“Come on. Is that all you’ve got?”
Vegeta holds back a sneer as he dodges a kick to the side of his face, grabbing the offending ankle and pulling it towards him, throwing his opponent to the ground with a snarl. The body makes a heavy impact, creating a small crater in the ground before it disappears. Vegeta scowls as he senses his opponent's ki rising. Without a sound, he drops from his position a bit to scan the skies above. Slightly out of breath, Vegeta glares at the bouncing ki; a few glimpses of an orange blur is the only physical indication that he hasn’t lost total sight of his opponent. He shoots up into the sky again, rushing at the ki that seems to have momentarily stopped, and lands a swift punch to his opponent’s jaw.
The two begin moving at incredible speeds after Vegeta’s opponent recovers (rather quickly), small sonic booms the one indication that there is anything in the skies anymore. The bodies become visible again as a particularly hard blow lands between Vegeta’s shoulder blades, sending him spiraling towards the barren, rocky terrain below.
The air around them is silent, not a bird or creature to be seen. It’s almost as if the whole island has emptied itself to make room for the pair of destructive fighters in their tense sport.
As Vegeta stands up in the middle of the large crater he’d created upon impact, his opponent quickly lands behind him and slides his arms across Vegeta’s back and around his chest to lock his arms in place. With a scowl Vegeta begins to kick and struggle, ascending to Super Saiyan to try and break from the feral grip. His opponent follows suit, both surrounded in a fiery, golden ki as their hair washes out to an icy blonde. His opponent is tightening his hold and pulling Vegeta’s arms further behind his back, causing him to stifle a yelp of pain.
“Agh! Let go of me!” Vegeta snarls, but the steely grip doesn’t relent. He snaps his head back to smash it against his opponent’s nose, taking a nasty pleasure in listening to cartilage and bone crack, a strangled scream echoing in his ears as he is released. Turning around to face his opponent, Vegeta smirks as he watches the fighter pinch the bridge of his nose. Blood is trailing lazily down from his nostrils and beginning to coat his upper lip. With a piercing glare, Vegeta's opponent wipes most of the blood away, panting quietly as he struggles to catch his breath. He offers a soft laugh, surprising in its bitter tone. Vegeta’s eyes narrow.
“What are you laughing at?” he bites out, but his opponent only shakes his head, and crouches back into a battling position. With a deep-set scowl, Vegeta crouches as well, and the two begin a standoff. It’s a waiting game, to see who will make the next move. Neither makes an attempt to continue the fight, and despite his best efforts, Vegeta can’t stay silent. He raises his power level to match his opponent’s.
“What’s the matter, Kakarot? Is that all you’ve got?” Vegeta taunts, but the other Saiyan doesn't take the bait and frowns, straightening again. Vegeta wonders for a moment if Kakarot has given up before he uses Instant Transmission to disappear and reappear behind Vegeta, knocking him to the ground with another blow between the shoulder blades. As Vegeta struggles to stand back up, teeth clenched and jaw tight in humiliation,"Kakarot" drops his Super Saiyan form, hair bleeding back to its original ebony colour, and sighs.
“I think that’s enough for today.” Kakarot crouches down and offers a hand, but Vegeta scowls and swats the offending hand away. Don’t need your help. He brushes debris and dust from his under armor.
“What are you on about? We’ve only been at it for a few hours.” Vegeta absently spats at the ground, noting with little interest that he’s coughed up blood. His eyes raise to Kakarot’s, about to protest further, but is taken aback at how empty they look. The normally soft and expressive onyx eyes are now hard and devoid of any emotion, like jagged chips of flint. Kakarot refuses to break eye contact, making Vegeta fidget; he turns away from Kakarot’s calculating gaze after a while, jaw tight again at his silent surrender.
“I said that’s enough for today.” Kakarot sucks in a short breath, and glances at Vegeta, who is feigning nonchalance, even though Kakarot must know that he’s irritated over their sparring session being cut short. Again.
"You've been doing this for weeks, Kakarot. You'd better not pull it again," Vegeta murmurs. Kakarot stops for a moment, back turned.
"Alright. I guess we won't be doing this again anytime soon." There is a bit of a bite to his response, Vegeta notices. He tries not to let it bother him.
"Be on your way, then." With a curt nod, Kakarot presses two fingers to his forehead, and uses IT to leave their battleground. The air around him feels heavy as Vegeta is left alone in the middle of the massive, empty island they’d been battling in. Absently Vegeta rubs at his temples as a dull, throbbing headache begins to arise, but then shakes his head and powers down. With great reluctance, Vegeta rises into the air, and begins a slow journey back to Capsule Corp.
Vegeta lands softly at the entrance to Capsule Corp, where he’s been living for the past several years with the woman Bulma and his now teenaged son, Trunks. He opens the door and strides into the large house, making a beeline for the kitchen. Despite having every intention to empty out the large fridge in this kitchen, Vegeta instead sits at the table, resting his chin in his hand. With a grimace Vegeta rubs at his temple again as the throbbing persists, but thankfully after a minute or two it fades. As he sits at the table in the empty kitchen, Vegeta begins to roll and stretch his limbs to make sure nothing is broken or sprained. After completing his self-inspection he settles in his chair and lets out a small sigh. He doesn’t mean to, but Vegeta allows his guard to lower, and for his thoughts to wander.
Why do I feel as if Kakarot was... holding back? Like he wasn’t entirely there. Or taking pity on me for being overpowered in such a small amount of time. Vegeta’s mouth curves into a thoughtful frown, almost a scowl, bringing his fist down onto the table as he leans back in his chair.
But Kakarot would never…! He’s never held back in a battle before! Does he really think I’m that weak ? Vegeta shakes his head as he lets out a soft grunt. No, that can’t be it. He was right, he was sure of it; Kakarot really wouldn’t hold back against Vegeta, even if he was much stronger than Vegeta was. If that wasn’t right, then what could be weighing on Kakarot so heavily?
Vegeta doesn’t know much about Kakarot's personal life; he has no reason to. Despite spending a lot of time together, Vegeta has never asked or prodded Kakarot for information regarding any personal going ons, so all he knows is that the other Saiyan has two sons, and of the woman that birthed those sons. He knows Kakarot’s eldest very well. Vegeta remembers, all those years ago, when he first landed on Earth and faced a small, frightened child. A child with a thin, lashing tail, eyes wide underneath a mop of thick, ebony hair. Gohan had ended up even stronger than Vegeta for a short time. Stronger than his own father.
I don’t know how he managed it, but Kakarot has a family. Offspring. A woman who cares for him very deeply. Vegeta lets out a soft sigh at this thought; sure, he had Bulma, and together they had Trunks, but it wasn't the same. He has a very weak relationship with Trunks at best, and Bulma had left him to get back together with the scarred fighter Yamcha many years ago. He is sure he'd never admit it, but Vegeta felt lonely. In all of this time he's been here, he's never felt like he fit in with the "Z Fighters". As cliché and moody as it sounded, it was true. Without Kakarot’s supposed acceptance of Vegeta, despite his mistakes and transgressions, he has no place at Capsule Corp or anywhere around the others. He's sure none of them have any sort of complete trust in him and his motives, even now.
Vegeta wakes up the next morning to the aroma of grease and bacon, opening a groggy eye as he is pulled from the fogs of sleep by the pleasant smell. With a sigh as he stretches his arms, Vegeta sits up and swings around to get out of bed. As he makes his way downstairs for breakfast, he hears voices floating up from the kitchen.
"You'd better leave some of this for Vegeta, you two! I don't have the time to cook all day for you Saiyans!" Vegeta recognizes the voice as Bulma's.
As Vegeta finally makes it to the bottom of the stairs and enters the kitchen, he is met with a full view of the massive spread of food Bulma has prepared, currently being inhaled by Trunks, and surprisingly enough Kakarot as well. He pauses by the entryway to the kitchen, unsure of how to proceed. Bulma is the first to notice him, and offers a warm smile as she serves a tall stack of pancakes to Trunks.
“Morning, Vegeta! I see you’ve decided to grace us with your royal presence today!" In any other circumstance he would be annoyed at the small jab, but the mischievous glint in Bulma’s eyes tells him she doesn’t mean any harm by it. Vegeta attempts to smile in return, and Bulma inclines her head towards the empty seat beside Trunks, a silent invitation to join them. Vegeta sits down without a word, pulling a plate of ham and bacon towards him to begin eating. Kakarot hasn’t said anything yet, and the four sit in silence for a bit. Vegeta glances up at Kakarot between bites, noting with a twinge of surprise at how tired he looks. Bulma seems to notice this as well.
“Everything alright, Goku?” she asks. Kakarot looks slowly up from his plate, taking a moment to rub at one eye. He yawns before answering.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just had trouble sleeping last night,” he replies. Vegeta hides a frown with another bite. The fool is usually out within seconds. What could be bothering him do as to cause issues with sleeping?
“You, having trouble sleeping? Now I know something is wrong,” Bulma says. Kakarot offers a weak, sheepish smile.
“Don’t worry about me, Bulma. I promise I’ll be alright.” Bulma raises an eyebrow, unsure. Kakarot tries to stretch the smile a bit wider, and though it’s obviously forced Bulma decides to give a shrug and drop the subject.
“Alright, if you say so,” she replies, voice tight. Vegeta glances at Kakarot once again, and notices that the second Bulma turns her back on him the smile vanishes. With difficulty Vegeta turns his attention back to his plate, but finds that his appetite is gone.
The next time his path crosses with Kakarot’s is months later, while Vegeta is out training in an abandoned wasteland. Vegeta stops in his flurry of kicks as Kakarot touches down beside him, seemingly lost in thought.
“What do you want?” Vegeta asks. He turns away to continue with a series of punches. Kakarot says nothing, simply choosing to sit in front of Vegeta on a stray boulder, resting his chin in his hand. Vegeta shakes off the odd feeling of something being amiss and tries to continue his training. Kakarot sniffles after a moment.
“What are you crying about over there, clown?” Vegeta snaps. Kakarot looks up at him with empty, dark eyes, which stops Vegeta in his tracks. What on Earth could be bothering him that much?
“Oh, sorry,” he says quietly, and Vegeta feels a small pang of anger. Why is he offering apologies for crying?
“Don’t try to be flippant with me, Kakarot. I can tell that something is wrong,” Vegeta says. Kakarot wipes at one eye before shrugging, trying to avoid eye contact.
“It doesn’t really matter, don’t worry about it. I just… wanted to be with someone right now,” he murmurs. Vegeta strides over with an eyebrow raised, looming over him with his arms crossed.
“So you decided to seek me out, of all people. Why not your bald friend, or anyone else?” Vegeta asks. Kakarot can only offer a shrug in response. He sways in his seat, almost unnoticed. Vegeta’s eyes narrow.
“They pry. Ask too many questions.” Vegeta can understand wanting to stay away from prying eyes. Kakarot stands up to tower over Vegeta in turn, visibly distraught. He sways again, more noticeable this time. He’s close to Vegeta now. Too close.
“There’s nothing wrong with me, right?” Kakarot asks suddenly. Vegeta is taken aback, unsure of how to respond. Then he feels Kakarot’s breath wash across his face. He’s drunk. Unbelievably so. Vegeta’s surprised that Kakarot made it to him, now. The amount of alcohol required to put him in this state must have been astounding.
“What the hell are you talking about? Of course there’s nothing wrong with you,” Vegeta frowns. “You’re an excellent fighter.” Kakarot groans, turning away for a moment before grabbing Vegeta’ shoulders.
“I knew you’d say that. Come on, Vegeta. There has to be more to me than that , right? So that way I’m not a complete failure?” Vegeta is almost incapable of processing his words. They’re slurred and an obvious sign of a depressive mood. The words sting and seem quiet at the same time, making Kakarot appear as a small, anxious child. It’s completely unbefitting of such a usually exuberant and energetic person.
“Come on! Tell me!” Kakarot shakes him a bit, leaning in closer to search Vegeta’s eyes. For what he’s looking for, exactly, Vegeta can’t tell. There is a distress and tension in his onyx eyes that makes Vegeta uncomfortable. Before he can turn away again, Kakarot’s eyes seem to bore into him, and then their faces are inches apart, but Vegeta can’t find the will to push him away. They’re clouded and somewhat unfocused, a physical indicator of his drunken state.
“Kakarot, I- You know how I feel about you. You’re a good fighter, and a good father. What else do you want me to say?” Vegeta snaps, though there is little bite to his words. Kakarot’s expression seems to smooth for a moment, and his eyes fall further out of focus.
“Vegeta…” Slowly, as if giving him plenty of time to back out, Kakarot leans in and presses his lips to Vegeta’s, soft and hesitant. Kakarot himself feels warm and steady, pressing Vegeta against him as he tries to coax Vegeta into returning the kiss. Vegeta’s eyes widen, and with only slight trouble raises his hands to place them on Kakarot’s shoulders. His eyes flutter for a moment in his temptation to close them and return the kiss. The slide of their lips pressed together feels… nicer than Vegeta would care to admit. His resolve quickly hardens again, though, and he pushes at the broad, strong shoulders under his palms. Kakarot pulls away as if burnt, face red with shame.
“Vegeta, I’m so sorry, I don't know what came over me, I-"
“I don’t want to hear your apologies, Kakarot. Just forget about it.” Vegeta backs away from the arms on his shoulders, face burning as he tries to ignore the awkward atmosphere. After a few tense moments, Kakarot speaks again.
"I can leave if you want," he murmurs, and Vegeta curls in on himself, face burning hotter than before. He doesn’t respond, and stays turned away as he feels Kakarot unsteadily rise into the air and exit the area. Vegeta waits for a few minutes before beginning to head in the opposite direction, back towards Capsule Corp.
When Vegeta wakes the next day, the first thing he’s aware of is that the spot next to him is empty. He stretches a hand to feel behind him, and is met with nothing but a cold spot in the mattress. It takes far too long to realize that there had never been anyone in bed beside him. Fragments of a dream rise to his mind, one where Kakarot is lying beside him, fingers trailing lazy patterns across his back and offering a solid presence of warmth. Kakarot’s absence slams Vegeta back down to reality, settling in its place a heavy sense of depression. A dull ache settles in the pit of his stomach. Before Kakarot’s social withdrawal, Vegeta had been feeling closer to him, like there could be something more than their rivalry and tentative friendship. Over the months he hadn't seen Kakarot, the dreams would occur in worrying frequency. He thought they'd stopped the past few days, but apparently seeing him again after so long of dealing with his absence brought then back full force.
Part of it may be him finally losing his mind, but many of these thoughts pointed to him having… feelings for Kakarot. He has a want to be with him; his pride is out the window when it comes to being with his longtime rival. A prince, wanting to be with a third class, of all things. But no matter how many times he tries to remind himself of this glaring conflict, it seems to have stopped mattering a long time ago.
With these thoughts swirling in his head, Vegeta stomps down the sinking pit in his stomach at Kakarot not being in his room and rubs the sleep from his eyes. Vegeta shivers, and throws the covers off before getting out of bed. He takes a moment to check the time. 1:26. He’s missed breakfast, but he doesn’t really mind. It seems as though he’s gotten up just in time for lunch, thank God. He’s starving . With a smirk Vegeta exits his room and begins his descent to the kitchen. Although there is a large spread of food on the counter, Bulma is nowhere to be seen, so Vegeta assumes she’s already run off to the lab. Trunks is gone as well, but Vegeta hasn’t an idea as to where he could be. Maybe with Goten. Vegeta stops short as he sees that the only other person in the kitchen is Kakarot, who has a full plate of sandwiches and chicken legs but is using one of the legs to move the food around. It doesn’t look as though he’s touched it, and Vegeta hesitates for a moment before entering the kitchen.
“Stop playing with your food, Kakarot. You’re not a child,” Vegeta quips with a smirk, and oddly enough, Kakarot flinches. He drops the chicken leg, plate clattering as he brings a hand down onto the table. He turns and faces Vegeta, eyes wide and startled. He calms down a bit as he recognizes Veget, but still appears to be on edge. One of his hands forms a fist, and he picks up a sandwich, stuffing it into his mouth.
“Oh, Vegeta. I didn’t realize you were awake yet,” he mumbles around the food. Vegeta is surprised at the fact that he doesn’t feel the urge to roll his eyes in disgust at Kakarot’s less than classy antics.
"Clearly." Vegeta sits at the empty chair next to Kakarot, picking up a sandwich and taking a large bite out of it. They sit in silence for what seems like forever to Vegeta, when in reality is closer to a few minutes. He can feel Kakarot's distress, perhaps due to yesterday’s incident.
"I don’t hate you for what happened," Vegeta says suddenly, and Kakarot pauses. He puts the leg down, swallowing his sandwich with a blank expression.
"I never said you did," is the even response, and the prince scoffs.
"You didn't have to. Despite what you may think, it doesn't take a genius to see how much you may have worried about my reaction or willingness to see you again." Vegeta finishes off his sandwich and takes another, absently picking at the food between his teeth.
"The only thing I don't understand is why you're here again. Don't you have a wife, Kakarot?" Kakarot shoves a sandwich into his mouth, now avoiding Vegeta’s gaze. There is a terse silence as Vegeta waits for a response. Kakarot stalls for a few more minutes by emptying his plate and another, slurping at a nearby drink and smacking his lips with an obscene loudness. Vegeta waits with an impressive amount of patience, as he is having the urge to blast away the whole spread. Finally all of his food is gone, and Kakarot has nothing to hide behind except his expression, which is yielding far more than Vegeta thinks he's aware of.
"I’ve been trying to stay out of the house as often as possible these past months.” Kakarot finishes off his drink, and sets the glass down with more force than necessary. “Chi-Chi and I have been… fighting a lot more often than usual.” Vegeta raises an eyebrow.
“You and the woman are fighting? What does she do, feather you with a broom and scream nonsense? Come on, Kakarot. It can’t be that bad.” Vegeta still has half a dozen sandwiches left, and picks another off the table.
“It’s not just that.” Kakarot clears his throat, a glare beginning to mar his previously smooth and calm features, as he seems to delve deeper into his thoughts.
“What, then? Does she use the frying pan as well?” Vegeta mutters in between bites, and jumps as Kakarot brings his fist down onto the table, leaving hairline fissures in the marble.
“You don’t get it, Vegeta. It’s not just mindless shouting.” Kakarot takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, trying to calm himself.
“You don’t understand. Sometimes I’m just eating, or spending time with Gohan and Goten. I’ve even tried reading a few times.” Vegeta raises an eyebrow as he picks up a third sandwich. He opens his mouth to make another ill-timed comment, but Kakarot’s expression is dark and troubled, so he closes it again.
“Chi-Chi starts talking with me. It starts out pleasant enough; she chats about her day, friends and those sorts of thing. It goes downhill quickly, though.” Kakarot shuts his eyes, and begins drumming his fingers onto the surface of the table. His leg starts bouncing.
“I can’t seem to do anything… right . And Chi-Chi is more than glad to point it out to me. Constantly .” Kakarot is now visibly holding back tears, and his hand starts shaking. Vegeta shifts in his chair with a slight grimace. He has no idea what to do in the case of Kakarot beginning to cry, but he hopes anything even slightly akin to consoling will help.
“That woman doesn’t know what she’s talking about, Kakarot. You’ve saved this planet more times than anyone can count, including from me, all those years ago.” Kakarot nods with blank eyes as he wipes away at the few tears that have managed to start rolling down his cheeks.
“Just because I’ve managed to not get killed making sure nobody else gets killed a lot doesn’t make me some kind of hero. I can’t even say that I haven’t died before, as a matter of fact. I somehow manage to put everyone in danger time and time again, no matter how hard I try. All I do is hurt.” Kakarot’s voice is shaking, eyes bright and a few more tears escaping as he desperately tries to keep himself from crying. Vegeta glares at him, angry at how much he hates himself, at how much he’s allowed Chi-Chi to berate him, destroy his self-worth with nothing more than harsh words. All of this is wrong ; seeing Kakarot on the brink of hysterics, confessing his pain and how many terrible things he thinks he’s committed to one of the only surviving beings who’s tried to kill him. It’s so wrong on so many levels that Vegeta snarls and stands abruptly, his chair toppling over. Kakarot looks up from his lap, eyes clouded over and red from being rubbed and wiped at without mercy to try and rid any tears from escaping.
“You need to shut the hell up , Kakarot.” Vegeta presses both hands into fists, nails digging uncomfortably into his palms. He grabs Kakarot by the collar of his gi and yanks him from his chair, lifting him into the air. Kakarot actually looks frightened , eyes wide and shining as he continues to cry, likely oblivious to doing so. Vegeta stops for a moment, the reality of Kakarot’s fear truly sinking in. This destructive force, this pure and powerful spirit, is afraid right now . What he could be afraid of, Vegeta doesn’t want to think about. This vulnerability is something Vegeta hasn’t ever wanted to see coming from Kakarot of all people. With a sinking pit beginning to form in his stomach, Vegeta has to acknowledge that whether or not he wants to see it, this is happening. With a grimace Vegeta lowers him, loosening his grip on Kakarot’s gi as he turns his gaze away, unable to face the terrible state his comrade is in. He’s not supposed to be like this, Kakarot, this isn’t you, you deserve so much better for yourself is running through Vegeta’s mind as he smooths his hand over Kakarot’s chest. He’s startled as a hand rests over his own, and looks up to see those dreadful tears streaming down Kakarot’s face now, steady and agonizing.
“It’s because you know I’m right, isn’t it? That I’m a mistake. Something nobody would miss, if I were to disappear right now.” Vegeta’s mouth opens in protest, angry at the fact that Kakarot is even capable of saying such things, of managing to concoct such lies .
“That’s not it at all, you idiot , and you know it!” Vegeta grinds out, and Kakarot chuckles in response, a low and empty sound that stabs at Vegeta’s heart.
“What is it, then? Tired of hearing me feel sorry for myself?” he murmurs. Vegeta snarls; at this point he can no longer take it. He raises a hand and punches Kakarot, burning with anger at his terrible words.
Kakarot’s head snaps back, a red welt blossoming over his cheekbone as Vegeta pulls away, and he immediately regrets his action. He watches as Kakarot raises a hand and rests it on his cheek, expression blank and dark eyes empty. Vegeta is about to apologize a thousand times over, pride be damned, to try and beg for forgiveness over doing such a thing. Usually hitting Kakarot is of no importance; the two spar constantly, and they’ve done far worse to each other. Broken noses, bruised ribs, and an ever-present need for senzu beans afterwards is part of their routine. This time, though, there’s more behind it. This isn’t just an adrenaline-fueled sparring session, and Vegeta doesn’t have to worry about dodging a return kick or punch. He’s just attacked Kakarot in his most vulnerable and damaged state, baring his woes out for Vegeta, only to be told to shut up and hit in return.
“ Kakarot , I-”
“Thanks, Vegeta. I really deserved that, huh? I guess I’m complaining too much again.” Vegeta reels back again at these words, said so matter of factly, horrified now as well as angry, and growing more so by the second.
“Don’t say such things, Kakarot! Don’t even think of such things! You don’t know how untrue all of this nonsense is!” Vegeta hisses, and Kakarot scowls. It doesn’t hold for long, though, and Vegeta watches with an impending sense of dread as Kakarot’s expression crumples, and his ki rises in anguish. He screws his eyes shut, shaking and sniffling as he begins to sob.
“You don't get it, Vegeta! All I do is hurt! I can't do anything without putting someone in danger!” he shouts, and Vegeta takes a step back. He begins shaking, maybe out of fear, maybe because the pit in his stomach feels cold, drenching him in an icy grip, but he moves forward again anyway. Kakarot’s face is blotchy and red like his eyes, tears staining his cheeks as he continues sobbing. His shoulders are shaking as he tries to compose himself, hair raising every so often and flashing gold. Vegeta hesitates for only a moment before taking that last step towards Kakarot, then tangles a hand in his hair, cupping the nape of his neck. The other hand rests on Kakarot’s chest, and the fighter blinks in confusion, startled.
“Vegeta, what are you-”
“Can I kiss you, Kakarot?” Eyes widen in surprise.
“Can I kiss you?” Kakarot’s mouth snaps shut, and after a moment he nods. Vegeta leans forward and firmly grips Kakarot’s hair as he presses their lips together. Kakarot raises his arms and wraps them around Vegeta’s shoulders, returning the kiss. Their lips become salty and moist from Kakarot’s tears, and his returning pressure is trembling and hesitant, but after a moment his shaking calms into light tremors.
“What-what was that?” he asks, and his voice is hoarse, weak from his distress. Vegeta’s heart twists again, and he starts playing with Kakarot’s hair, forcing himself to avoid any thought toward the action. The wild, jet-black spikes are soft, sliding through Vegeta’s fingers like a fine silk. He looks up and kisses Kakarot once more, just a brief press of their lips, before frowning up at him.
“I couldn’t stand hearing you talk about yourself like that. None of it is true, and you know it,” Vegeta murmurs, and Kakarot chuckles again. It’s still empty and bitter, the prince notes with a pang. He doesn’t believe me. Of course he doesn't.
“You can say that as many times as you want, but it doesn’t seem very likely I’ll actually listen.” Kakarot rests his forehead against Vegeta’s, closing his eyes and taking a moment to compose himself. They stand in silence until Kakarot's hair stops lashing, settling down back to its usual jet-black shade.
“I shouldn’t have told you anything. I should’ve just kept it to myself.” Kakarot rests a hand on Vegeta’s cheek, closing his eyes as a few stray tears return, trailing down and wetting Vegeta’s arm. "I'm sorry I just dumped all of that onto you."
“That’s a ridiculous thing to say. You need to let these things out; get them off your chest and work on fighting through them. It would have come out one way or another eventually,” Vegeta replies in a hushed tone. Kakarot sighs, and pulls Vegeta into a loose embrace.
“How uncharacteristically wise and kind of you to say,” he mutters. Vegeta offers the tiniest of smirks in return.
“Am I wrong?”
“I guess not. I just don’t know what to do with myself. It all seems so… pointless. Sometimes I wonder if any of this is worth it. If staying alive is worth it.” he leans down and kisses Vegeta again, firm and warm. Vegeta eagerly responds, fisting Kakarot’s gi as he leans into the kiss. They don't fit quite right against each other, occasionally bumping noses as they continue to press their lips together. It seems that Vegeta’s calmed him, at least for the time being. Kakarot chuckles as Vegeta kisses his chin by accident, and Vegeta almost smiles.
“You can be a real dumb ass, Kakarot,” Vegeta says, and presses yet another lingering kiss to Kakarot’s lips before he pulls back. “And I mean that in the nicest way possible.” Kakarot smiles in return, soft and content.
“I know.” The two make their way upstairs, fingers loosely linked together as they enter Vegeta’s room. They throw themselves onto the bed, pressing their lips together again and again as they shuffle under the covers. It’s still playful and lighthearted, but after a while they stop and simply lay together as they hold hands; the only sound breaking the comfortable silence is their breathing. Kakarot sighs and tightens his grip on Vegeta’s hand.
“I wish I could stay like this forever,” he murmurs after a while, and Vegeta looks up from their interlaced fingers.
“Just laying here with you, I don’t have to worry about anything. About not being good enough.” Vegeta’s smile fades. He doesn’t get the opportunity to respond, to try and tell him once again that of course you’re good enough, Kakarot, you’re more than fucking good enough, before Kakarot continues. “I have to go back to the house eventually, though. I have to be there for my kids as best as I’m allowed.”
“No you don’t.” Kakarot turns to frown deeply at Vegeta, confused.
“Of course I do. I have to return to the woman I married and the kids we have together. I can’t just abandon them.”
“You don’t have to abandon your children. But, if you can’t work things out with this woman, and she herself sees no future with you, there’s no point in staying.” Kakarot’s frown runs deeper at this.
“Chi-Chi said that marriage is for life. I can’t just leave her.”
“Talk to her about it, then. See what she thinks. You don't have to do it now. You don't ever have to do it, in fact. Just know that if you stay with her you'll have to endure this verbal harassment for the rest of her life. Even though you're the same age, someday she'll wither away. It won't last forever.” Kakarot’s eyes turn down to their hands once more. He sighs
“I know. I don't want to think about this right now, though. For now, I just want to be here with you.” Vegeta squeezes his hand, once, twice.
“Of course.” Vegeta figures that they'll have to work through this together, one day at a time. Try to figure out a way to make it easier. It could take months, even years. Either way, he's certain that as things change, as time passes, things will come to hurt less as long as they are in it together.