"And so the company swelled in numbers to three." The stage caller looked to the skies above, heavy with clouds. The gathered crowds raised their heads also. As they did, rotund drops of water fell upon their brows. "A storm approaches. Will you brave the fierce onslaught to hear the remainder of the story?" And as the stage caller spoke, an eerie wailing wind swept among the people, pushing and pulling at each of them, sweeping their hair in their faces and wrenching their clothes twisted around their bodies. The water drenched the people, icy and thick.
But none moved.
"So be it." Said the stage caller. The people, cold and shivering, looked back to the stage.
And the rain kept falling and the wind didnít pause in its lament.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Ugh! Will this rain never cease?" Chichi moaned as she pulled her cloak tighter around her shoulders. She had waited for what seemed an age to her for Bulma to come shrieking like a hellion behind her, but to no avail. Bulma didnít appear and Chichi had decided to find Yamcha and Tien so they could help her search.
Chichi staggered to her house from the forest and slammed her front door open. The remainder of her guests gaped at her as she stood framed in the door, a vagabond unlucky enough to be caught in the storm. She narrowed her eyes, and each turned away, unwilling to bare the brunt of Chichiís well known temper.
Breathing deeply to calm herself, she marched to where Tien and Yamcha stood trying to refrain their laughter. She stood before them, hands placed firmly on her hips. "Try to curtail your amusement at my discomfort for one moment please." Then, much like a mother leading away scolded children, she pushed them into the next room where no other guests played.
Yamcha was struggling to remove her grip and turn around. "Chichi, what is the dilemma? Where is Bulma? What have you two scalliwags done this time?"
Chichi shut the door behind them and locked it. "Why do you presume we have done anything?"
Yamcha arched an eyebrow at her.
"Fine, I admit the circumstances are strange but it was all Bulmaís idea." Chichi brushed some droplets from her hair which threatened to fall upon on her face. "She thought it would be an adventureÖ" Chichi was interrupted by the two men groaning, "to search for those men and, well I donít know what she planned for when we found them but we did find them, or rather they found us."
"They found you?" Tien was trying to understand what Chichi was raving about like a full moon celebrant.
"Yes, when they moved the bush they found us, you see? I ran away, expecting Bulma to follow close behind, but she didnít." Chichi replaced her aggravated look with an ingratiating smile. "So Bulma is missing and I need your help to find her."
"In this storm? We shanít be able to see anything with the thickness of the rain." Tien mused. Yamcha however had very worried appearance on him. "From what you are rambling, I can understand that you two were in a bush and the two men pulled it apart and then you ran?"
"Thatís precisely what happened."
Yamcha grew thoughtful and narrowed his eyes. "Why would Bulma have not journeyed back to your stead? Unless she was detainedÖ.Iíll bet those men you were chasing took Bulma captive!"
"No!" Chichi exclaimed.
"Yes! From what Bulma and yourself has told us, the two men are nothing but ruffians. Iím quite sure they would stoop to such a low. Come, we have to find Bulma and rescue her from her plight." Yamcha demanded, and Tien, unknowing of the situation, rapidly agreed.
"Chichi, you must come too. We need to see where the men found you." Tien placed a cloak over her shoulders and all together they left her home, in search of Bulma.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"So Goku, tell me why Vegeta and yourself are being hunted like animals. We are finally safe from the storm and Vegeta is sulking upstairs so you may speak freely." Bulma held a warm glass of ale close in her hands as the heat from the nearby fire warmed her bones. Her clothes, still slightly damp were drying upstairs in the room Goku and Vegeta had bought, so now she was wearing Gokuís spare clothes.
Goku sat next to her in much the same position but closer to the fire as his clothes were wringing wet. "Bulma, you know I cannot speak freely here." He whispered over the dull roar the patrons of the hostel were emitting as they drank their own weight in alcohol. "It is dangerous even here, where spies of Freeza are not likely to be."
"Please Goku, no soul in this room can hear you whispering that low. I can barely hear you and I sit right next to you," She cajoled, her curiosity have grown in abounds since she convinced them to allow her to join them.
He sighed and pulled her closer to him. "Fine, I will tell you but this is not to be told to another." He shook his head. "And donít let on to Vegeta that you know. Heíd probably kill you."
Bulma laughed in amusement. Goku didnít.
"This is no laughing matter, Bulma. Tell me, why do you think Freeza, a Lord of a powerful land, many leagues away, would be bothered chasing down two men with no money and no power?" Goku questioned.
"Well, maybe this Freeza is really meticulous when it comes to criminals." Bulma guessed, when in fact she had no idea although she was picking up the fact that Vegeta and Goku were important to him.
"Hardly. Freeza could care less about criminals. And we are not criminals." Goku really didnít want to tell Bulma. Not only would it put Vegeta in danger, it would put her in dangerís path as well.
"Goku, some time tonight please." Bulma was waiting.
"I am no one. Unimportant. The third class son of a low class battle commander. But Vegeta is important. He isÖÖ" Goku swigged some ale before continuing. "ÖÖ.Royalty."
"I donít believe you," Bulma muttered in anger, "By the Gods, Royalty are supposed to have manners. Theyíre supposed to be charming and sophisticated, not rude and cold like some marsh frog!"
"Believe it not, it is still true. The Vejjitasei Royalty are some what different to your local Royalty. But may I continue telling our story? The history and inner-working of the Vejjitasei government may wait till later, Iím sure."
"Of course, you may continue." Bulma rubbed her eyes. Vegeta? Royalty? Unbelievable.
"Freeza came to our King, Vegetaís father, many sun circles ago. He is a powerful warrior with great armies and suggested an alliance with the Vejjitasei empire. The King agreed, not knowing of Freezaís true intentions until it was too late. Freeza had undermined the Kingís authority, placing his own men in positions that should only be held by Saijjin officials. When the King realised the threat facing him, he tried in vain to regain power. Freeza had him assassinated." Goku paused, gathering his thoughts.
"How long ago was this, Goku? I have heard nothing of it, there was no news of such an occurrence." Bulma questioned.
"The assassination of the King took place, I believe, fifteen sun circles before the present. Iím sure no one here would hear anything. Vejjitasei is a far away land, across oceans and mountains. From your face, I can guess you havenít even heard of the Saijjin people." Goku hazarded a guess.
"No, no I havenít." Bulma was having trouble comprehending all the information. "Itís unbelievable."
"It only grows worse. When Freeza took over the Saijjin land, there were uprisings and battles. Saijjins dislike being controlled. Many were killed and our numbers have dwindled to less than half of our once population. Freeza is systematically destroying our people." Goku sighed and sat back against his chair, alternating his side so more of his clothes could dry.
"Thatís really interesting, Goku, but it doesnít explain why you and Vegeta are being hunted." Bulma prodded.
"Vegeta was only a boy when his father was killed. Freeza took Vegeta into his care when he overtook the palace." An angry look replaced Gokuís normally placid features. "His kindness, he said. The least he cold do. It wouldíve been kinder to tie Vegeta to a boat and let the tides take him where they would. But the fates are often not kind. He grew to manhood under that monsterís tutelage, and I like not to think of the things he has seen."
Pity overtook Bulma, "Oh, thatís horrible. Imagine being taught by your fatherís killer."
"I sometimes wonder what Vegetaís temperament wouldíve been had he been raised a typical Saijjin upbringing. We are taught to fight and battle, but we are taught control. Vegeta, as far as he has told me, was taught to kill and destroy. Any control he has is a result of needing to restrain his temper before Freeza. He hates the monster with a vengeance I thought not possible. And so he has been trying to become strong enough to kill Freeza and free his people." Goku gave a little laugh. "Which has brought us to our predicament we are now in. Vegeta challenged Freeza. I know not why, though there must have been a reason. Vegeta isnít close to Freezaís power. The battle was not long started before Vegeta was lost. In anger, he killed two of Freezaís favourite men and denounced Freeza. I helped him to escape from the cell where he wouldíve been punished. We have been running and training ever since. It has been a sun circle at least since we escaped."
Bulma sat still, unable to register all of the horrific story. Goku drank the remainder of his ale and then picked up Bulmaís and drank that in one sip as well. "Good ale, very strong," he muttered. "Bulma, donít tell Vegeta. He would have my hide."
"Uh, sure, okay." Bulma picked up the two glasses. "Another? Do you think Vegeta might like some?"
"Ho ho, more ale. Always, a true saijjin never says no to a good drink. But Vegeta would want none. He doesnít drink, at least I have never seen him do so." Goku bellowed. Bulma could tell the drink was already affecting him. She turned and retrieved two drinks. Goku immediately swiped them and drank them both.
"Steady, Goku. I donít want to have to carry you upstairs while you are comatose." Goku ignored her, waltzed jauntily over to a young maid and gestured for the bards to play. The couple began a merry dance which others soon joined, leaving Bulma alone.
She watched for moments before standing. "I may as well go see Vegeta. Maybe he will tell me more."
She slipped out of the baudy gathering and travelled slowly up the stairs. She was still trying to come to terms with all the knowledge Goku had given her. No wonder Vegeta was such a insufferable man. Although, Bulma amended, it was not like she had shared more than twenty words with him. Vegeta had stayed ahead of herself and Goku as they battled the storm to reach the hostel. Bulma had directed them to one that was little known and hard to find. Bulma could picture him in her mind now, upright and fierce, stubborn and unrelenting as he marched onwards through the winds. Once they reached the doors, he turned and glared at her, letting her now how much he resented her presence. After degrading her with his eyes, Vegeta had ordered under his breath not to talk to anyone unless it was to ask for food or drink. His comments were directed only at her and Bulma had assumed that was because Goku already knew the drill. She only nodded, not willing to have a verbal match of wits when he was obviously frustrated and angered.
She reached their door and pushed it open as quietly as a summerís breeze. Looking around the opening, she saw no one and so entered the room quietly. She attempted to walk silently to the bedroom, the only other room Vegeta could be in unless he had left. Unfortunately, a small table had other ideas and sent her flailing onto the floor, swearing profusely. A sharp pain ran through her lower lip and she groaned as she pushed herself off the dusty floor. She felt warmth run through her lip, mingling with pain and she ran her tongue over the wound, tasting metallic blood. Bulma winced and examined the floor, noticing an upraised nail. "Damn the Gods!" She muttered. Giving the nail a little scuff, she stood and brushed the dust from her clothes. Touching her lip gently, she gave up on a quiet approach and stormed over to the bedroom door.
She pushed it open and was suffused with a dull red flickering light generated by the fire crackling ominously in the fire place. Before the fire sat Vegeta, silhouetted by the dancing flames, a black outline. There were no candles lit and no other light sources. Bulmaís heart rate quickened as a shiver ran down her spine.
She swallowed and entered, once again trying to be quiet, though this time it was an attempt to not disturb the sleeping beast Vegeta.
He was not sleeping. He had been aware of her presence as soon as she had entered the outer room though. Long before that, he had sat in front of the fire aiming frantically and in vain to reach some semblance of a plan or conclusion to their struggle. The flames had danced before him and had only served to remind of him of everything he had lost and destroyed. He knew Kakkarot regarded him as a victim of fate and circumstance. The ignorant fool. He may have been innocent once but Freeza had recreated him anew and long since had it been when he had allowed himself to be victimised. No, he was strong. Strength was power and Vegeta would always long for power.
Now he had destroyed his one advantage in the whole unfated situation. By alienating Freeza, he had lost inside information, access to his own people and a stable training regime. He was at a disadvantage in everyway and he knew Freeza was plotting his demise. Long ago had his interest in Vegeta waned, interest in everyway. Since then he had tolerated his presence, beating Vegeta for it occasionally.
Vegeta knew he had to surmise a path for freedom. For him, for Kakkarot who would not survive beyond a single beating from Freeza, for his people who were trapped, straining against the confines of Freezaís regime, who were dying out from lack of hope. For his fatherís memory, desecrated everyday Freeza sat on his throne and ruled his land.
He could still remember the last piece of advice his father gave him. It was before the real threat Freeza represented became apparent and Vegeta had railed against his schooling, wanting only to train and have fun. He had foregone a lesson and hidden in a training room. His father found him easily. He had kneeled down next to Vegeta, a warm reassuring presence, and looked into his eyes. His father told him, "You are strong, Vegeta. With time and effort you could be the strongest. That is what you wish for with your whole being. But tell me, what would you do with your strength? What would you gain?"
He had smirked at his father, imagining his would-be future. "I will control every land as far as I can see. I will rule them all. I will be King."
"A worthy ambition, my son. But will strength be all that you require for this task?" His father mused.
"Of course! What else would I need!?" He snapped, his father was being ridiculous, he sounded like one of his teachers.
"Vegeta, listen to me carefully and remember my words when I am no longer present to advise you. Power is a double-sided sword with which you may strike fear into any heart. Strength is only one side and what can you do with only half a sword? You can only mule like an animal and be struck down by your enemies. True power is combined of strength and knowledge. Ignorance is a fatal danger. Never allow yourself to be ignorant and be destroyed because of that ignorance." His father ran his fingers down Vegetaís face. "You, boy, are smart and clever. Use your brains as well as your brawn and you will be the strongest."
Staring stonily into the flames, Vegeta remembered when he realised his father had taught him the lesson many rulers would never understand. His own father had grown complacent in his power, grew ignorant of his power being sapped from him. Because of that he had been killed and his empire torn to shreds. In that final act, his lesson was driven home. Vegeta never forgot his words. But he would never think of them without seeing his fatherís blood seeping across the stone floor of the Royal hall.
The girl was standing behind him. Her presence tugged at the outskirts of his mind and drew him back to the little room he now dwelled in. "What do you want!?" He demanded roughly.
She mistakenly took that as an invitation and sat down next to him. Tensing, he glanced at her through hooded eyes. Somehow, the fire made her look like a woman for the first time since they had misfortune of crossing paths. Previously, she had either looked like a high-voiced boy or a bedraggled rat, the Gods will from the storm. But nowÖ, Vegeta turned away. There was no need to distract himself with occupations such as the ones she represented. Not now, there was too much at stake.
"Vegeta, why, uh, why are you sitting here with only the fire for light?" Bulma had intended to ask him why he was being chased, in an attempt to gather more information, however he looked slightly unsettled and very resistant to questions. Bulma decided perhaps she could start with little questions then ask the trickier ones later.
He looked at her then. "What has Kakkarot told you?"
Bulma was too taken aback by the question to try to deny her knowledge. "Not much. JustÖheh..that youíre hiding from some lord who wants to kill you both." She attempted to save Goku at least from some of Vegetaís anger.
"Donít try my patience, woman." Oh, that was something new. She had been promoted from Ďgirlí to Ďwomaní. "I know the miserable bastard has told you more than that."
"How!" She cried. "How do you know?"
"Kakkarot is a man of little intelligence and you look as though you have the cunning of a spyran. What has that fool told you, and speak the truth or your journey ends here."
"Perhaps I want it to end here anyway! Have you considered that, dark and forbidding man?" She replied sarcastically.
"Hardly. You have the look of a sphera. You will follow us until this God lawed drama is through and finished." He remarked back at her.
"I would never look like a sphera! Wait, tell me what a sphera is." Bulma sputtered.
"Foolish woman, sphera is a Saijjin word meaning vaguely Ďrestless spirití. It is a word that has no true translation into your ridiculous language, however, and so I would not expect you to ever understand itís meaning." Vegeta threw the words at her.
"Hmm, well, fine then, youíre right. I am going to accompany you and Goku to where ever it is you are going. But," She paused and poked Vegetaís shoulder, "You have to tell me your story."
"For what reason should I do that?" Vegeta stared at her, his face blank of amotion.
"Well, I suppose itís because thatís the polite thing to do. You are Royalty, are you not? So you should have been taught manners at some stage." Bulma reasoned, not considering her words. She had almost settled into a comfortable space, almost talking to Vegeta as though she would Yamcha or Tien.
Vegeta did not speak, instead standing he glared down at her as the flames sent plays of light over his face for the longest time. "I have not been Royalty for a long time. Do not ask of me and expect something simply because it is polite to do so. Manners are a gilded plate for whimpering weaklings to hide behind. I will tell you nothing." He at last spoke harshly and left.
Well, that was a reminder if anything that Vegeta neither liked her or wanted her present. What odd companions to be travelling with. One is a merry man with barely any hint of sorrow or tragedy, and the other is a dark, rude man. They are like a study in opposites. Goku is nice and kind and humorous. Vegeta is not restrained by societyís rules of custom.
At least, he talked to me somewhat, called me a sphera. I wonder what it truly means. I wonder of Vegeta will ever talk to me in a way that is not disparaging. Bulma considered why she found Vegetaís dark mood so disturbing and yet alluring. He is like a tragic hero in one of those plays that Chichi speaks of, although, they always seemed so flat and lifeless. Vegeta was real and his secrets and mystery appeared endless to her.
Bulma stared at the fire in imitation of him, lost in thought, until he and Goku returned after which there was no time to pay sentiment to whimsical thoughts.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The people gathered were confused. The hero and the heroine had not kissed or had playful banter, there was almost no attraction between them. They didnít understand for the play was not like any other they had seen. But this wasnít how the play was supposed to tell, that much they knew. The hero and heroine had to fall in love, and live happily ever after. But they could not recognise the realities of life represented on the stage. Fate works its will, no matter how people wish, and happy endings are given to lucky few.
The stage caller merely smiled sadly and waited for the next scene to begin.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Chichi scrabbled about madly. A cloud of leaves had been swept by the mad wind into her hair and blinded her into walking into a tree. She had fallen down at its base into a puddle of mud. After rising dignified from the dirt, she screamed in anger and stomped off leaving Yamcha and Tien to stare after her.
"Perhaps not the best idea to bring Chichi with us?" Yamcha stated.
"No, perhaps not." Tien smiled at him and they trailed after her, quickly losing sight of her in the swaying trees. "Come, faster or we will lose Chichi as well."
"It bodes ill that we have found no sign of either Bulma or the men." Yamcha sighed.
"Indeed it does. But look!" Tien pointed ahead. "Chichi is returning this way with those other men who were also searching for them."
And so she was. Leading them both, she was talking madly, "We must ask of you. Our companion has gone missing and we believe those men have taken her. Please help us rescue her and we will aid you in any way we can." She begged.
"We will certainly help you regain your friend. But we confess this storm has erased their tracks and if they have a local, they will have direction to shelter. Is there a hostel near where they might take shelter?" The taller man said.
Tien and Yamcha both spoke at the same time. "The Forest Meet!"
"Itís a hostel in the outskirts of the forest for travellers, although it attracts criminals and the like more readily." Chichi informed the two men.
"It sounds like the place to begin our search." The short man said.
"If you wouldnít mean leading us, surely your friend will be with you soon." Said the other. "I am Jeice and my companion is named Burta."
"It will take only a little while to get there." Yamcha smiled and led the way.
Jeice and Burta followed last and smirked at each other as the unsuspecting walked ahead of them into dangerís path.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Vegeta stormed down to berate Goku for his indiscretion. He pushed several men out of his way and pulled a drunken Goku from a mass of hugging men, singing songs out of tune and out of time.
"My Prince," He slurred, "Wonít you have an ale and song to cheer you up? Youíre looking a but grumpy, you know."
Vegeta answered with a cuff over his head.
Kakkarotís eyes rolled into the back of his head and he collapsed. Vegeta caught him and dragged him back up to their room to the sounds of men cheering showering him with ale.
He dropped Goku on the floor and slammed the door shut behind him. Far from being angry, he was used to Gokuís drinking sprees.
Leaving him comatose on the floor, Vegeta walked to the window willing the woman, whatever her name was, not to come out and disturb him again. He watched the forest as the storm ravaged it. A flash of colour showed for a moment through the trees before disappearing. Vegeta narrowed his eyes in careful watch. It showed again and revealed a person as a woman walked clear of the last trees. Vegeta recognised her as the woman who was holding that last party. Behind her appeared two men, following purposely. Vegeta thought in satisfaction for a moment that perhaps they were coming to take away the annoying woman. His light thoughts were dashed when two figures appeared behind them. He recognised them straight away and flung himself from the window.
"They are here!" He gasped. "Gods help us, Burta and Jeice are here!" He gritted his teeth in anger at his inability to face them in a fight.
He pulled a jug of cold water off the table and felled it on Gokuís head. "WhaÖ..?" He sat up, asking dopily.
"Kakkarot, pull yourself together. Burta and Jeice are here. We have to leave now!" Vegeta shook him frantically in an effort to sober him.
"Okay, okay, I understand. Iíll get Bulma." Goku flung himself to his feet, almost up-ending himself in the process.
"Kakkarot, pretend for tonight that you have a fully functioning brain, please?" Vegeta snarled, as he thrust all their belongings in a bag.
Goku stumbled to the next room and slammed the door open with the force of a gale wind. "Bul-ma!!!! Bul-ma!!!!!!" He yelled as he stepped carefully, not fully sober.
She turned from her place before the fire, confusion swimming in her eyes. "Goku? Whatís going on?"
"We must leave now! Freezaís men are here, Gods, they have tracked us here!" Goku hauled Bulma off the floor as easily he would a baby, handed her a pack and carried her out the door.
Bulma, slow on the uptake, stood staring at Goku as he flung himself out of the room and began helping Vegeta remove any evidence of their being there. Soon, they both looked up and glared at her. "Bulma! Move yourself! We need to leave!" Goku yelled.
She snapped out of her daze and ran out of the little room, "What can I do? How can I help?"
"Get out of my way and leave us alone!" Vegeta snapped as he through his bag on his back and stormed past her and out of their rooms. Goku followed close behind and turned at the door, "Come one, Bulma. You canít stay here. Everyone knows you were here with us." He gestured for her to follow and disappeared out the door. Bulma sighed and walked out after the two men, soon breaking into a run to keep up with their fast pace, as they moved swiftly down the stairs leading to the crowded lower area of the hostel.
"Well, whatís your plan?" Bulma snagged Vegetaís shoulder. He growled and pushed her away. "We escape. Thatís enough."
"Somehow I already knew that would be the gist of our moonlight run but I was hoping for something a little less vague and a little more set in stone!" Bulma said harshly.
Goku pushed past them both and peeked around the corner at the bottom of the stairs. "Burta and Jeice are searching the bar first. Come one we can leave through the front door and make our way round the hostel and continue our journey!"
Vegeta gestured for Goku to go first and he walked casually through the hall.
He grasped Bulmaís arm and was about to lead them both across the floor when Bulma stopped at the sound of a familiar voice.
"You fool, thatís one of the men Bulma fought. Quickly, go get Burta or Jeice!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Chichi stood with Yamcha and Tien in confusion as the two men, Burta and Jeice, shouldered past them snickering. "I cannot trust them. Something is not right." She whispered to her companions.
They had reached the hostel and Chichi had overheard the men talking. They had said something about catching men called Vegeta and Kakkarot. Chichi recognised those as the names of the two men. That in itself was innocent but Chichi was almost certain she had heard them say something about killing the woman. Unsure if they were talking about Bulma, she had tried to hear more but the wind had changed direction and had swept their words away from here.
Now, as the two men entered the bar, Chichi almost didnít see the tall man as he exited the room. Blinking, she nudged Tien. "Do you see that man leaving the hostel?"
"Yes, Chichi, why?" Tien was not paying attention to Chichi as he glanced around the room in search of Bulma.
"You fool, thatís one of the men Bulma fought! Quickly, go get Burta or Jeice!" Tien paid attention then and bolted to the bar and yelled their names. The two men came stumbling out, carrying an ale each. When they saw Goku, they dropped their drinks and smirked. "Oy, Goku!" Yelled Jeice. "Weíve come to have a drink with you!"
Goku whirled around in shock as the two men approached him, feral grins on their faces. "Come one, Goku. There is no point trying to fight us. Weíll just beat you senseless and return you to Freeza." Burta smarmed, "But we will make you a compromise. You inform us of Vegetaís whereabouts and we wonít rearrange that handsome face of yours."
They were both shocked, however, when Vegeta strode out from out from behind a door and stood beside Goku. "I imagine it would be hard for you to think in any way when you have the intellect of a small bug. That is the only reason I can possibly understand for you two imbeciles coming here and challenging us. Do you think the you could ever beat us? The damage is done, our whereabouts are known, any other person wouldíve run away by now."
"So you do know about the little casting Freeza put on us?" Jeice laughed. "We wondered."
"Now you know." Vegeta and Goku settled into fighting stances.
Chichi watched in disbelief. She felt a pinch at her side and dragged her eyes away from the spectacle before her. Bulma stood beside her with a look of anger upon her. "Why did you tell those two men we were here?"
"Because they were taking you captive and Yamcha wanted to rescue you?" Chichi answered, sensing they had somehow misunderstood the whole odd situation.
"By the Gods, Yamcha is a fool! When did you ever listen to him?" Bulma was almost crying in anguish. She could not watch Vegeta and Goku be taken away to their doom. It was too much to bear, knowing what they were being taken to.
"Bulma, why does this upset you? We have saved you from those ruffians." Yamcha enquired, wincing as Vegeta and Goku were struck down by Burta and Jeice.
Bulma pushed him away from her in disgust and anger. "Yamcha, how could you do this? It is your fault, itís all your fault! They are innocent!"
Yamcha stood taken aback. "IÖÖIím sorry, Bulma. I did not know."
"Your ignorance will not grant you forgiveness, Yamcha! Donít talk to me, help them!" Bulma, almost hysterical from watching Vegeta and Goku being thrown around the room, screamed at him, her voices breaking.
A crowd had gathered from the tavern and stood around the fight, cheering. In a parody of the events at Chichiís party, they were placing bets on who would win, live or die.
Burta smirked at Yamcha as he entered the fray. "Stay out of this, or I will have to kill you before I am ready."
Yamcha tried to strike him but was knocked against the wall and knocked senseless. In a huge effort, Burta and Jeice sent Vegeta and Goku flying to the wall as well, where they both remained, not rising. The villians laughed evilly and removed knives from their belts. They stalked over to where the fallen Saijjins laid and pulled them up. "Freeza wants you alive. He said nothing about you being returned uninjured." Burta snarled and he and Jeice thrust the knives into Vegeta and Goku.
"Nooo!" Bulma screamed and ran to their sides, uncaring of the two villians who stood right next to her. She pulled Vegeta, nearest to her, and tried to find his wound. The blood covered her hands and she sobbed. Her pity for their plight overwhelmed her and she struck Jeice, though it hurt him not.
Jeice only smirked at her and pulled his knife from Goku. "Seems you want a taste of my knife too." He thrust at her and Bulma couldnít move. She could only wait for the stabbing pain.
But it didnít come.
Yamcha fell from where he stood before her, dropping to his knees, the knife embedded in his chest.
"Oh no." Bulmaís shaking hands covered her mouth, leaving a trail of Vegetaís blood. "Yamcha."
Burta and Jeice stood laughing behind her as she knelt beside him, catching him as he fell.
"Itís okay, Yamcha. Everything will be fine." She tried to reassure him, while holding back her sobs. The fallen man grasped the knife in him and pulled it from his body, groaning softly.
Bulma covered the wound with her hands, shock setting in when she saw the dark, almost black blood seeping from between her fingers. Yamcha would not, could not live with this wound.
"Iím sorry, Bulma." He whispered. "I knew not what I did. Forgive me."
Bulma smiled reassuringly at him. "I didnít mean it. Youíre my best friend, Yamcha. IÖ.I could not live without you."
He gripped her hands with his own and smiled at her. Bulma thought her heart might break. "You will, though. You will."
"No, I canít." Tears ran down her face. "Itís not fair. Not without you."
"Bulma, you are the bravest person I know. And I will always be with you." Yamcha coughed and began shaking as blood ran from his lips. Bulma hugged him and waited for the tremors to pass. Once they had, she looked at him once more and kissed his forehead. "I love you always," she whispered and laid him down as his eyes clouded with death.
A hand gripped her shoulder and, with strength she didnít think she had, Bulma turned to face who ever it was. Vegeta stood behind her with Goku at his side. Chichi was tending to Tien who was groaning on the floor nearby. Goku lifted her up. "We have to go." He said softly. He passed her to Vegeta who carried her out the door. The crowds parted around him. Bulma could not struggle, too ensnared in her grief to do anything except sob and stare over Vegetaís shoulder at Yamchaís prone body.
"Goodbye, Yamcha." She whispered and wept against Vegetaís shoulder as he carried her through the night.
* * * * *