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CHAPTER FOURTEEN: IN THE WATCHES OF THE NIGHT

 

Zarbon woke up with a shove. It was as much of a start as he could manage, considering how late it probably was. He rolled over to see Salad smiling at him, completely awake. She must have gotten him up.

"Why'd you do that?" Zarbon asked, assuming that it was in fact Salad who woke him.

"It's midnight," Was all that she said.

"So I went to bed early. What does that have to do with anything?"

"You leave with your new team later today," she said, "I might never see you again."

"You might never see me again *every* time I go out," Zarbon replied, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, "What difference does it make this time?"

"This time is more dangerous," Salad replied. "This time you're going up against one of the Northern Galaxy's most powerful warriors! I miss you already..." she trailed off.

Zarbon's face changed a little. "I see what you mean. I'm sorry I was rude."

Salad elbowed him lightly. "Don't apologize! Never apologize unless I tell you to!" Salad gave Zarbon a light kiss on the cheek, followed by a heavy kiss on the lips.

"All right then. Why *did* you wake me up at this ungodly hour?"

"I wanted to be able to talk to you before you left."

"Talk?" Zarbon asked quite innocently. "About what?"

"About what the white knight will bring home to his fair lady," she quoted from an old play that they had enjoyed.

"Whatever the fair lady wishes, I shall give it to her," Zarbon ended the quote. "What does the fair lady wish?' he whispered in Salad's ear. "I will give her up to half my kingdom."

"All that I want is dinner for two," Salad whispered back and kissed him.

"Home-cooked?" Zarbon asked as his arms slipped around her waist.

"None other," Salad finished as they came together.

***

Bardock stared at the ceiling of his apartment. Right now sleep seemed like a foreign idea. He shivered a little and pulled another blanket around his body. The temperature was 80 degrees, but he still felt cold. Ordinarily, Bardock had an incredible barrier to both temperature extremes, but every night since Sashoki died he had felt cold. Cold and forsaken. And lonely. All of the people who complained about loneliness obviously had never been where he'd been. He had shared the best years of his life with that woman, only to have her taken away due to simple birth complications which could have been mended had the doctors been more experienced. And the child who came from that was lost so shortly afterward that Bardock barely even remembered what he had looked like. He supposed it was just as well. Kakarotto was only a third-class Saiya-jin, after all. Hardly worth the trouble. Raditz, his first-class son, had also died recently. Bardock had no one left now, really. He still had his fighting team, but seeing as how he was now a part of Dark Ki, they were all going to finally go their seperate ways now. Toteppo was retired. Panbukin had moved on. Toma had been recruited into Cold's army and was going to take out the very same planet where Kakarotto was lost. Seripa was being promoted to palace guard. Bardock had no one. As tough as the Saiya-jin seem, even they needed company from time to time.

Bardock sighed and closed his eyes. He hoped for sleep to take him. Tomorrow was going to be a big day.

***

Zangya shivered in her small bed, but not from the cold. Every time she closed her eyes she saw him, looming in front of her like some sort of pagan god. Bojack, the god of mercenaries.

She saw how she had met him, replayed over and over again. She saw how he had first seduced her, how she had gracefully declined the first time he made a pass at her, and felt nothing about it. How she had declined again the second time and felt... guilt. How the third time she felt helpless, her debt to Bojack could not be paid unless she gave herself fully to him.

She remembered what he had put her through afterward, when he was sure that he had total control of her. Pain. The pain. She could not believe the pain. The blood. Every time she had bled. He had made sure of that. He dominated her. He debased her. She was nothing, she was worthless, she was trash. She was only good for one thing, and according to him, she didn't even perform that well.

Then he decided to try something new. Zangya was given a new job- group morale. They'd drug her up and pass her around like a party favour, and afterward leave her, drugged and bleeding, to pick herself up when she came off the effects of the narcotics.

WHen she was awake enough to comprehend anything, Bojack would then remind her of her duty to him.

The beatings.

The rape.

The abuse.

It all came back to her every night when she couldn't sleep, a parade of atrocities. All the memories. But now that she didn't work for Bojack anymore, was she truly free? What about Zarbon and Bardock? Would they be any different than her former employer? She hadn't even really met Bardock yet, and in fact only knew his name because Zarbon had mentioned it twice. If what she had heard about the Saiya-jin was true... then... and Zarbon is acting just like Bojack- helping Zangya when she needed it. Had she just escaped from one evil into the arms of another?

Zangya cried herself to sleep. Something that she did often.

***