He’s really not that much taller than me…
He holds himself with such pride and confidence, the sheer force of his personality is almost, no, in fact it is probably more powerful than his ki. I hold back a snicker, knowing I would get blasted for it. But really, when he’s not out there on the battlefield, when he’s just…being normal… Only then do I realize that he isn’t as big as he seems…
Surprised at that observation, I continue studying the Saiyan-jin prince before me, secretly. He is about Bulma’s height, and unlike the other fighters, unlike ‘tousan, his frame is slim and compact. Hard to believe that he is one of the most powerful fighters around.
We are waiting for ‘tousan to recover in one of the regeneration tanks, snatching a brief moment of peace as we sit around a table, scarfing down pizza. I know Frieza’s here. I don’t know what will happen next, whether we will win or not, but I’m not the kid I was before ‘tousan died, before the Saiyan-jins came. I know it won’t be pretty, but for the moment, I am desperately trying to forget all that.
I eye the man who is seated opposite me out of the corner of my eye as I reach for another slice of pizza, but I need not have worried. His attention is not on me; he seems preoccupied as he munches absently on his own slice, his brows drawn in a scowl. He looks angry, frustrated…even nervous. Vegeta is worried? Now I’m worried… He always has this overwhelming sense of confidence, so this Frieza guy must be really powerful. Back when we were fighting the Ginyu force, he was mostly angry. But right now, he seems more worried rather than mad. That’s scary.
Somehow, I feel the need to cheer him up a bit. I don’t know why; he is the enemy, and he did try to kill me. Maybe it’s because I don’t like to see people sad, but I also get the strange feeling that he isn’t such a bad guy deep down inside after all. Everyone else had told me about what Piccolo-san was like before I was born, but he’s a good guy now. Maybe Vegeta will be too?
Looking down at the empty cardboard boxes, I am not surprised to see that we have finished everything. Even though we don’t eat as much as ‘tousan, we are still Saiyan-jin.
“Vegeta-san? Are you still hungry?” I ask tentatively as I stack the boxes. The room is a mess, though it is mainly Bulma’s stuff. As soon as she got here, she started popping her capsules and making herself at home. Vegeta had complained loudly at first, but he stopped when she popped a stack of frozen pizzas in a microwave and our stomachs growled at the smell of cooking cheese. She didn’t want to leave me alone with Vegeta at first, but she really wanted to take a look at the regeneration tanks. That’s Bulma.
“Hn.” He leans back with a scowl. “That Ningen food you call pizza; it is not too bad. Make some more for me, brat.”
“Hai.” I grin to myself as I carry the wobbly pile to throw in the bin. I haven’t known Vegeta for long, but I can tell that is his way of saying that he likes pizza. Maybe he’s okay after all. As I open the fridge, I hear him ask. “What is this?”
I pull out two more frozen cardboard boxes and turn to look at him. He is holding up a small red and white packet with a sneer. “Oh, those are Bulma’s cigarettes.”
“Cigarettes?” He opens the pack and takes a curious sniff, scrunching his nose in distaste.
I nod as I place the boxes in the microwave. “Yeah, she smokes when she gets stressed.”
Vegeta raises a brow and I walk back to the table. Picking up her lighter, I explain further as I fumble with a stick. “Yes, I’ve seen her do it. She lights it like this… Then she puts it in her mouth and starts inhaling.”
“That sounds disgusting.” Vegeta scowls.
“I don’t know… “ I shrug with a small smile. “She refuses to let me try. She says it is not suitable for kids.”
Vegeta looks as if he is about to say something sarcastic again, but then the sneer falls off his face and is replaced by a thoughtful expression as he takes another stick from the pack. He rolls it between his fingers, muttering to himself. “So this relieves stress?”
I watch curiously as he lights the cigarette with a small flare of ki from his other fingertip and then, placing the amber-colored end to his lips, he takes a deep breath. Immediately he doubles over and falls off the chair, choking and coughing and cursing in some language I’ve never heard before.
“Vegeta-san!” I rush over to his side, but he pushes me back weakly with a low snarl.
“Fuck off, brat!” He coughs again and I stand worriedly beside him as he crouches on the floor, hacking away. Finally, he stops and he draws in a ragged breath. “Shimatta. Ningens are crazy.”
Then to my surprise, Vegeta sits back on his heels and raises the cigarette to his lips again before taking in another drag, though not as deeply this time. He coughs and chokes again, but recovers quickly. And then, a puff becomes two, then four. I watch in amazement as the fearsome Saiyanjin warrior quickly gets the hang of smoking, though he was still coughing slightly. His movements as he sucks in a breath of the smoke seem jerky, almost desperate.
“Do I feel relaxed now?” I jump as he speaks up suddenly. He gives a sudden bark of laughter as he closes his eyes, his head falling forward slightly. “Dammit…” He curses and mutters softly again in that strange tongue as he stubs out the cigarette on the floor. I don’t know what he is saying, but he sounds defeated and miserable.
Hesitantly, I sink to my knees in front of him, and without really knowing why I am doing this; I wrap my arms tentatively around his neck. To my surprise, he does not punch me in the face. He stiffens, and then to my greater surprise, he slowly raises his arms and hugs me back around my waist.
I don’t know how long we stay there. He seems lost in his own thoughts and I am just desperate for some contact, some reassurance as well. For a moment, I forget that I am hugging the man who has tried to kill me and everyone else that I love. For a moment, I forget all about Frieza as I bury my face in his upswept hair, breathing in the strong, slightly smoky musk that smells like ‘tousan and yet smells very different. It was spicy and oddly comforting, and I feel a small tear leaking out at the corner of my left eye. I wish… I wish…
Suddenly, the microwave dings and he jerks back with a scowl, the moment gone. Blinking rapidly, he stands up and rakes a shaky hand through his hair as he glares down at me. I hold my breath in fear as he stares daggers at me for a second longer before striding across the room towards the microwave. I release my breath shakily in relief and disappointment as I stand up as well.
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