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Growing Up

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The boy had been crying for hours. Gine’s instincts told her to go to comfort him, but she stopped herself every time her feet took her towards her child’s room. 

This cub was her first. He had only recently been extracted from his nursing capsule, and she was determined to do everything the Matron told her to ensure a strong warrior emerged from the house of Bardock. I can’t let him down. He’s got his mission off-world, and I’ve got mine.

“You should not run to your offspring when he cries, young one. This will only teach them that weakness is rewarded,” the elderly Matron had cautioned. Strength was valued in their race, and weakness was despised. It would be a disservice to her young, and a dishonor to her husband, to set up her progeny for failure.

Gine tried to return her focus to the slabs of meat that she was preparing, but every chop of her cleaver seemed to punctuate the continuous wails that her boy seemed more than willing to maintain. I must remain strong.The Matron said he would stop eventually.

A loud crash echoed throughout the dwelling, and the crying suddenly stopped. The silence hit her like an invisible blast, and she could not stop the panic rising in her chest. All too soon, the crying started again; however, this time it not tinged with annoyance or frustration. This time, the cry was mixed with fear and pain. Oh no! Raditz!

She ran down the hall, and frantically threw open the door. On the floor, next to a tipped over child containment unit, was her young cub. The little one lay on his back, tears streaming down his face. He looked up at her entrance, and immediately began to reach out for her. Without hesitation, Gine rushed to his side, and knelt beside him. Her hands and eyes did a quick inventory as she ran her fingers over his limbs and wiped the tears from his eyes. Oh, thank goodness. His head is fine...He’s still breathing...and he doesn’t appear to have any wounds.  

She sighed in relief and gently picked him up. She pulled him to her chest, and soon the boy’s tears began to wet and stain the front of her garments. She could not have cared less. One hand softly cradled his head, and smoothed the spikey black locks he had inherited from her, while the other hand rubbed his back in soothing patterns. 

As the child began to quiet, she remembered the experienced Matron’s lectures and attempted to put the child down. I need to stop this. He’ll be fine...I just need to put him down. Despite her efforts, however, he refused to let go. Still trembling, he tightly fisted his mother’s dress in his tiny hands and clung to her torso with surprising strength. His brown tail then wrapped itself around her wrist to further anchor himself to her. 

“Oh, Radi. It’s OK son...you’re OK. I know this hurts now, but tomorrow is a new day” She crooned in an effort to settle down the distraught youngster. When the child continued to cry, she spoke more firmly. “Raditz, you need to let go now.” 

The boy looked up at his mother’s face, eyes still shining with tears, and shook his head. 

“No.”

Gine studied the boy in her arms, conflicted between her own maternal instincts and the advice of the venerable Matron. She closed her eyes, determined to follow through and execute the Matron’s teachings. You can do this. Just don’t look at him. But, upon hearing the half-choked out sob of “Mama” come from her cub’s mouth, she looked down again at his tear streaked face. As she met his eyes with her own, she felt her prior resolve crumble and a kind smile grow on her face. She sighed in happy defeat, and wrapped her arms tighter around him. To hell with the Matron.

She carried him out of the room towards the chamber she shared with her mate, and lay down on the bedding all the while continuously rubbing circles on the youngsters back. Unconsciously, she found that she had begun to purr. The sound was barely audible, but her cub soon burrowed his face into her chest, seeking the calming vibrations that rumbled forth. Gradually, his sobs quieted and his breaths came out in even puffs. The boy’s tail, which had finally released her wrist, began to curl and uncurl with each inhale and exhale.

Gine looked at her son, and could not help but smile and marvel at then little being that she and her husband had created. She inhaled his scent, still new but slightly tinged with salt, deeply as she threaded her fingers through his course hair.  I watched him grow, but this is the first time I’ve actually...looked at him. He has his fathers eyes. She traced her finger over his hand, and was surprised when his fist wrapped around it. His little fingers... He even clenches his hands into fists when he sleeps.... 

A small snore interrupted her thoughts. After all that, you fell asleep. Poor Radi, you must be exhausted.” She whispered sympathetically and swept a few stray hairs from his face. Content and relaxed, for the first time in hours, Gine closed her eyes and joined her cub in sleep.

She awoke to the sounds of footsteps in her home. A figure stopped in the doorway, the light in the hallway casting a shadow on its form, and a recognizable, masculine scent reached her nose. She sighed in relief. Her mate was home. Gine rose up from the bed, the cub still in her arms, and walked over to her husband.

The Saiyan male dropped his duffle on the floor, and walked over to his female. A pleased grin graced his features, until he saw the boy in his mate’s arms. As he looked from her to the boy, and back again, he could not hide his sigh of disappointment. His woman had a soft touch, which had drawn him to her, but it had been her downfall on the battlefield. This boy had the potential to rise above his lower-class origins, and could not afford any setbacks. “Gine...”

“I know what you’re going to say Bardock, but I don’t care!” She whispered harshly so as not to wake the sleeping cub. “The Matrons don’t know everything. He’s my son, and you’re always gone anyway, so I will raise him how I see fit. If that includes holding him, or comforting him when he cries, I’m going to do it!” 

It was a low blow, and she knew it. She knew he hated being away from her, but her failure to be a successful combatant had relegated her to on-planet work and his success as a soldier meant he was called to purge planets. They had no choice.

“Gine, you know as well as I do that he could be sent to the youth sectors if they don’t think we are doing a good job.” It was a harsh truth, and it hung heavily in the air. Based on the boy’s latent power level, he could be taken away.

“I know...but, that won’t happen. Please Bardock, let me do this. Look…our Raditz is strong.” She gently shook the boy awake, and he blearily blinked his eyes to take in the new person standing before him. 

“Radi, this is your father.”

The boy seemed to take a moment to assess the figure in front of him before breaking into a smile. “Papa!” He exclaimed and jumped from his mother’s arms to latch onto the muscular forearm of his father.

Bardock huffed in annoyance, but took a moment to appreciate the grip the young one possessed. She noticed he did not make a move to remove the boy from his perch.  He merely raised an eyebrow towards his mate and, upon seeing her hopeful smile, reluctantly nodded his assent to her request. 

Her responding smile was so bright, it could have lit up an entire village. Bardock lightly caressed her cheek, and moved so that she could extricate the cub from his person. She happily walked to the kitchen to feed the young one, and her mate followed her in hopes of also receiving a meal.

“Thank you Bardock.” She said, after both males had gorged their fill. Gine could not help but chuckle at the boy who was now trying to imitate the stern expression on his father's face. ‘I know this isn’t traditional, but I feel like it’s the right thing to do. We’re his family. We shouldn't just ignore him like he doesn’t matter.”

Bardock looked at his mate, and back to the boy, but remained silent. His expression was cloudy, as if he wanted to say more, but had decided that this was not the time to argue. He placed his hand on the small of her back and guided her towards the boy’s chamber.  After righting the containment unit, he watched her place the young cub back into his own bedding and kiss the top of his head.

“Good night Radi. Tomorrow is a new day.” The boy smiled at his mother and looked over to his father as if expecting the same from him. The big male simply grunted at the boy, and walked towards his own chambers.

When Gine finally joined him, he was already naked and waiting for her.  Her eyes twinkled with excitement, and he lifted her lithe frame so that she could wrap her legs around his waist.  Their tails intertwined with each other as they reacquainted themselves with each other’s bodies and scent.

“We are going to talk about this later Gine, but not right now…” he said as he walked them towards their bedding.  She nodded. “Tomorrow…”