The concubines next to him stirred fitfully. But he didn't care. He didn't care about anything, right? Watching the deep red sun rise, he tried not to ponder over what she had said. Asking him to tell her something both knew he couldn't feel. He didn't have a heart. He knew it. But he had accepted it a long time ago and used it to his advantage. What good would it do him as a King anyways? He was entitled to make decisions that no one else wanted to.
Besides, Angels had hearts. But they were weak. What good did it do them? Only made them more emotional, more able to feel pain. So if all that having a soul meant, was that it would magnify all emotions, is it really such a loss to be denied one? A soul was over rated. Besides, he mused dejectedly, Angels were most definitely a hypocritical people. With their high morals and merciful ways, you'd think they could show some compassion. Some understanding. But no.. they cursed Demons for what they were, casting them down from the heavens, denying them the grace of the sun. No.. they were not all that they were cracked up to be. He knew first hand. Disgraceful creatures.
How old had he been when seeing his first one? Nearly 5 he imagined. But still, it was fresh in his mind. They had all been gathered, him, Draco and his father into a large meeting room. He couldn't even remember the room, only that it was intolerably light and refined. It seemed to almost sting his flesh. And, walking into the room through two doors, were the most beautiful creatures he'd ever laid his eyes on. Gorgeous light skin and wings. Their wings. He could remember wanting to touch the feathery members.. To slide his small dimpled hand down the shimmering silk, just for a moment. They were so graceful, so unlike his own, which, despite his fathers assurance, he believed he'd never grow into. But they hadn't thought he was beautiful.
He gritted his teeth just recalling the scowls sent his way. All his life he had been informed of the preposterous, weak ways of Angels. Their complex emotions, their pity.. but none, not one bit of those characteristics had been show to him. The tall light strangers look down at him in utter disgust, as if he were nothing more then an insect that should be forever stomped from existence. He was nothing more than a lowly, desperate creature of Hell… below them.
Such wretched creatures. So unfair. He had been born this way, had he not? Denied the right to see the holy sun. Denied entrance into the grace of God. And for what? Being born? And so, early on, he decided that it was barbaric. His father was right to destroy the treacherous creatures. They would have done no less to him if given the opportunity. And thus, he had brought up in blood and hatred. How exactly was he supposed to care? Why should he feel inadequate that he didn't have a soul? As if it did the nasty heavenly race any good anyways. He was damned… and he accepted it with brute force and defilement. He would have it no other way.
The whores stirred once more, waking each other up with their pitiful groans. Blinking their eyes in the now brightly burning sun, they stretched, pulling towards him. They circled around him, kissing and nuzzling his strong neck. They whimpered in their need, oblivious to the blank look in his eyes, clueing them into the fact that he was far off from the present. And so when he glared at them, they were surprised. They looked longingly at him, begging for him to suppress the growing tension in their bodies. Vegeta was by far the strongest and most skillful man in Hell, in more ways then one. But he only growled, roughly pushing them away as he crawled out of bed.
Why should he give them what they wanted, when he was sadly being denied what he desired most? Freedom from the dejected feeling his body was constantly being cursed with. He knew the only answer lied in her. She had instilled such a seed of self hatred in him, and until she was gone, he knew it would never die. And so, he began asking himself if he had the strength to pluck out the seed. To tear out the roots.
To kill her.
Bulma awoke with Radditz standing over her, the crimson sun high in the blazing sky.
"The fires of Hell are burning brightly today, Princess." He smiled genuinely.
She was almost shocked. He looked almost exactly like Goku when he smiled like that. The resemblance was uncanny, if not for the outrageous hair; and of course the fact that he was a demon. Still, it sent warm waves into her heart just to catch a glimpse of something so pleasurably familiar.
"A messenger has been sent from your father, Princess. He is to meet my Lord in two days." He beamed happily.
"What?" She shrieked, fully awakened by the news.
"All of Hell is rejoicing your Highness. The castle is stirring and you, the most important, are still in bed!"
He certainly was in a good mood, she remarked almost happily. He probably despised being her babysitter as much as she did, and would be relieved when the whole ordeal was finished.
Bulma dove out from underneath her protective covers, clad only in her bra and underwear. She paid no heed to his fierce blush and fidgeting hands, as she pulled her stained, bloody, torn white dress over her head. Gazing over at him and trying to get his attention, she noticed that he basically refused to meet her eyes. It had never been a problem before. Especially when he had insisted on flirting with her.
"What's wrong with you?" She demanded, only half hearted. Well, it wasn't like she wouldn't be a little flustered if he had bounded into her room in a pair of speedos, but he was ridiculously avoiding her.
"Well.. I.." he stammered.
"Radditz, it's not like you haven't seen me in my bra before. What's with you?"
He straightened up, going from Goku look-alike, to powerfully in-control Demon Guard, in a matter of about three seconds.
"I just refuse to touch another man's property. That's all." He said flatly, still noticeably avoiding her angry stare.
"I'm no man's property Radditz!" She scolded, cocking her head to the side. "Whose property do you think I am?"
He faltered slightly, pausing for words.
"Forgive me Princess." He said curtly, before turning on his heels to exit her room. "I was misinformed."
Radditz could be so strange. One minute he acts like a modern day Casanova, the next he won't even look into her eyes for fear of the wrath of another man. How strange he could be. Still, she scampered after him, not wanting to lose him in the maze of hallways and corridors. It wasn't a long walk, and soon she was faced with the sounds of thousands of demons, ranting and raving in a way they often did when attending their wild parties.
She stood in a room larger than she'd ever seen. It seemed as if it stretched for a mile across and a mile high. An uncountable number of long tables littered the black marbled floor, drinks piled high upon them. And demons. More demons than she'd ever seen, laughing and carrying on in a violent way that was befitting to their race. Black tattered wings decorated the mess hall and she shrank away from the intimidating scene, trying in vain to camouflage into the surroundings. It didn't work and soon all the millions upon millions of beady black eyes were bearing into her.
Expecting utter distain and rejection from them, her mouth fell when, as a large hoard, they cheered loudly in her honor, lifting their full glasses into the air and praising her, as if she'd given them Heaven on a platter. And there sat their proud King, perched high on his skeleton throne, looking as if Heaven was already his. And he wasn't alone, for straddling both legs, were two gorgeous concubines, clad in shiny pleather that covered next to nothing. To her ultimate dismay, she recognized the blonde from last night, beaming at her with sleezy eyes. Vegeta gestured for her and Radditz to come nearer and so they picked their way through the messy crowd and stood uncomfortably before him and his throne.
"Princess, you're presence here is welcome. Today is a day of rejoicing in your honor." He winked. "You are being held in high regard on this day. I suggest you put aside your differences and enjoy the celebrations."
He smirked, with that smirk that made her crazy. She was about to decline pleasantly, ready to inform him that she wanted no part of his bloody, drug-infested celebration, when, grinning, the Blonde demon wrapped her arms protectively around the King, nuzzling her face into the crook of Vegeta's neck. It made Bulma's firm resolve turn to ice and shatter.
"Oh… come on little Princess.." she taunted, pressing her knee closer to Vegeta. He could only smirk, showing his gleaming fangs.
"Why don't you join us? I promise it'll be fun." She moved even closer to him, riling in spurts of angry breath coming from the Angel.
"Besides.." she continued, placing her delicate little fingers on this side of the gleaming King's face. "Vegeta can handle three, no problem. I can learn to share."
Jealousy sky-rocketed, nearly taking flight with sanity, and she had to freeze her body before tearing off the demon's face. How dare she pretend she owned Vegeta! She could feel herself screaming as they gazed down at her. She felt humiliated and cheapened, as their dead eyes examined her enraged form. Mostly though, she felt the unrivaled jealousy as he wrapped his arms securely around the woman's thin waist, thinner then her own, and squeezed, winking sexily at her.
She felt her self subconsciously backing up, but probably wasn't even aware of it until her back smacked into Radditz rock-hard chest, him having to steady her so as not to fall. Glaring, she stuck her nose up haughtily and marched rudely through the crowd. The demons paid no heed to her as she bumped and pushed her way through them. Such insolent behavior was common-place at gatherings such as these and they paid no mind to civil decencies.
Radditz had not missed the gesture from the King, nor the purposeful instilling of jealousy from the concubine. He followed her stomping form back to her room, where he walked in on her looking in the mirror.
What did that concubine have that she didn't? Of course, the answer was obvious. She had class, a body that could turn women green and a beautiful face, clad in dark makeup. Tramp! She hated her.
She turned, seeing Radditz's confused face looking back at her through the mirror, as he stood in, what she had come to identify as, her door frame.
"Am I really so different from them, Radditz?" She sighed.
He groaned at her, looking a tad bit scornful at her question. He crossed his arms, still looking at her eyes in the reflection.
"Of course not Angel." He stated matter-of-factly. He was a kind person when he attempted it. "You have your similarities. You know how beautiful you are."
She loved when he flattered her because he just did it so monotone and logical. You were almost forced to believe him, as he stated things with such firm and unretaliable conviction there was no denying it at the present. And so she simply flushed as he continued.
"But there are many differences." He shrugged "You are free to make your own choices. You will not always be owned by the King."
Bulma's plan to stab the demon woman in her sleep faltered slightly.
"What do you mean?" She asked. Partially, she didn't want him to answer, not wanting him to dull the blade of hatred she had from witnessing that scene. He sighed, still standing with his arms crossed.
"It's not an easy life for a concubine to live." He stated almost painfully.
It was strange for her to see him look so dejected as he was. For the life of her, she couldn't understand why. All the constant questions had made her feel insolent lately.
"Forever bound by a life of slavery, nothing is your's." He stated. "Not the food you eat, not the clothes on your back, not even your own body. You are owned from a young age, and you will live and you will die as a slave. No, it is not an easy life to live my Princess."
Again, she wanted to slap herself for being so heartless. She hadn't even thought of a concubine as really being a slave. They hung lazily around the palace, wearing next to nothing, some horribly out of shape, and yet, when the truth was revealed, they were nothing more then toys for the King's amusement. But should she hate Vegeta? He had probably been raised around such ideas and found no logic in changing such a provision. So she was left with no one to hate, no one to despise for her growing jealousy.
"But you have your own choices, and the opportunities." He continued. "The King shows you incredibly high favor and yet you reject him."
Radditz had obviously gone mad.
"I want to know why." He demanded suddenly.
So. He was asking her why SHE rejected Vegeta? Was it not the other way around? He refused to tell her that he cared for her and she refused to kiss him the other night for fear of her dying emotions involving Yamcha, not to mention the fact that such ordeals were forbidden to the highest extreme. So really, who had rejected who? She did not know. And so she decided to go with the pleasures of simplicity.
"Because I love another Radditz." She breathed, examining her hair in the mirror, as if the statement was nothing more then a burden of her appearance.
"No you don't." He stated so blatantly she almost choked.
How did he say things so convincingly? She was almost at the point of believing him.
"How would you know anything about that!" she snarled. "You don't know anything about me!"
"I know you don't love that Prince."
"Well, I certainly don't love Vegeta!" She spat.
He simply shrugged.
"What does love have to do with it?" He asked nonchalantly.
"Everything Radditz!" She threw her hands into the air frustrated. "It has to do with!-" she lowered her voice noticeably. "..with everything."
She sighed, annoyed with the conversation already.
"No woman has ever denied the King anything least of all herself."
"Well, it's not exactly hard." She sighed again, brushing her hair.
"For all of Hell's women, it is the ultimate temptation. To be pursued by the Demon King himself? Even those who have already been taken find themselves willing." He spoke as if he were thinking of a long lost memory from times far away. He just had that far off look in his deep eyes and a hushed tone in his throaty voice.
Bulma moved to her bed, motioning for him to sit. He observed the offer hesitantly, as if such was forbidden, before gently taking a seat across from her. He noticed how cushiony the bed was, how it seemed to sink beneath his weight. Strange seens how he slept quite peacefully on the floor of his room.
"What do you mean?" She asked. So she wanted to know the truth. How would he go about it? It was a tale that hurt to even imagine. He'd never told it to anyone. Was he ready? Sighing, he decided he'd carried the burden of the secret far too long on his heavy shoulders.
"I was not always a guard Princess." He spoke slowly, absorbing every word, as if hearing the tale being spoken aloud for the first time. "At one point, I was no more than a low -level soldier, living on the outskirts of Hell City with my family. I had a mother, a father, and…" He paused, composing his thoughts. "And a woman."
Bulma just nodded, encouraging him to continue.
"It was not an unhappy life for me." He went on. "I was content with my ranking, free to go and do as I wish; come and go as I pleased. But I guess preferred to be with her. She was what you Angels would have considered a wife. Her name was Launch and she was..." he nearly choked. "She was very beautiful."
Bulma had never seen this side of Radditz: usually either calm and composed, or insolent and goofy; never the dejected and struggling Demon before her.
He could see her in his mind's eye. The beautiful face and strong body. He looked at her through nearly glazed eyes, peering in a dreamlike state, before realizing he had zoned out and continued his story, his voice low and tight.
"The fateful day came when the New King, your Vegeta," Bulma wasn't sure she liked him referring to that cheap man whore as her own, but decided to press the issue would only close him up. "… noticed her."
Bulma looked up.
"Her intense beauty was far too much for him. For you see," He swallowed. "Me and the King had grown up together, been allies in many battles, winning every one of course. But loyalty can only go so far when beauty intervenes and so it was with this. He openly propositioned her, giving her the choice in secret. Overcome by lust, she subjected." His voice had tightened too much, eventually ceasing altogether as his vocal cords strained under pressure. His face became flustered and Bulma wondered if it wouldn't be the right thing to do to allow him to continue. But he calmed himself yet again and spoke once more.
"The next day I was given a high place in the castle to "atone" for what had taken place." He scoffed in open distain. "As if any high place could erase what Launch had done."
Bulma found herself surprisingly wanting to defend the woman. It wasn't as if she had done it alone. Radditz seemed to forget that Vegeta had played a vital role in destroying his marriage. But than again, what good could it possibly do to ease the pain Radditz was obviously struggling with? It no doubt made it easier to serve such a master, if all blame was directed elsewhere. And so she kept tastefully quiet.
"Upon hearing what had transpired, I slaughtered Launch for what she had done, and threw her body into the Pits of Hell." He stated as if he were reading the words.
He was staring blankly at nothing at all, obviously so far away from where his body was presently placed. Bulma was horrified. How could he do that to his own wife! But than again, she had committed adultery, and in such a barbaric place as this, such an act was most likely a mercy killing. Somewhat civil in such a savage land.
Bulma, until she cleared her throat, unsure what was about to come out.
"I am so sorry Radditz." She stammered. She knew she was pushing it. Pity was not something you offered to a demon. It was like a direct slap in the face. A damage to their pride. And so she skipped over the formalities and let her heart do the talking.
"I don't know how you can serve him so loyally after such a deceitful act." She breathed, looking down at the swirls and designs embedded into her beautiful comforter. She felt desperately like fidgeting under his harsh gaze, but decided it would portray discomfort and insecurity, both of which she despised. And so she calmly waited for his answer. Her statement seemed to awaken him from his dreamlike state.
"What?" he snorted. "Loyalty to your King is far more important than any petty attachment. It is the foundation upon which every warrior stands. With out it, Hell itself would crumble. The King is a powerful man, Bulma. Much more powerful than his father and undoubtably more so then his legendary ancestors. But he is not invincible. Without loyalty from his servants, he could very well fall and Hell would be defenseless without his supreme leadership. His family line is strong but not unbreakable. Loyalty must take first place in a warrior's life. Without it, I would perish." He finished.
A moment of silence passed between them.
Such a noble race were these Demons, Bulma decided. Savage and reckless at times, they retained an air of sophisticated pride that far out seeded their known nature. How could anyone think less of them? In a sense, their ideals and concepts far out seeded that of an Angel's. They had honor and pride. Neither of which could be denied or insulted without dire consequences.
Finally, she spoke up.
"What Vegeta did is utterly inexcusable Radditz." She stated coldly. "But, perhaps it is for the best."
This Radditz had not suspected. He had been firm set on defending his King's pride, no matter what the cost of his own. He had never anticipated her predicament. She smiled, glad to have his full attention. This wouldn't be easy for her to say.
"Maybe I…" she sighed, gathering her courage. "Maybe I don't love Yamcha." She admitted it slowly, seemingly discovering the fact herself for the first time.
"But I do know that love, true love," she continued. "does not yield to temptation. Of any kind! No matter how powerful, no matter how strong, nothing can break true love. Perhaps what Vegeta truly did was set you free. He let you know of Launch's conniving ways, perhaps he had even known of them long before. Perhaps, strange as it is, it was his way of telling you."
Bulma had surprised herself by defending Vegeta. Through each word, she was more and more convinced of their hidden truth.
"And maybe," she shrugged. "maybe promoting you to a higher position wasn't a sad excuse for atonement. Maybe that wasn't it at all. I think that it was his own way of consoling your loss, comforting your grief at finally knowing the truth. And although I'm sure he would never admit it, maybe he just wanted you closer to him. More.. in his life, you could say."
She spoke gently, but with superb conviction and truth. He felt as if a heavy load had been lifted from his shoulders.
All this time, he had felt a hidden animosity towards his King, only having it revealed by a woman; an Angel no less. And her words were spoken with honor and truth, reflecting the characteristics that the sentences themselves held. She spoke with knowledge far beyond her years; not only beautiful but wise. If he didn't know of his King's secret infatuation with her, he would have claimed her for himself, taking her then and there into his world.
But as it was, he knew that, although Vegeta was oblivious to it himself, he was developing dangerous feelings for her. He imagined that the transformation was affecting the Demon King very deeply, as such feelings are foreign to such a hateful man. Still, the truth would come out eventually, as it always did. How incredible for Vegeta this was. Radditz had known the young man since he had been a small Prince, and yet never had he been equipped with a tender heart or a conscience. How amazing that so much later in his life he was being contaminated by such seeming flaws. How amazing indeed. How scary mostly.
But Vegeta was reacting as could be expected. Using his forever handy tools such as jealousy, envy and rejection, he was predictable only to Radditz. What would forever remain a mystery to the world, Radditz knew only as fact. Only he could see the silent war ragging inside of Vegeta's empty chest.
But would his journey become the Princess's end? The thought brought unstable fear into his stomach. He had already seen the flashes of anger run through her eyes. Heard the enraged out breaks of a temper never before unleashed upon the universe. So it raised a question. Just how much could a demon influence an Angel? How far could Vegeta push her, until she was demon all but in appearance? He knew that he couldn't allow that to happen. Her innocence was what enthralled Vegeta's curiosity of her. It spawned an unhealthy infatuation that would ebb if the deterioration of her heart continued. At this point, he was intrigued both by her beauty and her innocence. But what if her innocence was won over by the blackness growing in her heart? Would the shallow beauty that still existed be enough to sway his straying morality? He knew only this. Only time could answer the haunting questions that tore at his mind. Until it answered, he felt it his duty to protect his King and his friend. For Bulma could only be called such after opening his eyes to the reality of Vegeta's true side. He could thank her only by protecting the thing that made her who she was. He would protect her soul.
Standing up, Bulma noticed that again, Radditz was mentally off in another world. Where he went, she figured she'd never know. But her mind was not on the deep psychological mysteries hiding behind his calm façade. She had a plan.
Admiring herself in the full length mirror, she nearly blushed. How was it that one moment she was feeling grossly huge and unattractive and the next she could turn herself on? She giggled at the thought. What some makeup and a gown could do...
A beautiful smirk, nearly rivaling Vegeta's own, graced her cheeks, flowing resiliently into her full eyes.
"Radditz." She inquired hotly.
He hardly even looked up until she placed her foot on the table next to her bed, her entire leg planted in front of his path of vision. He looked as if she'd just thrown a bucket of ice cold water upon his head.
"You weren't listening to me." She explained pouting her lips at him. He gave a goofy grin she was beginning to get used to, wrapping one hand on the back of his head, giggling.
"Uh.. ha ha .. yeah uh.. sorry about that."
It was only for a brief second, but she could almost have sworn that she saw Goku standing right were Radditz was. The two just had such uncanny similarities. It simply amazed her. But she was too busy for such mind tricks. She had plans to make. Things to ready.
"Radditz, I need you to do me a favor." She implied with an edge.
It seemed to him more and more often these days, she had a dark gleam in her eyes. Something evil was brewing deep inside and it constantly had him on edge. He worried that perhaps the promised evil seed had already grown roots, deep enough to leave a permanent impression. But then, her entire experience in Hell would forever scar her. So, he put on a grin and complied with her wishes, gesturing with his head for her to go on.
"I need you to get me a dress.. Something…mmm…" she pondered innocently for a moment before the wicked gleam returned and her smirk widened. "Something sexy. Something you wouldn't mind seeing me wear."
He was more than happy to comply, but the itching in his stomach would simply not ebb..What was this all about? Was she really going to attend the festival? Did she not know the dangers that were constantly at work in such a wild atmosphere? But he knew the look she had all too well; nothing he said or did would sway her. That much was evidently clear. And so.. with a bit of the familiar glint in his own eyes.. He shook his head and left to make ready such a gown that his eyes would envy the very ground she set foot upon. Let Vegeta's stone cold heart reject this one!