Dying. It's become quite the habit for me. I lay here in a spreading pool of my own blood, every bone broken, skin charred away in places, probably not even recognizable as myself.
Too late to finish me off, Vegeta. I'm already dying. That last hit...sure did the trick....
He has always admired strength. Where has mine gone?
I look up at him, but all I see is a black cutout of his shape against the glare of the sun. He's probably still royally pissed--no pun intended--so it's probably best that my last memory of him won't be that ferocious scowl of his.
Like the fury that caused this mess.
* * *
"Vegeta, I have to tell you something."
Had more dangerous words ever been spoken? I'm sure they'd never passed my lips. I'd worshipped my Prince from afar for so long, but was I really about to tell him how I felt? How I craved? How I...needed?
But I'm reaching too far, and I know it. This was a stupid idea.
"Make it fast, Kakarot. I need a shower."
Oh, that created an all-too-absorbing image.
'Why did you have to say that, Vegeta?'
Glistening droplets of water on satin skin...steam and suds...the perfect, utterly breathtaking scent that is sweetly, beautifully Vegeta....
"Um, I dunno if I can say it fast, Vegeta. M-maybe I should...just tell you tomorrow."
But I won't. I won't tell him tomorrow. If I don't say it now, I never will. Somehow, I think he knows it, too. His eyes narrow.
"What is it, Kakarot?"
"I--" I stop myself, swallowing nervously and shifting my balance from foot to foot. "You remember when--" I cut off again, lowering my eyes. "You know how--"
"For God's sake, Kakarot, just spit it out."
"I love you."
I nearly bite off my own tongue in my haste to shut my mouth. Oh, God, did I really just blurt that out? The utter shock on Vegeta's face assures me I did. What the hell was I thinking?
Silence reigns, Vegeta's mouth hanging open, his wide eyes blinking every now and then. What should I do? Should I just leave?
He'll never accept me. Even if he could be attracted to men, he certainly could never be attracted to me. I'm just the third-class idiot, the ever-grinning fool, the worthless, bumbling shit-for-brains that can't do anything right.
Especially not beat around the bush. I can't believe I just said it like that!
And Vegeta still can't process it. At least he's not mad...yet. His mouth keeps working like it's trying to shut, but he just can't quite manage it. He's too....
"Vegeta? Um, could you just forget I said that?"
His head twitches slightly and his shocked expression finally starts to fade. His usual inscrutability slowly covers the more approachable shock, the strange metamorphosis fascinating. Vegeta has always fascinated me....
"Can I just forget it?"
I close my eyes. I may not be able to guess his mood from his eyes or expression, but I can definitely hear the stirrings of rage in his voice.
"Just forget it? Kakarot, you--" He bites off whatever he was about to say, clenching his jaw hard enough that I hear his teeth grit.
"What in God's name do you mean, you love me? Has the rest of your feeble brain leaked out of your thick skull?"
Flinching as the words wound me to my very soul, I take a step back, eyes still squeezed shut.
"Just...just forget it, Vegeta. I meant...something else."
"Something else?!" he roars, his energy flaring, burning me even at this distance. "What else could you mean, Kakarot? Please, feel free to enlighten me!"
He hates weakness. He hates weakness worse than anything, and I'll never win even the slightest affection from him if I can't face him. I truly didn't mean to tell him everything, to just blurt it out like that, but I won't--I can't take it back.
Opening my eyes, I fix him with my steadiest stare, refusing to wince at the cold, hard nothing in his eyes.
"Can I say this without your sarcasm, Vegeta?"
His eye twitches, but he nods once, briskly.
"You were there for me when ChiChi died. You kicked me out of my house when I would have sulked myself into an early death. You made me live again, Vegeta."
His fists clench, and he crosses his arms across his chest almost defensively, but he doesn't speak, doesn't interrupt. I am grateful.
"You sought me out when Bulma left, then again when she died. You asked--no, ordered me to fight you, and I did, knowing you needed it. You sought me out, Vegeta. You'd never done that before. To me, it meant you no longer saw me as your enemy, no longer just someone to beat."
He doesn't soften, but he doesn't rage at me, either. Is that a good sign?
"I think that was the start of it. You'd never really treated me like a person before--more as an obstacle, or a goal, if you were feeling magnanimous. Suddenly, I was necessary, and I--I...."
I trail off, unsure how to say what I mean. "I hadn't felt that way for a really long time."
Those had been the best months of my life. I saw him every day, sparred like the world would end on the morrow, and felt needed...important. Not because I was saving the world, but because Vegeta needed me. He needed my company. He needed who I was, not just what I could do.
Such a heady sensation.
Vegeta shifts, and I return to the present with a sigh. "The point is, Vegeta, that you became so...instrumental to me, to my every day. You were just...always there. And...."
I trail off, unable to repeat the words in the face of that unreadable, stony expression. He just stands there, black eyes hard, stance as immutable as time itself.
Finally, after a long, tense silence, he speaks. "And?"
Despite my will to be strong, I flinch. The single word is strangled, the husky voice I've come to love sounding distorted and choked. And I'd thought I was making progress....
"Come now, Kakarot. I have spared you my sarcasm. Tell me again. I want to hear it. Straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak."
Each hard word, each inflection burns. He's whipping me with his scorn, his rage. True to his word, he isn't sarcastic--merely derisive and cruel. Did I really expect anything else?
"Say it, Kakarot! I would have these be the last words you ever say."
His power explodes out of him, spiraling him directly to level two and shoving me back, forcing me to block and raise my own energy or be scalded by its very magnificence. He is magnificent, a Saiyan god surrounded by twisting, crackling lightning.
I've never seen him power up so completely so quickly. He is beyond rage. I think he really means to kill me this time. Surely, he doesn't mean it....
"Say it, damn you!" he roars, throwing his arms and head back and screaming his fury to the heavens, his energy skyrocketing, his aura a miniature sun of pure power. "SAY IT!"
His head comes back to center, his eyes meeting mine as I peer cautiously over my blocking arms. Those flashing green-blue orbs pierce to my very soul, flaying me wide open with their unbridled rage.
I had expected anger. I had expected disgust, affront, even a good, solid ass-kicking for my presumption, but not this tangible, burning fury.
How could I have guessed...?
"Say it." His voice is chillingly quiet, deathly hoarse.
Strength. He admires strength.
"I love you, Vegeta."
His fist fills the world before it smashes into my face.
* * *
How did he get the best of me? Simple. He wanted it. He wanted me beaten and broken and dying. He pummeled me to within an inch of my life, then formed an energy attack so large and concentrated I would have to ascend to even hope to block it.
He has always wanted to kill me.
So I finally let him.
And here I lie, unable to see him against the glare of the sun, unable to even reach toward him, to apologize for my presumption, to beg forgiveness for angering him so.
He admires strength, and I know he admired me once. I wish I could apologize for letting him down at my end. I don't want him to remember me like this.
His voice is almost soft, likely worn out from his screams. He cursed me in at least three languages at the height of his fury. Now, his rage has played out.
He falls to his knees beside me, and I hear my blood squelch around him. He's likely ruined his training gear now. God, I can't even bleed without screwing something up.
"Kakarot, I didn't mean it--" His words are broken by a sudden gasp.
I stare at him, trying to focus against the darkness creeping over my vision. I haven't heard Vegeta gasp in ages, not since he....
Not since he...cried...on Namek....
'Oh, Vegeta. I didn't mean to make you cry.'
"You idiot!" His voice is cracked and strained, the old insult not holding cruelty so much as...as regret? "You great, blithering idiot! Why didn't you block? I didn't mean it!"
Hands touch me lightly, carefully, one cupping the back of my neck, the other sliding around my side. I scream in agony as those hands lift me, only managing to avoid passing out because of the startling realization that Vegeta has clasped me close to his chest, wrapping his arms around me and crushing me. The pain is severe, but it's strangely distant. Vegeta's arms are much closer.
Why is he holding me?
"Damn you, Kakarot!" He's definitely crying now. Sobbing, really. "Why didn't you block? How could you do this to me?"
Is...is he...really upset?
It's too hard to think. I'm so cold. Usually, this close to Vegeta, I'm warm. Uncomfortably so.
But I'm dying, now, and dying slowly. I've only died fast before. I never had a chance to be so cold. Even Vegeta can't keep me warm.
"Don't leave, Kakarot. Don't leave me. I was only angry...."
"No, Kakarot! You can't go! I'm sorry! I take it all back!"
Does everyone's mind wander so when they die like this? I could swear Vegeta apologized.
But I can't. I've died before, and I know what this darkness behind my eyes means. It's too late to stay now, and all I can think is...how much...he admires strength....
"I--" Is that my voice? Boy, that Final Flash really did a number on my throat and lungs. "I'll always...be strong...for you...Ve...geta...."
'I'll always love you, Vegeta....'