Just a Nightmare
(Part II: Enter the Nightmare)
Since Bra wasn't on their plane of existence, there was no way to locate Nightmare. Or so they all thought. Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be), news reports started to show up from noon onward. It seems that one family had made it to Gingertown, a city that had been destroyed by Majin Buu before, and the husband had contacted the police on his cell phone. Before then, Nightmare had been careful to keep things quiet as he didn't want people to be aware of his approach. After he realized that everyone knew, he merely pointed his finger and reduced entire neighborhoods to rubble.
No one really knew how he was doing this. He didn't really have ki in the traditional sense of the word so his energy wasn't released in the usual flashy lightshow. Instead he oozed out dark energy that blanketed an area and left it in ruins.
"This is what we're going to do," Goku said to Vegeta, Goten, Trunks, Gohan, and Piccolo. "I want you to fly out to different parts of the world. We have to keep Nightmare busy until we get help. You should also take some food with you because I have no idea how long it's going to take."
"Are you sure this is going to work?" Piccolo asked him. "The plan seems a little farfetched."
"Oh, I'm pretty sure. All I have to do is either make him mad or turn into an amusement." He nodded to them. "Alright, I'll see you later."
Everyone filed out through the front door except Vegeta (who fixed his mate with a hard stare). Goku fidgeted for a few seconds beneath his gaze, refusing to answer his unasked question.
So he questioned him aloud.
"I can't tell you," he said stubbornly. Then, as almost an afterthought, he added, "I don't want you to be worried." Of course that worried Vegeta even more.
The shorter Saiya-jin gazed deeply into Goku's eyes, a pleading expression on his face. "Onegai, Goku."
He silently cursed before giving in. Vegeta didn't give him that look often (and especially didn't call him by his Chikyuu name). "I'm going to make a deal with him. If he catches me, then I'm going to let him kill everyone else on the planet unhindered."
Speechless, Vegeta could only stare at him. "Are you insane?!" he asked eventually. "You're Chikyuu-sei's guardian, remember? Guardians don't let the bad guys win!"
"Don't you trust me?" he asked softly. "I don't intend on allowing him to catch up."
"He can create portals. What if he can sense your ki?" He appeared to be very close to tying Goku to something so that he wouldn't be able to provoke the demon. "Let me go with you."
"Vegeta, listen to me." He cradled his head in his hands. "I. Will. Not. Die. There's too much for me to live for. If I feel that the situation's getting out of control, I promise that I'll teleport to Kaio-sama. He wouldn't dare follow me there."
He exhaled and let the matter drop. It was difficult, but he trusted Goku enough to believe that he would do all that he could to avoid a truly bad situation. "Ai shiteru," he whispered.
"Ai shiteru, 'geta." He kissed him gently. "This will all be over soon."
"What's going on there?" Bra asked with interest when she noticed a look on concentration on both Dai Kaio and Kaioshin's faces. She shifted on the pillow she was sitting on restlessly. After her earlier conversation with Kaioshin, she was allowed into the private chamber where all the knowledge of the universes were kept. Rows upon rows of books chronicling millions of planetary histories rested upon darkly stained wooden shelves, illuminated by light from a hidden source. She desperately wanted to read at least one but knew that it probably wouldn't be a good idea. Besides, the Dai Kaio was giving her warning looks every few seconds.
"Goku is speaking with Nightmare," Kaioshin muttered distractedly.
She waited a few seconds. When no more was forthcoming, she cleared her throat and asked, "And?"
"And he's convincing him that there is more pleasure in playing a game with him than in randomly killing ningen."
"He actually expects that to work?!" she asked him in shock. Then she shook her head and answered her own question. "What am I saying? Of course he does."
The Dai Kaio shook his head. "If he fails..." He inhaled deeply. "If he fails then there is no hope for the people of Chikyuu-sei." Kaioshin didn't say a word, but the frown on his face did grow deeper.
"I have one-hundred percent faith in my tousan," Bra said confidently. "He can do it. Besides, papa's there to help them and they're the perfect team."
"Have you found it yet?" Kuririn shouted to Yamucha over the roar of the wind. They'd followed the signal on the dragonball radar all the way to the desert. It was hot, boring, and a fierce wind had kicked up late that afternoon, blowing sharp grains of sand into every exposed body part. Both were clad in the apparel of the region, long flowing robes of light cloth that offered both protection from the sand and sun as well as being loosely woven to promote ventilation.
The two men had been through more than a few difficult challenges while searching for the dragonballs. One had been swallowed by a gigantic pterodactyl, another was buried pretty deeply in an old woman's basement. Kuririn knew that he would always look upon the last in horror. There had been so many cats in the house that he hadn't been able to walk without accidentally stepping on a tail.
Yamucha continued to dig with his shovel. "Iie! There's so much sand that I might be burying it even further!"
"This isn't working," he muttered to himself. The small man checked the radar once again and saw that the dragonball was still in the same place. "I'm going to use ki to move the sand."
"Are you insane?! You might destroy the dragonball by accident!"
"I know not to use too much energy." Kuririn raised his left hand and concentrated. His hand began to glow in a white light that he directed his blast toward where the dragonball was located. The sand was immediately pressed outward by the force and blown into the air around the forming crater. Within the sand was the dragonball.
"Got it!" Yamcha cheered as he flew up to retrieve it. He did a silly victory dance and placed the ball in his bag with the others that they'd collected. "Finally, the seventh ball."
Goku found Nightmare in a ruined city. The dust from his destruction still clouding the sky, joining with dark clouds to create the illusion that night had fallen early. The demon sat, legs folded, high above the exact center and didn't move an inch even when the Saiya-jin came to float before him. "I have a proposition to make."
"Speak it," he said quietly. The red eyes opened and were dull. "I grow tired and the game is no longer as interesting as it used to be."
'Perfect timing,' he inwardly grinned. "How would you like to play a new game?"
He perked up slightly. "New game?"
"Hai. The object is to catch me before time runs out. I'll travel around the world and, if you tag me before twenty-four hours are up, then I'll let you kill everyone without interference. But if you don't, you must return to Hell." Goku knew that twenty-four hours wasn't enough time, but he wouldn't be able to replenish his energy and Saiya-jin became as defenseless as newborns without the proper amount of fuel.
Nightmare didn't hesitate. So confident was he in his skills that he saw no reason to say no. "It's a deal. When do we start?"
"Now." And with that, Goku touched his fingers to his forehead and vanished.
'He can't track me,' he said to himself gleefully. 'Nightmare doesn't have any way to teleport to my location!'
No one saw him for more than a few minutes, that is no one besides Vegeta. The small Saiya-jin fixed Goku with a stare that caused him to sit down promptly on the soft green grass of the meadow. The ouji sat across from him. "We have things to discuss, Kakarotto."
"Now?" he whined. "You know I can't do it now. 'geta, I have to save the world!"
"Who the hell cares about saving this shitty planet right now?" Vegeta asked rhetorically. "I care about you and I."
"Wonderful time for you to want to have a heart-to-heart chat," Goku muttered to himself sarcastically.
He rolled his eyes heavenward. "Well, I apologize for becoming emotional in times of great stress." His face and eyes then lost all traces of humor. "I don't know what tomorrow will bring and I don't want either of us to die without clearing up a few things."
"We're not going to die."
The carefully blank expression turned into one of great distress. "Neither of us know that for sure! Nightmare is the strongest being we've ever had to face, the one most likely to wipe all of us out for good." He reached forward and took his hands. "I know that I don't have the hope that you do, but there hasn't been a moment when I didn't know that you would do your absolute best. This is no exception."
Vegeta stared at their clasped hands and sighed. "We're neck-deep in shit and sinking fast. Just in case-" His voice hitched and he took a deep breath. "Just in case I don't make it, I want to say that I would have never truly killed you. I felt something even all those years ago, Kakarotto. Something so overwhelming that it frightened me. It still feels that way sometimes, but I can cope as long as I'm with you."
Bringing his hands to his lips, he whispered words into Goku's flesh. "Mihon yon. Mihon yin. Mihon hielen." He looked up, a sad smile on his face. "My heart. My soul. My everything." Deeply moved, Goku pulled the smaller man to him and enfolded him into his arms.
"No matter what, I will find a way back to you. I promise."
"And I to you." They each were content to stay in their lover's arms, not caring the least bit about what was going on in the world -- at least not at that very second. In time they would rejoin those fighting for their right to survive, but for now everything was perfect.
Dark, chilling laughter rang out behind Goku. "An hour. Only an hour." The portal closed behind him and he propped one wickedly clawed foot upon a medium-sized rock. "That was hardly a challenge."
Vegeta's eyes communicated volumes of regret. "I'm so sorry."
"Don't be. I'm very happy you said what you did." His mind brushed against Vegeta's more firmly and he placed a gentle phantom kiss onto his forehead. "I need you to tell the others that time has run out."
His blood turned to ice water. "I won't leave you."
"You will never leave me. I can always feel you in here-" He pointed to his head then to his heart. "-and in here. As long as our bond exists, as long as we love each other, we will never be truly alone." Goku released him reluctantly. Vegeta took a few steps backward, never breaking eye contact, before flying off.
He turned to face Nightmare with weary eyes. "Let's get this over with."
A confused blink. "Excuse me? You told me before that, if caught, you would leave me alone! What are you talking about, now?"
"I lied to you." He winced inwardly as he said it. Those were words he thought would never leave his mouth. "I thought that I would be able to stall for a day to give things time to fall into place. We can't defeat you on our own."
"I see," he answered quietly and then he began to laugh. "Do you think that Kaioshin will actually help you people? They have such strange rules there that I doubt they'd help anyone! Your best bet would be to give in and allow me to absorb your strength." He moved forward with amazing speed and cupped Goku's chin in the palm of his hand. "I don't even have to make it hurt."
"Let me go," he told him quietly.
A wider grin. "Make me."
Goku grabbed his wrist and pulled as he twisted around behind the demon. Nightmare went with the movement and put Goku into an uncomfortable position instead. "Nice try, but not good enough. I'm millennia old, you know. You'll have to do better than that to get me." While he was gloating, he failed to notice the charging ki blast. Goku took his free hand and pressed it firmly to the scaled flesh of the demon's abdomen. Ruby-colored eyes widened as the heat seared.
"You- You burned me!" he wailed, pushing the Saiya-jin away to check his wound. The black scales were completely gone and the pale skin beneath was raw and blistered. His face contorted in rage even as the wound began to heal. "I'll kill you for that!"
His eyes were calm and he even smiled a little. "Well, you can try." In pure, unadulterated fury, Nightmare launched himself at Goku and they began to exchange blows.
He only had to occupy his time, give him such a good fight that he wouldn't want one from innocent ningen. Seriously harming him didn't matter nor did killing him. He only had to distract Nightmare effectively. This was something he knew he could do... and could even enjoy. As long as the demon didn't become too serious about murdering him, that is.
"I know what you're doing," Nightmare said in a sing-song tone of voice. He delivered a series of rapid-fire punches to Goku's stomach and knocked him down to the ground. His opponent didn't stay down long and was soon back up to face him within seconds.
The dark clouds that had been gathering since early morning finally began to unleash a storm upon the area. Lightening flashed in the distance, illuminating the people on the horizon. Goku nodded grimly and initiated an attack against Nightmare once again.
One particularly loud crash of thunder caused Goku to look upward at the sky for the briefest of moments. He knew rain was very close to falling and that it could reduce visibility dramatically. While he knew that he would be able to fight even if he were blind, Goku wasn't too sure that Nightmare could. He hoped that things finally decided to go in their favor.
He felt a familiar presence draw closer, one that caused him to feel safer immediately. Vegeta joined him in the sky, joined him in his fight against the demon. They alone were Chikyuu's last line of defense; the gods could not be counted on for help.