A/N: Thank you everyone who reviewed. Seeing everyone who's enjoying my story really brightens my day. So thank you and I hope you enjoy this next installment.
I was shocked when that old fuck actually told us where you were.
Vegeta sped in a blind rage, swerving around cars and weaving through traffic at a deadly pace, but he paid no mind to that risk. He was royally pissed, and somebody was going to die.
He came to a squealing and smoking stop in front of that old and peeling green door, throwing his helmet off and pulling a rifle – equipped with a suppressor – out of the duffel he'd brought with him. He didn't have to stay hidden now. Frieza knew he was alive, and they were looking for him. Vegeta was in the mood for a gunfight. Let them find him. Let them come.
"NAPPA!" He hammered into the door twice. No answer. That mean he was hiding or incapacitated; so much for a warm welcome. Vegeta peeked in as best he could through the grimy windows of Nappa's apartment, but could see nothing. He beat on the door again.
A piece of trash twitched and wiggled; he spotted the top of a bald head on the floor.
Vegeta snarled, turned abruptly, fired once at the doorknob, once at the deadbolt, and twice at seemingly blank sections of the door where two of the stronger locks resided, hidden on the other side. The door shook; the heel of his boot fell into the door with enough force to nearly break it from its hinges. He kicked it shut behind him as best he could.
Nappa lay on his side, hands bound behind his back, feet sprawled at an awkward angle. His nose looked broken, and Vegeta could see a few of his teeth were chipped or missing. The white of one eye was red, filled with blood. "V-Vegeta," Nappa stammered with a weak voice.
"Holy shit, Nappa," Vegeta mumbled, crossing to him in two strides. When he dropped to one creaking knee, he realized the damage was probably worse than it appeared – which was saying something. "They beat you half to death."
"Little further, I think. Will you cut these?"
Vegeta set to work on the bonds, six white zip-ties, as he asked, "How long have you been like this?"
"What day is it?"
"Couple days then." Vegeta rolled him onto his back; he groaned loudly and his fists balled. Nappa looked at him sadly. "They didn't even ask anything, say anything." Vegeta nodded. He figured as much.
"Lay still, you oaf, you're in pretty bad shape."
"Worse than you think." He looked up sharply, met the old man's gaze. "Ouji, I can't feel my legs. I can't move them."
Vegeta looked, and sure enough: even in moving Nappa, his legs had barely shifted an inch. He reached over pressed the pressure point on his kneecap, the one makes the leg jerk automatically. Nothing. He tried the other. Nothing. He sighed and got up, running a hand through his hair.
They couldn't take Nappa to a hospital. If, no, when they found out he was still alive, Frieza's faithful dogs would surely hunt him down and put a bullet in his head. If he stayed there, he'd surely get an infection from his wounds…if he hadn't already. Vegeta looked at the old warrior, saw how pale and gaunt and weak he looked. Saw the he was watching him with drooping eyes, as if he was about to drift off to sleep. As he turned away, Vegeta pulled something from his jacket.
"You saved my father in the war, Nappa," he started, looking at something in his hands. "And you've done well in protecting me. You've served my father very well."
"I know." Vegeta could hear his stupid grin.
"I'm not taking you to the hospital."
When he turned, Vegeta was pointing the Beretta at Nappa. He swallowed. "Good-bye, Nappa."
The gun fired with a deafening report; Nappa's head snapped back, bounced off the floor, exploded in a flash of gore. The back of his head left a gaping maw. Vegeta didn't look at his eyes as he returned the gun to its holster (why was he doing that? there had only been the one bullet.) Stepping over the growing pool of blood, Vegeta made his way to the bedroom.
It took some effort, but he shoved the bed to the other side of the room, metal feet scraping the wood floor like nails on a chalkboard the whole way. Under a blanket of dust and lost socks was Nappa's safe, containing the few steady and reliable elements from Vegeta's childhood. He prayed Nappa hadn't gotten smart and changed the combination. Nope, still Vegeta's birthday. God, he is so predictable. Was. Was predictable.
The safe clicked open and Vegeta swung the door all the way open. There were a few guns down at the bottom, favorites or specialties that had some kind of value. He grabbed the ones that seemed usable, four in total. Stacks of cash and cellophane bags of pills caught his eye; once upon a time, he would've grabbed both. The pills were left.
The last thing Vegeta grabbed was a cigarette case crafted of fine steel long ago. It was worn, dented, and the sheen had faded; the Royal Crest engraved on it was nearly rubbed to invisibility. It rattled. When he opened it, a folded picture pressed out, still wanting to retain its old shape after all these years. It was a picture of roughly fifteen men, some kneeling, some standing, all grinning and waving guns or helmets. In the center was a massive man, dark hair cut down to the scalp, and beside him, folding under the weight of one enormous arm, was a much younger man, younger than Vegeta was now, perhaps twenty-two. He was tall when not in comparison to his counterpart, bamboo-thin with broad shoulders and heavy eyebrows. Even when smiling, he didn't really look to be smiling. He was clean shaven but his face was dirty.
Vegeta pulled the military tags out of the case. There was only one in there, reading, Walkes, Turk. There was other information, but it was falsified, irrelevant. Identification numbers, village, rank. He wondered where Nappa had put his.
It was evening when the rusted motorcycle finally came to a stop in front of an old, boarded up house on the outskirts of the ghetto. He led the vehicle into the crumbling, creaking shed in a cracked and dried-up backyard and locked it up.
He knocked twice on the door and let himself in.
There were voices coming from the kitchen. Bulma, Goku, and Krillin were sitting at the table, whereas Gohan was on the counter behind her. Bulma and Gohan were the first ones to notice the mercenary's entrance; they stood, opening their mouths to say something, but were quickly silenced when he slammed a heavy black duffel bag on the middle of the table.
"Arm yourselves," he said gruffly as he shrugged off his jacket. "You're going to need it."
"V-Vegeta?" He turned, raising an eyebrow at the stammering boy. "Are you hurt?"
Bulma squealed; she hadn't noticed the blood on his hands or shirt until now. "Oh my God, are you okay? What happened?"
He raised a hand. "The blood isn't mine."
They gasped, stepping away. Bulma turned three shades of white.
"Vegeta," she whispered. "What's going on?"
He sighed; he'd seen this coming. He didn't answer until he had tugged his shirt over his head and was wiping the blood off of his hands with it. "I haven't been entirely honest about everything."
"That much is obvious," Krillin snapped.
"I'm not solely a fighter; it was just something to keep me occupied. I'm a mercenary."
"Well, I was a mercenary. I'm not anymore. Not since my employer decided to put a bullet in my goddamn head."
Goku gaped at him. "W-Why would they do that?"
"Because I botched the hit I was working on, I guess. I wasn't exactly given a notice of termination." When he finally looked up, he made eye-contact with Bulma; his expression was hard as stone and unreadable. "It was no coincidence that I was outside of Capsule Corp when I was shot."
Botched the hit. He'd failed.
Bulma's mouth opened and closed soundlessly until her knees gave out. If it hadn't been for Gohan behind her, she would have collapsed to the ground. "M-Me?" she asked.
He nodded once.
The color drained from her face and she fled upstairs.
"Do you really think this is a good idea?"
"Where else are we going to go, Krillin?"
"I don't know, but should we really trust Vegeta?"
"Hn." The mercenary in question walked into the kitchen, arms crossed over his chest. Goku grinned nervously at him; Krillin seemed to shrink in his chair. "Who else can you trust, Baldy?"
The small monk glared at him. "Excuse me if I don't feel comfortable having you around Bulma. I'm sure you'll understand."
Vegeta narrowed his eyes. "I haven't tried to kill her since I was Cut. I pose no threat to the woman. I'm the one who saved her in the library."
Krillin stood. "You only did that because you were in danger, too. You can't be trusted!"
Goku opened his mouth, but Vegeta cut him off by slamming his hands flat on the table. "I am the only one here with an inkling of what you're dealing with. These people are ruthless, and they know everything about you."
His eyes widened. "Me?"
"All of you," Vegeta growled. "They know what I know, and I know everything. I know about the summer house on the beach, every main Capsule Corp location, even the safe house Dr. Briefs has under a false name and is now hiding at with his wife, despite orders to avoid known residencies." Krillin gaped at him.
"But, you worked for them," Goku interjected. "Wouldn't they know about this place?"
Vegeta shook his head. "This place isn't mine. It was given to Turk Walkes, as was the storage unit that had those weapons and the motorcycle I've been using."
Goku scowled as the name drudged up trivial information that hadn't seemed important at the time. As he thought, his head began to ache, and he rubbed his neck absently. The action reminded him of the injury he'd received from Vegeta: the injury he received before the murderer had made a phone call and used an alias. "Aren't you Turk Walkes?"
"No. He doesn't exist." Vegeta smirked. "He's the beneficiary of my ex-partner's Last Will and Testament. I'm the only one who knows his information. I suppose you could call it a fake identity, since I'm technically not supposed to exist."
"Won't they figure it out, though?" Krillin asked. Vegeta's smirk fell.
"Yes," he grumbled at the tabletop. "They'll find out. However, we have a head start here, and it'll give us enough time to think of a plan." He looked back at his companions. "Now, can we move beyond petty quarrels and onto the price on the woman's head?"
All was quiet for a moment, and then Goku felt uncomfortable. "Hey Vegeta," he started, ignoring the glare he received. "What did you mean when you said 'since I was Cut'? What does that mean?"
The mercenary sat in the chair opposite Krillin, rubbing one of his temples. "It means I was kicked out, Kakarot. They didn't require my services any longer."
Krillin raised an eyebrow. "So they shot you in the back of the head?"
Vegeta gave him a sarcastic and mirthless grin. "No, they gave me a severance package and Unemployment." His face fell. "Of course they tried to kill me, Baldy. You don't just leave a mafia. You don't go back to your life. You don't exist anymore, and even if you did, you're probably on the government's Most Wanted list." Without warning, he rested his elbow on the table and put his head in his hand; he looked exhausted, frustrated, and downright worn. The other two men had never seen him like this.
They jumped when the mercenary slammed his hands on the table, standing suddenly. "I'll be back," he said. "Try to keep the woman safe while I'm gone."
Vegeta had decided he was done playing Frieza's stupid game of cat-and-mouse. He wasn't hiding anymore, and if Frieza wanted him, he could come and get him. He would hide for the sake of protecting Bulma (and maybe even the kid), but Vegeta wouldn't cower away from his apartment or his money anymore.
So that's exactly where he went.
He knew someone was waiting inside his apartment; he could see the scratch marks around the deadbolt and doorknob where someone had picked the lock. Bastards. How dumb did they think he was? He expected somebody, probably a few low-rank gunmen, maybe one or two of the higher-ups if Frieza wanted to make sure he died.
He wasn't expecting the balding, pink-faced, and armed piece of lard waiting for him. Beady little eyes looked up and narrowed in a twisted smile. Vegeta smirked.
"Dodoria," he said, voice thick with mocking surprise. "Frieza must be desperate to have sent you. Looks like I hit a nerve."
There was a sick humor in the way Dodoria grinned. "Please sit, Vegeta."
"Think not." He turned on his heel to move into his kitchen. "I have other matters to deal with first. Chatting with you isn't very high on my priorities list."
There was a healthy-sounding click, and Vegeta froze. "I wasn't asking." The mercenary swallowed. Move quick, break his wrist, take the gun. Dodoria smiled triumphantly. "Now come sit down like a good boy." He's going to scream, can't have that. He took a step back towards the chair sitting opposite Dodoria, then another. Break his trachea? No, he could have valuable information. He glanced at the fat blob of a man, who leaned forward slightly as he rested his elbow on the armrest. "Man, Vegeta, that headshot really did a number on you; you look downright scrawny."
Too late, the obese man saw the smirk on his target's lips. Vegeta flew at him; while his left hand wrapped around the pistol in question, a semi-automatic revolver, and held down the hammer in case Dodoria pulled the trigger, his right hand gripped the meaty wrist. With a small turn and a sickening pop! Vegeta dislocated the intruder's wrist; for good measure, he squeezed as hard as he could and moved his hand towards his torso, breaking Dodoria's radius. The massive man cried out, but was cut off when his to-be-victim's muscular right arm wrapped around his flabby neck, and the barrel of his own cocked gun was pressed against his head. He fell silent.
"Did I catch you off guard, Dodoria?" he chided. "Or has your fat simply weighed you down that much?"
"T-they said you were comatose. You can't be recuperated yet, you can't. You shouldn't even be alive, let alone capable."
Vegeta scowled, pressed the gun a little harder against Dodoria's head. "Talk and I won't shoot," he offered. "Who's got the hit on Bulma?"
"Frieza himself wants her dead. He heard she was harboring you, put the hit on her. Na-"
"Nappa didn't tell you shit. He harbored me, and for that, you broke his spine." Dodoria tried to swallow past Vegeta's arm. "What about the original hit?"
"Still in place, but Frieza wants the money for himself since he wants her dead, too."
"Who put the hit out?"
"How the Hell should I know? The plan was as soon as you killed the girl, you'd be killed. Cui mistook her sunbathing for being dead, and killed you too soon." Vegeta snarled; so it had been that sniveling rat that shot him.
"Why did Frieza send you here?"
"Once he heard Cui was dead, Frieza figured you'd come home. He wanted me to knock you around a bit before I pulled the trigger." Vegeta growled, now thoroughly pissed, and shifted his grip to pull the trigger. Dodoria panicked. "No, wait Vegeta! There's something you need to know.
"You remember what happened to your family?" Vegeta nodded, a concerned and confused scowl hiding his interest. "There was no revolution. We blocked the doors and windows and burned the palace to the ground, and the Cold Empire just stepped in to fill the governmental void the loss created, all because your Daddy wouldn't listen to reason."
Vegeta stared at nothing, wide-eyed. "Frieza really did order the death of my family."
"In its entirety."
Unexpectedly, Vegeta took himself from the red-faced man, who gaped at him. Even more confusing was the calm of his face as he raised the gun. "I don't care, Dodoria. My family's been dead for more than two decades, knowing who is responsible changes nothing. But I want you to know, that I am not doing this for my family, their honor, or even the bullet Frieza put in my head.
"I do this because Frieza thought he could make me a slave to his whims."
Dodoria cried out, made a slow and desperate lunge for the door. Vegeta pulled the trigger. Dodoria fell to the ground, dead. With a satisfied smile, Vegeta turned on his heel, grabbed the first bag he came across, and made a quick pass through his apartment.
Still, there was that nagging rage that he had been used, and by his family's killer no less.
Heavy thuds brought her to the basement of the rotting building. It smelled old and musty; Bulma barely held back a sneeze. As she descended the steps, the thudding grew louder, more distinct, until quiet grunts and heavy breathing and the soft clinking of a chain could be heard over the vicious impacts. At the base of the stairs, she peeked around the wall blocking her sight. Old free weights sat in a corner with a layer of dust coating them brown. A mat in the center housed a few brown stains, and she felt her gorge rise; she was sure it was blood. In a corner, opposite a pull-up bar screwed into the wall, was an old and sagging punching bag with duct-tape patches and plumes of dust exploding off of it with each hard hit. Standing barefoot in his bloody jeans and with his fists wrapped tightly, Vegeta alternated between kicking and punching the bag mercilessly. Bulma could tell he'd been there awhile; grime and sweat coated his skin thickly. As quietly as she could, the scientist came down the last few steps and started to approach the man.
"What do you want?" he snapped between attacks. He never turned. Bulma stopped mid-stride, then placed one hand on a cocked hip.
"Too bad," he replied, lowering his fists and turning to look at her. His scowl was as cold and indifferent as it had ever seen. She glared at him indignantly.
"Guess what, buddy," she said. "I am-"
"On my turf now," Vegeta interrupted and took a swig from a water bottle she hadn't noticed. His gruff tone was a shade different than she was used to, and it made her pause. What happened to the man she had kept in her home not fifteen hours ago? Who was this rude and intimidating monster that refused to show her any kindness? He leveled her with a hard glare. "And information is given on a need-to-know basis. As of now, there is nothing you need to know." He probably figured that would shut her up and get her to leave in her usual angry frenzy.
Unfortunately, she didn't, and instead crossed her arms over her chest. Vegeta matched her. She wasn't moving until she got what she wanted.
"You're a killer." It wasn't a question.
"You were sent to kill me."
"I already told you that."
"You lied to me."
"I didn't tell you the truth. There's a difference."
She decided it would be a waste of time to argue the point.
"Why didn't you tell me there was someone after me?"
Vegeta sighed, bringing a hand up to rub his face. He scowled at the sweat and wiped his face and chest clean with a towel before he answered. Bulma waited patiently. "I didn't think it was necessary," he said quietly at last. "I figured right off the bat that the hit was just a trick to kill me, get me alone and in a predictable place so I would be easy to off. It didn't occur to me that it was all…convenience." His hands shook in rage, something that didn't go unnoticed by his female companion. As a low growl emanated from his throat, the man was suddenly back at the punching bag, beating it ruthlessly once more.
Bulma moved to stand beside him, watched him curiously for a moment. She wasn't sure how she felt. Angry, namely, but there were others besides that which she couldn't identify. Vegeta's gaze flicked to her; he stopped and turned. His mouth opened, as if to snarl something meant to hurt. Bulma's rage skyrocketed then. Before he had a chance to speak, her left hand lashed out, hitting him with her open palm across the cheek. His head snapped to the side; as those dark eyes began to look back at her, holding in their own fury, Bulma decided she wasn't satisfied. She threw the best right hook she could, putting her full weight and force behind it, catching him in the mouth and throwing his upper body to the side. He didn't look like it had hurt him, unfortunately. It looked like it had caught him by surprise.
"Fuck you, Vegeta," Bulma said in a low voice. "Go to Hell."
She turned on her heel and stormed upstairs, cradling her aching hand.
A/N: Please don't forget to review. :) Thanks for reading.