Vegeta never realised how much damage Frieza’s damn transport pods had on him until it’s twelve years after Frieza’s death and Vegeta is suddenly hyperventilating in the suffocating space of an escape pod.
He’s not alone. Kakarot is staring at him in absolute horror as Vegeta drops to his knees and tries to calm down. He can’t though, not with the crushing atmosphere of the small space closing in on him. It’s not just the lack of room, it’s the reminders of the space, the death of thousands and the destruction of so many planets. So much murder and chaos, things he hasn’t rejoiced in for years. It up turns his stomach, rolls it around until he’s clutching his head and begging not to throw up.
He can hear Kakarot fidgeting over top of him, clearly unable to go anywhere else. The pod is so small they’re lucky they’re not slammed right up against each other. It’s suppose to be for the small Tuffles that have tried to invade the planet, not large saiyans. The pods weren’t designed for this.
Nor were they designed for comforting a panicking saiyan either. Vegeta knows he’s taking over most of the floor space, backing Kakarot into a corner, but he can’t think outside of his own head as the sheer panic overwhelms him.
“Vegeta?” Kakarot calls out to him, and it sounds so far away. Vegeta tries to focus on Kakarot’s voice, but it’s drowned out by the blood rushing in his ears. He starts to rock gently, wondering if the movement will help to calm him down, but it does nothing to his frayed nerves.
He knows its the stress of the just recent battle, of the exploding starship behind them, and the confined space. He knows it’s irrational, but it helps none as he just drowns and drowns and drowns…
“Vegeta!” Kakarot yells, his voice cutting through the haze, and Vegeta startles as he turns his head. Kakarot is in front of him, bending at the hips to be able to peer down to his height. Vegeta tries to say something, anything, but nothing comes out except a strangled gasp.
It surprises him when Kakarot suddenly moves forward and drags Vegeta upwards. Vegeta almost yelps, completely startled, but no noises come through the haze as he just flops into Kakarot’s grasp and lets himself be manhandled.
He refuses to acknowledge that his automatic instinct when he’s settled back down between Kakarot’s legs, Kakarot’s knees raised and bracketing him in, is to curl into Kakarot’s chest. He closes his eyes and the warm darkness helps. There’s no visual stimulation, and when Kakarot’s arms come up with one wrapping around Vegeta’s waist and the other around his head, the audial stimulation is cut out too.
It’s less stressful, and Vegeta focuses on his breathing. He feels Kakarot’s chest rising and falling under his cheek, and he concentrates on that as he desperately struggles to relax his breathing.
He focuses on the now, focuses on Kakarot’s arms around him, the humming of the pod beneath him, the heat of Kakarot’s thighs on his sides.
Vegeta thinks its going okay, thinks that he’s calming down, when suddenly it’s like there’s a megaphone in his ears and Frieza’s cackle is channeling through him. It’s a kick start though, and while all the other images had flooded him with regret and dread, Frieza just fuels him with white hot rage and he takes a deep breath before just slamming all his thoughts shut. Closes everything down, smashes through the haze and clings to the clarity on the other side.
Slowly the cackle in his ears fade, the ice in his veins melts, and his breathing evens out. His hands feel achy from where they’ve been clenched in Kakarot’s gi for so long, and he gently flexes them.
He’s got enough of a headspace back that he opens his eyes to glance up at Kakarot. He can’t meet Kakarot’s eyes though, and he keeps them locked on his jaw instead.
“Apologies,” he murmurs, his voice gruff and strained to his own ears.”I did not anticipate such a reaction.”
“To what?” Kakarot asks him, moving his head around and clearly trying to make eye contact. “What happened, Vegeta? I’ve never seen you react like this.”
Vegeta is wary to tell him, but considering he’s still curled up in Kakarot’s arms and he has just lost it in front of him, well he probably deserves an explanation.
“You’ve been in those pods we use to travel in, haven’t you?” he starts, the words surprisingly easy to push out. “Frieza never understood that saiyans only used them for short distances, not the lengths that Frieza would push us too. The longest we spent was two months straight.”
“Two months? You stopped over though, right?” Kakarot asks in disbelief, and Vegeta snorts.
“You’d think,” he snarks, “but Frieza never allowed it. Sometimes if we were lucky we’d be placed in a stupor to last us the majority of the ship, but Friea wasn’t a fan of that either. It would leave us befuddled when we landed and… well, soldiers aren’t useful if they’re dazed and confused all the time.”
Vegeta huffs and turns his head away from Kakarot’s face again, dropping his head to Kakarot’s shoulder. He has half a mind to move away, but there is nowhere to go until Bulma draws in their pod onto her ship, and that could be minutes or hours.
So he rests against Kakarot and just listens to their breathing as he continues talking.
“I didn’t realise what a toll it would have on me. It’s been years, but apparently a cramped space such as this reminds me too much of those times.” He squeezes his eyes shut as images flick through his memory, and it surprises him when Kakarot sighs deeply, his huge breath ruffling Vegeta’s hair.
“I get it,” Kakarot says, and that causes Vegeta to open his eyes again. He doesn’t look up just yet, but he listens as Kakarot’s arms tense around him and the man clears his throat. “I mean, not that, but something similar. Grandpa Gohan use to have to take a trip to Satan City to buy supervisions. We were self-sustained normally, but there are just some things…” He sighs above Vegeta, and surprises him even more when Kakarot drops his forehead to press against the top of Vegeta’s.
“Kakarot?” he asks, unsure what to do, but Kakarot just talks over top of him.
“This one time he took me and we, well we crashed. We hit a dinosaur of all things and it destroyed the car. We were lucky to make it out of there with only the few scratches and bruises we had.” He pauses to huff against Vegeta’s head, ruffling Vegeta’s hair with his heavy breath. “I’ve not been able to get in a car since. I tried learning once, but… I just can’t.”
Vegeta hums before he gets it. “So that why you fly or take the nimbus or-”
“Instant Transmit,” Kakarot finishes, and Vegeta nods as it makes sense. He never has seen Kakarot in a car, and the only time he was in any form of transport was when he was unconscious or in space.
He doesn’t really know what to say at the confessions they’ve just given each other, but luckily he’s saved by the sudden screeching of the pod they’re in grinding to a halt, and Bulma’s loud voice blears over the internal speakers.
“You’re back, boys! I hope the Tuffles didn’t give you too much trouble!” she whoops, her voice sounding tinny and distorted. Vegeta glances up at the speaker but chooses not to reply.
Kakarot does though. “We’ll be there in a minute, Bulma,” he calls back. “It’s a bit cramped in here so we might need a bit of time to extract ourselves.”
It’s a barefaced lie. Climbing out of the pod will be easy, and as Vegeta hears Bulma’s laughter over the speakers before they cut out he pulls himself from Kakarot’s grip to stand up.
“Vegeta?” Kakarot says, his tone questioning, and Vegeta glances over at him as Kakarot also stands.
“Time to go,” he replies, his voice edgy and snappish. A part of him is angry at himself for reverting back to being standoffish, but another part realises that whatever cocoon the two of them have built in this pod will dissipate once they leave.
He doesn’t wait for a response as he turns to the exit, looking for the control panel to open the doors. He finds the large green button and hits it with his fist before starting to move out the opening.
He’s stopped though by a hand on his wrist, and he pulled around to smack straight into Kakarot’s chest. Vegeta starts to protest, his arms coming up to push himself away, but Kakarot’s arms come up to encompass him.
“If you ever need anything,” Kakarot murmurs into his ear, “whether to talk or… for comfort, you know you can come to me.”
“Kakarot…” Vegeta mutters, his voice muffled by Kakarot’s shoulder. He clenches his fingers into Kakarot’s gi though, holding tight as Kakarot’s arms squeeze around him.
“Anything at all,” Kakarot repeats before he pulls back and, for the millionth time, surprises Vegeta by taking his chin in hand and tilting his head up.
The kiss doesn’t land on his lips like he’s expecting, but instead Kakarot’s lips press to his forehead and linger for a long time. Vegeta can feel his cheeks flaming up red, and he admittedly melts into the tender moment.
When Kakarot pulls away its with an endearing smile, and he bends to press one more kiss to Vegeta’s red cheek before letting him go.
He doesn’t say another word as he walks past Vegeta, just maintains eye contact until he exits the pod and starts to walk away, leaving Vegeta behind.
But that’s not right.
“Kakarot!” Vegeta bellows, turning around and rushing out the doorway. The bastard can’t just kiss him like that then leave, that’s not right!
Kakarot just laughs though, and he glances back briefly to wink at Vegeta before taking off into the ship at a breakneck pace.
And Vegeta? Well, Vegeta was told that Kakarot would give him anything and right now Vegeta wants Kakarot, so Vegeta does what Vegeta does best.
He follows him.