CHAPTER FIFTY-EIGHT: RENEWAL
That late dinner was one of the happiest times in Bardock's life. The time spent reliving his past was nothing compared to finally getting to show his son a true piece of Saiya-jin heritage.
While Toteppo really didn't speak much, opting to chew silently on his food instead, Panbukin more than made up for him. He talked the most, ate the most, and laughed the most.
Seripa was mainly quiet, asking a few questions about life on earth.
The meal ended too soon.
They talked all the way back.
About halfway back to the hotel, Seripa took Bardock's arm and nudged him over away from the others.
"What is it?" Bardock whispered.
"I need to talk to you about something- away from the others." she whispered back.
Bardock shrugged and followed her.
"They won't miss us," She whispered to him as they took another road. They walked silently for a few minutes before Bardock finally spoke up.
"So... you wanted to say something to me?" he asked her.
"She nodded. "What is Saiya-jin pride, Bardock?"
He stopped and looked at her, dumbfounded. "That's not an easy question to answer."
She put her hands on her hips. "That's not the point. What is it?"
He stopped and thought for a moment. "I really can't answer that. Saiya-jin pride isn't just something that you can-"
"Is it Saiya-jin pride to kill your son in battle?"
"That's a loaded question."
"No, but if your son is trying to kill you, then it is necessary."
"Is it Saiya-jin pride to clear off a planet?"
"No, not necessarily, but if your job demands it, then you will do it."
"Is it Saiya-jin pride to defeat someone stronger than you, or to go Oozarou, or to even be the strongest in the universe?" she asked him again.
"No, no, and NO!" Bardock shouted this time. "Why are you pestering me with these questions?"
"Is it Saiya-jin pride to have a strong son?" She asked, seemingly not noticing his question.
"No, it is not. Your son is not you." He began to see where she was leading him.
"Is it Saiya-jin pride to have a soon who is a better man than you?"
Bardock was silent for a moment. "No, it isn't. Now, why are you doing this?"
"Is it Saiya-jin pride to love and respect your son for what he is, even if your opinions differ?"
Bardock hesitated for a moment. "That's a part of it, yes..." he trailed off.
Seripa smiled and crossed her arms.
"Something happened to you while you were on earth. You've changed, Bardock."
"Things happen. People change." was his response.
"Do you want to know why it never worked between me and Toma?"
"What?" Bardock asked, somewhat confused. "As far as I know, you two were together up until he died."
She shook her head. "You have to keep up with things, Bardock. We went our own separate ways a couple of years ago. What happened was that he was too much of a Saiya-jin, but not enough of one."
"He thought that he knew it all- about how to be a Saiya-jin, and in some ways he got it right. But he had no real pride except for that which was in battle. He was going to kill your son and not tell you, if I knew him well enough. He was a good man; a good Saiya-jin, but he had fallen into the trap that most others of our kind have."
"That fighting is everything in life. Thank you for not becoming one of them," She said as she knelt down in front of him.
"You kneel too much," Bardock commented.
"Working for King Vegeta will do that to you."
Bardock knelt back down to her level. He put one hand under Seripa's chin, lifting her head up so he could look her eye to eye.
"You don't have to kneel or bow down to me."
She smiled at him. "Sash was a good woman, Bardock. I'm glad that you learned from her."
He grinned back at her. "She was just like you. You even looked a bit like her."
She chuckled. "I introduced you two! Remember?"
"How can I forget?" he replied, "That was the happiest day in my life."
She took his hand. "Let's stand up, please."
They both stood up and looked eye to eye.
"Bardock, I have always respected you, in all the years that we knew each other. Thank you for being a friend, and for being a true Saiya-jin."
"Thank you as well," he said, taking her hand in his.
There they both stood, eye-to-eye, in the dark streets of the Saiya-jin homeworld.
"True friendship never dies," Bardock whispered, still clutching her hand.
She squeezed it. "But what if it's more than friendship?"
"It lasts even longer," he replied. "No one will ever replace Sash in my heart."
"I don't want to," she said, closing her eyes. "I don't want to replace anybody."
Bardock held her. "You won't, believe me. You deserve your own place."
She held on to him tighter. "Be my friend, Bardock."
What followed was a course of nature.