One Last Stand
There were two tombstones lying side by side, undisturbed, for it had been a long time since someone had set foot on it. Bees and butterflies were their only visitors, but they found their company to be quite comfortable, at least they brought a pleasant view to the stagnant land. Golden weeds grew tall, covering the words imprinted on the surface of the discolored stones.
A man, who appeared to be in his late nineties, slowly walked up to the left tombstone, each step triggered shortness in his breath. Sighing, the man knew his time was limited. In his fragile hands were fresh white daisies, a favorite of his wife. He bent down and felt his bone cracked with every small movement. He brushed the stubborn weeds away from the stone. His fingers traced the prints that had faded under the lack of care. He carefully placed the daisies upon the earth. His thin lips started to move, "Chi Chi. It's been a long time."
A twig crackled from behind. A short old man appeared beside the bushes. "I see you came too, Kakkarott."
Goku turned back, surprised to see Vegeta standing behind him. He hadn't expected to see Vegeta, of all people, at this place. He thought the proud prince of the Saiyans had long forgotten the one who slumbered beneath the earth. "Vegeta, what are you doing here?" Goku asked, not realizing how stupid his question was.
"What do you think I'm doing here? Idiot!" Vegeta rolled his eyes. Apparently Goku hadn't grown a brain since their last encounter. He moved next to Kakarrott, folded his arms and gazed down to the weed-filled grave. "That woman must be laughing by now," Vegeta said. "I bet she didn't expect an old washed up Saiyan visiting her." He stepped closer, deliberately standing on top of the grave.
"Yeah, Bulma would do that if she's still alive," Goku said, smiling. He started to pull out the stubborn weeds that had rooted deeply in the ground. His muscle was not as it used to be. He still had the strength to do these simple tasks, but he knew it wouldn't be long before the remaining strength would also diminish. "Chi Chi always liked to be clean and tidy, but I always ran away and disregarded my cleaning duty. I guess it's still the same even after she left. I'm such a useless husband." After a second of silence, he continued, "I'm sorry it took me so long to visit, Chi Chi."
Vegeta arched his brow. A note of curiosity surfaced on his rough wrinkled face. "Where have you been?" Vegeta knew Kakkarott had made frequent visit after her death, so when he said that he hadn't been visiting, Vegeta suspected that the dense Saiyan probably had been up to something.
Goku blinked and looked up at Vegeta. "Traveled. With Chi Chi gone and no one to fight, there was nothing left for me to do. Wasn't that why you left?" Goku remembered that Trunks and Bra had stopped by bringing the disheartening news of their mother's passing and had asked for permission to rest Bulma's body next to Chi Chi's. He had agreed. How could he not? Chi Chi and Bulma had been best friend, even though they had their little quarrel from time to time. He remembered wondering what Vegeta had to say, but Trunks had told him that Vegeta disappeared minutes after Bulma took her last breath.
Vegeta closed his eyes. There was a bitter pine stench in the air, yet combined with the warm heat from the sun, it gradually turned pleasantly sweet. He agreed it had been too peaceful on earth. Goku was right. After Majin Buu's defeat, there had been no other threat. Their reputation had traveled to the other planets and caused potential invaders to think twice before attacking. Occasionally, there had been some small fries that challenged them, but they were easily destroyed.
Bulma had been his only attachment to this planet. He had stayed with her as their brats left to start a family of their own. He had been there when she complained about her appearance as she started to show signs of age. He had known as she grew older and his Saiyan's blood kept him young, she had become more frustrated, but still he had stayed with her. He found it amusing even now that his mate had always coated layer and layer of powders on her face. She had told him that it would keep her looking young. He remembered he had laughed at her and she stomped out with fire blazing in her light blue eyes. If there was one reason he picked her as his mate, it would be that fire.
He didn't know when her body had started to become so fragile. He remembered one time when he held her at night, it had finally occurred to him that Bulma had become alarmingly thin. He had noticed beneath her loose clothes were nothing but bones. Her once voluptuous figure had shriveled away. He had been afraid that his very touch could break her into pieces. He had watched her sleeping body curled up against his strong chest. Her breath had been soft and weak. For the first time, he had studied her closely. Her hair had turned the color of gray and lines of wrinkled folded as she made little movements. Her stay in the living world would end far earlier than him. He didn't think it would affect him but the lingering agitation from this realization had caused him to watch her throughout the remaining night.
The day she had taken her last breath, he had not been by her bedside. He had stood outside the hospital door, waiting for his brats to bring him the news. He did steal a peek and he had regretted it instantly. She had been strung by the tubes to the machine, hanging on her dear life. Before he looked away, he had caught a glimpse of her eyes. She had seen him and smiled beneath the oxygen mask, silently telling him she understood how he felt. If he had been given a choice, he would end her suffering in a quick and painless way. His brats had come out hours later with fresh tears running freely from their cheeks. Without hearing what they had to say, he had walked away.
Afterward he had taken off with Bulma's final invention. She had known him too well. She had built a spaceship that had unlimited fuel capacity. That had been one hundred and fifty years ago.
"I'm surprised I didn't see you on the way," Goku continued when Vegeta didn't respond. "You would think that within one hundred and fifty something years, we would run into each other. I didn't remember this universe to be so big. Where did you go?"
"Where I went is none of your business," Vegeta growled. Wrinkles appeared clearly on his face.
Goku chuckled. Even in his ripened years, he still sported that trademark growl. "Of course not," he said, pulling the last bit of weeds from the ground. "I hope you are happy, now Chi Chi." Goku imagined Chi Chi by his side, whining about his irresponsible behavior. Sometimes Goku wondered if Chi Chi had been truly happy living with him. He had spent half of her youth in the world of the dead. When he did return, he had left to train with Uubu. She did come to visit them once in a while, bringing him his favorite food. Now that he thought of it, he had never once made the effort to visit her.
Gohan had hinted to him that Chi Chi had been lonely, but his thick mind didn't register its true meaning. He had thought that with Gohan, Goten, Videl, and Pan by her side, she would be fine. But now he realized he had been a fool. After Chi Chi's death, his heart had been filled with an emptiness he didn't understand. He had been confused. He had spent more time on his own during their marriage and never once did he have his feeling. He later decided that the reason for the emptiness had been because he could no longer return home, with a raging Chi Chi waiting for him. He realized shamefully how selfish he had acted when she had been still alive.
Goku glanced at the Saiyan's prince beside him. Although Vegeta was cold and uncaring on the outside, he had been a better husband to Bulma than he would ever be to Chi Chi.
"I heard tales of a mysterious space wanderer who never left his name after saving the planets." Goku sneaked a quick peek at Vegeta to see if there was any reaction from the Saiyan's prince, but as he suspected, Vegeta was the master at masking his thoughts. "Even today, others still whispered gracious regard to this warrior." Goku shook his head in amusement. "As for me, they were more worry that I will eat them into poverty." Goku halted his self talk when he heard a light sigh.
"Do you think I will see her in the afterworld?"
Goku stared, his jaw slightly open. He remembered a long time ago, during their fight with Majin Buu, Vegeta had asked a similar question. The only response at that time had been regrettably a negative one. Goku finally understood. He threw a reassuring smile even though Vegeta wasn't looking. "This time I'm positive you will."
"I'm tired, Kakarott," Vegeta said hesitantly, fearing he might reveal too much emotion. Goku could sense the heaviness in his voice, so heavy that Goku fear it could suffocate the short prince. "Saiyans have long lives, but it was unheard of that one will live to their retired age. It is a Saiyan's pride and honor to die a valiant death in the heat of battle," Vegeta paused and unconsciously flexed his deteriorated muscles. "But here I am, old, aged, and weak," Vegeta paused again. Another sigh escaped his mouth. "I fought and fought, quenching the warrior's blood stirring within me, but somewhere along the line, after defeating those worthless fool, I don't feel the same exhilaration as I did in my youth...I..I then had a sudden urge to be defeated." He looked up at the cotton-like clouds, floating across the blue sky. "I had searched for any capable fighters to grant me this one wish, but my search had been in vain. At the end, the only thing in my mind was to return here." For the first time in the day, Vegeta turned to Goku. "Why?" A simple question, yet Goku could hear these hundred years of turmoil and confusion bottled up in his tiny body.
Goku separated some of the daisies he placed on Chi Chi's grave. Splitting it in half, he placed it on Bulma's grave. Vegeta didn't say a word, only silently watching his every move. After Goku whispered a few words, he stood up and put one hand on Vegeta's shoulder. He could feel a slight flinch beneath his touch, but Vegeta made no attempt to shake off his hand. "For old time sake, let's spar." Goku grinned. "But that is if you feel up to it." Taunting Vegeta with his words.
Ancient fire flared within the two dark pupils. Vegeta glared at Goku as if he could kill with looks alone. Obviously this brainless old senile man was seeking to dig his own grave beside his mate to dare call him a wuss. After glaring for a few more quiet moments, Vegeta smirked. "I fear for your health if we indeed spar, old man."
"We'll see who's the old man after we finish sparring." Goku was glad Vegeta was finally in good humor. "Let's go over that hill over there." He pointed to the south. "Chi Chi and Bulma won't appreciate us disturbing their peaceful sleep."
Vegeta snorted. "Those two should be honored to see the battle of the century."
Goku let out a quick laugh and flew off to the south, knowing for certain Vegeta would shortly follow.
Vegeta indeed followed. He watched Kakarott from behind. Kakarott didn't directly answer his question, yet in a way, the question was answered. He finally realized he had seek fights and battles not only to satisfy his Saiyan's blood, but also to deliberately suppress his deepest fear. Had it been his true drive, he would find satisfaction and enjoyment as he destroyed his enemies. But with every battle, he had felt the hole in his heart grew. The void had become bigger. It had slowly consumed him, suffocated him. The answer had been so simple, yet it had taken him a century to fully grasp the reason for his uneasiness. He had been lonely. His desire to see Bulma again had slowly devoured his soul. All this time, he feared to learn the real truth that he had hidden so flawlessly with this illusion of bloody battles.
They flew to a deserted plain. Both Saiyans landed two feet from each other. If there were bystanders nearby, they would cover half their mouth and laugh. The two once proud warriors with enough testosterone to put anyone to shame were now only two frail, bone skinny old men. Their scrawny legs could barely support their thin bodies, but they kept their postures and stood upright with rekindled pride. There was a tension emitted around them. The rocks slowly lifted into the air and crackle could be heard.
"Ready?" Goku called out, crouching into a fighting position. Excitement ran through his veins; adrenaline rushed up to his brain.
Vegeta was already crouching. His ki rose. If excitement was contagious, he believed he had caught it. It had been a long time since he engaged in a fight and he felt this would be a battle he would definitely enjoy.
After a few minutes of impatiently waiting for his partner to make the advance, Goku couldn't stall any longer and decided to make the first move. He charged toward Vegeta with lightning speed. His small fist connected with Vegeta's jaw. Reflexively, Vegeta returned a punch, grunting at the pain on his jaw. Pain, something he didn't felt physically for a long time. Somehow he welcomed it, like a reunion with his long forgotten friend.
The two old Saiyans were now in mid-air, exchanging flurry of punches and kicks. Each punch caused the other to wince in pain. Bruises and bloods were now visible on their wrinkle faces. Their breaths quickened considerably. They finally broke off and rested for a while.
"Wow! That was fun," Goku said, catching his breath between every word. "But I can't believe I'm tired after only twenty minutes." He clutched his hand around his beating chest.
Vegeta was in no better situation. He was heaving and panting with the same rhythm as Goku. Sweats rapidly glided down from his forehead, dripping off the tip of his nose. "Speak for yourselves." Vegeta growled, unable to admit he was tired after just a short warm-up session.
"Yeah, I guess I'm the only one out of shape. Must be all the food I've been consuming without exercising." Gokou laughed, playing along with Vegeta. "Still have energy for more?"
"Whom do you take me for?" Vegeta wiped off the sweats and took control of his body. This time without warning, Vegeta dashed at Goku, flying a kick to the middle of Goku's chest. Goku was thrown forward, landing face down on the hard ground. He picked himself up from the ground, spitting out the dirt from his mouth. Before he realized what happened next, he felt another kick on his left arm. He screamed when the bone in his arm broke. Cursing, he returned a blow with his free uninjured arm. The blow luckily landed on Vegeta's chest. A rewarding sound crackled followed by a scream. "Now we even," Goku managed to say. He felt some fresh blood in the back of his throat.
"Shit!" Vegeta snapped. He sprung onto Goku and started to punch blindly. Soon, both were engulfed into another round of fiercely attacks.
When they have reached their max, Goku decided to push his ki a little further. His white hair began to glow, golden then white and then back to golden. His ebony dark eyes switched to greenish-blue. He stretched his arm out and then pulled it back to his side. His fingers curled. A bright blue energy light appeared within his palm. "Kame," He screamed. "Are you crazy!" Vegeta yelled unbelievably. "Your body can't take this much power." But Goku ignored his warning and continued to channel more ki. Vegeta stood dumbfounded, hesitated, and grinned. "We're supposed to fight all out. Then all out it is!" Vegeta's gray hair and eyes started to turn to a color similar to Goku. He brought out both arms before him and connected his palms together.
"Tack." Two huge fireballs left its owner and met in the middle. The impact of the fireball caused the wide area to brighten, scaring away any living animals. The big blast froze in the center. "I won't lose this time, Kakarott." Vegeta screamed, forcing more energy into his fireball. The bright ball in the center slid toward Goku.
"I won't either." Gokou recharged his energy, pushing it back.
The tug of war went on when both refused to surrender. Finally, together they let out the same amount of ki into their fireball, thus causing a huge explosion. Goku and Vegeta were thrown back with tremendous force. They were engulfed into brightness, only their screams were audible. A loud thump was heard on both side of the plain.
The land became unnervingly quiet. Winds could be heard wheezing by the land, brushing the leaves as they did so. Finally, what seemed like decades, choking noise began to echo through the empty plain. First it was a few light gurgles and then it gradually grew into coughing fits. Goku tried to speak between coughs, but found his lungs were burning for air. Vegeta managed to calm down, "Are you dead yet?" he asked, still coughing.
Goku took in a deep breath and released. When he recovered, he gathered his remaining energy and sat up. He looked over to his partner and checked his current condition. "Now it's your turn to ask stupid question." Laughing and wincing, he crawled his way to Vegeta's side and plopped down next to him. "That was great, huh?"
Vegeta ignored Goku and turned over. Using every ounce of his strength, he managed to get on his knees. Unexpectedly, he was caught in another fixture of coughs. Trickles of blood dripped from the corner of his mouth. At the corner of his eyes, he saw Goku's display of concern. Swiftly, he swallowed his cough and pushed his body up. Without a word, he flew unevenly back to the grave.
Goku sighed and followed after him. His body had already reached its maximum limit. It took every bit of his strength to remain straight flight to his destination. When he arrived, he saw Vegeta lying on his back upon Bulma's grave. Goku smiled. Despite Vegeta's unwillingness to speak to him, he knew Vegeta's appreciated his company, especially after a good spar. He limped to Chi Chi's grave. Feeling his body giving up altogether, he fell hard on the soft soil. If he didn't receive any broken bones during the fight, he would now.
"I missed them," Vegeta said softly. All the pride and stubbornness stripped from his voice. Goku managed to smile despite his pain. "I know," was all he said.
"Trunks and Bra will probably not wait for me on the other side since I wasn't a good father to them, but I want to see them," Vegeta said. "And if that feisty woman is not there. I will make sure she knows my arrival," he smirked, thinking it might be fun to turn the afterworld upside down.
Goku smiled longingly, "I missed them, too. All of them. We will see them soon enough."
Vegeta had a concern look on his face. "That is if I could go where they are."
Goku reached out his uninjured arm and placed it lightly on Vegeta. This time, Vegeta did not flinch. "Vegeta, I knew you were the one that people singed the heroic tales about. I knew you did it, whether consciously or not and you probably did it because you want to cleanse all the bad deeds in your youthful days. I know you did it for Bulma. I'm confident that Kami-sama had forgiven you and open the doorway for you to see your family," Goku assured.
"I did not do it for her. It just happened that way," Vegeta denied, but Goku knew better. "Kakarott. thank you for this final spar. It was great...," Vegeta trailed. He let out a yawn. He felt his eyelids heavy.
"Anytime, old friend." Goku also felt his eyelids struggling to open.
"Friend, eh? I suppose I could call you that," Vegeta said faintly. His eyes were only open by a thin slit.
"I heard Chi Chi screaming at me already," Goku chuckled softly, "She's wondering why I'm so late."
Vegeta wondered if Goku was delusional, but then he, too, heard his mate's squeaky voice.
"Vegeta! You are such an asshole! I told you to look after your kids and you ran off!" a woman's voice called out. An image of a blue haired woman emerged behind the clouds. Her hand was on her hip; her feet tapping the floor impatiently. He saw those eyes. He missed those eyes the most. There it was, the fire dancing dangerously as it fixed it on him. The edge of his lips curled up, "Shut up, woman."
Author's Note: I always wonder what is the most fitting way for our full blood Saiyans to leave the world for good. They get killed in battles all the time, so that's no fun. What if they died of old age? It was quite fun to write the two old, raggedy and struggling Saiyans. Hope you guys enjoy reading it as much as I like writing it.
Side note: I learned years later that Saiyans do not have long life...so yeah...I messed up!
Feedback Request: I've decided to include this session so I can get some feedback to improve my writing. I know I have some spot in the fic where I could definitely touch up on. Here, I'm going to write my potential problem areas. I can pick out some of it out and fix it myself, but opinions from the readers will be highly beneficial. I really like to be in character, but sometimes I could think they are and they might not be. What do you think of my portrayal of the two old Saiyans? OOC? Good but need more work? If you find anything else you can enlighten me on, type away. Don't spare my feeling. Hope to hear from you! Thank you for reading.