Disclaimer: I do not own DBZ, or the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story. But if I did own DBZ...Chaotzu would have been explained. What the hell was he? She? Fuck if I know what Chaotzu self identifies as.
Warnings: Cussing. Some minimal violence.
A/N: Happy new years guys! Big thank you to all of my readers/reviewers old and new. I love you and am always grateful that you guys have stuck around with me for this long. Big thank you to everyone who always leaves me encouragement to write--honestly you guys are the reason this monster of a story is still going!
Kattastropi, you are a gem. Never forget it!
Chapter Thirty-Nine: Loyalties
Billy had never been allowed inside of an establishment like the one he was currently sitting in--truth be told he was never really allowed inside of anywhere but the orphanage he had been raised in. He knew, somewhere in the back of his mind that this bar was not that glorious, or particularly clean, but to him--it could have been the gentleman's club White's he had always heard the men of the dock dreaming of entering. But to Billy--the fact that he was eating at a table where he did not have to fight for scraps with the other street boys, ignoring the stench of so many unwashed bodies shoved into one place--well that made him feel like a king. Billy had been born a street rat, found abandoned by a church (he had never been told what church, not that it mattered), given to the orphanage, and he had been told constantly by the adults around him that the highest he would ever reach would be...well, street urchin. The very subtle difference between street rat and street urchin, of course, being that of working at the docks.
But if someone had woken Billy up today and told him that today he would have enough pounds in his pockets to last him a lifetime, he would never have believed them. Not in a million years! But sure enough, all he did was answer some questions for Mr. Wicket--and here he was, experiencing for the first time in his very young (yet still rough)...eating his third offering of a meal that he did not have to share with anyone else. Not any of the other orphans, not the other street urchins, no one but himself.
To Billy, this was heaven.
The same could not be said for his table companion, Mr. Wicket, who was clutching the table, watching every little bite of food Billy was eating as if willing it to disappear faster. The same Mr. Wicket who had delivered him to that Duke fellow who had given him all of the money he was currently treasuring. The same Mr. Wicket who had tried to bodily carry Billy out of the pub they were in--and the same Mr. Wicket who had dropped him the second Billy said he would run after that regal who had given Billy his small fortune. Billy was quickly discovering that that regal was a powerful tool he could (and would) use against Mr. Wicket, especially if he thought that Mr. Wicket was not going to provide the life and house the regal had made him promise he would have.
Before he got ahead of himself, though, Billy decided to take pleasure in the hard fought battle to eat inside of the establishment Mr. Wicket clearly never wanted to set foot inside of again, and eat his third plate of food as slowly as he had eaten his other two, enjoying and savoring every bite of food that passed his lips. It had been a long number of days since he had eaten an actual hot meal, and even longer that the meal was one he earned, and had not stolen. Nothing, especially not Mr. Wicket's palpable fear, was going to ruin that for him.
"Oy Wicket! You okay? You need anything else?"
Mr. Wicket, who was anything but okay, was also anything but talkative at the moment, so Billy turned around, a wide smile on his face, " 'E's allrigh' guv'nor. 'E did ask for some desser' 'e did." The bartender eyed Billy speculatively (as he had been doing since Billy had first walked in)--but then Billy had pulled out a couple of papers from his pocket, being careful to not throw the cash all over the place. The bartender's expression had not changed at the sight of the money, but he had nodded his acquiescence before he had headed to the back to grab Billy some dessert. Real proper dessert, Billy hoped. Not those horribly hard biscuits the orphans were given every Christmas that had once cracked his mate Reggie's teeth.
Billy turned back to his table companion, a smile on his face--though it was slightly tempered as he saw that in the second he had turned around to order more food, Wicket's eyes had grown larger, his fists going whiter from where they were clutching the table. Mr. Wicket sure was nervous about something, wasn't he?
Whatever concern Billy had was gone the second the bartender placed pudding in front of him. Real proper pudding--which was the most delicious thing that Billy had ever had the pleasure of tasting. Each bite of the delectably sweet and fruity concoction went down smoother than the rest, each bite a moment of pure bliss on his tongue. Billy could have kept eating it forever--but his stomach was not going to let him. Maybe he should have saved more room for dessert, because after he ran the spoon around the rim of the glass, licking the last remnants off of it, Billy felt the beginnings of a bellyache. But not one that he usually felt--this was not the gnawing pit of hunger he was used too, but rather a stomach protesting at being shoved full of so much food. Billy smiled at the simple pleasure, glad to know--at least once in his life--what a fully belly felt like.
With that happy thought, Billy finally looked up at the man whose knuckles had gone so white from holding the table the bone might as well have been peeking through, and kindly informed him, " Aye'm full."
Mr. Wicket had not only let go of the table (finally), breathing a sigh of relief, but Billy saw him cross himself as he stood, finally ready to turn and leave. But as he had stood, Billy at his heels, ready for a warm bed, or just a warm couch, or just a warm place to lie down...the front door to the pub had dinged open.
The man who entered, well the first thing Billy noticed about him was that he was tall--well that and his pointy hair that spiked everywhere. The second thing he noticed (besides that ridiculous hair), was the custom cut of his clothes, identifying this man as rich. It took Billy less than half a glance to recognize this man as a gentleman, and it took him twice as long to convince himself not to lift this man's coin purse. Billy reminded himself that he did not have to anymore. Especially not from big scary men who could squash him under his boots. Though as he looked at this man's face, he noticed that it looked more as if this man had a constant smile on his face than anything else.
Billy was pulled from his musings, though, as Wicket, who was also staring at the man, muttered to himself, "You look familiar...."
The tall gentleman, who had been scanning the bar, looked over as he heard Mr. Wicket speak, striding over to them as he nodded his head. "Good afternoon gentlemen."
Billy's mouth dropped open as he heard the man's unusual accent, "You're a yank!"
The tall man had smiled down at them, both of them ignoring Wicket as he stared at the man as if he held all of the answers to life's questions, "Through and through, son." He had reached out to ruffle Billy's head at that, and Billy's admiration for this man rose, as he had not even flinched at how dirty Billy was, nor had he wiped his hand off after touching Billy. In fact the man had gotten down on his haunches, making eye contact with Billy as he asked in a no-nonsense tone, "Maybe you can help me? I'm looking for a short, dark man--with hair spikier than mine."
Billy smiled instantly, nodding. Of course he would remember the man who had given him all the money in his pockets. "Yup! 'E was short, but better dressed than you--some sort of regal type. Wha' was 'e? A Duke of some sor', I reckon."
The tall man's smile grew, "That's the man! The Duke of Vegetasei." At that, both of them turned up as Wicket let out a gasp, and crossed himself again, but both turned back, ignoring him when no further sounds (or explanations for the earlier sounds) were forthcoming. The tall man only stayed at eye level with Billy as he explained, "It's really important to me that I find him, I've been sent here by someone who loves him very much. Could you possibly tell me where he is?"
Before Billy could answer, Wicket let out a strangled sound that drew both of their eyes. It took Billy a second to realize that Wicket had been trying to speak, but that all that had come out was some squeaks and grunts. The tall man cocked his head, and Wicket made eye contact with him; finally, as he cleared his throat and tried again. "Why would you want to possibly know that?"
The tall man stayed hunched down, but his tone changed instantaneously as he spoke to Wicket, "I'm his cousin."
With that, the quite hearty and hale Bob Wicket gave another garbled reply of squeaks and gasps, before promptly falling to the ground in a dead faint.
Billy blinked at the man who was supposed to be taking care of him, before shrugging, ignoring him as he turned back to the tall man. "I can tell you exactly where he is." Billy waited a second before holding his hand out to the tall man, motioning with his head, winking as he said, "For a price that is."
Hey, he might not be a street urchin much longer, but that did not make him stupid enough to turn away begging money off of some regals.
Even nice ones.
Goku found himself in sight of the apartment building he had been sent to by the boy, praying with a deep sigh that he had found the right blue apartment building by the docks on Canal street that had a butcher shop underneath it. To be fair, there were not a lot of blue buildings in this part of town, but Goku was not known for his navigation skills. He might have gone to East Canal street instead of West Canal street, he might have mixed up what color the building he was looking for was--hell he might have accidentally crossed the Thames and not even have realized it.
It would not be the first time he was supposed to be looking on one side of a river, and ended up on another.
He had been to New Jersey more times than he would like to admit because of--Goku shook himself. Focus Goku! Time was of the essence here; Bulma had made that very clear. Hell, Goku knew it himself. There were lives at stake here, not just those of his family, but of the king, and possibly all of England if even a hint of what Bulma had told him about this Frieza character was true. And here he was wasting time, reminiscing about the times he had been lost in America?! Sheesh, his sister had not been lying when she had told him he needed to work on his concentration skills outside of the ring.
Goku approached the building, smiling as he saw that there was in fact a butcher's shop on the bottom floor. That was promising, very promising. Goku's strides lengthened, his past quickening as he got closer to the building, feeling glad that he was out and about doing something, rather than acting as a bodyguard to Bulma. Though he felt guilty for leaving his sister, and disobeying Vegeta's direct orders to watch Bulma--but Goku was a man of action, and he was glad that Bulma had sent him out here to find Vegeta. He was not meant to be a bodyguard or a prison warden (as Bulma had called it)--he was glad he could be out in the field helping out, even if it just meant finding Vegeta, informing him of the note Bulma had given him to show him, and then promptly being beaten to death by his cousin for disobeying him.
In his defense though, Goku had made sure Bulma was safe before he had left. Goku was not as stupid as people believed--and he loved his sister more than almost anyone else on this planet. He would not have left Bulma if he had not felt her well protected with the posted guards outside of the Ducal office, hidden in the secret office. Plus, he had gifted his sister with a pistol he had found in Vegeta's larger office before he had left, knowing she could shoot. Though, being Bulma, she had revealed to him two she had hidden under her skirts, a smirk on her face as she shook her head at his underestimation of her.
He should have known. Bulma could protect herself, pregnant or no--but that did not mean he was not still worried about his big sister. He would always be worried about her--that was his job as her younger brother. Especially a younger brother who had an older sister who could be as reckless as his was.
In all actuality, Goku was more worried about failing Bulma than Vegeta finding out that Goku had left Bulma. Vegeta might be his blood cousin, but Bulma was his true family, and it would literally kill him to know he had failed her in not finding her husband. Especially after how heartbroken Bulma had looked when she had told Goku that Vegeta had gone to die. No matter how angry she had looked on the outside, Goku knew that anger was a product of her fear. He knew his sister well enough to know that she would not show weakness on the outside--but that did not mean she did not need his help. So it was time to see if his faulty directional sense had failed him or not and see if this was the building Vegeta had supposedly rushed off to.
Goku ignored the shop entrance right in front of him, and went for the second door to the right of the storefront, the one that led to a set of stairs, finding himself on a landing. Though dimly lit, he frowned as he saw four doors around him, wondering which room Vegeta was supposedly in--and why the hell he was in one of them. What exactly was he doing here? Looking for somebody that kid at the bar, Billy, had informed him--though who the hell Vegeta could be looking for was beyond Goku.
Well, only one way to find out.
Goku approached the first two doors, knocking on them and getting nothing. He had remained absolute still and quiet by the time, trying to see if he could hear anyone moving inside of either of them, but hearing nothing, he moved on to the third. As he approached the third closed door, his senses picked up on the unmistakable odor of alcohol, sweat, and sick. It was a smell he recognized from fighting in the streets of Manhattan (even the best pugilism club's could not outlaw drink, or the drunks attracted to the bloodthirsty sport of pugilism). It was also a smell he detested, his nose wrinkling as he wondered if anyone was inside the room or not. He knew that nothing good ever came of men smelling like alcohol and sick.
Goku's brow furrowed, knowing whoever was in this room was unwell, his general need to help everyone making him forget his mission momentarily, only concerned with helping the person inside. He needed to make sure that he could get them help--and then he would worry about finding Vegeta.
Goku knocked softly on the third door, "Hello?"
There was no answer from inside, and Goku frowned, wondering if he was already too late. If whoever had been sick in this room was either, well, best case scenario, taken to a doctor, or worst case scenario--dead--well then there was not much Goku could do. But if whomever it was in there was still in there and alive--then it was Goku's duty to help them. Goku knocked again, louder this time, "Hello? Is anyone in there?"
There was a long silence, and Goku's heart started to thump as he considered breaking the door down. "Is everyone okay? Do you need my help?"
When a low groan answered him through the door this time, Goku's debate about whether or not to enter the room was forgotten, and he jiggled the handle--needing to get inside. He would break the door down if he needed to. An unnecessary heroic he found, when he turned the handle and the door, surprisingly, popped open. Goku only blinked at it in confusion for a second before rushing into the room, freezing as his nose and eyes began to water when his olfactory senses hit wall of sick, sweat, and alcohol that assaulted them. Goku let out a cough, before he tried again, "Hello?"
As his eyes adjusted, he stepped further into the room, his feet kicking an empty bottle, which rolled from him as he stared down at it. It did not roll far before it hit another empty one, and Goku's heart dropped as he saw the large number of empty bottles strewn about the floor. Goku's mouth set in determination as he looked back up, scanning the room as his eyes further adjusted, looking for movement, a person, anything that would tell him who made the moan. There was two beds, both messy, but empty, and Goku wondered if he had imagined the groan, trying a third time, "Hello?"
This time, the groan came from the direction of the floorboards by the furthest bed, and Goku moved there in three long strides, uncaring of the empty bottles he kicked and crushed with his feet. His heart thundered as he rushed over to what he had initially thought were some discarded rags or sheets, before he realized he was standing above a person who was crumpled to the floor in a heap, their arms and legs in positions no human body should be able to reach. Goku's mouth went dry and he tried to piece what went on here--had someone come in here and robbed this man?
Goku gently leant over the prostrate form, his voice hushed, "What happened here? Are you okay?"
Another low groan wet this time as it turned into a coughing fit that ended with the man's lips covered in blood. The blood drew all of Goku's concern, and his instincts took over as he leant down, picking the figure up, knowing he needed to get help--and he needed to get it fast. As Goku picked him up, he realized the man was insubstantial, weighing as much as Bulma or Chi-Chi. That was never a good sign, especially as the frame on the man was long--he was a tall man, and he should not weigh as much as women who were at least a foot shorter than him.
As he picked the man up, his only goal to get him to a doctor, another loud groan came from the man, the smell of booze mixed with blood wafting from his open mouth so pungently, Goku had to breathe through his mouth not to smell it. There was another wracking cough, more blood, and Goku turned the man in his arms so he was coughing onto Goku's jacket. The last thing he needed was the man to choke on his own blood or bile, or whatever it was. What the man needed was medical attention, and Goku was going to make sure that he got some before it was too late. Vegeta would have to wait--this man needed help.
Goku rushed from the dark room, knowing that the butcher downstairs would be able to lead him to a doctor or a hospital--and using the Vegetasei name, Goku knew he would be able to get service no matter where he went. He might not always like the way his life had turned out, but if it meant his name could help him save someone just by using his name, than far be it from Goku to ignore that benefit. Goku took the stairs three at a time, and only as he burst into the light, did he allow himself to look at the man in his arms.
His mouth dropped open as he instantly recognized the man, stopping right outside the doorstep as he took in the deathly looking figure. Though he was now more a shell of the man that Goku knew rather than the man himself, he was still instantly recognizable. He might not have seen him since he defeated him at the World's Martial Arts competition a few years ago, but he knew him at once.
Piccolo, the Indian he had defeated for the title, only groaned again, and Goku's heart sank as he took in the wan man before him, remembering the healthy and hearty warrior he had been the last time Goku had seen him. "Oh Piccolo...what happened to you?"
Piccolo was still being held in the oaf's arms, Vegeta's fists raining into his stomach, but he was a million miles away. He refused to speak, and used his years of training to separate his mind from his body. He thought of his mother and brother's, now passed, and he thought of the man his father used to be. The great warrior with a twinkle in his eyes who had left the village once, saying he would win the World's Martial Arts competition and buy his family the medicine they so desperately needed. Piccolo had believed no one could stop him, especially from saving his family--but it was not too be. A young upstart warrior, the reigning champion it seemed, was to defeat him, and to start both Piccolo and his father on the path they were now on.
He also thought of Kami, with a great sadness and shame, remembering all of his teachings, even as his body was pushed to the limit with the physical blows he was being dealt. Kami who had always been so patient with him--and Piccolo had thrown that in his face by leaving and choosing his father over the tribe. Still, Piccolo did not focus on that, but rather all of the training the pair had shared, especially that of being able to separate body and mind. He knew that he was going to be in physical pain if he was ever let go, but in that moment, he let himself float further into his Zen like trance, his eyes slightly over Vegeta's shoulders as he focused on the street outside the alley.
He did not watch the street traffic, hoping for someone to come and save him, or hell, even to notice him, but to give his mind something to focus on. Keeping his eyes away from what was happening was key to tricking his body into absorbing the pain without letting it over power him. Piccolo felt the punches as a human felt a fly landing on them, though even he had to admit his Zen state was only getting him so far. Vegeta was not pulling his punches, but there was nothing Piccolo could do in this moment to stop him. Piccolo had known he was not going to answer any of the Duke's questions on principal, but when he heard the questions; Piccolo realized that Vegeta was currently beating him for something that had nothing to do with Piccolo.
In fact, it seemed as if the only thing Vegeta actually knew about Piccolo was that his codename his father used for him in England was green--but the rest was a bunch of gibberish about him being French and a spy for Russia. Really, Piccolo was beyond lost. But he was not going to correct Vegeta, he would rather him be under the misconception that Piccolo was some sort of spy, then who he really was, and why he was actually here.
Piccolo's mind was a blank slate, as he repeated his Zen mantra he had been taught since he had begun training under Kami, wondering if he would black out anytime soon. The thought of fighting back did not even cross his mind. There was nothing he could do, not when the Duke's strength matched his own, and he was outnumbered two to one--Piccolo briefly wondered if he was going to die today. If so, he found himself growing sad that this was where and how he was going to die--beaten to death in the middle of a disgusting and dirty city, for something he know he did not do. He wondered how his father would carry on without him. Would he continue the mission? Or would he drink himself to an early death?
Something cosmic zipped through Piccolo as he was lost in his thoughts, especially as he thought about what would happen to his father, drawing his attention not to the physical pain that was happening to him, but to some sort of ruckus on the street. Piccolo tried to fight it, but the commotion drew his attention, bringing him back to his current self, forcing himself into the now and present, right as one of Vegeta's fists landed on his solar plexus.
Piccolo coughed, or his body did in gut reaction as the breath left his body, as his eyes focused on the familiar, and sickly, figure of his father's body--in Goku's arms.
Piccolo did not hear the loud scream he let out, or feel himself wrench out of the giant's grasp, but before he knew it he was running down the alley, towards his father. It was as if every moment of peace he had found while zoning out had left him, and left him with a white-hot anger that streaked through him as he saw his father in the enemy's arm. It only grew as Goku dropped Piccolo Sr. from his arms, throwing him towards the ground, the prostrate figure of his father hitting it violently, the frail body shaking and convulsing as Piccolo approached the pair. Goku knelt down immediately, and Piccolo burst forward with a force he did not know he could possess.
Goku's head popped up from staring at the man at his feet, confusion and not an iota of recognition (though why would, he had never met Piccolo before) as he stared at the approaching man. Piccolo did not care though, ignoring the physical pain of his body as he swung his fist as hard as he possibly could, connecting with Goku's jaw, catching the large oaf by surprise and knocking him to the ground in one swift motion. Goku only blinked from where he landed on the ground, as he rubbed his jaw, surprise on his face as he looked at Piccolo.
Piccolo dropped to the ground, ignoring the felled buffoon, kneeling by his father's side to make sure he was okay. "Father, what has he done with you?" Piccolo took in the shaking, saw the still wet bile on his lips, and his heart sunk even further when he realized that his father was having another of his seizures. This was not the first seizure he had seen his father have, but it did not register to Piccolo as a natural occurrence, instead causing him to stare at Goku as he rose up, snarling, "What did you do to him?"
Before Goku could respond, Piccolo leapt at the man, knocking him back into the street as his hands found their way around his neck. Goku, whose confusion turned to concentration, grabbed Piccolo's hands as they reached for his neck, pulling them apart as he used his knees to kick into Piccolo's stomach--hard. Piccolo was knocked over Goku's head and on his back, landing with another loud oomph. He took but a second to catch his breath before he jumped back into standing position, noticing that Goku was doing the same. Both crouched into fighting stance, but before Goku could move, Piccolo's anger coursed through him again and he screamed as he jumped for the man's throat with the intention to kill--but he never reached his destination. Instead two very strong arms grabbed him from behind, and pulled Piccolo away from his target and off of the street.
Piccolo snarled, twisting in Nappa's arms as he yelled like a wild animal, catching the attention of every person on the street as he screamed, "What did you do to HIM?!"
Goku dropped from the fighting stance, putting his hands up now that he knew he was safe--at least for the moment. "Nothing! I swear to Kami." Goku looked down at Piccolo Sr. as he let out another moan, dropping to his knees to grab the man back up, holding him as gently as if he was a baby, before turning back to Piccolo, "I found him passed out in his room like this."
Piccolo yelled again, trying to break free especially as his father was still shaking, though finding the giant holding him completely unmoving, even as Piccolo threw his weight against his arms. "PUT HIM DOWN!"
Goku shocked both Piccolo and Nappa, by finally yelling back, anger evident in his voice, "NO! HE NEEDS HELP! I NEED TO GET HIM HELP!"
His words knocked something in Piccolo, who felt the anger in him begin to be replaced by bewilderment. What had he just said? Why would he ever want to help Piccolo's father--Goku hated the man. Goku, the same Goku who had once laughed at him when he had asked for help--the same Goku that had openly mocked his father! He was not the type to get help for those he deemed beneath him! His own father had told Piccolo so!
Piccolo finally stopped struggling in Nappa's arms, looking at the man he had been hunting for what felt like years (had it only been months?) as he let out a confused, "What?"
Goku frowned, looking down at the man in his arms, his earnest tone confusing Piccolo further. "I knew this man once, long ago. He was a strong fighter, a good man. I can't just leave him on the street--I need to take him to a doctor. I owe him that much."
Piccolo's image of this man, the one Piccolo Sr. had always presented, was completely at odds with the concerned younger man in front of him, who was watching Piccolo Sr. with apprehension on his face. How could this be? His father--he would not lie to him about what kind of man this person was, would he? Piccolo's ears perked up as Goku continued, but softly and introspectively, as if to himself. "The last time I saw him--he was almost disqualified from the quarterfinals because he showed up drunk. Yet he still managed to win and almost beat me in the finals...." Goku's head reared back up, "I don't know who you are, but I was trying to pick this man back up when you attacked me. I don't know what you think I did to you, but we can settle it later. I must get this man help."
Piccolo frowned at him, processing this information, trying to rectify this man with the one his father had always presented to him as buffoonish and brutish--but he could not. Before he could speak though, Vegeta (who Piccolo did not realize was standing right next to him) spoke over him, his voice shocked, "Goku, you know this man?"
Goku nodded solemnly, not taking his eyes off of Piccolo Sr. as he held him closer to his body. Piccolo was glad to note that the seizure had finally finished, but he could not tear himself away from listening to the man he had been taught to hate. "I beat him for the title of World Champion in the last World's Martial Arts competition--but he said his wife and sons were sick, so I gave him my winnings to buy them medicine. He was such a good, strong fighter--I hate to see him like this. What could do this to a man?"
Vegeta's answer was droll, "If I had to guess, about three or four bottles of gin a day."
Piccolo did not answer Vegeta, unhearing of his snarky reply, instead focusing in on Goku. There was too much information to process, but he definitely knew that Goku could not be telling the truth about giving his father his winnings--his mother and brother's deaths were testament to that. "Liar!"
Piccolo did not move from the tight circle of Nappa's arms, though he struggled to be free, frowning as he parroted back to these men what his father had told him when he had returned from the World's Martial Arts championship weeks late, and empty handed. "He told me you refused to give him your winnings and taunted him by throwing the money away on food!"
Goku's mouth dropped open, shaking his head, "Why would I need that money? I hate money! I don't even need it--my family has enough money to buy me all the food I could ever want!"
Too many years of his father's stories, too many years of built up hatred burst through Piccolo in that moment as he only repeated, "LIAR!"
Goku turned to the man, his mouth open in disbelief, before he shook his head, "I do not have time for this--I must take him to a doctor, and now."
"DON'T YOU FUCKING DARE!" Piccolo struggled in Nappa's arms, and Goku turned back to face him, anger evident in every fiber of his being as he looked to reply--but Vegeta did not let him.
Instead he stepped between the two men, staring at Piccolo as he told him, "If I may--this man is not who your father painted him out to be. It might seem hard to believe, but I bet Goku did not enter that tournament for any sort of money." Vegeta looked over his shoulder for confirmation, "Did you Goku?"
Goku shook his head, honesty lacing his voice as he admitted, "I just like to fight."
Piccolo struggled again, but said nothing, staring at the other man, before Goku finally put two and two together, "Wait--are you one of his sons?"
Piccolo only nodded, and there was a silence as the two men sized each other up.
It was Vegeta who spoke next, his voice catching both of their attention's as a note of frustration and understanding that had not been there before lanced through his question, "Piccolo--are you not someone called Green?"
Piccolo looked at him, giving a slight nod, before Vegeta continued motioning towards his father, "And is this a man you call father?"
"He is my father."
Vegeta sighed, rubbing the space between his eyes, as he let out a frustrated breath before continuing. "I meant.... you know what, forget it. Just answer this--did you or did you not sneak into Goku's introduction ball at my Mayfair estate, before meeting your father out in the gardens where you two had a short conversation where he referred to you as Green before leaving in opposite directions?"
Piccolo blinked, taken aback by how spot on Vegeta was, before he gave a slight nod, "That was me."
Vegeta let out a low and loud frustrated note, an oath, a curse, before he opened his eyes again, looking Piccolo dead in the eyes as fire sparked in the Duke's. "You are not Zhelonie, are you?"
Piccolo gave him a simple shake of his head, before Vegeta frowned, "Nappa, let the man go, he is not who we are looking for." Vegeta turned towards Goku, "Give the man back his father." The authoritative note in Vegeta's voice brooked absolutely no argument, and Piccolo was let go, and he rushed to Goku, snatching his father away, the pair of men still glaring at each other.
Vegeta was not yet done though as he looked at Piccolo, "Look, take the Vegetasei carriage, and go to the doctor who is on High street, and give him this ring," Vegeta nodded to Nappa to take his ring off, who handed it to Piccolo, "Tell him I sent you, and he will give you the best care in the world. When you are done there, go to my estate in Mayfair and ask for Jeffries. Show him the ring and he will give you two a place to stay. Or if you desire, he will give you two tickets on a ship to wherever the hell you desire to go." Vegeta's eyes flashed as he snarled, that old anger surfacing as he sarcastically added, "Is there anything else I can get you? Or do you have to now beat my cousin to death in my presence? Because if you could hold off for a few hours, I would greatly appreciate that."
Piccolo considered this briefly, wondering what was more important--his father's grudge, or his father's health, before he took the proffered ring in his palm, following Vegeta's lead to the all black carriage with the Vegetasei seal. As Piccolo laid his father in the back, he turned back to Vegetasei, and looked past him to Goku, "This does not mean I will not still come for Goku."
Vegeta shrugged his shoulders, before he turned his head, considering for a second before he spoke, his voice low enough for only Piccolo to hear, "You are always welcome to avenge any grudges you hold, but be sure you know the truth before you commit yourself to evening the score on something that might not have ever happened. I cannot speak to what happened between your father and Goku, but my cousin is not malicious or greedy--the man was willing to turn down an offered Viscouncy because it meant leaving his family behind." Vegeta stopped for a second, his eyes locked with Piccolo's as he said, "You are not your father, and you should not have to answer for his sins."
The weight behind the words was what caught Piccolo's attention, as he took stock of the other man, noticing something shift behind the Duke's dark eyes. Piccolo was not entirely sure what it was, but he did know that in that moment--in that exact moment, he felt a bond with the man he had never felt before, even when they were fighting. There was an understanding there, but then the Duke blinked, turning away, and it was gone. Piccolo only took a second to let the words sink, through his fog of anger, and need for revenge (as well a the physical pain that was starting to sink in), before he turned to the footman driving the carriage, and told him where to go.
Vegeta did not even wait to hear the carriage roll away before he turned back to his cousin, making sure his face gave absolutely nothing away as he calmly said, "Follow me."
Vegeta walked past Kakarrot with an arrogance and calmness he did not feel, not even turning back to make sure Goku was behind him as he moved. Vegeta moved down the same alleyway he had just been fruitlessly beating up Piccolo in, moving further down, making sure that he was a very appropriate distant away from the street before he stopped. He waited with his back to the main street for a moment, hearing the approaching footsteps of Kakarrot, and the heavier ones of Nappa, though those stopped further back, probably standing at the mouth of the alley as a sentry.
Vegeta waited until he heard Kakarrot's footsteps stop, before he finally turned around, making sure all of his frustration (at finding he followed the wrong lead, at knowing that his cousin had disobeyed his strict orders, at not knowing who Zhelonie was, at not still being in bed with his wife) was evident in his voice as he calmly said, "Kakarrot, you must know better than most that I am not one to lose my temper."
Kakarrot had that face on, that one that made him look most like his father, his eyes glinting like steel as he said nothing, instead only calmly nodding. Vegeta had to admit that he was impressed with his cousin for not speaking, for not trying to defend himself, the two of them in a silent stalemate as Vegeta looked him over.
Vegeta took a deep breath before he decided to continue, "Then you should know right now that I am fighting with all of my might to stop from beating you dead in this alleyway for disobeying a strict order of mine." Vegeta took a step closer to his taller cousin, his eyes glued to Kakarrot's as his voice dropped even lower, "Can you give me one possible reason you would have for leaving Bulma's side when I explicitly asked you to protect her? I did not think you were that careless with Bulma's life."
The slight against Kakarrot's regard for Bulma's life was ignored, as Kakarrot took no notice of his cousin's attempt to rile him up. "Vegeta, Bulma sent me to you with this note. She told me that it was the most important note you had ever received from your gardener, and that it had just missed you. She told me you would never forgive her if you did not receive this note."
Vegeta's kept his face blank as his mind whirled away, wondering what could possibly be in this note, but he did not ask for it right away as he only said, "You left Bulma unprotected?"
Kakarrot shook his head, still not cracking from the Bardock face. "Never. She is in the secret office, with two armed guards keeping watch on the outside door. I love my sister and would never leave her in a dangerous situation."
Vegeta did not feel the slightest bit appeased by this, but his concern for Bulma's safety waned the slightest bit. Enough for him to be concerned about the note, and to wonder why on Earth Bulma would send her brother out here to look for him, especially with what she knew was a confidential note. "Do you have the letter from my gardener?"
Kakarrot nodded, but hesitated in handing it over. Apparently he had something to say. "Vegeta, I am here as your wife's brother first, and as your cousin second. So you must understand where my loyalties lie, especially when I have a sister who asks for me to bring her husband back to her, alive."
Vegeta snarled at that, but Kakarrot finally handed him the letter, and Vegeta snatched it out of his hand, his eyes flashing over the note so quickly he had to read it slowly, again, to fully comprehend what he was seeing. Vegeta's mind began to whirl again, his anger at his cousin falling to the wayside as he processed what he was reading. The king was being held ransom? But how--how had Frieza's gotten close enough to the King to hold him hostage? And holding him hostage--that was not Frieza's style. But now was not the time for questions--it was the time for action. It was his chance, what he had been waiting for for years. His chance to have his revenge against Frieza.
Vegeta took a calming breath as that thought flitted across his mind, before looking back up to his cousin, making sure his face and his voice gave nothing away.
Vegeta turned back to Kakarrot, "Bulma read this?"
Vegeta hesitated a moment before he asked, "Did she explain it?"
Kakarrot did not falter as he nodded again.
Vegeta cursed something fierce in his mind, but he only nodded, "Then there is nothing that I can do to make you leave my side today, is there?"
Kakarrot shook his head for the first time, "I am with you until I can bring you back to Bulma like she asked."
Vegeta smirked inwardly as he realized that was never going to happen, but knowing that his cousin was strong--and not a bad ally to have around when facing the head of the Russian army. Vegeta finally started to walk, past his cousin, striding with purpose, "Then hurry Kakarrot, we do not have much time, and I want to make sure there is enough time left in the day for me to kill you for disobeying me later."
A/N: Oh snap--shit is going down in the next chapter! Thanks for reading guys, and I'll see you next time xx