|Shades of Gray
Author: niteryde PM
Three years after the Cell games and his father's death, Gohan is having a hard time, physically and emotionally. Bulma decides to ask her husband to help... will her plan work or will Vegeta's involvement only make things worse? Some BV.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Family - Vegeta & Gohan - Chapters: 10 - Words: 54,170 - Reviews: 337 - Favs: 372 - Follows: 200 - Updated: 07-08-11 - Published: 04-20-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5912627
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Just to get it out there right now – this isn't a "pairing" of Gohan and Vegeta. Not that there's anything wrong with those stories, but I love Bulma/Vegeta way too much for all that.
Anyways. Thanks for reading and hope you like. :)
The Saiyan prince massaged one of his temples, looking at his mate with a mixture of agitation and annoyance as he wondered if the universe hated him. Why else would these ridiculous situations always come up?
"I absolutely refuse," he stated bluntly as Bulma glared at him over the dining table, that look in her eye. He knew that look very, very well, and he wisely looked away, his jaw stubbornly set. He continued rubbing his temple, his elbow propped on the table, that familiar scowl on his face. "Do not ask me again, woman," he growled.
"Vegeta, come on," Bulma sighed with frustration. She looked away from her husband to glance over at the four-year-old lavender-haired boy sitting next to her who was currently stuffing food into his mouth at frightening speed, happily ignoring his parents' conversation. "Trunks! Eating isn't a race, you know!" she snapped, making the boy give her a startled, then sheepish look. "Slow down, mister," she warned.
"But Mama," Trunks said with a mouth full of food as he pouted.
"Mind your mother, boy," Vegeta said harshly, "And swallow your food before you speak. I won't have my son eating like some Neanderthal clown." Trunks immediately closed his mouth and dropped his eyes to his plate, notably slowing down as he continued eating his lunch. He had no clue what a Neanderthal was, but he knew better than to disobey his father whenever he spoke with that tone. Vegeta then turned his eyes to Bulma. "Woman, stop interrupting my training to ask me questions you already know the answers to."
"I just don't understand why you won't-" she stopped speaking when Vegeta sighed and stood up. Bulma growled and stood up as well when she saw that he was heading out of the dining room altogether. "Where do you think you're going! We're having a discussion here!" she yelled, giving Trunks a quick look before heading off after her stubborn husband.
Vegeta snorted, not turning around, though he could feel her following him as he headed outside towards the gravity room. "Yes, the same one we had yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. I am tired of this subject. My answer won't change. Save your breath already."
"Vegeta, please," she said, reaching out and grabbing his hand from behind. He stopped walking but didn't turn back to look at her. She walked around him so she was standing in front of him. He averted his gaze, looking off to the side. "Chi-Chi can't control him, he's acting out a lot more lately, and he needs someone to just, talk to him-"
"I didn't realize I was a psychologist," he said sarcastically.
"No, you're not, but you're the only one on the entire planet who has the slightest idea of what it's like for a Saiyan boy to go through puberty," she pointed out, reaching out and taking his other hand in hers as well. "You're the only one who can actually help rein him in." She lightly squeezed his hands.
Finally, the prince turned and settled his eyes on her. His dark eyes scanned her blue ones for a while, before his scowl deepened. "This is Kakarot's job, not mine," he told her bitterly. "It's not my fault that the useless clown decided not to return to his woman and his brats."
"It's not Gohan's fault either," Bulma told him. He growled and shook his head, looking off to the side again. Bulma let go of his hands as she stepped closer to him. She put her hands on his chest and he sighed. "You can help him, Vegeta. He's just a boy, he needs a male figure in his life that he can respect. Sure, he has Piccolo and Roshi and his grandfather and Krillin, but not one of them knows what it's like to be a Saiyan teenager. Please, will you be there for him? For me?"
Vegeta closed his eyes, falling into thought, his face void of emotion. Bulma watched him, her blue eyes filled with anticipation. She had gotten very good over the years at reading his eyes to get a very accurate gauge on how he was feeling, so now she just had to wait to see. "Woman," the Saiyan prince finally exhaled. He opened his eyes and she saw his self-doubt reflected in them. It was a look that only she and she alone was ever allowed to see. "You know that I am making an effort with our son…"
"I know, and you're doing great," she told him genuinely, giving him a smile.
He returned it with a scowl. "Kakarot's woman always brings his youngest spawn here and I have to deal with that already, and now you want me to take a more active role in the life of his oldest… Bulma…" he breathed, the exasperation now clear in his voice and his eyes wary as she studied him. Damn, he hated that she could read him so easily. "Having one son is enough for me. I have no interest in adopting two more."
"Oh Vegeta, this isn't about you adopting them," Bulma told him gently, putting her arms around his neck. He instinctively put an arm around her waist, pulling her closer as he sighed again. "I know they're not our sons. And I know that it's not your responsibility to be their father. That's not what I'm asking you. This isn't even about Goten – though for the record, your patience with him is incredible."
Vegeta grunted and rolled his eyes. "Only because I would rather not traumatize my child by blasting his idiot playmate into oblivion."
Bulma laughed, "You wouldn't."
"Hn. Maybe when mini Kakarot is older."
"Anyways, this isn't about Goten. It's about Gohan," she told him. He shook his head, scowling again, though she could tell from the way his eyes had softened that he was about to relent. "Just talk to him and listen to him. Give him advice if he wants it. Maybe have a friendly spar with him if he's inclined. That's all."
"I don't even know a damn thing about the brat," he sneered, clearly disgusted with the idea.
"Maybe you can change that?"
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, before grumbling, "Fine. If it'll make you stop hounding me, then fine, I will try to see what the blasted child is up to." Bulma was smiling brightly at him when he opened his eyes again. He just shook his head slightly, his eyes locked on hers. She always wore him down. She always had.
This damn woman has made me so soft…
"Thank you," she told him happily, leaning her forehead against his. "I love you."
He grunted before leaning in the rest of the way and capturing her lips in his, silently echoing her words through his actions. His strong hand rested on the small of her back as he held her firmly against him. Bulma sighed into the kiss with delight, her knees still going weak when she felt his warm tongue expertly exploring her mouth even though this was far from their first kiss.
Her hand was sliding up into his hair, the kiss about to spiral into something more passionate, when an indignant high-pitched voice said, "Ew! Yuck!" Bulma pulled away from Vegeta, making the Saiyan growl with displeasure. They pulled away from their embrace as they both turned to look at their son who was standing in front of them on the grass. The little boy was wearing a scowl and looking an awful lot like his father as he glared at them.
"Damn boy," Vegeta mumbled, folding his arms over his chest as Bulma smiled at her son.
"Hey you, done with lunch already?" she asked him.
"Yeah, duh," the boy said, giving a dramatic roll of his eyes, before looking over at his father who was walking away now towards the gravity chamber. Trunks bit his lip before shyly asking, "Papa?" Vegeta stopped just as he was about to walk in and looked over his shoulder at his son, silently acknowledging him. "Can we fight?"
Vegeta was surprised by the boy's eagerness. Usually he only trained him for a few hours in the mornings and for one more at night before bedtime. Enough to simultaneously teach his son how to fight, and also allow himself to train alone under more vigorous conditions so he could grow even stronger. The prince smirked and nodded, pride filling his chest as he turned back around, walking on inside into the gravity room. Trunks gave a cry of joy and tore off running after his father as Bulma watched, shaking her head and rolling her eyes even though she smiled.
"Keep the gravity under 50!" she yelled out as the door closed after Trunks.
Vegeta heard her and rolled his own eyes as he turned to face his son, not bothering to activate the gravity simulator. The prince crossed his arms and stared hard at the boy, and blinked in surprise when Trunks crossed his arms over his own chest and stared right back. The two stared at each other for a while, before Vegeta smirked.
"Ready, boy?" he asked, getting into his fight stance. He watched as Trunks resumed his own stance, looking more like a seasoned martial arts veteran than a small four-year-old boy. Vegeta felt that familiar surge of pride at the look in his son's eyes. Yes, through it all, he was proud of his son.
Which only made Kakarot's decision all the more confusing to him. He had thought about it, analyzed it, talked about it, thought more about it, and the prince just could not understand the other full-blooded Saiyan's decision to not come back to life. He couldn't wrap his head around how someone who supposedly cherished life would miss out on the life of Gohan, his own son, as he went from a boy to a man. Goten was excusable as Kakarot had clearly not known he existed at the time he made his idiotic decision, though the boy was paying now as well.
Vegeta let Trunks make the first move, resolving that he would actually give it an effort to see what was going on with Gohan.
At least, I can keep him from turning into a clown like his father, for the good of my fallen race…
"I said, I'M TIRED OF STUDYING!" Gohan roared, a look of angered frustration etched into his 14-year-old features as he furiously marched up the stairs to his bedroom. An equally furious Chi-Chi was right on his heels. "Just give me a goddamned break, Mom!"
Chi-Chi gasped loudly, before her face turned red at hearing her son speak to her in that way. She was so upset and frustrated with him that she could barely sputter two words together, much less form a coherent sentence. Before she could even get the chance, Gohan had slammed the door shut to his room, practically in her face. That made her snap out of it.
"GOHAN, OPEN THIS DOOR IMMEDIATELY!" she shrieked as she pounded on the door as hard as she could. He had installed his own lock though the week before, behind her back, saying he needed privacy. "How DARE you speak to me in that manner! Don't you know that Goten can hear you? Do you want him to curse like you?"
"Whatever," Gohan hissed to himself, sitting down at the edge of his bed. He fell back on it and ignored his mother yelling and pounding on the door, a frown on his face. Groaning, he reached over and grabbed his pillow, before pulling it over his face. He held it there until finally, he heard his three-year-old brother crying in the room he shared with Chi-Chi. Just like that, she left him in peace to go see to Goten.
Gohan laid there for a few more minutes, before standing up and starting to pace in his room like a caged animal. He clenched and unclenched his fists, a tight feeling in his chest. He didn't know why that feeling was there, couldn't place it at all, but it was driving the boy mad. Over the last few months, he had been more agitated than usual. Four months ago he would have never yelled back at his mother.
What is wrong with me? he wondered, stopping his pacing to gaze down at his hands, as if the answer was going to be etched there. He clenched his fists, a ball of anger and frustration bubbling up inside of him, causing his power level to rise against his will. Not for the first time, the teenager felt a pang of hurt practically level him at the thought that he could really use a talk with his dad right now…
Chi-Chi had forgotten her confrontation with her oldest son and now found herself chasing Goten around outside in front of their home. She wasn't playing with the boy; he had bolted out of the bath when she wasn't looking. Soaking wet and buck naked, the little boy was dashing across the grass, laughing hysterically as Chi-Chi tried desperately to catch him.
"GOTEN!" she yelled, panting. "GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW, YOUNG MAN!"
"Race!" the boy yelled back as Chi-Chi finally stopped running.
She watched as Goten ran off out of sight, feeling tears fill her eyes. Gasping for air, she slowly sank to her knees, her own frustration ready to explode as she squeezed her eyes shut. How in the world was she going to raise two half-Saiyan boys by herself? Goten was only three years old and he was already faster and stronger than her. And Gohan… tears ran down her face as she thought of her precious little boy who had practically become a stranger. He was moody now, always brooding, and she could barely say two words to him without him exploding in anger. She had known he would go through changes around this age, but she had not been expecting such a radical change and she was not equipped to handle him alone…
"Damn you, Goku," she wheezed, closing her eyes and sobbing from the frustration of it all.
"Do not waste tears on that imbecile," a rough voice said. Chi-Chi recognized the voice and opened her eyes to find Vegeta standing in front of her, wearing dark blue jeans and a long-sleeved white t-shirt with black boots. He was looking down at her, looking half annoyed and half disgusted at the sight of her crying. Chi-Chi's eyes moved to his right arm, where he was carrying a squirming Goten. Vegeta's arm was around Goten's midsection as he held the boy against his hip like he was nothing but a soccer ball. Goten looked up and gave his mother a big smile. She instinctively smiled back at him. He looked so much like his father…
"Vegeta," Chi-Chi breathed, looking up at the scowling Saiyan. "Thank you."
Vegeta grunted. "I believe this belongs to you," he sneered, before letting go of Goten, resulting in the boy landing unceremoniously on the ground. Chi-Chi's face contorted in anger over him dropping her child, and she was about to let the Saiyan have it when Goten bounced right back up. He laughed and went to run away again when Vegeta snarled, "You better stay where you are, kid, or I will forbid Trunks from sharing his toys with you next time you come into my home."
Goten froze and turned, looking at Vegeta with large eyes. His chin quivered like he was going to cry, which made Vegeta snort. "Children," he grumbled, before looking at Chi-Chi who was watching this all half-amazed. "What are you looking at!" the prince snapped, irritated.
"I… it's just, I didn't realize he listened to you," she said hesitantly, before wiping her tears away as she stood up. She dusted herself off as Vegeta rolled his eyes.
"Your brat is not a fool like the idiot who fathered him, he knows it's in his best interest," the Saiyan prince said rather bluntly. Chi-Chi winced a little, and Vegeta sighed, feeling compelled to add more. "Trunks obeys me so it's only natural that your youngest does as well," Vegeta said, crossing his arms over his chest and bracing for a verbal assault, eyeing the woman before him carefully.
He had never liked Kakarot's mate. She was extremely loud and abrasive. Granted, he had thought Bulma was the same way when he came back to Earth after Namek, but Bulma antagonized him to challenge him. When Bulma got in his face, he wanted to take her to bed immediately; when Chi-Chi got in his face, he wanted to decapitate her.
Vegeta's eyes narrowed suspiciously when she didn't lay into him. She just gave him a weary smile and nod instead. He noted the dark rings under her eyes as she walked over to Goten. She picked the boy up under his arms and looked over her shoulder at him.
"Do you want to come in while I get him cleaned and dressed?" Chi-Chi asked him hesitantly. She had accepted her best friend's relationship with the Prince of all Saiyans, but that didn't mean that Vegeta didn't still terrify her sometimes. He had a powerful presence that commanded respect, and his dark eyes had an intense gaze that felt like they pierced right into your soul whenever he looked at you. And not once in the six years that he had been living with Bulma had she ever seen the man smile.
He grunted and walked over, following her as they walked inside the house. Once inside, the prince's dark eyes instantly scanned his new surroundings, not interested in the humble home. He was looking for signs of the oldest Son boy and found none.
"Where is your oldest brat?" he demanded bluntly. Chi-Chi groaned at the thought of Gohan while trying to keep Goten from climbing all over her.
"In his room, if he hasn't flown off to see that green monster yet," she said bitterly. "Honestly, that boy! Anyways, I have to finish giving Goten his bath," Chi-Chi told him apologetically as Vegeta turned to look at her again. "There's tons of food in the fridge though. Please, make yourself at home."
He gave a short nod and Chi-Chi took that as him accepting her invitation. She turned and went upstairs with Goten who was now crying at the thought of having to take a bath. Vegeta waited until she was out of sight, then looked up at the ceiling. He briefly closed his eyes, trying to pick up Gohan's energy signal to see if the teenager was actually in his room.
Picking up Gohan's energy, Vegeta silently went up the stairs, trying not to draw attention to himself. But Goten had Chi-Chi completely occupied, and she was none the wiser when the Saiyan walked right past the bathroom. His eyes scanned the hallway, before he walked over to where the energy was coming from.
The prince reached up and knocked on the door.
"Leave me alone, damn it!" Gohan shouted from behind the door. Vegeta felt an eye twitch involuntarily.
The things I do for that damn woman…
"Open this door immediately, boy, before I break it down," Vegeta growled. There was silence on the other side of the door before he heard locks being removed. The door opened and an absolutely bewildered-looking Gohan was standing in front of him. Vegeta observed him carefully. The boy had grown and was now Vegeta's height – the Saiyan prince scowled deeply at this. His hair had grown out down to his shoulders and his eyes were bloodshot.
"Vegeta?" Gohan asked in disbelief. "What are you doing here?"
"Let me in, before your mother ruptures my eardrums," Vegeta grumbled. Before waiting to hear if he was invited in, the prince walked on in, bumping Gohan back in the shoulder. The teen stumbled back a step, before regaining his balance. He was too shocked to be angry though, closing the door and locking it.
He turned back to find that his unexpected visitor was standing at his window, staring out with his arms crossed over his chest, his back to him. Gohan had only seen the man on a couple of occasions since the Cell games, since Vegeta would always disappear (if he could help it) whenever there was a large gathering at Capsule Corporation. It was weird and almost unnatural to him to see Vegeta dressed like a regular guy instead of wearing his Saiyan armor.
Gohan sat down on the edge of his bed, twiddling his thumbs together awkwardly as he anxiously watched Vegeta. He knew Vegeta was on his side now, but still, this visit was most unexpected. Gohan waited for him to say something, not wanting to push him.
"You're putting a lot of unnecessary stress on your mother, boy," Vegeta finally said, not moving a muscle. Gohan winced and looked down at the floor, ashamed that the prince was right. "This puts stress on my woman, which puts stress on me. I don't like stress, kid." Finally, Vegeta turned to look at him, scowling as he scrutinized him. "I don't have the patience for this so I will just ask you once. What the hell is wrong with you?"
Gohan suddenly realized what that was going on. His mother had clearly gone to Bulma, who was forcing Vegeta to be there. They all thought there was something wrong with him. His face turned red from embarrassment over the situation, a small part of him aching to actually take up Vegeta's invitation to talk. A larger part though was furious that no one was listening to him. Honestly, how hard was it to understand that he wanted to just be left alone without anyone bothering him?
"There is nothing wrong with me," Gohan finally grumbled. Vegeta just stared at him as Gohan tried looking somewhere, anywhere but into those piercing eyes.
"Sorry, you can't bullshit a bullshitter. I've had years of lying on you, kid. Now out with it, before I beat it out of you," Vegeta finally said, cracking a smirk.
"I said it's nothing, goddamnit!" Gohan finally yelled, standing up. Vegeta blinked in surprise, raising an eyebrow as Gohan gave him a downright furious glare. He didn't know much about the boy, but he knew that he was hardly what one would call temperamental. "So why don't you mind your own fucking business?"
Vegeta lowered his arms and clenched his own fists, his body now tense as he stared at Gohan with cold eyes, "I suggest you lower your voice, boy, before I remind you of your place," he threatened in a low voice.
The fury that had rushed through the teenager left as quick as it came. He blinked, seeing Vegeta giving him a glare that he hadn't seen from the Saiyan since their days on Namek. He shook his head and sat back down on his bed. He looked back down at his hands, lowering his head in shame.
"I-I'm sorry," Gohan finally said, his voice shaky. Vegeta eyed him carefully as he slowly relaxed. "I don't know what's wrong with me."
Vegeta stared at him for a long time, not saying anything. Finally, he cleared his throat as he crossed his arms over his chest again. "When was the last time you sparred, boy?" Gohan looked surprised by the question as he looked over at him. Vegeta looked like he was studying him cautiously, his body still a little tense as if he expected a fight at any second. Gohan was confused by the behavior but instead focused on answering the question.
"I don't know, I can't remember," Gohan admitted, scratching the back of his head. "My mom hardly lets me fight."
"Well, that's going to change," Vegeta stated flatly. "Beginning tomorrow at 7 in the morning, I will expect you at Capsule Corporation every day. We will meet in the back and spar in the gravity room. Bring your brother as well, so he can entertain Trunks. I don't want to hear the brat bitching that I'm canceling our training sessions."
"Vegeta," Gohan sighed. "It's not just my mom that doesn't want me to train. I don't want to fight anymore either."
Vegeta grunted and headed towards the teenager's door. He paused momentarily at the door, turning his head to acknowledge Gohan but not looking back at him. "I don't recall asking if you wanted to come or not. You had better be there on time, unless you want to have a spar here in your home. I don't think your mother would like that very much."
Gohan frowned as the Saiyan walked out and closed the door behind him. The teen angrily clenched his fists. Who the hell did Vegeta think he was anyways, walking into his house and giving him orders? He felt that tight feeling in his chest again, and he punched his night table hard, breaking it into pieces. Gohan winced, looking at his fist and seeing that there was blood trickling down from his fist to his arm. He looked at his fist, his eyebrows furrowed.
Damn it, Dad, he thought, tears forming in his eyes. I don't know what's wrong with me… why did you have to leave me?
Vegeta remained outside of the teenager's door, clearly hearing Chi-Chi yelling at Goten in the bathroom down the hall. The prince had his head slightly cocked to the side, focused instead on her oldest son as he listened to the teen break something. He scowled when he suddenly felt the boy's power spike up momentarily. He then heard the unmistakable sound of the teenager flying out of the window, feeling his energy growing fainter as Gohan sped off.
Vegeta straightened and crossed his arms over his chest. He walked down the hallway, his head slightly lowered as he fell deep into thought. He paused when he was at the bathroom, looking in as Goten refused to let Chi-Chi put a shirt over his head.
"No!" the boy yelled, as Chi-Chi growled.
"You need to get dressed, Goten!" she yelled back.
"Woman," Vegeta said gruffly, drawing her attention. "Leave the garment off the child if he so desires."
"'Geta!" Goten yelled, beaming happily.
Before Vegeta knew what was happening, the boy rushed over to him. Vegeta grimaced, his face the very definition of disgust as Goten clung to his leg. "Get off me immediately!" he admonished the child, giving his leg a shake that effectively shoved Goten away. Goten looked up at him with large eyes that were getting watery. Vegeta growled, knowing Bulma would give him absolute hell if this got back to her.
"Vegeta!" Chi-Chi chastised, furious at the way he so blatantly rejected her son's warmth. He gave her a look of warning, and she immediately quieted down as the prince turned his glare back to Goten.
"Saiyans do not cry, so rid your tears immediately, boy," he demanded. Goten immediately sobered up, as Vegeta sighed and looked back up to Chi-Chi. "Woman, your oldest brat will be coming to Capsule Corporation each morning to train under my supervision." Chi-Chi blinked in shock at Vegeta's words, staring at him as if she didn't hear him correctly. He decided to capitalize and continue speaking before she recovered and assaulted him verbally, "He said that you do not approve, but this matter is none of your concern."
That snapped her out of it. "None of my concern? What are you talking about, he's my son!" she shrieked indignantly. "And I forbid him-"
"Silence!" the prince yelled, unable to stand her voice as he felt his agitation grow. He didn't really feel like traumatizing Goten by slaughtering his annoying mother in front of the boy. He muttered something under his breath about Earth making him weak, before sighing. "Look. Whether or not you want to admit it, both of your sons are half-Saiyans. Your oldest needs to fight. It's in his blood. I will provide the proper environment for him. Your son was the strongest being on the entire planet three years ago, and you have single-handedly regressed him by keeping him away from what comes naturally to him. No wonder he's pissed."
"I forbid it," she growled, looking at him with no fear. He simply stared back, his dark eyes impatient.
"Did you, or did you not, request that my woman ask me to speak to your son?" he asked.
"Well… yes, but-"
"It's settled then. And bring this one as well," he said, looking down his nose at Goten who was staring up at him in admiration. Vegeta could never understand how the boy always looked at him like that. He had never displayed the child any kind of warmth, especially since he looked so much like his imbecile of a father; and yet the boy flocked to him, fearlessly. Vegeta scowled at him, "His other evil half will enjoy his company."
Chi-Chi sighed deeply, before nodding. She gave him a grateful look, "Thank you," she told him genuinely.
The prince grunted and walked off down the short hallway of the small home, before descending the stairs. His mind wandered back to Gohan and his unusual behavior as he fell back into deep thought.
He had some ideas as to what was wrong, but he needed to see more first… the Saiyan got outside and looked up at the sky, giving a look that could kill its recipient, if he wasn't already dead.
Blast you, Kakarot.