Pandora's Box: Chapter 9
aka Masochistic Sadist

"But you gotta give it up to get off sometimes/
You gotta give it up to get off sometimes/
You gotta give it up to get off sometimes, I know/

You'd better stop, stop, stop, using me up/
You'd better stop, because I've had enough/
and I'm ready to forget the reasons/
that keep me here"

-Matchbox 20 "Stop"

Nearly hyperventilating, Goku tried desperately to think of a way to save Vegeta. His heart pounded hard, his body aching in response to the new adrenaline rush. He looked down at the brunette and felt his throat tighten, almost cutting off his oxygen supply. He probably would've vomited, had he the strength, from not only the gruesomeness of the injury, but also from the threat of losing Vegeta. Frustrated, and nearly in a panic, Goku released a sharp howl, nuzzling his face against the prince. He couldn't lose Vegeta. Vegeta was special to him, even if it was Piccolo that had to make it clear to him.

Goku was able to restrain a sob from escaping his battered body as he froze, realizing something he had forgotten in the fury of the battle. Piccolo. He had told Piccolo to get senzu beans. "PICCOLO!" Goku screamed, his voice ragged, his throat dry, "PICCOLO!!" Shakily forcing himself, the younger Saijin began to push himself to his feet, ignoring the various broken bones that wanted nothing more than to suffer without movement. Whimpering, the black-haired man half-limped half-crawled towards the Namek who looked like he was barely breathing. "Pi-Piccolo," Goku tried his best to call for his friend again, but his lungs felt thick, and his throat like sandpaper.

Collapsing to his knees in front of the Namek, Goku nudged the prone figure, "Piccolo...the..senzus..." Piccolo's eyes opened slightly, two thin slits looking up at the Super Saijin. With a grunt, the Namek fumbled around and nudged at a small brown pouch at his hip. Goku took the hint and removed it, extracting a bean in the process. "Eat," Goku commanded, pushing the bean past Piccolo's lips, getting up once he noticed the Namek chewing.

Racing back over to Vegeta's side, he checked the older man's pulse, relieved to find that it was still there, no matter how faint it was. 'Vegeta, wake up! I have a senzu bean, Vegeta!' Goku mentally called out as he popped one into his mouth and began to chew. 'VEGETA!' Goku's mental screams were loud enough to wake the dead, or near dead in this case. The prince made a tiny, almost inaudible, sound. It was evident that he wouldn't be able to swallow anything anytime soon, as it seemed he was having enough difficulty breathing.

Without hesitation, Goku tipped Vegeta's head back and opened the prince's mouth. With a small breath Goku sealed his mouth over other Saijin's trying to coax the crushed senzu down Vegeta's throat. When the small brunette made a louder sound, Goku withdrew himself, watching the horrible wound repair. 'Oh thank god..' he thought, closing his eyes for a moment to regain his bearings. The soft pad of footsteps caused the younger man to turn his attention away from Vegeta.

Piccolo spoke softly, extending his hand, "I'll heal the others." The black-haired man gave a nod, handing the pouch back to its owner who immediately ran to the nearest person.

Blinking hard for a few times, Vegeta tried to understand what was occurring. Just a few moments before, he had felt so cold, yet comfortably numb, willingly falling into darkness; and now, the sun's rays were shining down upon him, warming his skin. His vision focused, pain no longer coursing through him, and curious, he ran his hand down his chest and across his stomach, not entirely surprised to find himself uninjured. He looked to his side, noticing that he was not alone, "Kakkarot.."

Goku smiled weakly, scratching the side of his head nervously. Vegeta pushed himself up into a sitting position, licking his dry lips to taste the blood that was still there. Only after noticing this did he examine himself - his shirt was ruined as it now attributed a large hole as well as blood stains, the rest of his outfit, however, seemed nearly unscathed and in good condition. Taking a deep breath, the prince's tail curled partly, the tip beginning to twitch in uncertainty. "You are such an idiot, Kakkarot," Vegeta declared, taking himself to his feet.

Goku frowned and stood up as well, "Vegeta-"

The prince threw up his hand, "No. Stop. Now." Goku faltered for something to say or do, feeling discouraged by Vegeta's behavior. "I've said it before, and I'll say it again," Vegeta stated, trying to rub some blood off of his face and neck, "You're so incredibly moronic I can't even begin to describe it." Goku's expression fell, not even trying to resist the frown that came to his face; he had definitely not expected Vegeta to act like this, especially now. "I thought you couldn't get any stupider," the prince continued, brushing the dirt off of his clothes, "but obviously I was wrong."

Goku sighed deeply, taking a step toward the older Saijin, "Vegeta.."

The brunette stepped away, running a hand through his hair, his tail curling around his waist, "You expect me to be different, don't you? You want me to play the part of hero, don't you?"

Goku shook his head, "No, no, Vegeta, I-"

The shorter man interrupted him again, "You think I did all that to save your lame ass!? Well you're wrong! I did it all for me because I wanted the glory! I'm not a weakling like you all believe!"

A voice cut through the air like an arrow, "Oh god! Would you shut up!? I can't stand any more of your melodrama!"

Goku grit his teeth slightly in frustration, trying his best to keep cool, "Zarbon, just stay out of this."

The alien tossed his ponytail over his shoulder, out of the way, "Don't think you're special, Goku, he'd always make these speeches back in the day."

The younger Saijin furrowed his eyebrows, his fists clenching, "Zarbon-"

Vegeta shouted out over the taller man, partly because he wanted to purposely disrespect Goku, "Don't even get me started on you, Zarbon! You're not a perfect little angel like you make yourself out to be!"

Trunks sat up with the aid of Piccolo, rubbing his scalp, amazed when the pain began to fade away, "Thank you, Piccolo."

The Namek gave a nod, "No problem, kid. I'm glad I got to you when I did, you looked like you had major skull damage."

Nodding in agreement, Trunks rubbed the back of his neck to relieve tension when a verbal argument finally reached their ears. "Oh no.." the demi-Saijin whispered, preparing himself to get up and jump into the dispute, but Piccolo stopped him.

"It's not your time yet," the green-skinned man said, handing a senzu bean to him, "Give that to Tien. I've got Krillin."

"Like you're any better than me, Vegeta!" Zarbon countered, calmly approaching the last two full-blooded Saijins.

"Well at least I don't degrade myself by fucking that whore of a poor excuse of an Earth woman!" Vegeta replied, seething - his throat rumbling with a rising growl.

"Oh that's IT!" Zarbon screamed, gathering his ki.

"Stop it!" Goku shouted, intent upon ceasing the insanity which was already set in motion.

"Stay out of it you third-class!" Vegeta hissed, stepping forward and accepting the challenge, "What's the the matter Zarbon? You hate the truth?" The alien launched himself at the prince and they began duking it out, Goku amazed to find Vegeta equal to Zarbon in strength.

As Vegeta punched Zarbon in the stomach, Goku suddenly remembered something Vegeta had once told him: A Saijin's strength multiplied greatly after a battle. More so if they are nearly killed. Saijins were a prime example of the phrase "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". Vegeta had almost died twice in the past few days and he had been in a battle as well. As far as he recalled, Vegeta's power level was supposed to be somewhere near three hundred thousand.

On the other hand, he now remembered that that was before he died at Frieza's hand, so it was essentially more than that when he had arrived on Earth. Near death about doubled one's power level, he knew this from personal experience, so Vegeta was probably over one million easily. However, being as that Goku was a Super Saijin and Vegeta was not, this did not explain how the prince was so powerful, and how he was able to defeat Cell in three blows all the while lagged by a fatal injury. It just didn't add up.

"The truth??" Zarbon laughed as a punch found its way to Vegeta's jaw, "How about this for truth, Vegeta: You're so proud of a nearly extinct race and you don't even care about its surviving member! You're so self-absorbed that no one can stand to be around you! You hear me, Vegeta!? Every time Frieza beat you I had to hear that freak-of-nature bitch about you and how he saved your lame ass from being gang-banged!!" The prince suddenly froze in place as he realized Zarbon did know the truth. A fist connected with his stomach and Vegeta stumbled back, his eyes and expression showing his mental distance. Vegeta's not here right now. Vegeta went away. Vegeta's gone...

"I knew since the start you were no good!" Zarbon screamed, socking Vegeta's jaw hard, a cracking sound emitting from the smaller man. Punches and kicks flew at him, each successfully hitting the prince as he barely attempted to block the attacks.

'Oh god..he knows....He knows!'

It was unbearable to the Prince of Saijins. Unbearable to let an enemy know your weakness. He needed to be punished. He needed to rectify. He needed to misdirect.

Vegeta blinked and focused on the enraged man before him, a smirk curving his busted lip. "C'mon Zarbon! Is that the best you can do? Pathetic! I guess fucking that bitch has made you weak!" Vegeta taunted, half of a chuckle coming from his throat as Zarbon continued his assault. Fist after fist smashed against his face, pain biting him like the harsh sting of ice, all of which was easily ignored. An odd laugh erupted from deep within him, only serving to enrage Zarbon further. The sickening - satisfying - sound of his nose being broken filled Vegeta's ears, blood pouring forth in thick streams, splattering here and there, flowing down his face in a haphazard path.

His laugh came harder, reminding him bitterly of the android he had killed only a few minutes prior. Vegeta spat, tossing his head around to rid his face of extra blood. Still laughing, still mocking, the prince said, "You can do better than that!" Feet and hands met his flesh, leaving behind angry marks of purple and blue in their wake, but Vegeta didn't falter in the slightest. His teasing continued. "Pathetic," he would murmur. "Weak," he would mention. "Predictable," he would say with an air of confidence.

"STOP IT!" Goku's screamed at the top of his lungs, having had enough, "Both of you STOP! NOW!"

Vegeta spat in his direction, "Fuck off."

Anger and rejection swelled inside of Goku like a shadow monster lurking for the perfect moment to pounce. The monster found its moment finally, when denial crumbled and left the black-haired man, with hope deserting him. For the first time that Goku could think of, he let his emotions - his negative emotions - get the best of him. Before he could stop himself, words were spilling over his lips. Words that had lingered in the back of his mind, that had been kept under safe guard by said denial and hope, but as quickly as those had gone, the words fled from his mouth as well, "Zarbon's right. You're a self-absorbed asshole, and that's why no one cares about you."

Vegeta instantly froze in place, his face completely void of emotion though his eyes betrayed his calm exterior. Goku cringed at the lie, "Oh my god, Vegeta...Vegeta, I didn't..." Shocked, Goku saw a small smile come to Vegeta's face.

He turned away from the younger man to look at Zarbon, "We were fighting, were we not?"

The alien blinked, a bit confused by Vegeta's new demeanor, "Yes, we were."

Vegeta wiped his face with the sleeve of his shirt, adding more crimson, "So hit me."

Zarbon sensed something from the Saijin, something he did not like at all, "No."

Vegeta took a step forward, "Are you scared? Hit me."

The blue-skinned alien shook his head, having the oddest sensation that Vegeta was not what he appeared to be at the moment, "I am not scared, but I'm not going to hit you. That'd be pointless."

Vegeta licked some sticky blood from his lips, then quirked a little smile, "No, it wouldn't. C'mon, Zarbon..hit me. I dare you." With another step forward, Vegeta dropped his voice low, letting it become a soft purr, "Hurt me, Zarbon. If you think you can, that is." Zarbon looked the brunette over carefully, his mind assessing the new situation. Stepping forward, getting closer, a whisper was spoken, "Hit me as hard as you can..Zarbon."

Something in those black eyes unnerved the blue-skinned alien. Something he hadn't honestly seen in a long time. The inky depths seemed to say "come get me, you coward". Vegeta was egging him on. When he refused to play the game though, he could see the prince's irritation in those eyes. Zarbon, suddenly sensing the change, charged Vegeta.

The Saijin raised his arms and took up a stance, letting his enemy come to him. When in range, his arms darted out and caught the ones coming at him. He slammed his head against Zarbon's, let go, and spun around, kicking him in the jaw. Zarbon staggered back in surprise and Vegeta tipped his head to the side, cracking his neck, smirking. Rubbing the side of his face, the green-haired man spoke sharply, "Do not fuck with me. You're revealing yourself. Your true self."

"Who says that I care?" Vegeta countered to Zarbon's apparent nervosity, "What do I have to lose?" He walked calmly towards him, posture straight, eyes unblinking. Unbelievably, the alien took a step back and put up his guard. Chuckling darkly and smoothly, Vegeta grinned, "I will enjoy watching the life seep out of you slowly and painfully."

He leapt up and came down hard, jutting his right foot out which sunk into the earth where Zarbon had stood seconds before. Without looking, he brought up his left arm to block a punch with his forearm. He released his tail from around his waist and whipped the man so fast, it broke the skin. As Zarbon clutched the skin around the wound, Vegeta flipped himself out of the ground and landed gently on the balls of his feet.

He generously allowed the time for Zarbon to glare before he returned the look with a smile. A sort of bat-your-eyelashes-like-you're-innocent kind of smile. It increased the feeling of unease. Then he thrust his arm forward and released a ki blast. It nicked Zarbon in the shoulder as he attempted to dodge, but it put him off balance. Before he realized Vegeta had even moved, the prince was hooking his leg around his own. With a small tug, Zarbon fell to the ground with a grunt. Eyes wide with surprise, he managed to bring his foot up in time to stop the smaller man from pouncing on him. He pushed hard on the brunette's chest and caused him to tumble back.

Rolling out of the shove, Vegeta began to stand when he dropped down to parry a blast aimed at him. Another came, low to the ground, but he merely hopped over it, coming down on hands and feet. He stayed crouched, tense, with his tail coiling around the fabric of his clothes so tightly it made a sound. Zarbon ran at him again, his clenched fists ready to do some damage. Vegeta shrank down and released like a spring, gracefully flipping in mid-air to land behind his enemy. Zarbon spun around and they both attacked. A fist crashed into the prince's temple as the said prince jabbed him in the ribs with his knuckles.

They both took a second to recover, and then they attacked with ferocity. Punches flew at each other, but more often than not, they were blocked. Stepping back, Vegeta kicked high with his right leg, but Zarbon grabbed his foot. Surprised, Vegeta tugged, and to his dismay, could not gain his appendage back, or balance for that matter. With a triumphant smirk, Zarbon pulled up. Growling, the brunette took a chance and jumped. His arms came down, and his hands took the place of his feet. His left foot tried to finish what the right had failed at, but Zarbon caught that too. A curse word or two flitted across his mind. This time, Zarbon acted, and Vegeta reacted.

The blue-skinned alien's plan was to slam the smaller man into the ground, but he hadn't realized that while he was the one holding onto the prince that didn't necessarily mean he was the one in control. As he pressed down, Vegeta grit his teeth and yanked hard towards himself. Zarbon fumbled and let go, crashing next to Vegeta in a heap. The younger sprang onto his feet and tackled his prey. He forced Zarbon onto his back and let go with a frightening display of lack of control.

As he punched as hard as he could, it was obvious he wanted to beat the other man to death. Zarbon's hand pressed against Vegeta's face, trying in vain to find his eyes in order to gouge them out. When he came to the conclusion that he wouldn't be able to even defend himself, he surprisingly pleaded, "Vegeta, please stop!" Vegeta growled loudly, baring his fangs at his enemy. "Vegeta," Zarbon coughed, "Please, I'm asking you! Think of my son! Surely you know what it's like to grow up without a father!"

Vegeta stopped, so that Zarbon could look him properly in the eye, "Oh, fuck you." He was so angry he didn't raise his voice; so enraged that he didn't even need to yell to show it.

"You want me to pity your spawn? That illegitimate who you are now trying to compare to me? Where is your fucking compassion, you hypocrite?" he paused, seething, "How dare you. You expect me to have mercy? I will show you the extent of my mercy. I will let you live, perhaps, but I will take from you what you pride yourself on. I will take your ability to fight, and I will take away your beauty. I will remove limbs from you, Zarbon, and I will cast them in metal as personal trophies. I want you to wake up and look at yourself in the mirror to see your hideous and deformed body, simply so that you'll think of me. I want you to look in the mirror and remember that you never, once, gave me a chance."

Suddenly, arms came around him, and lifted him away from Zarbon. It was Goku, and in the instant that Vegeta began to struggle, the younger went Super Saijin. "Kakkarot, mind your own business!" the brunette hissed, trying to get his arms out of their locked position. He was becoming so angry that he trembled, "Let go of me this instant!" Zarbon began to get up, brushing the hair away from his marred face. Goku had never seen him this mad, in every sense of the word. He twisted and turned, pulled and writhed in the hold, trying desperately to escape. His enemy looked at him for a moment, rose his hand to hit him, but then decided better of it. He turned away, intent on leaving.

"He is getting away and you're letting him!" Vegeta voiced his complaint, tugging with all his might, "What the fuck is wrong with you!? Don't you get it!?" He stopped fighting to get free, and started to merely fight Goku as his anger was redirected, "This is mine, Kakkarot! You can't stop me from taking what belongs to me, and I will take his pride! And if you stand in my way, then I will strike you down for your opposition!"

"Vegeta, please, calm down," was all Goku managed to say.

"How can I when you fucking won't listen to me, you retard!? LET. ME. GO. Zarbon is mine to destroy, and I will make him spend the rest of his life trying to rectify the mistake of being born!"

"Would you listen to yourself!?" the younger man countered.

"Would you shut the fuck up and listen to me!? God, you disgust me! I ha--"

He couldn't even finish his sentence, because he was abruptly dropped and spun around. Looking up in surprise, he saw the anger in the other man's eyes. Vegeta didn't realize that Goku could move so quickly, until it was too late. The younger swung his arm hard, smacking the prince across the face. This wasn't just a slap, it was a demeaning hit that knocked the recipient to the side. Vegeta stared at the ground in disbelief. The third class had slapped him. The third class had just slapped him!

Vegeta's ki began to flare to life. He spoke lowly towards the dirt beneath his feet, "You lied to me. You lied to me, and I trusted you."

From deep within the prince, he could sense a sort of flood gate that belonged to his so-called soul. Something that had always been locked down and carefully guarded was competing to be released. All he could feel was a burning at the boundaries, eating away at control, stealing his reserves.

He was all alone, betrayed by the last of his kind. All alone like he had been, and was destined - was doomed - to always be. But, oh god, it was so lonely... It was so hard to do it by yourself... So hard to have no one who you could respect, who you could rely on, who you So hard when you shamefully ached for what others so easily achieved... So hard when you had nothing...

He couldn't hang on anymore. The contradictions ate at him and dissolved his defenses. It's not like it mattered anymore. There was nothing for him. Not even himself.

Vegeta screamed at the top of his lungs, anger and vehemence lingering on every syllable, "I TRUSTED YOU!!"

An earth-shattering roar burst from Vegeta as he let go. Let go of the fighting, of the drinking, of..Kakkarot...

It hurt. It hurt a lot. Nothing mattered anymore, but it still hurt. All he had was Kakkarot, and even now, he had lost him. And it was his fault. He wasn't good enough for Kakkarot. The Prince of Saijins was not good enough for a third-class soldier. It was meant to never be, and it hurt.

At last he realized that there was silence save for the wind. He steadied his breathing, numbly wondering why everyone looked so transfixed. It didn't matter though. Nothing was left for him. Nothing was left of him.

Goku took a hesitant step forward and Vegeta flinched at his movement. "T-Take another senzu, Vegeta..?" the younger asked, though it seemed more like a request or a suggestion. The prince closed his eyes, feeling his anger dwindle. It would fade into the background, yes, but it would still be there, waiting.

"Fine," the brunette whispered, easily catching the bean as Piccolo threw it to him.

"Vegeta.." Goku tried again to make conversation, to make up for his words and his actions.

"Don't," Vegeta begged, his voice a strained whisper, his eyes closing to hold back tears of regret. Hell would be better than Kakkarot's retaliation. 'I thought I hit bottom,' he thought, 'so why is this getting worse?'

The younger Saijin stepped forward, he himself speaking in a whisper, "I'm sorry, Vegeta. I didn't mean what I said. I was angry at the time. I didn't want to hit you, Vegeta.. I just wanted to stop you from acting foolishly. Vegeta.."

The prince pushed the taller man away, "Shut up, I said! I don't want to hear it! Don't you understand!? I hate you!"

Goku slowly pulled Vegeta into an embrace, arms holding tight, "I don't hate you, Vegeta. I don't hate you."

The brunette struggled, though it seemed as if his strength had been sapped from him, "Shut up, already! I don't want to hear your lies, traitor!"

The taller Saijin wrapped his arms around Vegeta fully, pressing his face against Vegeta's shoulder for a moment before speaking again, "Remember the time we went to the beach, and the girl touched your tail so I told her to piss off?"

Vegeta's body tensed completely, his voice barely audible, "..Shut up..."

Goku murmured softly into the prince's ear, "Remember when we went for breakfast and they wanted to fine you for smoking in the restroom and you told them off?" Vegeta's eyes closed and he shook his head in denial. "Remember when we went ice skating?" Goku asked lightly, his hands caressing Vegeta's back, trying to soothe the smaller man.

Vegeta's voice came out as a cross between a sob and a laugh, "You kept falling on your ass...and I....laughed...." His expression seemed to match his voice as Vegeta's eyes glistened, and an odd, uncertain smile graced his face. Goku smiled back, caring and affection flowing from his gaze like an unyieldable river.

"I hate you," Vegeta choked on a sob, "I hate you so much.." Goku's smile only widened, his hands rubbing the brunette's back gently. It was too much for the Saijin prince to stand - he broke, tears flowing freely, "I hate you make me happy." Vegeta's face contorted to a look of extreme pain and grief, sobs escaping his throat, "I hate you! I hate you!!" Goku held him close as he grasped onto the tattered orange uniform, his face burying into his shoulder in shame, "Why? Why do you have to do this to me? Why don't you hate me..?"

Goku carefully ran fingers through the dark brown hair, his voice a low murmur in the prince's ear, "Why not..?"

Vegeta shook his head, gasping for air between sobs, "Kakkarot, don't joke."

Goku sighed softly and whispered, "How can I hate the only person who understands me? How can I hate someone who makes me happy?"

Vegeta laughed bitterly and said, "..I never understood you. And I still don't."

Goku finally glanced over at his small group of friends that had participated in the battle with Cell. He looked at Trunks who gave him a supportive smile. He then turned to Piccolo, who gave him a nod. Offering a smile himself, it was the last any of them saw as Goku suddenly flickered out, taking Vegeta with him.

Part Ten: a | Back
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