Simplification
by KC Anathema     More by this Writer
Vegeta gets what he wants, but not the way he wanted. Features awkward sex.

Author's Note : This is Simplification, formerly titled Seduction of the Innocent and nearly titled A Galaxy I'd Never Visited. Let me know if you think the Galaxy title fits better. This doesn't really fit into any of my stories, although it best fits before Silfrenel, despite the fact that Goku has a tail. *sighs* My first DBZ lemon! :)


*

Though it cost him another hour's delay, Vegeta walked the last few miles through the forest. No matter. He had waited for months for Goku to choose the shady grove in the forest's center to meditate, and another hour only gave him more time to plan his attack. And unlike most of the rest of their fights, Vegeta knew this time he would win.

Moving quietly in the forest's underbrush came naturally to him, and he let his mind wander, lingering on the other Saiyan, turning him over in his mind. At first his view of Kakarrot had started as an obsession, something to be analyzed and understood and broken. He spent years trying to discover the source of Kakarrot's power, and then longer trying to understand Kakarrot himself. For Vegeta, all his life forced to hide any show of emotion beyond a cruel zest for slaughter, to encounter Kakarrot, who followed his emotions so easily, and worse yet to lose to him, to break down in front of him, was shattering. And as much as Goku's lack of respect for his royal title infuriated him, the third class Saiyan had always treated Vegeta as an equal. After a lifetime of being little more than Frieza's slave, the sudden respect was disconcerting, frightening even. He'd spent so many years confused and keeping everyone at arm's length, just for his own safety--but he could see Kakarrot and the clearing now, his musings would wait. He stood behind him, concealed by the deepening shadows and his own stillness.

Kakarrot was seated, cross-legged, facing towards the setting sun, now about to touch the mountains on the distant horizon. There was no campfire, which meant that he hadn't eaten yet. Vegeta knew he'd have to create a fire soon, but for now the red blaze of the sunset would do. He'd arrived just in time. The other Saiyan would have left when it got dark, gone back to his staid life with his human wife in his human house.

Unconsciously Vegeta leaned forward. If all went well, the other Saiyan would not leave tonight.

Finally his prey sensed that he wasn't alone. Kakarrot straightened and swept out with his ki, searching for whoever was watching. Although he was hiding, Vegeta felt it play over his skin lightly and pass over. His own cool ki gave him little comfort, but Kakarrot's was always warm and tingled on his skin. It came back a second time, lingering on him again, and he knew he wouldn't stay hidden much longer. Reflexively swallowing once, he steeled himself. No more waiting. He stepped into the clearing and let his boots tramp through the dry leaves.

"You noticed," he said.

"Vegeta?" Goku glanced over his shoulder at him. The soft voice threw him off at first, but then he saw his face and the strange look in his eyes. Definitely the prince tonight. Sometimes Vegeta acted the part of a soldier, barking out orders to the people around him, and sometimes he would be the warrior, individualistic and aggressive, focused entirely on his training and fighting. But on rare occasions he acted like the arrogant prince everyone else assumed he was. Goku drew a deep breath. The prince could be a selfish maniac when he wanted. "What are you doing here?"

"What, have I done something wrong?" Vegeta asked, all innocence. "I'm sure I haven't killed anyone today. Aren't you happy?" He started walking closer.

"'Geta?" Goku scratched the back of his head. "Are you okay?"

Vegeta stared at him for several seconds before answering. "Fine. Why?"

"Uh..." Goku stared back at him. Was it just a trick of the light, or were Vegeta's eyes unusually bright? Maybe he was sick? Something was definitely off. Maybe Vegeta needed some meditation time. Oh geez, he hadn't been to this spot in so long, maybe this was where the prince liked to be, and he was just getting in his way. "If you came to meditate, I was gonna leave soon," he offered.

The prince waved him down. "No need." He came closer until he stood beside him, but instead of staring at Goku, he watched the sun turn the sky orange and pink. Racing after it came violet and the first dark shades of blue. "Why leave? You aren't afraid of the dark?"

"Um, no. I just don't like it. My imagination can run away with me sometimes and I feel weird." He gave a shudder. "Night makes me feel…funny."

The wind began to change between the last warm breezes and the night air. Vegeta raised his head and breathed deep. "Sometimes it's…" he grasped for the right word, "permissible…to let yourself be carried away." He closed his eyes and turned away. "I suppose that's as strange a feeling for me as the night is for you."

Goku sat straight, raising one hand to touch Vegeta's arm. "'Geta?"

"You listen to your feelings so easily," the prince whispered. "You know yourself so well."

"Me?" Goku shook his head, arguing even as he wondered why Vegeta had come here and brought all this up. Maybe he wants to talk, he thought, and he felt a jolt of happiness that Vegeta would choose him. Then again, bad things usually happened when the prince showed emotion. "Uh…'Geta, are you okay? I've been feeling your ki these past few days, and it's been kinda weird."

"…weird?"

"Yeah," Goku nodded. "Like it's been really low, like you were hiding but not hiding. Gohan's ki gets that way sometimes when he's sad or worried."

Vegeta didn't answer him, wouldn't even look at him. He crossed his arms and lowered his head. "Worried…yes, I suppose that's the word." He gave a low humorless laugh. "Your language is strange, so many ways to say things and I still can't manage. God, if I could talk with my fists."

All of this confused Goku. Did the prince want to fight? No, but he was talking about fighting and talking. He had no idea what Vegeta wanted. Except, he seemed to want him to stay. He smiled. Vegeta wanted to stay and talk with him.

Vegeta glanced sideways at him. "I see your tail's back."

Goku gasped and turned. In his happiness, his tail had uncoiled from his waist and started thumping on the ground. He made a grab for it, but it flipped out of reach, moving with a mind of its own. "Argh, go down, darn it," he mumbled. He had to stand up and trap it with both hands, forcing it around his waist under his shirt.

"What's wrong with you?" Vegeta said.

"I didn't want anyone to notice," Goku said. "Please, promise me you won't tell anyone."

"How long have you been hiding it?" the prince asked. Goku lowered his head and looked away. The movement made Vegeta smile. Point to me already.

"Not long..."

"From everyone?" Oh, it was obvious, so obvious. "Don't want your friends," and he practically spit the word, "to be afraid of you? Did the shrew throw you out of bed? Flaunting your Saiyan heritage, bad Goku." He trailed the foreign name out, and the sound of his name on Vegeta's lips made Goku step back. It sounded so wrong when Vegeta said it. "What would your harpy think?"

"Her name is Chichi, Vege--"

"I know her name. I asked what she'd think." He turned towards him and stepped closer.

Goku expected the prince to stop in front of him, start posturing like he usually did, but this time Vegeta slowly walked around him, looking him up and down as if examining him for flaws. He resisted the urge to turn with him or to rise to his bait. His tail tip flipped wildly but he kept it wrapped tight.

"She can't stand tails," the prince whispered. "What would she do if she knew her mate was even more of an animal?"

"I'm her husband, not her mate." He glanced over his shoulder at him. "Animals mate. I'm not an animal."

Finished circling, Vegeta stopped and faced him, crossing his arms. "Of course you are. I admit you've been tamed, but you're still an animal. They're all animals, they just don't like to admit it."

"Is there a point to this?" Goku asked.

"You're certainly in a bad mood tonight. I only came to talk."

"You're not talking, you're...you're..." He shook his head. "You're not making any sense."

"I'm making perfect sense."

"No, you're trying to make me angry." Goku took a deep breath. Damn, and it was working. He was slipping from cheerful look-at-the-butterflies Goku to ready-to-fight-to-the-death Goku. How did Vegeta manage to do in minutes what took so many enemies hours?

To his surprise, Vegeta's smile disappeared and he turned aside. "Maybe I am." He laughed once, humorlessly. "I am. I didn't come here to. I think."

Goku put his hand on Vegeta's shoulder. No reaction. "Are you okay, 'Geta? You look..." Fragile. He didn't say it out loud, it could get him punched and he didn't want to fight right now. But it was true, Vegeta looked like he might crumble into broken glass at any second, even if he looked as strong as ever. Goku frowned. Then had he always look like broken glass held together by sheer will, and he'd just never noticed before?

"Change into the third form," Vegeta said, looking at him.

Goku pulled away as if burned. "What?"

And Vegeta's eyes did burn into him, seeing through him as if he could already see the transformed Saiyan inside. "I don't want to fight you, I just...I just want to see it. Ple--" He stopped. He was already losing control, he had to stop himself. He bit back his words and folded his arms as if he were cold. He felt so cold. This was a bad idea from the start. How could he imagine explaining his feelings when he didn't know what they were? He turned. He'd damaged his standing in the other's eyes already, best to minimize the damage.

"Okay."

Slowly, Vegeta looked back at him, too surprised to consider what he must have looked like then, holding himself together, glancing over his shoulder. "You will?"

"You promise you won't hit me? I don't want to fight."

A nod. Both of them knew Vegeta could lie and break promises that he didn't care about. But he cared about this one. Somehow Goku knew that, too. So he transformed, sending his ki soaring. It made the stones rise into the air, the trees bend back as if blown by a storm. Long, spiky hair tumbled down his back.

Moving slowly, Vegeta stepped closer until he was within reach. He put his hand lightly on Goku's chest, feeling the strong rush of energy around his skin and the warm glow radiating from him. All of him, he wanted to see all of him. He walked a circle, seemingly unintimidated by Goku's change.

Why should he be afraid? Goku frowned. Vegeta hadn't been intimidated by other enemies, even when they were much stronger. He never thought Vegeta would be intimidated by him. So why had he thought it? He glanced over his shoulder at the prince, but he couldn't see him. Had the feeling come from him instead?

For his part, Vegeta was pleased. Beautiful. Gleaming, bright hair that made Kakarrot look like a fierce warrior, a real Saiyan, not the watered down thing he played at. The mane reminded Vegeta so much of Raditz that he didn't try to stop himself now. He ran one hand through it, closing his eyes as he remembered the other Saiyan's touch.

It wasn't enough. He didn't care what Kakarrot thought of him now, he simply took another step and settled against the long mane, soaking up the warm glow and the heavy spikes. Strange that he could barely remember Vegetasei and yet this felt like home.

When he felt him lean close, Goku didn't turn around. His hands hung at his sides, clenching and unclenching uselessly. Now he thought he understood what Vegeta meant. They both spoke better with their fists. "Vegeta," he whispered, "what's wrong?"

Hesitation. "How do you do it?"

"Do what?" Goku felt the pressure ease off of his hair, so he turned and looked at Vegeta. On the ground, instead of in the air as they usually met, the prince seemed smaller. In a fight, enveloped in his own power and ready to fight, he seemed so much bigger. His presence just radiated outward. But here...

"Feel." Vegeta shook his head. No, that wasn't right. "Live with them, I mean." He growled low in his throat and turned away. So much waiting for this night to come, and now he couldn't say two words without getting it wrong.

Above him, Goku hesitated. He knew Vegeta had bad nights, but this was downright weird. Even if he was possessed or enraged, he could still form coherent sentences. Feel, live with them?

"Do...do you mean how do I live with feelings?" he asked.

For awhile, Vegeta didn't say anything. Not turning around, he gave a clipped nod.

The ascended form slipped off of Goku as he thought. "I just...do. I don't really know how to explain something that comes so natural."

Vegeta gave a bitter laugh, still staring into the dark forest. The crickets, startled silent by Goku's transformation, started to chirp again.

"Except..." Goku scratched the back of his head. Funny. Sometimes it was easier to talk to his rival than his closest friends. "I've had to kind of hide my feelings lately. Ever since my tail came back, I've been different."

"Different?"

"Chichi says she's sick of me being hyper. Krillin says I've been edgy all this month, whatever that means, and Master Roshi's been giving me these weird looks." With a frustrated sigh, Goku sat down again, letting his tail flip back and forth behind him. "They haven't realized yet, but they will. I know it. I can't hide it forever."

"Why would you want to?" Vegeta glanced over his shoulder at him.

"They'd look at me different. I..." Goku's shoulders slumped and he looked away. "I don't want them to be afraid of me." He glanced at Vegeta, the meaning clear. Like they're afraid of you.

"Some friends, if they don't know you by now."

"...they're all I have. Gohan's always with Piccolo, an' Goten has Trunks." He picked up a handful of sand and let it slip through his fingers. "They're all I have."

The last pinks and oranges of the sunset faded, leaving the sky darkening shades of blue. Stars filled the sky, the brightest burning first, through to the dimmest, providing their only light. Starlight reflected in Vegeta's eyes as he turned around and looked at Goku. Hunched over on the ground, Goku trailed a finger through the dirt, making concentric circles, one inside another. Vegeta stepped closer and knelt down in front of him, his boot wiping out the drawings.

"You have me," he said, putting one hand on Goku's chin, tilting his head up. "If you'll have me."

"Vegeta?"

With his mouth open, the prince leaned forward and took a kiss. It didn't take much force. He still held Goku's face and if the other Saiyan was surprised, he wasn't fighting, either. Possibilities filled Vegeta's mind. This could either drive Kakarrot to take over, or he could press his advantage and hold the stronger Saiyan in his thrall for the next few critical minutes, even hours.

He began, grasping Goku's shoulders and pressing him slowly against the ground. Goku raised his hand, about to touch his shoulder. Instead Vegeta caught his wrist and pushed his arm back down over his head. He put his other hand on Goku's free arm, also holding it down, but that left him nearly spread over Goku's chest with little leverage. Moving before Goku could, Vegeta pressed his mouth on the other's, eventually winning his way in. His smiled around the kiss. Goku wasn't even trying to overpower him yet. With luck he could hold him in this state until it was done. Taking a chance that Goku wouldn't try much with his off arm, he released his left hand and cupped his fingers under his neck, tilting his head back. His mouth was so much easier to access that way. His tongue trailed over Goku's teeth, lingering over the sharp canines and wondering how they'd feel sinking into his skin. He leaned back a few inches and looked into his partner's eyes, still wide and confused. He frowned. Too confused. "What? What is it?"

"Funny...I just had an image of me biting you."

Vegeta's eyes widened. Already? He knew he'd felt increasingly drawn to the other Saiyan, but he'd had no idea it had gone so far so quickly. What else had Goku sensed out of him without him knowing it?

Looking up at Vegeta, Goku interpreted his sudden stop and the tightening of his fingers as fear. He smiled to try and put him back at ease. "I wouldn't hurt you, honest," he said. "I don't know why I thought that."

Against the black sky, Vegeta melted against the stars, his hair and darkened features blending into the few clouds passing by. He seemed more like a silhouette moving above him, save for his eyes that reflected the starlight much like a wolf's. Goku stared into them, two bright points of light right over his. He'd never seen another Saiyan at night, not even his own sons, or if he had he'd never noticed their eyes shining. He bit his lip. Well, he was sure he wasn't an animal, but now he wasn't too sure about Vegeta.

For a moment Vegeta only stared down at him, taking several deep breaths and forcing his body to relax again. "I'm not afraid of you." Without his previous confidence, he bent again, still holding Goku's right hand and working at his orange gi. Goku squirmed once, and Vegeta tightened his grip to keep him in place. Finally the gi gave way, exposing a broad expanse of skin, and he had a brief twinge of jealousy that the third class was bigger, and always would be.

Goku squirmed again. Where he'd once been gentle, the prince now pressed him hard against the ground, and his fingers dug into his arm. The ground was losing its warmth and turning cold, almost as cold as Vegeta's eyes. A large stone lodged under one of his shoulders, the jagged point hitting the bone. He wriggled around, trying to shift into a more comfortable position, but Vegeta forced him still again.

The motion drove him down harder on that stone and he reacted, sitting up so fast that Vegeta didn't have time to react and ended up straddling Goku's lap, hands on Goku's knees to keep himself from falling backwards, staring up at him. Goku put one arm around Vegeta's waist to help hold him steady. He felt Vegeta's hands fisting in his shirt and smiled. Now that he was off the ground, this was nice after all. Very nice.

Losing control, losing control, not five minutes and he was already losing control. Vegeta cursed himself and gripped Goku's shirt tight, anchoring himself. Goku had sat up so fast he was lucky he wasn't on his back. His heart pounded in his ears and he fought to keep his breathing even. Goku pulled out of the kiss and tilted his head closer, nuzzling his cheek. Vegeta took a deep breath and steeled himself. Calm. Don't panic. I can still do this. I have to relax.

Conversely, things were falling easily into place for Goku. Chichi was nothing like this. Her human body was cool to his touch, like glass, and just as fragile. Goku tightened his grip on Vegeta's shoulders. Fevered, almost too hot to touch, his body moved like steel under Goku's hands, as durable as himself, maybe even more so. Vegeta squirmed, trying to sit straight, and Goku crushed him against his body, holding him place and trapping his hands. His other hand curled behind Vegeta's neck, forcing his head back and pressing their mouths together. The kiss was clumsy, and he wondered how fast he could get their clothes off.

He felt Vegeta go slack, no longer as tense or rigid. Goku smiled around the kiss. Finally the prince was starting to relax. Vegeta settled in his lap, legs trapped spread around his broader waist, arms trapped between them. Perfect, just right. He softened his grip to let Vegeta lean back, and the gloved hands fell to his sides, limp and half-open.

His heart pounding, Vegeta swallowed reflexively and allowed Goku to hold him upright. The other Saiyan was a force of nature, an avalanche now that he was no longer acting like an idiot. This was the battle genius, the Saiyan he'd wanted to awaken. Before, while planning this night, he had hoped to guide that avalanche and control it. Now the only option was to ride it out and hope to come out on top.

Which meant being on bottom for awhile, he realized, as he was finally released from Goku's kiss. No matter. He'd waited this long; he could hold out a few more minutes. A few deep breaths and his head cleared again. He fumbled for the blue sash around Goku's waist and untied it, tossing it aside and pulling open the front of the orange gi, but it bunched it up against the blue undershirt. He grumbled as he tore it down the front. Why the hell did the idiot wear so many layers anyway? Better one streamlined suit, nothing for an enemy to grab.

Goku hooked one finger inside the neckline of Vegeta's top and yanked it down, easily ripping the cloth down to his waist. The prince felt his face heat up and he thanked his foresight that he'd done this at night. He didn't think he could live with the humiliation if Goku saw him blush.

"I think if we're gonna do this right," Goku said softly, "you need to get rid of those pants."

Hey, who was in charge here? Vegeta growled and glared at him. "You're the one with most of his clothes still on."

"I can't take them off with you in my lap."

"Then quit crushing me!" He whacked Goku's hands away when he didn't move fast enough. Without their support he fell backwards onto the ground, bopping his head on the hard dirt, but at least he was free again. Grumbling and rubbing the back of his head, he scooted back a few inches and pulled his legs off of Goku's lap.

After a few seconds of squirming and getting in each other's way, Vegeta found himself on his back, kicking off his boots and pants. Goku tugged his tattered shirts off, then pulled off his boots before laying down and working on his pants drawstring.

Here's my opportunity, Vegeta thought, now naked except for his gloves. He sat up and crawled towards Goku, waiting until his pants were caught around his ankles before straddling him again. Even if he was the one being entered, he could keep modicum of control this way.

This time he didn't try to force Goku back but let him adjust on the ground. The last thing he needed was to get trapped in his lap again. He leaned forward, positioning himself while keeping a good hold on Goku's hips. On his back on the ground, Goku frowned and rose up on his elbows.

"Um...'Geta..." Goku started.

"What?" Vegeta paused and stared back at him.

"What are you doing?" Goku tilted his head. "When I did this before, I was on top."

Vegeta froze, amazed at his own luck. Goku really had no idea about tops and bottoms except in the most literal sense. He smiled, narrowing his eyes. "Well, now you're not. Just lie there and enjoy it."

"But I don't think this is how it works--" Goku said, trying to sit up. He winced as Vegeta tightened his hands around his hips, but it was Vegeta's cold voice that made him freeze.

"I know far more about this than you do," the prince said, his voice devoid of emotion for a moment. "Now shut up and let me work, you naive fool."

Without a word, Goku lay back down. The insult stung, but there was no anger to his voice, no cruelty. Vegeta was only stating a fact. He didn't mean to hurt him, he simply believed he was truly naive and foolish. He frowned. That was actually worse than a real insult. But...if he was naive...then why did the prince want him?

Vegeta took several deep breaths as he centered himself over Goku. Years had passed since the last time he'd been taken and the memory of pain and blood made him hesitate. He slid his hands down from Goku's chest to his waist, holding his hips tight to steady himself. To his surprise, Goku moaned lightly and closed his eyes, tilting his head back. Vegeta blinked and glanced back at his hands. He'd never touched anyone like this, not even the woman. He put his hands on Goku's stomach and slid them down to his sides again, squeezing gently.

Groaning louder, Goku put one hand over his mouth, the other digging useless in the dirt. His tail thumped in time, slapping the grass and leaves, and his back arched.

Now here was an unexpected rush of power. Pleased with his discovery, Vegeta smiled, lay one fingertip on Goku's chest and trailed down the length of his body to his hips again. The tail shot around his wrist and the fuzzy tip waved back and forth, caressing the heel of his palm. There was no strength behind it, no attempt to move his hand, just a constant furry stroke. He turned his hand and pet the tail with his fingertips.

Goku's hips thrust up so hard Vegeta was nearly impaled and bucked off in one move. He yelped as he dodged the sudden move and dug his fingers into Goku's hips before his legs completely left the ground. When they slammed down again, he winced as his knees found the two largest stones beneath them. No more petting that tail, that's for damn sure. He re-positioned himself again, preparing to start easing down. Then he noticed that Goku's hair was flickering gold.

Cold chills ran down Vegeta's spine as he froze. Most of his information about mating had come from Raditz, and though he'd said the first mating was always awkward and difficult, he'd never said anything about dangerous. He'd wanted to keep their ki normal, afraid that if he went gold, Goku would follow and pass him, but Goku was about to go anyway. There was no help for it. He couldn't afford to lose control again.

"Kakarrot--"

"--uhhnn--"

Forced out of clenched teeth, the groan took Vegeta's breath away. Goku writhed beneath him, tail flailing out of control and his hands pressed tight over his mouth. For all the agony, he didn't seem to be in pain. Vegeta tilted his head curiously, then shook himself. He could watch later.

"Kakarrot, I'm going to transform. You must not. Do you understand?"

No response except another grunt, but Goku's hair stopped flickering. Hoping that meant yes, Vegeta ascended to the first level. A warm layer of ki covered them both. Counting on the ki to add some protection, the prince slowly sat down, taking Goku in an inch at a time. One inch, two, three...four...he winced and paused.

Another buck drove him down faster than he wanted, and he cuffed Goku's head. "Stop fighting," he said. "It hurts enough without you adding to it."

"F-faster-r-r," Goku hissed, fisting his hands in his hair and tensing every muscle in his body. "H-hurrrts."

Hurts? Vegeta froze. This wasn't supposed to hurt the idiot, all the pain was supposed to be on him. He looked around to make sure Goku wasn't on another rock or cramping. No, nothing at all, so what on earth was wrong? Should he stop? After a few seconds, he shook his head. No, then Kakarrot would kill him. Or figure out how to dominate him. He took a deep breath and sank as far as he could, and then something deep inside him was struck and shuddered. He gasped and shut his eyes, hardly noticing Goku groaning under him.

What was that? He'd never felt that before, not once in all those times, but then Goku was much longer than anyone else he'd ever had sex with. He wasn't even all the way down, and already he'd had to stop. Once he had a firm hold on Goku's waist again, he pushed himself back up and away. Before Goku's frustrated groans turned louder, he pushed himself down again, faster this time. It struck again, like a chord vibrating in perfect harmony. If Kakarrot's howl was anything to go by, the larger Saiyan was feeling it, too.

He rose and struck down again, then again. Where was the pain of the past? Probably the super level ki was protecting him. Pleasure easily filled the absence.

Strong hands seized his waist. He glanced down and found Goku holding him tight, centering him a little more. Letting him take most of his weight, Vegeta nodded once and drove himself down again, using his mate's hands to guide him. The movement became easier, faster, and when Goku tried to drive him too fast, he had enough strength to resist and force him to slow again.

A strong wind, cold enough to pierce his ki, blew over them. Rather than cool them down, it brought new sensation across their bodies. Crickets, unfazed by their love-making, chirped steadily around them. Overhead, the clouds parted and stars spread out in all directions, galaxies he'd never visited before. Goku's hand stole over his waist and stomach. Strange, that such a simple touch would affect him as much as the driving heat where their bodies merged. He lowered his head and let Goku dictate their speed. There would be no pain, he was sure now, and he could no longer keep up with the sensations rushing over him, like hot and cold chills.

Beneath him, Goku had tilted his head back, arching himself up and snarling continuously. Ridiculous, Vegeta thought, and then wondered if he looked as ridiculous as well. Probably. He didn't care, it felt too good to care. Finally the pleasure became too agonizing and pounded through him, driven straight up and out, and he threw his head back and screamed. The stars filled his vision and blurred, as if the galaxy spiraled down around him. There was a rush of motion as Kakarrot suddenly rose, a flash of pain, and then nothing.

When his eyes fluttered open, he was sprawled beside Goku, nestled comfortably in his arm. Had he blacked out? He blinked hard and looked up. Goku was fast asleep, but at least he wasn't snoring. Vegeta shivered. The night air had turned cold, and as much as he huddled closer to his mate's body, it didn't warm him. He squirmed out from under him and sat up, his own breathing coming in slow gasps.

Done. For better or for worse, it was done. He found the tatters of his shirt beside him and drew it on, slumping forward. As much as he wanted to hide in the dark, he wanted a little light and heat. He stood and glanced over his shoulder at the other Saiyan. Still fast asleep. Quietly he gathered the few sticks and twigs within easy reach, making a small pile, and pushed a bit of dried grass underneath. A long time had passed since he'd made a campfire; the motions felt alien. A spark of ki set the pile into a dim glow.

As the twigs burned, cracking and turning to ash, he tossed in small bits of wood to keep it going. He stared at his gloves, his last barriers. He held his hand up and stared at the white reinforced cloth, the last physical remnant of his life under Frieza. He rarely touched anything without them, not his son, not his own skin. That minute degree of separation kept him apart from everyone else, a shield against the entire galaxy.

He laughed humorlessly. A useless shield when the galaxy came crashing down on top of him. He put his hand up to his neck to rub away an ache, and when he brought it back, he found it stained with blood. Of course.

A soft mumble behind caught his attention, but he didn't turn around. He listened as Goku missed him, then spotted him at the fire and crawled close. A hand fell on his shoulder, then pulled back.

"'Geta, you're bleeding."

"No shit." He tossed another twig on the fire. "And you?"

He didn't have to look to know Goku was frowning in confusion and putting his hand on his own shoulder. "Huh? I'm bleeding, too. How did that happen? It doesn't even hurt."

"Animal instinct," Vegeta said. "I think I was wrong. You don't know yourself at all."

"Vegeta?"

He sighed and glanced at him, wincing as the wound in his throat pulled. "Consider it a Saiyan wedding ring. We bite, it scars, and that's it."

"What? Scars?" Goku ran his hand over his own cut again, as if he could wipe it away. "No, I can't--Chi Chi'll be so mad! It's bad enough I have a tail again, and now--" He stopped and looked at him. "You knew. You planned this."

Vegeta shrugged once and looked back at the fire. "They won't know if you don't tell them. Just another scar."

"Why?" Goku demanded. When he didn't get an answer, he grabbed Vegeta's arm and forced him to meet his eyes. His tail whipped back and forth behind him. "You did this on purpose. Why?"

"So I could feel you. Here," he said, tapping his head. "You felt it before, when you imagined biting me. The bite itself had nothing to do with it, it was...how close we were. Fusion must have helped it along a little."

"What do you mean, feel me?" Goku released him and sat back, staring at him.

"Sharing emotions, an image or two. I'm not sure, Raditz never explained much to me."

"Why me? I mean..." He scratched his head, but his familiar smile was gone, replaced by a frown. "You forced this on me."

Swallowing reflexively, Vegeta nodded once.

"You...presumptuous...arrogant..." he fumbled for the words, rarely used and hard to call to mind. "You had no right!"

Without argument, Vegeta stared again at the fire. It was slowly going out.

"Why me?" He expected to have to grab Vegeta again, maybe shake it out of him. The ready answer surprised him.

"You...you're the best fit. Saiyan, even if you don't act it. Strong, kind. Forgiving...and no one else seemed to make you happy. You shared my love of a fight." He paused there. Never taking his eyes off the fire, he tilted his head and struggled for an answer he'd never thought of himself. "You never hurt me."

"I've hurt you plenty of times--"

"In battle, yes," Vegeta said impatiently. "But not...that doesn't matter."

"It does matter." Goku crawled closer. "That sharing emotions thing goes both ways, doesn't it?"

As he nodded, Vegeta held in a bitter laugh. What pathetic emotions was Kakarrot getting? He had no idea how to shut them out yet, if that was even possible. Damn, it had seemed like such a good idea before. Maybe he was the real idiot. All he had was a few thin threads of Goku's confusion and exasperation. Hardly a fair trade, he thought.

"You're feeling me, but you can't stop me from feeling some of you."

"And what are you feeling?" he asked, merely to spite himself.

"Sadness. A lot of it, with a lot of different shades. Like a bunch of negative feelings all wrapped up in tears." He touched his gloved hands. "Do you always feel like this?"

"Don't you dare pity me," Vegeta hissed, smacking his hand away. "You should feel the opposite. I forced this on you, you said it yourself. You have every right to hate me."

"A strong emotion?" Goku asked, nodding to himself. "A feeling you can share?"

"Shut up."

"And you'll feel other things from me, won't you? That's why you wanted a naive little fool, huh? And you must want me, if you'd go to all this trouble." He reached out towards Vegeta's face, but froze as the prince flinched.

"You did this even though you thought I'd hurt you?" Goku put his hand on Vegeta's cheek, forcing him to meet his eyes. "You love me this much?"

"No," Vegeta said, glancing aside as he did. "I'm just tired of being alone, that's all."

You've been this lonely? Goku wondered, but he didn't dare say it aloud. "If you wanted me to share love with you, you only had to ask."

Silence. Vegeta only glanced sideways at him, hardly believing. "You're angry."

A sigh. "Yes, I'm angry you did this without me knowing, but I can't say I'm angry about the outcome." He didn't have to hear Vegeta's response to know he still didn't believe him. He could feel it, a bit of resigned defiance, the prince expecting a thrashing for his actions. It felt strange to him, how Vegeta's emotions never really stayed still. They swirled in instant reaction to whatever happened around him. Anger at being figured out, curiosity when he wasn't hit, and as Goku grew happy feeling his curiosity, that curiosity latched onto his happiness, drawing it in. The prince really was smarter, but all that intelligence was trapped in doubt and anxiety. It was so obvious, now that he could feel it.

"I didn't fight you before." Goku looked over him, shivering and only half-covered, shouldered hunched protectively. "I won't fight you now. It's just...things are going to get really complicated, with Chi Chi, and you, and my tail and my friends..."

Vegeta looked at him, rubbing one arm absently. "Or simpler."

Goku thought about that. Maybe, if he told everyone, and just took all the criticism that would follow. He glanced at Vegeta. And shield his mate, since everyone would want to blame him at first. There was a swirl of emotion as Vegeta touched his protectiveness, holding it in his mind like a jewel.

Yes, much simpler.

Another shiver, this one much stronger, reminded Goku that the air had turned frigid. The fire was nothing but orange ash and one last flickering flame. It'd be better to talk somewhere warm.

"We'll go home, to my Capsule house. It'll be warmer there." Without waiting for a reply, he put his arm around Vegeta and prepared to transmit. Vegeta pressed closer to him, closing his eyes and laying his head against his chest. Goku tightened his hold slightly, and they disappeared. The air swirled around the spot they left, blowing the last embers into a bright glow before they fell dark, a light trail of smoke rising up after.

The End

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