Disclaimer: Dragonball Z and related characters are copyrighted by Bird Studios/Shueisha, Toei Animation. Licensed by FUNimation Productions, Inc. [insert stupid joke here]
Author's Note: Oh boy, it's been a while, hasn't it? ^_^; I don't have much to say other than that I've had a lot of academic obligations and not a whole lot of story ideas. And also, to everyone who requested a sequel to "Saiyan Striptease": I do have something in the works but I'm having a lot of plot problems with it, so I'm not sure how things will go. I haven't given up on it yet, though, so hopefully all will work out well. Also, last but not least, thanks to everyone who has reviewed my stories so far; I have a lot of fun writing them and I'm glad that you enjoy reading them. Now then, on to the fic!
Time Period: Before the Buu Saga. Trunks is 5 years old and Goten is 4. Goku, of course, is still dead.
What's a "Kakarot?"
Goten and Trunks sat playing "Go Fish" out on the rear grounds of Capsule Corp. It was a beautifully sunny day, and the two half-Saiyans had been outside all day, only taking a break for lunch. Trunks wished that his parents could come outside and enjoy the weather too, but Bulma was repairing machinery and Vegeta was training in the gravity room. It seemed that they were always busy, but Trunks did not mind too much. At least they were not arguing.
A loud crackle of energy ripped through the air, coming from the direction of Capsule Corp. and sounding very much like a large piece of machinery had shorted out. This was instantly followed by a slightly muffled, yet instantly recognizable, "What the—!"
Goten's eyes widened at the profanity that followed. "Whoa, isn't that a bad word?"
Trunks cocked his head slightly and listened to the string of other curses that quickly followed the first. "Um, I think so, but Otousan said he's allowed to say that because he's the Prince of Saiyans."
Another loud voice that was undoubtedly Bulma's joined Vegeta's, and it became obvious the two were yelling at each other. They were loud enough for their words to be intelligible, even outside the building, but Goten and Trunks still did not understand half of what they were saying, except that they knew they were not allowed to repeat any of those words. So much for Vegeta's and Bulma's not arguing.
"What happened?" Goten asked. "Did the gravity room break again?"
"Um, I think so," Trunks said, listening carefully to his parents' verbal sparring. "Okaasan's talking about stuffing a wrench somewhere."
"Oh, sugoi!" Goten exclaimed.
At that moment, the back door slammed open and Vegeta stalked out, cursing angrily to himself. He walked out onto the cement walkway and shouted, "Brats, I need more weight!"
"Whee, it's horsey time!" Goten cheered, then quickly helped Trunks gather up the cards. They both ran over to Vegeta, who got down into position to do push-ups.
"Giddy-up!" Goten exclaimed, clambering onto Vegeta's back.
"Shut up and sit down!" Vegeta snapped.
Trunks took his place on Vegeta's shoulderblades and gave Goten an "ix-nay on the orsey-hay" look. Goten covered his mouth with his hands and nodded, eyes bright with enthusiasm, and sat down on Vegeta's rear end. The moment the boys were situated, Vegeta started doing his push-ups.
Trunks looked over his shoulder at the back of Vegeta's head. "Is it okay if we play cards?" he asked politely.
"I don't care," Vegeta growled, not bothering to glance at him.
Trunks smiled and pulled out the deck of "Go Fish" cards. Playing would be a little difficult because their "table" kept moving up and down, but they could improvise by putting the leftover cards in the box instead of on Vegeta's back. Underneath them, Vegeta growled, still furious at the breakdown of the gravity room. He obviously wanted a lot more weight resistance than just two children sitting on his back.
Goten giggled a bit as Trunks dealt the cards. He liked spending time with Vegeta just as much as Trunks did. This was the only time that either of them got to spend time with a father figure—as flexibly as the term had to be used in Vegeta's case—and they always enjoyed it.
Trunks finished dealing the cards and placed the leftover ones and the box in his lap. Both half-Saiyans looked over their hands and pulled out any matches they already had and put them in their laps before they continued.
"Okay." Trunks smirked, eerily resembling his father. "Do you have any red fish?"
Goten looked over his cards. "Ummm . . . nope! Go—"
"Be quiet!" Vegeta snapped.
"Gomen nasai, Otousan," Trunks apologized quickly. He forgot that Vegeta always required silence while he was training. He looked back at Goten, who looked confused as to how they were supposed to play now that they were forbidden to speak. Trunks was about to tell Goten that they would just have to wait when he realized that all the colors of the fish were around them. He motioned for Goten to watch him, then pulled out a blue card and pointed to the sky. Goten did not seem to understand, so Trunks pulled out a purple card and pointed to his hair, and then pointed to the grass for a green one. Goten looked back and forth between the cards and where Trunks had gestured, and then it finally clicked.
"Sugoi!" Goten mouthed. The two boys settled back down to their game and renewed play. For several minutes, they played in complete silence; the only sounds were Vegeta's respiration, birds calling to each other, and some traffic sounds from the street. Finally, when Goten had just matched his third pair and Trunks was about the point to some daffodils to ask for a yellow card, Vegeta began to mutter to himself. The two half-Saiyans were startled, but only because of the sudden change in background noise. Vegeta did this every time he trained, and they had come to recognize it as his "training trance."
"Okay, do you have any yellow fish?" Trunks asked aloud. Both he and Goten had learned in the past that when Vegeta went into his trances he became oblivious to his surroundings and they could speak freely without bothering him.
"Ummm . . . hai!" Goten chirped, producing the card and handing it to Trunks. He studied his cards, then asked, "Do you have any blue fish?"
"Go fish," Trunks replied and held out the box for Goten to take a card.
" . . . I'm the one with the royal blood . . ." Vegeta muttered, " . . . I'm the true Super Saiyan . . ."
Goten giggled as he rearranged his new card into his hand. "It's funny how your otousan talks to himself. I don't think my oniichan does that."
Trunks shrugged as he studied his cards. "Okaasan says that's how he 'works out problems.'"
"Really?" Goten asked, confused. "Oniichan always gets lots of problems from school, but he says he works them out with a pencil and a piece of paper."
Trunks shrugged again. "I don't know. Okaasan says that Otousan's 'special.'"
" . . . damn you Kakarot, I swear one day we'll meet again . . ." Vegeta growled to himself, " . . . and then you'll learn who the strongest warrior is . . . I don't care if your brat reached Super Saiyan 2 first; I'll reach it before you . . . I'm the Prince of Saiyans, Kakarot . . ."
Goten perked up. "Hey, he's saying that 'Kakarot' word again."
Trunks listened carefully to Vegeta's monologue. "Hey, you're right. But you should hear him when you're not over here; he says it so much, even when he's not training."
"What do you think it means?" Goten asked.
Trunks shrugged, completely baffled. "I don't know." He put down his cards and waved for Goten to come over. "Come on, maybe he'll say."
Goten put down his cards and crawled up next to Trunks. They lay side by side on Vegeta's broad back, holding onto Vegeta's shoulders and listening intently.
" . . . sacrificed yourself, my ass," Vegeta growled, sweat starting to drip down his face from his exertions. "I know you were just trying to get away from me to train in heaven while I have to rot down here . . . You agreed to settle things with me, Kakarot, and then you tricked me, you damn bakayaro . . . You can't stay away forever . . . I know you'll come back someday . . . and then we'll have the ultimate match . . . It must be everything . . . I won't let you hold back but I know you'll want to, won't you, Kakarot? Because you've always been soft, damn you, and merciful!" Vegeta's hair started to shimmer, phasing between blonde and black.
Trunks and Goten backed up, frightened by the pent-up rage and energy that Vegeta was starting to radiate.
"I'm not sure what that 'Kakarot' thing is, but it's really making him angry!" Goten said, looking panicked. "Maybe we should wake him up before he does something bad!"
Trunks nodded, noticing the air around them starting to shimmer like it was about to ignite. He leaned over Vegeta's shoulder and began to urgently pat the side of Vegeta's head. "Otousan, wake up. Come on, Otousan, wake up, you're getting angry."
Vegeta kept growling murderously but then suddenly snapped back to reality. The shock made him gasp in surprise, and he halted his movement. When he became reoriented, he snapped his head to the side and saw Trunks looking at him worriedly. "What the hell are you doing there?" Vegeta demanded.
Trunks could not help looking a bit hurt. "You were getting angry, Otousan. Do you feel better now?"
"Of course, I feel fine." Vegeta scowled at him. "Now stop touching me and get back to your spot."
Trunks complied and withdrew his hand but only moved back a bit. And instead of sitting down, Goten took his previous place alongside Trunks and held onto Vegeta's left shoulder.
Vegeta realized that they were not moving back and started becoming angrier. "What are you two doing?"
"We have a question, Otousan," Trunks said. "What's a 'Kakarot?'"
Vegeta became surprised. He had obviously not been expecting that. "What?"
"You say it all the time, Vegeta-san," Goten said. "What is it?"
Vegeta growled in refusal. He wanted to train in peace, not discuss his rival.
"Please?" Trunks begged. "We'll be quiet for the rest of your training."
Vegeta thought a moment, then looked up at him, scowling. "You promise? You'll shut up and stay that way until I say otherwise?"
"Hai," Trunks said, nodding.
"What about you, urchin?" Vegeta directed towards Goten.
Goten smiled and nodded emphatically. "Hai, Vegeta-san!"
"Fine," Vegeta said reluctantly and started doing his push-ups again. He became silent to gather his thoughts before he began. "All right, to start off, a Kakarot is a very powerful being, something that is always one level above you, no matter how powerful you become. That fact is always true."
"Really?" Goten asked, amazed.
Vegeta scowled at him. "Yes, really."
"That must be annoying," Trunks commented.
"It is," Vegeta replied, "but there's more to a Kakarot than that. A Kakarot is also a naïve goody-two-shoes—some call it 'noble'—and loves practically everyone, including its enemies. It's always willing to do the good deed, even if that deed isn't realistic. However, if a situation is bad enough, which means it has to involve some serious events—like the death of half of Kakarot's friends—the dumb baka will finally become realistic. But once everything is over and it has beaten its opposition, it immediately reverts back to its naïve nature, having learned nothing."
"But shouldn't people always do the good deed?" Trunks questioned.
Vegeta raised an eyebrow at him. "Theoretically, yes. But you'll find out as you get older that things get more complicated, and the good deed is never easy to identify, nor realistic." He narrowed his eyes, glaring at something only he could see. "Sometimes, the best solution is just to ki-blast the damn fool off the face of the planet!"
Trunks raised his eyebrows in surprise and looked over at Goten, who looked confused. Shrugging, they quickly settled back down to hear what else Vegeta had to say.
"Now then, a Kakarot possesses a very single-tracked mind," Vegeta explained, calming down a bit, "and it can only ever focus on one thing at a time. Most of the time, this thing is food. Even during critical situations, it still thinks about food. Strangely enough, however, it can become extremely focused while fighting, and that is perhaps its one redeeming quality."
"Why food?" Trunks asked.
"Why not?" Goten chirped happily. He liked food a lot.
"Because it's a basic and simple pleasure," Vegeta said with a sneer. "Kakarots don't have very complex minds and are easily pleased. That, of course, brings me to perhaps one of the most vital characteristics of a Kakarot: it has the IQ of a brick. Unless it's fighting, a Kakarot behaves like a dumb animal and has the attention span of an insect. This bleeds over into its appearance and behavior, which makes one easy to identify. For one, it always has a dumb expression on its face."
Goten became puzzled and scratched his head. "What kind of dumb expression?"
Vegeta glanced up at the bewildered half-Saiyan. "Exactly like that."
Goten looked around, trying to figure out what Vegeta was referring to. Giving up, he shrugged and laughed, putting his hand behind his head.
Vegeta sneered. "That one too."
Goten and Trunks looked at each other in confusion, then lay back down to listen some more.
"Other than that, its appearance can be varied," Vegeta said. "Usually, though, it tends to dress poorly and wear the same damn brightly-colored outfit over and over again."
"So it doesn't have all those nice clothes like Okaasan bought you?" Trunks asked.
Vegeta almost froze in shock. "First of all," he clarified angrily, "that wom—your okaasan has no sense of style. And second, a Kakarot would love those types of clothing. It enjoys dressing like an idiot."
"But then why do you wear those clothes?" Goten asked.
"Because the laundry doesn't get done nearly as often as it should," Vegeta growled. "Now be quiet and let me continue. Above all, a Kakarot is extremely deceptive, especially because it's initially judged to be weak when it's born."
"And then when it gets older, it pretends to be stupid to fool its enemies?" Trunks finished.
"No, that's why Kakarot is a mystery," Vegeta said, becoming agitated from simply discussing the concept. "It really is stupid!"
Trunks and Goten sat up in surprise. "But that's impossible!" Trunks protested. "How can something that dumb be so powerful!?"
Vegeta "hmpfed." "No one knows. It's become a great secret of the universe. I've been trying to figure it out for years."
"Wow," the half-Saiyans breathed in unison. After a second, Goten piped up and asked, "So that's why you talk about Kakarot all the time? Because you're trying to figure out its secret?"
"Hai," Vegeta replied.
"Ohh," the boys said in unison again. Now all of Vegeta's trances, rants, and obsessive behavior made sense. Sure, those things all seemed a little odd, but obviously there was a lot of stress involved in pondering the answer to such a great secret. And Vegeta had done it for years!
"Wow," Goten said after a moment, lying back down with Trunks. "What will happen when you figure out the answer?"
Vegeta snorted sarcastically. "The earth's axis will probably tilt in a different direction and planets will start colliding."
Sarcasm, of course, was lost on children. "Wow, Otousan," Trunks said with complete and utter awe. "I never knew you had that much power! You're so strong!"
"And you're the Prince of Saiyans too!" Goten said.
Feeling pride swell his chest, Vegeta smiled up at them. Their praise gave his ego a boost and their blind trust was just as enjoyable. Perhaps children were not so bad after all.
Suddenly, there was a bright flash of light. Vegeta reflexively leaped to his feet, dumping the boys on the ground behind him. A few feet ahead of him, Bulma stood in the doorway to Capsule Corp., holding a camera in her hands. "What the hell—" Vegeta began.
"Consider it some payment for fixing the gravity room," Bulma said, smiling. "Besides, there's barely any pictures in our photo album, especially one of you three looking so cute together!"
"I'm not looking cute, I'm training!" Vegeta snapped back at her. "Didn't you fix the gravity room yet!?"
Bulma sighed in exasperation. "Al-most! I was just taking a break!"
"Since when does taking a break involve getting a camera out!?" Vegeta demanded.
"Since I saw you smiling and looking cute with the boys!" Bulma retorted, becoming angry herself.
"I was not looking cute!" Vegeta roared, advancing on her. "Give me that camera!"
"No way!" Bulma shot back, holding the camera protectively. "This is mine!"
"And the gravity room's mine! Now finish fixing it!"
"I am not your engineering wench!" Bulma shouted back at him. "You can't order me around!"
"I will not have Kakarot remain stronger than me! That gravity room must be repaired! I'm the Prince of Saiyans!"
"Prince of Saiyans, my ass!" Bulma huffed, stomping back into the house as Vegeta stormed right after her. "More like son of a—"
The door slammed shut, and the happy couple's enraged voices became muffled, however slightly. Outside, Trunks and Goten still sat on the walkway where Vegeta had dropped them.
"We should tell your okaasan to be nicer to Vegeta-san," Goten said after a moment. "He needs to train and everything so he can figure out Kakarot's secret."
"Um, I think we should wait until they're done," Trunks said. "Okaasan's not in a real good listening mood right now."
Just then, Bulma shouted a profanity so loud that the birds sitting on the top of Capsule Corp. took flight in surprise.
Goten's eyes went wide. "Um, maybe you're right. Do you want to go play hide 'n seek?"
"Sure!" Trunks agreed. "I'll be my otousan!"
"And I'll be Kakarot!" Goten said, running off. "I'm a mystery! Try to find me!"
Trunks covered his eyes and began counting as Goten searched for the perfect hiding spot. Inside Capsule Corp., Bulma and Vegeta's voices still easily penetrated the walls. Trunks cringed a bit as he heard them argue. It seemed that some things just never changed. With a sigh, he kept counting. At least now he knew what a Kakarot was.