"I know you're not innocent, Vegeta," Frieza purred evenly. "You had something to do with it. Why won't you tell me? I don't want to hurt you. I want to trust in you like I always have, but you're making that difficult right now." He lowered his hand from the Saiyan's jaw, which he'd been cradling.

Vegeta maintained eye-contact without wavering. "You already know the truth. I have nothing to tell you."

A smile ghosted across Frieza's dark lip in the split instant before he spun, sending the Saiyan to the floor with an invisible sweep of his tail. Vegeta hadn't anticipated the strike, and he let out a high-pitched whimper before he could bite it back down. Frieza hadn't stricken him like this in years, and now that Vegeta felt a clawed foot pinning him down and cutting into his cheek, he found the sting peculiarly satisfying and certainly preferable to the sting of guilt. Punishment took on an allure all its own when deserved. Though passively skeptical of why Frieza had chosen this of all moments to indulge him, Vegeta still grinned against the floor.

"Right. I do already know the truth. Your faithfulness puts everyone else to shame." The words held a hint of unreadable sarcasm. "Get up." He lifted his foot away from Vegeta's now blood-smeared face.

The Saiyan stood as quickly as he could, feigning a pained wince to mask the sparkle in his eyes not otherwise concealed. It came naturally when his knees almost quivered under the influence of something between terror and excitement. Even so, he hardened his heart against any further trembling. Folding before Frieza would signal the defeat that his inner defiance hadn't, and Vegeta's pride would not suffer that. Once certain of his composure, he said calmly, "If you are sufficiently reassured, would you excuse me, Lord Frieza?"

Frieza's red eyes mirrored Vegeta's steady stare, and probably on purpose, as they shortly narrowed into a subtle sneer. "Isn't purity of heart what you're after? I'm sure that, if you are in fact guilty, your own conscience will embrace chastening. That's the truth, Vegeta," and he paused to let that truth settle before waving his hand, gesturing dismissal. "You are excused."

Vegeta swallowed, his heart fluttering with an agitation he couldn't quite place. As he relieved himself of Frieza's hated presence, he figured it must be happiness, and when he felt blood trickling down his neck, the warm tingle encouraged that conclusion. He was glad to have gotten away with the deviance of the last purge. He decided that it was that simple. Because he'd gotten away with it, he knew he could get away with a scheme months in the making. That made him practically giddy. However, when his march wouldn't reflect confidence as strictly as desired, he grew angry at himself. It nearly devolved into a stumble as he made his way to the barracks.

Vegeta paused to regain his composure at the entrance to the quarters he shared with his comrades. Absentmindedly, he brushed his cheek with his glove, and the red stain the contact left behind attracted his attention. He smiled at it. Frieza was a fool, and Vegeta would set his scheme in motion this very hour to prove it. Impatiently, he keyed in his security code.

Nappa blanched, then started when the Prince's grisly, smirking silhouette appeared in the doorway.

Vegeta had no time to waste. "Is Raditz here?" he demanded with a bark.

Nappa could only stutter when the Prince advanced on him.

"Did you hear me? Where's Raditz?"

"The next room. Asleep," Nappa managed.

Vegeta laughed. "Leave us. Reserve the training facilities. Bring your scouter with you. You may return when I contact you."

"Yes." Color returned to the elder Saiyan's face as he backed away peacefully, yet cautiously, to retrieve his scouter. The Vegeta's feral glare tracked him until the door slid shut behind him.

Once alone, the Prince stripped himself of his breastplate, but kept his gloves on deliberately. He took a moment to regulate his breathing, cleared his throat, then recorded a message with his scouter. As he reviewed the recording, a sinister chuckle rumbled deep in his chest, humming behind sneering lips. Blood flavored his mouth and perfumed the thin air; it excited him, and the thrill wracked his body. Shamelessly, he thought of the last purge and the promise of what he was about to do. He sent his unclean hand between his legs to rouse himself further through his suit's fabric, and with his free hand, he detached his scouter from his ear, then stowed it securely in his private storage compartment.

Just as Nappa had said, Raditz slept in the next room, splayed irreverently on his back. By the collar, Vegeta jerked him upward, then cast him down at his feet without giving him any time to wake up. Pressing Raditz's face to the floor with his boot, he muffled his tired groans against the ground, warping them into startled squeals as he pressed harder. He let up only after he'd dropped his pants to thigh-level, but he granted Raditz hardly a second's recovery before swiftly descending on him again, grabbing him by the hair just above his ear. Roughly, Vegeta dragged Raditz closer as he lay back, forcing the other man between his spread legs.

"Do it," Vegeta spat. "Now."

Raditz grinned despite everything. "You look like Hell, Vegeta."

"I demanded only one kind of lip service from you." His wrist twisted in Raditz's hair, wrenching cruelly as he laughed.

Pain gnarled Raditz's features, but he wet his lips gleefully and took Vegeta in hand. The Prince's thigh trembled with strained spasms where Raditz held tightly. "You're so fucked u—ugh!"

Vegeta shoved Raditz's last syllable back into his throat through his open mouth. His stomach convulsed at the third-class's gagging, thrusting his hips forward, and he snarled and turned aside. Raditz knew better than to make anything other than quick work of it. Hearing and feeling him hum his enjoyment despite Vegeta's savage pace wrung the Prince's expression into a grimace. Hisses and growls drowned out any conscious, damning sense of his impatient anguish. Just one last time, and never would Vegeta have to endure this indignity again. Driving Raditz down, suffocating him, he finished himself, heaving raggedly as he choked the other man a few seconds more. Vegeta then yanked him away and flung him against the wall with a vicious kick to the sternum.

Raditz wheezed and sputtered violently. Blood and semen dribbled down his chin, and his eyes, when he could open them, gleamed with lust and tears. "I love"—he panted, and his hand tended to his arousal—"how fucked up you are."

The surprising difficulty of getting up exacerbated Vegeta's indignation. Livid, his fingers quivered as he pulled his pants back over his hips, making himself decent again. "Silence, you wretch," he rasped.

Worshipfully, Raditz watched Vegeta's cheek bleed afresh with the flush of orgasm."Frieza—that bad? Did he find out?"

Vegeta snapped. Raditz had no right to speak of the last purge unbidden. He lunged for the third-class, landing the heel of his boot on the hand between his legs, crunching. "I said silence!"

Raditz shrieked, then whimpered, doubled over. He recoiled preemptively when Vegeta went for his face, jerking his neck backward.

The Prince waited for him to blink tears to his cheeks before spitting upon him. "Impure weakling. No forbearance, no pride—just divided every which way by such a base multiplicity of passion. You could not purge your will if you tried, weeping like a child already. You delight in your humiliation. Disgraceful. I am glad that I will soon be rid of you and your impiety."

"What?" he sobbed. He could muster nothing more.

"Be quiet. All will be explained." Vegeta dropped him, intensifying the maneuver with downward force. Before leaving the room, he threatened, "Move, and you will trail your guts behind you to the infirmary. I swear it."

He returned with his scouter. "I made an interesting discovery, one that perhaps none meant for me to make. Your brother, the one you say was shipped out the day of the planet's destruction—he is alive. He's alive, that is, if he survived his purge mission. I tracked down the coordinates. He was sent to a planet called Earth—on the other side of the galaxy, which is why I suspect Frieza did not prioritize his immediate disposal. He is but a single third-class, after all."

Nursing his broken hand, Raditz looked on in confusion and fear as Vegeta played with his scouter.

"You are going to Earth—alone. Shortly after my... conference, I recorded a report, saying that you deserted Frieza's services, that I found you and your ship missing five hours from now." The Prince snickered to himself bitterly. "This means, Raditz, that you have approximately three hours to get healed, gather anything you require, and leave—with the coordinates I'll give you. You may listen to the message if you wish."

"No—Vegeta..."

"Frieza is not aware of my knowledge of your brother, but when I deliver my report along with basic evidence of your planned trajectory, he will likely guess your destination. You would have a reason to go there. Perhaps he will send someone to pursue you, perhaps not. You matter to him only because of your association with me."

Vegeta gave the third-class a moment to process the news in silence while he fitted his scouter over his ear. The sniveling subsided, and Raditz's heavy breaths sharpened with his outrage.

"Vegeta—how? You're insane! Why don't you just kill me yourself if that's all the fuck you wanted?"

"And profane my hands?"

"Weren't so worried about profaning your cock."

"So you've grown defiant now that you know your fate?" The Prince spat again, mocking. "I won't kill you. You don't deserve such honor, sinner as you are. You can't tempt me."

"Fuck you. It's because you can't kill me yourself, and you know it, hypocrite."

Vegeta froze.

"Yeah, I said it. Hypocrite—you're not so high and mighty and righteous. You cry and bleed like everyone else. I've seen it. You get off on the slaughter. You even whine and shake when you come, and you love it. Seen that, too. You're no more pure than I am. And all those things you believe, those stories you lord over me from dead people you never knew—all you really believe is what Frieza shoves down your throat."

Cold blue energy lit up Vegeta's hand. More quickly than Raditz could track or defend against it, the Prince plunged his charged fingers through hard muscle and into soft viscera. "I am not Frieza. I am myself, Vegeta, Prince of All Saiyans." He withdrew.

Raditz clutched his abdomen, trying to keep himself from spilling onto the floor. Blood bubbling between his lips and eyes wide, he shivered at Vegeta's untouchable fury.

"You should beg me for death," the Prince stated with a callous whisper. "Your impiety does not serve you now, does it? You were damned from the start, filthy third-class. But pray that your brother slaughters you. You have no other hope in this life than to die at a Saiyan's hand." He pulled Raditz to his feet and smiled at his pained wincing."Now go to the infirmary—go. Death is preferable to some horrors. You know better than to disobey," and fixing his gaze on the fresh wound, he ran his tongue over his teeth to seal the threat.

Grasping his stomach more tightly, the third-class's crooked, swelling fingers twitched with panicked effort. He set one stumbling foot in front of the other. His tail bristled, and terror spurred each step; he knew what Vegeta was capable of. The Prince shook his head, almost disappointed that Raditz's defiance had flickered out as soon as it had flared. He might have liked to have spent a little more time on him before his departure. He should have expected so much—Raditz had always been weak.

He opened the door to the corridor, knowing Raditz would not reach for the panel himself."Still love how 'fucked up' I am?" he scoffed.

"Fuck you." The weakly hissed curse wept hatred.

Vegeta tapped the panel again, shutting himself alone in their quarters. With a terse message, he summoned Nappa. He took a seat, then lay back and closed his eyes. Weariness weighed his limbs down, but they shuddered nevertheless; he felt chilled, and when deep breaths seemed not to offer enough air, he exchanged them for shallow pants. His heart hammered beneath his ribs. He'd given nothing away to Frieza, and he'd now rid himself of Raditz at last; peace should have come by now, but still this senseless anxiety remained. Vegeta had gotten away with what he'd done with only a few cuts and bruises, and he'd get away with eliminating Raditz, too; in the end, he'd ascend and tear Frieza limb from limb once and for all. He worked to slow his breathing. Perhaps he had simply overexerted himself.

Vegeta heard Nappa appear in the doorway. "There's blood everywhere," the elder Saiyan observed flatly.

Vegeta's eyes darted about the room. He swallowed the bile that almost rose to his mouth. "Filthy. Clean it up."

"I reserved you a training room from early tomorrow till evening."

"Good." Vegeta sat up, massaged his temples, then buried his face in his palms. "You should know that Raditz will no longer accompany us."

Nappa halted mid-step. "Is he—?"

"No, he's not dead. He's in the infirmary healing up for departure."

"Frieza's orders?"

Vegeta sat silently. "No," he admitted after a moment. "He knows nothing about it."

"Oh." Then, after letting the Prince's treachery sink in, Nappa added, surprise cracking his voice,"Why, Vegeta?"

Vegeta figured Nappa had guessed the reasons, at least vaguely. Raditz's fascination with the Prince had never been secret, and neither had Vegeta's hatred. How much beyond that Nappa knew Vegeta preferred not to speculate, but Nappa, despite his density, surely knew enough to consider it only a matter of time before something like this happened. "It's not your concern," was the Prince's only response.

"Not my—? This could get you killed!"

"Just be glad to be rid of him like I am."

"There are only a handful of us left, and you're risking everything just to kill one of us? You can't do that!"

"Raditz was never one of us," Vegeta justified venomously, burying his face deeper in his hands. "He's a common whore—no better than an animal or the insects Frieza sends us to butcher as they go about their merry lives, worrying about nothing but where their next meal or fuck will come from. He's a disgrace to the Saiyan race and to me."

"You're a sick fuck!" Nappa took hold of one of Vegeta's wrists in his careless outrage and tried to pry it away. Vegeta recoiled at first, but then swatted the intruding hand. Nappa backed away immediately, clearly afraid that Vegeta might spring at him, and visibly relieved when he didn't.

"How dare you!" the Prince scolded. He had felt strangely hyper-aware of being touched, sensation heightened by disgust. He turned aside, drew his arms in over his stomach and crossed them, then said with a smaller voice, "I'll do as I see fit. I couldn't live with myself if I stood for such impurity longer than I already have."

"Raditz isn't even a threat to you! He never was. You're insane. You can't—"

"I will do as I see fit, and unless you want to join Raditz yourself, you will do as I say!" Vegeta roared over Nappa's protests. He was truly weary of having his sanity questioned. "Why you're putting up a fight is beyond me. I thought you were better than to let yourself become attached, let alone to a reprobate third-class. If that's the case, you should thank me for restoring your honor."

The elder Saiyan growled in frustration and struck his temple with the heel of his palm, apparently struggling with Vegeta's train of thought. "What the fuck are you talking about?"

"So you won't deny it. Don't try to, then. How sickening." The Prince's lip drew over his teeth as he hissed. "You lived most of your life on our planet, and you served my father for almost as long as I've been alive. You should know even better than I that attachments are vanity, that there is only the promise of nothingness in this universe."

Nappa took a seat on the bed across from Vegeta's, trying to calm himself and make sense of the Prince's raving. "Vegeta," he sighed defeatedly after a heavy silence. "I don't know where you get those ideas, and I don't know what they've got to do with Raditz. Your father wouldn't say what you're saying or do what you're doing. He wouldn't—"

"Then he was weak! I surpassed him when I was a child, didn't I?"

"He wouldn't risk his life to murder a damn third-class."

"Just shut up, Nappa. What's done is done. Be glad that I'm happy enough to be rid of Raditz for me to excuse your insolence. As it stands, we have only a few minutes before he's healed." Vegeta hid his face in his hands again once he'd finished speaking.

"You'll regret this even more when Frieza comes after you. I might not be of much service to you then, Prince."

As Vegeta got up to slip into his armor and leave, he muttered darkly,"Reprobates—all of you." The judgment weighed on him as well, heavy like guilt.

Under the pressure of four hundred and thirty times Earth's gravity, that all-too-familiar burdened sensation seemed natural and entirely external. When Vegeta had awoken in the woman's bed that morning, the strange weight in his chest had made getting up nearly impossible. Leaving her for his training had become progressively harder each time he woke up beside her, and though that didn't bode well, he let it happen again and again. Even now, Vegeta sat doing nothing but feeling gravity's strain.

"It's the weekend. Why don't you stay a little while?" she'd purred that morning, laughter in her still-restful eyes. She'd then stretched, her bare breasts peeking over sleep-mussed sheets, and landed one hand over his waist. Having known he would have given in if he let her touch linger, he'd sprung up abruptly as if shaken from a nightmare. Bulma had only smiled at him as he'd rushed to dress himself. "If you change your mind"—Vegeta had tried not to notice her tone of voice, nor when she'd slipped one arm back underneath the sheets—"you can come tinker with me in the lab later. It was really fun last time."

"Right," he'd responded noncommitally, not wanting to refuse her outright and draw attention to the blush only just suppressed. He'd stopped briefly by his room to change into his armor, then headed straight for the ship with absolutely no intention of wasting any time designated for training. But now that he sat idly on the gravity chamber floor, painfully unable to appreciate pressure's punishment, the thought of leaving for the laboratory appealed to him more and more.

He'd found himself visiting her there on occasion after training. Some nights, she worked late, and Vegeta had figured that meeting her nowhere near a bedroom would ease his urge to see her without endangering further surrender. It had not gone as planned. Taking interest in her projects proved not so detached a matter, nor did it help her forget their messier interactions. If anything, she grew more eager.

Her face would light up with brilliance, focus, determination, and passion while she worked. Her voice would trill slightly, and her speech would speed up as she explained her theories and projects, her hands involuntarily accompanying her sharing. Vegeta would listen intently, and though he'd tried to narrow his attention to the abstract content of what she said, the fiery animation behind it gripped him despite himself. He convinced himself that his interest lay solely in innovations on familiar technologies perhaps useful later when he would inevitably leave Earth one day. Vegeta told her so. Still, it was little more than a justification. Bulma had smirked at him knowingly.

Then, last week, before he knew what was happening, she'd pressed herself to him, making some absurd comment about the wistful look he'd allegedly been giving her. He'd scoffed at her, but hadn't stopped her when she slipped her daring, enticing hands under his armor. He didn't come to his senses until after they lay panting in the shadows of her time machine prototype.

Vegeta drove a fist into the tiled floor, then cursed. He'd come here to train, to correct and redeem his negligence, not daydream like an undisciplined fool. He stood, approached the command console, and increased the gravity to four hundred and forty times Earth's. He could barely withstand it, pressed to his limit. The pain made him grimace and groan. It restored order and dealt what he deserved, forcing him to his knees, panting and sweating and trembling. After long moments of struggle, a tingle like relief spread from his core to his glistening skin, and uncontrollably, it brought a grin to his lips and wild cackling from deep within. This was truth and blessing. For a short while, Vegeta felt empty and weightless; he stretched onto his back and sighed.

But he shivered when it didn't last. He gasped and growled his frustration over what had done this to him. That damned woman—Vegeta had killed others for doing but a fraction of what she'd done. He'd escaped Frieza for what he'd done to Raditz and later to Nappa as well, so why couldn't he get away with doing the same to her? She'd done worse than any had before her, not only distracting, mocking, and even seducing him, but also corrupting his very vision of purity, shaming him with uncertainty, dividing his will, and setting it against itself. Just now, he'd wasted hours simply ruminating on old memories he thought he'd disregarded forever as he should have.

As schemes raced through his mind, he unconsciously sought out the woman's energy. He froze when he sensed that she was not in the laboratory, but right outside the ship. Against the strain of extreme gravity, he dragged himself to his feet and peered out the nearest small, round window. Vegeta's heart swelled to see her crouched just beside where the hatch would land, her face in her hands. She must be waiting for him. Instantly, he regretted ever thinking of harming her. Another surge of remorse followed that realization.

Vegeta disengaged the gravity simulation. How had she known that he would come to find her? Did she really know better?


Author's Note: I'm back.Don't hate me for returning with evil, detestable Vegeta!