They fit each other, each and every one of them. Their personalities complete the group, one flowing into the other until they become a harmonious whole. Even the most reserved of them, dark as his past might be, has found a place there, near the centre of the group. Everyone who has joined them… who has joined him has become a part of the complex web. Everyone except me.
I do not resent this. Indeed I have even attempted to enhance my aloofness, to repulse them all with my behaviour and attitude. My continued isolation is the result of that, despite his efforts. His attempts, which persist to this very day, to include me, to bar me in, make me one of the group. His self-appointed venture that wears down my defences each time I am forced into his presence. I know I am failing to keep myself detached from his circle, know that each time we meet I am drawn closer and closer to the very centre. I long ago gave up trying to keep away from the periphery, hoping that it would be enough to satisfy him. That I am here, where I do not want to be, that I am observing things I do not want to even think of participating in. I am beginning to feel caged by his attention.
He does not mean it to be threatening, does not want to intimidate or annoy me – it would be counter to his purpose, after all – but already I am treated as some sort of grumpy pet by these pack-mates of his, already I am less than what I was. And I resent this. Resent the way they look at me with nervousness not born of respect but of embarrassment – what will I do today that will make them laugh, what will I do today that will make their group the centre of mocking attention? They accept his idiosyncrasies, hiscoarse, mortifying behaviour, easily enough. But not mine, never mine. I am, after all, not their golden hero. I have no desire to embarrass either them or myself, but how am I to react to this place and these people with anything other than confusion? How am I to prevent the inadvertent social gaffes that plague me, when I do not know either their language or their customs well enough to avoid such things? It is not as though I ever studied this place in depth before I came here. I learnt the standardised version of their language, nothing more. I was never intending to stay.
I had planned for only two possible endings for my ultimately disastrous venture; my success or my death. There was, I admit, a third possible end to it, but it was not one I cared to think about. Frieza was easy enough for me to provoke into a murderous rage, surely I could have – and did, in fact – goad him into killing me. And then he wanted me brought back, to be another idiotic sycophant in his already swollen Court, to fawn on him, to make him feel great that he is so much stronger. To be his punching bag, his favoured sparring partner. So that he can look in my eyes at the end of the fight and know that he has beaten me again. I would have preferred death, but he demanded that I have life, something that I have never prized so much. I did not wish to preserve either my life, or that of others. That was his goal, not mine. But in any event, my ending up on this soft little planet, living amongst its soft, gentle people, nominal allies with its defenders, simply wasn’t in the plan. Not even the worst scenario, and certainly not the best.
I think it was in his plan though, somewhere along the line. He wants me – oh, not sexually, the man’s too innocent in mind and too sated in body to want me in his bed. His lady is enough for that. But he wants me, wants me to be a part of him, a part of his group, almost desperately, to give him the adoration of the last member of his own kind other than himself. To stroke his ego even more than it already is. And to that end he is quite adamant that I am included in all invitations to all events, and somehow when I refuse to come, I still end up amongst them, manipulated or blackmailed, physically dragged if need be. And I find I am beginning to fit them. Or they to fit me. I think it might be both, for I have witnessed changes in myself that I would never have envisaged, but they are changing also. Becoming, in some cases, braver, or letting a side of themselves show through that they never did before. Already I have found myself in a battle of wits with the little ex-monk. His sarcasm can be quite pointed. And I am not certain, but the bandit has begun to look at me as his former woman does. I have a feeling that they are contemplating sharing.
Two unlooked for lovers at once. It would be quite ironic if the virgin Prince of a dead race ended up in such a situation. I would not look forward to such a situation, not even to the possibility of having one lover. I have few sexual urges to speak of, being somewhat stunted in my development. Perhaps my line was over-bred – it would not surprise me if that were so. Radditz and Nappa certainly showed no such lack. Though, surprisingly, Kakkarrot does. For all his innocence I did not expect such a thing of him. Somehow I had thought that he would be the instigator in the bedroom, but after overhearing whispered conversations between his mate and my hostess, it seems that the female holds sway even there. Although, in pursuing this line of thought, I wonder if perhaps Nappa and Radditz were the abnormal ones. My species did not procreate very much, barely keeping our population level. We were both long-lived and enormously successful on our planet, dominating the ecology so much that other species had adapted specifically to survive us. We did not need to reproduce very often. Not like these weak humans.
They are numerous now that they have tamed their planet, swarming through their cities and living in such close proximity that it makes me gag. They have lost the pack mentality, becoming featureless people in featureless buildings, neighbours not knowing neighbours, families not meeting for weeks or months on end. Even my people, cold and brutal as the woman says we were, held more warmth for our relations than these creatures seem to. My mother, had she lived, would never have left me in the care of a stranger simply to go out and “socialise” with her mate while I was still too young to eat solids. She may have been induced to leave me with her mother, or an aunt, but not some strange female that she had to pay to look after me. Where is the guarantee that the child will not be harmed by this carer who is not kin? Yet here it seems commonplace, normal. On Vejiita-sei, at the very least they would have to be pack-mates to be allowed anywhere near the child.
Kakkarrot’s mate, at least, seems to share these views with me. She will allow none who is not a friend or relation to care for her son. And even then she is anxious about it, giving out contact details, fluttering around her precious brat in a flurry of protectiveness. Even little Trunks, whose life began so unnaturally from a sample of my seed stolen while I lay helpless from injury, is fussed over by both the woman and the banshee. I know I shouldn’t, but I envy the boy that protection. My mother died a little before my birth – I had to be cut from her body and nurtured in a tank, by mechanical aid, for a large portion of my development. I was told, as a child, that I was all the more precious because they had almost lost me several times. This did not prevent my father from giving me up without a second thought. To him I was not precious.
That is one thing I cannot fault this particular group for. They guard little Gohan and Trunks zealously, and even the woman – as bound up in her inventions as she is – has offered to look after the former if the banshee cannot. That they do not ask me to guard their offspring is significant. For all their nominal acceptance of me, I am not yet so trusted as to be allowed near their precious ones. Except for he who is still intent on making me domesticated, docile… tame. As though I could not be civilised without his aid, without the aid of these chattering buffoons. I am not so foolish, either in appearance or in behaviour to warrant such condescension. And it makes my teeth itch whenever they call out that I ‘don’t know any better.’ Like some half-bred country cousin they must steer through the reefs of life. They would not adapt so well in another country, let alone another planet. He has already proven that he could not, and they follow his example like brain-damaged sheep.
Ah, but my rage blinds me sometimes, to the concern they so often demonstrate, the gentle worry that settles over their features whenever someone other than one of their own speaks to me. They are as protective of me as they are of the children. Even the bandit – as much as he resents my presence – has beaten some strange, fat man into a pulp for calling me by some slang term or other. They would not explain to me what it meant, and I still wonder what on earth it was that could have made all of them so angry. The banshee even covered her child’s ears as though she could prevent him hearing what he had already heard. Their rage was enough to shake the mountains, even hers, and I have yet to understand it. I am not a part of their group, not by a long way, and still they hold their hands out to me, drawing me in to a place I do not want to go. I am Saiyajin! I have no need for the company of these weak and foolish humans.
But they do not seem to agree with me on that, and are quite blatant in their cosseting. Often have they discussed me when they thought I was paying no attention, throwing theories as to the root cause of my behaviour about as though they were children’s toys. I find some of them amusing and some of them disturbing, these ideas they throw around so easily. And some have come too close to things that actually happened for me to be too complacent over their discussions. Perhaps they are right, and I am truly misformed socially, but need they dissect my inadequacies amongst themselves so openly? It is humiliating to be considered so backward and have it discussed out loud.
I am not a fool. I know that even amongst my own people I would have been considered tempestuous, unpredictable, arrogant and over-confident. I know that they would have thought me a dangerous liability, and certainly would never have gone to the effort of enfolding me in their society as these ones do. I think I would prefer that attitude to this suffocating concern. He cannot see how much I wish to run from this overwhelming inclusion. I feel caged, a single cell always under a microscope. Their continuous attention is unnecessary. I have all I need. I want them to leave me be. They cannot see that. Or perhaps they can and simply do not accept it. Have they never observed how a child, when crying, simply wishes to hide somewhere until the tears stop? Have they never seen that too much attention merely makes the injury feel worse? Are they blind?!
I cannot be as they are, and I have no wish to have this fact ground into my face each and every time I see them. They are a part of a whole, a picture well-framed and complete. They have no need of me. I would be a… a black splotch of ink on a fine watercolour. It is not necessary to the picture, mars it beyond repair. I have no idea why the picture itself, in this case, wants the ink.
And of course I, in my foolish have managed to think this so clearly that any fool could pick it out of my head. And naturally the Namek did so, on the order of that idiot fool, to make sure my thoughts are not dangerous, that I am slowly and surely becoming as he wants me to. But this time my bitterness is obvious, my sense of entrapment evident in every image in my mind. And naturally he replies to it, without even lifting his head.
“Have you ever thought that you’re the picture, and we’re the frame?”
And strong arms slip around my waist to hold me against a broad chest, while pale, delicate hands wrap themselves around my shoulders, and for once I have no words to marshal in reply.