They were suddenly immersed in firelight and sound, as Vegeta lowered his hand, getting his bearings. They were chanting his name, the name of the planet of their origin, and the sound of it was deafening. One part of him relished in it, took strength from the excitement around him.
The other part of him was intensely aware that his Royal Guard was dying. If he couldn't get him a sensu bean in time…
Movement beside him showed that his worries were shared, as Turles knelt on Kakarot's other side, pushing the sensu bean into his mouth. Over the din, Vegeta could barely hear Turles say, "Chew on this, cub. I ain't gonna chew it for you!" Vegeta could see Kakarot's chest move slightly with an intake of breath, as his jaw slowly worked, chewing the sensu bean.
What seemed like an eternity later, the hole in his chest began to close, and the bleeding began to slow, then stop altogether. Around them, the sound died down as more and more of the massive crowd began to realize that they had come back, wounded. By the time it had died down completely, Kakarot was sitting up, the wound all but gone, and Turles was handing another sensu bean to Vegeta.
Vegeta chewed the bean and swallowed, clenching his teeth as skin and bones re-knit themselves. Once he felt his energy return, he looked around at his people, who had hushed and were now looking to him expectantly. He smirked. "Frieza's a blood smear on the bottom of that dome," he announced, and was once again greeted with the deafening shouts of his people. And not just his people… it seemed the entire Ox Kingdom was here as well, as masses of humans surrounded him, shouting in celebration at the death of the tyrant who attacked their planet.
When the cheering died down, Raditz stepped forward, gaining the king's attention. "We've scoured the planet, Sire. All of Frieza's forces are dead, and we've acquired thirteen working pods, seven scouters, and one of Frieza's flagships," he reported, handing him a scouter.
Vegeta took it with a grunt of approval, placing the familiar piece of tech over his eye. Raditz's stance told him he wasn't finished reporting, however, and he scowled. "What else?" he asked warily, not wanting anything to dampen his good mood.
Raditz frowned. "We had some casualties," he said grimly. "General Nappa and…" he said, casting a glance at his brother, who was now standing behind the king, "Commander Chi-chi."
Vegeta's scowl deepened at the news of Nappa's death, but when Raditz mentioned Chi-chi's name, his eyes cut sharply to Kakarot, who was scowling, but didn't seem surprised. Suddenly, Kakarot's earlier lapse of control made much more sense. Vegeta's gaze fell back on Raditz. "Who?" he asked, knowing from his earlier report that the blood of Chi-chi's killer had already been spilled.
Broly stepped forward, with a decapitated head in his hands, its purple visage familiar to Vegeta. "Ginyu," he snarled, and glanced at Kakarot, who's eyes were narrowed as he looked on the face of the creature responsible for his mate's death. Broly held the head out to Kakarot.
Kakarot glared at it, then turned away, not giving it another glance. His eyes sought out his brother's. "My son. Gohan. Is he…"
"He's right here," a female's voice said, and Launch stepped forward, holding a sleeping cub in her arms. Kakarot wore a small smile as Launch eased the little cub into his arms. He was so tiny, but… Kakarot could sense a deep well of strength within him, just waiting to come out. His tail uncoiled from around his waist, and he brushed it up against that of his son, his last conversation with his mate playing through his thoughts.
"Gohan," he murmured, as the tiny cub's tail wrapped tightly around his, and he envisioned all of the love he and his mate had for each other, all wrapped up in this perfect little boy.
Raditz watched the scene, and smirked. Trust his fool little brother to completely disregard revenge in favor of what was really important. He turned his glance to King Vegeta, who was regarding his guard with a raised eyebrow. When the king looked his way again, Raditz swallowed. "There's something else, Sire," he said grimly. "But maybe we should discuss it elsewhere," he added, his gaze meaningful.
Vegeta grunted, then looked around. "You people better damn well save me some food!" he said, earning laughter from all around him, as the celebration quickly resumed. Raditz took to the air, and Vegeta followed him.
He realized fairly quickly that Saiyan Village was gone. He frowned. He had rather liked it, it had reminded him of the palace he grew up in. They touched down in the center of it, in front of the tiny sliver of it that had, somehow, remained standing.
"What is it, Raditz?" Vegeta asked, beginning to grow impatient.
Raditz met his king's eyes. "The humans… the ones outside the Ox Kingdom. They attacked us during the battle," he said, frowning. "My team ended up destroying West City," he said, his gaze unflinching.
Vegeta scowled. He had served with Raditz long enough to read him, even better than he read Kakarot. He was taking responsibility for someone else's actions. "Human weapons are inferior. You mean to tell me you couldn't keep control of the situation?" he demanded.
Raditz looked away. "There's more, Sire. The reason they were shooting at us… it was because a member of my family has been killing people in West City for a while now," he said.
Vegeta frowned, confused. "A member of your family? Your son?" he asked, knowing the boy could be quite powerful, when he wanted to be.
Raditz met his eyes. "My sister," he said. At Vegeta's blank look, he added, "the cub? The one my mother birthed before she died? She's been eating people, apparently. We found out, when she ate Zarbon. At least, I'm pretty sure it was Zarbon, the queen described him pretty well," he said.
Vegeta blinked. "Your… your infant sister… ate Zarbon?!" he asked. At Raditz's nervous nod, he began to chuckle, then outright laugh. He laughed so hard, Raditz began to fear for the king's sanity. After a few straight minutes of laughter, Vegeta caught his breath, shaking his head. "Alright, Raditz, I'm done for the day. I'm going to find a drink, and I'm going to find my mate, and I'm going to celebrate finally getting the chance to rip Frieza's heart right out of his chest. You… you can report all of this to Kakarot. He's head of your family now, unless he decides otherwise. If the humans want to war against us, let them bring it. War keeps us all strong. Next time the planet gets invaded, they can protect their own damned selves," he said, and took to the air, flying back to the bonfires.
Raditz swallowed. He had known it wouldn't really upset King Vegeta all too much about them killing some humans, and when he learned of the attempted nuclear attack, he'd probably want to go to war with them himself. But… Kakarot on the other hand…
Sighing, Raditz made his way back to the celebration. He'd tell his brother tomorrow. He had enough to deal with…
It didn't take Vegeta long to find Bulma. She was busy, working on another scouter by firelight, studiously ignoring the revelry all around them. When he came within her view, she ignored him, focusing on her work. But, Vegeta could see it… her hands, they shook, ever so slightly, and she was making the same adjustment over and over.
He stepped forward quietly, and placed his hands over hers, his expression and grip gentle, but firm. Her eyes met his, and behind them was a fire the likes of which he had never seen. He could see her jaw working, the way it always did, before she let out a steaming tirade; she was preparing to scream at him, obscenities no doubt, most likely to chastise him for worrying her out of her mind, then not even greeting her when he made it out alive.
He didn't give her the chance.
Instantly, his lips were pressed against hers, his arm was wrapped tightly around her waist, and his two fingers were pressed against his forehead. The next instant, they were gone.
Baga grinned from ear to ear as he wove his way through the throng of celebrating Saiyans and Humans. His eyes sought out his older brother, and his smile grew when he found him, reclining against a wall, holding his new cub. He held out a wineskin towards him. "Kaka! You gotta try this, it's the best yet!" he insisted.
Kakarot's eyebrow went up as he looked Baga over, then he narrowed his eyes. "Baga… have you been drinking?" he asked the wavering cub.
Baga hiccupped and grinned. "'Course I have! How else would I know it's the best? Try it! Way better 'n Papa's stuff," he said, pushing the wine skin into Kakarot's hand. "C'mon, Kaka… Time 'n place, Papa said, and he's gone t' see Mama, 'n Chi-chi's gone, 'n Frieza's dead, it's been a long day. It's the time n' place, Kaka," he said, leveling his drunken gaze at his older brother.
Kakarot was struck by how much he looked like a much younger version of Bardock just then, with those eyes. He smirked. "Okay, Baga. Guess I've put in my time today," he said, taking the wineskin. He opened the cork and took a large swallow, expecting it to be horrible. However… "Wow, Baga! This is the best! Did… did you make this?" he asked, looking his brother over, even as he began to feel the warming effects of the alcohol.
Baga grinned. "Yup! Papa was leavin' the fruit in too long, he was tryin' ta make it stronger, but it was nasty. I added some different fruits in with the good stuff, and some spices, and it comes out smoother. Took me a few tries, but Matou says I got a knack fer this stuff," he bragged.
Kakarot chuckled, and took another pull from the wine skin, then handed it back to Baga. "Papa would be proud, Baga," he said, meeting his little brother's eyes. "Thanks, I needed that."
Baga smirked. "What else is family for?" he asked flippantly, then turned around. "I'm gonna find Beet. He needs this almost as much as you do," he said, and walked off, before Kakarot could think to ask what he meant by that.
Kakarot watched Baga go, a thoughtful look on his face. Nearby, he could see the Ox King, also drunk, glaring into the bonfire. He stood, still holding Gohan snuggled against his chest, and walked over to his father-in-law. They stood together, in silence, for a long moment, before he finally spoke. "I saw Chi-chi," he said, causing the older man to glance sharply at him. Kakarot didn't take his eyes off the fire. "When we were fighting Frieza, I was just about dead… and I saw her," he said, and met the Ox King's eyes directly. "She was happy," he said meaningfully.
The larger man's eyes filled with tears at that, and he swallowed hard. "She was?" he asked.
Kakarot smirked. "Yeah, she was. But if she finds out we were too busy cryin' over her to take care of what she left behind, I don't think she'll be happy any more. I think she'll kick both our asses," he said.
This brought out a deep laugh from the Ox King, who wiped tears from his eyes with a giant arm. "That sounds like my Chi-chi," he said, sniffling. He looked down at the baby in Kakarot's arms. "With Chi-chi gone, Gohan's the last heir to my kingdom. When I die, he'll be the new Ox King," he said, his expression grim.
Kakarot looked down at his son, frowning. "I can't teach him how to be a king. All I know is fightin', his mama was the smart one," he said, looking at the Ox King hopefully. "I might need some help."
The Ox King grinned. "I'd be sad if I couldn't help! He's my grandson, after all!" he said, clapping Kakarot on the back.
"So would I," a female's voice said, and Kakarot glanced over to see Launch smirking at him, her blonde hair streaked with blood and dirt, her green eyes bright as they landed on Gohan. "Kid's gonna need milk, ain't he?"
"And you ain't gonna raise him sleeping alone," a man's voice said, and Kakarot met his older brother's eyes as Raditz pulled Launch close to him. "We're family. We stick together. Our parents taught us that much, at least," he said, scowling.
Kakarot smirked. "Yeah. Yeah, they sure did," he said, as Raditz tousled his hair despite his protests.
Prince Tarble had arrived in the middle of the party. They had agreed to take shifts so they could all celebrate, as the only way onto the ship they had appropriated at the moment was Instant Transmission, which meant someone had to be on the ship at all times. He had looked for his brother, but was told that, while Vegeta had been victorious and was well, he was also missing in action… as was the Queen. Tarble wasn't so young as to not know what that meant.
Since Vegeta was nowhere to be found, he had thought to speak with Kakarot, to find out firsthand how the battle had gone. He wanted to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Frieza was dead. But, when he finally found the Royal Guard, all he could do was stand and gaze at him.
The Ox King was lying next to one of the large bonfires. Lying with his head against the large human's chest was Kakarot, with an infant cub wrapped in his arms. Lying with his back to Kakarot was Raditz, his tail curled around his brother's, his arms wrapped around Launch, whose arms were wrapped around another cub with blonde curly hair. On Kakarot's other side was Beet, his head resting against the Ox King's thigh, and between them was Baga, who's feet were atop Beet and head was resting on Kakarot's abdomen. In his hands he clutched a small snowglobe close to his chest.
Tarble smiled at the sight. All around them, people were partying, celebrating, but here, this was the perfect picture of what they were celebrating. The life that they had fought so hard trying to protect. The very thing his own father had lost sight of, and because of that, had lost the soul and respect of his people. This was what separated them from the proud race of warriors they could be, and the hired thugs Frieza had turned them into. And this was what would make them a people again… indeed, this was the very thing that had brought them together in the first place.
A Saiyan family.
A/N: Short and sweet, guys. I'm in the middle of working on the sequel, and I should have the first chapter of it up this weekend. The sequel is going to showcase more of the side characters, and it will read more like episodes, where each couple of chapters is a full episode. It will have a bit of a lighter feel than this one did, even though there will be some dark and gritty themes. It's my hope to show all aspects of the saiyan family, the good and the bad, in many types of situations. I am open to suggestions, if you think there's something you'd like to see in an episode, please PM me, and I'll add it to the list.
I would like to take this moment to thank all of you for your help with this fic. You all pitched in, and left your mark on this story. I had much more fun writing this, than I ever had writing a fic, and it's because of you guys. I hope the sequel will be just as much fun. And, thank you, mellra, for letting me run with your idea! Finally, thank you Alpha Shenron, for the awesome epic fight scenes! There's no way any of this would have been possible without you guys!
Stay tuned for the first chapter of the sequel. I plan to call it, Dragonball: A Saiyan's Family. If it will let me. I'll let you guys know, otherwise!
A/N: Readers, you might notice that non-story chapters have been removed from this story. In the interests of keeping this story up, I bow to the whims of the Fan Fiction Police. As always, I am open to suggestions, VIA PM! (rolls eyes at Metal Navy) See you guys in the sequel!