Note: It has been ages since I've worked on any of the companion stories I'd planned for AND THE GREATEST OF THESE. But the time just seemed right to get back into the swing of that story, and "Come Back to Me" kept running through my mind as a story until I finally just had to get it down on the page.
Also, this story makes a great springboard for me getting back into writing AtGoT's sequel, THE TWILIGHT OF ALL TIME.
This story is set just after the funeral in the Epilogue of AtGoT, before Vegeta leaves Earth and Piccolo sets off on his own.
Come Back to Me
Come back to me… come back to me…
He plunged blindly through the trees, heedless of the branches that lashed against him. It wasn't until he reached the riverbank that he realized where he was, driven by an urge deep within his heart.
Come back to me… come back to me…
It was here where he had flown with her, where he had watched the sunset with her.
Where he had fallen in love with her.
Come back to me… come back to me…
He fell to his knees beside the flowing water, sobbing in anguish. Slamming his fists into the ground again and again, he realized that he was screaming her name to the stars, a lost and wailing cry.
Goku turned, momentarily startled out of his grief, and saw Vegeta standing nearby in the shadows of the trees. For a moment, he just stared, not really registering the prince's presence, then he turned away again.
No, he howled silently, not him! Not here!
The sight of Vegeta, here in this place, was almost more than Goku could endure. It was terrible enough dealing with the loss of Kurenai, but knowing that she and Vegeta had been lovers increased the pain to an almost unbearable level. His shoulders heaved as he wept, rocking back and forth as he had when Kurenai had died in his arms.
Vegeta was stunned. Never in all the time that he had known Goku had he ever seen the other Saiyan so absolutely shattered. Not when he had fought him and nearly killed him, not when Frieza had nearly killed him, not even after he had learned of his own upcoming death.
Slowly, cautiously, the Saiyan prince approached until he was standing beside Goku.
"GET AWAY FROM ME!"
Goku covered his ears and shut his eyes tight to avoid seeing or hearing Vegeta, but the prince would not be deterred. He crouched down behind Goku, seized hold of his wrists, and forced his arms down so that his words would reach the other Saiyan.
"No, Kakarot, I will not go away, I will not let you wallow in misery like this."
Goku tried to pull free, but Vegeta's hold was too strong, no matter how hard he thrashed.
"Let go of me, Vegeta!"
"I said let go!"
"If I let you go, you'll run away, and that I will not allow you to do."
Goku turned his head and glared at the prince over his shoulder.
"And why do you care? I should think you would be glad, seeing me like this."
I should feel glad, Vegeta thought, I should be happy to see you brought so low... but I'm not. Not when I know why you suffer like this.
"I only know this, Kakarot. Running away will not bring Kurenai back."
"Shut up," Goku hissed fiercely.
"You cannot deny the fact that she is dead!" Vegeta insisted.
"SHUT UP! SHUT… UP!" Goku screamed, and with a sudden flare of energy, he powered up to Super Saiyan and sent Vegeta flying backward. In an instant, Goku was on his feet and backing away.
"When we mourn, it is often the most violent we ever become, even more so than when we are angry. And Kakarot is more susceptible to his emotions than most. You cannot even begin to imagine the depth of his suffering right now."
It seemed that he'd been more right than he'd known.
Vegeta stared at the other Saiyan in disbelief, then slowly rose to his feet.
"Kurenai… is dead," he said hoarsely, the words hurting far more than he'd realized they would be.
"If you wish to fight, Kakarot, then we will fight. But fighting me or running away will not change the truth."
Goku swept at him, anger and grief contorting his features, but then suddenly he froze, his fist barely inches from Vegeta's face. The other Saiyan did not flinch, but only stood and waited for the blow to fall.
"Change," Goku whispered, the fury fading from his eyes. He stared at Vegeta, and slowly lowered his hand. "Yes…"
Vegeta found himself taking an involuntary step backward at the emptiness in the other Saiyan's voice. Then he nearly leapt out of his own skin when Goku vanished from in front of him.
"Kakarot, no!" He lunged forward to try and stop him, but his fingers only grasped air.
For a moment, Vegeta stood there and cursed, then he leapt into the sky and flew as fast as he could toward West City.
Bulma slept restlessly in her room at Capsule Corp, having cried herself to sleep after the funeral. At first she thought she'd be awake all night, wondering how the world would go on without her friend, but she'd finally worn herself out with her tears.
With a soft rushing sound, no louder than the night breeze, a shape appeared in a dark corner of her room. It stood still and silent, watching the woman as she tossed and turned in her sleep. Slowly, it moved without a sound to her desk, and carefully picked up the Dragon Radar that she'd dropped there earlier.
I can only pray that she'll forgive me… but I can't just leave things like this.
Then it made its way to the open window and flew away into the darkness.
She came awake with a start as Vegeta soared in through the open window and she fell off her bed with a shriek.
"Vegeta, for the love of God, you nearly scared me to death!"
He came to a landing in the middle of her room and glanced around as she flailed around in the darkness, then her hand found the light switch on the bedside lamp and brightness filled the room.
"Where is it?" he growled.
Bulma picked herself up off the floor and pulled a robe on over her pajamas. "Where's what?"
"The Dragon Radar. Where is it?"
"It's over there, on my…" Her eyes went to her desk and they widened when she realized that it was missing. "It WAS there, I know it was, I dropped there after the… the… when I got home."
I knew it.
"Damn him, he came here and took it before I could stop him."
Vegeta glowered and stared at the floor. "Kakarot."Bulma blinked in surprise. "Goku? What do you mean, you're saying he came here and took it?"
"How someone as smart as you can be such an idiot still mystifies me sometimes. Yes, that's what I'm saying." Vegeta began pacing back and forth as Bulma watched him nearly wear a path in her floor.
"Earlier tonight, I found him by a river, mourning Kurenai's passing. His grief was consuming him, and he nearly attacked me."
"That still doesn't explain why he would have come here and stolen the Radar."
His voice dropped. "I… said something that made him do it."
Bulma shivered and pulled her robe more tightly around herself, but said nothing. She knew the prince would tell her soon enough.Eventually Vegeta stopped pacing and turned to face Bulma.
"I told him that he couldn't change the truth. He stopped in mid-swing, as though all the anger left him at once. The next thing I knew, he'd used his Instant Transmission technique and vanished."
"Change the truth… what is that supposed to…"
The prince just stood there and looked at her, waiting for her to put all the pieces together.
The missing Dragon Radar.
A chance to change the truth.
Suddenly, with almost painful clarity, Bulma understood.
"He intends to wish Kurenai back to life."
To be continued...