DISCLAIMER: I don’t own them, or anybody from Shakespeare, or any of the ideas from Shakespeare. Who would WANT to? I mean, the whole thing is just too damn confusing sometimes… Anyway, this is based on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ Laughing already, aren’t ya?
Dream of the Moon
The outraged roar echoed through the arena a split second before a heavy thud silenced the crowds. The fallen warrior coughed, the soft noise heard even in the nobles’ box. The champion ground the heel of his boot into the bigger man’s jugular, his wild hair throwing a malicious shadow over his competitor’s bloody face. The only sound in the stadium was that of the soft drip of blood on sand. Finally the larger fighter’s arms dropped from the champion’s ankle, a sign of willing defeat. The victor signaled the only judge with enough courage to withstand their fight and removed his foot.
"You could have conceded earlier, Kakorrot," he growled, studying the pale face. Cracked teeth bared in a grin was his response. "You are in no position to jest. I have not yet agreed to let you live." The harsh warning was almost instantly belied by his affectionate glare, one that Kakorrot was well used to.
"You wouldn’t kill me, my lord," he argued in what breath he had. The noble arched one eyebrow gracefully. "Then you would lose your only competition." He waited for the snort that was certain to follow before continuing. "And besides, I know you, Vegeta. You’ll want to pay back that wound I gave you."
The duke’s son prodded the said injury with two gloved fingers. Reaching from shoulder to opposite hip, he knew that he’d only been seconds away from the position Kakorrot was in now. "You HAVE been training," he admitted, glaring back into his friend’s face. "Not just anyone can injure me so." Vegeta slapped a red-tainted hand over the bigger warrior’s mouth as it opened. "Silence, Kakorrot. I will not have you die while waiting for a healer."
"My lord is too kind," he muttered anyway. Over Vegeta’s shoulder he could see the amused expression of the green healer. The Namek boy was leaning on a staff that reached nearly to his shoulder, and dressed in the colors of the Vegetasei duke: strange because he lived and served in Chikyuu. "He’s here."
Vegeta nodded briskly to the healer before glaring back at Kakorrot. "You would not be able to seal his mouth, would you?"
The Namek smiled, a mere turning up of the corners of his lips. "You forget your own needs, my lord."
"Perhaps, but *I* do not have a meeting with my future mate in one hour, either." Kakorrot groaned, and the duke’s son smirked. "I knew you would forget, Kakorrot." He narrowed his black eyes at the Namek, making him shudder almost imperceptibly. Vegeta was well known for his cold-heartedness and would not allow his friend’s simpleton ways to affect that reputation. "Make sure he is in perfect condition for her."
"And you, my lord?" The boy asked, not a trace of nervousness nor meekness in his voice. Vegeta mentally raised an eyebrow; the kid had guts after he had near-blatantly told him he wanted nothing from him.
"I need no aid, boy. Heal Kakorrot and get him to his betrothed before he is late." Vegeta smirked at his friend’s roll of the eyes. "As he is chronically." He stripped off both gloves and dropped them on the younger man’s chest before turning toward the barracks.
"As you wish, my lord." The healer found himself bowing to thin air.
Only when he was well outside the stadium walls did he nearly double over in pain. One eerie white rib shone through the gash, and the future duke of Vegetasei’s pride wouldn’t allow him treatment. "Damn Kakorrot," he hissed, hoping that the less intelligent Saiyan had accepted his challenge. While his hands ached to wring the other man’s neck, the sense of honor his father had instilled in him at too early an age wouldn’t allow him to do so for such a personal reason. At least outside the boundary of a ring.
Still pondering the thought of beating Kakorrot to a bloody pulp—or worse, if possible—he nearly missed the soft rustle of leaves behind him. Instinct took over as a figure about his size but perhaps only half his weight flew at him from the side, half-shadowed by the shade the hundred-year-old trees cast over the coliseum and surrounding barracks. One arm circled his wound at the ribs while his other fist pulsated gold with magic. Only when the blue hair registered in his mind did he turn his hand aside, the damage redirected to the nearest tree. His chosen ignored her brush with death and flung her arms around his neck.
"Do NOT do that to me!" he growled, grabbing her wrists and holding her at arm’s length. "Do you not know by now that I could have just KILLED you?" Vegeta felt his heart slide from his throat into its proper place, settling back to a more normal pattern. That realization had nearly been his undoing.
"You wouldn’t have killed me, my lord," she teased, though her expression showed none of her good humor. Despite the situation, Vegeta had to fight to keep himself from rolling his eyes: friends almost from birth, Bulma and Kakorrot thought too much the same for his liking. "Not when I bring such good news."
When it became apparent she wasn’t going to tell him, the future duke growled in exasperation. "And what, pray tell, is this ‘good news’?"
Bulma twirled her skirts around her ankles as if she were five years old instead of nearly thirty. Then her playfulness disappeared, her jaw going slack. Vegeta realized her gaze was fixed on something over her shoulder. "Gods damn it all, I’m late!" He felt her press a kiss to his cheek. "I’ll have to tell you later." It was only when she felt a tugging at her arm that she remembered her lover had yet to let go. "Vegeta, I have to—"
He pulled her closer, smirking. "Not without a proper goodbye." Bulma ceased to complain as the Saiyan showed her what her previous kiss was lacking. She was flushed when they pulled apart, and Vegeta’s smirk broadened. "Go, and tell your bastard father that I wish an audience with him." She paled, and this time he gave into the urge and cast his eyes heavenward. "I merely wish to tell him that he will not keep you from me. I plan to take you whether he agrees or not." This time his gaze was almost bloodthirsty in its possessiveness. "A warning, if you will."
"You will not harm him," Bulma ordered, blue eyes searching those of Vegeta’s heir for a hidden motive.
"You have my word, lady." He bowed painfully, a smile softening his harsh features. Until your loyalties lie with me alone. Bulma nodded and was gone.
Lord Briefs sighed and shielded his eyes against the sun even as he used it to gauge the time. Thankfully it wasn’t yet midday, before his collection of exotic plants would be a useless guard against the bright rays. Flora from every corner of Vegetasei dotted the veranda, while mixed in were presents from the duke of Vegetasei in hopes of returning the good graces bestowed upon his son by the Briefs family during his stay in Chikyuu. Vegeta’s visit was the cause of his current predicament: Bulma obviously wanted the arrogant Saiyan for a husband and Lord Briefs had better sense than to send his beloved child into the arms of an admitted mass murder.
Guessing the time, as his aging eyes couldn’t hold up to the strain of the brilliant light, he scowled slightly. Not only was Kakorrot late, but his daughter as well. With a stifled groan, the nobleman absently scratched behind the ears of his favored black cat. The feline yawned, stretched out its claws, and then abruptly sat up. The lord glanced behind him and felt his lower jaw becoming lax. Bulma looked less than stunning, less than acceptable, really. Her clothes were that of a peasant woman at the market and her thick blue hair cascaded freely down her back, restrained only by a simple leather cord.
"What is this?" the lord demanded, rising from his half-crouched position. He circled his daughter like a vulture, scowling the entire time. "This is not acceptable attire to meet your husband."
"He WON’T be my husband, if I have any say in it, Father," Bulma shot back, hands folded in front of her. "I am legally old enough to choose for myself, and I have." Her eyes burned into the equally pale ones of her sire. "What higher station do you want for me than duchess?"
Lord Briefs shuddered: while Chikyuu was on pleasant terms with Vegetasei, he wouldn’t dared admit his reasons for dismissing Vegeta as a proper suitor, and Bulma had a point. He WOULDN’T find a match of higher station than Vegeta, but his fatherly instinct prevented him from agreeing to the marriage. "I want a lower station for you," he finally said, narrowing his blue eyes. "Power goes to your head much too easily." Bulma snorted and the courtier frowned. "Change out of these ridiculous clothes this instant. I want you presentable when your fiancé arrives."
"Then mayhap I should go back outside." The Briefs turned to see a shadowed figure in the corner. Bulma’s jaw dropped at the familiar voice. He WOUDN’T. Then Kakorrot, still grinning, stepped fully into the light of the veranda, his hands tucked into his worn leather belt. O, gods, he WOULD. The lady’s hands flew to cover her face as her best friend’s expression turned worried. "Good day, Bulma."
"HIM?" Bulma screeched finally, whirling around to face her father. "You want me to marry HIM? Are you MAD? We would kill each other within a moonspan. Less, I think. O, definitely, less." Lord Briefs looked like he had a hard time perceiving sound after the first livid outburst. Kakorrot felt sympathy toward the poor man, until the blue-haired noblewoman rounded on him. "And YOU," she growled, taking a step closer for every one her suitor took back. "You AGREED to this? Are you BOTH mad? To think that I would marry my best friend, I swear—" She stopped suddenly, eyes blank like she’d forgotten what she wanted to say. Both men took the opportunity to try and revive their hearing. Bulma shook her head furiously as if dislodging an idea. "No."
"What do you mean no?" Lord Briefs asked, a bit louder than usual. Kakorrot winced in empathy; his sensitive ears were still echoing.
"I mean, I don’t want him, Father. Good day, my lord." She curtsied, and was about to leave when Kakorrot caught her arm. She didn’t wait to hear his comment as she wrenched her elbow out of his grip. "GOOD DAY, sir."
"Bulma, please…" The Saiyan looked so vulnerable, it nearly broke her heart. Damn his looks, she growled, crossing her arms and scowling but remaining where she was. He always reminds me of an abused puppy. Kakorrot smiled and Bulma sighed. "Thank you."
The noble lady nodded briskly. "What do you wish to discuss, my lord?"
"Bulma, it’s just me. Kakorrot." He glanced at Lord Briefs, who stubbornly met his gaze. "A bit of privacy, my lord?" he requested with the utmost respect. The older man’s pale eyes flicked between his daughter and her suitor before moving inside. Bulma continued to glare at the vacant spot. "Don’t blame him entirely. He only asked me to come."
Aqua eyes met jet as Bulma scowled. "And it was YOUR idea to ask for my hand?" she demanded haughtily. Whatever she had been about to say faded when he nodded. "You did WHAT?"
"It took him a long time to accept it," Kakorrot said, ignoring her question. "He didn’t know if he wanted his daughter wedded to someone with a station as low as mine." Bulma snorted and the Saiyan’s obsidian eyes narrowed. "Here serving the king is very important. But my loyalties reside in Vegetasei, and to its duke. Becoming a guard to the king of even a friendly land doesn’t look good for me when I return. Your father knows that."
"A long time," she repeated, eyes constricting as an idea worked itself through. "How long has this been going on?"
Kakorrot hesitated—barely, but long enough for Bulma’s suspicion to rise another notch—then lowered his eyes almost imperceptibly. "Since my engagement to Chi-Chi was broken." He must have sensed Bulma’s reaction because he silenced her with a look that reminded her of Vegeta on a hunt. "I broke it because of you." Bulma closed her eyes, leaning her head against his shoulder and trying to prevent herself from banging her forehead against it. Chi-Chi had been heartbroken after he’d called off their affair, and to know it was because of her would probably be enough to push the raven-haired woman into a homicidal rage.
"You shouldn’t have," Bulma said softly, pulling back. "I never asked you to."
"I know, but Bulma—" Kakorrot didn’t finish his sentence as he saw her blue eyes grow bright. "What—"
"Gods, Goku, are you that base?" He winced at the nickname the two women had bestowed on him. "She all but worships the ground you walk on, and you don’t notice because you’re hunting one of her friends." The Saiyan looked like he didn’t understand the concept of betrayal. "I cannot, Goku. Not when she is still in love with you."
Bulma glared at him, but his face was so innocent, it had to be a sincere question. She sighed in exasperation. "Because I know how I would feel if she tried to court the man *I* love."
"Who is it?" The blue-haired beauty nearly gaped at him. Kakorrot’s face was stern. "I’ll fight him if I have to." By the gods, he’s serious, she realized, heart sinking. This ISN’T just another one of Father’s plots to marry me off. Bulma groaned and let her head fall back onto its previous place on his shoulder.
"I can’t tell you," she finally stated. "It would only cause problems and heartache for all." She pressed a friendly kiss to his cheek, seeing that he’d already started mulling over the problem. "Good day." He’ll figure it out, she couldn’t help but think despairingly as she disappeared inside. He’s smarter than he acts.
Outside, Kakorrot was only just taking his leave when a familiar shadow appeared on the veranda, half-hidden by the tallest Vegetasei plants. "Vegeta, what are you doing here?"
The future duke scowled as he stood, brushing dirt from his pants. The wound inflicted hours earlier had started to close, but was still vivid red against his pale skin. "Bringing a gift for the lady of the house." He indicated a much smaller plant, almost buried amidst the yards-long flowers. "I was asked that upon my return to bring a carnivorous flower to put a stop to the insect problem. So I have." He indicated the pile behind him, then his eyes traced Kakorrot suspiciously. "What are you doing here?"
The taller Saiyan shrugged nonchalantly. "Getting dismissed by Miss Briefs." Vegeta’s spine went rigid. "Vegeta? Are you all right? You should get that wound treated."
"BULMA is the one you are hunting?" The murderous look in the duke’s eyes was all the indication Kakorrot needed. Vegeta was the one Bulma loved.
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