Downtime
by Xero Sky     More by this Writer
What could have been Goku's life if he had accepted Raditz's offer.

"Where does that go?" Kakkarot asked, dropping a toolbox in front of Radditz. His brother was sitting under a tree near the ship, finishing up the mission report, and he wasn't in the mood for questions.

"Same place it did last time, moron."

"Last time you didn't have Cargo B stuffed full of dead fish."

"Those 'fish' are gonna make us a lot of money, so shut your hole," Radditz growled.

"Rich. Yeah," Kakkarot said. "Just like last time."

Radditz turned to look up at him. "Hey, it's not my fault those turned out to be poisonous! This is different. Kiwi's people use these things for aphrodisiacs, and there's a shitload of those guys working for Furiza. I've already got the whole deal set up."

Kakkarot just rolled his eyes and said nothing as his brother rattled on about profit and favors and the big score always just ahead of him. He'd already had this conversation with the bastard enough times to know that there was no real way of shutting him up until he was ready. Propping a foot on the toolbox, Kakkarot stared at nothing in particular, letting Radditz' voice fade to a rumble in the background as he idly looked around.

This planet was almost like Chikyuusei, if you could overlook the red grass and the giant insect things. It was good for him that the dominant species had looked a lot more like cockroaches than ningens, or he wouldn't have been able to stand it. Even as it was, he would be happy to leave. Nostalgia wasn't doing him any damn good at all.

There was no profit in indulging his memories, and that was what life was all about now, wasn't it? Profit and genocide and the fine art of keeping his brother happy. He couldn't really help himself, though. It was hard not to remember that once he'd been something more than the youngest and weakest saiyajin in the Prince's guard. Once, he hadn't even been a saiyajin, but just one out of millions of ningens. Once, his head had been empty of anything but fighting, food, and the promise of adventure.

He'd been twelve years old when Radditz found him and brought him back to his own kind. Everything changed.

It had been over five years now, and he'd adapted. It was what he did. It was what saiyajins did, actually; along with fighting, it was one of the things they excelled at. He might not always fit in, but it did feel good to be with people who understood that fighting was a contest and a challenge and a celebration all at once, who went by rules he could usually understand, and who were never afraid of him or what he could do.

He still hated the purgings, despised the casual cruelty, and was sickened by much of what he'd seen in Furiza's army. He got out of purging duty whenever he could, volunteering for the survey work the others hated and doing the crappy 'unsaiyajin' jobs the others refused. They indulged him, letting him get away with it some of the time, but that kind of thing only went so far. His hands hadn't been clean for a long, long time, and there was no end in sight. The stakes were too high.

The saiyajins simply couldn't afford to draw Furiza's attention. If he took an interest, he might notice certain things: their modified scouters, the false data they'd been sending in, and Vejiita's completely unauthorized absences. They went to great lengths to cover their tracks, but there was no perfect deception. The only real solution was to avoid notice.

This meant they made no more (or less) trouble than any other elite purging team, they made no significant enemies, and, most importantly, they made their quotas every cycle without fail. That was where Kakkarot came in, because Vejiita wasn't always there to do his share of the work.

Vejiita had been skipping purges whenever he could, forcing the others to cover for him, because he was looking after the handful of saiyajin settlements they'd discovered. Those saiyajins had survived Furiza once, through the simple luck of having been off-planet when Vegetasei was destroyed. They had no hope of evading him a second time. Until Vejiita was strong enough to protect them, they had to stay hidden.

Kakkarot's ningen ethics had become a luxury no one could afford. He had to cover Vejiita's share of purgings to keep their numbers up. The cold equations came down to this: whether Kakkarot participated or not, innocents would die. Vejiita had simplified the moral confusion even further by promising to kill him if he failed his duty. The prince would then annihilate Chikyuusei out of spite, if he lived long enough.

So Kakkarot did as little as he could get away with, and was as merciful as he could be, but he did his share of the killing. Guilt and remorse burned him, gave him nightmares, and, ultimately, were something else he adapted to. It was just part of being saiyajin, as far as he could tell, and like most saiyajin things, out of his control.

It was his nature to make the best of things, so he did. The singular intensity of Prince Vejiita had frightened him at first, inasmuch as he could be frightened of anything at all, but he'd grown to admire the man's dedication. Radditz was a grumpy bastard, but he also taught Kakkarot the most amazing things about fighting, saiyajins, and the whole universe, really. Nappa was gruff and hostile towards outsiders, but he looked after his own; he was the one who taught Kakkarot how to stay out of trouble with the rest of Furiza's army. Then there was Turles... Ugh. Turles confused him in ways he couldn't even describe. He was always watching Kakkarot, for one thing, and for another, he was a total...

"...idiot!"

"Huh?" Kakkarot said, blinking. A fist connected abruptly with his chin, and he stumbled backward a couple of steps. Radditz pursued him, fuming.

"Wake up, damn you!"

"Huh? I am awake," he said faintly, trying to reorient himself. Daydreaming was dangerous because it meant you weren't paying attention, and that was nearly unforgivable among warriors. He'd been busted for it before. Radditz' reaction was a little extreme, though, even for him.

Grabbing hold of his armor straps, Radditz pulled Kakkarot forward onto his tiptoes and shook him. Hard. Surprised at his brother's rage, Kakkarot didn't pull away, afraid it would just make things worse. It had been a long time since Radditz had gotten this pissed off at him, and he wasn't sure exactly how this was gonna go.

"What's wrong with you?" Radditz bellowed. "Pay attention when I talk to you, you ungrateful little shit! You will give me the respect I deserve as your elder, or I swear to all the gods I'll rip off your tail and choke you with it!"

"Radditz..." Kakkarot started, but the taller saiyajin wasn't interested. Radditz shoved his brother backwards hard, sending him sprawling in the dirt.

"Straighten up, you mangy ass-biter! Embarrass me again and I'll skull-fuck you into the afterlife!"

Kakkarot gaped at him. Why was he so mad? The larger saiyajin's tail was frizzed out and his ki had surged. Kakkarot tensed, getting ready to evade an attack but not wanting to provoke one by moving too soon.

He was so focused on Radditz that the voice from behind nearly startled him into flight anyway.

"You really suck at motivational speaking, you know that, hairball?"

Kakkarot grimaced. The owner of that particular drawl could only be Turles, he of the smirks and the slow grins, the sarcastic pervert who could take both Nappa and Radditz in a fight and made sure they knew it. The pirate they'd picked up a couple of years after Kakkarot. The elite fighter who nearly worshipped Vejiita but didn't give a shit about the rest of them. Turles.

Turles, who irritated Radditz even more than Kakkarot did.

Radditz looked up, teeth flashing. "This is family business."

"Nope. This is you hating to be ignored when you're spouting off about one of your schemes. No reason to take it out on one of our own."

"Fuck. Off."

"You think Lord Vejiita hasn't noticed how much time Kakkarot spends in the tanks because of you? Watch yourself," Turles said. He reached down and helped Kakkarot to his feet.

Radditz bristled. "I don't need your advice, asshole!"

"Then take it as a warning," Turles said, putting a hand on Kakkarot's shoulder. His tone was mild, but his smile didn't match it. The flash of fangs made the situation perfectly clear. It was all up to Radditz now: whatever he started, Turles would finish.

Radditz looked from Turles to Kakkarot and back again, evidently weighing his options.

"Fine," he said, sneering. "Get that shit loaded," he told Kakkarot. "I wanna be ready to go when Vejiita gets here."

"Okay..." Kakkarot said, somewhat bemused as his brother stomped away. That was freaky. Radditz didn't normally get that angry that fast, and he rarely ever backed down from anyone but Vejiita himself.

"I don't think you need to worry about him for a while." The dark voice reminded him that Turles was still there behind him, with one warm hand still on his shoulder.

"Huh?" Kakkarot turned around, noticing that Turles' hand stayed in contact with him, ending up on his other shoulder. It was odd, but so were a lot of things Turles did and said. "Um, hey, thanks for that, but he'll just be pissed off again about something else later on."

"No doubt," Turles said, smirking. Except for a darker shade of skin and a far more saturnine cast to his features, he might have been Kakkarot's twin. He certainly looked more like him than Radditz did. The expression of solicitous concern he wore at the moment didn't really fit him, though. "But maybe you won't have to worry about Radditz next time."

"Huh?" Some distant part of Kakkarot's mind noted that he was saying that a little too often, and suggested alternatives. "What?"

"I said, maybe you could find someone who'd look out for you, keep that kind of thing from happening again."

Kakkarot blinked, utterly bewildered now. His understanding of how the universe worked did not, and had never, included the possibility of someone protecting him. Either he was strong enough to do it himself, or he just had to put up with things. What was Turles talking about? And why was he standing so close?

"I don't... uh, I don't really need the help, but... thanks...?" Kakkarot managed to stutter. He backed up a couple of steps and wasn't really all that surprised to find that Turles moved with him.

"Oh, I think you do..." Turles said, moving even closer. "A face that pretty shouldn't be covered in bruises so often."

Kakkarot might be 17 years old and perpetually out of his element, but he wasn't actually stupid, no matter what Radditz said. The lights went on, the alarms went off, and Kakkarot finally understood what Turles was up to... and why he'd always been so confused about him.

Oh. Oh. Ohhhh...

While Kakkarot was having his revelation, Turles slipped an arm around his waist and gently ruffled his tail. As expected, this made the teenager gasp and move forward, away from the intense sensations. That closed the distance between them quite nicely, and without further delay, Turles took every advantage of the situation. Wrapping his arms around Kakkarot, he pulled him in tight and pressed their mouths together, hungry for their first kiss.

Nothing.

No resistance, no enthusiasm, no response.

Kakkarot's mouth was entirely passive under his, and Turles pulled back with a growl. This wasn't how it was supposed to go! The kid was supposed to be grateful for being rescued and horny because... well, because he was a teenage saiyajin being swept off his damned feet by a damned handsome saiyajin, thank you very much!

Frustrated, he grabbed Kakkarot by the shoulders and shook him lightly. "What's wrong with you?"

Unresisting, Kakkarot stared at him. "Wrong with me? What..." His brow furrowed and he leaned a little closer. "Turles, you do know I'm a guy, right?"

Turles shook him again, just for the hell of it. "Of course I do! What the hell kind of question is that?"

"Oh, well, I, uh..." Kakkarot started, and Turles was suddenly absolutely certain that whatever he said next was going to be so irritating that he'd be forced to punch him. He didn't want to, since that would set his plans back a bit, but sometimes a saiyajin just had to do what he had to do.

Unaware of impending doom, Kakkarot continued: "I ... Well, okay! I guess if you don't mind, I don't either!"

The smile that followed this declaration was devastating; it was like the sun coming out from behind the clouds. Turles didn't stand a chance.

"Oh..." Turles said, a little bedazzled. He was going to get what he wanted, and he strongly felt he should do something about that immediately, but... damn, did the kid have to smile like that? It made it so hard to think...

Kakkarot had almost no personal experience of how these things were supposed to go, but he was a quick learner. How had it gone? Hmnn...

He moved in and put an arm around Turles' waist. That went okay, so he grabbed a handful of tail and ruffled the fur. Turles made the most interesting little sound and arched forward, so Kakkarot kissed him.

It wasn't perfect. Their teeth clashed, and Kakkarot wasn't entirely sure what he was supposed to do with his tongue at first. Tails tangled. Hands roamed uncertainly. Bodies pressed together roughly. Armor got in the way. The two of them bumped against each other in an awkward almost-dance until Kakkarot tripped on the long-forgotten toolbox, lost his balance and nearly fell.

Turles caught him in strong arms, and the two of them paused, looking at each other. Then the younger saiyajin laughed and Turles, feeling warm and foolish, laughed with him.

"You want to try that again?" he asked.

Kakkarot looked up at him through his bangs and smiled. "Absolutely."

The kiss that followed was an improvement, being sweeter and less rushed. The ones that followed were even better. Like all saiyajins, they were willing to train as long and as hard as necessary to master a new technique.

~~~~~~~

"Well, that wasn't exactly the smoothest thing I've ever witnessed," Nappa said, finishing off the last of his lunch. He belched and scratched his stomach, carefully avoiding the bandaged burns across his upper abs.

Next to him, Radditz snorted. The two of them were sitting on a rock outcropping overlooking the landing site, taking in the view. In the distance, plumes of smoke from burning cities decorated the skies. There were still occasional explosions, but neither of them was paying attention to anything so mundane. The show down slope was far more entertaining.

"Easiest goddamned target in the universe," Radditz said, shaking his head in disgust. "And Turles nearly misses it."

"How much did he pay you to set up that little opportunity for him?"

"1750," Radditz said, looking deeply satisfied.

Nappa laughed, wincing a little as his burned flesh complained. "1750? Damn, he must have had some serious blue balls!"

"He's an idiot."

"No shit. A little sweet talk and the kid would've been his for free."

Radditz sighed and stretched. "Heh. Turles can get anyone he wants. Fucker just goes up to somebody, smiles, and wham! Instant sex. Seen it a billion times. But with Kakkarot? He's suddenly all blushes and moronic plans."

"I've said it before, and I'll say it again: nothing makes you stupid faster than love."

"Damned straight, my friend. Damned straight."

The sound of laughter drifted up from below, and Nappa smiled. "How long should we give them?"

"Vejiita won't be here for another couple of hours, so we've got some time," Radditz said. "Why don't we wait a while? Kakkarot will get carried away like he always does, and when the two of them are all hot and heavy, we can go tell them Vejiita's pissed off and already on approach. That should kill their mood for a while."

"You're a cruel bastard, you know that?" Nappa said, grinning. "By the time they finish bitching at us, Vejiita really will be on approach, and Turles won't have time to get any tail until we're all the way back to base."

Radditz shook out his hair and crossed his arms. "It's my duty as Kakkarot's elder brother to guard his virtue," he said with great solemnity. "Besides, Turles only paid me for the opportunity to kiss him. Anything else is extra."

Nappa laughed and stood up, carefully stretching his massive muscles. "It's times like this, Radditz, that make me glad I was an only child."

"Hey, I'm just doing my job!"

"Cock-blocking is part of your brotherly duties now?"

"No, just a perk, but..."

The two of them went on that way, soaking up the sun and grousing happily at each other, while Turles and Kakkarot managed to forget that anyone else existed. The afternoon stretched towards sunset as the saiyajins kept themselves entertained the way saiyajins will. Not one of them gave a thought to the civilization that lay in ruins around them.

When Vejiita finally did arrive, he found all four of his guards bleeding, smelling of burnt hair, and smiling. He started to ask what had happened, but after a moment's reflection, he decided that he really just didn't want to know. This planet was dead, but his own people were still alive, and to Vejiita that was all that mattered.

~end~

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