Just a Nightmare
(Part II: Enter the Nightmare)

Chapter 3

'Where is he?'

For days he'd been searching and worrying. What could have happened to his mate? He distinctly remembered a promise to remain by his side for the rest of his life and beyond. That the promise had been broken could only mean that....

'IIE!'

He believed in the bond, he trusted in the bond. It would have told him that his mate was gone. Hell, it would have told him if he was in trouble! Yet he felt absolutely nothing and was extremely concerned because of it. Again, where was his mate? Why hadn't he come home? Didn't he still love him?

"I could have told you that he was going to screw you over in the end," a voice whispered in his ear. "Never, ever trust a goodie-two-shoes. The kindness he displayed was only a ploy."

"You are lying to me. I've told you time and time again to leave me alone, but you never listen!"

"The truth hurts doesn't it? All of those things he promised during the ritual are nothing but lies; he intended to hurt you all along. Before you kill him, it would be quite enjoyable to torture him first."

Vegeta carefully considered his words and made a decision. "What would you suggest?"

"You're really going to listen to me?!" The devil hadn't really planned on this ever happening. Quickly regaining his composure, he revealed the number one thing on his list. "Go after all that he holds dear. That will always be an old favorite."

"It may be a favorite, but it's idiotic when it comes to Kakarotto. Have you forgotten that the reason he attained Super Saiya-jin status in the first place was because Furiza killed Kuririn?"

The chibi frowned. "You have a point there. Like Gohan, he reaches new levels of power when those he vowed to protect are harmed. Torture only him, then. There is no one strong enough to stop you."

"He, himself, is strong enough to stop me. Do you have some sort of plan in mind, devil?"

"At this point, the only thing I can suggest is for you find him. You can't sense him nor can you use the bond to locate him. What's up with that?"

Vegeta beckoned him closer as if he were going to impart a great secret. He moved his mouth so that it was only a few inches away from his ear and shouted, "THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I'D LIKE TO KNOW!"

"JEEZ!" the chibi whined as he rubbed his ear. "You didn't have to shout."

"Stop asking stupid questions, then."

"No problem, Vegeta. Look, you know that baka better than anyone, I would think. Where would he go on this pathetic excuse for a planet?"

"That lake," he said after a moment. "It's always been pretty special to him."

"Let's go!" The devil shouted as they both took off into the air. "We're gonna go kill a baka! We're gonna go kill a baka!"

Glaring at him, Vegeta charged up a ki blast. "Stop the singing or else."

"Yes sir," he gulped.

Over the towns, cities, and forests they flew at mach speed. Several minutes later they approached the area where the Son family's small house still stood. Vegeta dropped to the ground and decided to walk the rest of the way. 'I have to sneak up on the bastard. Wouldn't be good if he saw me coming.'

Just through a stand of trees he saw Goku beside the clear waters of the lake. The younger Saiya-jin appeared to be staring thoughtfully into its depths. As Vegeta started to move closer, an unwanted being popped into existence.

"IIE, VEGETA!" the chibi angel shouted at the top of his lungs. "You can't do this! Goku didn't betray you!"

"Where is the connection, then? How come I can no longer feel him? Why did he leave me without a word?"

"I-I don't know, but hurting him isn't the answer."

Shoving him aside, the devil glared at him. "Shut up and get out of our way. You were wrong about him all along, okay? Just accept that."

He shook his head sadly. "Iie. If he kills him..."

Ignoring the both of them, Vegeta marched across the sand. His entire being was focused only on one thing: extracting revenge for all the pain Goku had caused him. He had told him over and over again about the horrors of bonding withdrawal. Luckily that had only been an issue in the first few days. After that, he could no longer feel anything. 'That is what I get for opening myself up to him. I should have known that nothing good could come from it.'

Goku only looked up when the ouji was less than six feet away from him. With his ki suppressed so much, he could barely feel him. "Oh, hi."

The indifference caused Vegeta's right eye to twitch slightly. "What the fuck are you doing here?!"

"Why is it any of your business?" he asked in annoyance. "I came here after you shut me out. Everyone was right about you, Vegeta."

"Right about me?" His voice was very quiet and, now, both eyes were starting to twitch. "Right about me?" Vegeta's voice then rose nearly fifty decibels. "EVERYONE WAS RIGHT ABOUT ME? WHAT ABOUT YOU, BAKA? YOU'VE DONE SOMETHING TO THE BOND!"

He rose slowly to his feet. "What in the world makes you think that I've done something? Why would I intentionally ruin the most perfect thing I've ever experienced? Answer this question for me!"

"Something seriously screwy is going on here," the chibi said needlessly. "I knew that Goku was innocent of all charges against him!" His words weren't heard and the devil casually knocked him into unconsciousness before he had a chance to try again.

"I'll be damned if I let you ruin the best experience I've had in years," he muttered to the still form. "Just wish that I had thought of this first, though."

"So you think I have something to do with destroying the bond, eh?" Vegeta spread his arms open wide. "Come punish me for it. I'm not afraid of you."

Goku rolled his eyes instead. "That's the difference between you and I, Vegeta. You want to go around beating people up for things and I just want to stay away from them." He started to walk further down the shore. "As of this moment we're through. I don't want to see you again."

The ouji's eyes narrowed. "You should have never turned your back on me, baka. I'm not someone you dismiss." In his clenched right first, he created a ki blast. It quickly grew larger and larger in diameter until it completely engulfed his hand. By that time it was bigger than his head. Taking careful aim, Vegeta hurled the deadly sphere of energy. He expected Goku to dodge, and was very surprised when it actually made contact with the larger Saiya-jin's body.

"You make things too easy, Kakarotto," he said as he went to make sure he was truly defeated. "That was almost boring."

Shaking the cobwebs out of his head, the chibi angel sat up. His eyes opened wide when he saw the spectacle before him. "What have you done?! He was completely innocent, Vegeta! Some external force broke the bond between you!"

Several steps away from the motionless body, Vegeta froze. "What are you talking about?"

"I tried to tell you, but this evil one stopped me from doing so until it was too late." Shaking his head sadly, he flew over to drop down beside Goku. "It was so beautiful and now it's gone forever."

Vegeta refused to believe. "Iie, you're lying. There is no other explanation for what happened; he brought this upon himself."

The devil laughed darkly. "Oh, that little pansy's telling the truth alright. Even I could feel it. The baka had nothing to do with the bond's disappearance. Neither did you." He laughed again. "I finally got a chance to taste death again! Granted, it was only one guy and it happened pretty quickly, but it was better than nothing."

The full import of his actions hit him hard. "I-I killed him."

"You sure did," the angel sighed. "Are you proud of yourself, Vegeta? He loved you still."

Sinking slowly to his knees beside the corpse, he started sightlessly at the earth. Did he just do...? "I killed him." Not in a million years did he think the devil would eventually convince him to do the unthinkable. If he had, then he would have never bonded himself to Goku in the first place. Oh, who was he fooling? He knew that was all a lie. "I did know! It had always been a possibility."

He gently rolled his former mate onto his back, hiding from sight the ki blistered and blackened skin. Placing his hand gently against Goku's cheek, he allowed the tears to fall. "There is nothing I can do to make up for this. Even if I somehow wish him back, he wouldn't want to be with me anymore." Throat constricting, he let out a sob. "How could I do this to him?!"

***

"No, no, no, no...." he whispered it over and over again like a mantra, each word gaining both intensity and volume until he was nearly shouting. The sixth time he said 'no', Goku's eyes snapped open. After casting one look over at his mate (who was obviously caught in the throes of a nightmare), he did the only thing he could think of.

He tried to draw him out of it.

"Vegeta, calm yourself. There's nothing to fear." Poking around in his subconscious, he suddenly found himself immersed in the dark images that his mate's mind was creating. He saw him beside the body of, what looked to be,.... himself?! "Oh, boy. This is some dream."

"Today I have sunk lower than I ever thought was possible and betrayed the trust of someone who loved me more than anything else in the world. Kami, it's hard to find someone that special." He cleared his throat and got back on topic. "For some reason, I allowed the words of an evil creature to corrupt my soul and fill me with spite. How? That is one question I'll be asking myself forever. Another is: who broke our bond? Maybe the power of it could have saved me from this. I'm guessing it could have since someone saw fit to remove it."

"You are not to blame, 'geta. This is just a nightmare. In the real world you would never do this under any circumstances."

Though he could not hear the words, Vegeta still felt the warmth they conveyed. Slowly the dreamscape faded until Goku saw nothing but a gray void.

"I will stand guard, Vegeta. You will always be safe in my arms."

He awoke three hours later and Goku, who hardly felt the effects that one lost night of sleep caused, smiled at him. "Ohayo, 'geta. Did you have sweet dreams?"

The ouji frowned as he searched his memory. "You know, I don't remember if I did or not." His mate let out a relieved breath. "How long have you been up?"

'I don't want to lie, but I don't want to tell him the truth either.' "It doesn't matter," he said finally. "I'll go downstairs and make breakfast for us as you shower, okay?" Vegeta smirked and stared at him until he blushed faintly. "I'll pour us bowls of cereal."

"Good, I'd rather not have to put out a grease fire this early in the day."

"Hey, I'm not that bad!"

"Iie, you're not." Just as Goku started to smile he added, "You're worse." He dodged the pillow that had been thrown at him and went off to the bathroom.

Goku was very happy that Vegeta had no recollection of his nightmare. Based on what he saw, he knew that it would have disturbed him greatly. Who knows what had gone on before he interfered!

He had just finished pouring cereal into two giant bowls (Cheerios for him, Frosted Flakes for Vegeta), when Goten came downstairs. His father hadn't seen much of him at all yesterday and the only thing Trunks would tell him was that "he didn't feel well". "Ohayo, son."

"Ohayo, Tousan," he said softly as he opened the refrigerator for the carton of orange juice. He yawned sleepily as he poured a glass and didn't catch himself before it overflowed onto the table. Sighing, he grabbed a dish towel. "Gomen nasai."

"Are you okay?" his father asked, very concerned over the weariness etched across his face. "Trunks said yesterday that you weren't your usual self."

His eyes opened wide with panic. "What else did he tell you?"

"Did something happen between the two of you?"

Tears gathered in the corners of his eyes. "No, but I dreamt that it did."

He went on to describe in detail what had occurred in his dream. By the end of his tale, tears were sliding freely down his cheeks and Goku was grim. "Bra's right, then. Something is out there."

"Nani?" Goten questioned.

"Yesterday, your sister sensed something evil. She's the only one who did." Goku shook his head. "Why does Bra have this special power? It means that when we go searching for whatever it is, she'll have to lead the way."

"How does what she sensed tie into my nightmare?"

His father listened a moment to make sure that no one else would be entering the room anytime soon. "Because Vegeta had one this morning. The emotions I felt from him terrified me, Goten. Never before had I seen a nightmare that awful, not even when I had the fever dreams the heart virus caused. I just don't think it's coincidental. Did you have one again this morning?"

"Hai. It was the same exact one."

"Then we have a problem here." Goku tapped his finger against the side of his face in thought. "Should I warn the others? Or is this something we have to handle alone?"

"What could any of them do? They haven't been much help in the last twenty years, not really. Only we can defend Chikyuu against the people who want to ruin it." Just the mere thought of someone trying to break his and Trunks' relationship made his blood boil. "Divided we fall."

"Exactly," Goku agreed. "This person must think that we're too powerful to defeat as a whole so they're trying to weaken us from the inside out. Now that we know their plan, it should have less power over us."

Goten turned tired eyes toward his father. "I'm going to have the same exact nightmare again and again until we kill who's causing it, you know, and so is papa. Eventually we're going to be too tired to help you."

"Not Vegeta, son. I'm staying awake to keep the nightmare away. Which means that I'm going to be the useless one."

"But you're the strongest and, therefore, the most important!" the demi-Saiya-jin protested. "Without you, we might as well give in!"

He was still determined to do so. "Goten, you don't know what he dreamed. If he remembers it in the morning, then all would be lost for sure. We can't be a good team if he's afraid of hurting me. If I watch over him at night, we still have a chance at winning."

"Tousan, tell me what it was about. Tell me why it could prevent him from fighting to the best of his ability. I don't understand."

"First, you have to promise not to tell anyone. When we have the meeting later, I'll think of something to say."

The young man crossed his heart. "I promise."

"In his dream, Vegeta killed me. I only saw the part where he was cursing himself, but it was enough." Goku sighed. "I know that, realistically, it would never happen, but apparently he doesn't. It's his greatest fear, I believe."

"It was mine, too," Goten said suddenly. His father looked up with an expression of complete astonishment that made him chuckle slightly. "Iie, not that Vegeta would someday kill you, but that Trunks was lying to me. After I decided to quit school, I thought he accepted it too easily. As a matter of fact, you were the same way about it. Why?"

Goku smiled at him. "Son, you're an adult and I feel that you should make your own decisions. It's not my life. Trunks probably feels the same way. Trust in what you have and you'll never go wrong."

An invisible burden was immediately lifted from his shoulders as he realized how much sense his father's words made. "Domo arigatou for telling me that, Tousan. I just didn't realize that was the reason." After that, the conversation shifted to casual chatting.

A few minutes later, everyone else had joined them at the table. Both Goku and Goten were on their third gigantic bowl of cereal and had emptied three boxes each. Vegeta was thankful that he thought to quadruple the weekly grocery order. Who knows what they'd done if there wasn't enough food to feed them!

"Bra, are you planning on doing anything special today?" Goku asked her as she finished her breakfast.

She shook her head. "Not with that whatever it is running around. It might attack me since I'm pretty defenseless."

Trunks blinked. "Am I missing something here?"

"We're being screwed with, boy," Vegeta told him, "and your sister's the only one that can sense the thing that's doing it. We eventually intend to take care of the problem, but first we need to plan. Someone go call Gohan while I talk to Kakarotto." After placing his bowl into the dishwasher, he beckoned for Goku to follow.

***

"I hope you told me the truth, Kakarotto. Trust is an essential part of any relationship." Vegeta leaned against the wall and watched sweat bead on his mate's forehead. "You didn't lie to me, did you?"

"Not in so many words..." he trailed off uncomfortably. "I really don't believe it's that important. Why bother worrying about something that happened in the past?"

Vegeta stood up straight, folded his arms across his chest, and narrowed his eyes. "On the edge of my memory, I remember that little chibi devil saying something to me. I also remember your unmoving body on the ground. Did what I think happen, happen?"

Goku opened his mouth and then realized that the older Saiya-jin would probably know he was lying. 'Trust rears its ugly head... again.' "You had a bad dream this morning and I sent it away."

"You sent it away?" he asked incredulously. "How the hell did you do that?"

"I just entered your mind and calmed you down," he shrugged. "No big deal."

Shaking his head, the ouji placed his hands on his mate's arms. "Kakarotto, you don't understand. It shouldn't be possible for us to directly affect anything in each other's mind. View them, hai. Alter them, iie."

"Why could I, then? Do you know?"

He thought for a moment. "The moon has always been special to our people. It fuels our transformation, it initiates our mating cycle, and it strengthens our bonds."

"Come again?"

"We bonded beneath a full moon, remember? It wasn't usually done what way on Vegeta-sei because, in addition to the fact that Saiya-jin didn't bond often, most were too horny to even consider something as elaborate as a ritual." He smirked very slightly. "We definitely wore each other out afterward. Surprised we were even able to endure it at all."

"Ah..." Goku always blushed when he remembered that night. "What else do we get as a bonus for bonding beneath a full moon?"

"I have no idea, but it'll be pretty interesting to find out." Vegeta's face softened into a smile. "We have the rest of our lives together, remember? I expect that to be a long time. Together, we are an unstoppable force."

"Without a doubt," Goku responded as he leaned down to receive a kiss. At first, the height difference was just plain annoying, but they eventually learned to deal with it accordingly. Nothing would prevent either Saiya-jin from receiving such a wonderful display of affection.

Before rejoining everyone, Vegeta just had to ask one more question. "Did I murder you in my nightmare?"

A brief hesitation. "Hai, but I know you would never do that in the real world. You're afraid of it happening, aren't you?"

"I have an immense reputation for killing people for stupid reasons," he said with just a touch of sardonic humor.

"None of them were as close to you as I am. Look, 'geta, I trust you with my heart, my soul, and my life." Goku smiled slightly. "You're just gonna have to get used to that."

"Gohan's here!" Trunks called from the living room. "Let's get this over with so we can go find that thing!"

They both sobered up quickly at the mention of the evil they would soon have to fight. "No matter what happens, remember that I'll always love you," Goku said seriously.

With one last tender kiss, they went to start the meeting.

***

Large amounts of people packed into a small area tended to excite Nightmare greatly. With hardly any effort, thousands of people could die in one fell swoop. Though it lacked the challenge of killing people in, say, a forest, it provided a quick fix for when the craving was at its worst.

The initial surprise and abject terror were rushes as well. Oh, how Mister Average screamed when he ripped his throat out.

Just how long would it take the warriors to notice? The demon knew that it was only a matter of time, but hoped it wasn't too soon. He needed just a little more time in the world of fear his actions created. Who knew that ningen would be so much fun to play with?

"For a change of pace, I'll allow you thirty seconds to run," he announced to a group of people in the street. The city he'd chosen had boasted a permanent population of 900,000 and an even greater one when you added in the daily commuters. By the time he was through, that number would be one-hundred at best. Hey, he had to allow for the few people that somehow found a way to escape. "If you do not find a good hiding place within that time, I will murder you just as I've done your fellow citizens." He raised his clawed hands and made a shooing motion with them. No one moved an inch. "Oh, come on! You're ruining the game for me!" He caught himself pouting slightly and that angered him. Nightmare gathered his energy and lunged at them with a roar. "RUN, YOU MORONS!"

The entire group of people (all twenty or so of them) took off in the opposite direction as fast as they could. The demon simply watched for a moment before starting off after them. To the few that looked backward in surprise he said, "Did you really believe I would keep my word? How na´ve can you get?!"

When the bloodlust was satiated (and all the people he cared to find were lifeless), Nightmare surveyed the damage he'd done. Over a hundred-thousand dead ningen, billions of dollars in property damages.... and all of it confined within that city alone. There would be no warnings for the others. Soon, he would get to experience the sweet taste of shock and horror once again.