So real life got in the way of my writing again…along with a bit of writer's block. Yeah. That was loads of fun…

Anyway, this chapter is really short, and not a whole lot happens. Let's just call it a bit of an interlude. I originally had an entirely different plan for this chapter, but it didn't turn out at all. I'm not sure what I hoped to accomplish with this chapter except that I wanted to have a bit more interaction between Goku, Raditz, and Nappa. It's surprisingly hard to write the three of them without Vegeta being around since he's really the only thing they all have to relate over. Even without being present, he still managed to intrude on their conversation.

Well, I've already gotten a decent start on the next chapter, so hopefully it will be ready and up in time. Until then, this will have to suffice.

Note: Sorry everyone! For some reason removed all of my quotation marks. I think it's fixed now.


Chapter Fourteen

"You and your brother can use this room while you're all staying here," said Mrs. Briefs, pushing open the door to show the Saiya-jins their temporary accommodations. The room was rather plainly decorated, using mostly neutral colors but with a few splashes of brightness to add a bit of interest. It contained a pair of beds, a single bedside table between them, and a set of drawers as the extent of its furnishings.

Goku and Raditz walked into the room, the elder sibling watching the woman warily as he slipped through the door past her. Something about her and that constant smile automatically put him on edge. Her shameless attempts to flirt with both himself and Nappa despite already having a husband didn't make it any better.

"It's nice," he said somewhat uncertainly, looking around at the room. What else was he supposed to say?

"Oh, you're too sweet," she gushed, seeming not to notice as Nappa gave a derisive snort behind her. "It's nothing fancy, I know, but these rooms are closer to your little friend, and I figured that you wouldn't want to be too far away from him."

He looked the room over again. Even if it was very basic by her standards, it was still far nicer than what he was accustomed to having. This sort of place almost seemed like luxury, leaving him feel rather strangely like a country hick even though by all counts the people of this planet were supposed to be the backwater bumpkins.

"Anyway, the bathroom is just two doors down the hall and on your left. I've already made sure that there are plenty of toiletries and linens for you to use, but feel free to come to me if you still need anything."

"Sure…" said the long-haired man, immediately dismissing the woman's offer from his mind. He didn't want to deal with her more than he absolutely needed to.

Seeming satisfied with his response, she turned her attention onto the large man still standing behind her in the hall, who seemed rather uncomfortable to be at her focus. Quickly she strode across the hall, pushing another door open and motioning into the room revealed on the other side. "You can stay in this room. It has a larger bed that I think you'll find more comfortable to sleep on, and I thought you might prefer having a room to yourself too."

Glancing quickly through the open door and giving a small nod, he said, "It is adequate."

Mrs. Briefs beamed up at him as though he'd just said it was the most exquisite place he'd ever seen, and he again wondered if it might be wiser to retreat from this woman. "Ah, but I should let you gentlemen get settled in for the evening. Besides, I still need to get dinner ready for my family."

Turning away from them, she pranced off down the hall, humming lightly to herself. An awkward silence followed in her wake with both of the older men staring after her retreating form with expressions that seemed to ask just what they'd gotten themselves into. "Are all of the people on this planet like her?" asked Raditz with a note of apprehension in his voice as he glanced over at his brother.

"No, I don't think so."

"You 'don't think so'?"

He shrugged his shoulders unconcernedly. "Well, I never met any other people like her. Most people on this planet are generally nice, but they don't get as friendly as she does."

Both men seemed to visibly relax at that.

"Why are you scared of her?"

"I'm not 'scared' of that woman!" shouted Raditz indignantly, lunging forward almost as though he intended to attack the boy, but he stopped suddenly, catching himself before he could go through with it. Pressing his lips together tightly, he pulled back with a huff. "There's just something wrong about her."

Walking into the doorway of the room, Nappa said, "It is partially due to our nature and our conditioning. As a people we are very reserved around those we do not know, so her overly familiar and affectionate behavior is completely at odds with our own natural behavior. Even so, we could adapt to it easily enough if we were not so heavily conditioned to be distrustful of such overt friendliness. There is no room to trust others in space."

"But you guys trust each other," said Goku, brows furrowing in question.

Didn't they trust each other? He knew that Vegeta must trust them at least if he was willing to bring them to Earth with him. He knew the other Saiya-jin well enough to understand that he wouldn't have taken that sort of risk with people whose loyalties he had any doubt of.

Crossing his arms over his massive chest, Nappa gave a small snort. "We are not others amongst ourselves."

"Huh?"

"We don't split ourselves up as one person against the whole rest of the universe," explained Raditz, taking pity on his brother's failure to understand. "That's just too much for anyone to take on."

"We divide ourselves up into groups, and anyone outside of your particular group is a part of the 'others' I was talking about," said the large man, taking the conversation back. "Many people choose to group themselves by race since they already share some amount of commonality, but there is any number of other ways for them to do it. It doesn't really matter so much about why you've put yourself together with them so long as you have at least one person you can trust. There's no more dangerous place to be than alone."

"Oh. I think I get it now," said Goku with a small nod of his head.

"You should. You're more a part of Prince Vegeta's group than we are."

He blinked, eyes widening in surprise at that statement. "What? No. You guys got it wrong there. You're his group. I'm just the 'third-class clown' he puts up with because I make a decent sparring partner in the future. You know him way better than I ever could."

"What kind of a joke is that?" asked Raditz with a smirk as he plopped down on one of the beds. "We don't know the runt at all with the way he is now. Sure, he looks the way we know him, but he doesn't act the way we know."

"You were the first person he sought out after arriving on this planet."

"He probably just thought I was the most likely person to remember too. It doesn't really mean anything," said Goku with a shrug.

Nappa shook his head, wearing a dismissive expression. "He trusts you. Do not underestimate what that means for someone coming from his situation." Turning away from them, the large man departed to his room across the hall, closing the door behind him.

The door opened, and Vegeta's eyes slid slowly over to it, watching with an expression of the greatest disinterest as Dr. Briefs entered again, walking towards his bed with that familiar, slow shuffle. With a sigh, he turned his face away, looking out of the large window in his room, out of which he could see the tall, looming shapes of the city skyscrapers beyond the boundaries of the Capsule Corp property, backed by the quickly darkening sky. The dark forms of the buildings were dotted with many tiny squares of light spaced out randomly over them in an ever-changing but always senseless pattern.

His own room was dimly illuminated by the single lamp sitting atop the bedside table. One of the nurses had turned the overhead light off on her way out the door, saying that he needed to go to sleep early in his state and at his age—she had absolutely refused to believe that he could be any older than seven. He'd turned the lamp on almost as soon as she'd shut the door just to be defiant.

"How are you feeling?" asked the man as he came to stand at the bedside.

"Like a building dropped on top of me before I was beaten and nearly disemboweled," he answered in a deadpan tone.

"Well, you certainly looked the part when you first arrived," said the scientist, obviously not believing him. It would've been infuriatingly frustrating if he hadn't been expecting it. "I know you must be tired by now, but I was wondering if I could ask you some questions."

"I stopped answering questions earlier. Why do you think I'll start again now?"

Allowing a sigh to slip between his lips, Dr Briefs said, "I don't necessarily assume that you will, but I would like to ask them regardless. However, if you are absolutely set against that, I will simply leave and let you be for the rest of the evening."

Looking back at the man, he tilted his head slightly to one side, seeming to consider it for a minute. "Do what you want."

Seeming pleased and mildly surprised with how well that had turned out, Dr Briefs sat down in the chair that still stood at his bedside. "Good. Now, are you really as old as you claimed to be when you were speaking with my daughter earlier?"

"Yes."

"Do you realize what that implies when your…size is taken into account?"

"Yes."

"Do you have anything to say on the matter that might explain why you seem so undersized for your age?"

"You're judging me by human standards, but those standards would not necessarily apply to me if it turned out that I wasn't human." He paused for a moment, watching the man's expression with an expression of feigned disinterest. His eyes watched every movement of the man's face, gauging his thoughts. "You already considered that idea, of course. After all, humans don't have tails."

"So what are you?"

He frowned, turning his face to gaze up at the ceiling. "I am a Saiya-jin."

The man frowned, scratching his chin lightly as he seemed to think over something. "I've never heard of that people before. Can you tell me more about yourself and your people?"

"It doesn't matter. The four of us you've already seen make up the entirety of what remains of my people. The rest are gone."

Bushy eyebrows shot up over the rim of his glasses, and for a long moment Dr Briefs seemed uncertain of whether to further pursue this line of questioning. It should be a highly sensitive subject, but the boy seemed completely detached from it. Perhaps he'd been too young to really remember it, or maybe he'd simply never been allowed the opportunity to deal with the event. Either way, it screamed for him to delve further into the subject. "What happened to them?"

"They were killed. I was intentionally left alive. A few others managed to escape it as well, but they were mostly just lucky."

"Is that what you're going to wish for?"

Dark eyes snapped back to look at the man again, narrowing in a silent demand for an explanation.

"Bulma told me about these dragonballs you're searching for."

"Blabbermouth," he grumbled with a huff.

The doctor either didn't hear him or simply chose to ignore his remark. "As a scientist, I have to say that such things as magic, wish-granting stones sound like silly children's tales, but you say that you have personally witnessed their power. I wonder, however, if you saw what you really think you did and not some much more mundane occurrence."

His face set into a familiar scowl. "They work! I know they do."

Dr. Briefs frowned, looking at him, really looking at him, examining his appearance and his words. "I see," he said after a moment. "You were the one brought back to life."

Unconsciously he reached up to grasp his chest.

Since when was the man this perceptive? Had there simply been a time before the founder of Capsule Corp had been such an absent-minded, eccentric doddering around in his lab and too consumed in the various odd projects he found interest in to really pay attention to the world around him.

"Nobody ever wished me back to life," he said, looking away again, staring back out of the window. That was technically true, at least. Both of the times he'd come back to life, no one had specifically wished for his resurrection. His revival had always been as a side-effect of the larger wish. On Namek, he'd simply happened to be one of those killed by Freeza, and in the fight again Buu, he'd just happened to be judged as a 'good' enough person to fit inside the parameters of that wish.

"What happened?" asked the man, glancing momentarily down at the boy's hand fisted furiously in the fabric of the hospital garment.

Images flashed in his mind. He saw the green sky of Namek and a pair of dark lips twisted in a sadistic smile. He saw the flash of light as the attack pierced his body and his vision slowly dimming to nothing as he reached out towards a blurred orange and black figure.

A shudder ran down his spine as he remembered the utter sense of hopelessness he'd felt then. That same feeling began to seep into him yet again at the terrifying knowledge that although his own power was so much smaller due to his youth, Freeza's was completely undiminished. If he found them now, they were dead. They would be dead if they were lucky, at least.

"I'm not answering any more of your questions," he said with a note of finality that refused to be swayed.

"I'll leave you be," said Dr. Briefs in a resigned tone. There was a shuffling noise as the man stood from his seat, and began to walk back towards the door. More light spilled into the room as he opened the door leading into the well-lit hallway. "Sleep well, and try not to do anything to aggravate your injuries."

The room grew dim again, and the door closed back with a click, signaling the man's departure. Vegeta scowled, curling slightly into himself and cursing silently.


Thanks to Jombra, Kiomori (Well, keep in mind that they're probably used to Vegeta being a bit of a manipulative bastard when the situation calls for it. He's not doing anything particularly unusual for himself in this instance.), hopelessly_demented (They may meet up with a few other canon characters in their search for the dragonballs, but I won't say which ones. You should be able to figure out one or two if you happen to have access to the original manga. Some of those balls will be in their same locations.), XxKuroyoxX (Mrs. Briefs was rather fun to write, but she would probably creep me the hell out in real life.), Whatev3691 (You'll have to wait another chapter at least to get to the dragonball hunt, but I'm looking forward to it a bit myself.), mynameisthedoctor, GCTIGERFAN1, kitsuk8 (Well, this chapter is largely talking too, but I don't think it's particularly good. Still, I hope it turned out okay. It's a further pause that just sort of seemed to need to happen.), j (Heh…so much for being on time, eh?), xzavx (Well, I didn't give much indication of whether they liked her cooking or not, but you can probably just go ahead and assume that they did.), xXoTaInTeD-bLoSsOmoXx, Stiehl (We'll get to his reasons eventually. It's just hard to slip all of that in without going into straight out exposition mode.), GoldenKitsuneHime13, Mirai Veggie, Vegetachik7 (Ah, I remember your story. Post-Buu Vegeta is interesting and can be a bit tricky to write well, I think. I've read where some people have him hardly changed from what I would categorize as more of a Cell-era characterization, and I've seen others that have him being completely at peace with his past and himself. Personally, I think he'd in some ways be even more conflicted about his past after the changes he underwent over the Buu arc.), Creampuff, Tensai-chan (Oh, there are way better writers than me on this site. Check out some of the stuff by Kizmet and balthezarian for some really good writing.), JollyVenturer, and Cyde (Oh, I have some plans for the dragonballs, but I'm not necessarily planning on using them in the typical way.) for reviewing. Next time we should make some actual progress in the story.