Pandora's Box: Chapter 12
aka Losing Ground

"can you take it all away?/
well you shoved it in my face/
this pain you gave to me/
can you take it all away?/"

-Puddle of Mudd "Blurry"

As Goku drew his knees up to hide his face, Trunks approached. The black-haired man's frame shook from the first heaves of his chest, and Trunks' pace considerably slowed as if second-guessing whether he should attempt comfort or not. He knelt beside the other Saijin and gingerly placed a hand on his shoulder. Goku clutched his knees closer, as if too ashamed to face anyone, unable to hold in the harsh moans of defeat.

Trunks wanted to say something to reassure him that everything would be okay, but due to personal experience from his true timeline, he knew that reality was, more often than not, Hell on Earth. So instead of speaking, he lightly massaged the shoulder, trying to place some of his support upon Goku. In response there came a muffled sob of, "...oh god, he used me, he used me, he used me..." His wife decided to take appropriate action, which to her, was reprimanding him for his wrong doings.

"Well, Goku, I can't say that I feel sorry for you," Chi-chi said with her hands on her hips, "because you deserve such a thing for cheating on me. With him of all people! I am your wife, does that mean nothing to you??"

Restraining himself, Goku exposed his tear-streaked face, "I am your husband, does it mean nothing to you!?"

The lady was appalled that he'd treat her with such disrespect, "What are you talking about!? You're always running around, fighting, training, eating..DYING! Don't you like being with me!? Why him, Goku!? Why Vegeta!?"

Goku ran his hands through his hair, tugging at the locks in frustration and emotional stress, "I am who I am, Chi-chi! I will never change! Not for you! Not for anyone! I like you Chi-chi, but I cannot have a wife who treats me like a child!"

Chi-chi interjected, nearly screaming, "I do not! And you didn't answer my question! Why Vegeta!?"

An explosion of pent up anger ripped through Goku's being as he broke under pressure. In an instant, his hair flashed gold and his aura compounded - burning brighter, more deadly, "Because he doesn't hold any expectations of me! He doesn't unfairly judge me! He listened to me! He went places with me! We enjoyed each other's company! Because he didn't yell at me for no good reason! Because he..because he came to my rescue when Cell nearly killed me! Because he understands me more than you ever will!! He treats me more like a normal person than you do!"

"He used you!" Chi-chi countered, becoming so enraged that her whole face was red, "That bastard screwed you senseless!!"

For a moment, Goku was too taken aback to even be able to think clearly. Her words triggered memories of the Saijins' intense tryst. He felt something inside of him snap, and his words flowed out of his mouth like a calm river before a waterfall, "You bitch. I don't care if he did use me, he still treated me better than you ever had. At least he pretended to respect me. At least he pretended to care. At least he would scream my name..." The statement seemed to have dropped a bombshell on everyone.

Chi-chi soon turned red for a different reason, "Y-Y-You..." She managed to shake off her shock and clench her teeth, curling her hands into fists, "I can't believe you. You don't see it, but he has changed you. You're nothing more than a..a...whore!" For a minute, all the Saijin could do was open and close his mouth, so surprised at Chi-Chi's demeanor. She was positively livid.

Zarbon interjected, having watched the display intently, "Goku, it was naive of you to think you could change Vegeta." A heavy silence hung in the air, thick with unspoken tension.

"Zarbon and Chi-chi are right, Goku," Krillin murmured softly, his eyes downcast.

Goku couldn't believe what was happening, "WHAT THE FUCK!? Is the whole fucking world against me!? Fuck this shit!"

Chi-chi yelled above him, "Stop cursing in front of my son!"

Goku felt a well of hot tears emerge from within him, "NO! I won't! I'll say whatever I want, whenever I want! I'm sick of..of sacrificing my happiness to please everyone else! Well, I'm not fucking happy, so there!! I'm not this happy-go-lucky fool of a hero that bumbles around on a candy-assed cloud all day! I am a Saijin! And I've lived up to these stupid, impossible expectations for far too fucking long! ..And saying fuck never hurt anyone! FUCK, FUCK, FUCK!" There was a pause from the sheer severity of it all. "I can't take this! Fuck, I can't stop saying fuck! AH! Fuck this, I'm leaving!!" Goku screamed in complete and utter despair. With ease he ran out the door and blasted into the sky, leaving only a streak of gold in his wake.

With the sense of him leaving all his friends and family behind for a life far away by himself, Goku let himself cry, the wind nearly instantly drying his tears as they fell. In a matter of minutes he'd lost everything he held dear to him. And it had been caused by the same person he had so deeply fallen for. Fate could not be more cruel. The escapades at the beach. The games at the ice rink. The prince's birthday party. ...Their love-making..... All a vicious, cold, lie. So easily Vegeta had crushed his spirit. The mental damage reflected upon his physical body as his hair flickered back and forth between black and blond, which - eventually - he let go of his shaky grasp on his ki, and fell to the earth. He wasn't damaged in any place visual from the fall, but he had never felt more desperately alone and beaten then at that moment. He imagined Vegeta off somewhere laughing at him.

His train of thought suddenly shifted back to that of his comrades. What would they say upon his return, if he ever did return? How would they act around him? Who would still be his friend,and who would give him up? He doubted Trunks would turn away, as it appeared that boy had much hope and faith, and, judging from the fact that he had tried to offer solace, the demi-Saijin was most certainly "on his side". Krillin, he was pretty sure, would no longer maintain the best friend status, due to the recent events that had come into light. He wasn't too certain that Krillin was opposed to homosexuality, but apparently his thoughts matched that of Chi-chi's and Zarbon's - and that was never a good sign.

Yamcha would hesitantly back off and quietly stand by Bulma's side, just for old time's sake. Bulma, naturally, would agree with Zarbon. He had no idea how Tien or Chao-tzu would react, as they had been oblivious to the friendship shared by the two full-blooded Saijins. He expected surprise and rejection, knowing how conservative the two could be. There was only three people he could truly believe would stay beside him, and that was Trunks, Piccolo, and Gohan. Gohan had always supported him, no matter what his decisions, which was kind of odd for a child to do to their parent, but Goku had treated him likewise. Piccolo would probably be squeamish on the basis that Goku had been with the prince intimately, and even more squeamish due to Vegeta's shocking revelations.

However, Piccolo, in the mean time, had been listening intently to the heated debate on the entire Goku/Vegeta and then Goku/Chi-chi arguments. Finally, unable to take any more of the bickering, he motioned to Trunks to casually leave the room and exit through the back door. Outside, they both gave a sigh of relief as their ears were given a rest. "What do you think happened to Goku?" Trunks finally got the nerve to speak up.

"It is not Goku who I'm necessarily concerned about at this moment," the Namek informed solemnly.

"What??" Trunks replied, eyebrows raising in shock.

"Goku is a strong one, and an event such as this, even though it is powerful, will not overcome him. Vegeta, on the other hand, I am sincerely worried about," Piccolo spoke, slowly walking further away from Capsule Corp as he could still hear the people shouting back and forth to each other.

Trunks followed, his curiosity sparked, "But you heard my dad..He was-"

Piccolo cut him off, instantly, sharply, "-lying. He was lying out of his ass so bad, it wasn't even funny, Trunks." They stopped underneath a tree to converse, distant enough that the voices couldn't even reach the green-skinned one's ears. "It was a pretty impressive speech, I must admit," Piccolo smirked softly before his pensive look returned, "but there had been something that had bothered me about it. Something that seemed off about it. While everyone was bantering, I think I finally figured it out. Vegeta had spoken of leaving Earth and going to rule the universe, and that he didn't care anything for Goku. But something that struck me as odd is that he said he wouldn't blow the planet up. What more, he told Goku to return to his wife and son."

Trunks assessed the information, recalling the brutal words spoken by his father again, this time dissecting the little monologue, "That's true. If he really didn't care, we'd probably all be dead by now!"

Piccolo nodded in affirmation, "Correct. My theory is that Vegeta got scared."

Trunks blinked and tilted his head to the side, not comprehending, "Scared? Of what?? That's absurd!"

Piccolo shrugged and folded his arms, eyes gazing into the distance, "It may seem that way at first, but with me having hands on experience with that prince, I can tell you, it's very logical to him. Now, assuming what Goku said to Chi-chi is true, we can say that, as it seems, Goku and Vegeta..shared an..ah...."

Trunks decided to help out, "We can say that they had sex..?"

Piccolo coughed lightly and gave one swift nod, "Indeed. And I also think it's safe to assume that that is a new experience for Vegeta."

"Why do you say that?" Trunks found himself asking.

"Well, try to put yourself in his shoes. Not to mention I'm nearly a hundred percent sure he's been traumatized as a child, and I fear it may have been a sexual encounter," Piccolo said grimly, looking back at Trunks' pale visage, "Listen Trunks, what I'm about to tell you no one knows but me, but... A few days ago Vegeta showed up at the lookout, and I invited him to stay. He reluctantly agreed, and some time later I found him - intoxicated. I wrapped him in a towel, took him to the showers, and when I took away the towel, he lashed out at me."

Trunks felt a knot warp itself into existence in the pit of his stomach, "How did he lash out exactly?"

Piccolo's lips were pulled into a flat, thin line as he spoke, "He started pleading for me not to hurt him, and to not touch him. He began crying and calling for help. The way it happened, was too eerie, it was as if he thought I was an assailant."

Trunks blinked hard, wondering if her heard the Namek correctly, "Wait..are you saying what I think you're saying?? ..He thought you were going to rape him!?"

Piccolo paused, then finally nodded, "Unfortunately, yes, that is what I believe he was fearful of. Though that is physically impossible, I don't believe he was aware of that at the moment. Anyway, the entire point is that I think it's safe to say that - one - Goku and Vegeta have an intimate relationship and - two - Vegeta reacts violently to physical touch, affectionate or not. I think he doesn't know how to respond to the love Goku is offering, that coupled with the fact Vegeta probably thinks he is on a level below Goku, contributes to the reasoning behind his actions today."

"Do you think Goku knows?" Trunks asked, folding his arms.

"About Vegeta's traumatization? Yes. About how he was lying? No. And neither about his sex life. ..I can't prove it, but I have a feeling that...Goku was his..first," Piccolo flushed a deep purple, embarrassed by the topic of conversation.

"How do you figure?"

"Namek telepathy, though different, is just as strong as Saijin telepathy. It's a vibe I get, a hunch. Vegeta just doesn't seem like a..sexual creature."

"Yeah. ...So, where do you think he is?" Trunks murmured, pushing his bangs away from his face.

Piccolo sighed, unfolding his arms, "Hopefully, not dead."

Piccolo's hopes were fulfilled, as the Prince of Saijins had been flying about the opposite side of the planet. He had flown the same path at least five times, and every time it felt like he was in some foreign place, lost. He finally stopped in mid-air as he found his breath was leaving him. Inhaling and exhaling deeply, he tried to stop his head from spinning. He looked around at the deep blue sky, at all the greenery of the vegetation, and all the different species of animals.

He was in some foreign place, and he was most definitely lost. Yeah, he was really lost if he was pining over the loss of a stupid third class brain-damaged moron. This was his fault, and he needed to rectify the situation. He destroyed planets much like this one without even thinking twice. He closed his eyes, a headache throbbing in his temple in synch with the beating of his heart. The muscles within him tightened painfully, the soreness still lingering. This was his problem, and he would solve it his way. Forget all the stupid things he had learned on this stupid planet. No, scratch that - remember it all, and keep it all to heart. These were very important lessons, all of which he should make a detailed note of.

Lesson one, he told himself, I am worthless, but so is everyone else.
Lesson two, he thought, self-improvement is only achieved by self-destruction.
Lesson three, he continued, the only way to be happy is to be alone.
Lesson four, he concluded the idea, the price of happiness is at the expense of others' lives. The one who takes away your family is the one who is your savior.
Lesson five, he mused, always kill your savior.
Lesson six, destruction is freedom.
Lesson seven, relationships are as meaningless as fighting in a losing war.
Lesson eight, betrayal is the only means for survival, and survival is necessary for happiness. Death is a facade - a gilded cage.

Throwing his head back he released a loud, boisterous laugh as he recalled memories from just months ago. The taste of toxic chemicals, the thick Earth-sky blue liquid burning the back of his throat, came back to him. The recollection of the pain from an intruding piece of sharp metal only made him laugh harder. He was a twisted, dark, evil creation, and he would always envelope himself in the type of joy one can only receive from the misfortunes of others. Kakkarot was a fool to think him anything else. Forget his lost innocence, there wasn't anything he could do about it anyway. It wasn't important, at least, not nearly as important as making himself free. And freedom could only be attained by destruction.

The final lesson, he thought, is to be your own savior. Make your own freedom.
Fuck everyone else. You're the highest ranking worthlessness in this universe, and if you're not...
If you're not...well, you just fade. You become less than nothing.
You become a parasite.

He imagined a ghost from long ago looking at him disapprovingly. He could nearly see the figure shake his head before gesturing, //Och. Nreh Vegeta sha Saijin Jakaht, uru Nreh Nroch.// Deep down he felt a hint of doubt, a shred of double-questioning, but instead he thought, 'Lessons three, four, and six: happiness is being alone, happiness is accomplished by destroying others, and destruction is freedom.' Reviewing his own mental notes he stumbled across a major logic flaw.

Final lesson, be your own savior.
Lesson five, always kill your savior.

He couldn't help but laugh.

SAIJIN SAYINGS: A List of Made-Up Words and Phrases This Chapter and Their Meanings
Och. Nreh Vegeta sha Saijin Jakaht, uru Nreh Nroch.- "No. You are Vegeta the Prince of Saijins, but you are you."

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