Vegeta trudged through the slick wet leaves of over hanging vines, dirt streaked and soaking wet, with one numb shoulder from carrying a grief stricken woman, and wondered why the fates had chosen such a twisted, snarled path for him to walk. The latest difficulty was very much beyond any trouble he and Kakkarot had struggled with in the past, the very least of his current problems being the sleeping woman he was carrying. That, in part, could be blamed on Kakkarot, which somehow made it easier for Vegeta to bear because he could envisage the dressing down he would give to him when they met up in Vejjitasei.
Walking through the vines without even a spare arm to move them aside, or in Vegetaís case tear them down, Vegeta gritted his teeth. Until the woman woke up he could not use his arms, and he would not stop and waste time to wait for her to regain consciousness.
Since meeting the woman and having a charade of a fight with her dressed like a man, the Gods had denied him any good luck or chance at every possible turn. Not only had Kakkarot allowed the woman to join them, he had told her of their history. Not that Vegeta had proof, only his instincts and his knowledge of the fact that Kakkarot was a gullible, talkative fool who liked to spin tales and couldnít keep any secret, especially if the person asking was a pretty woman.
Vegeta passed through the last of the vines, only to be paused by his own anger and frustration at the obstacle before him. Muttering a few choice words under his breath, he hefted Bulma in his arms and strode out into the icy cold waters. He felt the woman stirring in his arms and rolled his eyes as she began to cry softly. When she hid her face against his chest, Vegeta was able to restrain himself from giving her a sound shaking. When he felt her tears begin to soak his shirt, he ignored her with a patience he felt was admirable by the Gods. However, when she began to cling to his arms and dig her nails in, Vegeta gritted his teeth and accompanied by a growl of acute frustration, he let his arms, followed by Bulma, drop into the water.
Before Bulmaís drop into the water, she had been awoke but unable to ask Vegeta to set her down, mainly because she was trying not to wail and scream. She had actually woken while Vegeta was still combating with the overhanging vines, although she had managed to ignore reality and its pains until the cold water Vegeta was wading through began to splash against her back. That had been the last Bulma could take and everything from the last night had hit her and not even Vegetaís presence could stop her tears from making themselves known.
The water covered her quickly, her tears lost in the fast flowing river. Bulma struggled to find her footing as the swiftly running water dragged her away from the bank. She was tumbled over and over until something wrapped around her arm and pulled her from the water. Gasping and heaving, Bulma pulled in air as she was towed across the river. She felt rocks scrape along her back before Vegeta picked her up once again. "Put me down! Gods damn you, put me down!" She shrieked.
Vegeta was only too happy to oblige.
Bulma hit the ground softly, not because of Vegeta, only because the grass grew tall and soft on this side of the river. Her grief and tears were gone, tempered by the quick temper she was known to have. "What are you doing? Where are you taking me?"
Vegeta threw his pack to the ground. "I am saving you from long pain and slow death."
Bulma stared at him for a moment before snapping, "Well, thatís certainly vague, isnít it? Do you think you might explain a little further as to why we are in the middle of nowhere and why you dropped me into that frigid water?"
"If it will stop you from speaking to me then I would be only to happy." Vegeta walked over to a dead tree and tore some of its dead limbs away, throwing them into a pile. "Your friends gave us to Burta and Jeice. Kakkarot and I were stabbed by them, your friend was killed, we took them by surprise and killed them, Kakkarot has taken your black haired harpy of a friend and that bald man with him and you are coming with me."
Bulma refused to allow Vegeta to see her cry again but his mention of Yamcha was so callous! "Donít you talk about Yamcha any more!" She ordered.
Vegeta only smirked uncaringly and continued, "Burta and Jeice had a casting over them. Any physical contact with either myself or Kakkarot would alert Freeza to our whereabouts. Because you and your friends were with us and you touched us the casting applies to yourselves also. No matter where you go, Freeza will send men to hunt you down and kill you. Hence Kakkarot decided we should take you all with us, in the hopes we could protect you."
"That seems logical but where is Chichi and Tien? Where is Goku? And why do you call him Kakkarot?" Bulma inquired. She sat down next to the pile of wood that Vegeta was converting into a fire.
"We have separated. We will join again when we reach Vejjitasei and we attack Freeza." Vegeta uttered nonchalantly as small flames licked the dry wood.
Bulma raised an eyebrow at that suggestion but refrained from questioning Vegeta further. He was looking decidedly unhappy about the situation already.
"We will camp here for the night." Vegeta stood and left without saying another word.
Bulma sat before the growing fire, contemplating how her life had suddenly been turned upside down. She laid down on the soft grass and closed her eyes, in an attempt to find sleep. However, she could not close her eyes without seeing Yamcha lying prone on the ground before her. Without Vegeta nearby to show his obvious disdain for her, Bulma felt her grief well inside her. Gripping her sides, she lay before the fire with tears for her lost friend trickling down the planes of her face.
Vegeta however, had not ventured far from the makeshift camp-site. On the edges of the fire circle he stood watching Bulma. With gritted teeth he shook his head. He could not stand to see people cry. Mumbling a curse he debated walking away and waiting for her to calm down or waiting by the fire. There was always the third solution of continuing on without her, but Vegeta knew Kakkarot would not appreciate that in the least. It appeared he valued the woman as a friend.
Scowling mightily, Vegeta threw his hands in the air and then stomped to sit besides Bulma and the flickering flames. She looked up at him with such a tragic face, Vegeta could not help but laugh. Apparently she did not like him snickering at her because she sat up and threw a stick at him. Vegeta caught the stick and threw it into the fire.
"Why do you laugh at me!?" Bulma yelled, her voice breaking in sorrow. "Why do you find it comedic that I lost a dear friend tonight!?"
Vegeta regarded her face, awash with light. Swallowing the cutting remark he was going to say, he answered, "It has been a long time since I have seen any one mourn the way you mourn for your friend." He laughed again, though not in good humour. "It would be somewhat ludicrous in our situation."
Bulma, sniffing in a most un-ladylike manner, asked him, "Goku and yourself?"
"Myself, Kakkarot, many others." Vegeta yawned, so blasé, Bulma was stricken with curiosity and somehow pity for this horrible cold man.
"I do not understand. Goku didnít explain the whole situation. I admit he gave me some information but, " Bulma paused and shrugged, "I suppose he did not explain himself well."
"Why am I not surprised?" Vegeta smirked.
Bulma wondered how he could find humour in such a disturbing subject. It was disturbing to her, and it wasnít even her home or her people. "Please tell me?"
Vegeta looked away for some time. When he looked back, his face was blank of all statement. "Freeza overtook my land. Saijjins are strong but grow weaker with lack of training. Freeza forbode it. His people remain strong. They rule over mine, they own them." Vegeta spat out the last two words. "Tortures and murders are committed freely. The Saijjin race is dying and I cannot run any more."
Bulma remained silent, though she burned with unasked questions. She presumed Vegeta would tell more but he did not speak again that night.
* * * * * * * * *
The people watched as the fire sank into darkness. The stage caller strode out into the stage. "Good people, the journey undertaken now by our two heroes is both long and treacherous. To show you it all would take months of our time and Gods willing, we will not do that. Instead, you will see excerpts. Please forgive us for this transgression and enjoy the further telling of this story."
The gathered crowds watched the fire light again and burn bright and high. Two figures stood before it, shivering.
* * * * * * * *
"I cannot believe you made me journey over a snowy peak because you wished to avoid a pretty, flowery, warm valley pass!" Bulma snapped as she moved closer to the flames.
"Donít question me, woman! That valley pass contains a people who would kill you, slowly, then separate your body parts to serve as offerings to the Gods!" Vegeta yelled, trying not to show how cold and numb he was.
Bulma rolled her eyes in frustration. "Why donít you tell me these things, Vegeta! I am so sick and tired of you making every decision about what we do!"
"And you have the knowledge to make these decisions instead!"
"I would bet the people in that valley arenít vicious as you say. You are just antisocial and you have control issues!" Bulma shrieked.
"I am not antisocial! I just donít like people!" Vegeta roared. Bulma answered with a side splitting laugh. Vegeta gritted his teeth. "Would you just sit down! I cannot bear the sight of you standing, shivering in those wet clothes." Vegeta muttered.
"Where are we now, Vegeta? Are we close to Vejjitasei?" Bulma sat and pulled off her cloak.
Vegeta sat down next to her and removed his cloak as well, followed by his shirt. "Somewhat. We will arrive soon." Bulma nodded, accepting his vague answer. Enjoying their arguments as much as she did, she was happy to talk to him in a civilised fashion. She looked over at him to ask him another question but was rendered speechless by the sight before her. Vegeta sat outstretched, his chest bare and smooth. Bulma licked her lips unconsciously, looking over the well muscled man before her. The fire sent light that seemed to absorb into him, giving him an irradiant look. Bulma came to her senses and looked away quickly, finally feeling her quick breath and her fast heart rate.
She had not realised how handsome Vegeta was, until that moment. Their whole journey she had not looked to see him. The light played over him, softening him so that Bulma could see past his harsh exterior and see only the man he was, not the persona he wished for everyone to see. All that time, I didnít understand. Perhaps that is why Goku can be friends with him. He sees what I do. Not in the same way, Iím sure, but he sees Vegeta.
Bulma smiled, surprisingly content. She almost did not wish the journey to end. She had enjoyed it.
* * * * * * * *
Vegeta dived deep into the water, letting its cold temperature cool his flaming self. Since the snowy pass, they had travelled far, less close to Vejjitasei than he had told Bulma. He sank down to the floor of the lake, trying to figure out when he had lost control.
They had camped that day next to the lake, Bulma proclaiming in infuriating detail how she could have done everything better. Vegeta could understand why she aggravated him so. And as if that wasnít bad enough, she had decided to wash in the lake without telling him so when he went down to the lake, innocently aiming to retrieve some water, he had seen far more of the woman than he had seen before. Far more than he wished to see.
The woman was beautiful. He had registered the fact when they were still at that hostel but had not cared. Since then, they had travelled hard and he hadnít looked to see her. But when she stood from the water, Vegetaís eyes had widened and so had another part of him. He had withdrawn from the lake, not wishing Bulma to see him. She had returned from her bathing smiling and happy. Vegeta attempted to ignore her but could not help casting glances every now and then. Eventually, he had given up on ignoring her and so decided a wash for himself would not go astray. He excused himself by ordering Bulma to find more wood for the fire.
So now he rose from the water. He looked over the landscape. Vejjitasei was close. His journey with Bulma was almost at an end. Vegeta wondered why he was discontent at that thought.
* * * * * * * * *
Vegeta strode along the path, Bulma following behind. They were surrounded by tall trees and could see into the forest or ahead of themselves. Vegeta knew where he was travelling though. He could see a dot of light at the end of the path and quickened his pace. Bulma heaved a sigh and tried to keep up. The dot grew quickly into a circle of light. The circle of light grew into hole at the end of the path. Vegeta pulled Bulma behind him and led her through the hole out onto a cliff. Bulma gasped at the sight before her. Beyond the edge of the cliff, a great city lay in the middle of a valley.
Vegeta stood beside her. "That is the city of Vejjitasei, capital of my land. Freeza lives in the crown palace." He gestured at a tall, stone building that stood apart from the rest of the city. "Tomorrow night we will enter the city. Light is failing tonight. We will camp here."
Bulma looked over at him. "Where will you meet Goku?"
Vegeta frowned at her for a moment then answered, "That does not matter." He began setting up their camp, gathering wood. Bulma continued to watch the great city, built of stone. The buildings appeared old, even at the distance Bulma was from them. She sighed and looked away. She walked over to Vegeta and sat in front of him. "Vegeta, what are you going to do? Gods help me, I know you wonít accept help from anyone."
Vegeta ignored her.
"What? Are you just going to walk up to Freeza and stab him? Do you really think that could ever happen? You need a plan!" Bulma began to raise her voice, a sure sign that she was about to fight.
Vegeta though, was already angry. "Do you think I have planned?! Do you think I have not dreamed of that moment!? Idiot woman, I have thought about this everyday since Freeza took over. I will kill him, I do not care how, but I will kill him!" Vegeta yelled passionately.
"Youíre not planning to find Goku, are you?" She whispered, her quick mind at work. "Youíre going to try by yourself!"
Once again, Vegeta ignored her. His silence was answer enough.
"Oh Gods above, Vegeta, why do you need to do this alone?" Bulma asked quietly.
Vegeta turned away. He walked over to the cliff edge and sat down, his legs hanging over. Bulma sighed and stood behind him. They watched as the sun rose on the new day.
* * * * * * * * *
As the last of the light left the sky, Vegeta and Bulma entered the outskirts of the city. They had not talked much, neither wanting to begin another fight but neither content with the way things remained between them. All day, they had studiously avoided conversation. Instead, they had spent their time catching glances at each other. Both were at the same time sorry over the lost day and glad to be leaving the cliff behind.
Vegeta walked ahead of Bulma, straight to a hostel. They entered together and caught in their own personal thought of regret, neither saw the shadow that followed them, saw them enter and pay for a room, then skit away towards the palace.
* * * * * * * * * *
"The journey is over. Fate has brought them to a crossroads. Whatever happened after this moment, the sisters of fate spun their nets and ensnared the faring two in one net. They were joined." The stage caller said quietly, wistfully. The audience looked at one another, wondering what he spoke of. He spoke louder again, "They have entered the city. Now we have come to our final Act."
* * * * *