Disclaimer:  Once again (and for the final time with this story) I don't own DBZ.

Author's Notes:  I.  Love.  My.  Ending.  I'm so very proud of it.  So very, very proud.  I was dreading writing it, because I was afraid it would come out corny, but it's sooooo fine, lol.  And… you know what?  I'm not going to miss working on this story.

…Well, only a little.  ;)

The Brute

Chapter Ten

Bulma giggled and bent over her bag of already packed goods, kissing Kakarroto on the cheek.  He looked up at her with bloodshot eyes and smiled wryly.  She snorted and giggled harder, turning back to her packing.  Surprisingly, Kakarroto found that the more he packed, the more he realized that he didn't own nearly as much as he thought.  At his new home, he was going to have to start from scratch in several areas, because he was sure the only thing Bardock would give him would be a sneeze goodbye.

Bulma was about done.  Most of her other belongings were at her parents' home, so she was going to have to take a trip back there and grab the rest of her desired articles.  Nearly dancing around with giddiness and anticipation, she had already decided on visiting her parents the next day.  Kakarroto watched her stand up and stare out his broken widow at the gargantuan sun, which was only starting to rise.

They had woken up extra early, hardly getting a wink of sleep.  It was more Bulma's doing than Kakarroto's, but, upon seeing the joy in her eyes, he had trudged out of bed to please her.  At the moment he had a headache omnipresent in his upper extremities, but it was worth seeing her smile.

As he watched her, Kakarroto was once again filled with guilt about how wicked he had been.  She deserved so much more, and he hoped the rest of his life would be enough to pay her back.  She suddenly turned her head and looked at him, and the peace in her eyes and sunshine on her body made her shine like an angel.  His intake of breath was short and quick.  He held his breath and gaze, convinced that if he was ever going to get a moment to confess his evil, now was the time.

Bulma blinked at the admiration in his face.  She looked at the ground and motioned towards his bag.  "Well… come on.  It has more room.  The sooner you get packed up, the sooner we can leave!"

"Bulma, I care about you."

She quirked her head and her puzzled expression encouraged him to continue.  He turned his gaze to the ground.  He was far too ashamed.  "Bulma, I… I'm not all—you seem to think I am."

She grinned and winked at him, but he wasn't looking.  "I know," she said softly.  He looked up just a fraction more, and saw that her blue tail was twirling around in satisfaction.  "You're more than I could ever imagine you to be."

Kakarroto hesitated.  "I suppose that's not false," he mumbled, "but the other half of that fact is that the 'more' part of me is all… cruelty."

Bulma frowned, and Kakarroto didn't need to see her face to know it.  He could sense it.  Her tail had stopped moving.  "I don't understand," she muttered.

"I…"  Kakarroto paused and looked up at her face for as long as he could.  This had to be one of the hardest things he had done in his entire life.  He would have rather taken on Prince Vegeta with his hands tied than continued saying to Bulma what he knew he needed to say.  He was so afraid, not an emotion that frequented him.  "I tried to… Well I…"

"Yes?" she pressed softly.  There was no sense of urgency in her voice.

"When I first met you, I knew you were Chi-Chi's sister," he said flatly.  He thought about leaving it there and letting Bulma's mind figure out the rest, but upon second thought, he realized that that could possibly lead to worst results than his own words would bring.  "And… at the time, I was trying to harm Raditz.  I thought that through Chi-Chi, I could get the best results the easiest.  But…"  Kakarroto swallowed his words.  They seemed so much more horrid coming out of his mouth.  "But flat temptation didn't work, so I thought… making her jealous might.  So I—I…"

"Used me?" Bulma offered softly.  He looked back up at her, fighting to keep from wincing.  Her voice was blank, and he wondered what she was thinking.

"Well… yes," he said, swallowing.  Fear of losing her was beating him.  He watched her eyes drift over to a corner of his room and stay there, her mind thinking.  She slowly moved over towards his bed and sat down.

"It makes sense.  I—sorta had a hunch."

Kakarroto lowered his head in shame.  "I'm terribly sorry Bulma.  Please forgive me."

"But… do you still feel that way about me now?  I'm just a tool?"

"No!" he denied, standing up and looking her straight in the face to further emphasize his point.  "No, you're not!  I've come to realize who you really are and see you as someone other than 'Chi-Chi's sister!'  I like who you are!  I… I really like who you are!  It's why I'm planning on living with you!"  He paused and thought for a second.  "I mean, if you were still a tool to me, I'd have given you up by now, because it obviously didn't work!"

"I see," Bulma replied darkly, looking away upon being called a tool.  Kakarroto couldn't contain his wince that time.

"Oh Bulma, I'm terribly sorry, please forgive me!  I can't believe how awful I was to you!  Awful isn't even a passionate enough word for it!  It's… I…"

"So that fight with Brocc was just to impress me?"

"No, that was actually pre-planned.  You just happened to be there that day, and I thought there would be no better way to attract your attention.  It'd be killing two birds with one stone," he muttered, but those words brought up the unpleasant memory of the baby bird he had inadvertently killed.  Yet it was only inadvertent now that he regretted it…  He pushed it and his correction out of his mind.  He was going to focus on Bulma now.  "I—I'm sorry, please forgive me.  I hope you can forgive me…"

She was silent for a while, and Kakarroto held his breath.  Finally, she turned and looked at him.  He lowered his eyes.

"I suppose I can.  I suppose I'll have to.  I don't see how we can live comfortably together if I don't, and this little piece of information isn't going to change my mind about living with you," she said.  "I'm not perfect, and I never believed you to be.  I knew we'd slip up with each other at some point and time.  You don't have to act as if you failed me."

"The degree at which I 'slipped up' is so steep though," Kakarroto mumbled, disgusted with himself.  "The lust I had for Chi-Chi and for others… and how I acted on that lust is even worse."  He closed his eyes as if the shame were blinding him.  "I just… can't get over it myself too easily."

"Well you'll have to try, because I'm already over it."  He heard her soft footsteps as she approached him.  He opened his eyes.  Soon he could see her feet, and then her face, when she took his chin in her hand and lifted it up.  "I guess the only thing I can ask of you now is to try to forgive yourself so I'm not constantly reminded of it.  You'll do that for me, won't you?"

"Of course, anything," he whispered fervently.  "I'll do anything, I'm so sorry."

She kissed his forehead.  "It's alright!  I promise!  Now please finish packing; I want to be out of here as soon as possible.  I'm going to go cook breakfast.  It's about time someone other than Chi-Chi did it in this house."  Kakarroto fought hard to smile at her as she walked off.  He was still feeling mildly sick and in shock.

Kakarroto flopped on his bed as soon as she left the room.  The shock soon passed, and he felt glad at what he'd done.  He was very glad the guilt was finally off his chest and out of the silence his tongue was holding, though it felt strange that she didn't punish him.  It felt like something was lacking; he had always been punished for the slightest thing and was sometimes punished when he didn't do anything.  Hearing her peaceful forgiveness was something entirely unique and Bulma-like, his naiveté sadly negative.

He closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep, listening to the wind blow lightly outside accompanied by the occasional clatter of kitchen utensils.  He shivered from the cold wind outside and wrapped a blanket around him, drifting in and out of sleep for several minutes.  However, sleepy though he was, Kakarroto distinctly remembered hearing the soft patter of feet go by his door.  He listened intently for several minutes, for the clatter in the kitchen had stopped.  He then heard a much angrier footpace retreat back to its bedroom, and he could almost hear Chi-Chi muttering under her breath.  Kakarroto snickered into his bed sheets.

Eventually the entire family was called down to breakfast and Kakarroto was forced to get up again.  He sat down across from a sleepy-looking Raditz at a beautifully adorned kitchen table, as Bulma was anxious to impress; this would be the first meal she had ever cooked for them.  Bardock soon followed him, scratching his back and stretching.  Chi-Chi looked like she would rather chew off her arm and eat it than participate in dining on anything her lower-class sister had made, but she sat down next to Raditz all the same.  No one but Kakarroto seemed to realize the kitchen table looked any different.

Kakarroto frowned and cleared his throat.  "I like what you did for the table, Bulma, it's very pretty."  Bardock looked down at the table as if he had thought he was seated in front of a plant the entire time.

"Oh, well—what do you know!  That is nice," he complimented softly, smiling.  Bulma gave him a small—very small—smile back.

"Thank you."  She placed the dishes onto the kitchen table, and before she could say, "Please, help yourselves," everyone had already dug in.  Kakarroto was surprised and thrilled to find that Bulma's cooking was just as good as Chi-Chi's.  And though no one but Kakarroto had anything to say about it, it was obvious that the rest of the family was pleased.  Chi-Chi was the only one who had refused to eat.

Raditz glanced at her.  "Chi-Chi, are you okay?" he asked softly.  "Do you not feel well?"

"Oh!" she said lightly, pretending to come out of a trance.  "No, I feel fine.  I was just… thinking."  She picked up her plate and scooped several servings of delicious breakfast meat onto it, but didn't touch it for the rest of the meal.  Raditz ended cleaning it up for her.

Because Bulma had cooked, it was her turn to do dishes that morning.  Kakarroto offered to help her, so they cleaned up the kitchen, stopping more than once to peck each other on the cheek and have a water fight.  Kakarroto noticed, however, that Chi-Chi was acting strangely for the rest of the day, and not just because she was bitter with her sister.  He was sure he knew what was bugging her.  She was constantly at Raditz's arm (they had made up for their argument shortly after breakfast), and if he had to be parted from her, then she was either looking out the window or empty kitchen doorframe.  Sometimes she was doing both, clutching Raditz's arm tightly whenever she thought she saw something outside.  Raditz gave no indication that he noticed.

Time crawled by slowly that day, and Kakarroto found that he didn't have nearly enough to do.  After cleaning up dishes he had taken a small nap, during which Bulma couldn't contain the "good news" anymore.  Kakarroto was rudely awakened to demands from his family about his future with them.  He had confirmed Bulma's claims, making Raditz smirk with delight and Bardock's brow frown with concern.  He didn't seem to think his son was ready for the independent lifestyle; he warned Kakarroto over and over not to embarrass the family name.

Bardock was making lunch that day because he hadn't in a while and because Chi-Chi had strangely denied the opportunity to delight the family once again with her marvelous meals.  Instead she insisted on meditating with Raditz outside in the back yard.  Kakarroto, tired of stomping on insect after insect just inside the empty doorframe, took up the job of fashioning a replacement.  Bulma joined him.

The door still wasn't up when everyone was beckoned to lunch.  He had to deal with swarming insects around some type of meaty stew that Bardock had managed to burn, as if the scorched meat alone wasn't bad enough.  He found himself growing slightly uneasy.  He had expected Elite Superior Nappa to arrive by now, so the lack of visitors was confusing him.  Raditz also seemed to be curious about the absence of Nappa.  Kakarroto caught him staring attentively at nothing through the empty doorframe more than once.

The chair scraped unpleasantly when Raditz stood up to throw his dishes in the sink.  For some reason, everyone was hushed, including Bulma and Bardock.  Kakarroto could hear the clink of dishes ring in his ears for several seconds afterward.  When Raditz turned on the faucet, the running water seemed particularly loud.

Kakarroto eventually cleared his throat to try and get his ears back to normal, but it didn't work.  When he pushed his chair back, however, the surrounding world seemed quiet and distant; he picked up his dishes and sat them in the sink.  He wished ardently that his ears would correct themselves, because, after the keenness they'd just possessed, the silence was queer, particularly for sharp Sayian ears.

Hammering seemed like a good idea, so he looked to his project with the door again.  He felt distant and in slow motion as he walked towards the doorframe, staring at the empty lands beyond.  He stepped outside the doorframe and looked for his tools, when suddenly he couldn't breathe.  Kakarroto first thought he was having a sort of panic attack like he had had after Bardock berated him.  But seconds more proved that the cause wasn't coming from within his own self.  He was thrown forward with incredible force out the door; the jumpstart from his heart, all the adrenaline and sudden lack of oxygen were making him dizzy.  From far away he heard someone scream, but then his ears filled with dirt and dust.

When Kakarroto finally got his senses around him, he realized that he heard a woman screaming hysterically.  He thought of Bulma and scrambled to his feet to protect her from this predator, but when he reached the house he realized it was none other than Elite Superior Nappa standing broad-shouldered in the doorframe—between him and his family.

Chi-Chi had backed up against the furthest wall and was screaming and crying.  Raditz was trying to make sense of the situation while Bardock and Bulma were terribly confused.  Kakarroto demanded to know why Nappa had grabbed him around the throat like he did, but the super elite could not hear him over Chi-Chi's hysterical cries of "get away from me!" and "Raditz save me!"

"Chi-Chi, calm down!" Raditz shouted, reaching for her arm.  She, in turn, grabbed Raditz and held him as tightly as she could, trembling at his side and sobbing.  She looked like someone who had just heard bad news that was ten times as painful because it had been dreaded.  "Chi-Chi, what is the meaning of this?  Be quiet!"

She looked up at him with horrified eyes and her sobbing ceased.  She continued to tremble.  "Raditz, do you not care?" she whispered, the terror of it all fully hitting her as she spoke.  Her knees began to wobble so violently that she leaned against the wall to steady herself.

"About what?" Raditz spat back, slapping her lightly.  "Calm down!  You're humiliating me!"  Chi-Chi grabbed her burning face and crumpled on the floor, not by the severity of his hit, but from shock.

Kakarroto took advantage of the situation, shoving Nappa in the back.  He stumbled forward for a second and then regained his balance, turning around.  Kakarroto glared at him.  "If that's your way of getting back at me for yesterday, you're incredibly petty.  Just accept that I'm better than you and get over it!"

If there was anything Kakarroto had expected from Elite Superior Nappa, it was a shove back.  But Nappa was motionless, and, amazingly, his face seemed very sad.  "No, you are great," he said softly.

Kakarroto watched him, confused.  He didn't know what to think, but he kept his guard up.  He knew from first-hand experience that Nappa was capable of foul play, and Kakarroto wasn't going to rule out a sneak attack anytime soon.  Nappa turned back around, looking at the rest of Kakarroto's family.  "I am here on important business for Prince Vegeta," he said, his voice deep and firm.

Chi-Chi wailed desperately on the floor, grabbing Raditz's boots.  "No," she moaned, "no, no, not me.  Why me?  Why now?"  Raditz glared at her.

"Get up!" he demanded, stooping down and picking her up by her shoulders.  He held her so that she faced him fully.  "If you don't calm down and act with more sense, I will dismiss you posthaste from my presence!"

Chi-Chi leaned on his shoulder and continued to cry, but she didn't wrap her arms around him.  He draped one arm over her.  Nappa waited for her to get quiet enough that he might continue, but Bardock interrupted him first.  "What the hell is going on here?" he asked softly, looking around as if he'd been shot at.

"Exactly what I'd like to know," Bulma agreed, looking from Chi-Chi to Nappa with great confusion.  Nappa looked at Raditz with those dark, saddened eyes.  Raditz gave him a reluctant nod, pushing him to continue.

"By order of Prince Vegeta, I am here to collect a mate for him," Nappa said slowly.  Kakarroto listened and watched Chi-Chi with a great pain in his chest as she shuddered.  "I am also here to commit a murder on Prince Vegeta's order."

There was silence and shock.  Even Chi-Chi hushed, but her trembling doubly increased.  Raditz's eyes flashed.  "I was not informed of that," he barked suddenly.  Nappa turned his head towards Raditz.  Kakarroto, suddenly terrified, could not see his expression.

"I'm so sorry Raditz.  It was my order from Prince Vegeta," he said slowly, and Kakarroto could hear the regret drip off his tongue.  Suddenly, he turned his head and looked at Bulma.  "You are Bulma of the second class, are you not?"

"I am," she replied, unsure and afraid.  She tried to glance at Kakarroto, but Nappa's bulk was hiding his face from her sight.  She could not make eye contact with him.

"Prince Vegeta has instructed that I remove you from the area now and accompany you to his palace, where you will be refreshed, properly dressed, and presented to our great prince.  You are his mate of choice."

Kakarroto stood in stunned silence.  Chi-Chi slowly stopped crying.  There were long moments in which Nappa waited for everyone to compose themselves.  Kakarroto's stomach rapidly grew heavy and his knees grew weak so suddenly that he thought he'd lost control of them.  Bardock looked from Elite Superior Nappa to Bulma and back.

"Are you serious?" he asked, his tone hardly altered.  "You haven't made any mistake about this?"

Nappa looked at him.  "I was informed that the woman to collect would go by the name of Bulma and would be of second-class.  She would also be Raditz's mate's sister."  He looked at Chi-Chi, who was still trembling on the floor.  "She is your sister, correct?"

"Y—yes," Chi-Chi stuttered softly.  She wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand.

"Then she is the one I am to take," Nappa replied, looking at Bulma.  Her eyes were wide.  She moved to the side so that she could see her lover.

"Kakarroto?" she whispered dryly.  Kakarroto looked at her.  She looked so small, so terrified, and he wanted to protect her.  The only problem was that he couldn't even protect himself.

"But before I return with you, Miss Bulma, I must complete the other half of my duties here," Nappa said, turning around heavily.  His eyes were totally cut off and emotionless as he looked at Kakarroto.  The third-class Sayian looked up at him and felt small—and not just because of Nappa's size.  Kakarroto couldn't breathe.

"The other half of my orders were to kill you, Kakarroto, and present your body to Prince Vegeta."  Nappa's jaw was trembling, and Kakarroto could see flickers of emotion pass through his eyes.  He opened his mouth and hesitated.  "I'm sorry," he mouthed weakly.

"I don't—understand," Kakarroto cried, his voice soft and high-pitched.  "What's wrong?  Why?"

"I really don't want to do this," Nappa continued, ignoring his question.  He looked at the ground and his jaw trembled harder.  "I respect you Kakarroto, I respect you greatly.  I'm just sorry your purpose could not be completed by you."  He didn't move his head, but Nappa turned his eyes so as to look at Kakarroto through the corners of them.  "I will try my best to complete it for you."

Kakarroto tried to mutter "what purpose?" and "Bulma" at the same time, but Bulma's name overrode the first statement.  He moaned her name again and crumpled to his knees, weeping openly in front of them all.  He could hear Bulma crying from inside of him.

There were slow footsteps, and great tears fell on the dry ground in front of Kakarroto.  He could not discern his tears from the rest of the families', however.  For his family was great, and they were crying many tears.

"I love you Kakarroto," Bulma sobbed softly.  Her words did not echo, but they burned a hole in the back of his neck.  Kakarroto felt no more.


The End.  Hope you enjoyed it, cause I sure did.