Disclaimer: I do not own Dragonball Z.

Author's Notes: Just a reposting to take out some glitches. Thanks to all who have reviewed this story.




Interlude with Death

Vegeta sat meditating in his favorite clearing in the woods.  He could feel all the life around him—right down to the worms in the ground.  Some rocks and forest debris floated around him as a field of crackling energy formed.  When he had first begun meditating, he had cleared his mind of everything.  He now found it more productive to actually meditate on something.  His thoughts he usually kept not very deep or earth-shattering.  If there was one thing he couldn't stand—besides failure—it was introspection.  With a mind such as his—or a past such as his—too much introspection could drive him mad—or worse—force him to change.

However, on this particular night, his thoughts went unwillingly to the concepts of life and death.

Vegeta had not killed anyone in years.  He hadn't died in years either.  Kakarrot hadn't either—it used to be he couldn't go a year without dying, almost dying, or being dead.  In fact, no one he knew had died since they'd killed Buu.  Funny.  Death used to be his way of life.  Way of life.  Now there's a strange turn of phrase.  But it was true.  Kill or be killed.  He remembered Kakarrot's know-it-all brat going on about something called Darwinism.  Only the strong survive—which makes for evolution.  It's all a part of nature.  'Then why does the brat protect the weak?'

Natural.  Killing had come natural to him, but some killing wasn't natural.  He'd killed entire planets for the sake of selling.  The planets were probably stripped of natural resources as well as their natural inhabitants.  That was not natural.  It was sick.  He couldn't die enough times to pay for those crimes.

Vegeta had been flippant about death—until he died himself.  As a free-floating spirit, he'd been able to see the futility of his constant work to achieve power.  As a free-floating spirit, he had no power.  Just his memories—and regrets.  Not a friend in the universe.  No one to care whether he lived or died.  He'd sacrificed everyone—all his feelings—for strength and power.  He was a damned soul—alone.

Then, by pure fluke, he was alive.

A mistake, really.  Swept in from the other dimension with the Namek trash.  Because of a technicality.  Death may be strange, but Fate was even stranger.  Something about his own death had stopped him from killing.  He could have destroyed earth and every inhabitant.  But he hadn't.  He'd allowed himself to follow that woman.  Why?

"Why indeed."

At the startling sound of the mysterious voice, Vegeta jumped up, turning super at the blink of an eye.  He quickly aimed a ki ball at the source of the voice.  His life energy illuminated the shadowy figure, causing him to power down with a gasp of shock.

As his eyes adjusted to the moonlight, he could now see the intruder more clearly.  It was a woman, with pale skin and blonde hair.  She wore a black gi and some kind of weapon that Vegeta couldn't make out was strapped on her back.  But it was the eyes—he looked away from them, for they filled him with sadness and dread.

"Who are you?" he demanded harshly.

The woman smiled and began to move toward him slowly.  "I would think that you would remember me."

"I don't know you, woman!"

The woman was now about an inch from Vegeta's face, forcing him to stare into her dread eyes.  Slowly, she raised up her hand and brushed it ever so slightly against his cheek.

No!  Please!  I'll give you anything!

My son!  Don't leave me!

Atla!  Lemia!

Vegeta… help me…

Don't let him do that to anyone else…

Trunks!

Unless you'd like another part of the stadium remodeled.

Trunks, Bulma… I do this for you.  And yes, even for you Kakarrot…

Vegeta fell to his knees, gasping for breath, as the voices screamed and the images replayed in a grotesque montage of…

He jerked his head up and, with a shaking voice, said, "You're D-"

"Yes, yes," she interrupted impatiently.  "Why do you think I'm so familiar?  We've known each other for a long time, you and I.  I had my hands full with the planets you… visited."

Vegeta got to his feet, clinging desperately to reality.  "You're not real.  Do you think I'm a fool?  Death is not a person."

"Maybe I'm not a person, but I'm still real.  But I didn't cine here for me.  I came here about you.  You see, the scythe can be used in two ways."  She drew the weapon on her back, which was appropriately a scythe.  "It cuts down the useless and old, to make room for more.  An instrument of death… and life."

Vegeta thought of the people who had come back to life, including himself.  In shuddering detail, he remembered his son's death.  The one time he had actually given life had been cut down.  But his son, he was still alive.  The dragonballs, which seemed to only be used as life-givers.  His son was alive.  And—also as a baby in his mother's arms.  His mother…

The woman smiled.  She either read his thoughts or was very good at guessing.  He guessed the former.  "Why have you stayed with that woman—Bulma?"

"I don't know," he answered tersely.

"You're lying.  You know why."

The woman was almost always the one to wish people back to life.  The woman was always creating things.  The woman bore his son.  The woman had awakened something within him…

"Life."

He'd said it.  The concept he ad been trying to grasp for years.  Why he'd stayed on earth.  Why he had a family.  Why he was—happy—here.  This realization shook him to his core, which wasn't so cold after all.

"You owe me," the woman said firmly.  "You've given me enough death.  You don't need to send any more souls into the next dimension.  You need to bring another here."

Vegeta stared at the woman in confusion, for some reason not as bothered by her dread eyes.  Then his own eyes widened in realization.  "You mean…"

"Yes, Vegeta.  I've cut down enough souls to provide.  Life, Vegeta.  Life."

The woman's voice echoed in his head as she disappeared.  He felt as if waking from a dream—but a dream too real to ignore.  He smiled—a real smile—and started to fly back home.

Nine Months Later

"Isn't she beautiful, Vegeta?  Just like her mother.  And I bet she'll be a genius, just like me.  It'll be so good to have another girl in the family, and…"

The woman had been going on like that for ages.  Vegeta pretended to be annoyed, but he really didn't mind.  And the baby was beautiful.  He'd been able to keep the baby girl from wearing a stupid hat like Trunks had (i.e. he ki-blasted it), but he couldn't keep the woman from naming the girl after underwear like everyone else.  Imagine, the children of the Prince of Saiyans going around with underwear names.  Bra—what a stupid name.

Bulma had been amazed when he suggested they have another child.  Of course, as with every word that comes out of Vegeta's mouth, the suggestion was more like a demand.  But Bulma readily agreed.

And now, there the baby was.  Living proof that Vegeta wasn't a killer.  He felt complete now.  He didn't even flinch when Bulma handed Bra to him a walked out of the room, leaving the former killer of millions with life in his arms.