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By Dragoness Eclectic

This vignette is set after the epilog of "Mythic Descent"...

In another, far better place...

A cool breeze blew from the maroon sea that washed the shores of the ancient beach, a cool breeze that stirred his hair and filled his lungs. Bardock stood upon the shore, and Kinoko was with him, her tail looped around his waist, delicately intertwining with his.

Kinoko caressed his face with a slender hand. *Where are you now, my love?*

Bardock gently clasped her long fingers with his own, and looked out across the wine-dark sea at the brilliant white sun sinking toward the far horizon. Far above, in the darkening sky, a great silvery arch spanned from one horizon to the other. He looked back into her eyes. *Kajaio rests in Umiy Moor'asaakye.. I thought never to see this again. I thought all this was lost.. I thought I was lost.*

*Nothing good is ever lost; it is saved, to be created anew and perfect.* Kinoko embraced him; Bardock reached up and traced the lines of her face with equal wonder.

*I remember.. my soul torn apart and remade at the same time...*

His long rebellion in Hell had ended in one terrible moment of clarity; he couldn't remember, now, what triggered it--Bardock could only remember that sudden, awful knowledge that everything that had happened was exactly what he deserved. All the grief and loss he'd felt as he wiped the blood from his dead friend's face and seen the broken bodies of the rest of his friends fallen on the field--they had felt it too, all those people whose friends and families he had slaughtered on world after world. The terrible injustice of Frieza's betrayal, when the Saiyajin had been obedient and done him no wrong--on countless worlds, they had felt the injustice, when a people they'd never known nor harmed descended from the skies to destroy them. Even that final moment, as Frieza's Deathball overwhelmed Bardock's own powerful attack and he knew that all was lost, that there was no hope and no future for the Saiyajin, when despair closed tight around his heart, and death claimed him... they had known that same moment of despair and death--on Kunnasasei, on Meatsei, on all the worlds where he'd killed without mercy and without restraint. He'd seen that look in too many eyes--the same look Frieza must have seen in his own eyes...

In that awful moment, the full weight of his sins fell on him at last, and he knew he'd fully earned damnation--and that he and every other Saiyajin deserved his fate. What they had done, had been done to them, and done justly.

Only one thing that Bardock hadn't understood.. Why did Frieza's doom come at the hand of a Saiyajin? Why had they been granted that gift? Frieza had earned his doom most assuredly, but out of all the races Freiza destroyed, by what grace were the bloody-handed Saiyajin granted the gift of vengeance?

He'd found the answer in his grandson's eyes. Little Goten was half-Saiyajin.. and he was innocent. He'd seen it in his youngest son's compassionate eyes--Kakarott, full-blooded Saiyajin, and innocent. More than innocent; compassionate, merciful, and... loving. Bardock saw what the Saiyajin could have been in heaven's sight, and knew why they'd been granted that one grace. And then he looked inside his own heart, and finally knew the truth, all of the truth about himself. He knew, then, why he'd never gotten over his grief for Kinoko, why the death of Toma and the rest of his crew had driven him half-mad with rage and grief, why he'd raged at the "injustice" of it for so long... Kakarott was not the only Saiyajin who.. loved.

He'd known friendship and love--even in the depths of Hell. Bardock did not abandon those he'd died for. And much to his surprise, they did not abandon him, though he'd failed them, failed in his promise to Toma. In this Bardock finally saw what far wiser and greater eyes than his must have seen long ago, what he, Bardock, and all the Saiyajin, could have been, should have been.. and what they might become.

What they might become? No, that was something he'd not understood until afterwards.. until he had become what he should have been from the beginning. After Hell, after that awful understanding of his sins and the justice dealt to him, after learning that there was good within him, after.. regret. After knife-keen remorse stabbed through his heart in an endless agony of wishing that he'd never done so many things, so many things that obstinately remained DONE, and could not be undone.

In the end, he wanted only one thing: to be innocent again. And it was so...

*I remember.. being forgiven.*

*As do I.* She leaned her chin against Bardock's springy black hair. *None of us were perfect enough.*

*I know.* He looked out at the darkening sky. *There are still so few of us here...*

*That will change, in time. The road is hard, but we will walk it--you are not the only one who learned the price of standing still, my love.*

*But will they be Saiyajin?* Bardock asked, and then wondered if it really mattered.

She laughed aloud, a delicate musical sound under the indigo sky. *YOU are not really Saiyajin any more--nor am I. Nor are those from Earth human! Not here.*

He smiled wryly. *No.. not here. We are spirit and fire--angels? Better than the demons we once were.* Again he looked from her to the darkened sea. *But still.. too few.*

She felt his sorrow and his love, and knew the names that echoed in his heart.. Toma. Celipa. Panboukin. Totepo. Kinoko had known them, too, and their names resided in her heart. *They, too, will come here.. in time. And what is time, here?* A sudden shift: *Have you been to Earth yet?*

He brightened--more than figuratively, for both the Saiyan spirits glowed with their own light. Where they stood, there could be no darkness. *Yes! Kakarott--I still can't think of him as 'Son Goku'--and his sons do well. As for Raditz...* Bardock smirked.

Kinoko laughed again. *Yes, Raditz is in trouble, isn't he?*

Bardock embraced Kinoko again; their lips met. Mother of his sons, his lover, his mate, lost heart of his heart found again.. *Yes. Trouble. How can an Earth woman be so.. Saiyan?*

*One thing I have learned here.. we women are not so different no matter what planet we come from!*

Bardock smiled, a glint of laughter in his eye. *And just as much of a mystery to men!*

*I do not find Nezumi all that mysterious!* Kinoko laughed. *I understand her very well indeed, my love.*

*If that is so.. Raditz is doomed.* Bardock grinned.

*Completely. How long before we have another set of grandchildren, I wonder?*

*Hmmm.. it depends. Sooner if Kakarott and the Prince can keep from killing each other.* Bardock stared thoughtfully off into the distance.

*Yes, Prince Vegeta craves that battle, doesn't he?* Kinoko looked concerned.

*I think it would be better.. if they did not have that battle yet. They will need the young ones for what will follow...* Bardock stared into a distance even Kinoko could not see.

*Looking forward again?*

Bardock glanced back at her and smiled. *Yes. I seem to have a.. gift for it.* Again he stared off into the distance. *If they are not separated soon...*

*No! Bulma has already suffered that once! And Goku's mate has her beloved back, to take him from her again--too cruel!* Kinoko held her long-lost lover close, taking comfort in his presence, knowing that she would never lose him again.. but remembering the bitter pain of their long separation.

*It is not in my power, one way or the other--I only look ahead, I do not, cannot, reach ahead." He closed his eyes, thinking, and opened them again. *Because of the Chaos demon, Kakarott returned before his time, and the consequences of that still echo in time. It must, it will, be set right.* Bardock held her hands and looked into his wife's dark, distressed eyes. *As you have said, it is a hard path we walk--but, trust in this: there is good at the end.*

Kinoko leaned against him, and closed her eyes. *I trust. But, oh, they will know such sorrow before it is done! What comfort can they find?*

Bardock looked at his wife deliberately, silently, the barest hint of a smile on his face and thoughts. *Less sorrow than you fear. What comfort did Raditz and Goten find?*

She looked back at him silently, knowing. *They will need us.*

*And we will be there.* He held her tightly, and the glow surround them brightened and spread, lighting ground and sea and sky. In the blazing heart of it, the light became form: two sets of brilliant white wings extending from and enfolding the two Saiyajin.

Not the END.

Disclaimer: See Credits.

Copyright 2000-2005 by Dragoness Eclectic