A/N: Well, here's part two. At this point, I'm wondering if three chapters is enough. Oh well…we'll see when we get there.
Shit goes down in this chapter, man. I'm not going to promise it's error free...it's 11 PM, I'm too tired for this. Why am I awake this late, you ask? Because my inspiration angel is evil, that's why.
Disclaimer: Dragon Ball Z and all respective characters are owned by Akira Toriyama. Plot belongs to ImaginaryInk.
Song prompt: By Your Side ~ Tenth Avenue North.
And I'll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call...
Chapter 2: Desperate.
That night was unkind to Vegeta.
Being himself, and still having no idea as to how to take care of his child, he was grievously uninformed of how much babies tended to cry at night. Kenjin, as he had decided to name the child, was unfamiliar with his surroundings and unused to being without his mother, especially for a long period of time, and therefore was more than likely to waken during the night. He first roused his sleeping father around 10:30, although this was more from dreaming and kicking than it was from crying. That particular bout of tantrum throwing came around 11:00, and again at midnight. Vegeta's poor attempts at calming the child proved to be fruitless, and his energy was beginning to run out as fast as his already short temper.
"Kenjin," he murmured. "Kenjin, for God's sake, would you just go to sleep?"
Kenjin cried in response.
"I know you're tired," Vegeta muttered sleepily. "I know you're tired, because I'm tired. What do you want?"
Of course, being a baby, Kenjin could not answer and say exactly what he wanted, unfortunately for his father. Vegeta groaned and picked up the screaming boy again and pat him on the back, trying to silence the cries, but again, he received no positive results from his efforts.
"I don't know what you want," Vegeta mumbled. He did know, however, that he was extremely glad that the walls of the ship were basically sound-proof, although this was more because the material was sturdy and convenient than because Frieza actually wanted to give his soldiers privacy.
Kenjin just cried into his father's shoulder and kicked his feet so hard that Vegeta could have dropped him. He sighed and looked around his bedroom, as though this would give him some clue as to what his son wanted. He said, "Maybe you're hungry."
Then it hit him.
His eyes widened with realization as he realized that he was probably starving his child. He hadn't fed Kenjin the entire time they'd been on the ship, and who knows how long the boy had been sitting there with his mother when Vegeta found him? As much as Saiyans needed to eat, as much as babies of any race needed to eat, he was probably killing his son through malnutrition!
He put Kenjin back on the middle of his bed and showed the child his tiny tail, upon which Kenjin momentarily ceased his tears and began to nibble on it. "Stay there," Vegeta ordered, as if the child was going somewhere anyway, and rushed out the door, locked it, and ran to the cafeteria downstairs. He grabbed an armload of soft fruit and a few bottles of water, paid for it all in credits (although he had half a mind to just kill the chef and take it as he pleased) and flew back to his room. The door didn't appear to be tampered with, much to his relief, and when he entered he found Kenjin once more in the beginning stages of heavy tears. Upon seeing the pile of fruit that his father had brought him, however, his little face brightened immediately, and his crying turned to childish babbling as he reached for the food.
Vegeta grinned, pleased that he'd finally figured out what was wrong with his child, and sat down on his bed. He watched Kenjin and made sure he didn't choke as he scarfed down the food, and occasionally gave the child some water whenever it seemed necessary. After a while, Kenjin started chewing slower and slower, until his eyelids were drooping, and he fell asleep sitting up with a half eaten piece of fruit in his tiny hands and his face smushed against Vegeta's arm.
The father sighed wearily, laid Kenjin down on the bed, and put the rest of the fruit on the dresser before he climbed into bed himself and immediately fell asleep. Kenjin only roused him one more time after that, but quickly shut up after he had secured his father's tail in a death grip.
In the morning, Vegeta had to make a new diaper out of one of his old shirts, but that's another story.
For the most part, Kenjin could already wiggle around on his own, and was just about crawling already. Vegeta figured that if he was a full blood, he'd be crawling already and killing things, but then, he had to account for the alien half of his son. So while he worked around the ship all day, he could leave Kenjin in his room with a pile of fruit and a bottle of water with a piece of cloth stuffed in the cap to substitute for a baby bottle. It was a bit crude, but the best he could do at the moment. The next time he left for a purge, he'd bring back some more "trinkets", like baby bottles and diapers and clothes for the little brat, because Kenjin was still walking around in nothing but Vegeta's old shirt.
He wanted his son to dress like a prince. He should dress like a prince. He was Vegeta's heir, was he not? He should have his own sleek little suit of armor and shined boots with matching gloves and a rich, blood-red cape. But at the same time, the Kold Empire had taken that uniform and defiled it, and Vegeta knew that now, dressing his son like he should be dressed would be the same as saying he was a slave to Frieza.
That was unacceptable.
Vegeta briefly wondered what the alien half of his son would dress like, but quickly cast that thought out; if Kenjin would dress at all, he'd be dressed like a Saiyan. So for now, Vegeta was out of options. Kenjin would run around half naked.
He'd successfully hidden his child for nearly a week now, by sheer luck and power of will. Kenjin was mostly a good child, easily entertained and very curious, but occasionally Vegeta would dart by his room throughout the day and find the baby crying. His fear that Kenjin would be found started early in the morning each day, and would not be quelled until he had nearly reached a panic and returned to his room for the final time at night. Sometimes he would have Nappa or Raditz go to check, but this was only if he'd been gone from his room for a while and would not get the chance to return for a few more hours. Generally, he didn't like people in his room, and he especially didn't like the fact that those two might get themselves caught. Again, it was not a matter of loyalty on their part, but merely a matter of their stupidity. Besides, Nappa would probably scare the child with his jumpiness and Raditz would spend too much time cooing over the boy instead of actually checking up on him.
But he couldn't hide the boy like that forever. It was only a matter of time before he got sent on another purge, along with Raditz and Nappa, and no one would be there to check to see if Kenjin had food or water or needed to be changed or anything. On a ship in the middle of space with no way of hunting for survival, Kenjin would die without care.
Vegeta had half a mind to just take the child with him and teach him to fight on the battlefield, but he knew that any job the Saiyans took would be far too dangerous for a three month old boy.
He had no choice but to find a woman to take care of his son while he was gone. So, in order to do this, he began stocking up on food in his bedroom (this, of course, was after Guldo's miniature refrigerator mysteriously disappeared from his quarters) and putting water bottles in his closet until there was a good decent supply there. He figured that would hold Kenjin over for a month or so...and whoever he paid to take care of his son could come and go for meals as she pleased. It wasn't uncommon for men to buy their own harlots and leave them in their rooms while they were gone, so he figured she could get her own food without looking suspicious, as one would carrying enough food for a baby Saiyan.
Yes, this would work fine.
So, when the ship landed for restocking on Freiza #79, he left the ship for about an hour and went into a brothel and sat around drinking beer while he looked for a woman that didn't look completely disgusting, and eventually he saw a young woman who looked like she'd rather die than be here walking around stiff legged and exhausted.
He cleared his throat loudly when she walked by his booth, and she paused. He beckoned to her and put down his drink, his dark eyes scrutinizing her pale, skinny form and her scanty clothes. This would not do, not at all. He couldn't have some barely dressed woman taking care of his son.
She asked him what he wanted, and said that if he wanted a roll in the hay she was probably not the most up to task at that given time. It was clear that she'd just gotten done with one of her clients, although he smelled fresh soap on her more than anything else, and he was relieved to realized that she'd at least already showered.
He asked her what her name was and how old she was, figuring that the younger she was, the less time she'd be doing her "job". Her eyes widened upon recognizing his face, and she suddenly trembled, and told him obediently. She was older than him, but not too old, and he decided that she would know how to take care of a baby. He inquired how long she had been there, which wasn't nearly as long as he had anticipated, and after more questions he found that she was there for money more than her enjoyment in doing the deed, and when she asked why he cared about such things he told her to be quiet and not speak unless spoken to. Once he deemed her as adequate, or at least, as good as he was going to get in such a place, he demanded to know if she'd ever taken care of a child, and she replied that she had, although none of her own, and had plenty of experience.
That was good, because he had decided that if she said no, he would kill her. She couldn't be spreading rumors about his inquiries to anyone.
Still, even after his questioning had ceased, she looked at him strangely, but he said no more. He merely slapped her when she refused to be quiet and paid for her with credits, along with his beer, and left the brothel. He took her to his room and shut her in it, telling her that she would take care of his son while he was gone on purges or when ever else he wasn't present. He explained to her what he had done with his stock of food for his son and told her that she could leave his room to get food and water for herself, and nothing else. Kenjin seemed to take no interest in the woman, but instead cooed at his father the entire time Vegeta was in the room. The woman agreed to Vegeta's terms, happy to be busy with childcare instead of being a harlot, and she was so glad for this new opportunity that she didn't even flinch when he described in accurate detail of what he would do to her if any harm came to his son.
Vegeta was sent on a two month long purge the next day. Kenjin cried for a long time after Vegeta left and didn't come back.
They noticed how quickly he worked on this particular purge; he had never killed so swiftly before, not since he was very young. He didn't play around with his prey like he normally would, which both surprised and relieved his comrades because Vegeta was normally psychotic and torturing in a monstrous way. Raditz himself thought that Vegeta was subconsciously desperate for any type of control over people, although Nappa secretly thought that Vegeta just had a fascination with the color red.
After the purge was completed, they found a small, unsoiled river to bathe in (because really, who wanted to sit in a pod for days while smelling of death and blood?) and Vegeta soaked his clothes quickly and scrubbed them with his gloves until they nearly gleamed. Nappa and Raditz looked at each other knowingly as they took their normally paced bath, both of them guessing that even though Kenjin was too young to truly understand it, their Prince thought he should look presentable in front of his child.
So they finished bathing, dried themselves with Ki, and climbed in their ships to go back to Frieza's mother-ship, all of them thinking quietly and worrying that something had gone horribly wrong.
The giant ship came into view, and Vegeta felt a horrible sinking in his stomach. Upon landing on the docks, he walked so quickly through the ship that he was nearly running, his palms starting to sweat and his throat becoming dry with his nervousness. He barely noticed the strange looks his recieved as he left Nappa and Raditz far behind him (they surely couldn't run, not without rousing suspicion even more than their Prince was). He reached his room in what was probably record time and flung the door open.
His room was empty.
He could swear his heart stopped. He stopped breathing, he could swear he stopped breathing, and he felt his jaw working but no sound coming out. Sweat formed on his forehead and slid down slowly, his black eyes wide at the empty space in his room.
It had to be a trick.
He practically dove into the room and started turning the place upside down, looking everywhere for his son. He flipped his mattress and tore apart his closet and checked all his dressers, but Kenjin wasn't there.
He wasn't there!
He stopped abruptly and looked in the doorway, where Nappa and Raditz stood with blank faces. He opened his mouth, then closed it and swallowed, finding his hands shaking and his tail coiling around his waist so tightly that he nearly squeezed the breath out of himself. "He...he's gone," he stuttered. "My son...he's not here."
Raditz and Nappa paled.
Vegeta gripped his hair and hissed, "Where the fuck is he?!"
As if answering, his scouter beeped. Vegeta froze, his dark eyes darting to the red glass over his face. He reached up slowly and clicked a button to respond, his features growing paler and paler as he listened to the caller speak in a high, feminine voice.
He knew he was going to die shortly after he ended the transmission with a quiet, "Yes, Lord Frieza."
He walked with his shoulders squared and his head held high, even though his brows continued to knit with worry and dread. He tried to tell himself that Kenjin was alive, that everything was perfectly fine, but he already knew that he was lying to himself and really, what was the point?
Nappa and Raditz walked behind him, although not as confidently. Nappa watched his prince's posture change rapidly as they walked, knowing full well that his instincts were making him want to pace and snarl and kill something, but his rank required him to be still.
The walk to the throne room was long and quiet and nerve wracking, and the only people that wandered about were the guards, each of whom Vegeta very much wanted to slaughter. The guards that stood at Frieza's door saw them coming and opened it, and although they did this, the Saiyans could see nothing inside except the colored walls. The two larger Saiyans expected their prince to pause or hesitate, if only slightly, but Vegeta merely walked in as though it was a casual everyday matter, and that scared them.
"Vegeta," Frieza's voice floated across the room. "Do come in, child."
The Prince bristled at the name; Frieza had called him that since he was a boy. He stepped farther into the room along with his comrades and opened his mouth to reply, but his voice caught in his throat at what he saw.
Zarbon stood beside Frieza's floating chair with Vegeta's child in his arms, and Frieza sat in his usual place beside the woman that Vegeta had hired, petting her white hair as though she was a kitten.
"Vegeta," Frieza purred, although the look in his eyes did not match his calm tone. "You did not tell me that you had a son."
Vegeta was quiet, but his dark eyes flitted to his son, who babbled happily and reached for him.
"Is this the mother?" Frieza asked, his red eyes gleaming. Before Vegeta could answer, Frieza's fingers paused on top of the woman's head, his knuckles curled so that the tips of his nails rested in the roots of her hair. Without warning, his expression shifted from calm and collected to furiously livid, and his grip on her head tightened. She gave a strangled cry of absolute agony as his nails sank into her skull; Frieza made a fist, and her blood splattered.
Kenjin started to cry.
Vegeta felt his face draining of color; he hadn't seen Frieza so angry in a very long time, and the result of that anger had been painful like you wouldn't believe. "She wasn't the mother," he murmured truthfully, keeping his eyes on his son instead of the corpse. "The mother is dead."
Frieza did not look appeased. "Is she now? Well, Vegeta, I'd like to know how you'd come across the child then, and how he exists in the first place when you know the rules."
Vegeta's black eyes narrowed. The "rules" the tyrant was referring to was a simple statement; Vegeta was not allowed to have children. He could not carry on his bloodline. This had never been a problem before, as no Saiyan women still existed, but now...
"It was a mistake," he said, trying to provide a suitable explanation that would cause the least amount of damage to his child. "The harlot was not barren. I was misinformed."
"Mis...informed," Frieza said, as if having never heard the word. "Really. Well, if this was the case, then why did you not just kill it?"
"Surely it can't be that you love the boy, Vegeta."
Still, the Saiyan Prince remained silent. Frieza frowned deeply and rose from his chair with his arms folded casually behind his back, his acute hearing picking up the sound of the monkey prince's heartbeat speeding up and his breathing pattern changing.
Vegeta hated being near Frieza. The tyrant's massive aura always triggered a flight-or-fight response for him, and with his son threatened in such a way, his instincts felt like they were on fire.
"Well," Frieza said when Vegeta provided no answer to his question, his purple lips quirking with amusement. The tyrant stepped closer to him, and pulled one hand from behind his back to place it on Vegeta's shoulder. "It appears that you do care for the child. Oh, this is just simply priceless, Vegeta, really." He paused and sighed dramatically, as though proud. "Well, well, well, my little monkey prince has grown up."
Vegeta tensed, and Frieza's fist slammed into his stomach.
A sharp grunt flew from his lips, along with a few drops of blood. His arms wrapped around his stomach own their own, and he sank to his knees, gasping for breath. Frieza's white feet disappeared from his vision, the strange sound of the Ice-jin's footsteps moving behind him, and a heavy blow suddenly met the back of his head. He pitched forward, seeing stars.
Frieza's tail slapped the floor harshly, denting the metal. "You pathetic, shit-faced scum," he hissed, moving in front of Vegeta again. "You're just like your father. Idiots, the both of you! Did you really think you could keep a child from me? Do you doubt my intelligence that much?"
Vegeta spat on the floor by Frieza's feet. Frieza swiftly kicked him across the face.
Vegeta's head jerked, and his body went skidding across the floor to land at Raditz and Nappa's feet. Their mouths fell open in horror, and Raditz took a step back.
Frieza scowled at them as he stormed over, and fisted Vegeta's hair. The prince gave a sharp cry when the tyrant lifted him, his lip bleeding profusely. His dark eyes squeezed shut, and he clawed at Frieza's wrist. The Ice-jin bent down and snarled in his ear, "And what about your subordinates, hmm? Do they have brats too? Have you all been naughty little monkeys?"
"No!" Vegeta hissed, and Frieza slammed his face into the floor.
"Shut your filthy mouth, you rat!" he shrieked. "I give you one rule, Vegeta! One rule! Is a single rule so hard to follow?! Do you not have the mental capacity to follow one, single rule?! "
Well, that wasn't true, entirely...there were many rules that the Saiyans had to abide by, Vegeta especially.
"One rule, Vegeta," Frieza murmured, and his tail curled around Vegeta's leg. The Saiyan Prince screamed when the bone shattered.
Frieza released his hair after a few of his ribs broke. Vegeta collapsed on the floor, spitting up bloody phlegm. His coughs did little to drown out Kenjin's screaming cries. Vegeta looked up, and saw Zarbon holding his child as though he carried a disease, as though he was ready to hold the boy at arms length at any given moment.
No one had the right to look at his son as though he was too disgusting to exist.
A snarl ripped from Vegeta's throat, and despite his horrible broken leg, he pushed himself a few inches off the floor with practiced balance and started to lung at Frieza's henchman. He had just left the ground when Frieza's tail curled around his waist and sent him flying into the far wall of the throne room.
His back collided first, and more blood flew from his mouth, the droplets catapulted further when his head slammed into the metal. He pitched forward and fell to the steel floor, and his chest ached. His armour was broken and cracked, and blood was seeping through the spandex from multiple wounds, turning the thick blue material a sickly purple.
Frieza was livid. Vegeta had lied to himself earlier; he had never seen Frieza this angry. The beating the Prince endured in the next hour was by far the worst he had ever received. You could always gauge how pissed Frieza was by the method of his tortures, and this time - besides using his thick tail as a cruel whip - Frieza actually went so far as to get on his knees to beat Vegeta with his fists.
And all the while, his comrades and his son - his son, for Christ's sake! - were forced to watch, utterly helpless.
Lying on his stomach, Vegeta focused on trying to breathe in the least painful way possible. It was hard, but became even more difficult when Frieza stomped on his back at the base of his spine, right above his tail.
He groaned, and Frieza muttered, "Goodness gracious, I've forgotten something."
Vegeta had not had his tail broken since he was barely 12 years old. The disastrous results had even made Frieza let up, if only to save his favorite playtoy for later. It was just as unpleasant as the first time.
The scream that tore from him was not that of a sentient being.
His blood was painting the floor by now, so much so that if he wasn't dizzy from constant cranial abuse, he'd surely be dizzy from bloodloss. Tears leaked from his eyes - dear God, the shame - and pooled with the puddles of red on the floor.
Frieza beckoned to Zarbon, who stepped forward and gave the baby to him.
"No," Vegeta rasped. His body felt numb, and it did not obey his orders to get up.
Frieza looked at him with cold red eyes. "This is your punishment for straying, Vegeta."
Kenjin sobbed, squirming in the tyrants freezing arm that was wrapped around his fat belly. His little dark eyes were squeezed shut, his tiny fists clenched, and his pudgy feet kicking. His crying was louder and only added to Vegeta's headache, and for multiple reasons.
"I want you to watch," Frieza said calmly, "and remember this, so that next time you lay with a harlot, you'll remember to make sure she has all...unnecessities...removed."
"No...you can't -"
"I can. And you know it."
"NO!" Vegeta yelled.
"SHUT UP!" Frieza screamed back. "You've made your bed; lie in it!" He lifted his fingers above Kenjin's face, his hand pulsing with purple light.
Vegeta's hand closed around his ankle. "Stop," he pleaded, his voice hoarse. "Please."
Frieza's hairless white brows lifted, and his black horns gleamed in the lights. "Excuse me?"
"Let him live," Vegeta rasped. "I'll do anything you want..."
Well, this was certainly new. Vegeta didn't beg for anything, ever. He never begged for the torture to end, never pleaded for the pain to stop. Sometimes he didn't even scream. But this...this was...unnatural. Raditz and Nappa were perhaps more surprised than he was, if their gaping faces were any proof.
"You'll do anything," Frieza repeated skeptically.
Vegeta's arm was shaking from the mere effort of keeping his weak grasp on Frieza's ankle. "Anything you want," he mumbled, his resolve slipping. "I swear."
Frieza looked thoughtful. "You realize that 'anything I want' is a very broad phrase, Vegeta."
Vegeta's breath shook, and he choked on blood before he spat it out crudely and answered, "I'm aware."
"You care for this brat that much?" the tyrant questioned.
"He's my son," was the soft reply.
Frieza was quiet for a minute. He said, "You'll do whatever I ask without question from now on." He didn't give the impression that he was finished, so Vegeta was silent. "You will serve me with utmost loyalty for the rest of your life."
The room was silent.
"And for as long as he lives, your son belongs to me."
Vegeta gasped, "Done," and the last of his strength gave out, his fingers sliding from the tyrant's leg. Frieza shoved the child towards Vegeta, and the boy squirmed and writhed on the floor. Kenjin had not ceased his tears, and even being near his father did little to comfort him.
"Zarbon," Frieza barked, still irked at having been convinced to bargain with Vegeta of all people, "Have this mess cleaned up as soon as possible. I'm retiring to my quarters."
Zarbon nodded, and Frieza left the throne room, too angry to even stop for his hover chair. Zarbon followed him out to fetch a cleaning crew after giving a customary sneer towards the Saiyans. He was pleased that he wouldn't have to clean the blood and dispose of the female's body himself.
Nappa and Raditz let out heavy breaths, as though they'd been holding them in. Now free to, the two rushed to their prince, crouching beside him and assessing his injuries to determine the least painful way to get him to the healing tanks.
Much to their surprise, Vegeta gave a rattled breath and rolled himself onto his side. His arm slipped around his son, who lay on the floor bawling, and pulled the child close. He murmured, "Shh, Kenjin, it's alright."
The baby's cries started to lessen in volume, but fat tears still fell from his eyes.
"Prince Vegeta," Nappa said quietly. He paused, as if thinking of a way to break it to the Saiyan royal gently, then said, "You've sold your soul to the devil, Prince."
Vegeta sighed wearily, pulling his son closer to his body. "I don't care," he murmured. "Raditz, take my son to my room."
Raditz nodded, and picked Kenjin up. Vegeta's eyes fluttered, and his head slumped against the floor as he fell into unconsciousness. Nappa pressed his lips together and sighed, picking up his prince and placing his body over his shoulder as gently as he could. He looked at Raditz, and their eyes met worriedly for a moment. Finally, Raditz turned and headed for the door, Nappa at his heels. The two split upon passing the door frame, carrying father and son in opposite directions.
When Vegeta got out of the tank the next morning, he was still exhausted, and as he had no assignments until the day after, he spent the entire day lying in his bed, his child's face buried in his shoulder, and Kenjin's tiny body nestled snugly in Vegeta's arms.
And please don't fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you...
I had a lot of this written and I got stuck. ImaginaryInk unstuck me, if you can imagine that. XD Thanks, dear twin from another continent.
So, how many people did I scare the hell out of halfway through this chapter? :D