Keep It Simple
Sequel to Simplify
Disclaimer: Don't own nothin' of this.
Other Info: Goku never left with the dragon, Vegeta never cut his hair, and everyone's alive. In other words, GT is silly and wasn't made by the artist and I don't consider it cannon.
"We'll go home, to my Capsule house. We can talk there." Without waiting for a reply, he put his arm around Vegeta and prepared to transmit. Vegeta pressed closer to him, closing his eyes and laying his head against his chest. Goku tightened his hold slightly, and they disappeared. The air swirled around the spot they left, blowing the last embers into a bright glow before they fell dark, a light trail of smoke rising up after.
They appeared inside Goku's kitchen. At first Vegeta didn't move, but as Goku slowly unwound his arms from him, he took a step back and glanced around. Two refrigerators, a sink, table, chairs. Goku flipped on the lightswitch and Vegeta blinked, shielding his eyes. The walls and cabinets were plain white, without adornment. The Capsule house was as plain as when it first shipped off the assembly line.
"I expected decorations," he murmured, resting one hand on the sink. "Human trappings."
Goku didn't seem to hear him. He held Vegeta's free hand and tugged him towards the dark doorway. "You, uh, probably wanna get dressed. I've got spare clothes you can have."
Upset that he'd forgotten all but his gloves and torn shirt back in the forest, Vegeta nodded once and followed. As they moved through the house, Goku turned on the hall light, then the bedroom light. He knelt next to the bed and opened a large trunk, and turned on the bedside lamp before he rifled through the clothes inside.
The light was too much, especially after spending so much time under the stars. Vegeta turned his head away, waiting for his eyes to adjust. His night vision was superior to any humans, but he took longer to adjust between light and dark. He'd thought that was Saiyan biology, but if Kakarrot had turned on all these lights, perhaps not. When he could look around, he didn't see much decoration beyond a few pictures of Gohan and Goten on the nightstand.
Standing in scraps of clothing seemed ridiculous. He'd stood before his rival in destroyed clothes in the past. With a impatient grumble, he tore the bits of his shirt off and tossed them in the wastebasket at his feet. A moment later, he removed his gloves and dropped them on the bed. He stared at them. They seemed so flimsy on their own, limp and flat on the white blanket. The fingertips curled upward as if dead.
"They'll probably be too big," Goku said, standing up. He turned and held out a blue shirt and orange pants. "But they're the ones I shrunk in the wash, so maybe they won't be so bad."
Vegeta took them and glanced at the bathroom door beside him. Before he could ask, Goku answered.
"If you want, you can take a shower while I get something to eat. I don't think we're gonna sleep much tonight."
Nodding, Vegeta turned to enter the bathroom, but as he went in, he thought of something and turned back. "Did...did you hear that thought?" he asked. "That I wanted to clean up?"
"Huh? No, you were just looking that way and you're kinda covered in dirt. I just figured..." He spotted his reflection in the bathroom mirror and grinned self-consciously. Sweat-streaked dirt covered his body and face. "Looks like we both got messy. I hadn't even noticed."
"You could join me," Vegeta said, staring at the floor. "In the shower."
"You wouldn't mind?" Goku's smile disappeared, and he put his hand on Vegeta's shoulders. "You sure?"
He gave a small nod. While Goku slipped by him to start the water, he put the clothes on the edge of the sink and stared into the mirror. Bits of crumbled leaves stuck in his hair and his right side was covered in dirt, probably where he'd slept. But his eyes, he didn't recognize them. Yesterday's confidence was gone and it seemed nothing had replaced it.
"Water's ready," Goku said, already stepping in.
Vegeta turned. Stupid mirror. He stepped in and in front of Kakarrot out of necessity; the water would never hit him behind the larger Saiyan. Waves of steam rose around him. For a little while he stood still, letting the water rinse off the dirt. After a few moments his hair became soaked and fell flat.
Fingertips stroked down his hair, and Vegeta had to steel himself to keep from backing away. Mates had a right to touch each other, didn't they? And it wasn't unpleasant, far from it. He bit his lip and let Kakarrot's hands move from his head to his shoulders, down the center of his back. A second later he realized Kakarrot was holding a bar of soap. The scent filled the shower.
He shook his head. "You don't have to, I can--"
"I know." Goku took Vegeta's right arm and held it up, bringing the soap down to his fingers. "I want to."
Watching his hand, Vegeta leaned back against him and felt for his emotions. A new, strange one filled his mind. It tasted familiar, something he felt when he'd taken care of a feverish Trunks, but this felt deeper and sharper.
"Affection," Goku whispered, giving it a name.
"Can you feel it?" Vegeta asked. "Can you feel when I touch your mind?"
"A little. It's like a piece of cloth brushing over me. See?"
Vegeta shivered as he felt the same, along with the peculiar sensation of having one feeling singled out and examined. "Do you know that one's name?"
"Relief," Goku said.
Without turning, Vegeta felt Kakarrot kneel and his hands move down his sides, along his legs. They brushed his tail scar and he muffled a hiss.
"It still hurts?" Goku asked.
"Of course." Vegeta opened his mouth to say something else, but the light touch was back in his mind, searching for something. He winced and put one hand back on Goku's shoulder to steady himself. He hadn't known the bond could be invasive. The water coursing down his body added to a sensory overload.
"It's okay, I won't hurt you," Goku said, holding his hand. "Do you want me to pull out?"
He shut his eyes tight and nodded quickly. "Yes. It's too much." As the touch left, he caught his breath, unaware he'd been holding it. A lingering taste of his mate's coming apology stuck in his mind, and he shook his head. "Don't apologize. Maybe later, when it's not so new."
"Okay. I'm sorry," Goku stood and turned Vegeta around, making him meet his eyes. "I didn't mean it to feel weird, I just..." He stared at his mate. "It always hurts? Everything?"
Vegeta half-shrugged. "Regeneration tanks heal fast, not correctly. As long as I can move, what does it matter?"
"It matters. Vegeta, you shouldn't have to live in pain. Why didn't you ever say anything?"
"To your humans?" He barked a laugh. "Give them something else to laugh at me for?"
"Bulma, then. Or you could have used the dragonballs, no one would have denied you that."
"To be honest...I'm used to it. If I took it away," he looked down, "I might have to relearn my techniques all over again."
"Better that than living in pain. Oh, Vegeta..." he moved to hold him.
Now that emotion he knew. Vegeta snarled and took a step back. "No. Don't you dare pity me. Half those injuries come from you and I can still thrash all of--" He stopped as Goku crushed him against his chest, holding him tight. Feeling a real snarling fit coming on, he put his hands on his mate's arms, trying to push away.
"It's not pity," Goku said, holding him still like he used to do with Gohan when he threw tantrums. "It's...I don't know if there's a word for wanting your mate to stop hurting, but that's it."
Vegeta's hands went slack, then hung at his sides. He closed his eyes and let Goku hold him, breathing deep. Whatever this feeling was coming from him, it calmed anger, calmed indignation, leaving him tired. He sighed and lay his head on his mate's chest. "How will you put up with me? I take everything from you, I give nothing back."
"That's not true," Goku said, and his grip tightened as if he could keep him close by force of will. "You're giving me so much right now. I didn't expect this to happen today. Heck, I didn't expect it ever. But I'm glad it did."
"You were angry before."
"Yes, I was." He relaxed his hold enough to let Vegeta lean back and look up at him. "I still am, a little. You shouldn't have forced this on me. I loved you before, I would of let you do this."
Vegeta tossed that thought around for a moment, but finally shook his head and shut his eyes. "No, no one would allow this kind of weakness, this kind of...vulnerability..."
"Being vulnerable isn't always bad."
"It is! I can't think straight!" Instead of backing away like Goku thought he would, Vegeta instead pressed himself against him, barely noticing the arms wrapped around him like a cocoon. "I never understood you before and this bond is like having it pressed against my head. How am I supposed to handle your damn emotions all the time? It's not possible."
Feeling Vegeta's shoulders begin to shake, Goku didn't speak but simply held him for awhile. The sound of water against their skin and tile filled the silence.
"You're going to have to learn how to let yourself feel," Goku said, smiling as he felt Vegeta's head shake. Stubborn... "It's hard sometimes, yeah. And I know you don't like it, but it's really not so bad."
"I have feelings," Vegeta grumbled. "I know what anger is, hate. Sadness."
"You know what every emotion is," Goku said, "but you don't want them. You hate showing any kind of emotion in battle, even anger."
"...I still don't know how it hasn't gotten you killed."
"I'll show you." He leaned forward a little and turned off the water, tugging the towel off the rack and putting it around Vegeta. The cloth fell across the healing scar on the prince's throat, and he let his hand linger on the wound. "You'll see. That's why you did this, right?"
Slowly, Vegeta looked up at him. His flattened hair made him look almost as young as Trunks, but with very old eyes. "Not entirely."
Surprised by that, Goku felt a brush of affection out of his mate, hesitant and light like a feather across his face. And then Vegeta tightened the towel around himself and stepped out of the shower, leaving him in the cooling bathroom.
"Well, come on," Vegeta said, drying off quickly. "You promised food and I'm the one who did most of the work tonight."
Goku shook his head and smiled to himself. Psychotic, scared mate. "On my way."
Even shrunk down Goku clothes were still Goku clothes. Vegeta sat at the kitchen table, trying not to fidget. The pants weren't so bad, but the shirt was so wide it kept slipping off one shoulder. He growled and jerked it back up, but it was already slipping back.
On the other side of the kitchen, Goku busied himself with the tea kettle and tried not to stare at his mate. His shirt wouldn't stay put on the prince and each time it slipped, he caught a glimpse of more skin, especially his throat. He didn't remember anything about biting him, save for the coppery taste.
He paused. Mate. That sounded nice in his head.
The kettle whistled, startling him. After pouring it out into two glasses, he sat across from Vegeta and handed him one. His tail curled around the back of his chair while he stirred in heaps of sugar, keeping his eyes down.
"Is it that obvious?" Vegeta asked.
"Huh?" Goku looked up.
"Your bite." He rubbed at it, feeling it out. The teethmarks ran from midshoulder to the juncture at his neck. "The way you've been staring, I think you want to do it again."
Goku stared back at his tea. "I don't want to hurt you."
Vegeta half-shrugged. "Having my throat gouged out's small price to pay for what I did."
Setting his cup aside, Goku took a deep breath and then gathered Vegeta's hands in his. For a moment he didn't say anything, running his thumbs lightly over the rough calluses and soft valleys.
"You did nothing I didn't let you do."
As if that hurt more than an accusation, Vegeta flinched tried to pull back. "When I told you about the--"
Goku tightened his grip and held him still, looking at him even though Vegeta turned his head aside. "I don't like that you didn't tell me what would happen. Don't ever do that again, okay? Don't force something on me. Promise?"
Silently, Vegeta nodded once.
"Good." Goku lifted Vegeta's hands a few inches to his lips and pressed a light kiss to his knuckles. "But I meant it before, too. I'm glad we're together."
Vegeta glanced at him, but he didn't respond.
"Y'know," Goku kept going, "I didn't think it'd be like this. I always thought if I said anything, you'd hit me or yell a lot, but I liked to imagine you saying something like, 'you idiot, why didn't you tell me sooner,' and then we'd find a beach or a forest to be alone."
Bitter laughter forced its way out of Vegeta, along with a small smile. "You idiot," he said, "why the hell didn't you tell me sooner?"
Goku laughed back, but his smile quickly faded. "I still don't know what I'm gonna do."
"Your family," Vegeta said, nodding once.
"I don't wanna hurt anybody. When they all find out about us--"
"They will blame me." Now it was Vegeta who tightened his grip on Goku's hands, holding them on the table. "Let them. Their anger means little to me. If it comes to blows, then I will win."
"Against all of them?"
Vegeta smirked. "Hardly. Trunks will take my side, and Goten will follow him. At least one of your brood has some fight in his blood. And afterward, you will see their anger subside and everything will be somewhat normal again."
Goku gave him a serious look. "No one will get hurt?"
"I won't hurt anyone badly," Vegeta said. When Goku didn't seem satisfied, he sighed and shrugged. " After all, you still won't tell me which little coward cut off my tail."
"'Geta, that was years ago--"
"You haven't let anyone see your tail," Vegeta said. "Don't you want them to cut it off before you transform?"
"I...I just won't go out during a full moon," Goku said.
"And when they won't believe you?"
Eyes cast down, Goku didn't answer. Of course they wouldn't believe him, the risk was simply too great. Would he have to fight them to keep it? He was spared having to answer as the microwave beeped.
Vegeta leaned back as he watched his mate retrieving their dinner. He smiled to himself. Perhaps back on his home planet, Kakarrot might have hunted down prey, but the role was the same. His mate would be the provider, then, giving the prince a house, food, and protection. He fidgeted. What did he have to give in return?
"You're doing it again," Goku said, setting out two plates. He sat down and half-smiled. "Sorry it's only left-over pizza, that's all I have. I was gonna go shopping tomorrow."
"It's fine," Vegeta said. He could hunt, then, since shopping was ridiculous when prey was easily at hand. Two slices later he realized Goku had said something else. "Doing what?"
"Making yourself feel bad." Goku tapped his head once. "I don't even have to hear you up here, I can tell by your face."
Silence. Vegeta opened his mouth slightly to say something, then closed it again and finished eating. Without a word he stood and went to the bedroom, flipping the light off as he sat on the edge of the bed. For awhile he sat in darkness, listening to the noise in the kitchen as Goku cleaned up and pushed the chairs back in. Goku's heavier footsteps came down the hall, his shadow thrown ahead of him until he turned off the hall lights.
In the dark room, Vegeta didn't need his ki to tell when Goku came in. His mate's presence filled the room like a hot summer wind on a winter night. He didn't move as Goku sat next to him, when Goku put his arms around him, or when his hair was smoothed back, simply, he suspected, for the love of touching him. His oversized shirt was drawn off and dropped, soon joined by Goku's, and now they sat skin to skin. The feeling from his mate was warmth settling on his arms and wrapping around his shoulders, and with closed eyes he drew that warmth closer.
Goku found his hand and held it, threading their fingers together. His other hand he gently splayed across Vegeta's chest and pushed him down along the bed, spooning behind him. After a moment, Vegeta relaxed and lay his head on the pillow, holding Goku's hand tight against his chest.
"Unless you're cold," Goku whispered, "we shouldn't need the blanket. It's pretty warm out tonight."
How could he be cold with an oversized Saiyan behind him? He brought Goku's hand up to his lips and, after a moment's hesitation, pressed a soft kiss to his knuckles. A soft tail tip came up and touched his cheek, then settled down against both of their waists. Wrapped up in his mate, Vegeta closed his eyes and let himself sleep.