Pandora's Box: Chapter 10b
aka The Prince of Saijins and It
"Unwanted - live my life in shame/
Who's to blame for my mistakes?"
-Puddle of Mudd "Drift & Die"
As it turned out, the prince decided to awake in the morning, but it wasn't a pleasant experience. He stumbled outside and began cursing up a storm, stunning Dende and Mr. Popo. He cursed the sun mostly, but he did mention a few other things at random, like his aching body and pounding head. Even looking at him you could tell he felt like shit because he, blatantly, looked like shit.
"Well, that's what you get for drinking so much," Piccolo informed as he helped guide Vegeta back to his room, "Are you hungry?"
The brunette shook his head slightly and groaned, "God, I can't think about eating right now..." Small steps were made down the hall so Vegeta wouldn't lose his balance. "Oh god, wait," Vegeta suddenly said, tapping on Piccolo's arm, "Shit...damnit..."
Piccolo looked at him in concern, "What is it?" Vegeta growled low in his throat, something that surprised the Namek. Sometimes he looked too human.
Vegeta shifted uncomfortably, "Damnit! I've got to piss like a race horse!" Piccolo flushed at the statement, and redirected them towards the bathroom. Luckily, Mr. Popo had been kind enough to clean up the place as soon as he awakened. The tub had been emptied and completely cleaned to the very last speck. The whole room smelled new and fresh with not even a hint of alcohol lingering anywhere.
"Here," Piccolo ushered him into the room and then through a side door which lead into the restroom area. Squinting, Vegeta managed to find a urinal and unzip his pants without a major problem. Piccolo clenched his teeth as he had to stay and help hold the Saijin up. The prince's body was too worn out at the moment - or was it perhaps his mind? Either way, Vegeta wasn't able to stand up without some type of help. As if to further embarrass the Namek, Vegeta let out a moan of relief as he went about his business. Frustrated, Piccolo yelled at him, "Just how much did you drink!?"
Vegeta cringed, tipping his head away from the green-skinned man, "Not so loud..!"
Piccolo sighed again, muttering an apology, 'I guess they have huge bladders to match their huge stomachs.'
Finally, Vegeta was finished, and Piccolo happily took him back to his room. "Get some rest," the Namek suggested, "and I'll go get you an ice pack." Vegeta grabbed his wrist before he was able to fully turn away. Piccolo looked down at him, one eyeridge raised.
The prince took a couple breaths before speaking lowly, "Last night...I...I didn't do anything stupid, did I?"
Piccolo took a few breaths himself, "What do you mean?"
Vegeta shook his head before looking away, letting his eyes stay closed, "What'd I do...?"
Piccolo shrugged a little to keep the mood casual, "Nothing much, laughed a bit, got smashed...filled a bath tub with beer and bathed in it..." He decided to leave out other certain details.
Vegeta gave a small half-moan half-growl directed toward himself before he buried his face in a pillow, letting go of his grasp on the Namek. The muffled voice of the younger man attempted to escape the cushions, "I can't believe this shit..." Piccolo frowned, but let the brunette be, choosing to go out in search of an ice pack instead.
He returned to find Vegeta face up, but with his arm covering his face, whispering something. His ears twitched, picking up little pieces of it: "Koto...arak...sha...shavv...etu...Kakkarot....harrah? Och...och..."
The Namek approached the bed, "Saijin?"
Vegeta instantly uncovered his face, "What?"
Piccolo chuckled, taking a seat on the edge of the bed, placing a towel-wrapped ice pack on the prince's forehead, "To me it just sounded like that language was so natural to you."
The brunette's expression changed to one of realization. Vegeta sighed, holding the pack against himself more firmly, "Oh... Perhaps..."
Piccolo shook his head slightly, sporting a smirk, "Get some rest...I'll check on you later..."
The prince cleared his throat before replying, "No. Why don't you stay?"
Piccolo halted in his steps, "What did you say?"
Firmly, but quietly, Vegeta said, "You heard me."
The Namek smirked at the attitude, 'It seems he's recovering well..' Carefully, Piccolo took a seat at the foot of the bed, "You would like to talk about something."
Vegeta gave a tiny nod, "I would like for you to explain this."
Piccolo raised an eyeridge, "This?"
Vegeta was silent and tense for a moment, "Yes. This...ah...relationship...between us. Explain."
Piccolo relaxed slightly at the simple nature of the question, "Unless you have some type of objection, I view us as not only allies, comrades, and..associates, but friends as well. Does this upset you in any type of way?"
Vegeta seemed to think about it before answering, "..I guess not..."
Piccolo smiled warmly at that before continuing, "I could bullshit around about how you're so great and all, but I'd rather not. Blatantly, I'd like you as my friend because I like you, Vegeta. I don't think anything you do can change that. I've seen you commit acts of murder, but I know, on some very basic level, how you feel. I was down that road myself. I just want you to know that you don't have to do it alone."
There was a moment of silence before Vegeta sighed, "Nhgh...my head hurts."
Piccolo chuckled before standing up, "Like I said...that's what you get for drinking."
Vegeta grumbled, closing his eyes, "Really? I would think it would be because of the bath tub that'd do it."
Piccolo smirked and gave a small shrug, "That might have been it."
The door suddenly swung open and the young Namek entered. "Hello, Vegeta?" Dende called out, approaching the bed hesitantly.
The prince sighed, wishing the pounding in his head would go away, "What is it?"
The new guardian smiled faintly, "Goku dropped by for a second. He wanted to relay a message to you."
Vegeta abruptly sat up, but found that quick movements were a bad idea. Groaning, the brunette fell back onto the bed, holding the pack more tightly against himself. Hissing, Vegeta managed to speak with the child, "What..What did Kakkarot say?"
Dende bowed his head slightly, but spoke up a bit to make up for it, "He said he was busy today and wished to send his deepest regrets. He said tomorrow would be a more suitable day to do something."
Vegeta nodded, smirking faintly, "Oh yeah. I agree with that one." He winced and rearranged his ice pack, "I think you better go, I feel a migraine coming on." Piccolo turned to leave, muttering something about getting food in the Saijin's stomach before he was out of earshot. The door closed silently, leaving Vegeta alone.
"Namek, I don't understand," Vegeta whispered as he looked up at the ceiling through slitted eyes, "Are you trying to 'help' me..?" For some reason his eyelids felt heavy. The pain in his head ebbed slightly as his eyes drifted shut. How many hours of sleep did he get anyway? He couldn't remember...
He could remember feeling a worse pain than he was now. How his head felt when it was partially split open. When his busted lips swelled and bled....
A person from the group slammed him against the wall, enjoying the loud smack that emitted. Hands went to his throat, holding tightly, choking, squeezing. Clawing at the hands, he refused to cry out. No, he would not. He had made that vow to himself and he would not break it. He would not speak again, especially when there was no need for it.
He felt blood oozing from the wound on his skull. It matted his hair, the thick liquid congealing in a jelly-like mess. It trickled down behind his ear, towards his neck. Someone slapped him across the cheek, stingingly bitter; though this was the least of his problems as the hands gripped into him, bruising him, slowly crushing his windpipe. He attempted to gasp but no air could go through, and he could not make any type of noise. His vocal cords were useless, even if he resorted to that option.
The strong hands picked him up, forcing him to hunch. He felt blood spill out of his mouth, dripping from his inflamed lips. In an instant, his body slammed against the ground, his lungs desperately trying to gain enough air to calm his body. He moved, starting to get upon his hands and knees to get away, but more hands reached out, grabbing his tail, pulling him back. The pain was too intense, too magnified - and he screamed. A brief outburst, but a sharp cry nonetheless. He heard voices talking and laughing. One of them said something. Something about giving him "a gift to remember them by". They paused, discussing briefly in their native tongue. As they spoke, he thought.
'Och....Och! Preh Vegeta sha Saijin Jakaht! Preh Vegeta sha Saijin Jakaht eti Proh otre OCH!' he mentally screamed, trying to get his breathing under control, though his attempts seemed futile. Hands pulled again, dragging him across the hard earth. Frozen in pain, his head scraped against the ground. He watched the trail of blood grow longer and longer. His tail was twisted, bent, broken. The hands left the useless appendage, choosing to take his shoulders and toss him onto his back.
He was restrained, and suddenly artic ice bit him. Quickly it acted, splitting his skin, carving deeply into his flesh. He was able to gasp, but he refused to scream this time. Taunts filled his ears, as well as curses of, "Mu'takki Saijin!" Being held in place, the ice attacked him again. Digging into him, tearing his muscles in his shoulder, chest, and arm - the ice became heat, lancing his nerves. He felt another slash, this time across his shin. Crimson liquid poured from him, running down his skin onto the floor. They laughed at him, mocked him, insulted him.
Hands released him, and he used pure willpower to move. He staggered to his feet, head lifting to see a brilliant ball of yellow light. His mouth opened in surprise as the raging ki raced toward him. It slammed him into the wall and cracked his head, forcing another river of blood. He gasped for air and looked down at his exposed innards. Blackened flesh edged the hole of his midsection. The white of bone covered in red was proof of ribs and spine. Yet still he stood. In shock, and numb, but still - he stood.
Even as they reached inside and tore out his intestines - he still stood. He stood as they held up the entrails as a goreish trophy, rejoicing at their triumph. Stood as they bathed themselves in his blood. Stood as they ate their trophy, noisily, sickeningly. He stood, black spots dotting his vision. He stood, thinking, '..Och...' He coughed lightly, tasting the copper of his blood. He thought again, '..Och...' And he fell.
Vegeta's eyes opened, his hands darting to his stomach. The irrational fear that he was injured lingered from his dream. He cursed himself slightly and ran a hand through his hair. How long had he slept? He wasn't sure, but he was feeling much better regardless of his odd "nightmare". With a sigh, he began to trace the evidence of old wounds.
For some reason "victory scars" came to mind. In a way they were. He was..stronger now. He was unafraid. Bold. Yes, these scars were a victory for him - for he had survived. His eyebrows furrowed, recalling the dream, and its ending. The ending was of course, not true to life. Where had that come from? He closed his eyes to review it over in his head. It suddenly dawned upon him what could have given him such a reaction that he'd be bothered subconsciously.
"Kakkarot, you idiot!"
The blast tore at him, shredded him, like a vicious, angry monster, using its claws to tear him apart layer by layer.
"V-Vegeta!!" Kakkarot screamed in terror...
It was one of the stupidest things he had ever done, and yet, if he had died in saving Kakkarot, he felt as if it would have been worth it. Kakkarot always found a way to win.
Kakkarot...why did his mind always wander to him? What was so special about him? Other than the fact that he was so indescribably good-natured and perfect in every aspect he could never be... He was so innocent and pure, but he loved to be in the brunette's company. Did the third class not see that being around this prince would taint his soul? Did he not see what a wretched, black heart he contained? How could that man want to be his friend, much less, stand his presence? He couldn't understand how they ended up in the relationship that they had.
The black-haired Saijin was forgiving, compassionate, caring, and capable - while he was cold, dark, needlessly violent, and ruthless. They were so unlike and yet they appeared to be "friends". It was so strange! In fact, it was nearly too strange to bear. He had never had someone care about him other than himself. Piccolo had said that Kakkarot viewed him as someone special. But why? Why would he? What was so special about him?
A knock came at the door, and Vegeta sat up, noting how he felt much better. "Come in," the prince said, throwing the covers to the side as he turned in position.
Piccolo cracked the door open, "You feel hungry?"
Vegeta sighed and gave a shrug, "Yeah, sure. Why not.."
The Namek entered and brought a cart stacked with food in along with him. "Help yourself," Piccolo declared before he slipped out of the room silently. Vegeta grabbed a plate and dug in. Once he tasted the food his appetite instantly skyrocketed. With no one around, he ate ferociously, but careful enough not to spill anything onto himself. Within minutes, the pile of dishes were clean - literally - as the brunette had even licked them. Damn, he had been hungry... How could he have not realized it? True, it had been hectic the last couple days..
Sighing, Vegeta fell back against the plush bed, stretching out.
He frowned, thinking it all over. The whole..suicide thing. Why should he care about what others thought of him? Why should he care what lies Zarbon spread about him? No...he didn't care. He only cared about...
'Kakkarot,' Vegeta thought, blinking slowly, 'Ever since I heard about him, I've..chased after him. It was so painful for him - the last of my kind - to reject me. Painful, also, for him to beat me down and spare my life. Then the embarrassment of allying with him - of being saved by him. And then, only to lose it all before I could witness it.
'Frieza...the pain...the humiliation...the tears... I had never cried before, but I did that day. It was everything. Frieza. The years. The losses. The..weakness. Everything. I just couldn't take it anymore. That's why when I came back, I decided not to care anymore... There was no use in trying, so I let it go. I let it all go...but I never forgot about him. I could not.'
He could not forget a man who smiled when seeing him. Could not forget a man that gave up his time to spend it with him. Could not forget the memories they made together.
He cared about Kakkarot and what Kakkarot thought of him. He was involved. Did this make him dependent?
He smiled faintly, almost sadly, as he whispered, "Kakkarot..." He wondered why Kakkarot hadn't been able to see him today. He shook his head at his own foolishness. 'Idiot,' he told himself, 'He has a family. After almost dying, of course they'd want to see him.' For some reason, he felt himself grow exceedingly jealous. No one ran to him when he was in trouble. No one supported him in his worst of times. No one raised a finger to help him when he was in need. No one looked after him when he felt down - they merely turned the other cheek. No one cared for him like they did for Kakkarot, or any of the other Z warriors. No one cared...
A faint pressure on his shoulder and a sob, "Oh god, Vegeta, why...?"
"No, Vegeta, no..." a whisper was spoken as light, soft brushes were caressing his face.
God...Kakkarot really cared about him..? Truly cared for him? He closed his eyes and put his right arm over his face so his nose rested in the nook of his elbow. Caring and trusting were merely words to him, used by the weak. But he was weak, wasn't he?
A part of him screamed, Of course not! Certainly, yes, he had flaws and mistakes. Nothing can be perfect, he granted. However, whatever he lacked in physical strength he made up elsewhere. For example, he was nearly a master of the art of intimidation. This was not the easiest thing to accomplish when your height was not to your advantage.
He had also been complimented on his excellent tactical decisions. If there had been a plan that required X amount of people, Y amount of money, and Z amount of time - Vegeta would find a way to cut everything in half.
So yes, it was true. Brawn was not everything. He was weak, and yet...not weak.
He was so confused.
What had happened when his way of life had been taken away? Why could he not make any definite decisions since then? What had changed in those brief moments of death, that caused him to lose control? Maybe, because he failed himself and lost his life, he didn't feel secure with any aspect when he returned.
The way death had felt...a whirlwind of calm. Bitter sweet and dark, it had enveloped him, seeping into every pore and saturating him to the bone. Death was wondrously silent, not even a ringing in his ears existed - just silence. He had drifted, no weight, no gravity, no mass.
Drifting there, he felt everything run together, overlap, and rearrange itself. His thoughts swirled and came to one point, like liquid being poured through a funnel. His whole life simply came together, being analyzed before being spat back at him.
The answer to his troubles came to him. To all the problems he hadn't been able to solve. The losses, the failures, the pain, the humiliation, the embarrassment, the torture, Frieza, Zarbon, Kakkarot... It was all too much. Too much for him to take anymore. Not by himself. He lost so much...too much. He felt like everything was a lie. The words his father spoke to him...
He wasn't strong. He wasn't a powerful warrior. He wasn't even a prince. He had been a slave - a servant. A slave for Freiza of all available tyrants - the one who had killed all his people save for three.
The fact he had never avenged his own species' destruction... Ironic, almost. He committed genocide and yet it wasn't fair that his own race was obliterated? How painfully amusing. How pathetic.
For years he had thought of himself as a powerful prince, but, after fighting Zarbon and Frieza, he knew better. He knew then. When he died, he knew the truth. This time though, when he came back to Earth, he accepted it. He was nothing. Nothing. And if he simply disappeared, no one would care. So why should he?
Now though....Now what was he? The prince again? He shook his head as if to help clear his thoughts. 'Preh Vegeta sha Saijin Jakaht,' he declared mentally before adding, '....uru Preh Proch.' His eyes opened and he looked up at the ceiling, letting everything clear from him for a moment. 'Eti, Kakkarot...Nreh Nroch..' he admitted, a smile coming to his lips. He wasn't sure what was so funny about the situation though, but it felt like something to laugh over. "Yes, third class," he whispered, almost chuckling at the situation and himself, "You aren't what you appear to be." A knock on the door interrupted his ponderings.
Piccolo stepped inside and offered a small smile, "Good, you ate."
Vegeta sat up and responded with a nod, "Yes. My compliments to the cook."
Piccolo smirked, grabbing the empty cart and pushing it towards the door, "So you're feeling better I take it?"
Vegeta's tail twitched as the prince thought for a moment. "Perhaps," the brunette said, smirking coyly.
Piccolo returned the look before making a gesture, "Come on." Vegeta raised an eyebrow, looking suddenly suspicious. "I won't bite," the Namek promised, opening the door, "Come on." Hesitantly, the prince nodded, moving to gather his shirt and shoes. After quickly putting the items on, he headed out with Piccolo who pushed the cart to the side in the hall - for he knew Mr. Popo would take care of it. Piccolo answered the unspoken question he knew Vegeta was asking, "I want to show you something. It's not a long flight."
Without another word, he leapt into the air, hoping the Saijin would decide to follow. He smiled inwardly when he noticed that he did. He was probably a bit skeptical about up and going some place he probably had never been to before, but nonetheless, Vegeta was following him. 'Good,' Piccolo thought to himself, relaxing slightly, 'He at least trusts me.' The Namek had been correct about the flight time - they arrived at their destination within a few minutes.
Vegeta took a quick sweep of the area. A forest crept in from all directions before receding slightly - making room for the river which got its source of power from a large waterfall. The roar was loud, but not deafening. It was almost peaceful in a way. "This is where I used to meditate," Piccolo informed, floating about halfway up the waterfall. He situated his legs indian style before looking up at Vegeta who still hovered, "Well, are you going to join me?"
The prince paused before slowly descending himself to eye level with Piccolo, "What, do you want me to meditate with you?"
Piccolo smirked, "Is there a problem with that?"
The brunette thought it over, hesitating slightly, "..No."
Piccolo tipped his head to one side as he thought over the situation, "When was the last time you meditated?"
He was not given a reply.
"No answer means far too long," the Namek said, "Come on, then."
Vegeta sighed and gave in. He mirrored Piccolo's stance and closed his eyes. Meditation...Meditation... He was supposed to clear his mind and focus. Yeah, okay. He could humor the green-skinned alien. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and slowly exhaled.
Not once did Piccolo attempt to make small talk with him. Apparently, he was content in leaving the prince alone. So he probably wouldn't of gotten upset upon learning that Vegeta fell asleep.
He slept oddly. It was a welcoming slumber - a good rest, but he dreamt of strange things.
He dreamt of himself in his Saijin armor. Armor that had long since been destroyed. It glittered and gleamed in even the faintest of light, as if it was proud to be adorned by the prince. It reflected, now, a hot, yellow sun that was so intense it was nearly white. It baked the earth below his feet, and cooked the rotting corpses across the fields. A path of destruction had laid waste on this planet, and it had been lead by him. He was angry, today. Not only that, but hungry and tired as well.
He was twenty years old, and yet, he was only seven. No, maybe not that young in either case, but he was an adult, and yet, a child.
He stared down at the mutilated flesh before his feet. The skin was as white as snow, and the insides a soft pink. His stomach growled and, with a snarl, he snapped off an appendage and began to feast.
It did not taste all that pleasing, but he was ravenous - starving. He closed his eyes as he gorged himself, unable to watch himself act in such a manner. Blood was smeared over his hands as teeth tore through tough tendons and bones.
He had heard a rumor once - that if you ate the flesh of another person you inherited their strength. He wondered if it was possible to inherit their weakness. At last, he disregarded the lore. This was not an act of dominance or self-improvement, but merely a necessity to continue living.
And why should he have that glorious benefit when all he sought was to take it away from others?
At that point, it was unquestionable. It would be for years to come.
"Fuck those weaklings."
Weak because they could not stop him. Weak because they could not challenge their oppressor. Weak because they all died.
Weak. Just like the Saijins.
Weak because they did not submit, nor went out with a fight. Weak in their conformity. Their simplicity. Their lack of..uniqueness.
Who was he referring to? He was no longer certain. The seven year old was pompously stating it was these fallen before him. The twenty year old spoke softly that he - Vegeta - simply was the Prince of Saijins. The manifestations never offered an easy choice, so rather, he decided that he obviously was speaking of himself.
Who else refused to fully succumb to an overbearing power, yet fail to fight it? Who else conformed with the standards presented, thereby living what they had so-called learned? Who else was so simple-minded that they could narrowly be matched by an animal? Who else lacked individualism by yielding it to the person responsible for their dilemma?
Who else was this fucking stupid?
It was funny how you can take innocence, but can't put it upon yourself. If he could, he would've been an angel by now. Just like... him.
Kakkarot. His bane.
In an instant, he was in a rural, desert location. Across the sweltering, baked dirt and under the sharp blue sky, he stood awaiting for his enemy to attack. His friend. He - Vegeta - was there, and yet...he was not. He was distant and far away, put under lock and key where he liked it. He let it take control. It wanted this claim. It wanted this power. It wanted this control. It wanted to stoke its internal fires of ego, feeding it the blood of this traitor. This friend.
He's lost control. He'd lose control. He'd wanted power. He had power. He possessed power. He'd had pride. He'd lost pride. He lacked.
A fist greeted his jaw with ferocity, jostling his teeth and busting his lip. Blood and saliva were unwillingly knocked out of his mouth...
Arms carefully embraced him, holding him gently immobile...
'I...I shed my noble blood for this piece of trash..!!'
"How can I hate the only person who understands me? How can I hate someone who makes me happy?"
Vegeta opened his eyes and disentangled himself. He ran a hand through his hair quickly, "Well....That was interesting to say the least." He hadn't spoken it towards Piccolo, but merely had thought out loud. He turned away, floating up a few yards to look across the forest and to the horizon. The dream was merrily playing havoc on his nerves and emotions. It was difficult because we constantly had the urge to contradict himself. He had no idea what he should be feeling, and it was frustrating.
The Namek silently came up behind him, barely resting his hand on Vegeta's shoulders. The prince visibly tensed at the contact, his tail hugging his waist tightly.
"Sometimes," Piccolo whispered, looking out at the horizon as well, "you don't think you can tell anybody something, when it's really you don't have the right person to tell."
A pause ensued before Vegeta replied, "So what exactly do you want me to say?"
Piccolo massaged the shoulders lightly, abruptly stopping and withdrawing when he spoke again, "You don't have to say anything. I'm just offering my ears to talk to, that's all."
Vegeta shook his head slightly, murmuring, "Ears to talk to? Quite some ears to offer, indeed..."
Piccolo smiled, flying around to the other side of him, "Well, it's getting late, I think we should head back. Knowing you, you'll be hungry soon enough."
Vegeta's tail uncoiled, deciding to idly swing back and forth, "Just because I eat a lot doesn't mean I'm hungry all the time."
Piccolo chuckled again, "So you're not hungry?"
Vegeta frowned, glancing elsewhere, "Well...that's not my point..."
The Namek laughed a smooth, dark, quiet rumble, "Then let's go eat."
They landed on the lookout to find that Mr. Popo had already prepared for their arrival. A large table had been set up in the main hall, decked out with plates upon plates of food. Four chairs lined it, two on each side. Candles were placed at the center, their holders were detailed statues of Shenron the Eternal Dragon - a nice touch. The chairs were a wood - what type Vegeta wasn't sure of, nor did he care, but he did notice that they had been stained a reddish color - which went along with the plush part of the furniture. Velvet covered various parts which held padding, such as the back, seat, and arms. The rest was exposed wooden frame, but it suited the atmosphere nicely.
As Vegeta ate, he soon found that he was the only one eating. He stopped for a second, swallowing what he had in his mouth before asking, "What?"
Dende nearly jumped out of his skin at the sound of the prince's voice, "W-What?"
Vegeta slurped down some pasta before answering, "Why aren't you eating?"
Piccolo picked up a glass of water in front of him, "Nameks don't need to eat. They only need water to survive." He promptly took a few gulps before setting the glass down.
Mr. Popo decided to add in, "I've already eaten."
Vegeta looked across the table and raised an eyebrow, "So, this is all for me then?"
The genie nodded, "We've had to provide for Goku-"
Piccolo interrupted him softly, "Kakkarot."
Mr. Popo looked at the elder Namek for a moment, quite surprised at the correction, "We've had to provide for..'Kakkarot'..before. We know how much a Saijin eats."
Vegeta grabbed the next plate over, "Hn. Is that so? Who do you think eats more?" The prince easily devoured the meat off of bone, chewing it thoroughly while he waited for a response.
"I'd have to say..'Kakkarot'..eats more," Mr. Popo declared, obviously not used to the Saijin name when he spoke it.
"Hn. Yes," Vegeta agreed with a nod, nearly inhaling some rolls, "Kakkarot is larger than me." He lifted a bowl of soup and drank it all within one breath.
"That still doesn't mean you won't clear off this table," Piccolo pointed out before taking another gulp of water. Vegeta glanced at him, giving him a smirk as he began scarfing down on some pork chops.
He ate wolfishly, but still with an air of carefulness, for he never made a mess. And even though it took a long time for him to complete his meal, the two Nameks and the gardener stayed with him. He stretched afterward, his tail fluffing from the base to the tip and back, giving it the appearance of an odd wave.
"I approve," the prince said, running his hand over his stomach, "It was excellent." Mr. Popo looked very pleased with himself as he began to clean up the dishes.
Dende smiled as he stood, "Well, that's good news." Piccolo stood as well, finishing off his drink before turning and looking out across the vast sky. Vegeta gathered himself and joined Piccolo. Dende worked his way around the table, stepping next to the brunette. "You know," he murmured softly, but distinctly, "you are welcome here anytime." Vegeta said nothing, only giving the younger Namek a small nod. "Sleep well," the guardian said his farewell before turning and going on his way. The Saijin and the elder Namek stood together, neither talking, both just enjoying the peace around them.
Piccolo finally spoke, his voice a near murmur, "I just want you to know that whatever is spoken between us, stays between us."
Vegeta closed his eyes and nodded before opening them, "I understand, Piccolo." They stood then, listening to the wind. After the light from the sun was nearly gone, Vegeta turned to head in for the night.
"Sleep well, Prince Vegeta," Piccolo said, not moving from his position.
"Tza-Tza," Vegeta said simply. He paused suddenly and looked over his shoulder as Piccolo looked over his. "Ditto," Vegeta explained. He gave a casual, lopsided smile, "I like to use languages I've picked up, so I remember them. I like to pretend that knowing them may come in handy some day." Piccolo smiled and answered with a nod before turning away from the brunette. Vegeta turned as well, heading towards his temporary room.
The candles were lit when he walked inside, and the bed had been made. Also, his belongings had been put upon a dresser in neat piles with the clothes all washed. He kicked off his shoes and easily peeled off his shirt, tossing it onto the floor. He sighed and let himself fall back onto the bed. He felt himself growing tired very quickly, despite the nap he had had earlier. Vegeta stretched himself out, yawning silently as he did so with the tail fluffing itself. He suddenly felt very fatigued, but very relaxed, and very lazy. His tail twitched, almost flopped, back and forth across the mattress causing near-silent thumps to fill the air.
His mind suddenly recalled the dream from the previous night, causing him to tense up. He glared at nothing, rolled on his side, and curled up slightly. His tail no longer twitched as enthusiastically as it just had.
Ever since that day so long ago... he couldn't stand physical contact outside of battle. Could barely stand it in battle. It was agony to a Saijin, to want a fight, but yet being partially disabled. When he still had his pride, it hurt him greatly, because it was such a monstrosity - because he was such a monstrosity. Later, he had learned to accept it, and it became natural to shy away from people. He had all the reasons to stay away from people already, the fact that he didn't want to be touched was just the icing on the cake. He had never felt comfortable when nearby someone else, and he thought this would never change.
However, as of late, he'd found himself in the company of others more and more frequently. It had started with Trunks approaching him, then Kakkarot, and - finally - Piccolo. A part of him wallowed in the attention, while another part despised it. In return, it made his reactions seemingly sporadic and unpredictable.
Oh god, he was so confused... He'd been so confused, for so long now. Ever since that fight with Kakkarot. Ever since that fight.
It was so odd: he had spent his previous days either trying desperately to intoxicate his blood stream with alcohol or lounging about in his room doing absolutely nothing. Often times he had pondered away, which was interesting with everything considering - his species was a war-like race, and hardly scientific or overly curious. He remembered that certain time in early afternoon on Kakkarot's birthday, and he chuckled without really knowing why. He recalled the handstand and the way his imagination had run rampant. He recalled how often he thought of space. How often he thought of home. Or rather, what was home. He no longer had a home.
Now, he pondered again. Even with all the technological advances in the universe, there was still some things left unexplained. To Vegeta, it was both fascinating and frightening - a secret he kept well to himself. It wasn't just the unknown; it was, specifically, the monstrous destructive force that haunted the very lonesome depths of his being. Nappa once told him that everyone had an irrational fear. Vegeta had simply laughed. Silently though, he had wondered whether his hidden nightmare was irrational or not. If one fears heights, but has never left the ground, is that an irrational fear? The context only works if it meant death to those who left the ground. His fear prevailed, but so did his musings.
Since the reign of the Cold family, there had been a steady decline of education throughout the universe. He had noted that overall it looked like he'd been one of the lucky few who had been able to play student as well as servant. A servant who's duty, who's job was to commit genocide.
So fucking pathetic - that his life revolved around death.
Not just his, though. So many others had been bound to that fate as well.
...And if they weren't careful..cutthroats, thieves, and petty criminals would end up ruling the galaxies, and the great scientists would become nothing but dust. Sometimes he thought this wouldn't be such a bad thing. Just watch chaos ensue and people destroy themselves. Mention a scientist whose theory had revolutionized technology for systems abroad and people stare at you blankly. Mention the Purger of Planets, the Murderer of Millions, the Silent Slayer..then you have earned yourself a conversation.
Even if it all ended - years upon years later - the masses of dust and gas would come together due to gravity to start it all over again. It'd form an accretion disk which would spin to conserve angular momentum, and then..... Vegeta blinked in surprise. He knew all this boring drivel and he was a warrior. The memories came back to him, still fresh after their decades of entombment. It had been when he was small, after just recently becoming an acquirement of Frieza...
"Your normal teacher is out sick, so Professor Goran'dja will be your instructor for today," Dodoria said in a normal military tone, stopping abruptly before a door. Vegeta looked up at the elite, giving a nod. The older male opened the door and nudged the prince inside, muttering, "Brat.." Vegeta immediately noticed the lack of lights the room normally had blaring. Their was, instead, a soft glow from space that was much appreciated in its place. A figure stood by a window, overlooking a "nearby" galaxy that the ship was passing.
"Good evening, Vegeta," the Professor spoke, mimicking the words with his hands at the same time, "Do you like..space?"
The small prince approached the taller man, giving a shrug while answering, //Such things don't mean much to me.//
Goran'dja smiled pleasantly at the child. After a moment, he finally replied, "Did you know there are more mysteries and more galaxies in the universe than there are cells in your body?" Vegeta's eyebrows raised at that one. Biology class had taught him that there was, as he liked to say to himself, a "heckuva lot" of cells in his body. The Professor nodded, continuing, "No matter how advanced we are, we still don't know exactly how this all started - and by this, I mean life. They still don't know. Isn't that amazing?" The young prince gave a shrug, taking a seat that was provided.
"Today, Vegeta, we expand your vocabulary as instructed," the Professor said, still mimicking, "but we'll also do much more than that." Vegeta looked up at the alien strangely, raising an eyebrow and looking almost suspicious. "Look out the window," said the taller male, gesturing. Vegeta sighed, really not interested, but he complied anyway. Disobeying his instructor would be like disobeying Frieza and he did not want to do that.
After gazing for a second, he looked back at the Professor.
"What do you see?" the substitute asked, tipping his head slightly.
Vegeta shrugged again, //Stars...space...//
Mr. Goran'dja inquired, "Galaxies?" Vegeta gave a half-shrug half-nod. "Vegeta, do you know what a galaxy is?" his teacher asked simply, and in a non-threatening manner. The prince looked over the form before him, noting the frailty of the creature's figure. Tall, but mostly skeletal, this being wasn't meant to fight, but rather to teach like it was now. The face bore a short snout, like a cross between a dog and a cat. The eyes had a dark violet pupil that was surrounded by a swirling mass of navy and purple - not something he saw everyday. And for some reason he felt like he'd never see them again.
//It is..owned by Freiza,// the Saijin said slowly, cautiously.
Professor Goran'dja shook his head, explaining, "A galaxy is a huge collection of stellar and interstellar matter isolated in space and bound together by its own gravity. Did you know there are different types of galaxies?" Vegeta merely shook his head. "There are several types, all different depending on their appearance," the Professor said, looking out the window again, "Do you know how planets form?" Vegeta, again, shook his head. The alien knelt, looking at him eye level, a sparkle in his eyes, "Interstellar gas and dust will start to be pulled together by gravity. All things have a gravitational pull on one another, no matter how minute. The pull will start the matter spinning, so that it will conserve angular momentum. It'll form an accretion disk and eventually, a planet. Depending on the system that it's in depends if it will harbor life or not."
Vegeta looked down for a moment before saying, //My planet no longer exists.//
The Professor replied, //Neither does mine.//
A smile was shared between the two. A silent understanding. A silent bond.
"Do you know what the surface of a black hole is called?" Professor Goran'dja continued at random.
Vegeta paused here. Then, as if he was trying too hard at something, he smirked and said, //The surface?//
A slight laugh came from the taller male, "It's called the event horizon. Because it's as far as we can see into a black hole. The center, or location of the black hole is called a singularity. Why do you think they call it that?"
Vegeta gave a tiny shrug, looking down at his feet, //Because there's only one point?//
The Professor smiled warmly, "I think that's a good enough answer. Did you know that not even light can escape a black hole?"
Vegeta looked back up and shook his head. Then suddenly, he shook it harder, turning it into a nod.
"You did know that?" the sub asked, slightly impressed. It was something that was common knowledge on his planet, but something that the elites on this ship didn't comprehend.
Vegeta simply nodded again.
"Amazing. And here I thought you were all just shit-for-brains," the Professor laughed heartily, "Pardon my foul language, though I'm sure even you probably curse much harsher than that. So..they do teach you something of worth, do they?"
//No,// Vegeta admitted, //I..learnt that myself.//
"Wonderful!" Mr. Goran'dja said before continuing on.
He explained, answered questions, and taught the prince something the man obviously enjoyed. Yes, the boy expanded on his vocabulary like he was supposed to, but something else had been shared. This man had a passion for learning and teaching, where as the prince was a warrior. Education wasn't necessary, not unless it involved new techniques for battle. Even so, the small brunette had found himself fascinated by all the astounding facts the Professor had to offer. So, when it came to the end of the day, instead of waving, Vegeta mouthed, "Good-bye." He never saw Professor Goran'dja again. Vegeta was asleep in a matter of moments, his breath steady and his mind at ease. He dozed off and soon dreamed. In his dream, he was on board a ship overlooking a galaxy cluster...
He sat alone, his hands in his lap, not moving for once. A figure was there then, but the presence wasn't threatening. He looked over to see a small child like he himself was, but this boy had black, unruly hair. "Hi," said the boy, beaming happily, "What's your name?" Vegeta looked away from him and back out the window, ignoring him. The boy frowned and sat down beside him, "Are you upset? You look like you're upset over something."
Vegeta finally spoke to him, //My planet is gone. My species nearly extinct. My family is dead.//
The boy seemed to think this over for a moment, before gesturing with his hands as well, //My planet, too, is gone. My species is nearly extinct as well. My family is also dead.//
Vegeta looked at the boy who was now smiling at him. //How can you be happy?// Vegeta asked in amazement.
The black eyes looked into his own, radiating warmth, //Because, Jakaht..Nreh Nroch, eti Preh Proch.//
Part Ten: c |