"It doesn't make sense to me, you know." Goku looked up at Vegeta with mild confusion. Bulma was throwing another get-together, and they were all lounging about in the gardens. Trunks and Goten were sparring intently, Krillin was mocking Gohan about Videl, and Chichi and Bulma were trading tips.
It was the normal stuff for this group. That's why it was surprising when Vegeta came out of nowhere to talk to Goku.
"What doesn't?" Vegeta gestured for Goku to follow him inside. No one noticed as they left. "What's up, Vegeta?" he asked, all smiles. The younger saiyan sat on the sofa while the prince leaned against the wall.
"Raditz." Goku's smile vanished.
"What about him?" He could feel his palms getting sweaty. He avoided thinking of his brother. Whenever he did...it just felt wrong.
"Why did you kill him?" Vegeta was watching him with his normal hard gaze. There was no emotion in his face yet.
He hesitated. Resting his hands on his knees, he looked at the floor. "There was no other way to - "
"Bullshit." Goku looked up with surprise. He could see thinly veiled anger behind Vegeta's eyes. "That's bullshit and you know it, Kakarot. There's always another way with you."
He decided to redirect the conversation. He was breathing a little faster, and feeling nervous. "What brought this up anyway?"
"It's been bothering me. Now give me an answer." His arms were crossed. Despite his height, Goku had always found Vegeta to be intimidating. He was usually just having too much fun to take much notice of it. But he wasn't having fun. And he was noticing it. More than that, he was feeling it.
"That's the truth, Vegeta. Neither me or Piccolo was strong enough so we had to do something. I mean, he was evil..."
"Bull. Shit. Raditz may have been a moronic and pathetic excuse for a warrior, but he wasn't evil. I was evil. And yet you spared me. Even after I killed your allies, beat baldy along with your five year old son, and nearly destroyed the planet. you spared me."
"That's not the same!"
Vegeta snarled and pushed himself off the wall. "The hell it isn't!" Standing in front of Goku, he looked to be ten feet tall. Except that he wasn't. He was just making a point. "And you did it again. With Frieza. He wiped out almost the entire Namekian race and sent the Ginyu Force, who by the way, nearly killed Gohan and baldy. He personally beat your son, murdered your friend, and yet you were still willing to let him go! How the fuck do you justify that when you killed your only brother for kidnapping you son and barely touching him?"
"He was going to kill people. He told me to kill people!"
"At least he gave you a chance!"
Goku stopped. Raditz had given him a chance. Raditz hadn't really hurt Gohan. Raditz was his brother.
But Raditz had changed everything. Raditz had shown him who he really was. Raditz had brought a terrifying truth that the young saiyan hadn't been able to handle at the time. And so he killed him. Because he was afraid of everything that Raditz represented. The truth.
Vegeta saw Goku look away, and sat down in the chair opposite of him. Vegeta crossed his arms again, and glanced away. "I remember when I was younger," he started. The naive warrior peeked up at him with slight awe. Vegeta never talked about the past. "A clean-up crew picked him up from one of his first purges. His pod had broken and he'd been stranded. That was the only reason he survived the destruction of our home planet.
"He was only a few years older than me, and by then, I'd been living under Frieza for nearly three years, I think. He was assigned to be part of my squad with me and Nappa. He was...still a child. And when he found out that your father had died...I don't know. He sort of clung to us. We were the only saiyans left." Goku's face fell further and further the more Vegeta spoke. "It was so annoying. Back then it seemed delusional. He would go on for hours about how his younger brother was born on the day Frieza wiped us out, and how maybe he was somewhere safe."
He bit his lip. He didn't need to think about this. What he'd done had been right. There had been no other way. Except that there had been, and he'd just refused to think of it.
Vegeta went on. "It started bugging me about him when I saw your sons. It just reminded me of him." Goku said nothing. Vegeta's eye twitched. "I may have killed Nappa, and acted like Raditz's death meant nothing. At the time, it really hadn't. But there was a time when we trusted each other. Almost every time I was beaten, it was Nappa who took me to the infirmary, and Raditz who was waiting when I woke up."
"Why are you telling me this?"
The prince stood. "Because even you do the wrong thing, Kakarot. Even you have brought pain to people, and have made the wrong choice. I am in no position to lecture you on justice or morals, but there's no way I'm letting you live with no regrets."
And he left. And Goku was alone. Thinking about what could have been with his long lost older brother. Thinking about how he'd felt when he found that his only family left rejected him. About how much hope there had been for him.
And about how horribly and shamefully he regretted not knowing Raditz.