Burdened Soul »

Summary: She was his ray of light. She was what kept him from tumbling into the encompassing darkness that threatened to consume him whole. She penetrated his pain and taught him to love again, when no one else was willing. She saved him. BV

The aura he carried was dark, and his eyes smoldered with unseen torment. He was an object to which scorn was directed without mercy—a lone Prince, ruler of a home long reduced to stardust and a people long committed to memory. Power was his obsession, and Power was his downfall. Power was what he clung to in the face of losing all he had. And as he bled his life away upon the sapphire sands of Namek, Power failed him.

But that failure, the sting of that abandonment, with the sardonic laughter of Frieza ringing in his ears and the miseries of his enslaved life fading from his eyes, pierced his very core in a way that no other past failure had.

His father had failed him.

He had been a child, lonely and humiliated, with boyish bangs cascading impishly into the twin obsidian orbs that watched with expectancy for his father's victory over Frieza.

But Frieza had caused the death of his father, tearing him away from the young Prince, and finding great amusement in the pain that he so desperately tried to disguise. He grieved in silence, not permitting the tears to fall lest the cruel Icejin should discover yet another weak link in his armor and lunge for it, crushing the hint of sensitive emotion.

His title had failed him.

Destiny ordained that he would be a mighty warrior, the strongest of them all. And yet he had been reduced to a prone, broken figure, weeping as his final ounce of hope was taken from him to leave only a hollow shell—a laughable parody of what had once been. Darkness had closed in, and the image of the frowning warrior standing above, immortalized in the final heartbeat echoing in the silence of his dimming consciousness, had blurred out of existence until Vegeta was alone in the abyss.

Everyone and everything he ever dared to love had failed him, so he learned to scorn love.

Love would only ruin him, distract him, coerce him into chasing after its wiles when his previous experiences told him that love always hurt in the end. What use was love to him? It was pleasant while it lasted, but it brought too much pain. It was not worth the effort.

He had craved Power and had loved it, but even Power deserted him.

With the aid of the Namekian Dragon Balls, life had been sparked within him once again, unwavering, fresh, and brimming with vivacity; putting into his gloved hands a second chance to grasp the potential that danced before him with the promise of a brighter future.

Nearly a year after his return to the land of the living, he found himself bathed in the crimson light of the Gravity Simulator, hounded on all sides by the electronic chirping of dutiful robots that seemed to be programmed with the innate ability to bend beneath the slightest outburst of his vigorous training regime. They tended to break at the smallest exertion of energy he exhibited. They were a hindrance, but a necessary one; he needed the replication of a true battle, and it was not easy to replicate one when he only had himself to spar with. He relished the idea of the battle prophesied to come in less than three years, however, and was even more desirous of the battle with Kakarrot that was sure to come once the Androids were disposed of.

He would not lower himself to spar with the scar-faced weakling currently attempting to claim victory over imaginary opponents outside. It was a never-ending war, and one in which Vegeta had admittedly participated in the confines of the simulator when robots were not available. His imagined opponents had the tendency to resemble either a scarlet-eyed, thick-tailed Icejin or an orange-clothed Saiyan, depending on the dark state of his mood.

The steady bass rumble of the simulator permeated the entirety of Capsule Corp., and as Bulma turned the rustling pages of a stimulating romance novel, her gentle frown grew further into a pensive scowl. Flicking a wayward strand of blue from her eyes and reminding herself that abandoning her current wild hairstyle would be a rewarding sacrifice, the heiress sighed in frustration.

That man is going to train himself to death one day, she mused, and the unpleasant fact that he already almost had on the traumatic day of the explosion brought no comfort.

She supposed it could be worse. He could revert back to his past training methods, which were much less friendly than employing the aid of the GR. It was best that he was contained in such a way instead of scampering across the face of the Earth with less-than-benign intentions.

Suddenly, the perpetual thunder of machinery working in oily harmony dissipated into eerie silence. The telltale sound of a door being harshly opened alerted her to the fact that the dedicated Prince was finally taking a breather.

Bulma could not help but admire him for his diligent work ethic.

Although he irritated her to no end, the scientist could not help but feel fondness for him, as well as a sort of enigmatic curiosity. She caught glimpses of his internal struggles, and saw the occasional flash of emotion that consumed his features at a level of intensity that shocked and saddened her. He had been a slave since childhood with scars to prove it. They were all etched deeply and indicative of unspeakable pain—pain that he had bottled up inside for the purpose of hiding his weakness from the world. That was the kind of environment he had grown up in—where mere survival was on the forefront of his agenda.

She knew that there was something deep inside, locked away as a result of years of misery. He was hesitant to let it shine as old habits and old memories threatened to overtake him. Those memories haunted his slumber, plaguing his every step.

Bulma had never seen Frieza and from the tales she had heard she never wanted to. He had been cruel, bloodthirsty, and disdainful of any life but his own. And Vegeta had been enslaved by that monster for the majority of his life, and was even killed by the wicked Icejin with a shot to his heart.

It confirmed that there was much more to the Saiyan Prince than he let on—a dark past that he seemed to want to forget. Loss and humiliation marked the path he had been forced to tread upon. He had only tasted a fracture of freedom on Namek when he rebelled against his captor, and it was to no avail. He had tried oh so desperately to achieve liberty but had perished in the end amid the mocking snickers of the one who had ruined his life in the first place—the one who had destroyed his planet, his family, and his people.

If Bulma were the captive, frustrated and longing for freedom but unable to attain it, how would her reaction would have been? To what lengths would her despair lead her? Would she turn toward the dark side, as Vegeta had? Would she seek a way to triumph over her pain, as Vegeta had, only to find that it was impossible, as Vegeta had discovered as his life slipped away out of his reach?

Bulma headed toward the kitchen, where the Prince would inevitably be.

If I were in his position, would I become like him? Bulma wondered.

It was then that she resolved not to give up on him. She saw a vague whisper of what could be. She saw that, although it would take time and patience, there was enough good inside of the Saiyan warrior to one day redeem him from the evil that lurked within. He did not have a heart of stone. His heart was simply sealed away, with emotionless walls built around it as a defensive maneuver to protect against hostile attacks.

She would be his ray of light in times of darkness. She would teach him how to love again, and show him that love was not worthy of his scorn, but his protection. No one else dared to reach out to such a burdened soul, but she would. She would do her best to ransom him back from the evil that threatened to consume him.

Perhaps one day he would come to accept love.

And perhaps he would one day give his life for its sake.