Disclaimer: I don't own DBZ
Disclaimer: I don't own DBZ, nor do I own the title song by the Smashing Pumpkins.
A/N: Anyone who has read my work knows I'm a big fan of the redemption fic. However, what if Vegeta isn't as redeemable as we would all like to think? Just because he hasn't killed off his family yet, doesn't mean he loves them. Or does it?
The Killer In Me Is The Killer In
The young man stood in the small bathroom under a pale yellow light. He muttered to himself, the continuous litany barely audible over the running water. Meticulously he washed his hands, rubbing one over the other, watching as threads of crimson swirled down the drain. The color contrasted starkly against the white porcelain of the basin, turning his stomach. The water ran pink, then clear, but the man continued to wash his hands.
Beyond the arch of the open door, darkness engulfed the adjoining room, oppressing the light, sucking up the sorrow. The light from the bathroom stabbed into the darkness in an effort to banish it, but it was barely a flesh wound. From the shadows formed an even greater darkness, blacker than the black. Slowly an outlined appeared, jutting hair and wide shoulders.
Vegeta stopped at the edge of light, a beast more comfortable in the dark. His midnight eyes narrowed at the sight of his son standing over the counter of the guest bath. Trunks's lavender hair, worn long to purposely anger Vegeta, hung over his eyes as he stared intently into the sink.
Now that he was college-bound and living on his own in West City, Vegeta and Bulma barely saw their first born. Vegeta was unaffected, but his mate mourned her loss deeply. The fact that he had returned to Capsule Corp in the middle of the night in such obvious distress almost concerned Vegeta. Trunks didn't even return to his old rooms, but instead choose to enter the guest rooms at the far wing of the building. They weren't even the luxurious rooms maintained for their more prestigious guests, but those kept for their servants.
The bathroom was small; the single light making the white counters appear dingy and gray. The toilet was only a step away from the sink with the bathtub beside it. The tub was decorated with an absurdly out of place pink curtain, the only splash of color in the barren room.
Vegeta peered closer, a smirk forming on his lips as he recognized an intimately familiar stain on his son's shirt. He leaned casually on the door frame, confident to be in the light now that he identified the problem.
"You missed a spot."
Trunks started violently, looking up at his father with wide eyes. Vegeta's smirk faded, a distant pang of disappointment echoing through him. His son should never be caught so unaware, no matter how distraught he was. Bulma was constantly reminding him that Trunks was not the same soldier he himself had been, that he should not expect the same behavior, but this level of inattention was unacceptable. He was, after all, a Saiyan.
Trunks dropped his eyes to his shirt, a pathetic whine gargling in his throat at the sight of blood. With superhuman speed he dropped to his knees at the toilet, retching loudly. Vegeta grimaced as his sensitive nose was assaulted with the smell of stomach acid and barely digested lasagna.
Finally the boy stopped, stumbling to his feet as he pulled the shirt over his head. A loud tear was heard in the room as he yanked it from his body. He dropped it into the laundry shoot, turning back to the sink without pause to wash his hands.
"Stop behaving like such a pathetic weakling. It's not as if you haven't seen a little blood before," Vegeta sneered.
Trunks braced his hands on the sink, dropping his head between his arms at his father's harsh words. The dim light glistened off his heaving back, and Vegeta noticed for the first time he was sweating. There were no bruises marring the smooth skin of his back or sides, but there were deep gashes on his knuckles. It was obvious to Vegeta that Trunks had hit something repeatedly, but had not received any blows in return.
"I killed him." Trunks's words were a shaky whisper, nearly blending with the running water.
"Good for you." Vegeta grinned, a small uncomfortable part of him happy to share this moment with his son. He had never really thought to take Trunks on one of his killing sprees, but perhaps now he could change that. They very rarely went on any father-son activities together. Usually they were events pushed on them by Bulma, but no truly Saiyan outings.
"You don't understand. I killed him!" Trunks replied vehemently, shaking his hanging head.
In that instance, Vegeta had a mind-numbing thought. Perhaps his son had never killed anyone. To the best of his knowledge, he never had. Trunks had given his best while fighting Buu but that hadn't been enough. Vegeta had always assumed that Trunks had killed, when and why wasn't important; it was Saiyan nature. It was in his genes to kill.
Vegeta felt his stomach turn. He almost couldn't look at his first born. His son was a twenty-three year old bloodless virgin. How could he have reached such a mature age without feeling someone's warm blood on his hands, without tasting death on his tongue, the power over life and death surging in his veins?
"You have never killed before?" He was hard pressed to keep his disbelief to himself. He struggled to keep his intonation as impassive as possible.
"Of course not!" Trunks sounded shocked, and Vegeta mirrored the same feeling, for completely different reasons.
"I made my first kill at three. My nursemaid, in fact." Vegeta warmed at the memory. It was one of the few fond ones. His father had swept him up in his strong arms, gifting him with a rare smile. Maybe that was where he had gone wrong. He had trained his son to fight, but perhaps he should have taken more of an interest in other areas. He had always assumed that fighting would lead to other Saiyan-like behavior.
"Well, I'm not you, Dad. I don't kill indiscriminately," Trunks spat, lifting his head to run his hands through his hair.
Vegeta's gaze hardened, resentment boiling up inside him. He never asked to be a father; he always assumed that it would never happen. Occasionally he questioned the wisdom of letting his children live. The woman would say it was because he cared for them, but the small dark seed that remained in his heart whispered that he couldn't risk the peace that he found here on the mud ball. If playing daddy was the price he had to pay for sanctuary, then it wasn't so bad.
"You're exactly like me. You are a Saiyan."
Trunks rounded on his father, rage blazing from his eyes.
"No, I'm not! I'm not a murderer. I don't get my jollies off by going around terrorizing helpless worlds."
When Trunks was sixteen, the truth about Vegeta had finally come out into the open. At first the boy had refused to look him in the eye, and for weeks he avoided coming around. Finally his mother took him aside for a lengthy talk. After that the boy seemed more at ease, his reticence disappearing with time. Vegeta never questioned Bulma about what was said, but now perhaps he should have.
"You have no idea what gives me pleasure," Vegeta growled.
Trunks held out his hand, as though he could keep his father at bay. "Look. I know that Frieza forced you. I know he was a monster. You would have never have done those things if you had a choice, but I could never…I'm not like that."
Vegeta lashed out like a venomous snake, clamping his hand around the back of Trunks's neck to shake him like an errant puppy. He forced him down, seating him on the edge of the tub.
Trunks's looked up at him with wide, blue eyes, to shaken to fight back. He flinched at the hard glare that masked his father's features.
"I don't know what your mother told you, but its time you heard the truth of it, boy. The Saiyan race wasn't forced into slavery. We conquered our own world, killing those who dared to oppress us. We became a new civilization that was born from blood. We made a deal with Frieza. In return for technology, we agreed to do what we do best. Conquer and destroy."
Vegeta stepped away, but his hard mask remained. He spat his words between thin lips, hardened by wrath.
"Don't think that you're something special. Something different. You're a Saiyan, no matter how much human blood runs through your veins, and Saiyans are killers. That's what we are, and a little luxury and morality isn't going to change that." Vegeta swung his arm wide, not just indicating the room but the whole complex. Everyday he had to remind himself that although he wallowed in the lap of luxury compliments of Bulma, deep inside he still was the beast everyone thought him to be. They may think that he was tamed and well-adjusted, but he was a Saiyan, always was and always will be.
"No." Trunks couldn't bear to look at his father any longer. He sunk his head into his hands, his hair straggling down in an attempt to hide his despair.
Vegeta felt something kick in his gut, disgust mixed with a dose of anger.
"What is it that you did tonight that was so horrible? Who is that you killed, boy?"
"Fiona." The small whisper barely made it past Trunks's hands.
Fiona was Trunk's girlfriend of three years. They had met freshman year and were practically inseparable. Vegeta found it hard to believe that his son would have killed her. Besides Saiyans rarely killed their females, even if they were wronged by them. It must be some forgotten instinct that reminded them that females were rare, and even if they were untrustworthy or deceitful, they still must be protected and cherished.
"You killed Fiona?" This time he didn't bother to keep his disbelief from tainting his voice.
Vegeta waited, one eyebrow lifted with expectation. "Well, spit it out, boy."
"I decided to skip physics. It's a cake walk anyways."
Although it had torn Bulma up to send her baby boy to college, she was the one who insisted on it. Vegeta didn't quite understand her reasoning. Their son was far too intelligent to bother with college courses. His understanding was beyond anything they had to offer, but she insisted. She said it was a right of passage that everyone in her family took. It was a privilege to be handed a piece of paper that said he accomplished something. To be publicly recognized for the genius that he was.
"I thought that I would stop by her apartment to surprise her. I don't know, maybe I thought I would take her out or something." Trunks rubbed his face in his hands, sighing deeply. He dropped them between his knees, clasping his fingers together lightly to still their trembling.
"I used the spare key. I heard a noise in the bedroom…" Trunks trailed off as he stared blankly at the bathroom wall.
Vegeta knew where this was going. He could almost see the image in his mind. His son entering the domicile of his woman, the happy grin on his features as he thought about getting laid, the melting of his smile as he recognized the noises coming from the other room, and the glint of denial in his eyes as he refused to believe what his instincts already knew.
"I opened the door. I…It was Fred. He's in our Abnormal Psychology class. He was our friend…"
Trunks's dropped his head into his hands again, trying to hide the pain in his eyes from his father.
"Oh, God. I killed Fred. I picked him up off the bed. She didn't even see it coming. One minute he was getting her off and the next he was flying into the wall. I couldn't stop. I wanted too. I did. But I couldn't. I just kept hitting him over and over. There was blood everywhere."
Trunks slid off the tub to kneel before his father. He rocked back and forth, wailing like a lost child.
"He didn't have a chance. He was only human," Trunks cried.
Vegeta couldn't take his son's show of weakness any longer. He felt physically sick to his stomach, something he hadn't felt since his stint with Frieza. He drew back his hand, slapping Trunks squarely across the jaw. His son flew into the wall, leaving a dent in the plaster. Trunk's barely felt the blow, but it was enough to get his attention. He struggled to control himself, suddenly ashamed at his behavior.
"Listen up, boy. Cause we are only going to have this conversation once. I understand…" Vegeta choked on the word, but he pushed it past his lips. "I know that because you have been raised on this world that you think that you have done something wrong."
"Shut up. You aren't to speak now," Vegeta spat.
"What you did was very Saiyan. Another male trespassed on your property, and you eliminated that threat. There is nothing wrong with that. This society tells you it is wrong because they believe that they have gotten past their animal instincts. But the truth of the matter is that they haven't or else there wouldn't be so much crime here."
"You did what had to be done. There was no other choice. A Saiyan must kill. It is our nature. It is who we are."
"But you haven't killed in almost twenty years. Not since Buu."
"Do you really think that's true?"
Trunks met the hard gaze of his father. He looked passed the obsidian glaze of his eyes and into his heart. What he saw chilled him. Inside, his father was a killer.
"What do you think I do when I go on my training trips into space? Hang out on the ship for weeks on end?" Vegeta paused, before bending down to look his son squarely in the eye, his face an image of death.
"Do you think that all those uninhabited islands are uninhabited?"
Vegeta's words hit Trunks like a cannon ball, hard and fast, obliterating everything he thought he knew.
"Your mother doesn't know, nor will she. She thinks that she's rehabilitated me. That she's done some great thing."
"Don't you love her?" Trunks looked aghast. His world was coming apart, and he had no idea how to piece it back together. Although he never said it, Trunks always assumed that Vegeta loved his mother. Why else would he stay for all these years? If he was such a monster, why hadn't he killed them all?
"Love is for humans, Trunks."
A sharp, cold knife struck Trunks in the heart. His father never called him by name unless he was making a deadly serious point. He was not a human, he was a Saiyan, and he couldn't be weakened by emotions.
"Why do you stay?" Trunks whispered almost to himself.
"That is none of your business, but something else is. If there is one thing I have learned since being on this world is that the humans love their law enforcement. Eventually someone is going to come looking for you."
"Why do you care?"
"I care because when they do your mother is going to lose her mind. And when your mother is unhappy, I'm pissed. Do get me?" Vegeta snarled.
"I haven't heard any sirens from West City yet, so there is a chance that your female hasn't called the law enforcement yet."
Trunks took a moment to listen. At a young age he learned to filter out all the sounds that his hyper-sensitive hearing picked up, but when he wanted to he could hear a fat man fart downtown. He didn't hear anything, and he shook his head.
"Before I left, I told her not to move," Trunks paused, remembering the bloody scene in Fiona's bedroom. "She was shaking with fear, curled up on they bed. There was blood everywhere, on the walls, on the sheets, on her. She might still be there, too scared to move."
"Fine." Vegeta nodded curtly and moved towards the exit. Trunks felt intense dread snake through his stomach.
He reached out, snagging his father's arm. "What are you going to do?"
Vegeta stopped, looking back at his son. "I'm going to take care of it."
Trunks opened his mouth. He wanted to ask how, but he stopped himself. Suddenly, he knew that he didn't want to know. He was in trouble, and for the first time in years, he felt like he could rely on his father to take care of it.
"Why?" The question came out of its own accord. If he could, Trunks would have stuffed it back into his mouth, but he couldn't. It just hung there, between them, taunting them both.
Vegeta turned his back on his son, facing the door. "Because I'm your father." No matter what the woman said, the fact remained that he hadn't killed off his children yet. That meant he had certain responsibilities to them. After all, he had sired them.
Trunks expected to hear the ringing of bells or the sounds of firecrackers at such a confession, but there was nothing. Just total, deafening silence. Without another word Vegeta disappeared into the darkness.
Trunks slumped back down onto the lip of the tub, his heart sliding down into his guts. He felt like was going to turn into sludge and sink into the gutter at any minute. His human heart told him that he was a murderer, a killer, and that he didn't deserve to be free, but his Saiyan brain ferociously disagreed. Fiona had betrayed him. Fred had wronged him. They deserved to be punished for their crimes.
He sat in the dingy bathroom, the water still running in the sink, mentally warring with himself. Eventually he heard the shriek of sirens running through the streets of West City. He lifted himself heavily off the tub, shuffling out of the door and into the darkness. He crossed the room, neither looking left or right. He stopped at the window and pulled back the curtain.
In the heart of West City a fire raged with burning intensity. In that moment, he accepted what he had denied in the bathroom. His father had found Fiona, probably still huddled in fear on the blood stained bed. He wouldn't have looked in her direction as he blasted Fred's body, incinerating it, leaving no trace behind. Then without a moment of mercy or a shred of regret, he would have lit the drapes on fire, leaving Fiona alive, trapped in a burning building, never able to tell what she had seen.
Trunks stood at the window for hours watching the building burn. He killed two people that night. One in a moment of rage, and the other in a moment of desperation. He let his father walk out the door, knowing full well what he intended. He looked deep inside of himself, past the knee jerk reaction of horror and remorse. Deep inside he felt only satisfaction. Satisfaction for punishing those who wronged him and satisfaction of finally, after twenty-three years, finding something to bring him closer together with his father.