Last Man Standing
Disclaimer: I'd like to say for the record, I could make Dragon Ball/Z/GT a wonderful story with a gripping plot and a nice romantic undertone, not entirely unlike Ranma ½. Unfortunately, the artwork would be stick figures with a green space beneath them, a blue space above them, and nothing in the middle.
I have watched a great many men, women, and children die, countless at my own hand. But watching a man wither away into nothingness frightened me beyond words.
Yamcha was asleep, his aged lungs barely drawing in enough oxygen through the tubes on his face to keep his wrinkled body alive. A few hours before, I had figured that he was close to waking up: he'd been unconscious for twelve hours. But then, up until recently, my only experience with elderly humans were Bulma's parents, who I don't think slept at all, and the Turtle Pervert, who spent most of his time too high on his own hormones to sleep. But all of them were long dead.
The steady beep of the plethora of machines Yamcha was hooked up to kept me from dozing, but I've gone longer without sleep. Their tone insisted that Yamcha was still in reasonable condition; that his heart was still pumping blood through his body, but my senses were smarter than the machines. I knew the truth.
I stood and began to stretch, but then Yamcha awoke. His eyes, ill adjusted to the dark and old age besides, must have interpreted my shape as a cloaked figure. With a gasp, Yamcha asked, "Are you the angel of Death?"
I let out a short chuckle. "Can you see me as the angel of anything, Weakling?"
"Ah," Yamcha breathed, falling back on his pillow. "It's a frightening world when I'm glad to hear your voice."
"The feeling is mutual." I returned to my chair next to the elderly man.
"What are you doing here, anyway?"
"Someone has to be. They still think I'm your son."
"You're older than I am."
"Saiyans age differently," I reminded him. "How do you feel?" The voice didn't relay concern, but my voice rarely conveyed anything but indifference.
"Tired. Cold. I need to take a shit," he grumbled. "So no different than usual. I have a whole new respect for Master Roshi, if he felt like this all the time. At least I'm not constantly horny."
"Good, because there are some things I'm not about to help you with."
"I really wish Bulma were here. Not that you're not great company," Yamcha chuckled, then coughed. He pulled a tissue from a box on a stand next to him and held it over his mouth. It was soon spotted red. It was all I could do to not look away.
After his coughing fit, Yamcha looked to me. "Where is Bulma, anyway?"
My eyebrows raised slightly and I started to say something, but decided against it. "It's two thirty a.m., Weakling. Where do you think she is?"
"Right." He was silent for a moment, then he said, "I really do love her, you know. I just wish she'd forgive me for that stupid dance."
"I'm sure she will," I said, with an unusual amount of kindness in my voice.
"Right." Another moment of silence, then, "I'm sorry, do I know you?"
I sighed. "I'm Vegeta. A friend of Ka—of Goku's."
"Oh. Right. I knew that. I should really get up," Yamcha said sleepily, his eyes closing rebelliously. "Gotta train. Saiyans are coming." He was out before he finished the word.
Certain he was asleep, I left his room. There were few nurses on the night shift, and all of them knew me by name. One stopped me as I left, telling me that he appreciated my visits, always speaking highly of his "dear friend Vegeta," or during his more lucid moments, his "son." Ironic how he was closer to the truth when he wasn't aware of it.
"West City Mourns the Loss of Baseball Great Yamcha," I read aloud to my wife. "His obituary is twice the length the Cue-Ball's was." I sat down, skimming through it. "It mentions the World Martial Arts Tournament... his career... his 'short-lived relationship' with you—weren't you together for twenty years?" I asked with a laugh. "I'm mentioned. 'Yamcha is survived by countless fans, friends, and one son: Vegeta.' The nurses must have added that when the reporter interviewed them."
I let out a sigh. "He asked for you, the last time I visited him. But of course, he wasn't lucid at the time. It's a terrible way for a warrior to go, like that, hooked up to more machines than one of your demented inventions.
"It's almost funny, Woman. We hated each other for so long that we were almost friends." I looked up at the sky and said more to myself than anything else, "I'll miss him."
I left the newspaper on the ground next to Bulma's headstone and flew off.
Author's Note: The beauty of writing when Vegeta is eighty years old is that I can say that he's more talkative for no reason whatsoever.
The reason I did this, for one thing, is that my friend asked me if a Vegeta/Yamcha friendship was even remotely possible. I figured one of them would have to be dying, and in a world where death is merely a mild hindrance, it'd have to be a way you couldn't wish off.