A/N: Hey guys. Soo, I know I haven't updated Play Dead, and I know I really really need to, but I had this come to mind the other day and it didn't take long to write, so I just hammered it out and here we are. I write about Vegeta a lot, but there's a simple reason why: he's such an interesting character and I can get into his head really easily. He's fun to write with. BTW, be on the look-out for a revamped How It Should Have Been. I've decided to redo it, this time way better than before. It'll be slow going, but that can't be helped. College likes to take up my time. Anyways, enjoy this little one-shot. Please don't forget to review. :)
He wondered if he would be claustrophobic now. He didn't think so; the pods had been cramped, but they were the only place he was sure to get a good stretch of uninterrupted sleep. After all those years, they'd become a comfort. Still, the feeling of suffocating, choking, being unable to breathe haunted him. Even laying on the grass, in the sweet sunlight that was like a lover's caress compared to some of the planets he'd been to, he found himself breathing deeply and moving around, just to assure himself that he was no longer beneath the dirt.
Goddamn Kakarot. Has to be so fucking noble.
He marveled at the place in his mind that absolutely loathed Kakarot, hated him for everything he stood for, marveled at how it had been smoothed over momentarily after seeing Namek in ruins, after seeing his enemy glowing gold with god-like powers. As his rival, this low-class remnant of his race, had stood there grinning at him, he had not felt rage. Somehow, anger had not been the first reaction.
"Kakarot, you dog! You did it! You actually did it!"
He scoffed. He had felt absolute pride that this clown, supposedly from the weakest class of Saiyans, had achieved the ultimate transformation. Pride in that Frieza would die, humiliated and powerless, at the hands of a Saiyan. He'd felt a pure rush of excitement as his logical mind dictated if Kakarot could do it, he could do it, and then he'd be unstoppable. He could emerge victorious from a second battle with Kakarot, redeem his honor, and take his rightful place as Ruler of the Galaxy. He'd pick up where Frieza left off and no one would call him a 'stupid monkey' without consequences. He smiled.
No one will stop me. I just need the secret to the transformation, then I'll wipe out this entire planet!
The child challenged him, and he accepted out of instinct. Saiyans were not ones to deny a battle, after all. There had been little satisfaction in watching him bleed, in watching the sureness fade from his face as Gohan realized he was vastly outclassed. They grew stronger in battle, especially after being severely injured. Gohan lacked experience while Vegeta had tripled his already staggering strength on Namek before dying. Death had proved no different than any other life-threatening injury; death was just a bit more successful.
I'd be a happy man if I could just forget that beating.
But Kakarot wasn't coming home. He'd been on Namek when the planet exploded and wishing him and the midget back would leave them in the vacuum of space. The child was on the verge of crying, so was the woman. He wouldn't learn the secret. He wouldn't regain his honor.
I don't need the secret! I'm the strongest one here!
But the vestiges of Other World remained like a bad dream that refused to fade into the subconscious. The Namek Check-In Station had been filled to the brink because of the adults and children Frieza and he had killed. They scorned and laughed at him as they waited to be judged. He wished to threaten or kill them, but doing so quickly proved impossible. He no longer had his body or, in turn, his ki. He was defenseless, formless…completely alone. Memories flooded him, millions of faces twisted in shapes of horror and pain, hundreds of planets suffering the same fate as Vegetasei, all at his hand. He had realized with a sick twist that he was a formless cloud of regret and violence, unrepentant and unapologetic as he faced the final judgment. If he was capable of the act, he would have swallowed.
"Prince Vegeta. Hm. Tragic. What a waste of potential on a heart so black. Hell."
The cleansing process had been awful. Crushed and stretched and beaten and pummeled in more ways that even Frieza could conceive. His only consolation was than Frieza would face the same fate when he was sent to the afterlife. But he'd felt it, that cleanliness of the soul after being rid of all that evil. It had been like a breath of fresh air after living in a dank, moldy basement for years and years. He had felt so heavy, though, so heavy with regret. Why did Frieza have to take him? Why did his father have to die? Why did he have to murder all those people? Why did Kakarot have to watch him cry?
Where am I? What happened to the pain? Am I…alive?
But the woman was upset, and the madness of death was wilting, replaced by the memory of that agony and regret. He remembered wanting to fix what he'd done, and though revival had brought back his anger and bloodthirst and raving tendencies, it was vanishing now at an alarming rate. The return to Hell, now imminent and inevitable, had the prince considering his future, had his mind battered and confused.
"The Earth has a Check-In Station to the Spirit Realm. Wish him back there first, then wish him back to life.."
And the woman was smiling and thanking him; gratitude was not a response he was used to. He couldn't tell you why he'd done it; maybe his fear of returning to Hell, maybe his debt to the man now ridding him of the tyrant, maybe a subconscious desire to not be the last of his kind. Whatever the reason, he did it all the same, he helped the very people he blamed for his present situation.
"Unwind a little and see what Life has to offer you!"
And the woman was laughing and Frieza was dead, and perhaps he could take some rest for a while.