I think I hate this story.
Don't get me wrong, I still love the concept. But writing teenage Vegeta is bad enough, never mind human Vegeta. Argh. Tell me if it sucks, but no flames please.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Chapter 4: Stalk
School was rough that day. Everyone had heard about the accident. Most seemed solemn, although only slightly less talkative. Most figured that they'd mourn sympathetically, but by the end of the day, many had gone on about their business.
Vegeta, however, was not so lucky.
He was obviously bothered by the accident, that much Goku could tell. He'd been quiet all day, and what would later be all week, constantly glancing over his shoulder as though someone might be following him, and although he hadn't shuddered once to Goku's knowledge, he was still clearly nervous.
So, in gym, while they were playing soccer, Goku stopped by Vegeta in the outfield, and leaned forward with his hands on his knees, saying, "So, what's up?"
Vegeta put his hands on his hips, and stared off towards the players who were currently fighting for the ball. "I'll kill Jason if we lose because he has the hots for Ana."
"Yeah, well…young love."
Vegeta snorted. "He wants in her pants."
Vegeta sighed. "And…there it goes."
Goku shrugged. "Eh…we can get it back. Eventually." He paused. "Has Tarble been around lately?"
Vegeta shrugged a no.
Goku pursed his lips. "Huh. Wonder where he got to. Do you think the accident scared him off?"
"I don't want to talk about it," Vegeta snapped.
Goku frowned. "Vegeta, I know it's bothering you. You don't have to act like it doesn't." He paused again. "You're doing a shitty job of it, anyway."
The shorter teen scowled.
Goku sighed. "I'm just saying," he said defensively. His tone softened, and he asked, "You saw something, didn't you?"
Vegeta's features darkened, and his brows knitted. "I don't want to talk about it," he repeated, quietly.
"Come on, Vegeta. That must have been traumatizing for that girl. Don't you want to help her?"
"Don't tell me it didn't feel nice helping that family out a while back," Goku snapped, his patience wearing thin.
"No!" Vegeta snarled. "No, it didn't. I felt like shit! You don't know what it's like being surrounded by death all the time!"
Goku's expression shifted to something that was rarely seen on him; fury. "No," he said bitingly, "I don't. But if I had you're gift, I wouldn't waste it being selfish! It's like having super powers and not using them to protect people. Obviously you were chosen to do this! You have this fantastic ability to help people and you don't even want it!"
Vegeta opened his mouth, but nothing came out for a moment. He was too surprised. He blinked, then scowled again, and said, "If I could give them to you, you could have them! I didn't ask for this!"
"Then you don't deserve it." He scowled deeply, the look not fitting his normally friendly features, and turned away. "I thought you were better than that."
Vegeta sneered. "I don't care."
Goku's shouldered tensed, and before Vegeta could react, the taller boy turned and sent a hard punch to his face.
Vegeta's head whipped to the side, and he stumbled, falling. Goku loomed over him, a disdainful look on his face.
"SON!" the P.E. teacher yelled. "I don't know who you think you are, but I do not tolerate unnecessary violence in my class! The principal's bench is waiting for you!"
Goku called back, "Yes, sir," and glanced back down at Vegeta, who's lip was bleeding. He did not look sorry.
Vegeta stared after him for a while before he finally got up, and wiped the blood from his lip.
Kakarot was always the good one of the group, if any of them could be considered good at all. That meant that when he was mad, he was livid. He was the type of person that you either hated very much or adored, and you either didn't give a shit about his opinion or you wanted to please for some inexplicable reason. His anger made you watch your back, regardless of whether or not you were his target, and his disappointment could make you cringe. Even so, Vegeta had always been seemingly immune to this, having known the Sons for so long, and even though their personalities clashed, they never really got into many real arguments anyway.
This was different somehow. This was different because it was a real fight, even though only one punch had been swung. It was different because Kakarot was not only disappointed; he was disgusted.
Vegeta wondered when Kakarot had acquired the power to make him feel ashamed of himself.
Goku and Vegeta avoided each other like the plague for the rest of the week, both of them too stubborn and unwilling to give in to the other's beliefs. Their methods of doing this, however, were not so evenly balanced; Goku did not go out of his way to not be where Vegeta was. He sat at the same table as always, hung out in the same places, and went about his usual business.
Vegeta, however, as stubborn as he was, would not even consider going anywhere Kakarot might be, and thus hardly saw the rest of his friends at all outside of football practice. He didn't sit with them during lunch, or waste countless quarters at the arcade or spend even more countless hours playing Xbox.
This went on for about a week, during which the others pestered him about his sudden self-enforced solitude. He ignored them for the most part, other than telling them that he was in no mood to see Kakarot. He wouldn't say what the argument was about, and Goku wouldn't either. After a while, they stopped asking, if only because it was getting old.
He had to get out. This was his only chance. He had to do it now, fast, or they'd catch him again.
He was terrified. He'd been scared before, but this…this was life and death. His heart was pounding in his ears, his breath quick and unsteady, his hands shaking. He stretched out his legs and lengthened his stride; he was getting tired, and yet, he'd never felt so energized. The instinct to run and flee was pumping adrenalin through his veins, screaming at him to get out and get out now.
The rational part of his brain was telling him to think, but not slow down. He had zero chance of escaping if he slowed even a little bit. Water sloshed around his ankles, putrid smells making his head hurt and his tongue curl in distaste. He came to a split, and remembering that he had turned right the last time, he turned left without hesitation.
His feet were flying.
Only, he had no idea where he was going. He had no idea if he was going towards the exit or just further underground. But, right now, it didn't matter, so long as he got away.
From who? Where am I?
The place felt familiar; he'd been down there for what seemed like a long time, and yet he was completely and utterly lost, and had absolutely no idea where he was going. He just knew that under no circumstances could he stay here. He had to get out.
"Little giiirl! Where are youuu?" called a voice. It was male, middle aged, scratchy. The sound of heavy footsteps echoed far behind him.
What little girl? he wondered, and even as he thought this, a 'Oh, shit!' feeling gripped him, and he pushed his legs faster.
"You can't escape me! Run as fast as you like; you can't run forever!"
No, no…he couldn't be caught again. Even now, the heavy, dark bruises all over his body ached, and the slow-healing, deep cuts that littered his skin reopened and dripped with blood.
"I SEE YOU!" the voice roared suddenly. Vegeta glanced behind him and saw a man with a huge knife running straight at him at full speed. A cry of fear and anguish forced it's way up his throat and past his lips – does my voice sound like that? – and tears filled his eyes almost immediately. He scrambled to run faster, but by now he was out of steam. He needed to rest, he needed food, he needed sleep –
The man's hand clamped on his wrist, and he slammed Vegeta into the damp, soggy wall. Stars burst behind his eyes, and his head pounded. He felt a knife at his throat, and his captor whispered, "Nice try, Briefs."
A sob shook his already trembling body - what's the matter with me? Get up and fight! - and the knife moved down to his chest, where it cut deep.
"Vegeta, wake up! You're dreaming!"
Vegeta bolted upright in bed, his cry cutting off abruptly. He was sweating and shaking, his bare chest pricked with Goosebumps not from cold. His father sat on the edge of his bed, gripping his shoulders with a look of worry on his face.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
Vegeta's eyes darted around the room, his breath quick and uneven as he tried to remember where he was. He recalled the last thing he had seen, and quickly put a hand over his chest. Much to both his relief and confusion, the cut wasn't there, only smooth skin. His father watched him anxiously, but didn't say anything.
When Vegeta finally realized that he was back in his bedroom, where he had gone to sleep, and not…wherever he'd been in his dream, he started to calm down. "I…" he paused, still catching his breath, and after a moment buried his face in his hands. "Oh, God…"
"Did you have a vision?" Vegeta Sr. asked, almost hopefully.
Vegeta wiped sweat from his forehead and swallowed. "I saw…it was dark, and I was running. Someone was chasing me, and they caught me…" his hand moved over his chest again, and he trailed off.
"What else?" his father prompted.
"It was dark," he repeated, "I was trying to get out…up, I think. Like I was underground. Shallow water…" he paused, then looked up and questioned, "The sewers?"
His father gave a small nod. "Could be. Go on."
"I was afraid. I knew I was in danger, and…" he trailed off again, looking at his shaking hands. "I've never been that terrified," he admitted quietly. "I was injured, and bleeding…someone caught me and cut me with a knife." He swallowed again.
His father waited for him to continue, and when he didn't, Vegeta Sr. asked, "Didn't you try to fight back?"
"I couldn't!" Vegeta exclaimed. "All my training, it amounted to nothing. I felt so weak," he snarled the word, "He was so much stronger than me. I could barely move."
Seeing his father's waiting look, he thought again, and then his eyes widened. "He called me Briefs," he remembered out loud.
Vegeta Sr.'s brows rose. "The name of that girl who died last week," he clarified.
Vegeta looked panicked at the suggestion. "I saw her," he whispered. "She looked at me!"
Failing to see this as a bad thing, Vegeta Sr. said, "Well, maybe she'll come to you and –"
"I don't want her to! She's a devil!"
His father stared at him. "What?"
"You should have seen her," Vegeta murmured. "Her eyes were like ice. She looked like she wanted to kill me. I've never felt an aura like that."
Standing, his father frowned at him slightly. He'd been hoping that, after helping that last family, Vegeta had been warming up to his gift. "Comes with the job," he replied, and clapped his son on the back. "Get some sleep, kiddo."
But try as he might, Vegeta did not get some sleep.
He kicked his locker after fumbling with the lock, and it finally popped open. He growled to himself and threw his math book in before he grabbed his chemistry book and notes, and when he checked both of them for his homework, he discovered it wasn't there.
Vegeta nearly snarled at himself and started searching through his things unsuccessfully for a few minutes. A slight shiver racked his shoulders – it was very cold in the building today, for reasons unknown to him – and after grabbing his jacket and sliding it on, he continued his search for his homework.
A girl's voice said, "You're Vegeta, right?"
He was occupied, so he didn't look. "Yeah. Who's asking?"
"I was told that you could help me."
Irritated at his question being blatantly ignored, he rolled his eyes, shut his locker and turned to look at the girl. "Whatever the hell you want, I'm not inter – oh, shit!" His back slammed into the metal, his eyes wide and his breathing quickened.
A blue haired, bloody girl stared back at him with murderous, dead blue eyes. "Help me," she demanded, her voice flat. She made no move to touch him, and he wondered briefly if she knew she could, but didn't dare question it out loud.
His eyes darted over her torn, ragged figure, and noticed a wide tear in her shirt below her collarbone. Instantly, he remembered the imaginary cut that had been on his chest, and his heartbeat raced. He swallowed and said, "You –" before his sentence cut off, and he noticed that everyone in the hallway was staring at him.
Finally, someone snickered, and called, "Vegeta's losing his mind again."
"I bet he's drunk."
"In school? The teaches would have noticed."
"He's just crazy."
His face paled, and the girl just continued to look at him with her tired, dead expression, clearly uncaring. The students were starting to laugh and mock him, and the urge to flee gripped him again. He was humiliated.
Why hadn't he sensed her properly?
"You been taking those meds, Vegeta?" one boy teased.
Vegeta's expression hardened, and he opened his mouth to give a snarky reply, but someone beat him to it.
"Hey! Why don't you guys all piss off and mind your own goddamn business?" Goku yelled above the noise. Everyone quieted; Goku was popular, and generally respected, so when he said to shut up, most shut up. Even the ghost girl looked up at him and frowned, and slowly faded away.
"Don't pretend like you jackasses haven't done anything embarrassing in these same halls," he barked. "I could call a lot of you out on some really stupid things, but I won't, because that's rude." He looked at them all pointedly. "Go on and get your asses to class." He grabbed Vegeta's arm and pulled him harshly. "Come on, let's go."
Vegeta looked at him once, then looked away. About halfway to class, he shrugged his arm out of Goku's grasp. "I thought you were mad at me," he muttered.
"I was. But just because you're being a dick doesn't mean I have to be."
Vegeta avoided his gaze. "Thanks."
"No big deal." Goku paused, then asked, "Who were you talking to?"
"That girl that died last week."
"The one in the accident?"
"What did she want?"
"I didn't get the chance to ask."
"Oh." Goku frowned. "Are you going to help her?"
Vegeta opened the door to the classroom and sat down at his desk in the back, burying his face behind his arms on the desk. "I don't know," he groaned.
Goku sighed, quiet for a moment, before he said, "You look like hell."
"Gee, thanks, Kakarot. Way to help a guy's self-esteem."
"Sorry. Didn't you sleep at all?"
It was a questioning type of 'hmm', so Vegeta sighed, sat up and said, "I had a nightmare. Someone came at me with a knife and called me 'Briefs'."
Goku looked even more interested. "Isn't that the girl's name?"
"So is she stalking you now?"
Vegeta bit his lip. "If she wasn't before, she knows I can see her now, so she surely will be."
Goku frowned, and put a comforting hand on his friend's shoulder. "I'll help, if I can," he offered.
Vegeta slept through most of chemistry, and at lunch, he sat at his lonesome table out of habit. Kakarot shifted the entire gang over there, and all of them were back in their normal eating place by the next day.
It was vaguely quiet on the street, but, being dead, Tarble wasn't very bothered by it. He floated down the usual alleys and scared the usual cats, who were getting used to him (although they still hissed) before he came to a clutter of old furniture that had been abandoned near a trash bin. Cardboard boxes were stacked in messy rows, and upon one small stack of these boxes, a girl with blue hair sat with her head hanging, features hid behind her bangs, with her fingers laced together and her legs crossed.
Tarble floated up and sat by her, swinging his legs off the edge of the box. "Hello," he greeted cheerfully.
Her voice was dark. "He didn't help me."
Tarble blinked. "You went to him already?"
The young boy slapped his forehead. "You can't go during school," he chided. "He won't talk then."
Her blue eyes met his from behind her bloody hair. "He did talk, for a moment. But he didn't help me."
"You frightened him, didn't you?" Tarble accused. "You snuck up on him so he wouldn't ignore you."
She was silent.
Tarble sighed. "I don't understand how you hide your spirit energy anyway."
"I'm suppressing a lot of things right now. Energy is nothing."
That made him slightly uncomfortable, so he changed the subject. "Still, you can't talk to him in front of non-Sensitives. I told you to wait, and I'd take you to him."
She hung her head again and shook it wildly. "Now."
He put a hand on her shoulder. "Hey, you'll get some help," he assured her. "He's a good guy. Maybe."
That was supposed to be a joke, but she didn't laugh. Tarble blew his bangs out of his eyes, exasperated, and said, "Want to chase some cats?"
"Aw, c'mon. It's hilarious. I think cats have a sort of sixth sense, you know? Because they can see us and all, even though a lot of other animals can't. Actually, maybe they can't see us, but they can feel we're there. Sometimes I try to sneak up on them, but they get really nervous, and other times they'll hiss at where I was while I sneak around and pull their tails." He grinned.
She stood up, her face still hidden and her chin lowered. "I'm going to go see my captor."
Tarble frowned. "Again?"
"I don't think that's such a good idea."
She whirled on him, her blue eyes suddenly alive with an angry fire and her hair floating up away from her face. "He deserves to suffer," she hissed. "I'll make him loose his mind for what he did to me."
Tarble frowned again. "I know you want to hurt him," he said, trying to be as reasonable as a nine year old could be, "but I think you should let the police handle it."
"They aren't going to find him!" she screeched. "I'll do it myself!"
Tarble pressed his lips together and looked away. She softened, her hair lowering down to cover her face again. She said, "I'm going."
He looked up, and said, "Hey, wait."
"If you know where he is already, why do you need Vegeta's help?" he asked. "You're powerful enough to…well," he paused, and sliced a finger across his neck.
She looked at him, her expression once again dead and lethal. "My parents deserve consolation," she said. "Public execution suits him better."
She turned away from him. "I'll see you later, Tarble."
His shoulders slumped. "Bye, Bulma," he said, and she disappeared, leaving a few curled wisps of grey energy behind.
Well, I think I hate this chapter, but eh. Might as well go ahead, since it's been sitting half down on my computer for who knows how long.