How. Dare. He.
How dare he come and say that pitiful thing to my face. I'm sorry? No. Never in a million years.
I remember my life under Frieza. My comrades were gone, my parents were dead, and I clung onto the slight chance that he might have made it for years. I imagined what he looked like, his strength, his everything. All I knew was where he was and his name.
I was tempted so many times. To just forget Nappa and the Prince and escape to wherever he was. But I didn't. I had responsibilities. I had a responsibility to be there for my Prince when he fell to the madness, and to follow along a trail of blood. I had a responsibility to my people to endure and assist in their vengeance, no matter my abysmal strength. I had a responsibility to not go to where my little brother was so he would never experience the suffering of being a slave.
So I pushed on with my worthless excuse of a life.
And eventually, I stopped caring.
I stopped caring that Vegeta was my Prince, because he was already gone. Treated us like dirt and didn't bat an eye when I died. Nappa was gone too. The heart and culture of the saiyan race he was so proud to have helped build was dead, and so was he.
I stopped fucking caring that I was someone else's property. And I stopped caring about protecting someone that I didn't owe anything to.
So I went to Earth.
I had stopped caring, but...
When I saw Kakarot. When I saw my brother I felt something. He looked just like Father, dressed in stupid colors, and surprised. I was...I was actually happy to see him. I was happy to be able to put a face to a name that had been empty for so many years.
And then I saw that he didn't know me. He didn't know what he was, who he was, where he came from, or even his own name. A name he should be proud to wear. Without knowing it I had built expectations for him and they were crumbling into disappointment.
And so I tried to explain. Aggressively but I tried. And he rejected anything having to do with the truth. He rejected our race. He rejected his heritage. He rejected reality. And worst of all...
He rejected me.
It stung. It hurt. And I was angry. Things escalated, and I was ashamed for having had such ridiculously high hopes in the first place. I felt sick. I wanted him to hurt like I did. I wanted him to give a damn.
But I didn't hurt his brat. I don't know why. Maybe I was hoping to compensate for something with my nephew. To be cared for and admired by something in the universe, even if it was by force. Maybe that was how I thought I could hurt him the most. Maybe I was just completely insane or all of the above.
I had a feeling I wouldn't walk away from that fight. But I didn't really care.
I was right, and it hurt.
Hell isn't the most beautiful place. Probably one of the ugliest. They don't have too many restrictions if you behave though. That's why most saiyans get along okay. If there were only a few of us down here, it might be a different story.
I was surprised when he showed up. Thirteen years go by and what? You suddenly remember? I'd tried to move on. I didn't want to think about him at all. But he showed up. And he groveled like a coward. It was pathetic and sad.
I don't think I've ever been so furious in my life! He didn't give a shit! I knew what this was. He was feeling bad. He was bearing guilt for once. And he couldn't fucking take it could he? No. This wasn't about understanding me or caring about me. This was all about him not having to feel pain anymore. And it pissed me the hell off.
I know I don't have any right to complain. Not after all the messed up stuff I've done in my life. I mean, I'm in Hell. That should be explanation enough. But it wasn't fair. Where was my second chance? Where was my redemption? My say? Swept under the rug like the dust of my planet.
I was storming off who knows where. I was too angry to even train. I finally stopped and clenched and unclenched my fists. My teeth were grinding against each other. Suddenly my arm swung out viciously, only to be caught by my father.
"Hey there. Breathe, kiddo." I ripped my hand away and plopped uselessly onto the ground. He sighed and sat next to me.
"You knew he was coming didn't you?" I accused.
He shrugged, most likely feeling pretty useless too. "Yeah. Thought it was best to just see how things would play out."
"Like father like son." He paused. I hugged my knees to my chest. "So, what's your impression of all of this?"
"He can fuck off. He doesn't care about 'making amends' or any of that other bullshit. He just doesn't want to feel guilty."
"You're probably right."
"So you're not going to tell me about how our packs stick together and I should try to get along?"
He leaned back against the tree with his legs stretched out before him. "Nope. As much of an asshole as you were to him, he was the one that wouldn't hear the truth and turned on you. I acknowledge that."
I should have felt triumphant. But I only frowned.
"However," he continued, and I looked up. "It's not entirely his fault either."
That, it seemed, was up for debate. "The hell do you mean? It's not his entire fault he killed me? What are you smoking?"
I expected him to chuckle as he usually did at my smart ass comments, but he remained sober. "I mean, that as much as you have every right to be mad at him, you do need to take a few things into account before you go off rampaging."
"Like what?" I snapped.
"Like the fact that he didn't remember anything, and it wasn't his choice to forget. I can think of a few better ways to break it to someone whose been trying to live peacefully for years that they're part of a warrior race. And then there's his upbringing." My hands were tensed. I didn't want to hear this. But I would. "He grew up thinking he was just an exceptionally strong human, Raditz. That means that he followed their customs, rules, and anything else that humans do. He didn't pick up on any of the signals you sent him, and I know you sent a lot.
"So, as much as he could have been more open-minded, you could have been more understanding to the situation. Both of you needed to communicate better."
I snarled and stood.
He glared and pointed to the ground. "Sit your ass down." I gave up. It was too exhausting.
Why was he defending him? He'd never even met him before today. Because he was his son? No. That's not saiyan reasoning. Blood alone isn't enough to bond. So why? I wondered and wondered but didn't want to ask. I didn't want to know what'd he'd say. But I did.
"It doesn't make sense does it?" I shook my head. It would have been easier to have a civil conversation with Vegeta than deal with this.
Dad's been acting weird. Really weird. Weird even for him. And I think I'm the only one that notices. Goten is oblivious, of course. And Mom's too worried about bills and chores to take note of his...moping.
I've got a feeling it's about my uncle. I don't know what happened, but it can't be good. I've thought about asking him about it, but he'll put on a smile and act like he has no idea. He'll feel like he's not being a good dad by making me take care of his issues.
Which is right. I really shouldn't, I guess. But after everything that's happened in my life, I've come to terms with the fact that as much as I wish he could be more dependable, it just won't happen. He tries harder to be now though. That's all that matters to me as long as he makes a better effort for Goten.
But back to the point. Nothing would really come out of talking to him. That leaves me with a few options. 1: Go to Hell myself and see if I can find Raditz. 2: Don't let Dad wriggle out of the issue if I approach him. 3: See if Vegeta knows anything, because I doubt Dad would have randomly thought about this stuff out of nowhere.
Seeing as to how productive and/or safe the latter two options would be, I decide the first choice is best.
It took a while to get by Mom, Videl, and King Yemma, but I managed to come up with a good excuse for each of those confrontations. Except for Videl. You never lie to a girlfriend like her unless you have a death wish, half-saiyan or not.
I managed to convince Dende to bring me there, despite his guardian duties. (He wasn't actually doing much.) With my manners and charm, it was easy enough to get Yemma to let me through, but he stopped me as I was about to enter.
"You say you're going to see your uncle. Does this by any chance have anything to do with your father? Or is this just some sort of weird family reunion?"
"Hmm. I guess you could say it's a little of both." It was true, now that I thought about it. I wasn't just going for Dad, was I? I mean, sure, I wanted him to act like his old self again, but the more thought I gave it, then less and less it was the reason for me being there.
I was curious. I wanted to know what he was really like. Not just the story of the one time we'd met. And, honestly, I wanted to hear his side. I guess I was still a little bitter over the near constant abandonment from my dad, and I wanted to talk to someone who wouldn't paint the picture of the perfect warrior. Sure, Vegeta would do that no problem, but I guess I wanted someone to relate to my situation - you know, family. I wanted to know if maybe, even if he hated Dad, if he would hold that against me.
He hadn't hurt me when he kidnapped me. Well, he knocked me out, but nothing like what Vegeta or Frieza did. Who was Raditz? That was what I really wanted to know. Anything that benefitted Dad, well... I hate to say it, but that was nothing more than a bonus.
My mouth was hanging open within a few minutes. There were so many saiyans down here it was incredible! I waded through the crowds, attracting a fair amount of attention. It was difficult to find Raditz. Even if I remembered what his ki signature was like, I wouldn't have been able to find it since he's dead. If he was back in the living world, it might've been a different story, but I don't want to go into inter-dimensional magic and physics.
I jumped slightly when a hand clamped down on my shoulder. "Dad?" The guy looked just like him! He was taller though, with a scar across his cheek and a devilish smirk. It was like what Dad would have grown up to be if he hadn't hit his head. Almost.
The stranger rolled his eyes. "Grand-dad's more like it, kid." My eyes must have bugged out of my head. This was my other grandpa? My saiyan one? He sighed. It was as if he'd seen this all before or something! He tugged my arm. "Come on. I know you're not here to see some old man. Raditz is over this way."
I caught up to him and he let go of my arm. "How did you know?"
He tapped his temple. "Alien psychic abilities. A blessing and a curse," he chuckled wryly. I liked this guy.
Bardock led me to a tree where Raditz was dozing under its leaves. It was so...weird to see him sleeping. My whole life I'd had this picture in my head of an evil uncle, and here he was sleeping under a tree, arms crossed under his head just like Dad. His breathing was steady and his limbs relaxed. He looked, well, normal.
My newly found grand-dad nudged me forward and waved as he walked towards a group of saiyans. Three guys and a girl with short hair.
I cleared my throat. He stirred. I suddenly felt very nervous. One eyelid cracked open to glare at me and I could only sort smile awkwardly. He sat up with a yawn and stretched his arms above his head. His voice was gruff, but not coarse. "What do you want, kid?"
"Uh, hi, Raditz. It's me, Gohan."
He stared at me for a moment. "Gohan? Doesn't ring a bell." He leaned back against the tree and dismissed me.
I stepped forward slightly. "I'm your nephew! Gok-er I mean, Kakarot's son." It seemed then that he noticed I had no halo, and the uncanny resemblance to him I possessed. His eyes narrowed.
"Don't tell me that asshole sent you to try and butter me up or something."
"No! He doesn't know I'm here." His expression was still wary. Nervously, I sat down next to him, not too close but not far enough to make him feel I was threatened. I took a deep breath. "I know he came to talk to you. When he got back home, well, he's just been moping around lately."
"So you came on your own to get me to apologize or something. Fucking great, but I'm not interested."
He started to stand up to leave. I panicked a little and grabbed his arm. "Wait! That's not it! I don't want you to apologize!"
He jerked his arm away from my grasp and sat back down. "Then what the hell do you want from me?"
I hesitated. "I...I want to...I want to talk to someone who won't tell me he's perfect." Raditz's eyes widened slightly, and his tense muscles relaxed a bit. I slumped heavily into the trunk of the tree. My jeans were slightly grass-stained from sparring with Goten that morning, and my sweatshirt was almost big enough to swallow my hands.
"What do you mean?" he asked slowly.
And I guess, when he said that, something snapped. Everything that had ever hurt me came rushing to the surface, and it flooded out of me. When he asked that, I realized that that was what I wanted. I wanted to get everything out and for someone to help me sort through the pieces. My body tightened, I stood up abruptly and started pacing.
"How many years was it?! Nine? Ten? I know that when he died fighting you he had to stay gone for a year. I was fine with that! Really! I got it!" My voice shook. "But after that...After Namek and Frieza it was another year and a half that he could have been with us! When we fought Cell! He could have come back but he didn't! He gave us a completely B.S. reason! And I spent seven years wondering if it was somehow my fault. If because I got him killed he didn't want me anymore, I wasn't good enough! And he left and Mom gave birth to Goten and he wasn't even fucking there!"
My energy was waving around me and I was getting louder. It was so silly. Here I was spilling my heart out to someone, uncle or not, I didn't even really know. I felt tears pricking at my eyes but I was too angry to let them fall.
"So it's been seven years and he gets to come back for a day. That's great! That's fantastic! I was happy! I really was! I mean, I was going to see my dad again. I was going to get to talk to him and see him and it was going to be amazing, right? But, when he did come back, it just hurt. Because he was only there for a day and I had to enjoy it while it lasted. I couldn't tell him how angry I was! I couldn't ruin our picture perfect reunion! I had to put on this stupid smile and act like everything was just fine!" One tear fell, and as I felt it slide down my cheek, I stopped.
Raditz was staring at me, not wide-eyed with shock, but with grim understanding.
I looked away, embarrassed. "I'm sorry. I just - "
"Save it. It's fine." He motioned for me to sit down and reluctantly, I did. He sighed. "Geez. What's with all of these crap-emotional talks lately?"
I shook my head and chuckled lightly.
He looked at me and rested his arm on his knee. "You know, your dad really pisses me off. You know what he did when he came to see me? He started apologizing and he wouldn't shut up. What's wrong with him? He doesn't actually want to know what I think or how what he did affected me. He just wants me to forgive him so he can move on. Though, from what you just said, it sounds like that's how he is with everyone."
"Yeah. I guess he is now that I think about it."
Raditz snorted. "At least I know not everyone likes him. To me it sounds like you might hate him more than I do."
I paused. Did I really hate him? No. Of course not. No matter what he'd done, he was my dad and I loved him. Or maybe it was because I adored him so much that it hurt like it did. It was because I loved him that I hated him.
I looked down for a moment. Suddenly, I felt really horrible. Yes, he'd messed up. Yes, he was kind of stupid. But...that didn't mean I had to sit here and do nothing but bad-mouth him. That wasn't going to make things better for anyone.
"That may be true. He's stupid and undependable. He assumes he knows what's best and decides people's feelings for them. But...all the same... He always fights for the right things and with good intentions. He never meant to hurt anyone. He loves me and Goten and Mom and all of our friends. So, yeah, I guess I do hate him for not being there when he should have. But I know that even if it was because he didn't bother to think about it, he never meant to hurt my feelings or anyone else's.
And, I think you should try to let him understand you. You don't have to forgive him. But, give him the chance to see what someone else actually feels for a change. Do you think you could try that?"
He looked at me for a moment. Then he smiled a little and laughed or a second. "You're an odd nephew, huh?" His eyes softened a little. As much as he hated Dad, I think he wanted to be on good terms with him too.
He stood up and I followed. "You wanna spar?" I nodded eagerly. As we started stretching and prepping, I could see he was thinking heavily about what I said. Just before we flew at each other to brawl, I heard him whisper, "Maybe I could try."
A/N: Okay, I have to publicly thank Friendlybrarian for their amazingly positive review! I was blown away!
Plug time! Wilted Passion has a story called Locks and Keys that deserves some attention! The character development is incredible. She's done a great job so far, so go check it out.
Also! I thought it would be interesting to let Gohan get more involved in this since he related to a lot of what's going on. So, ta-da! It's so weird not to be writing mostly about Vegeta...But, a little change is good. Still, should he get involved? Let me know, I might change my mind.