Having been abandoned at the cafeteria, Goku found himself with Zarbon as his new guide. Frieza had told him that his first match would be in the morning,
and left without another word. Since the green-haired teen had seemed a bit mocking, Goku was surprised when the male pushed on his shoulder and
waved a hand to where the food was. "Does everyone eat together?"
"Sometimes," Zarbon smirked. "The food's replaced all day long, but no one has scheduled matches this late." It was nearly evening, odd since most new
students arrived at the beginning of the day, but he planned to ask about that. He didn't know what to think of the saiyajin yet, but he was obviously much
different from Vegeta. As far as he could tell, this one was no threat to his authority and that, along with Frieza's unspoken message, told him to probe for
information. "Matches are usually scheduled throughout the day," he commented, moving to fill a plate. "Once you're ranked, you'll be put into a routine.
The training room's marked off by color, so you just follow the assignments. They're posted each morning."
Despite his usually huge appetite, Goku wasn't that hungry. His father hadn't been able to obtain an exemption until mid-day, and he'd eaten before
coming to the school. But he looked over the food with interest, and not a little awe. He'd never seen half of the things, deep pots filled with a variety of
meats next to more familiar rice platters. Zarbon was watching him and Goku shrugged, taking some of the substance the green-haired student had
chosen. "I just ate," he explained.
"As high as the fee is, the least they can do is feed us well," Zarbon drawled, his eyes flicking away. "I guess a first-class saiyajin wouldn't have to worry
about money though, right?" Glancing over his shoulder, he smiled at the saiyajin, taking in his wide-eyed blink. No, this one had absolutely nothing in
common with Vegeta.
"Not really," Goku admitted, "but I'm only staying for a year so it wasn't as much as a full student's fee. At least, I don't think it was." His father had taken
care of that, but he assumed it would cost less to be trained for one year than it would for ten.
"You're only staying for a year?" The black-haired youth nodded and Zarbon frowned before walking to his table. The students seated there met him with
curious eyes and he gave a subtle shake of his head before looking back to Goku. "Aren't you old to be starting your training now? I heard saiyajins
trained from the moment they started walking."
A dark-haired boy shifted away and Goku smiled in thanks before taking the seat. "I have trained," he said, "but I haven't had a chance to for a few years
now. I don't know how much I can do in a year, but I should be able to make up for some of the lost time."
"How strong are you?"
Goku blinked when Zarbon shot a surprisingly dark glare at the boy seated next to him. Turning, he looked at the teen, the same one who'd made room for
him. "I'm not as strong as I should be," he said, smiling when the dark-haired boy seemed to relax a bit. "I don't actually know how strong I am by this
school's standards. It's been a while since I had a sparring partner."
Their leader was still frowning at him and Yamcha dropped his eyes for a second before glancing at the saiyajin again. Surely there wasn't any harm in
talking to him. "You get to pick your sparring partner here, but only if he's at or above your level. When do you get ranked?"
"Tomorrow," Zarbon said, his voice rising a bit so Yamcha met his gaze. The male paled a bit before breaking the gaze and he turned to Goku. "You don't
actually have to pick someone at your level," he told him, his voice holding a mocking tone. "Yamcha just doesn't want you picking him. He's afraid of
saiyajins." A muffled choke sounded and he joined a few of his friends in a quick laugh, taking in Yamcha's blush.
"I didn't-" Yamcha bit off his retort when an elbow hit his side and he dropped his eyes again, his cheeks burning hotter. He hadn't thought the saiyajin
might pick him, it was just that people always picked partners at their own levels. But Zarbon was right, as always. "They don't *have* to be at the same
level," he muttered, "but most people-"
"I'm sure Goku can pick his partner without help from you," Zarbon smiled. "Now then, tell us more about yourself, Goku." The saiyajin had an uncertain
expression and his smile widened. "What brings a first-class saiyajin to our little school?"
"My dad picked the school." His answer definitely wasn't enough to satisfy the teen, but Goku didn't plan to tell him any more than that. He'd had an idea
before that Zarbon wasn't the type of person he liked. Watching the way he tried to control the conversation made him sure of it. Not to mention the fact
that he didn't like seeing people bullied. The black-haired boy beside him was noticeably silent, and Goku remembered how the small bald man had gotten
the same expression when he'd looked at Frieza. If he'd had to guess, he'd say the leader of the school was very similar to the head of the school. And he
didn't think he liked either one of them.
* * *
Shuffles echoed slightly, muffled through the door but somehow filtering past the bars. A black eye opened in the darkness, but he sensed nothing from
the person who passed his cell. He didn't consider it a room, though it was the only place he had. To think of it as a cell was better than getting used to it.
That was what the others had done, but he had no plans to become accustomed to the place. Rather, he reveled in the discomfort, using the conditions of
his quarters to fuel his anger. And it worked, not that he needed extra incentive. But now wasn't the time to pull on that burning fury. He was waiting for the
visit he'd expected since hearing Krillin's news. Although Frieza could easily wait until he made his rounds later, he expected to be sought out in private.
The headmaster took pleasure in reminding him he lacked all rights, especially privacy.
He had no warning before his door was pressed open, a black shadow momentarily seen against the dim corridor beyond. And suddenly it was far too
dark. Seconds passed with conflicting urges. Part of him wanted to turn on the lights, if only to see where Frieza was. He knew the darkness hid nothing
from the creature, and even his adapted eyes weren't good enough to make out movements in the black cell. But to do so he'd have to stand and move his
back away from the wall. It was a battle he'd waged before, and in the end he chose knowing where the enemy was over false security. The dim light
glinted off glossy white skin, revealing faintly curved lips before he dropped his glare to the floor.
The saiyajin's arms were crossed over his chest, his jaw set in an infinitely stubborn frown. It was almost enough to make Frieza laugh as he circled the
teen slowly. He hadn't actually seen the boy in months, and though the good behavior came as a surprise, it was hard earned. All signs of their last battle
were gone from the prince's pale arms, that scowling face. His perusal ended there and he smirked when black eyes shifted to the side. "Have I neglected
you, Saru-chan?" There was no reaction, and though Vegeta had retained his constant anger, it was getting harder to provoke a response. The monkey
was nearly as tall as him now, and he lifted a hand, clawed fingers brushing Vegeta's shoulder as they curled around the servant's gray shirt. "Look at
you," he murmured, keeping a close watch on those averted eyes, "you're filthy. I hear you've been avoiding the showers lately." He got nothing from that
stony face and Frieza glared suddenly, his hand dropping to the saiyajin's waist. With a twist of his wrist he clutched the tail hidden beneath the servant's
baggy shirt. Those black eyes closed at his touch, but it wasn't until he tightened his grip that the saiyajin flinched, chin dropping to his chest.
Just a bit more pressure and the boy fell to his knees, a smirk passing over Frieza's lips. "Do you need an escort?" he asked, crouching in front of the
black-haired youth, not relinquishing his hold on that tail. "Saru..." Black eyes snapped open to glare at him and his fingers eased, brushing once before
letting the saiyajin go. "Your poor hygiene aside, I have news for you. It seems your replacement has chosen my school. Isn't that ironic?" Vegeta's
eyebrows twitched in a hint of a frown and he nodded slowly, lips curved into a small smile. "Yes, not just any monkey. His brother is the same one who
came by before. But this one will be staying with us for the next year. Isn't that wonderful news?" Vegeta's jaw clenched and Frieza's lips turned down, his
hand reaching toward the youth's side.
With a smirk, Frieza smoothed Vegeta's shirt before relaxing on his heels. "Mm, I thought so, too. After all, we do so enjoy having saiyajins here." The
saiyajin's arms were still crossed, and he knew why. Despite the years that had passed, it still wasn't easy for the prince to keep from trying to attack him.
That was his way of holding himself in check. Those dark eyes dropped again and Frieza's tail lifted, curving over his shoulder to brush the underside of
Vegeta's chin. That did it. The boy reeled backward with a hiss between clenched teeth, his black eyes fairly blazing in the dim room. With a genuinely
satisfied smile, Frieza stood, enjoying the saiyajin's wary flinch. Vegeta continued to glare at him, but there was a twinge of fear combined with that anger.
"I should tell him I have the monkey he's looking for," he commented, lips curved in smirk. "It's really an inconvenience to have to hide you for the next
year. You're not that good of a servant, after all. And you have so much trouble getting along with the students. But...I do enjoy your little temper
tantrums, Saru-chan." His tail curled behind him and he crossed to the kneeling youth in a fluid motion. The prince glared, absolutely motionless and it was
amazing how well he controlled his breathing. Frieza could feel the anger, but the saiyajin didn't raise his ki at all. He really did learn. It just took a few
Holding Vegeta's tenacious glare, Frieza raised a hand toward those dark glaring eyes. They never flickered when he brushed the tips of his claws over
dark lashes, and his lips twisted into a sudden sneer as his hand darted to the side. His fingers clenched in thick black hair and he jerked the boy's head
back. That glare flickered for a second before returning, daring him. They both knew the rules well enough. A headmaster couldn't challenge a student,
let alone a servant. That meant it was up to Vegeta to challenge him. And as stubborn as the saiyajin no ouji was, he'd never do it directly. But that didn't
stop him from trying to provoke the boy, his hold forcing that dark head farther back until Vegeta's eyes narrowed into black slits. He could see how tightly
the teen's muscles were clenched, holding his back absolutely straight as those arms tightened. Leaning over him, Frieza brushed the tip of his tail over
that exposed neck as he glared back into black eyes. "There's only one thing that keeps me from revealing you," he murmured, his voice at odds with his
dangerous expression. A tiny tremor moved through the saiyajin when his tail curved around the teen's neck, not too tightly. For a moment he thought
Vegeta would break, but those black eyes continued with their pathetic glare and his face smoothed into a dark smile. "Zarbon misses you...Vegeta." The
prince growled softly, and he could feel the straining muscles through his tail as his smile widened.
The young saiyajin nearly collapsed when he released him, dark head bowed as he fell forward onto his hands, that defensive and repressed pose broken.
"I think it's time you went back to first shift," Frieza said, his voice rising a bit until it was careless. He turned away from the saiyajin, striding to the door. It
wasn't until he reached it that he paused, smiling when that dark head didn't rise to meet his gaze. "I'd planned to hide you from the new saiyajin, but
there's no need for that, is there Saru? You're just another servant." Vegeta's shoulders moved, but the fifteen year old still didn't look at him. A soft
sighing laugh passed his lips and he pulled the door open, not looking back. "Clean yourself up before tomorrow. You can serve breakfast in the
morning." That dark head jerked at this, but gave no other sign of anger. "You see? I can be lenient. It's much easier than cleaning the floors at night."
Five minutes passed in silence before Vegeta cracked. He had no way of knowing if Frieza was still in the hall or not, but he simply couldn't hold back any
longer. His hands curled into fists so tight the knuckles scraped against the floor, his bowed head jerking down to his chest as his body shook. Every
muscle clenched in spasms and he shoved off the floor suddenly, hovering inches above it. Even if he couldn't control his anger, he knew better than to let
it touch the floor. There could be no visible signs left to be discovered. His hunched body clenched inward, fisted hands pressed tight against his hair as
he bit back the scream burning in his throat. It was too hard, always so very hard. Heat billowed around him, the light red behind his closed eyes, and it
had nothing to do with the room. It was his own burning hatred, kept bottled up so long. And he had to hold it, had to keep that inside or he would have no
chance. He *couldn't* act on this, not now. It was too soon. The lack of training had turned to intense meditation, and he knew he could raise his power
much higher than it had been the last time he fought Frieza. But that wasn't enough. If he acted now he'd do nothing more than ensure another month of
debilitating pain and achingly slow recovery. He couldn't act now, and there was no reason to.
He told himself this again as his body curled tighter upon itself, every clenched muscle burning from the tension. Frieza could do nothing to him unless *he*
challenged the headmaster. All he had to do was hold back. But it was so hard. And now he would be back out there in the daytime, surrounded by the
students. And he knew...he wouldn't be able to do it. He knew better. Never, no matter how long it took...he'd never be able to stand insults from someone
weaker than himself. At least he knew Frieza's strength exceeded his own, the fights against him proved that much. But the others...he'd beaten them all
five *years* ago. To listen to their insults, the utter humiliation...he broke every time. And now there was the added danger of the saiyajin. His own
replacement, the son of the usurpers who'd killed his father...he knew without trying that he'd never be able to take a word of insult from that student. And
no matter how tightly he tried to hold in the shaking anger, he knew what was going to happen when he went down tomorrow. Either he'd reveal himself and
die for it, or he'd be carried back to this cell in complete degradation. In his mind, the prospects were equal. Pain and fury blazed around him, burning
through him until he barely heard the sound of his door being opened. Blurred eyes snapped open to stare through a pale bluish golden haze and he
couldn't think as a shard of fear raced through his back. He couldn't see who it was. If it were Frieza...he knew, Frieza would take it as a challenge...
"Ve...Ve...geta...?!" A wave of fiery heat hit him and Krillin stumbled back as those wild eyes locked onto him, the bared teeth nearly making him give a cry
of terror. Then the shocking glow that surrounded the saiyajin disappeared and Vegeta fell in a curled heap on the bare floor.
* * *