Author's Note: This is sort of a sequel to my other one-shot, The Brother That Never Was. If you haven't read that yet, this'll make a whole lot more sense if you go and read that first. It's really short. Alright then, ta-da!
It's been bugging me. A lot. I mean, it's been distracting me from eating sometimes, so this is pretty severe. Even Goten noticed that I've been moping, and he's almost as oblivious as I was when I was his age.
Chichi asked me about it, but...it doesn't really seem like the kind of thing I can talk to her about. I love her to death and all, it's just that I don't want her to go into a fit about how horrible he was, and how I did the right thing. I don't really want to be told that I did absolutely nothing wrong.
It was about two weeks after the party. I hadn't even sparred with Vegeta since then. I was kinda avoiding him. I just kept playing back everything he'd said to me like a tape. Vegeta wasn't someone to open up about a lot of things. So that means that this was important to him. He told me a little about Frieza, just so I would understand Raditz a bit better.
I get that. They were friends (from what I can gather anyway) for years. And Vegeta would not tolerate someone he didn't care for at least a little for something like twenty years, at least not back then. He said he wanted me to regret some of the things I'd done, and it worked. However, under his whole lecture, he was saying, "You idiot. You didn't even know him. He wasn't that bad." Or something like that. Vegeta-ese doesn't always have a direct translation.
So I could be totally wrong. But I ignored that possibility for the moment.
I was sitting on the river bank near our house. Goten was running around somewhere, Chichi was doing laundry, and Gohan was approaching me from behind. "Hey, Dad?"
I leaned back to look up at him. I still couldn't believe that he was taller than me now. There was another one. Another thing I'd messed up. "What is it, Gohan?"
He fidgeted a little and sat down next to me. There had been an awkward tension between us since I'd been revived, but it had been nearly a year since then and we were getting better. "What's been up with you lately? For the past couple weeks you've been acting weird."
I crossed my arms under my head and laid down. "Do you remember Raditz?"
His brow furrowed. "Vaguely. Some bits and pieces stick out from when he took me, but not a ton. Why?"
"Well, Vegeta told me some stuff about him at the party, and...I feel like I shouldn't have done it."
"Killed him." Gohan stared down at the river water.
"I don't think I'm the one you should be asking. To be honest though, I have to say I agree. I mean, from what I can remember, he really didn't hurt me until I attacked him. I think I was crying and he was annoyed. He could have knocked me out, but he shut me in his pod instead."
"He did that too?" I groaned. I really had messed up. More than ten years ago. It was eating away at me.
"Does it really bother you that much?" Gohan looked down on me. I nodded. "Then why don't you go talk to him?"
I sat up. "How on earth would I do that?"
"King Yemma likes you, right? And you've been in Hell before. It shouldn't actually be that big of a deal." He shrugged. "I have to go finish some stuff for school. Videl's coming over later and I don't want to have to worry about some dumb notes." He stretched and yawned, walking off to do academic stuff I'd never been good at.
I briefly wondered if I should ask Vegeta if he wanted to go with me, but he probably wouldn't be welcome in Otherworld. And I wanted to keep this to myself. I could have left in that instant and been back in time for dinner, but I was stuck.
What do you say to the brother you murdered more than a something like thirteen years ago?
I stalled for about two days. It freaked me out. I always knew what to say to people. I always knew how to make people laugh, forgive, and forget. But I'd never had to do that with someone that I had to make forgive me.
Maybe this is why I hadn't really tried to give him a second chance. Because with him, even though I only knew him for a few hours, I'm at a loss. It's too complicated. He was the one that had told me that I was an alien, and that I was supposed to kill everyone.
But unlike all of the bad guys I'd ever gone up against, I think he was the only one that really gave me a chance to do anything. I had a choice. Come to think of it...he hadn't really been hostile until I had gone on the defensive and argued everything he said.
I wonder how he must have felt when I said all of those things to him. When I completely rejected him.
If there was ever going to be a time to go try to talk with him, it was that day when I was home by myself. So, with a heavy sigh, I somewhat sullenly raised my fingers to my forehead, and leaped across time and space to Yemma's. He didn't look all that surprised to see me. He simply rested his head on his hand and looked bored.
"Hello, Goku. Is there something you need? Pikkon said he'd be up for a rematch anytime."
I grinned sheepishly, but I knew it lacked my usual upbeat attitude. "While I appreciate the offer and all, I was actually wondering if you could do me a small favor." That got a reaction out of him.
"You? Turning down a fight?" I nodded. He leaned back. "What do you need? If this "small favor" of yours is making you back away from a fight, I get the feeling that it's not actually that small."
I fiddled with my fingers a bit. "Well, you see, I was hoping you might let me visit Hell for a little bit. There's someone I need to talk to."
His eyes got wide, and when he yelled in astonishment, some of the souls waiting to be judged jumped. "Who in the great galaxy do you need to talk to? And in Hell?"
"It's my brother, Raditz. I...I want to make amends with him." I stared at my feet and the silence seemed to stretch on forever.
Finally, King Yemma sighed, and I knew he'd given in. "All right, Goku. Because it's you I'll let you go. But you had better not stir up any trouble while you're down there."
I nodded my head. "Thank you." I tried vainly to square my shoulders. But the weight of my guilt, and my anticipation forced them down in a slouch.
What an awful thing. Guilt. I'd never really felt guilty before. I had been able to fix everything before. As I walked through the gates to Hell, it finally sunk in that Raditz might not forgive me. That this might be totally pointless. And it would be completely justifiable.
I've had many enemies. But somehow, having my brother call me a foe seemed unbearable. Funny. That was the first thing I identified him as. I rubbed a hand over my face. Just thinking about it made me feel heavy.
An ogre directed me to the place where most of the saiyans were gathered. He said I'd have to do the rest on my own. That was fine.
There was something amazing about walking amongst other saiyans. They were gruff, hardened, and sturdy people. But they smiled and greeted one another just like any other person. Friends slung their arms over each other. Playful spars broke out. There was this energy to them I can't describe.
Why had I ever been so scared of being one of these people?
Slowly though, I could feel myself attracting stares.
"He doesn't have a halo. Is he dead?"
"The hell is he wearing?"
"He can't be a saiyan, can he?"
"He looks familiar..."
I swallowed. Hard. My palms were sweating. Breathing was very had all of a sudden.
"Kakarot." I turned immediately. I took a step back. My eyes widened with shock. And I did all of these things because I was staring at my own face. He had a rugged scar along his cheek, but he looked just like me. He looked stunned for a moment, and he uncrossed his arms. "It is you." He then mumbled something to himself about a vision.
I was slightly grateful that I was standing out and away from the main crowd of saiyans. He approached me, and I held myself from flinching from my sheer nerves when he smiled lightly and put a hand on my shoulder. He saw the question in my eyes.
"Look at how strong you are now, son."
I was somebody's son.
I had never been a son before. I had been the adopted grandchild, friend, husband, hero, warrior, rival, teacher, and father. I had never been a son.
He let his hand slide off of me. "I'm Bardock. Your father. It's good to meet you, kid."
I was speechless. This was all too foreign. He shook his head and laughed. It was a good throaty laugh. It made me feel like a son. I finally cracked a smile.
"So, correct me if I'm wrong, but you're here to see Raditz, aren't you?" We were sitting under one of the dying or dead trees in Hell. I was comfortable around my father already, and I met him barely ten minutes earlier.
"How'd you know?"
He tapped the side of his head. "When I was still alive, on my last mission, right around when you were born, this alien gave me the ability to see glimpses of the future." He rubbed his neck. "Hurt like a bitch too." I chuckled. This mission was seeming less and less horrible by the moment. Then he grew serious. "When I woke up in the regen tank later, my unit had been sent out on another mission. I had my first vision, of Vegeta-sei's destruction. I didn't get it, and I was still pretty young and stupid back then, so I forgot about it. On my way out, I stopped to see you."
I sat up a little straighter. "Kami, could you wail. You know you only had a power level of 2?" I shook my head. "Anyway, I went to join my pals, and when I got there, nothing was left of the place." Inwardly, I shuddered a bit. He was talking about a purge. He frowned. He stared at the ground.
"It had been a set up. By the time I tracked my squad down, Tora was the only one left alive, and he died right after he told me that Frieza had sent his men to kill them." He reached behind to untie his bandana. He held it out to me. "That thing used to be white." I held it carefully. "It's soaked with the blood of me and my best friend. Our kind may be brutal, but we're close-knit."
I was getting nervous again. Close-knit? Than how badly had I really betrayed him?
Bardock took it back from me and retied it. He didn't seem to bothered by the impact of what he'd told me. "After that, I kept having more visions, and ended up facing Frieza alone." He looked me dead in the eye, and I knew then that he was a leader. "Right before I died, my last vision was of you, and how you would avenge us all." He stood up, and gestured for me to follow him. "And you did. But all the same, you have made many mistakes. When I learned that my sons had ended up killing each other, I had assumed it was all due to the brutality Raditz was exposed to under Frieza, and that it had more or less been his fault.
"But that wasn't the case, was it, Kakarot?"
I stopped walking. "No. It was...my fault."
Bardock pushed some branches aside. There he was. Running through some basic kata was probably the one person I'd ever been truly afraid of. "He doesn't know you're here. Whether he forgives you or not is his business, but try not to screw this up, son. Inter-pack feuds are always the worst." He patted me once on the back, and left.
He looked different. Younger, almost. He seemed calmer than he'd been when we first met. His hair was tied back, and he still wore the red bands on his leg, bicep, wrist, and thumb. It would be a disaster if he ever reached super saiyan. He wouldn't be able to fight with all of that hair, which was tied back at the moment.
His movements were more fluid, and he seemed more focused. He was different, but the same. I guess he ditched his old armor, because he was wearing loose fitting pants this time (thank Kami, the underwear was a bit much) and boots.
Something in my chest was crippling at just the sight of him. I decided I would wait for him to finish. Not because I was shaking in my shoes, but because I knew how much Vegeta hated being interrupted when he was training, and I wanted to make sure that wasn't something he hated.
When he finally lowered his fist and relaxed, I steeled myself. One foot in front of the other. I told myself to just walk. Just get over there first, then worry about talking. He must have heard my footsteps. Or as I had feared, the loud thumping in my chest.
His eyes widened. I stopped about a yard away from him. Again, I found myself staring at my feet. I could feel his angry glare. "Uh, hey, Raditz."
I felt his ki spike. He was barely restraining himself. "What the fuck do you want?" His voice was so low and cold. I had to stop myself from shivering.
I took a deep breath and met his gaze. He was glaring at me, and I could almost feel him searching through everything terrible I'd ever done. It was awful. "I came to make amends. I...I'm sorry."
He stayed quiet. His fists were clenched and I bit my lip. He looked absolutely furious.
"Let me get this straight. You kill me, and then decide thirteen years later to apologize. And let me guess, I'm supposed to forgive you and then everything is all perfect?" He wasn't yelling, but with his tone, it might have been easier if he had been. The fact that he was keeping from screaming and attacking me somehow made it worse. I deserved to be yelled at and punched. "Piss off."
My heart seemed to stop beating for a moment. I couldn't blame him. He was right. I was in no place to do this to him. But...he had to forgive me. I couldn't stand being weighed down like this for the rest of my life with this guilt shackled to my ankle.
He turned to leave. "Raditz, wait!" I begged. "I was wrong. I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have killed you, and I shouldn't have waited this long to realize that." He was facing away from me, and I reached to put a hand on his shoulder.
He smacked my hand away. "Don't you dare touch me."
"But - "
"But nothing!" He was facing me again. "You don't know anything about me, so don't pretend you care. I watched you. You fought Vegeta, Frieza, and so many others. I was the only one that apparently didn't deserve to walk away with a second chance."
"No. Listen to me." He shoved me and I let myself fall. "You were willing to spare Frieza. Frieza. You didn't know him as long as I did, but you knew he was evil. How many people did he hurt while you were there? Your son? Your friend? The namekian? The Prince? How many people did I hurt? I killed some nameless farmer and knocked your brat out."
I was getting heavier.
"And what was waiting for me when I arrived to get you? To unite you with the only ones left of your kind? You didn't even know what you were."
I found it hard to believe I wasn't sinking into the ground with how heavy I was.
I didn't know what else to say. There was nothing that would excuse me. "Please, Raditz. I'm sorry."
"That word means nothing." He wanted to hit me, I knew. But I was stronger than him, and he refused to be humiliated. I also think he knew that I wanted him to beat me up.
So he turned away again, and stalked off without looking back.
I must have weighed 100 tons. And then some.
I wanted to cry. We could have been brothers. He could have changed like Vegeta did. He could have played with Gohan and Goten and helped us with our battles. He just... Why did I do it? Why was I so scared of the truth back then? I accepted everything later on, but...
Why was he the one person I didn't give a second chance?
After a few minutes, I got up and dusted off my pants. I couldn't bring myself to follow him. I came around the blood fountain, and somehow I wasn't very surprised when I saw Bardock on a bench with a knowing look on his face.
I must have looked like an abused puppy or something. I don't ever remember frowning this much before.
He walked towards me, and eyed me carefully. "So, I take it things didn't go well."
I just looked away.
He crossed his arms, closed his eyes, and tilted his head. "You gonna give up?"
I held my breath. I didn't know. I hadn't ever given up on anything before...but this was just so impossible. I couldn't keep going, could I? No. I couldn't. I couldn't keep living with this guilt and shame. I couldn't walk away from this.
When I looked back up at him, he was smirking. It kinda scared me how we looked almost exactly the same.
I started walking back towards the gates to return home. Bardock didn't turn around. I smiled lightly.
"I'll be back. Tell Raditz to count on that."
We could have been so much, but we would become something amazing with time and healing.
A/N: So, just a few quick notes... First of all, I want to thank everyone who reviewed, favorited, or whatever, on "Thw Brother That Never Was." To be honest, I didn't go over it, didn't edit it, and didn't put a ton of thought into it, so I was really surprised and happy when I saw how well it did. Furthermore, this will be sort of a short story, so it's not a one-shot. Although, it's kinda on the bottom of my list of priorities at the moment, but if you really want to change that, you could...I don't know...