Kakkarot was limping again.
Vejiita no Ouji noticed it immediately but didn't think much of it. His 16 year old page usually spent most of his free hours training. It wasn't the first time he'd overdone his workout.
Kakkarot was desperate to be a warrior. His low ki had excluded him from military service; only his brother's influence had gotten him onto Vejiita's staff. It was a fact that Radditz never let him forget.
Kakkarot had done an excellent job in Vejiita's household, and the prince relied on him. For someone of his age and power level, Kakkarot had done quite well.
He still yearned to be a warrior, though. Vejiita understood: the boy was saiyajin, after all. And it had been a pleasure watching him fill out into a strong youth on the edge of manhood. His strength increased steadily and he was exuberant. It was hard not to be drawn to him.
In return, Kakkarot had a crush on him. It was sweet and undemanding, and Vejiita had begun to welcome it. The brat was too young, but not by much. Maybe a year. Yet by that time, Vejiita expected he would have to let him go. Kakkarot would disappear into the army and his transient affections would fade.
Vejiita tried not to care.
Now Kakkarot's face was pale and drawn with pain. If it was this bad, why hadn't he gone into a regeneration tank? Come to think of it, the brat had been injured a lot lately.
He watched Radditz grab Kakkarot's arm and whisper. Kakkarot's face flushed and then went pale, but he nodded. He tried not to limp anymore.
Radditz... A mean bastard. Very good at his job.
Vejiita smelled blood, suddenly, and fear.
That evening, he sent Radditz off on an errand. Nappa followed the prince and his page into Vejiita's office and shut the door behind them. Outside he waited in case Radditz came back early, scowling.
Inside, Kakkarot stood straight, his eyes wide as Vejiita gently drew off the teenager's scouter. Once the green lens was gone, the bruises were apparent.
Vejiita peeled armor and clothing away carefully, revealing bruises and sealed wounds. He was careful, touching him as little as possible, but Kakkarot was trembling by the time Vejiita found what he was looking for.
Kakkarot had been careful. But there was no way of bandaging *this* wound, and the packing was sodden now with blood.
"He won't let you go to the tanks."
Eyes on the floor now. "No."
"Is this the first time?"
Kakkarot shook his head.
"What excuse did he use?"
"I... I was clumsy..."
He picked up the naked teenage and took him to his personal tank. Before he slipped the mask over his face, a desperate whisper reached him.
"Don't tell him!"
Vejiita gently pressed his lips to Kakkarot's forehead. "Sleep. I will keep you safe."
The tank filled slowly, and those dark eyes never left him until the healing sleep came for him.