Rebels Chapter 18: Scars


Vegeta awoke the next morning before Kakarotto did. A tiny smile, not a smirk, broke across his countenance when he realized the warm body in his arms was his mate. He tightened his arms slightly and leaned forward, burying his nose into the fragrant, spiky locks of his mate.

“’Geta?” Slowly, Goku came awake. He hadn’t felt this good…this warm in weeks… At first he was reluctant to wake, afraid that it had all been a dream. When the warm, comforting arms encircling him and the spicy, musky scent did not go away though, the hope that maybe it wasn’t a dream became stronger, and he raised sleep-dusted eyelids warily.

“Mmm?” A muffled rumble replied from somewhere in the depths of his hair.

Goku turned such that he faced his mate, and Vegeta drew him in for a sweet kiss. “Morning koi…”

Goku smiled happily against the kiss, pleased by Vegeta’s sudden tenderness. The two kissed and cuddled in bed for a while more until the insistent rumbles of the bottomless pit commonly known as a Saiyan stomach became too loud to ignore. The two pulled on matching black boxers and made their way to the kitchen, their tails looped around each others’.

After Goku cleared away the empty plates, his mood became withdrawn for a moment. “’Geta? Yesterday you said you could remove that scar…”

“Hai.” Vegeta got up and led the way to the medical bay. “The most common method is laser surgery, but since we do not have such facilities on board, you will have to do it the way I removed mine. That was one of the first few things I did when I returned to Earth after Namek; I bugged the onna for a bean and final flashed that scar.”

He opened a drawer and withdrew the container containing the senzu beans. “It will probably hurt like hell…”

“I don’t care.” Goku frowned. “I just want this off me.”

Vegeta handed a senzu bean to Goku before replacing the container. “I’m going to burn off the scar. The scar from the brand formed because the healing was slow enough that a scab formed. [1] Do you want to do it or…?” He looked at Goku questioningly.

Goku turned to the side and dropped his boxers, gritting his jaw. “You do it…”

Vegeta lowered his brightly glowing hand quickly to Goku’s left flank, searing off a good portion of his flesh. Goku flinched, but the agony was over in a second. He popped the bean into his mouth and chewed, twisting his head around to look down at the same time. The healing was almost instantaneous; the new skin reforming quickly. No scar remained, only a patch of skin slightly paler than the surrounding flesh.

Goku blinked rapidly. Just like that, one of the problems that had been troubling him was resolved. However, he knew that was also the easiest.

Vegeta watched worriedly as Goku pulled up his boxers silently. The Earth-raised Saiyan he knew would have leapt up with a wide Son grin and made some cheery if inane remark, but the tall warrior in front of him was uncharacteristically quiet. Vegeta may have continually complained about his mate’s baka-ness, but he would give anything now to hear a flippant comment.

“Kakarotto? Are you ok?”

Goku looked up with a weak smile. “Ya… Why?”

Vegeta studied his mate in silence for a while. Physically, the brawny warrior had lost quite a bit of weight. His skin was pale and sallow, his tail limp and lusterless. Even his ebony hair looked duller, the spikes appearing to sag slightly. However, what was more distressing was his eyes and attitude. Kakarotto looks…withdrawn…defeated. His eyes had lost that innocent gleam; he looked older.

Vegeta decided that perhaps Kakarotto just needed some time to sort himself out. Maybe he would be back to normal after a few days of rest and good food. “Nothing. How do you feel?”

“A bit tired.” Goku slipped his hand into Vegeta’s as they walked towards their bedroom. “I think I’ll lie down for a while.”

-----

Days passed and Goku slowly regained his health. However, he remained uncharacteristically quiet and spent much of his time either sleeping or brooding in their bedroom. He also made no sexual advances, other than kissing and cuddling. Vegeta was starting to get really worried.

Zarbon looked up as Vegeta walked into the kitchen. “Where’s Kakarotto?” He had adopted Vegeta’s habit of calling Goku by his Saiyan name.

Vegeta sat down in a chair opposite Zarbon. He wasn’t really hungry at the moment; he just felt an uncharacteristic urge to talk. Since his mate has been unnaturally tired for the past few days, he found himself in the company of Zarbon often.

“Sleeping…”

Zarbon slanted a look at the frowning ouji. “You’re worried about him.”

Vegeta sighed, crossing his arms. “Dammit, he just isn’t his normal self.”

“Do you expect him to be unaffected by his experiences?”

“No… But this isn’t healthy either. He’s physically all right, but he still spends a lot of time sleeping. Or brooding.”

Zarbon finished the last of his sandwich and dusted his fingers neatly over his plate. “I think you should talk to him about it.”

“He doesn’t seem to want to talk about it. He’s withdrawing into himself.” Vegeta scowled impatiently.

Zarbon leaned over and jabbed a manicured finger into the prince’s chest. “Talk. To. Him. Tell him about your past, it’ll help him.”

“Since when have you become a shrink?” Vegeta fidgeted uncomfortably.

“Don’t skirt the topic.” A tense silence as Vegeta continued to scowl even deeper.

“Hn.”

-----

Goku was headed towards the kitchen for a snack when he heard the low murmur of voices inside. Immediately, he stopped, tensed and unsure of what action to take next. Somehow, he didn’t feel like interacting with people, especially Zarbon. While he was grateful that Zarbon had come to help rescue him, he was still quite insecure over the beautiful Readan and avoided the blue-skinned warrior whenever he could.

Slowly, he turned and trudged back to his bedroom. He sank back into the plush bed and closed his eyes wearily. He was eating and resting regularly now, but for some reason, he still felt just so tired! Vegeta had asked him if he wanted to resume training with him, but Goku had declined, pleading exhaustion.

The usually gruff prince had also tried to speak to him a few times about his health or ordeal, but Goku did not feel like talking at all. Kami! He just wanted to forget all that happened.. but he can’t. He shivered as he hugged a pillow and inhaled his mate’s scent.

The worst part was the fact that he was still uncomfortable with overly intimate contact. On one hand, he was desperate for Vegeta’s touch, and they now kissed and cuddled frequently. However, whenever his mate tried to move beyond that, he would tense up as unwanted memories intruded. He could see that Vegeta was hurt but complied with his requests anyway. He hated this…hated his frigidity… At this rate, he wouldn’t be surprised if he drove his mate away himself!

-----

“Kakarotto?” Vegeta was leaning against the headboard reading while Goku was content to lie with his head pillowed in his mate’s lap.

“Ya ‘Geta?”

“Do you want to talk?”

Goku tensed slightly. “About what?”

“Anything.” Vegeta placed the portable electronic reader away. When Goku kept silent, he sighed. “Koi… I’m not going to get disgusted or ashamed of you because of what happened, I won’t reject you.”

“But that’s because you don’t know what happened yet!” Goku blurted out.

“I can imagine.” Vegeta collected his thoughts for a while. “This isn’t easy for me – I’ve buried these memories for almost three decades.”

“It’s a popular habit to brand slaves. The location of the brand often reveals information about the type of slave. You were branded on your flank – an intimate area. That means Coolant treated you as his sex slave.”

Goku closed his eyes in shame, his lips drawn in a thin line. So Vegeta knew all along.

“Nappa was a common fighter; he was marked near his ankle. Technicians and other support crew normally have a brand on their arms for easy identification. I was branded on my thigh.”

“What does that mean?” Goku asked in a curious whisper.

“It means that while I was a fighter, I also had … other roles. Remember the time I danced at the club?”

“You were a dancer?” Goku found the idea a little ludicrous.

“Baka!” Vegeta cuffed his mate irritably, then rubbed the crease between his brows in an effort to relieve the tension there. “Gomen… I didn’t mean to snap at you; it’s just that this is hard for me. I’ve not told anyone of this… All these events took place more than three decades ago.”

Goku kept quiet as Vegeta continued. “I was an entertainer.” His voice dripped with distaste. “Of sorts. Frieza had developed an…interest in me… I would be…required…to dance, sing, perform…” His voice trailed off bitterly.

Goku slanted a blank look at his mate, and Vegeta inwardly cursed his mate’s lack of acuity. “Frieza no chikushoume found it amusing to see us…couple with each other… Sometimes he would take us as well…”

Goku couldn’t believe his ears; was Vegeta trying to say what he thought he was saying?

“Shimatta! Baka! You were not the only one raped!” Vegeta’s face darkened in anger and embarrassment.

Goku sat up in bed and twisted around so that he faced Vegeta. “Oh, ‘Geta…”

“I don’t want your pity baka!” The proud ouji barked harshly. “I only told you this so that you know that I understood what you went through.” He averted his face, staring at some spot on the wall. “I’ve never planned to tell you about…that part of my life… I didn’t want your pity. Don’t offer me any foolish platitudes.”

After a long tense silence, during which the two stayed as still as statues, Vegeta finally turned to look at his shocked mate’s face. “However, I wasn’t a sex slave. Those ordeals did not take place often; I was one of Frieza’s elite fighters after all, and he could not afford to have me broken. Subdued, yes. Humiliated, certainly. But a totally broken solider is a useless one. So in that sense, my experience was different from yours.”

Goku scooted forward and sat on Vegeta’s lap. “How could you stand it?” He asked softly, leaning his forehead to touch his mate’s.

“Unlike you, I tried to cover my humiliation with anger. I trained incessantly, and I took out my rage during missions. I was a stubborn bastard – The more the ice-jin tried to break me, the more I was determined that he wouldn’t. His purpose of such torture, aside from his own sick amusement, was to make us submissive, and that was the one thing I refused to become. Of course I wasn’t stupid; I wasn’t openly defiant. I just bided my time for the time when I could kill him. But I had let that rage and hate overwhelm my life, something I’m not very proud of. I was angry at everybody, at everything. I hated Frieza with a passion, and when you defeated me, I was absolutely furious at you. It took me a long time to come to terms with it. I can’t really say I’ve gotten over it; I don’t think it’s something I can get over that easily. I still have a lot of anger in me, I know, but it’s not the main focus of my life now.”

Vegeta pushed Goku away gently to look deeply into his eyes.

“I may or may not have made peace with it, I like to think I have, but I’ve at least come to terms with it. It’s a part of my past, there’s nothing I can do to change it. I’m certainly not going to whine about it and use that as an excuse for anything else that goes wrong with my life. In my opinion, shit happens. Just accept it, learn from it and move on. If you let it get to you… If you let it rule your life… If you cower in fear, then he would have won. But you have to face up to it, even if you don’t like it, even if it scares the shit out of you.”

“I’m not going to pity or coddle you; I KNOW you are stronger than that. I… I just want to help you… If you want…” Vegeta’s voice fell into a harsh whisper.

Goku fell into a thoughtful reverie. The hard-bitten prince was right; he was running away from his problems. He was becoming too withdrawn, too fearful. Vegeta had come after him tenaciously and doggedly despite the weakened bond, even setting aside his own shame to seek entrance into the ice-jin’s compound and finally accepting him even after what had been done to him. Yet the ice-jin still might succeed in breaking him, in driving a wedge in their relationship if he did not confront his fears.

Yet why was it so difficult? Goku knew he wasn’t the type to think too long or hard about anything, his life so far had always been simple and carefree. Even when forced to fight enemies to save Earth and the ones he loved, it had been very clear-cut and straightforward. Fight or die. This was different… Wasn’t it? With a start, Goku realized that this was actually a fight for his life as well, much like any other fight in his life. The way he was now, he wasn’t really living.

You keep me standing tall
You help me through it all
I’m always strong when you’re beside me
I have always needed you
I could never make it alone


“Help me koi…” Goku’s voice shook slightly as he leaned forward to brush his lips tentatively against Vegeta’s.

Onto Chapter 19

 

Back to IaV


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A/N: *cringes a little…hopes it wasn’t too sappy* So now we catch a further glimpse into Vegeta’s mysterious past. Umm… more to come in later chapters; it’s unlikely that Vegeta would suddenly reveal all. Here’s my take on his personality and how he reacted to what was done to him in the past; I hope it’s quite in character and also quite believable. I know a lot of fics out there portray him as a victim but I really think that he isn’t broken; he’s definitely a survivor. Otherwise he wouldn’t be able to achieve what he has, ne?

Also this is my take on how Goku would react in a (almost) similar situation. I wanted a bit of irony here; for once Goku is placed in such a scenario, yet I would imagine he would react differently, given his background.

Ok, I’m not a psychology student but hey, this is what I observe. Some people break, some people get angry and get even, some people withdraw, some people pretend nothing’s wrong.

[1] Just a note; this is a (not that) new idea on preventing scar formation; don’t let the scab form. As a road cyclist, I had occasion to verify this; instead of letting the wound dry up, place this stretchy plasticky membrane (not band-aid! Forgot what it’s called, been some time since I last fell heh heh) over the wound. This prevents scab formation and the wound remains wet while the new skin forms underneath. Looks really gross, like a huge pus bubble but it works; scarring isn’t as bad. Er, of course it won’t be as perfect as what I make it out to be in this fic, but it’s MY fic, so there!

Anyone still here after the long-winded author’s notes? ^_^

 

Special thanks to Dark Fate for beta-ing this chapter!





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