(song quoted herein is “Enemy” by Days of the New)
I really am fascinated by the radio. It’s one of the things I genuinely adore about this planet: they love music and produce it in enormous quantities, of all types. I like to flip between radio stations, stopping whenever something catches my fancy. I don’t often get the chance to do it, I’m so busy training usually. But there’s no one around to spar with me today, they all have something else to do, and I’m relishing these few hours to myself, alone in the house. Chichi dragged Goten out grocery shopping, Goku’s over sparring with Prince Vegeta, and it’s just me for a little while. I crank the old stereo in the living room, closing my eyes and feeling the bass throb in the floor. This song has a really heavy bass, and weird changing rhythms. I can feel it soaking in through the bottom of my bare feet, shaking my blood and bones. I love it.
~Listen down you little man
I’m not the one who’s trying to change you~
I start moving my feet across the floor, sliding and hopping, like the steps of a fight, never let myself rest on the ground for more than half a second. At first I only follow with my upper body, but soon I’ve got my arms going, too, letting them glide through the air freely.
~And if you come to understand it will be okay
You need to change it now~
I close my eyes, just delighting in the feel of my body moving exactly how I want it to, matching the beat of the song. My head bobs and sways, swinging my hair around me like a cloak, and my tail plays counterpoint. I have never been in such good shape in my life, and it almost makes the last few months worth it, this glorious music and my perfectly responsive flesh and bone.
~I'm not the one who's trying to be
I’m not the one who’s trying to be your enemy
There's something you need to change~
I know I must be wearing an absolutely ridiculous grin, but who the hell cares? It’s just me and the music, in this shabby little house in the middle of nowhere that seems the most perfect place in the universe right this second.
~You need to change it
You need to change it~
The soft whisper of the loose threads on my cut off cargo pants tickles across my knees, and the nubby caress of old flannel rubs over my back as I move, my arms blissfully bare.
~I went in killing the sun
I once one
I once one~
I spin to a gentle halt as the music slows, just letting my upper body sway with my tail, feeling the soft flutter of fur against the back of my calves. Finally, the music stops, and one of those annoying commercials comes on. I let my eyes fall open, still smiling as my gaze drops on some guy standing in the doorway, his mouth half open as he stares at me. It takes me a second to correct my expression, and I reach over to snap off the radio.
“Who the hell are you?” I growl at this youngish male intruder, checking his power level almost unconsciously. I’m shocked, and suddenly afraid, and my tail begins whipping behind me in agitation. Now the guy is staring at my tail, his cornflower blue eyes following it back and forth, back and forth.
“I said, Who the hell are you?!” I repeat more firmly, wondering if my bullshit act is getting through to this weirdo. His eyes flick back to my face, and a tawny hand pushes longish lilac hair out of his face, tucking it neatly behind his ear. Examining him more closely, I see he must only be in his late teens, still a kid. I groan to myself, wondering if I’m being rude to one of Goten’s friends. But with that power level...he interrupts my train of thought.
“I’m Trunks. You must be Raditz, right?” His voice is clear, self- assured, as though I’m the trespasser. I wince at what a royal fuck up I’ve made as I realize who this guy is. He continues as though I’ve answered him, “I was looking for Goten, but I guess you didn’t hear me knocking with the radio turned up so loud. Nice moves, by the way.”
I can’t process what he says, I’m too busy mentally smacking myself in the head. I have to apologize immediately, and I drop to one knee, my head bowed. “Forgive me, my prince. I did not mean to offend with my rude behavior. It was inexcusable, and of course I shall accept whatever punishment you see fit.” The formal language of the court comes back with more ease than I thought it would; I’ve gotten used to being myself out here with my family, and my natural communication style is a bit crude, as Piccolo often reminds me.
His silence is reprimand enough as I stare at the floor. Doubtless I’m about to get some free training in the form of a severe beating. I glance up from under my hair, trying to get a handle on what he’s going to do, but I’m surprised to find him staring at me open-mouthed again.
“Uh...punish you? Prince? What? Are you sure you’re not mistaking me for my dad?” Indeed, he’s got the haughty attractiveness of Vegeta in his face, but his coloration must be his mother’s. No Saiyan ever had eyes and hair like that. They’re a striking combination with his golden skin.
“No, my lord. I am pledged to serve the royal house of Vegeta-sei, and you are the oldest child in the last generation of that line, are you not?”
“Well, yeah, but....well, Vegeta-sei’s blown up, right? I’m no prince.” His voice holds some amusement, now, and he adds, “Really, you don’t have to kneel.”
I remain in my subservient position, speaking slowly. “My prince, just because our home world is destroyed, does not make you any less royal. I am pledged to your family with my life.” Apparently, either Prince Vegeta did not educate his son, or his son did not listen to his father. Knowing Vegeta, I was betting on the latter.
“Okay, then I command you to rise,” he says impatiently, and so I get to my feet, but keep my eyes down. “Please,” he continues, a bit more softly, “Please, I don’t want you to act like that around me. It makes me uncomfortable.”
There’s a brief struggle in my head, between my old self and my new one. My old self tells me to continue the way I have been, this kid may not know the old ways, but it’s my responsibility as his subject to educate him the best I can, if only through my actions. My new self is much more blunt. //Fuck it. This is Earth, and you’ve done enough bowing and scraping for one lifetime.// I tend to agree with the new me, and so I bring up my eyes to meet his. I’m rewarded with a cool smile as Trunks relaxes.
“That’s better. It’s just too weird having people bow to me and stuff. Not like it happens real often, but...” he trails off, looking me over curiously. I wrap my tail around my waist defensively, realizing that cut off khakis and an open flannel shirt with the sleeves ripped off are hardly the height off fashion, or even appropriate for greeting visitors in. But the new me frankly doesn’t give a shit, and I return his look with interest. He’s much more put together than me, it looks like his blue jeans were ironed, and his white tank top practically gleams it’s so clean. The forest green button down he wears over it hangs open, and he’s got the sleeves neatly rolled up, even on both sides. I almost sneer at that, but restrain myself.
“Goten’s not here,” I answer his earlier question. “He’s out shopping with Chichi, but he should be back soon if you want to wait.”
He considers this, confiding a bit slyly, “I’m not sure if I should...I mean, I’m not supposed to be over here. Dad doesn’t want me to come over, for some reason. Then again, I really do need to talk to Goten.” He bites his lip thoughtfully, and continues, “You are Raditz, right? Goku’s brother?”
I nod, wondering why he’s so curious. It can’t be because Prince Vegeta’s been talking about me, that’s for sure. “Yeah, that’s me.” He laughs suddenly, and the sound makes me drop the estimation of his age a bit...it’s so young and carefree. My heavy brows drop down over my black eyes, and I let myself flop back onto the couch. If he doesn’t want me to stand on ceremony, then I’m not going to, goddamnit.
“You look a little bit like my dad,” he offers, still smiling. “Except a lot bigger.” He certainly hasn’t inherited his father’s height...but then, he isn’t as tall as the rest of my family, either. “I think it’s the hair. You know, the widow’s peak.” I’m not sure how I should take being compared to Prince Vegeta. Of course, I thought he was the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen when I met him, but that was a long time ago. Unfortunately, age hadn’t dulled those sharp good looks. What, me bitter? Nah.
“Yeah, well, we Saiyans all look alike, kid,” I wave dismissively. I’m hardly a great looking guy.
“Man, when you switch gears, you really switch gears!” Trunks exclaims with some admiration, and seats himself on the other end of the couch. “I guess I’ll wait.” He looks around the room a bit uncomfortably. I have no idea what to say; I have a hard enough time carrying on a conversation with Goten, and now here’s his best friend perched perkily next to me. I blow out a sigh, lifting the wisps of hair hanging in my face. I wonder idly if Goten and Trunks are screwing. Looking over at the pale young prince, I think probably not. This guy’s already got a broom handle up his ass, no way anything else is fitting up there.
“So do you know why my dad doesn’t want me over here?” the object of my scrutiny asks, meeting my eyes with polite inquiry.
“Um...” he purses his lips suddenly, and I think he might be getting irritated with me. I just grin back at him insolently. It’s probably completely unfair that I’m taking out my old anger at Prince Vegeta on his kid, but he did sort of ask for it. “You going to tell me?” he asks more sharply.
“It’s because of me. Your dad and I don’t really get along, and I guess he doesn’t want his kids associating with such a low life piece of shit such as myself.” I consider blurting out, //Besides, he might be afraid that since I’m done fucking him silly I’ll start on you guys.// Trunks’ expression is suitably shocked as it is, though, so I bite my tongue on laughter that would just confuse him.
“Does he really think that?” Trunks asks, a bit timidly. I don’t like hearing that careful tone in his voice for some reason, but I can’t really figure out why. I hate being confused, but it’s starting to be a way of life for me. I was never big on relationships, and now all of a sudden I’ve got this big family, plus some people I could almost call friends.
I sigh again. What do I tell him? His father broke my heart? “I’m pretty weak, kid. I came here to Earth to get Kakarot, and I got killed by Piccolo, of all people. I guess your dad’s not a real forgiving guy.” He frowns at my explanation, delicate brows coming down over those incredible eyes. His face is much more expressive than Prince Vegeta’s.
“I know my dad used to be a real bad guy...but he’s changed now, you know. He still comes off as kind of an asshole sometimes, but he’s really not that awful. I can’t see why he’d forbid us to even come over here.” Trunk sounds puzzled, his voice a little higher as though querying himself.
“Maybe you should ask him,” I suggest and decide for myself that’s the last I’m going to say on the matter. My resolution is saved from being challenged by the banging of the front door. I hear Goten’s keen voice ringing through the house.
“Trunks? Are you here?” He sounds eager, but then Goten sounds eager about most everything.
“In here, Goten,” Trunks answers, still eyeing me with a troubled expression. Goten comes bouncing in to the living room, and I take the opportunity to exit, slipping outside to help Chichi with the rest of the bags. She’s finally gotten at least a little used to having me around, and doesn’t direct constant venom at me anymore. She actually murmurs a pleasant, “Thank you,” as I scoop seven of the bags up and haul them inside. I can hear the energized conversation between Trunks and Goten in the other room. I begin putting away the stuff that goes in the fridge as Chichi brings in the last bag.
“What are they so excited about?” Kakarot’s wife asks me, her voice suspicious. I shrug cluelessly, fetching the frozen vegetables.
“Trunks has only been here a few minutes, but I guess he had something important to tell Goten. It must be pretty imperative for him to disobey his father,” I chuckle, shaking my head.
“Disobey his father? What are you talking about, Raditz?” Chichi’s interest is finally aroused, and she looks at me curiously.
“Oh, didn’t Kakarot tell you? Pr-I mean, Vegeta’s kids are forbidden to come over here.”
“What?! That’s ridiculous! I’m sure if Goku knew about it, he would tell me...why would Vegeta do that?” She sounds outraged, as if Prince Vegeta had personally insulted her housekeeping or something. I hide a smile.
“Well, it’s because of me, I’m pretty sure. He doesn’t like me much, guess he thinks I’ll be a bad influence on his kids.” I shrug again, folding brown paper bags carefully and stooping to put them in the lower cupboard.
“That Vegeta thinks he’s better than everyone! I can’t stand that man! Always lording himself over my Goku, just because he’s some sort of stupid alien prince!” She’s furious now, waving her arms up and down as she stamps around the kitchen. “Always has that big nose of his up in the air, ooh!”
I’m pleased at how easily I quash my initial instinct to smash her into the ground for insulting the royal house of Vegeta-sei. Instead, I find myself amused at Chichi’s anger directed at an outside party, and I chime in gamely, “He’s thinks his shit doesn’t stink.”
“Raditz!” Chichi glares at me, but then erupts into a flurry of giggles. Maybe I’ll win my sister-in-law over yet. Just then Goten pokes a messy head into the kitchen, testing the waters.
“Uh....mom?” He asks, then mouths to me ‘Is it safe?’ I nod, smiling, and he bounces into the room, followed by a more sedate Trunks. “Mom, guess what? Trunks got tickets to go to that club Bulma and Yamcha used to go to, can I go? I promise I’ll get all my homework done beforehand, and be back by midnight? Please, mom, pleeease?”
His dark-haired mother frowns, thinking, obviously wary about the idea. But she must be in a good mood, because she answers, “Well....I guess if Gohan goes, then you can. You’re not going without a chaperone, and that’s final.” Goten is already bouncing on the balls of his feet with anticipation.
“Thanks mom, you’re the greatest! I’ll go call him right now!” He disappears into the other room, and I can hear the clatter of the phone as he knocks it onto the floor in his impatience. I smile fondly, then look at Trunks, finding the exact same expression on his face. He meets my eyes, still grinning, and there’s something else there I can’t quite read. Something familiar...it dances just out of my grasp, and I curse my slow mind.
I listen as Goten’s voice rises and falls, a soft background music as I put away groceries. Trunks wanders into the other room, so I don’t see him when I turn at the yelled, “Oh MAN! Come ON, big brother! You GOT to!” Uh- oh, seems Goten has hit a little snag. He wanders back into the kitchen, looking considerably wilted. But he gamely plunges on.
“Um, Gohan can’t do it, he’s going out that night with Videl, and I guess they got the baby sitter all set up and everything. Can Dad come with us instead?”
Chichi’s answer is brisk, “No. Your father is not going into one of those places.” Funny, she didn’t seem to mind her son going as long as her other son went, too. I smile to myself in the pantry, where I’m safely hidden.
“Mo-om! Well, can’t we go by ourselves? Don’t you trust me?” Goten is whining now, and I wince. Come on, boy, you’re a Saiyan! But a smoother voice interrupts, to my surprise.
“Why doesn’t Raditz take us? He’s an adult, right?” Trunks leaves the suggestion hanging for about two seconds before Goten chimes in happily.
“Yeah! Hey, Uncle Raditz, will you take us to the club?” Gods, why did the purple headed kid have to drag me into this? I sigh, and take a moment to compose my face before sticking my head out into the kitchen.
“If your mother says it’s okay,” I answer cautiously, eyeing Chichi. But she just nods thoughtfully, sending Goten into a furious bout of jumping up and down and spinning, his arms flailing through the air like an overwrought monkey.
“All right! Yesyesyesyes!” I wonder what’s so great about this club, and what the hell they do there. I’ve never really been into the city, so I’m pretty ignorant about the goings-on. Seeing nothing left to do in the kitchen I trail after Trunks and Goten as they head for the front door, talking excitedly.
“So, I better take you shopping,” Vegeta’s son tells my nephew. “I mean, you have nothing that’ll really work. You probably don’t, either, huh?” he suddenly directs at me, and I turn wide black eyes at him.
“Uh...what? That’ll work for what?” I’m completely dazed, and Trunks grins, enjoying turning the tables on me, I think.
“Clothes,” he says matter-of-factly, as though I must be a total moron for not knowing.
“I have clothes,” I mumble, still lost, in a good imitation of my brother.
“Clothes for the club. You can’t just wear any old thing! We’ll go Thursday, after school,” he decides, his voice as imperious as Vegeta’s ever was. He then pulls Goten out the door with him, whispering furiously into his ear. I just stand there staring at the door, wondering what kind of clothes you need for a club? Maybe it’s fancy dress only or something...black-tie, I think they call it here. Or maybe you do something weird there that you need a special uniform for. Shrugging (I seem to be doing that a lot today), I just head upstairs. Maybe I’ll ask Kakarot about it later.
Part Five |