disclaimer: bah humbug... my thoughts on the matter. actually, on all matters... heh heh
Chapter Three: An Unlikely Proposition
Goku shifted the heavy textbook nervously on his knee. The generous leather bound Latin scripture was quickly becoming moist in his sweaty palms. He looked over at Chi Chi as she copied a few lines from the book in her careful feminine writing, into her own journal. Every once in awhile she leaned over his lap to reread the scripture. Mouthing the words, then turning to copy them in her journal. "Done!" Her cheerful voice startled Goku out of his daze. "Oh, very well then--"
"I'm sorry. Am I interrupting something?" Hortensio popped up from behind a tree. Chi Chi blinked her eyes a few times before registering the intrusion. "Oh, Signor Hortensio. What brings you here to my uncle's property," she inquired innocently. "This is your uncle's property? I had no idea." His voice driped of false sincerity. Chi Chi motioned for him to sit on the bench across from her. She did not see the way that Kakarotto's eyes narrowed, watching the weasly man. Hortensio ran a hand through his think black hair a thick gold cuff link glimmering in the sun as he did so. "Oh, Signor Hortensio. That is a beautiful adornment!" Chi Chi gasped. "So, it is," he replied. But the loveliest of all my adronments will be you Chi Chi, when i have you holding onto my arm. Draped around me for all time. Chi Chi suddenly flushed embarrassed. "Oh, Signor, I have not introduced my Latin tutor. Signor Hortensio, this is Kakarotto Lucentio." The two men stiffly shook hands. Hortensio quickly turned his attention back to Chi Chi. "Dear Chi Chi, how long have you been studying?" "Oh, quite some time," she replied. He stood up and gestured to the property gates. "Then I suggest you come away with me for a break from these studies. A gentle mind like yours should be pampered as well as knowledgible." Chi Chi looked down uncertainly at Kakarotto that she did not notice the cold shooting glance that Hortensio gave the other man. Kakarotto stood up and shifted uncomfortably. "Uh... It's alright, Ch--Lady Chi Chi. We'll continue tomorrow." Chi Chi looked slightly saddened that he was dismissing her but quickly brushed it aside. Eagar, she looked up at Hortensio. "Fair one, would you wait for me by the gate?" Chi Chi looked quizzical for a moment but Bulma's mother had always told her never to second guess a man's judgement so she did what she was told.
As soon as she left, both men turned their eyes upon each other. Kakarotto silently ground his teeth and in his hand, the thick leather binding of the book snapped. Hortensio merely regarded him with a superior air. Slowly, he began to make a circle walking around his 'opponent.' "Latin tutor, hmm?" He gave Kakarotto a once over. "I remember you. It has only been two days past since we spoke in the tavern." Kakarotto looked lost for a moment before remembering that Hortensio was the one that had told Vejita and himself about the situation with Lady Chi Chi and her sister, 'the Shrew.' "Oh, yes," Kakrotto ground his words out carefully. "I remember you now." Hortensio nodded. "So you know my intention to win the beautiful lady waiting for me by the gate?" Kakarotto's eyes merely narrowed. The other man continued. "And when we are wed, these silly little tutoring practices will end. There is nothing she can learn from you that I cannot teach her." He snickered. "Tell me, is she a fast learner?" he inquired cruelly. "I only like fast women." In an instant, Hortensio found himself being held rather savagely by his collar-ruff. Hortensio sneered. "A savage man such as yourself has no place with a gentle creature like Chi Chi," he hissed. "Good day to you, Signor Kakarotto." Kakarotto released his hold on the leaser man, watching as the shorter man with his greasy black hair and rotund body strode arrogantly to meet his date. Kakarotto growled, picked up the text books and headed off in the opposite direction.
The two met each other in the tavern below the inn, La Bella Fresca. One was extremely agitated, the other frustrated yet supremely pleased with himself. They sat across from each other, neither of them speaking a word for the longest time. When all the ordered platters of food had been consumed they gazed upon one another. "So..." began Kakarotto. "So..." his companion countered. They both sat back in their chairs, arms crossed in from of them. "Failure..." said the taller man. "I do not fail, Kakarotto," snapped Vejita. "So what happened last night?" his friend asked while playing with a cleaned chicken bone. "I was simply...diverted...from my true goal. But I promise you Kakarotto that I will not fail." Just then a bar maiden floated over to their tbale, filling their tankards with ale. She gave a cheeky wink at Vejita before bustling off. He gave a shuddering sigh in response. "Why cannot all women be thus?" he asked, waving a hand absetly at the giggling, flirtatious bar maids. Kakarotto, with his wild black hair and innocent wide eyes, could not afford his friend an answer but simply console him with silence. Vejita took a deep drink from the mug, wiping the froth on his velvet coat sleeve. "How goes your old feminine troubles, friend." Kakrottot looked down dejected. "I do not believe that I can win her..." "Enough, Kakarotto. You disgust me with this sniveling and self-pity." Then he chuckles low and deep. "Look at us, Kakarotto. We have become as simple as these village people's minds. Tonight, we celebrate our bachelorhood and tomorrow we return to wallow." Kakarotto grinned foolishly. Sometimes his dear companion was insufferable and nasty, yet it was times like these that he could truly appreciate Vejita's rebellious good nature.
It was later that evening. When all the men gathered back into the tavern at the end of the day. A male "bonding" ritual as it were to set around, get drunk and congratulate themselves on being masters of the universe. Normally on such occasions, Vejita joined in the comradery and the ruckus of spilling beer and fondling the female night help. But this night, however, he stationed himself at the fire, deep in thoughts of his tactics. Kakrotto sat across from him nursing a small glass of wine. A few men across the room raised their glasses to the visitors from Verona and Kakarotto returned the favor. He heard a dry snicker come from behind his chair. "Well, if it isn't my old acquaintance, Signor Kakarotto Lucentio..." "Hortensio," he rasped, turning around in his seat. Vejita looked up at the two for a moment before returning to his thoughts. "How was your day, tutor? Mine was quite fine if you measure by the company I keep." His eyes narrowed shrewdly abserving the reacting in the other man, no doubt his 'contender' for Lady Chi Chi's affection. The boy looked like a hair short of a volcanic explosion erupting from his head and his massive yet study body paired with unsuspecting eyes gave him the appearance of a fool. Hortensio sneered to himself. 'No, I am definitely the better catch.' Vejita found himself surrounded by a weasly looking young man with no fashion sense and his little cronies, all staring down Kakarotto. He sighed to himself. It was not like he was getting anywhere with his plans either. 'Might as well clear the air.' "Gentlemen," Vejita said addressing the four or five men around Kakarotto. "To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?" he asked, though no man caught the icy undertone in his question.
Hortensio broke his staring battle with Kakarotto to look up at the new intrusion. "Oh, friends, look. Our 'tamer of the shrew' has returned to us, unsuccessful no doubt." Vejita quirked a smile that hid the immense fury raging inside of him. "She is an unbareable little snip, isn't she, Signor Petruchio... I do remember your name correctly." Vejita nodded amiably. "I commend your memory. I feel unworthy." He ground out. Kakarotto turned to look at his companion, surprised. Vejita was never this humble nor this amicable especially when his pride was called to the front. There's got to be a reason... Hortensio was easily fooled by Vejita's 'humble' air. "Of course," he grinned malisciously. "I bet even I could get the shrew into bed." He turned to regard Vejita with his dull brown eyes. "But it is more to break her," he stated, grinding out the harsh word. Vejita laid back languidly in his chair. "Why do I hear another bet coming on..." he asked in a bored tone. "We up the stakes," said Hortensio. "Something of mine and something of yours, Signor Petruchio." Vejita contemplated this new development for a moment. "I have a vinyard above Naples. Something an old relation thought I would enjoy, though I have yet to step foot on its grounds." Hortensio nodded. "I have a small chateau. Nothing grand but it will do for a small residence. I believe it is in your part of the country, Vejita." "What must I do..." Vejita asked, cold joyous madness dancing in his eyes like the flames of the fire. "First, tame the shrew. Then she must answer your call." "That is all?" Vejita scoffed. "It is not so simple a task," Hortensio retorted, the oil seething from the pores. "We will see what we will see." The men abandoned for the night, each retiring to their respective rooms, some taking lovely young bedwarmers with them.
Kakarotto looked nervously over at his companion. Vejita was hunched over in his chair, staring the cobblestone flooring, his brow knit in contemplation. "Has your Lady Chi Chi ever spoken of her cousin?" Kakarotto was very pleased at Chi Chi being called 'his' and replied eagarly. "Only but once that Lady Bulma is quite severe yet yearns companionship. I know that Lady Chi Chi is very frustrated with her position and..." "That is all Kakarotto," he said silencing his companion. "If she is as clever as she appears then my solution has presented itself." Kakarotto looked quizzically up as his friend excuse himself for the night. Indeed, I find myself keeping the company of a strange man. But there is not a time when Vejita is unaware. Kakarotto smiled to himself and made his own way back to his chambers.
It was late in the afternoon of the following day and Bulma stood at glass paned window of her sitting room observing her silly little cousin and her foolish tutor as she tried to avoid him. They were playing a game of 'Goose,' a game Bulma even enjoyed in her younger years. Currently Chi Chi was stuck on one side of a fountain and Kakarotto on the other. Did Chi Chi not know that she could not outmaneuver him? Sometimes immaturity in the world was too much for Bulma's realistic mind. A clearing of the throat behind signified the want of her attention, though she had not heard anyone enter... She turned around to come face to face with her tormentor of the day before. Her voice caught in her throat as she found herself caught in his pitch black eyes. Though just as quickly she resumed her cold outernature. "What do you want, demon?" she spat. He chuckled. "You never cease to amuse me, m'lady. Under normal circumstances I would say we would make quite a pair." She smiled coldly. "And yet these are not normal circumstances." "No, they are not," he replied. "What have you-- what are you doing?" she asked as he watched over to the worn bird cage, spotting his gift scurrying about inside. "I see you appreciate my gift more than I would have ever thought." "It's the thought that counts..." she retorted coolly. "Of course." He paused for a moment, seeking out her eyes once more. "I have a proposition to make."
An hour later, Bulma was seated on her settee. Her legs pulled up comfortably beneath her. Her mother quickly bustled in the room. Rearranging this and that when she noticed her daughter talking with a visitor. She had heard rumors of the handsome young man roaming about the grounds. Mostly of him and one of her girls, Maria. Yet the young man before her looked too refined to every stoop to rummaging the hired help. "Darling," Lady Briefs called to her daughter. "Now, who is this handsome friend you have here?" Lady Briefs smiled widely at the young gentlemen. One can only hope he's as strong as he looks to withstand... "Mother, this is Signor Vejita Petruchio." The older woman smiled again, bowing her head to acknowledge him but nothing could prepare her for what happened next. Bulma nodded amiably to him. "Signor Petruchio has asked me to marry him......... and I have agreed."
Vejita had to spring from his position on the settee to catch Lady Briefs before she fell to the floor in a dead faint. Bulma grinned as Vejita looked up at her quite at a loss for what to do, apparently he did not deal with women and their fainting mothers often. "Well, Signor Vejita, I believe that was enough compensation for me." He grinned malisciously. "Nothing more do you want out of our marriage, woman?" Bulma looked slightly miffed. "I don't know what you're talking about."
Chi Chi was just as stunned when she heard the news at dinner. She nearly chocked on her spinach tortellini. Lady Briefs was literally bursting with happiness as she directed the servants to disperse the food. At first, Vejita had declined to eat with them but Lady Briefs had insisted.... by locking the front gates. Lady Chi Chi had invited her tutor to dinner also and it was a pleasant surprise to find that they were friends. Lord Briefs was skeptical at first. His daughter had rejected dozens of suitors to finally accept this short, stocky, arrogant-looking Veronan. He would have much preferred she choose someone from Padua but one son-in-law was as good as another. He scanned his daughter's fair complexion extending her graceful neck to her shoulders, revealed by her dress that began at her chest with peasant styled off the shoulder adornment. Nope, no visible marks or scarring to be seen. So he didn't beat her into submission... He woken into reality by a servant offering him a share of the portabello mushroom delicacy. Lady Briefs noticed her husband analyzing their only daughter. She leaned over to whisper. "Darling, what are you doing?" "I was looking for marks. I wanted to make sure he didn't..*cough* force her into this marriage." Lady Briefs giggled obnoxiously "Of course not, dear," she replied breezily. "Signor Vejita," she called to get his attention. "You are a very honorable man, are you not?" He nodded, smirking. "I think I am very honorable." Bulma rolled her eyes. She did not think what they had done was honorable at all, but she would not mention it here.
After dinner, both Lord and Lady Briefs had retired to their rooms leaving Bulma and Chi Chi to walk their guests to the door. Chi Chi looked embarassed by the sudden quiet and gazed shyly up at Kakarotto who stood rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. Vejita muttered under his breath, "Idiot." Bulma breathed a deep sigh. "So now what do we do?" Vejita chuckled, the sound of his that she was most starting to love. "I say we do what lovers do," he whispered into her ear before leaning down to place a soft chaste kiss on Bulma's lips. Unbenownst to the two observers, it had been their first. Bulma looked up into his eyes, astonished at the power that seemed to flow through every fiber of his being...even his lips. Chi Chi looked away from the two and blushed. Kakarotto titled her face up to meet his. "I say there's not time to start like the present." He whispered while gazing into her chocolate brown eyes. "Start what?" she asked, her voice slightly trembling. "Start a courtship," he replied. Then he grinned and bent to capture her lips with his. The two couples stood for some time liplocked underneath the light of the full moon.
Later that night, Bulma sat in her secluded bedroom. One that she had specifically chosen because of its remote location as opposed to the rest of the estate. She heard a timid knock at her door. She had to wonder what crazy servant would be calling on her at this hour. "Come in," she barked. Chi Chi gently pushed open the doors and slipped inside. "Chi Chi!" she exclaimed spinned around in her chair. "What are you doing here?" she asked suspiciously. "Nothing," Chi Chi started. "But I have to wonder where your sudden inspiration to marry this Signor Petruchio came from. You did not agree just so I could--" "Tsk, tsk, Chi Chi," her cousin waggled a finger at her. "The whole world does nto revolve around you." "Then why did you--" "I have my own reasons," Bulma said sharply, hinting an end to the conversation. However, the ever naive Chi Chi wished to press the issue. "But if you could just explain to me..." Bulma shook her head. Her loose aqua curls shook and settled into place on her shoulder. "...well," Chi Chi continued. "I thought since we were on speaking terms yesterday that you might divulge what has occurred. Signor Lucentio--I mean, Kakarotto," she blushed, "is as bewildered as I am." Bulma observed her flustered cousin in the reflection of the mirror. Ay, me, Chi Chi. You have much to learn. Her eyes narrowed in frustration. The old Bulma was back. "I do not need to divulge anything to you, Chi Chi." The younger girl looked hurt. "Our free conversation of the previous day was by chance and happenings. I will not always be so liberal with my thoughts, young one." Chi Chi looked up at her elder cousin. She simply adored it when Bulma would call her 'young one.' Perhaps, though she did not mean to, the term had come to pass as an affection in Chi Chi's eyes. But to her harsh, unloving relation, the "pet name" meant no more than dust beneath the rug.
Chi Chi shifted uncomfortably under her cousin's dark gaze. "So, will you reveal all or will I have to ask a maid servant who happened to be passing by?" she asked coyly. Bulma turned sharply. "There aren't any." "Aren't there?" she repeated in a bored tone. "I happen to notice Maria perched outside your room when word came around that the dark, handsome man had returned for more of the "Shrew's fury." Bulma winced at the mention of her town title. "Maria, does not know what she hears," Bulma retorted hotly. Chi Chi gave her a bemused glance. "Well, whatever she heard she was quite broken up about..." "Was she?" Bulma inquired, an almost sadistic smile creeping to her lips. Chi Chi sat down on an ottoman beside Bulma, which was usually reserved for the chambermaid. "Well?" she drummed her fingers impatiently on her knee.
I have a proposition to make," he stated as he crossed the room. His large rough hands slid over her shoulders bringing her closer to him. Bulma shuddered violently. "I am not interested in anything you say," she snapped. "But," he said pointing to the rattan cage, "You hold my gifts in such high esteem." She scoffed him. "Check below my window. You will see how your bouquet of roses have held in my thoughts. They are, I believe, dashed on the ground below." He smirked. "Then you have found companionship in your next of kin." He moved away, releasing her from his hold and went to inspect the little creature as it nibbed on bits of corn thrown in haphazardly. Bulma looked away. Turning to face the window as she always did when she wished to find her true feelings. She was getting better and better at hiding her hurt under a cool facade. But this man...this arrogant, cruel man could still do damage to her heart and she had to wonder why... She did not care what he thought or did or said, but the vicious way that his words and his actions could cut into her very soul frightened her. After clearing her face of its emotion-driven flush, she went to face her tormentor again. This time he was back on the couch. Sitting exactly where he had when she found him staring at her. "I know you are lonely," he began in a soft voice, but coming from him it was so masculine yet gentle. Her deep blue eyes never wavered. His black as ebony eyes held her captive. "What would you know of loneliness?" she whispered to the darkness. "More than you could ever guess, woman," he replied. He leaned over, resting his intertwined hands between his knees. "I want you to marry me." "WHAT?!" Her shock was extremely clear. "I could never love you...but it is not in my nature to do so," he admitted. Bulma's eyes turned to fury. In fact, her whole body shook with rage. "What makes you think I would choose you over any of those other men!" she shot. "Because you have yet to find one suitable. At least I am being honest," he pointed out. "I do not try to win your favor with false promises or silly ballads of insignificant feelings. I do what I have to survive. And you should too." He ended his tirade breathing heavily with his entire body clenching, a vast force to be reckoned with. "You think no man could love me?" she asked quietly. He sneered. "Who could love a shrew of a woman such as yourself?" he spat.
Bulma did not turn, did not flinch, did nought to disturb the uneasy calm that had invaded the room. "Why do you say these things? To hurt my heart? For I'll have you know I have none." He sighed, frustrated. He reached out a arm perhaps to quell her fears. He was surprised when she shirked back. "I do not wish to harm you..." "Then why do you say such thing?!" she yelled. Her voice cracked and bounced off the high chamber walls, echoing like the shadows of a ghost. He shook his head. "I do not know, m'lady. Sometimes I talk without thinking," he admitted rather deafeatedly. "I am not well-versed in the ways of a woman's heart." "Yes, a cold-hearted being you are," she grounded out between clenched teeth. "Use women, that is what you do. Well, I will be no part of your fun and games!" Vejita returned to his stony front. He had tried to let her see his weakness, but all she wished to see was hate. What could he do? "Fine. Marry your choice, a fool of a man. See if I give a shit!" He turned away from her. The stolid expanse of his back was all she was priviledged to see. "And here," he continued, "I was going to make you a partner." "A partner in what?" she asked as her head shot up. He grinned though she could not see. "Well, now you'll never know." She marched over to her writing desk and lifted a large paperweight. She threw with all her strength at him. She only succeeded in cracking the marble tiles of the floor. "Why do you play with me?" she gasped as she slumped in her chair. Her voice hushed to a bare whisper. "You are the only one who can toy with me this way..." However silent to spoke, he heard her and cocked his head in her general direction. "He will be partners," he started. "You and I.... I will never touch you if that is what you want. You would never have to see me." She looked warily at him through tear-blurred eyes. "Why would you do this? Tie yourself down to a shrew?" she inquired. "I want what every man who comes here wants." "Then you are no better than they," she interjected. "But I have not lied have I, turtledove?" Bulma blushed every so slightly at the affectionate pet name. He chuckled. "You like that, don't you? I will call you whatever you wish: turtledove, enchantress, chocolate-covered cherry.... as long as you hold up your end of the deal." "And what would that be?" "You will be my wife and will act as society dictates." She scowled at him. "I will not bow to your every whim." "Not every," he pointed out. "But..." he turned up with a sinister grin. "What's got you so happy?" "What if I told you we could get a chateau get outside of Verona?" "I'd be thrilled for you. Isn't my father's estate enough, if I decide to marry you?" "Silly woman," he shook his head. "There is this man in town. Let's just say we have a bet riding. My vinyard in Naples for his chateau on the outskirts of Verona." "What does this have to do with me?" "You'll see..."
"Well?" Bulma looked at the wide-eyed Chi Chi. "Does that satify your curiosity?" "Hardly," Chi Chi retorted. "You just explained how much you did not want to marry that man. How did he convince you?" Bulma eyed the younger girl benignly. "Chi Chi... I simply weighed my options at this point in my life. He has met all of my fears with one simple solution." "But do you love him?" Chi Chi asked. "I think I was foolish enough to believe I could have it all. He will not not treat me ill or make me do things another, more selfish man might." Chi Chi took in the underlying meaning completely. "He was honest, Chi Chi, and I value that greatly. No doubt this marriage will be nothing like a marriage at all." Chi Chi looked sadly at her dear elder cousin whom she had the best hopes for. It seemed she had given up and given in to the one man who could sweep her off her feet... in the most realistic and non-fairytale way, of course. Bulma suddenly turned from brushing her hair to look at Chi Chi. "This Kakarotto fellow, Vejita seems to know him." "Yes, they seemed to get along quite well." "And...he is your tutor, correct?" Chi Chi nodded energetically. "Do you think you could....feel for him Chi Chi?" The young girl looked down at her hands folded in her lap. "I don't know, Bulma. I might... Today I spent the afternoon with Signor Hortensio. He seems... adequate. But I do not get those butterflies in my body as when I am with Kakarotto and he smiles at me." Chi Chi blushed slightly, still looking in her hands. "You said you would wait until I had found my match. You should wait no longer." Chi Chi looked up, her eyes smiling. "I suppose so, Bulma. I just don't want to feel like it was my fault your unhappy..." Bulma raised Chi Chi's face to meet her own. "I have brought this upon myself. Signor Vejita and I share no love for one another but we understand." "Understand what?" Chi Chi asked for now she was completely confused. Bulma's mouth twitched in frustration. Why should I be explaining all this to this little twit? Bulma sighed deeply. "Chi Chi, it is late. You should be off to bed before your chambermaids find need for a search party." Bulma's young cousin gathered herself together and extied the room. The door slide closed quietly, marking her exit.
Bulma growled in her throat. That girl believed that the world still revolved around her! She had much to learn in the ways of the real world. She believed that she could marry for love. She should wait until my father hears of her 'more than infatuation' with the stranger from Verona. She could not help but feel sorry for the naive little woman. She should become real acquainted with this Signor Hortensio... Signor Hortensio... Did not Vejita mention his name to me? But for the life of me I cannot remember why... Bulma blew out the candles placed about her room then slipped under the covers, drifting to sleep some time later.
* * * * *
So...what did you think of Lady Briefs' reaction to the 'proposition'? Personally, i was laughing out loud when the thought of it came into my head--that I had to write it down. Our tamer and our shrew have gotten together. But don't worry, i have plenty more to go for our hero heroine have much to learn in the ways of romance. hahaha. a little more angsty than i first thought it would be...but it adds to the melodrama. and the k/cc was NOT planned at all. it just sort of showed up. but this fic will remain b/v all the way. the k/cc was just a little sideshow. they will find their own way. my goal is the bulma-vejita action. ahahaha! eviller than you, no doubt. thanks for reading!!!!!!!