AN: I like to think I can finish this before the deadline--I'm close enough as it is. Anyways, this is obviously an AU. The Saiyans are at war with Frieza, you know how it goes. I hope you find this interesting . . . I wasn't originally sure of what I'd write if I submitted anything, but this kinda kicked me in the ass all at once, and it fit.
The Prince and the Showgirl
How wonderful life is, now you’re in the world.
It had been a very long time since Vegeta had last gone to a whorehouse. And to be politically correct, it was not exactly a whorehouse. It was more of a . . . a good place to relax, if you were either a straight man or lesbian. The women there didn’t mind, so long as they got paid.
Considering the damage it would do to his credibility if he were caught here, Vegeta was relaxed. Even just watching the women on stage was enough to remind him that the galaxy was not all about death and war. His companion kept his mouth carefully closed so as not to drool or anything quite so obvious. His eyes were glassed over with one too many drinks and the daydreams of a man who had women on the mind.
"Kakarot, sit up," he muttered out the corner of his mouth. "You look like a damn fool."
"Sorry. I can’t help it. Do you see the one with black hair up there?" he asked, with a measure of longing lacing his voice. "She’s got legs long enough to . . ." Kakarot trailed off and leaned back in his chair, as though shaking himself out of his own imagination.
Vegeta frowned lightly and folded his arms. "Enjoy yourself while you can. I don’t trust half the people in this damn place. We’re only staying till this set is over, and then we’re getting the hell out of here. Don’t forget once tonight that Frieza has indirect ownership here."
Kakarot nodded once. "Yes, sir."
The only other thing Vegeta didn’t like about the little hole-in-the-wall nightclub was the way everyone cared about who the newcomers were. Most of the people knew each other one way or another, and he and Kakarot stuck out like sore thumbs. He’d sidestepped all the attempts people made to find out about him—the way the waitress sauntered up and ever-so-casually asked if she could get a drink for . . . oh, what was his name? She hadn’t caught it in earlier talk. And he noticed how the green-skinned fellow, who he suspected was the owner, kept giving him sidelong glances over people’s shoulders as though he almost recognized the black-haired stranger in the corner booth. But the risks of coming to such a place were outweighed by the definite sense of calm he was getting from whatever it was he was drinking. It really was a nice little place to come and see beautiful women give a once-in-a-lifetime performance every night.
Bulma fought her way into the dress she needed to wear for her rounds of the floor. She’d been up on stage the night before, and it was her night to play entertainer to any horny man who paid well. Zarbon stuck his head into the room as she fought with the buttons on her Mandarin collar.
"You’re up, love," he told her quietly. "Got a job for ya."
She glanced up at him as the button eluded its hook yet again. "Hope it’s a good one. If you stick me with that drunk from last week . . ."
"He’s good for business," the alien sighed. "And he’s not here tonight. I expect he’s passed out in a ditch on the other side of the galaxy. This one’s new."
The button slipped once again. "Hope he’s cute."
"I guess he’s okay, from your feminine standpoint. There’s some circumstances with him, though."
"There always are. Isn't’ that why you choose them?" Again the button missed its loop. Zarbon sighed and fastened it himself.
"Come with me, and I’ll explain a bit."
She followed him to a corner where they couldn’t be seen, and he pointed to a figure in a chair with his arms folded. A Saiyan. He actually wasn’t bad looking, unless the dim light was playing tricks on her. She put her hands on her hips.
"So which friend of Frieza’s did he kill?" she asked curiously.
"Not so much who he’s killed, I don’t think. He served in Frieza’s military when he was a kid, then got his wits around him and scampered out," Zarbon explained.
Bulma arched an eyebrow. "Better be careful of who hears you say that in here. This is his place, you know."
"Only by association. Anyway, the prat over there is Vegeta."
"Not just a Saiyan. More like the Saiyan. He’s a prince, last in his father’s line. Rumor’s going around that he’s directly related to the super Saiyan or whoever, their bloodlines go directly to each other. He’s one strong son on a bitch, I crossed him in battle once when he was ten or so. I don’t think he remembers me. He came right close to beating me, too. This ancestor of his was the one who nearly killed Frieza. He’s almost that strong now, and he hasn’t even reached that boundary-breaking level that his great granddad times twelve achieved. He’s . . . bad for publicity."
"So what does that have to do with me?" Bulma asked indifferently.
Zarbon reached into his duster pocket and pulled out a long dagger that caught what little light reached their corner. "Frieza wants him dead, but ever since people started looking for him, he’s dropped out of sight. We’ve got Chi-Chi working on his bodyguard already, got her off the stage for it. I know you’ve never actually liked doing the dirty work, but his friend’s taken the fancy for Chi. She’s occupied."
Bulma took the dagger carefully. "I guess I can make an exception. But my salary better come pretty close to doubling," she added warningly.
"With the tips you got this week, it’s more like tripling."
She grinned, putting on her best calm exterior. "Leave him to me. Cute or not, those extra two figures sound really good to me. Rent’s gone up, you know."
He tweaked her hair playfully. "I heard. Now go on, love. Off you go, to do that voodoo that you do so well."
"Where the hell do I put this?" she demanded suddenly, looking at the knife a bit sourly.
He popped open the button that had been such a nuisance earlier and slipped the dagger into the little compartment between her breasts where she usually kept tips. "Don’t let him get too grabby up there," Zarbon advised. "Otherwise there may not be a place to work tomorrow night."
Bulma nodded and smiled cheekily. "I’ll keep his hands elsewhere."
She disappeared into the sea of chairs, deftly avoiding the casual hands that reached for her, stuffed with money. "Sorry," she called over her shoulder. "I’m afraid I get to pick ’em tonight."
When she fixed her gaze on the unmoving figure in the chair, she noticed that his companion had been abandoned. Chi-Chi was stepping into the dressing room—probably for some more appropriate clothes. (Or less, as the case probably was.)
She sauntered up to the black-haired figure, her hips swaying slightly. "You’re quite the lonely one tonight," she remarked, making him look up at her. Black eyes fixed on innocent blue, and she flashed a sultry smile.
"You don’t mind if I sit down, right?" she asked.
"I don’t suppose it’s an option," he replied warily.
Bulma shrugged. "You know how it goes in these places," she sighed, grabbing a chair from a nearby table and sitting down in it backwards. The dress she wore almost touched the floor, and the slits up both sides went to her hip bone, and the position she’d chosen showed off long legs. She didn’t miss the appreciative glance from her charge. "So have things been to your liking tonight?"
"As much as we could expect," Vegeta told her. "Considering no one trusts a stranger here."
"Well with the war we’ve got going on outside, this place is kind of like a . . . an escape, I guess. We like to think we’re sheltered from the war," Bulma commented. "It’s a nice little illusion to keep up."
"I hope, for the sake of the people here, that you never lose that illusion," he murmured darkly. Well he certainly seemed to warm up to her nicely.
"That’s what we’re trying to do," she agreed.
"I never thought I’d be discussing the illusion of war with . . ." he cut himself off short.
"With what?" she repeated, her smile becoming more prominent. "A hooker?"
"I was going to say ‘courtesan.’"
"Ah. You’re the kind to make it pretty with a different word," she laughed easily. "Call it what it is, I say. Although I’d very much appreciate it if you’d avoid the word ‘whore.’ That one always rubbed me the wrong way."
He nodded and said nothing. Nice enough, if you counted the broody part. And he wasn’t much for conversation. Oh well. Guess she’d have to do the talking for him. It didn’t matter who had the advantage; she had the dagger.
Oh, cancel that thought. She glanced down when something caught her eye—a sword. Well there went her dagger.
"That’s quite the sword you’ve got down there," she commented lightly, disguising the concern in her voice. Now she’d have to get him alone and out of his clothes. "Awfully long, though."
"Call it a security blanket."
Bulma laughed again, this time amused. "Really. Overcompensating for something?"
"I considered it a short sword."
She caught the underlying meaning in his words, and her eyes sparkled. "I see. A handsome weapon, I must admit, but I prefer something smaller myself. At least when it comes to weaponry," she added teasingly. His silent companion snorted once. When the hell would Chi-Chi be back? She wasn’t in the mood to handle two Saiyans at once. It wasn’t in the job description.
Vegeta gave a small smirk to show that he was amused, but the constant scowl he wore never left his face. "I was always fond of this sword. It was my father’s."
"A handsome sword for a handsome prince," Bulma murmured, just loud enough that he heard her, but his friend didn’t.
He stood up quickly and pulled her to her feet by the shoulder. "Follow me."
She was nearly dragged out of the main hall, and back into the rooms usually reserved for special customers—or ones who looked rich and lonely. Chi-Chi sat down with the other Saiyan just in time, keeping him from following en suite. The door slammed shut behind them.
Her eyes narrowed, and the slight weight of the dagger in her dress was only a small comfort. "If you want one of these rooms," she informed him thinly, "you’ll have to pay extra."
Vegeta pulled out a fistful of credits and tossed them at her angrily. She picked a few out of the air fastidiously. "Fine. Give them to your owner. How do you know who I am?"
Bulma fixed him with her haughtiest look. "Lucky guess."
"Don’t fuck with me."
"That’s what this room is used for," she muttered. "All right. If you must know, people talk. You’re new here, you said so yourself. Rumors are nasty little things, you know. I guess they weren’t too far off."
Suspicion hung thick between them. "A rumor about me on a planet I’ve never been to. A plausible lie to an idiot."
Bulma raised one fine eyebrow. "I called you handsome, not an idiot. You’re welcome for the compliment, by the way—those aren’t usually free."
Vegeta advanced on her slowly. "Let’s try this again, and I suggest you tell me the truth this time. How do you know who I am?"
She held her ground. No way in hell would some stupid monkey push her around and spoil the boost in her paycheck. "I told you, people are talking. You want to know how they know? Go scare the hell out of them, why don’t you."
"And who are they?"
"I don’t take names, and even if I did, I wouldn’t give them to you. I’m a courtesan, not a sellout," she threw back proudly.
"A contradiction of terms, don’t you think? A courtesan can be bought for the right price," he growled. "Either name your price, or give them to me and get less than money out of this."
"Are you threatening me?" she demanded. "That’s against house rules, monkey. Read the sign on your way out, because that’s exactly where you’re going!"
The space between them began to shrink. "I came in here for a reason, woman. I’m not leaving till I get what I want."
"We don’t sell information, mighty Prince Vegeta," she snapped. "We sell about everything else, but if you want information like that, you’re in the wrong place."
He started again. "How did you know my name?"
"The same way I knew you were a prince—gossip!" she exploded, backing into the bed and feeling the first stab of panic. With all the music and talking outside, no one could hear her if she screamed—
"Liar!" he raged back. Bulma raised a fist to punch the crap out of him, but he caught her wrist in midair and squeezed.
"Let me go and DON’T YOU DARE CALL ME A LIAR!" she shouted at the top of her lungs, trying to yank out of her grip. "I’m just about everything else, though, so it doesn’t matter to you, does it? I may sell myself for the right price, but Goddess help me if I’ll sell anyone else for any price!"
"So you do have names—"
"Let me the hell go!"
This wasn’t going right at all. She needed the upper hand—she needed to get him off guard. She did still have a job to do—and damned if she couldn’t get men off guard!
Still holding her wrist unyieldingly, Vegeta pulled her up against him and fixed murderous obsidian eyes on her. "Dammit, you can’t let this get around—"
"What, that you’re close to hitting me?" she seethed. "Oh no, it won’t get around—"
"You know what I mean! You know as well as I do that you could be killed for being seen with me, don’t you?"
She stilled. "What are you talking about?"
"In a place like this, owned by Frieza—you think it would go unnoticed that you didn’t kill me like you should have, especially if people know who I am?"
"At this point, who says I care?" she snapped. Actually, he had a point. If she couldn’t kill him, who was to say she didn’t try if no one was around? Oh, it didn’t matter! Just so long as she gave it a shot!
She took advantage of the way they were pulled up together and slid her free hand around his waist. "I didn’t come up to you tonight because I heard you were a prince, you little bastard," she growled, narrowing her eyes. "I happened to pick you of my own free will."
He eyed her suspiciously. "And I should believe you?"
"I didn’t say you had to. And I didn’t say anything about money till you got all huffy, if you’ll notice."
The grip on her wrist lessened fractionally. "I did."
"That ought to say something," she continued angrily. "I don’t want to flatter myself, but I don’t get rejected often—although that’s because I have a reputation here, I don’t need to go off and find the first obnoxious bastard I see. I’m allowed to choose who I want every now and then, when I get enough money coming in—and I chose you." The lie came out so easily she even surprised herself—she was getting better at this. Her hand reached down a bit and wrapped around his tail, stroking down it and feeling out every little muscle and nerve her fingers could find.
Vegeta let out a ragged breath. "You’re a lying, manipulative—"
"Oh, you flatter me," she murmured softly, leaning into his lips.
Fire erupted through her as their mouths touched, sending something akin to a shock through her body, and she pulled her wrist from his grasp and put her arms around his waist. He seemed to resist for half a second before returning the kiss fiercely and invading her mouth with his tongue.
A courtesan since she was fourteen, Bulma slowly lowered him down onto the bed with her without breaking the kiss. Her hand stroked his tail the wrong way, ruffling the fur, and he shuddered against her with restraint. She undid his shirt and slid it off, smoothing her hands up his chest and then back down to his pants. The tips of her fingers traced the muscles of his stomach, and she fingered the drawstring for a moment before pulling it untied. He let her roll him onto his back, as he absently unbuttoned her dress. His fingers danced lightly across her breasts as he began to remove the dress in one quick move. Just as quickly, he turned them over again so that she was beneath him, the dress caught at her elbows and beyond her caring.
Vegeta pulled back slightly, his breath coming hard. "Did you—did you mean what you said to me?" he managed. Eyes closed, she nodded. "All of it?"
Bulma let out a shuddering breath as his hand trailed between her legs lightly, then inhaled sharply as his hand disappeared and cold titanium pressed against her neck. "What—"
"Good," he growled, eyes hard. "So did I."
Her hand reached over and felt the slot in her dress where the dagger would have rested.
It was gone.
* * * * *