Disclaimer: I don't own Dragonball Z.

A/N: Here is a drabble written for the deviantArt group DBZ-Fanfics' monthly contest. The theme this month was Alien encounters. By the way, if you're on dA, please join the group! A link can be found on my profile page.

The Cold One

Soft pillows supported his head, and yet Vegeta felt the cold tendrils of disturbing memories creeping slowly in the dark, like poison weeds that stretched and climbed until they became suffocating.

Tonight it was the memory of the first meeting, on a planet now non-existent. He was three.

Saiyans were born with sharp hearing; even at his young age Vegeta could detect the differences between individual footsteps. He had run away from his guard, Nappa, and sat hiding in a small alcove when he first picked up the slap slap slap sound of odd footsteps, as if the owner's feet stuck to the tiled floor, sucking off with each lift of the heel.

He pressed himself further into the corner, obeying the sudden urge to hide. On an instinctual level he knew to avoid whatever creature made this noise; it was a Saiyan's natural enemy, and his body reacted to survive.

But at three he still wasn't skilled enough to slow his breathing, to know what to do if he wanted to remain hidden. The shadows that enveloped him were not protection enough from the small horned creature which came striding around the corner. Its red eyes saw him instantly.

The creature's ugly face twisted into a sadistic smile, something wholly terrifying lurking in those ruby eyes. "My my," it spoke in a surprisingly effeminate voice, "what do we have here?"

He should have stood tall and proud against this newcomer, but at three this strange alien still seemed much bigger. Vegeta shrank, establishing the place he would always have beside this creature- the follower, forced into another's shadow.

The creature reached out a hand, gripping Vegeta's face with surprising strength. The skin smelled, making Vegeta shiver in revulsion as it pressed cold and clammy into his own skin.

"You look like the King," the creature spoke, snarling the last syllable. "He should have told me he had a son, why was it that I did not know?" Vegeta's eyes darted to the alien's tail, lashing angrily, the pink tip thwapping against the marble wall of the palace.

"What is your name?" the alien asked, smiling again with the look of a predator, violet lips stretching against the pale face. Vegeta found himself unable to look away from its gaze, drawn into the bright red irises, small as pinpricks, pupil-less and terrifying.

"P...Prince Vegeta," he stuttered. He never stuttered.

The creature's grin widened, its grip tightening around the boy's face. "My dear Saiyan Prince," it hissed, "what a pleasant surprise you are. I will have to talk to your daddy about this…"

He woke with a start, rivulets of sweat dripping down his forehead. His wife was beside him, her arms draped across him in lazy abandon. She was warm, soft, safe.

But dark reminders seemed to blow in with a cold breeze from the window.

For Vegeta, some ghosts would never rest.