother. I shift to distribute my weight a little more comfortably, and move my arm up, so that both hands and forearms rest loosely like a heavy necklace around Kakarot’s collarbone.

Kakarot turns his head slightly, but I still can’t see his face, only the wondering corner of one black eye. His gaze flick back to Vegeta as the smaller man leans in suddenly, his tongue flicking out snake-quick to taste the corner of my brother’s mouth. I can’t help myself, drawing in a surprised gasp of breath, echoing with Kakarot’s own shock. Just as quickly, Vegeta quits his perch, standing in front of us both with an enigmatic half-grin.

“I’m going to go take a shower,” he announces, and turns on his heel and walks away, slipping through the gravity room door with an extremely seductive sway of his hips. I swallow audibly, cursing myself for my lack of self-control. Wasn’t I supposed to be over this guy? My brother shifts on top of my, half turning.

“Raditz?” he asks hesitantly, and I respond slowly, still lost in thoughts of my prince.


“Can you-“ Ah, of course! I untangle our legs, and pull my arms back. Kakarot rises to his feet, offering me a hand up. “Well, that was a good fight,” he continues, his voice a little shaky, as I accept the proffered assist and pull myself upright. I study his face intently, and see some of my own confusion reflected there. But he puts it away quickly, rubbing the back of his head with a laugh.

“Wow, Vegeta can sure act peculiarly sometimes!” I blink, not really understanding what I’m hearing. Is he really that stupid? Did the blatant look of invitation in Vegeta’s eyes just go sailing over his head? Then again, I’m none too swift when it comes to relationships, either. Maybe it’s genetic.

“Yeah,” I respond a bit gruffly. “Weird.” If it was anyone else, I might have enlightened them. But it’s too early for my brother…at least, that’s what I tell myself, neatly sublimating the wave of poison jealousy that twists my stomach queasily.

Kakarot continues gamely, “Hey, did you want to see the dragonball radar? It’s actually pretty neat.” Shrugging, I follow my brother out of the gravity room, and we pick our way through the corridors. Waiting at the door to our room is another welcome/unwelcome sight; Trunks lounges against the doorframe insolently, smiling lazily as we approach.

“Oh, hey, there you are. Mom wanted me to track you guys down.”

I can’t help it, I run a hand over my sweaty brow self-consciously, pushing a few stray strands of hair out of my face. Kakarot is the one who answers the younger man. “Hi Trunks. Did she say what she wanted?”

“Yeah, I guess when Videl came by to drop Pan off to play with Bra, she brought Gohan. He wanted to say hello, since you’re here.” My smile is genuine at the news; it’ll be nice to see my oldest nephew and his family. I didn’t realize Vegeta’s daughter was close in age to my grandniece, though. Kakarot turns to me with a matching smile.

“Maybe we should get changed first, though,” I remind him, fingering his sweat soaked t-shirt, and he nods, laughing.

“Yeah, you’re right.” He turns to Trunks, who still slouches there attractively, eyeing me. “Can you tell Gohan we’ll be right down? Where is he, anyways?”

“Sure, Goku. I think everyone is out in the garden. Mom’s talking about doing a barbecue, since we’ve got such a crowd here today.” Trunks smiles at the huge grin that lights up my brother’s face.

“Great! Thanks, Trunks.” My brother bounds into our room, and I hear the bathroom door open and slam shut right before the water turns on. I move to follow him, half-dreading, half-hoping that Trunks will stop me. I’m feeling incredibly horny, and just off-balance enough that I’m not sure I can turn him down right now. But he picks that instant to push off from the doorframe and saunter down the hall, leaving me sighing in the doorway. I bang my head a few times against the wall in frustration, prompting my brother to poke his head and half his body out the door. Of course, he’s completely naked.

“You okay, Raditz?” he asks, eyebrows raised in question.

“Fine, Kakarot,” I growl. Gods, if I don’t get something soon, I’m going to jump my own goddamn brother!

“Okay,” he says brightly, and ducks back into the bathroom. I busy myself with digging through my bag for clean clothes. I don’t really want to take another shower, so I settle for picking out a clean shirt and pants, stripping, and heading into the bathroom myself.

I ignore my brother in the shower, a difficult task when he’s crooning to himself above the rush of the water. As I grab a washcloth from the linen closet and wet it in the sink, I shake my head, not knowing whether I should laugh or cuff him a few times around the ears.

“The world was on fire,

Nobody could save me but you.

Strange what desire,

Makes foolish people do.”

I rub some of the liquid soap into the washcloth, sniffing at it experimentally. Lavender. Oh well, could be worse. Could be roses. I scrub my face and neck vigorously, staring blankly into the fogged up mirror.

“I never dreamed that

I'd love somebody like you,

No I never dreamed that I'd

Lose somebody like you.”

A few quick swipes under the armpits and over the chest, and I figure it’s good enough. I turn the water back on, letting it run to an nice, icy cold, and splash it over my face and chest, blinking at pleasantly chilly sensation. Of course, I manage to get a good deal of the soapy run-off on the floor, but I figure Kakarot’s going to do worse when he gets out of there. Suddenly, he’s wailing, and I glance over at him. Nope, he’s fine, just washing his hair and howling in a high falsetto.

“And, I don't wanna fall in love.

No, I don't wanna fall in love...

With you.”

I have to get out of here if he’s going to keep singing. Grabbing a towel, I charge out of the bathroom, shutting the door swiftly behind me. Seems both my brother and I share a love of music, if not the talent for it. Oddly enough, it dissolves my earlier tension some, and I find myself laughing as I pull on a fresh sleeveless t-shirt and jeans. By the time he’s done in the shower, I’m relaxing back on the bed, holding the dragonball radar.

“Oh, you found it,” Kakarot comments when he comes out, a towel wrapped snugly around his waist.

“Yeah, how does it work?”

“I’ll show you.” He sits on the edge of my bed, reaching over to take the bulky disk from me. “See, you press this button on the top,” he demonstrates, making the little green screen light up, ”And the little arrow shows you in what direction the nearest dragonball is. You can move the screen around with this button,” he adds, showing me something set into the rim.

“Let me see.” I move forward, to get a better look at the glowing machine, leaning my head in close to Kakarot’s. He shows me, making the perspective swoop and sway until it comes across a little dot.

“See, that’s one of the dragonballs, right there. It’s maybe a hundred miles away.” I nod, glancing up at him.

“Pretty straightforward little gadget,” I remark, and my brother smiles a little sheepishly at me.

“Yeah, I’m not so good with tech stuff. Bulma likes to keep it simple for me.”

“Huh.” I take the radar from him, and he moves away to dress while I try manipulating the screen. I’m not quite sure I’ve got the scale on it down yet, but it looks like most of the dragonballs are quite a ways away. “This thing isn’t all that specific, is it?”

“Nope.” Kakarot’s voice is muffled by the shirt currently over his head. His head pops free through the neck, letting his hair poke wildly everywhere. Even wet, it’s still barely tamable. “That’s why it can take awhile sometimes. It’s easy enough to get to the general location, but then you really just have to look for it.” I nod, tossing the radar back to him. He catches it neatly, and sets it on the nightstand. “Ready to go?” he asks, and I answer him by standing. Hmm, a barbecue. On the bad side, two unavailable and extremely sexy males parading around in summer clothing. On the good side, lots of food, mostly meat, and some of my family. Also, two extremely sexy males parading around in summer clothing. Life could be worse. But not more confusing.

Part Fourteen | Back
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