Author's Notes:

Dearest and most lovely readers, may I assure you on these two counts: Collared is not abandoned and I am not dead!

Thank you all for sticking out the previous month. December is a very busy time for me, and atop the writer's block I've been experiencing, I've had little room to breathe, let alone write. But, write I did! Here is Chapter Twenty-Eight, a month off schedule. I hope it was worth it.

Also, as Sunday has become such a busy day for me, regular/consistent updates will be rescheduled for Tuesday nights. I will be doing my very best to update consistently again, ringing in the New Year on a bang!

Happy 2013, everyone!


Chapter Twenty-Eight:

The sun had long since completely risen, no longer craning its neck over the horizon. Each man lay on his side, facing each other. Vegeta studied his lover's- no, his mate's features with wide eyes, taking them in like he had never seen him before. The wound on his shoulder was a comfortable ache, feeling it throb dully in the aftermath of that all-consuming instant. He could feel their aligned heartbeat, watch it thrumming in the vein on the side of his mate's neck, see it pump sluggishly from the twin bite mark on his shoulder.

"Vegeta," Kakarrot whispered, eyes wide. He brought a hand up to the mark, drawing away slightly blood slicked fingers. "we..."

"We are mates." He confirmed, breathing a long sigh.

Such a connection was breathtaking. I didn't even know two males could become mates... He thought, reaching forward to caress Kakarrot's soft cheek.

"It's... It's like I can feel you... But it's deeper, a whole new level." The teenager whispered, tears of joy pricking at the corners of his brown eyes. "I feel your thoughts, your movements... It's amazing, my love." Unable to hold back any longer, Kakarrot lunged forward, enveloping his mate in strong arms to sob against the side of his neck. "We were made for each other!"

Vegeta's own tears managed to spill forth at the heartbreaking joy his mate expressed. It was beautiful, flooding him with the same feelings, taking over their senses with astounding, mutual love, companionship, and happiness. He wrapped arms around the younger man in return, rubbing across the sculpted muscles, kissing and breathing in his perfect scent. "I know, my love, I know. I feel it too." The force, connection, mingling of souls. "I've never been so happy."

The shaggy head of black hair pulled back, watery, brown eyes searching the depths of their soul, an enormous grin splitting his features. A calloused hand warmly cupped his cheek, wiping lovingly at the tear-tracks down the prince's face. His mate nodded, an understanding more powerful than to be cheapened by words passing between them. Again, their lips met for what felt the very first time. Their heartbeat fluttered, aligned and pure as they kissed. It was neither rough nor sexual, but no less passionate for it. A kiss between mates.

~•~ POV Change ~•~

"What will we do now, Vegeta?" Kakarrot finally breathed, the teenager's large, powerful arms wrapped round his mate's smaller form. "How can we keep this a secret?"

The two had lain in the morning sunlight for what felt like hours, mentally and spiritually caressing each other as they lazily dozed. They were putting off the inevitable, they knew, but in the perfection of that sun-drenched, lazy stir, they ignored their responsibilities in favor of being with their mate.

Vegeta sighed. "I don't know." Snuggling into the embrace, he inhaled deeply, voice becoming thoughtful. "Your brother managed."

Burying his nose in the prince's dark brown hair, Kakarrot considered this. "That's true... But Raditz and Chiva are guards, not royal. It won't be so easy."

He nodded, the purr in his chest faltering a little. "We can manage."

"We can." The younger mate agreed, his conviction on the matter set. A slight change in Vegeta's thoughts alerted him. "There's something else bothering you." He felt the pang of something, following it to the source. "You're worried."

The older man shifted, pausing for a long moment. "I am..."

"About what, love?" He cooed, rubbing his rough palm soothingly down a sleekly muscled arm.

The prince sighed heavily. "My ki."

Kakarrot's brow drew together, cocking his head in confusion. "Huh?"

"Something is wrong with my ki... I can't feel it anymore." He whispered, trying to suppress the disquiet in his voice.

"Wh-what?" The teenager jumped, their twin heart rates picking up. "How does something like that happen?"

"I... I don't know. Something happened the second the mating bond took hold." He whispered, voice faraway.

Something in the back of Kakarrot's mind stirred, a tiny fear growing. "Th-the mating bond?"

Vegeta nodded. "It was almost surreal. The power intensified, surged, then just..." He released a troubled sigh. "I can't find it again." The worry in his voice became more evident. "I don't feel any different, really. Other than that I can't hold my ki. Like it should be there, but when I reach in to take it, there's nothing to take."

Suddenly, something clicked. His eyes went wide. "I... I did this to you..."

The older man rolled over in his mate's arms, placing a hand on his cheek. "You did no such thing, Kakarrot." He whispered, conviction in his tone.

How could I have let this happen? Vegeta is the most powerful Saiyan born in hundreds, thousands of years. I've left him defenseless...

"No... No, Vegeta... I did."

"How? Kakarrot, I don't know why it's gone, but there's nothing you could have done about it."

The fear intensified, wide, brown eyes slowly filling with tears. "Vegeta, we both know that ki works differently with me. Both Chiva and Raditz have said when two Saiyans become mates, their ki merges... What if I did something to you?"

"You didn't do anything, Kakarrot." His prince hushed. "Even if the change is due to the mating bond, can't you feel my emotions on the subject? Do I feel angry? Upset? Weak? No." He whispered. "I feel loved. I feel you, your heartbeat, our heartbeat. I feel like the gods have given me a precious gift in being your mate. Like you said... We were made for each other."

"But you also feel worried, scared to be without your power." He breathed meekly.

Vegeta studied him with stern, ebony eyes. "Kakarrot, what if you lost your tail due to our bond?"

The teenager's watery gaze narrowed in confusion. "Wha-"

"How would you feel? What if a side effect of our mating bond made you lose your tail?"

Dumbfounded, the younger man considered the question. "I... I would feel off-balance for a little while without it. It would feel weird, but I could adjust."

The prince rose an eyebrow at him. "And would you love me any less for its loss? Be angered or upset at me for it being gone, even though I had no foreknowledge that such a thing might happen?"

Kakarrot opened his mouth to reply, brow drawn together. "Of course not! I-" He cut himself off. "Oh..."

"Oh indeed." His mate smirked.

The younger man turned serious again. "Vegeta, losing a tail and losing your ki are two completely different things. Tails can sometimes regrow, especially at my age. I don't use my tail to protect myself either, but you use your energy for that."

"And who is to say that my power won't regenerate? How do we know, my love?" He whispered, staring deeply into his eyes. "This is not your fault, Kakarrot. I don't blame you. I don't, can't regret becoming your mate. We will work through this, stop beating yourself up about it. It hurts me to see you so upset."

"I-" The teenager sagged, rebuttal lost as the older mate's words sunk in. "I can't help feeling guilty..."

"Could you help it, for me?"

Pleading, onyx eyes drew the answer from him before he could even think. "Anything for you, Vegeta."

Tears again managed their way past the dam of his dark eyelashes, falling downward towards the pillow as he hugged the older man tightly to his chest. He let the understanding aura wash over him, clinging to the prince, awash in the connection of astounding love. "We'll get it back, Vegeta. We'll find a way."

He felt Vegeta nod before lips pressed against his ear. "We will." He breathed. "And remember: no matter what, I will always love you."

~•~ POV Change ~•~

There was no more putting it off.

Kakarrot watched regretfully from the bed as he saw his lover rise, shoulders hunched. He needed support now, comfort, so that he could face his unfair duty; bringing an heir to the royal family.

Everything was already set up. He would meet Lentil in a bedroom clear on the other side of the palace at noon, only one hour away.

Kakarrot stood behind him, wrapping loving arms around his older mate, sending gentle understanding. It was hurting Vegeta to do this, but he truly had no choice. Kakarrot would stand by the prince no matter his decision, choosing to remain silent as his mate just stood there, expression much like a man waiting for the axe to fall.

"I don't want to." He whispered brokenly, voice rough and gravelly.

"I know."

"I have to."

Kakarrot nodded into the prince's spiky hair. "I know."

"It will hurt us. Both of us."

"I know."

He sagged back against the younger man, dark brown eyebrows drawing together. His, their heartbeat felt erratic, aching. "What should I do, Kakarot?" He whispered. There was a clear undertone in his voice that begged to be talked out of this, to be asked not to go. Still, the teenager remained impartial.

"That's not for me to decide, Vegeta." He whispered sadly, pressing lips to the older man's ear.

The prince sighed. "I'd better just get it over with, then. There's no sense in waiting."

"Alright, my love." He breathed kindly, kissing his temple and reaching forward to open the carved armoire, extracting a blue, spandex suit. "I'll help you get ready."

~•~ POV Change ~•~

The heavy drapes blocked out almost all hint of the noonday sun, giving the room a dim glow. It was a personal chamber, very small, and rather unremarkable for all intents and purposes. There were hundreds like it in the Royal Palace, more extravagant than the quarters for staff, guards, or slaves, but much less so than his own wing. He wouldn't defile his room, his and Kakarrot's sanctuary, by sleeping with anyone else there. Their room was sacred, where his facade of cool anger and cruelty could be dropped in favor of wrapping his arms around the loving, kind, young man always waiting for him. Another pang of sadness pressed against his heart, chest constricting as he imagined how much he wished not to be where he was. He wanted, desperately, painfully, to wrap his arms around his mate, to lose himself in the thick, silky locks of hair that stuck out at gorgeous, odd angles. He wanted to be anywhere... Anywhere but here.

Vegeta mentally shook the thoughts away, bringing himself back to present. No matter how much he wished it, he was here for a reason. They were only delaying the inevitable. The sooner he finished with this, the sooner he could be with Kakarrot. That thought in his mind, the prince took a long stride into the room, scanning the dimly lit chamber with what could only be described as distaste. The woman sat on the edge of a large bed, painted lips quirked up at the corners in a slight smile. Long curls of dark hair fell about her slender shoulders, hands gripping the red, silk sash around her white robe. The sight reminded him painfully of Kakarrot's clothing, the slight tilt of her head adding violently to the image.

"Good afternoon, Prince Vegeta." Lentil smirked, running a hand through her hair. She studied him with half-lidded eyes, her tail flicking against the rich duvet, the scent of heat hanging so heavily in the air, he nearly choked on it. "How may I help you?"

"You know why I'm here." He grumbled, arms crossed over his powerful, armored chest.

She rose fluidly, stalking over to where he stood with a languid, almost feline grace. The woman stopped but an inch from him, laying a delicate hand on his crossed arm. She smiled sensuously, leaning to whisper in his ear. "Oh, do I, my prince?"

He growled lowly at her, tail flicking in agitation. "Remove your hand." He snarled, glaring daggers at the bold young woman.

She swallowed, withdrawing the arm when she saw the intensity in Prince Vegeta's eyes.

"I'm not here to enjoy myself, Lentil." He breathed, dropping some of his anger.

She slowly circled him, jumping right back to her seductress act. "Oh, but just because you didn't come to enjoy it," She came to a stop behind him, tail snaking around his spandex-covered thigh. "doesn't mean you won't."

She was just about his height, her teeth scraping suggestively across his earlobe. He tensed uncomfortably, not from arousal, but distaste. She was like a fly, pestering him with sensual suggestions. He brushed them off, though he knew he couldn't afford to. He needed Lentil, needed her to do this, but silently hated himself for it. Was that why he was resisting? Justifying it in his mind? Which would be worse, getting it over with or being enticed, seduced? Hands feathered across his waist, following the blue spandex to his pointed hip bones, the clearly defined V of muscle that stretched between his legs.

"I'm good at what I do, my prince." She whispered as he stood rock-solid, not reacting to her advances. "You will have me in the throes of passion, no doubt. I've spoken with the other women who have had the honor of being in your bed."

He glared at her. "Then you will know that I wasn't willing with them either."

She paused in confusion for but a second, deciding to ignore the statement and continue in her efforts to seduce him. "You must be very selective with your women, my prince. I am honored that you would choose me." She breathed heavily against his neck, licking a cord of muscle.

He shifted when she got too close to his mating mark, carefully dressed to look like an ordinary, healing wound. "Keep your mouth to yourself for now, Lentil." He whispered, provoking caution.

She didn't seem to get the message. "I could put my mouth other places."

He scoffed at her, lack of arousal evident under the material of his training suit. Lentil brushed a hand between his legs, making a slightly affronted noise to discover his still flaccid member. He swallowed dryly, attempting to force back yet another wave of nausea. Through their mental connection, he could feel Kakarrot's upset for him, feel the oppressive heartache, the painful pull that made him want to run back into the younger man's arms. His breathing gained an edge, reasons for why this was necessary flying out the window under the sharp intensity of how wrong this was. He attempted to step forward, listening to the rushed, thudding, pressured pound of blood in his ears.

Her pheromones lacing the air made his head spin. Where before such a display from a Saiyan woman in heat would have had him on the bed in seconds, now it only made him feel queasy. Her scent seemed... Wrong. Like it was correct, how Saiyan heat smells, but... Unattractive. Where Kakarrot smelled of earth, power, and musk, this woman was overly powerful sprays and perfumes, all intensified sickeningly with the tang of her heat cycle.

Apparently believing his quickened pulse was a sign of her prowess, Lentil rubbed a warm palm over his groin, stroking him beneath the blue, spandex material.

He snarled at her, stepping quickly out of the woman's caress. "Enough." He warned, making it obvious that she had crossed a line. A hand flew to his forehead when the room spun, almost causing the prince to topple over from being so disoriented.

Lentil hardly noticed, so caught up was she in her incredulity of his off-again, on-again nature. "You did come here to sleep with me, didn't you?" She asked, curling her lip and crossing slender arms beneath her large bosom.

Vegeta rolled his eyes, unmoved by her question. "Let's get this over with." He growled, teeth clenched to qualm the discomfort.

She sighed, walking back towards the bed as the prince attempted to rein in his queasiness. How the hell am I supposed to survive actually having sex with her if I can't even get hard? He mentally growled, rubbing a hand agitatedly against his forehead. And I keep shrugging her off, too. I need her, need her talents to save my people... But it feels so wrong. He couldn't shake the pain of what felt like betrayal. Just because Kakarrot understood his need to continue the royal line didn't make this act any less adulterous.

The sickness was affecting him, swallowing the thick air, and wanting nothing more than to flee. He attempted to step forward, fighting tooth and nail against his every instinct to leave. It seemed to be the final straw.

Vegeta's body rebelled, sending the prince crashing to his knees, heart beating erratically. Faintly, he heard Lentil cry out in shock, rushing over to him to see what was wrong. The pain saw fit to intensify with each inch she closed, head swimming. His body knew what his mind still couldn't seem to grasp. He couldn't do this. His father's order, his threat, they were nothing compared to the blinding, all-consuming love he had for Kakarot. "I can't do it, my love. I won't do this to us." Vegeta mentally sent, gasping for breath. "Let him punish me, let him do as he pleases. I will defend Vegetasei with everything I have, but I won't do this." He let out a deep, final breath, the knot in his stomach loosening before he finally keeled over, unconscious.

~•~ POV Change ~•~

Lord Frieza surveyed the landing bay with cool intensity. There truly was nothing quite like watching Saiyans quake in their boots, bowing and scraping as he hovered slowly from his enormous ship. He was early, three days early, just as planned. The Icejin gained such satisfaction to throw Vejiita off balance, and by the rushing of messengers like a flock of frightened birds, he was doing just that.

As if his reputation on Vegetasei hadn't been strong enough, since executing three thousand of their peers, Saiyans had been walking on eggshells around him, amusing in the extreme. The crew members of he landing bay swallowed thickly, their pride stopping them from running, but their fear keeping them from calling out. Hated ruler though he was, Frieza was in paradise.

The fluctuation of gravity hardly gave him pause, hovering craft automatically switching to a higher gear to counteract it. A calm smirk spread on his painted lips, helmet-like head bowed slightly as he glared red eyes from beneath thick brow ridges. Oh, won't today be fun? He mused, chuckling in his high, effeminate voice. A funeral and a coronation in one day.

~•~ POV Change ~•~

Kakarrot curled in a ball atop his and Vegeta's bed, tears streaming from his tightly closed, brown eyes. The salty beads rolled down his face and onto the sheets, a silent grieving for his mate's pain. He couldn't mourn his own, but he could pray for Vegeta's, beg the gods that he made it through this and back into his arms. Waves of nausea assaulted him, a clenching in his gut twisting his insides like a thousand, tiny knives.

It hurt, not only physically, but it hurt to know his mate was experiencing the same thing. Even on the other side of the palace, Kakarrot could smell the heavy, overpowering stench of Lentil's heat, sensing it through Vegeta's nose. Queasiness and upset raged intermittently inside him, knowing what the woman was doing, what she was supposed to do. His skin crawled with each stroke across the prince's body, though he knew it was for a good cause. The right cause... Wasn't it?

All of a sudden, something changed.

"...Can't do it... Love. Won't do this to us..."

But... He had to, didn't he? Wasn't this truly the only way to save Vegetasei?

"Let him punish me... Will defend Vegetasei with everything I have... But... Won't do... This."

Did Vegeta know he could hear him? The pain seemed to lessen, but his head was growing heavy, heartbeat slowing. For a second, his vision flashed to onyx, the dimly lit interior of another room coming in and out of focus. Was this something all mates experienced? He was at a loss, watching through Prince Vegeta's own eyes as he keeled to the floor, breath sobbing from his lungs as the agony lifted, his denial to continue the royal line lightening his heart, clearing his head.

The scene faded, both mates feeling the understanding wash through them. "We will find another way to protect Vegetasei, my prince." Kakarrot sent, feeling free inside, love thudding in his pulse, their pulse. "By the gods, I love you."

~•~ POV Change ~•~

Vejiita was ready to scream, gloved hands clenching with fury as his unfortunate messenger rushed from the room, the heavy scent of panic following in his wake. He wasn't supposed to arrive for three more fucking days! He mentally bellowed, fist slamming as if of its own accord towards a crystal vase. The loud, musical shatter did nothing to lighten the king's mood, only succeeding in leaving a small cut in the side of both glove and hand, crimson spilling slowly from it to collect in the supple weave of white fabric. We aren't ready, Vegeta hasn't given in yet!

~•~ POV Change ~•~

Frieza's thick brow was drawn together, mirth leaving his face as the throne room drew ever nearer down the elegant hall. Should have gotten rid of the damn monkeys years ago, starting with this one. He mused, hammering black fingernails against the side of his heavy craft.

Zarbon raised a thin, sculpted eyebrow at the light tink the Icejin's nails caused, but made no protest to the annoying sound. The sudden change in demeanor, his sobering of the situation, alerted the cyan-skinned prince that now, if ever, would be the worst time to antagonize the tyrannical lizard.

Frieza's painted lips seemed to grow ever deeper at the corners, brow drawing down in the center as his scowl intensified. Large, elegant, painted doors stood closed, several nameless Saiyan guards barring its contents. He didn't even pause, a tiny spark of red ki on the tip of one finger piercing the heart of each guard. The almost silent screams wet unnoticed, each alien watching distastefully as they sunk to their knees, leaning on lances, slumping against the walls, or some other slow death as their blood made its last, sluggish pumps. Useless. Frieza mentally growled, only stopping now that he was before the throne room's impressive doors. Just like their king.


Author's Notes again:

As a slight apology for not updating last month, I will also be posting two of my oneshots tonight that I have saved in my archives. If you follow me on Tumblr, you may have read them before. I hope you like 'em, more info in the actual oneshots themselves!

Thank you all, you lovely, wonderful, incredible, understanding people!