A/N: This will be a little different from what I've done before, mostly because it's written entirely in first person. It's been years since I last wrote in the first person, and this idea just seemed like the perfect chance for me to do so. Always good to try something different, right?
A huge thanks to my awesome reader Teage Dunsten for pitching me the idea that inspired this story in the first place, and for trusting me to write it well.
DBZ is owned by Akira Toriyama. I hope you guys like.
Frieza always said that the best killers were born – and that I was one of them.
It was hard not to believe him while I was growing up. I was good at slaughtering and causing mayhem. I was remorseless, ruthless, and calculating. My instincts were second to none, and as I moved up in Frieza's ranks, I bought into the mentality completely, mind, body, and soul. I was a killer, because to be anything else would have been weak, and the weak die in all walks of life. I am not, and have never been weak.
It wasn't until I was finally a man that I started seeing things differently, starting questioning the hate-filled doctrine I'd been fed since I was a boy. I was born a prince, not a monster who killed so indiscriminately that everyone in all the galaxies either feared me or plotted to kill me. He turned me into that monster, and I was so young that I just blindly accepted this dark side of me as naturally as the air I breathed. But by the time I realized what Frieza was doing to me, it was too late. I wore that darkness like another skin, unable to remove it without tearing out the very foundation of who I was.
It's been decades now since Frieza's death. The last time anyone died by my hand was when I was goading Kakarot into a fight at the World Martial Arts Tournament while under Babidi's spell. Twenty two years have passed since that day, and I haven't taken a single life in all that time. More confirmation that I was right, and Frieza was wrong. Killing didn't define who I was, it was just a means to an end, a way to survive a rough life that would've broken any other man. I have a family now - a woman that can break me and put me back together with one glance, and two children who have taught me over the years what it means to be a real man. With them in my life, I was certain that I had buried that darkness forever.
But I was wrong. I was wrong, which can only mean that Frieza was right all along-
Kakarot suddenly broke my train of thought with a powerful right hand to my jaw, a shot I never even saw coming. The next thing I knew, I was crashing straight into the ground, my jaw on fire. Maybe thinking about these things in the middle of a spar was a bad idea.
"Vegeta?" The concern in his voice made me sick with disgust. I forced myself back up to my feet fast, brushing absently at my mouth to get rid of the numbing sting from the blow. "Are you sure you're up for this? You seem kinda distracted-"
"Shut up!" I yelled at him, uncaring of his useless sentiments or what he has to say. I was so enraged that I could barely focus. The only thing I wanted to do right now is go on a fucking rampage, leave a trail of destruction, feel warm and fresh blood soaking my hands. As soon as the thought crossed my mind though, I powered up and fired a blinding ki blast right at Kakarot's face. Maybe that would get rid of the worried look he was wearing and get this spar going again. Because if I was fighting here, with Kakarot, then I wasn't out there, ripping every human alive to pieces.
Kakarot blasted straight up into the air to avoid the firestorm of ki that obliterated almost the entire forest behind him, and our fight was back on. But no matter how much I tried to focus on the here and now, my thoughts kept slipping back to Frieza. His words from so long ago were so crystal clear in my mind, it was as though the shadow of his ghost was whispering in my ear. The darkness inside of me, the monster my children had never seen, agreed with the lizard son of a bitch. I might've been a prince, a husband, and a father - but deep down, I was also a killer capable of the worst evil imaginable.
One thing was certainly clear: sparring with another full blooded Saiyan while not giving that Saiyan a hundred and ten percent of my concentration was a mistake. I swung out blindly at Kakarot's face and he easily dodged it and delivered a hard kick straight into my chest, knocking the wind right out of me. I collapsed back to the dirt, and for a second, completely forgot what I'd been thinking about as I tasted blood.
"Alright, Vegeta," Kakarot panted as he landed on his feet next to me while I got up to my hands and knees. "What's going on? You said you wanted to spar but you're barely paying any attention."
I didn't need to look at him to know he was worried; I could hear it in his voice. It was rare that either of us got such clean shots in during our spars, and he had already gotten a handful on me. Normally I would've been pissed at such a one-sided fight, but this wasn't about winning. It wasn't about showing up Kakarot in a fight, and proving to him – and myself – that I was more than a worthy adversary for him. No, this fight was about distraction. It was about restraining the monster inside me.
To my dismay, it wasn't working. The fighting was getting my adrenaline up, and all it was doing was making my wrath and bloodlust worse. I spit out some blood and got back up to my feet with ease, clenching my hands into tight fists. No, this wasn't helping me at all.
"Vegeta? What's wrong?"
I passed Kakarot a hate-filled look which only made him look even more confused. The idiot, thinking he could solve every problem and be the fucking hero in every situation. But he couldn't help me here, despite the fact that I've begrudgingly accepted him as something of a comrade over the years, and despite the fact that he openly thinks of us as friends. Because the truth is that despite the camaraderie that's built up between us, he would never approve of what I'm thinking about doing right now. Might not even think me capable of such things anymore.
He was a fool though if he thought that.
And maybe I was too.
I turned around and gave him my back, glaring off in the direction of Capsule Corp. It took a few seconds to bite down my rage enough to snarl out, "Nothing is wrong. You just got lucky, Kakarot. You won't be so fortunate next time, I guarantee it."
I raised my ki and was gone in a blur, taking to the sky and leaving him behind before he could respond. The sun was setting now, and it was getting cold out. It felt good on my skin as I flew back to Capsule Corp. The flight didn't last long enough, before I found myself in the backyard of the domed building which I now called home. I looked up at the building, instinctively feeling for who was inside. Some maids in some of the fancier suites in one far wing, doing their jobs. Bulma wasn't home, and wouldn't be home for another week. She was away on business. Trunks had long since moved out.
Bra, though, was home. I could feel her upstairs in her room. My nose twitched with rising anger when I felt her ki signature. Rather than go inside and face her, I turned around and headed over to the gravity chamber we still kept out on the lawn, despite the fact that Bulma had built me a far bigger and better version in the lowest basement of Capsule Corp. Fact was I didn't want to be in the same building as my teenaged daughter. I wanted to be alone, to think about what I was going to do.
Damn if the girl wasn't like her mother though. In fact, she might be worse since she can actually sense ki. I felt her approaching within a few minutes. My frustration and fury rose the closer the girl came, but I didn't leave, despite my inclination to do so. Purposely giving the door my back when she appeared there, I glared down at the gravity controls, as though I was contemplating what setting to put them at. In reality, I was trying not to explode and say something I would surely regret.
"Hey Dad, I ordered us some pizza for dinner." Even her voice was different. She sounded exhausted, and dare I say it, a little scared.
I could feel my temple throbbing as I ground out, "Fine."
A moment of silence, before Bra weakly ventured, "Are you mad at me?"
I wasn't sure how to respond. Part of me was beyond enraged at her, because she was the reason why I felt like burning the planet to ashes, and yet she was single-handedly keeping me from doing so. She was keeping the vicious monster inside of me caged, and damn it to hell if I didn't resent her for it.
I closed my eyes. It wasn't often that she called me that anymore. At 17 years old, I suppose it seemed too childish for her now. Sighing, I shook my head.
"I'm not angry with you, Bra," I finally forced myself to say, trying to make myself believe it. After all, none of this was truly her fault. I knew that, if I could just stay rational.
"You haven't talked to me today, and you won't even look at me," she almost pleaded.
I felt guilt immediately because I knew Bra was right. If I did look at her, all I'd see is the teenage girl who came home late last night, sobbing and covered in a mess of dirt and blood. All I'd see is my terrified daughter who cried for nearly an hour in my arms. All I'd see is my own failure to protect her when she needed me the most.
I kept my gaze straight ahead, my jaw clenched so hard, my whole face started to hurt. It took some long moments before I could rein in my anger enough to turn around and look at her.
"What do you want me to say?" I finally bit out in a harsher voice than I intended. She flinched at my tone, and a fresh wave of guilt overcame me. Ashamed of how badly I was failing her, I looked away. "You won't tell me what happened, Bra."
"I did, I told you what happened," Bra argued defensively, her fire back in her voice.
Silence fell between us. She knew I was right. The things she'd given me were raw basics. She had gone out the night before with a group of female friends to the movies, an occurrence that was normal enough. I knew those friends of hers, and I hadn't thought anything of it when she asked my permission to go. But then she showed up at home later that night, looking like she'd been in the fight of her life…
Things just hadn't added up to me, and they still didn't. She wasn't as strong as Trunks, but my blood in her veins still made her physically stronger than any human male on the planet outside of Kakarot's group of idiot friends. I had taught my girl enough about fighting for her to defend herself, and it was obvious that she had used every ounce of that knowledge and then some. But as someone who's been in tens of thousands of battles, I knew from the nature of her bruises that this hadn't been a fight with another female. And there were rope burns on her wrists that were unexplained, leaving me to draw my own conclusions – none of which were good.
But aside from assuring me that she hadn't been raped and making me promise I wouldn't tell her mother about any of this, she had also made me promise I wouldn't do anything about it. The girl was smart, making such a foolish request while sobbing in my arms the night before, when I couldn't refuse. It made my blood boil to think I had so easily agreed. I could have said something else – anything else – and then when she finally fell asleep, I could have ended it. After all, I didn't truly need her to tell me a damn thing. I was more than capable of tracking down whoever had done this to her just by the scent of her clothes.
It was my word to her that was stopping me, and nothing more. I was far from being the best father to my children, but I had never once broken a promise to either of them.
Admittedly though, if there was one promise to break, I wouldn't mind it being this one.
Bra absently brushed at her bangs as I looked back at her and we made eye contact. She couldn't hold my gaze for more than a few seconds though. I had to take a deep breath to try to calm down, but I was pissed and wanted to just shake some sense into her. I wanted her to just point me in the right direction and then let me take over from there. I needed her to let me make this right.
When the silence got to be too much, I walked over to her until I was right in front of her. The girl was stubbornly refusing to look at me.
"Bra." I spoke with the tone of voice that only my daughter can get from me. She finally looked back at me, biting at her lip anxiously in a habit she picked up from Bulma. "Tell me what really happened."
Bra shook her head, trying in vain to dismiss it. "It was nothing," she insisted half-heartedly.
"We both know that's not true. Why won't you just tell me?" I demanded, the rage inside of me threatening to spill out. The girl was as frustrating as her mother, if not more.
"I just…I don't know what you'll do if I tell you," she admitted, unable to look me in the eye.
I kept my face impassive, even though her words hurt. My little girl was seeing the monster I was for the first time. She was seeing me for the first time, and she was afraid of what I was going to do next. I wished I could ease her concerns, but I couldn't exactly say that her fear was unjustified.
"I'm going to make sure it never happens again."
"But if you do anything, people will find out it was you. They always find out," Bra rationalized, fretting now. I raised an eyebrow in curiosity. It seemed my girl underestimated me. "And then the media will-"
"Bra," I cut her off, forcefully this time as my eyebrows drew together. "The media doesn't matter. What's important is that this isn't repeated. Do you want this to happen to another girl who doesn't have Saiyan blood, a girl who can't defend herself like you did?"
The line was only to make her think, and I could tell by the look in her blue eyes that it worked. On my part though, I honestly didn't care about the fates of anyone else on the planet save for my family. Everyone thought I was a reformed man, a good man, but the truth was that the lives of others still meant little to me. If that wasn't true, I would have purged Earth of all the vile humans on the planet years ago. All the millions of killers out there who weren't a fraction as good as I used to be, all the abhorrent and miserable pieces of shit who preyed on women and children - I could've hunted every last one of them down in mere days, had I been moved to do so.
In retrospect, perhaps I should have done just that. Not to spare other humans, but to spare my daughter from what she went through the previous night. It was selfish and cruel of me, perhaps, to value my daughter's life above other humans who suffer worse fates on a daily basis. But I've never claimed not to be selfish and cruel.
I took a step closer to her, and as though she'd been waiting for that, she turned back to me and hugged me tightly, uncaring of how sweaty and bloody I was from sparring with Kakarot. I sighed and returned the embrace, smelling her tears in the air. She needed more from me than I knew how to give.
But there was one thing I could give.
"Tell me, princess," I whispered.
Finally, she did.
Later that night, I found myself standing on the side of a quiet road, completely out of sight. I was just behind a line of thick trees, arms crossed while I looked at the spot my daughter had described. Even from where I was, I could see the tire marks on the pavement. They were left over from when he sped off in his car, taking my daughter with him after knocking her unconscious while she tried checking one of the tires on her car on her way home from the movies.
I stepped out of the shadows, walking over to the road, keeping my eyes down. The grass patterns showed that a car had pulled over, right where I was. The pattern matched the tires on Bra's car. This was where it happened.
When Bra asked me what I was going to do with the information she gave me, I promised her that I would make sure the man responsible died in prison. Even though Bra knows the truth and the full extent of the things I've done in my life, my girl still thinks the best of me. She didn't question me, and just believed that I'd do what I said. It would probably make me smile now, if this entire situation didn't completely enrage me.
Nonetheless, it's a promise I am planning to keep.
After taking Bra to Gohan's house so she could have a sleep over with Pan, I'd gone back to the compound and checked every inch of her car. Sure enough, there had been blood. Some of it was Bra's, but most of it was human. Next, I went to check Bra's clothes that she'd come home in. The man's scent was powerful on them. I memorized that scent, imprinting it forever in my memory. All of my senses are heightened as a Saiyan, but nothing more than my sense of smell, which has only improved with my age. It was meant to give us the ultimate edge during a hunt.
And I am on a hunt tonight.
No one thinks much of me as I prowl the streets of West City that night, unaware of how dangerous I am as I walk past them. In my jeans, a dark sweater, and one of Trunks' old ball caps for the West City Devils baseball team that manages to hide most of my hair, I doubt even Kakarot would recognize me. I blend in with no problem at all, while I methodically conduct my search. Because if I learned anything while working for Frieza, it's the power of patience. I waited 25 years to see Frieza die. Scouring this planet for one human is nothing. After all, I've purged planets twenty times the size of Earth, single-handedly, in mere days. I just have to be patient and not let my power rise.
The longer the search goes on, the more my anticipation and adrenaline rises. This is something none of the humans would ever understand. Even Kakarot, though he is a true Saiyan warrior, would not understand the rush I feel right now. This is a true Saiyan hunt for blood, and I can't believe how much I've missed this. Knowing that there's a man out there who has no idea who I am and what kind of death is waiting for him, it almost makes me salivate. The fact that I have to keep this as inconspicuous as possible, thereby forcing me to keep my power to a minimum, only makes it all the sweeter and makes my heart race.
It only takes me a few hours to find him, since Bra had pointed me to the general area where she'd escaped from. Plus, I knew from the blood on her clothes and in her car that she had wounded the pathetic human, probably severely. She had fought him off tooth and nail, despite being wounded herself and waking up to find herself tied down in a cold basement. I don't die easy, and neither do my children.
I'm glad though that she didn't kill the human outright. Not because he didn't deserve it, but because I wouldn't want that on Bra's conscience. My conscience, however…
We're almost 40 miles outside of West City, and we're in the dead of night now. I methodically covered ground one mile at a time to get here, dipping into every house, apartment complex, abandoned building, you name it. With my speed that can't be detected by even the most advanced sensors and sophisticated cameras on the planet, I could have searched each home hundreds of times and no one inside would have even noticed. Nonetheless, my persistence has paid off, and I know that I've found the right man.
We're in an old 24-7 diner that seems as ancient as the planet Namek itself. The lighting is dim, and there are two teenage boys sitting together at one end of the diner, and on the opposite end, is the piece of shit I've been looking for. I knew he was there before I even walked in, thanks to his scent combined with that of blood. I go over to sit on a bar stool, signaling the old man behind the counter for a drink while I observe my prey on this night through the corner of my eye.
That's him, alright. The way he's fidgeting while trying to drink his coffee means he's afraid. The way he's drawing his hat down over his eyes and keeping his head down means he doesn't want any attention. The thick, white bandages on his face and the smell of blood I'm getting are remnants that Bra left him with. I turn my attention straight ahead, smirking a little. Bra might have been a half-Saiyan girl, but she had enough Saiyan spirit in her to rival me on my best day.
I subtly check for cameras in the diner, but there are none. And so, when the old man places a cold bottle of beer in front of me, I grab it and stand up, casually heading over to the beaten man sitting alone in the far corner. By the time he notices me, I'm already sliding into the booth, sitting across from him.
"I couldn't help but notice that you were sitting over here all by yourself," I casually begin, as though we're old friends. The man is monstrous, all muscle, with at least six inches of height on me. It's unlikely that a human female Bra's age could have fought him off. He blinks at me now, startled and clearly at a loss of words. "I thought I would join you and keep you company," I add.
"Yeah, well, I don't need your company, pal," he spits out. His contempt almost makes me laugh.
"Yes, I suppose grown men aren't your type. You're more into teenaged girls, I presume?" I venture, raising an eyebrow.
The color drains from his face, and I can't help but smile. He knows that I know. This changes the game considerably.
"I have no idea what you're talking about, buddy," he growls, angry now. My smile turns into a smirk when I see that hard edge in his eyes. He's killed before, I can tell. I've already got him sized up and figured out. He thinks he's a man because he's taken some lives here and there. He knows nothing about life and death. It's irrelevant anyways. I will give him a proper education tonight.
"Is that so?" I finally ask, my voice deceivingly calm. "Then I suppose you had nothing to do with my daughter being almost abducted last night?"
"Nope, got the wrong guy."
"Oh, I doubt that."
His patience snaps as he opens up his jacket, reaching in, "Look, if you don't stop your shit, I…" his voice fades as he feels inside his jacket, peering inside the lining in confusion.
"Looking for something?" I ask him politely, cocking his gun in my left hand while I take a sip from my beer out of my right. Having shown off my speed, I now show off my strength by crushing the weapon in my bare hand, reducing it to a wrangled mess of metal.
The bastard looks back at me, and for the first time that night, I see terror in his eyes. The monster inside me derives sadistic pleasure from it, almost crowing in delight. This was always my favorite part of each kill. Robbing my prey of all hope, and then seeing their face as they realize their fate. It's a beautiful sight tonight.
"Look, I don't know who you are, but I wasn't planning on hurting the girl, I swear," he whispers urgently while I take another drink from my beer. "I was just gonna keep her for a little while, try to get a little money from you guys to get her back. I was gonna her go, honest."
"Likely story, but my daughter said you made an attempt to rape her. What is your explanation for that?"
"Shut up," I snarl, my patience snapping. The windows are starting to shake in response to my rising rage, much to the confusion of the three others who were in the diner with us. I force myself to calm down. A flick of my wrist sends out enough ki to disintegrate the destroyed, pathetic human weapon in my hand, which only intensified the man's terror across from me. "I know your type. I've seen and killed worse creatures than you in my days. You will be no different. You will pay for what you did to my daughter, and for anyone else who's crossed your path."
Before he can finish the word, I seize him by the throat, use my speed to get us out of the diner, and in a flash, we're suspended in midair, fifty feet off the ground. He's only hanging by the vice grip I have around his neck, clawing at my hand for freedom. The odds of him dying if I release him from here are low. There's nothing but a sea of trees beneath us, some which will undoubtedly break his fall – thus prolonging my vengeance. Like everything else I do, choosing this location is not without reason. The only ki signatures within a twenty mile radius are those of animals. No one will hear him scream here.
There is no power like having the life of another living being in your hands. My blood is practically singing as I strangle the life out of pathetic human, as though I've been depriving myself this feeling of bloodshed for far too long. But I force that thought back. I control the monster inside of me now, not the other way around. And tonight, the father inside of me is yielding to that monster, to restore my daughter's honor the only way I know how.
I release my grip around his throat, and the screams begin.
True to my word, I didn't tell Bulma what happened when she returned from her trip. I don't like keeping things from her, and perhaps if I had a different background, I would've told her by now. But I know what it's like to have your dignity stripped, to be completely humiliated. The difference is my daughter was strong enough to fight back, whereas I never was. Regardless, I resolve that Bulma and Trunks won't ever know what happened – at least, they won't ever hear of it from me. If Bra decides to tell them one day, that's her choice.
The only thing I told Bra when I picked her up the next morning from Gohan's was that I had taken care of everything. She asked me what happened, and I told her that the man was now under arrest – which was the truth. I hadn't killed him, because I wanted him to step forward and claim responsibility for the deaths he was responsible for. And when I say "step forward", I actually mean that I left his unconscious, bludgeoned, burnt, mangled body on the steps of West City PD, with his own handwritten confession stapled to his forehead. The confession admitted to all of his crimes, except for what he tried to do to Bra. I don't need "the system" to give my daughter justice. That's what she has me for.
That's not to say that I was sparing his life. I wasn't. I was merely postponing his death long enough for the families who lost a child because of the vile human to learn the truth. Maybe I have changed a little bit over the years after all, because I wanted some good to come out of this. Plus, I put the fear of God into the fool. He would never say anything against me. And just to be completely sure of that, I shattered both of his arms and removed his tongue by slowly burning it out with my ki.
The police force is looking for who is responsible for his horrific physical state, but word through the grapevine is that they're not putting their hearts into the search. I suppose the fact that the daughter of the chief of police was slaughtered by the human might have something to do with that.
Daughters and their power over us men.
A few weeks have passed now, and things have settled down. Bra seems to be back to her normal self, eager to put her ordeal behind her and move on with her life. She is back to pushing my buttons and defying me on a daily basis, but our yelling matches have declined considerably. Sometimes, she seeks me out in the gravity room while I'm training – not for any words, but just for a protective embrace. I always give it, as a silent reminder that I am here and I will always be here.
The topic only ever comes up once, during dinner one night when Trunks joins us. The nights my son comes over to join us for dinner are always good. It makes Bulma and Bra happy for him to be with us. And I admit, I do enjoy seeing my son as a grown man now and doing well for himself.
My boy's always had impeccable timing though, and he proves it tonight after dinner when he perks up and asks, "Hey guys, did you hear about what happened to that serial killer, Gaines?"
I almost immediately feel Bra's eyes on me, but I'm already halfway out of the door, going into the living room to watch TV. It's become something of a tradition to watch a movie after dinner when Trunks comes over. My wife and kids are close behind me, and Bulma's already jumped on the conversation.
"Oh my god, I did hear!" she exclaims. "Turns out someone killed him when they moved him to the new jail yesterday. They're saying his throat was crushed and it was a painful death. Pretty brutal."
"He deserved it, after all those things he did," Trunks nonchalantly comments with a shrug. "Probably someone related to one of those girls he killed that got him."
"I suppose what goes around comes around," Bra adds distractedly. This time we make direct eye contact.
"Alright, well, enough about that. Let's see what movie we can throw on before Trunks has to go," Bulma pipes up, eagerly scanning the impressive movie collection we've amassed over the years.
I sit down on the sofa, and Bra sits down next to me shortly thereafter. We both stay in silence while Bulma and Trunks start arguing about what movie we should watch, as they always do. I run a hand up through my hair, closing my eyes, when I feel a kiss on my cheek. Surprised, I look over to see Bra offering me the smile that's had me at her beck and call for the last 17 years.
"I love you, Dad," she sincerely says. I study her eyes, wondering if she knows the truth of what I've done. If she does know, I can't tell. Regardless, I suppose it doesn't matter. Everything is done now.
I offer a grunt and look back towards the TV. "Hn. You better."
Despite my gruff words, Bra leans into me and I allow it, putting my arm protectively around her shoulders. Bra can't help but laugh as my 30-year-old son is reduced to a five-year-old boy by his mother, caving to the glare Bulma's giving him. For the first time in weeks, I find it in me to smile again. I've never deserved this family, but they're all I have.
And if anyone ever tries to harm one of them again, I'll be here waiting.