BY : Felix_McKraken
Category: Dragon Ball Z > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 1875
Disclaimer: I do not own Dragon Ball Z or any of the characters. This was made purely for entertainment purposes and no profit is made off of it.

WARNING FOR THIS CHAPTER: Brief, non-graphic description of self harm.

Nowhere: 36

“King Kai?” a voice called out, pulling him from his nap. He wasn’t expecting the close proximity of his guest and, startled, he fell flailing out of his lawn chair.

“Goku, whatever is the matter?” he held back a reprimand as he composed himself.

His favourite mortal managed to look a bit embarrassed by his lack of manners as he pulled back and gave him some personal space. However, his atypical sober expression won out in the end, “I was hoping we could talk for a bit.”

The god straightened his crinkled antennae before smoothing out his clothes, “Of course. Go ahead.”

Goku went straight for the point, “What will happen to Vegeta… if he dies?” He wasn’t sure whether his previous mentor would pick up on the slight hesitation before “if” or not.

Perhaps he did notice but chose to not acknowledge it. Rather, he asked for clarification, “What do you mean?”

“I left. It was my mistake. I’ll admit that much, but I won’t relinquish to a delusion. I’ll die first.”

“He would be sent to Hell, wouldn’t he?” The Saiyan’s tone was definitely more statement than inquiry, and it contained an edge of aggression.

The god sighed deeply as his heart went out to the other man, “Goku, you know what he’s done. It’s not just that he has red in his ledger, it’s that there’s so much that it’s easier to count how much of it isn’t red.”

“Do you have any idea what I’ve done? No, you don’t. You don’t know me. You weren’t there. You don’t know anything. You don’t know shit.”

“That’s not who he is though,” Goku protested earnestly.

“It is who he presents himself to be through his actions,” King Kai argued, “And judgment based on actions is the most equitable.”

“Is it fair when he doesn’t have the time necessary to make amends?”

The idea of a time limit made King Kai press for more information, “What do you mean? Has something changed?”

Goku looked away for a moment as his expression twinged grim, “Vegeta hurt himself yesterday. On purpose. We think.”

The blood poured down Vegeta’s face as he slammed his head against the wall, screaming his wrath.

“I’m… sorry to hear that,” the deity was a bit stunned at the news.

“He was confused,” Goku went on to say, “and I’m worried because these moments of confusion seem to be increasing. He’s still very strong. He can hurt people. And himself.”

“Wake up! Wake up, damn you! Wake…! Up…! Wake up…”

“You know I would help if I could, but the Grand Kai said our only option is to just let this take its course.”

Goku bristled, incensed that mortals could be judged on actions yet the gods would not be on their lack of them, “This isn’t fair. It’s like… expecting a paralyzed person to run a race, tellin’ them they need to come in first ‘or else’ and when they complain you say, ‘Well, you got legs, don’tcha?’”

“Goku-“ King Kai tried to admonish him, but it didn’t work.

The taller man was fiery with indignation and his personal ideal of justice. He didn’t hesitate to cut off his former master, “Are you telling me other people get sick and die and get sent to Hell without a chance of redemption?”

“Of course not! But Vegeta’s a special case.”

The glare that Goku gave was rather chilling, especially since he was normally such an exuberant soul, “Why does he have to be excluded?”

“He has a different condition, you know this.”

“That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. That’s not a good reason.”

It was quiet for a moment as King Kai truly considered this. At last, he said, “You’re right.” Goku’s eyebrows shot up in disbelief, excitement, and hope. “We can’t accept a foregone conclusion,” the god rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “We can’t accept not doing everything in our power. We can’t take our hypothesis for a premise.”

“Thank you,” the Saiyan breathed easier, his entire demeanour relaxing.

“It may come as a surprise to you, but as much as you don’t like being told there’s nothing you can do, gods get a bit more upset about it. I’m sorry if we were obstinate in our initial approach.”

Goku opted to not comment on that and instead asked, “So what can be done?”

The divine creature mulled some information over in his head before he offered, “I’d like you to come with me.”

The taller of the two did as he was instructed while thoughts pressed uncomfortably against his mind. The same thoughts that had been plaguing him since yesterday. What if what King Kai had to show him didn’t work? They’d be back in this same situation, and where could he go after their last fallback was used up? The elder man walked up to his classic automobile and opened the passenger door for him. His expression likely said it all as his immortal friend explained himself, “This’ll be the fastest way there.” Goku carefully clambered inside as it was designed for King Kai and therefore relatively small in comparison to his stature.

King Kai fiddled with some knobs and dials before starting the vehicle and accelerating. As they lapped the micro planet multiple times, Goku noticed a type of shimmer beginning to surround their transport. There had been a lack of conversation during the trip, and when the Saiyan thought to make an inquiry, their scenery abruptly shifted which distracted him. There were vast plains on either side of them, dotted with what appeared to be a mixture of trees, ferns, grasses, and succulents. Normally he would consider it odd that contrasting climate plants were coexisting, however the hazy golden, daytime sky with visible stars and moons assured him he was not on Earth, or any planet he was familiar with.

Goku lifted two fingers to his forehead and closed his eyes. The grounding technique - the tips of his index and middle fingers pressed between his brows - helped with the manipulation of his own chi as much as it did with his concentration. The employment now was to help with the latter.

Pybara tried his best to explain Yardratian practices, all of which had accompanying formulas with their uses. Bulma would have been a better person to spend time with them in that regard. However, Goku had a knack for practical application, and his natural aptitude coupled with chi synesthesia made him an ideal pupil. The tutelage left him with an expanded sense of chi, which thereby allowed him to virtually explore new places. For example, he knew they were still in Otherworld, albeit much further out than he’d even been before.

One of the current limitations – and thereby drawbacks – of teleportation was that the further you were from your destination the harder it was to do it. It operated much like light and functioned under what Pybara called “the inverse square law”. Unfortunately for Pybara, Goku spent the rest of that lecture trying to imagine what an inverted square would look like. When his mentor rightfully called him out for daydreaming, Goku shyly apologized. He kept his surmise (an inverse square was a cross and crosshairs had to do with targeting and instant transmission had to do with targeting so the inverse square law had to do with the ratio of crosshair to target) to himself. (Ratio had been one the words that filtered through his musings on shapes.)

This limitation meant, when he was initially searching for Vegeta, it began as a proverbial needle in a haystack. The farther he had to expand his senses the more taxing it became. He tried slower, narrower sweeps after some time because 360° expansion eventually degenerated the clarity of his perception as the circumference and radius kept growing. He didn’t want to overlook his friend due to stubbornly denying his shortcoming and forcing a performance. Looking for a missing person was not the time to train skills, so he defaulted to localization and keeping the memory of Vegeta’s chi at the forefront of his mind.

He hadn’t hesitated when he was able to lock onto the prince. He just went. He thought he had done everything properly, but when he had arrived on that planet he was alone. In all his failed attempts of Instant Transmission on Yardrat, he had never had an outcome quite like that. It was as if the connection was interfered with the moment before completion. Like a dropped telephone call, sorta. And now that he was thinking on it, it was also bizarre that he couldn’t recall how far away Vegeta had felt. How come it had been so difficult to find him, yet so easy to return to Earth? Especially since Bulma had been his anchor point. That he was capable of sensing so distinctly defied rational explanation and neglected reasonable probability.

Goku felt, with blossoming trepidation, that something in his brain was being re-categorised from could not to should not.

“We’re here.”

The young man started, eyes snapping open and hand falling away from his face. He obviously hadn’t noticed the car slowing to a halt or turning off, and his companion didn’t bother waiting for him. Goku blinked a few times to clear his mind and focus on the present. He exited the vehicle carefully, mostly to make sure he didn’t accidentally damage it. He stretched while gazing at the large, ivory structure before him. Despite its sprawling layout, it still somehow nestled itself amongst the flora complimentarily.

King Kai led them up the front steps and through a set of doors that Goku could only best describe as revolving. A secretary behind a spacious desk looked up at them from a tablet they held. “S-Sir!” they stammered, abandoning the tablet to stand and salute swiftly.

The god waved a hand in placation. He often forgot his station due to the fact that when he wasn’t playing at being a hermit he mostly interacted with his peers. “At ease,” he began to slide into a more professional persona. When the secretary took their seat, he went on, “I wish to see Sophia as soon as possible, please.”

“Of course!” the androgynous ogre replied, tapping on their tablet for a moment, “She has been informed of your arrival. Her office is up the stairs and straight down the hall.” They gestured to a staircase behind the desk.

“Thank you,” King Kai said before entering what was most assuredly an employee section without hesitation. Goku thought maybe being a deity made you feel like no place was off limits. The walk took several minutes as the building obviously had greater dimensions than he initially guessed. The carpentry was nice, and he especially liked the detail of the picture frames. Most of what was in frames themselves were portraits of various kais, ogres, and other spirits. Some held diagrams that Goku could not even begin to speculate of what. It was quiet, but not silent. Besides their feet lightly shuffling across the plush carpet, there were faint noises of activity in the background. Overall, it was a peaceful atmosphere.

The door at the end of the hall was slightly larger than the others, yet it wasn’t imposing, merely prominent in its flagrant importance. Being polite, King Kai knocked. “Come in,” a pleasant, female voice granted permission in response. The god opened the door and Goku was ushered inside. The first thing he noticed about the occupant was her rose gold skin, complete with faint metallic shine. In contrast, her black hair was matte, yet flowed and draped on her shoulders in a way that reminded him of Launch. King Kai pointed him to a seat which he took while the shorter man shut the door before joining them.

This woman had very obviously been reading a paper document before they entered, but now her attention was solely on them, “Hello, North. I don’t think I’ve seen you since the Tournament. What brings you here?” Despite being straight to the point, her smile was warm and genuine.

“I wanted to introduce you to someone. This is my champion, Goku,” the god gestured.

“A pleasure to meet you, Goku,” the lady said earnestly, inclining her head, “I’m Dr Asukurepiusu Sophia. You may call me Sophia.”

A voice that suspiciously sounded like Chi-Chi in the back of his head nagged at him to sit up straight and bow. He deferred to it, mostly because a number of factors lined up that made it feel appropriate to do so. “The pleasure is mine, thank you,” he did his best to be gracious, especially since people usually railed him for being uncouth on a fairly regular basis.

He wasn’t sure where to go from here, but thankfully King Kai prompted the conversation, “Why don’t you explain to him what you’re a doctor of and what you do here.”

“I am the leading physician in After-Deceastion Medicine.”

Goku couldn’t help but interrupt, “You’re a doctor for the dead?”

She quirked a playful grin, “It sounds like an oxymoron, I know, but there is more than addressing physical harm in medical practice. I must say you have my interest piqued. You are not dead, so your presence here is all the more curious.”

“Oh, uh, I was asking King Kai about a friend of mine being sent to Hell if they die, and he thought you might be able to help,” the Saiyan felt a little embarrassed by his less than skillful articulation.

“Ah,” her lips fell into a more somber position, “That depends. Are they sick or wounded? Will they be passing on soon?”

Goku’s frustration rose, feeling stupid that he didn’t have answers to such simple questions. He tried not to snap back while answering to the best of his ability, “…Not that we know of. But he does have a condition.”

“Yes, I can postulate at least part of the condition,” Sophia leaned back in her chair, taking on a more clinical tone, “Let me tell you more about After-Deceasation Medicine. Long ago, before the Directionals mapped the Cardinals, a kai in the expert of healing arts by the name of Regy discovered a flaw in the celestial bureaucracy. She gathered evidence and presented her case to the others. You see, when most people die they have specific orientations for Heaven or Hell. However, there are a select few who deserve fair and proper treatment by means of neutrality.”

Goku suddenly felt like the dumbest person in the room. He rubbed the back of his neck and spoke up, “I guess I don’t understand what you mean.”

“I’m sorry, I’m so acclimated to being around those who are familiar that I forget myself,” she apologized, to his grateful disbelief, before going more in depth, “Neutrality in this sense means not being sent to Heaven or Hell immediately. When you die, your body is repaired, or, in rare occurrences, revoked. However, we do not always have the capability to fix non-physical problems in that moment. It was worst in the past. Imagine this scenario: you have a mental illness that caused you to think the person you killed was evil. Then you die. You come to find you have killed an innocent instead, therefore you will be sent to Hell.”

“That’s not fair!” the young man instantly, passionately interjected.

“You share the sentiments of Regy. She believed that in order for justice to make sense one had to understand their punishment. Species and souls vary, so too do the disorders of the mind. And much like how harm impacts the dead differently than the living, the mental diseases and disabilities in life become mere obstacles that are eventually overcome in death.”

“How come you can’t fix mental problems like you can with bodily harm?”

“I said sometimes we don’t have the capability. Sometimes we do. It varies from person to person. Also, take into account what happens to an individual when we repair damaged neural pathways, or balance neurotransmitters. They are suddenly empowered to process stimuli appropriately, and they must reflect on their life through this new, faithfully accurate lens. True, some repent immediately. But some are consumed with this newfound ability and not in a positive way. They need more time in order to make progress and to commit to an orientation.”

“So,” Goku asked, looking for confirmation, “You deal with the most severe cases of insanity?”

“Insanity and its aftermath,” she affirmed, briefly tapping her nails on the desk, “Which brings me to my reassurance to you: If your friend has done evil while under a chronic or terminal affliction, they will either be reconstituted or sent to be under my care.”

“It’s… not a normal affliction,” Goku protested softly, already half-convinced this information would rip away the freshly given mercy.

“I’ve done this for many millennia,” she spoke kindly and firmly despite the words being essentially condescending themselves, “This is what I do. I deal with the abnormal.”

King Kai cleared his throat to signal his intrusion into the conversation, “I’ve already spoken to the Grand Kai about it.”

Sophia’s eyes widened, “Already spoken-? North, what do you mean? What is going on with this mortal?”

In a gesture that could be perceived as too casual or too petulant, the god shrugged with hands in the air, “You said it yourself: You deal with the abnormal.”

She promptly crumpled up the paper on her desk and threw it at him. He dodged. “Hand that back to me,” she demanded of the deity before turning to Goku, “And you do me the honor of giving me your friend’s name.”

Earth’s hero watched his mentor grumble and climb out of his seat to retrieve the object as instructed while he fulfilled her request, “Vegeta.”

Sophia spun around in her chair and rolled over to an ordinary looking filing cabinet. Perhaps it was a bit prettier than usual, but otherwise its appearance was mundane. She grasped the handle and said, “Vegeta.” She looked inside for a moment before removing a folder and bringing it back to the desk. King Kai set the paper ball down beside her.

“You can fix that,” the doctor declared while perusing the file in her hands with infinite care and order. The god un-crumpled the ball and valiantly tried smoothing it out to the best of his ability. “Is this really what it’s been like on the mortal plane, lately?” she asked mostly rhetorically, with a melancholic edge, “It’s a shame, really.”

“It’s gotten better!” King Kai bristled a bit, pressing the wrinkled paper hard against the flat wood.

“I wasn’t taking a shot at you,” she clarified, “Although your champion keeps… strange friends.” Goku was unapologetic about the company he kept and expressed as much through his smile. Suddenly, she reached over and tugged on the god’s sleeve, “North, what is going on? What do you know? This makes no sense.”

Goku couldn’t help but be nosy, and he joined the others in reading the file, although it was beyond his comprehension.

>K10: 3.081 x 10^8. C: 761.23.09.382.18669.6721.1
>K10(+): 5.789 x 10^9. C: 752.08.07.670.85921.7041.1
>K10(-): 7.674 x 10^9. C: 762.02.11.414.08656.4687.1
>K6: 23E. C: 762.19.12.458.68433.6769.1
>T9: 1A. C: 762.20.12.751.16686.7806.1
>T9: 4A. C: 762.24.12.878.43391.6485.1
>T9(-): 1AP. C: 762.
>Sent. C: 762.24.12.846.64894.0080.1
>Return. C: 762.
>C: 764.
>C: 765.12.03.352.43645.2103.1

King Kai tapped a finger against his chin in contemplation, “That is most unusual.”

His former student didn’t understand why he wasn’t being openly honest with Sophia. They came to her for help, so wouldn’t sharing what they know be in everyone’s best interest? With that, he took matters into his own hands and told the doctor point blank, “His soul is damaged.”

The room went completely still as Sophia’s eyes, as shrewd and penetrating as they were, could not completely disguise her horror. “Pardon me,” she spoke plainly, yet deceptively mild, “But did I hear you correctly? You said his soul is damaged?”

“Yes,” the Saiyan asserted, “We don’t know how it happened.” He saw her eyes go back to the paper and leapt to a conclusion, “Do you? Is that what the paper says?”

She took a moment to compose herself, “Ah… no. This is the log of his deeds, the actions that orient his soul and when they took place. It helps Yemma in his duties.”

King Kai began to ask a question, “Do you think that second to last entry-?”

Sophia abruptly got to her feet and placed the papers inside the file, picking it and her tablet up as well, “I need to go to Records for further investigation. I cannot conclusively say anything at this point. However, you have my oath as a doctor that I will assist you. For now we will treat this routinely. Since you are in a position of privilege, I will have someone take you on the tour of the facilities. I hope that that will bring some comfort to you, Champion Goku.”

For how fiery her body language was, Goku didn’t expect the soft click of the door as she exited in a rush. He instantly interrogated his kai, however, “What did you mean about the second to last entry? Was there something special about it?”

“Well, as Sophia said, it was a log of Vegeta’s deeds. The what and the when is given and if we need to know more than that we go down to Records. The last two entries only indicated a when with no accompanying what. I thought maybe the second to last one could have been when he was damaged.”

“…Seems pretty logical to me,” the taller male agreed, “Could you tell what date was the second to last one?”

“I didn’t read it that thoroughly, but I think it was two years ago.”

“I wish she had left a copy with us.”

King Kai shook his head, “It didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.”

Goku wasn’t certain of that. Yet, both celestial beings seemed to put stock into these records. What and when didn’t address who, where, and why. Those were also vital components to a holistic view. All he knew for certain was two years ago Vegeta had been training in space.

How long had he been not just gone, but missing?

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