Vegeta rested his head over his mistress’s jade crown, content with running his hands up and down her smooth arms. Meanwhile, Bulma was sliding her palm across her beau’s chest, making small circles around his hard nipples with her fingers. Both of them were slacked from hours of lovemaking; yet they couldn’t bring themselves to sleep. They weren’t able to start a conversation either, for they couldn’t find anything to say. That’s why they turned to simple and gentle caresses. A frigid breeze blew into the cracks of the window, making the green-haired woman shiver. The prince tenderly pulled her towards him, rubbing his hands against her skin to make her warm. The flapper closed her ocean blue eyes, treasuring his loving gesture. The loud explosions and bright fireworks from outside announced the arrival of the most anticipated day of the year.
"It’s Christmas…" Bulma raised her head to look into her lover’s eyes. "Should I greet you with it?"
Vegeta couldn’t utter a word. He doesn’t want to get into an argument right now. He made a strange gurgling noise deep within his throat and shifted his eyes away.
"I have to tell you something about this day," the lady continued, clutching her beau’s biceps. "My father…my father died exactly fourteen years from now…just like yours."
The boxer turned to her with wide eyes and sealed lips.
"Joe and I had a little chat before I came up here," she bent her nest of viridian streaks beneath his masculine chin. "I saw my father die with my own eyes," tears welled up behind her lids as she recalls the memory. She bit her lower lip, stopping herself from crying. Then, she put on a smile.
"But I really can’t blame a day, especially this day for the loss of a loved one," she sniffled. "So whenever Christmas comes, I remind myself of how Papa lived and not how he died. That’s what you should do too, Vegeta. Just put the past behind and cherish the future in front of you."
He looked at her then, contemplating on the things she had just said.
"You seemed to have earned wisdom beyond your years," he commented.
"Tragedy ages you faster. But don’t you be forgetting that I’m only twenty four," she poked his nose, putting on a lighter, happier demeanor.
"Yeah…I must be a hundred and twenty five then…"
"Vegeta," the singer chastised.
"Minus a century, of course," he added. That made Bulma laugh.
"That’s better," she beamed and pressed her lips against his. "Merry Christmas Vegeta."
"Why is it that when I’m with you…I forget all my problems?" Vegeta wondered aloud. This took his mistress by surprise. She tilted her head to him, as if making sure he was the one who was talking.
"That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me," the flapper smiled widely, almost close to tears.
"I’m not trying to be nice. I’m just telling the truth," the prince defended.
"That makes it even nicer then…" she sighed, burying her emerald curls to his chest. She knew he wasn’t the kind of man to express his feelings through words; but when it came to speaking through actions, he spoke more words than he ever could in a lifetime.
"Vegeta," Bulma started, her tone more serious this time. "What are we going to do about the threat?"
"Leave New York," he shrugged. "Move to Virginia perhaps."
"How about the heavyweight championship?" she questioned. The belt was very important to him. If he didn’t go, months of extensive training would just go down the drain. As she had anticipated, the boxer stiffened.
"I could hide out and wait for you to finish the tournament," the German lady suggested. "But what if they decide to kill you? Vegeta…I don’t want you to die…" she hugged him close, already afraid to let him go.
"They can’t kill me," he assured. "They need me to lose for them. That’s why they threatened to bump off someone close to me and—" the words caught in his throat when a horrible realization occurred to him. The two gangsters from the club had not recognized Bulma. If so, there was only one other person who they were likely to murder.
"I have to go," he literally jumped off the bed, putting on his clothes as quickly as possible.
"What?! Where? Why?"
Without a word, he finished unbuttoning his shirt, and leaned down to kiss his mistress.
"I’ll be right back," then, he was out the door. Bulma blinked, bewildered by the man’s strange behavior. Deciding to keep herself warm with some clothes other than her red gown, she stood up and rummaged through the small closet. After she had put on her under clothing, she slipped in to one of Vegeta’s huge long-sleeved shirts, which reached just above her knees, the cuffs covering half her hands. As she looked around in the dimly lit room, she noticed a picture frame, sitting on top of the bedside table. She picked it up, more out of curiosity than boredom. Under a patch of moonlight, she saw what she believed to be a younger, happier Vegeta, standing with his parents. She moved her eyes over his mother, admiring her long dark curls and perfect oval face. Then, she turned to the well-built man beside them. She gasped. Vegeta was the splitting image of his father. But that wasn’t what surprised her. Stunned, she set the frame down. No wonder Vegeta had looked awfully familiar. His father was the same man who had saved her and her family fourteen years ago. It all made sense now. She knew she saw him from somewhere whenever she watched him sleep. He had also reacted when she mentioned Bremen during their first breakfast together. The nightclub performer flopped down on the mattress, shaken by what she had just found out.
A loud explosion threw her a few feet from were she was sitting. She blacked out, for a few seconds it seemed. Slowly, she pushed the toppled bed away, which had evidently saved her. When she walked around it, she was shocked to find shards of broken glass across the floor, some, digging deep into the under side of the bed. What she saw next confirmed her suspicions that what she heard was not a firework. The side of the room that had been facing the street was totally destroyed, leaving only a few bricks in place. The glass had come from the window, which was also disintegrated by the blast. The bitter cold draft came in to invade the four walls, now degraded to three.
"Vegeta!" Bulma cried, hastily running out of the demolished room, oblivious to the sharp glass and splinters piercing her bare feet. She descended down the stairs, afraid of what she’ll find. The color drained from her face upon her arrival. What used to be a small receiving area for boxing trainees was now reduced to a pile of rubble. The light bulb was swinging back and forth, its light diminishing by the minute; but it was enough to show the deterioration of the building. Then, she saw something dark, streaming down the floor: blood.
"Oh God! Please, no!!!" she hurried to the massive heap and began taking the debris apart. She worked like a madman; sweat pouring furiously from her temples. Beneath a blanket of wood and dust, she caught sight of her lover’s blood-covered face.
"Vegeta!" with all the strength she could muster, she dragged him out of the pile, falling over as she stepped backwards. She hit the floor hard, wounding her knees and legs with the sharp objects littered upon it.
"Dear Lord!! Vegeta…" fresh tears made their way from her azure eyes, dropping down to Vegeta’s pale, red-stained cheeks. She held him tightly, his head nestled on her shoulder. She started to rock him back and forth with her, like a baby in need of sleep.
"Please don’t be dead…you can’t be dead…Oh God! Please don’t let him die!" her wails bounced through the walls, never reaching anyone’s ear. It was like a recurring nightmare; only this time, it was worse. Vegeta was not moving at all. The slamming of a car door disrupted her for a moment. She looked up and saw a dark Manchester, speeding away from the scene. She would’ve gotten the plate number if it had not been for the tears, which obscured her vision. A warm breath tickled the side of her neck, causing her to shift her eyes to the source. She broke into a nervous smile. Her prince was breathing; his narrow eyes fluttering open.
"Oh, Vegeta…" she pressed her forehead against his, kissing his bloody face over and over again.
"What…happened? Ow!" he sat up and pressed his palm against the huge gash on his forehead.
"T-there w-w-was this explosion and-and-and the car, and you, and the blood…" Bulma continued to stammer as she helped the boxer up to his feet. "The blood…" she turned to the dark pool of red amongst the debris. "Did all that come from your head?"
"Joe!!!" Vegeta broke away from his mistress’s embrace and began clawing through the wreckage, calling out his mentor’s name. The damsel knelt down beside him to help. Suddenly, she saw some movement beneath a layer of dust.
"Look!" she pointed. A small, furry head poked out of the heap and meowed. "A cat!"
"That’s Joe’s cat. Precious," he continued taking the rubble apart. "He must be nearby."
Bulma took the cat and cradled it in her arms. Precious stared up at her with frightened yellow eyes before snuggling against her savior’s breast. With the tabby on hand, the flapper gingerly walked over to where her sheik was.
"Joe! Jo—" the man’s words hung in the air, his onyx eyes wide.
"What is it?"
"Get back!" he raised his arm in front of his sheba. "I said get back!"
"Vegeta, what’s—Oh my God!!" immediately, she buried her face on her beau’s chest, tearing her eyes away from the horrifying scene before them. Vegeta instinctively put his arms around her and shut his eyes tight, closing them to the reality of the situation. But try as he might, he can never change the fact. Joe Winslow was dead.
"Good morning Miss Briefs. Please have a seat," a brunette lady doctor with green eyes pulled up a chair for Bulma. She sat down slowly, clutching the coat given to her by the paramedics a while ago. It was already four in the morning. Vegeta had called the police to the scene and was now scheduled for an interview down at the precinct. But of course, the main concern of the cops was the couple’s injuries. They were then rushed to a nearby hospital in an ambulance soon after the feds had secured the area.
"I’m Dr. Reeves," the doctor smiled encouragingly, shaking the singer’s bandaged hand. "So, how are you feeling?"
"I’m still having a hard time walking. My dogs are really killing me," the flapper looked down at her wounded legs, which was also wrapped in bandage from her soles to her knees.
"Well, we did take out some rather sharp materials," Dr. Reeves checked her notes. "You should be fine in a few days time. Just continue to put this ointment on the wounds and you’ll be as good as new," she handed her patient a small rectangular box.
"Doctor…the body…" she hesitated.
"It’s not a pretty sight, Miss Briefs," the brunette shook her head. "As far as I know, it’s going to be a closed casket and a quick burial. There are no records of Mr. Winslow having any direct family that is alive but being that he was famous, expect some media during the funeral."
"Oh…how’s Vegeta?" Bulma queried anxiously. The boxer had been rushed to the operating room upon their arrival while she was left in the emergency room with nurses administering first aid on her. After that, she had to be thoroughly examined by the doctors so she never got to check up on him.
"He did sustain multiple cuts and bruises. There were large pieces of glass embedded in some parts of his body especially his forehead. But other than that, your husband’s going to be alright," Dr. Reeves nodded.
"Hu-husband? I think your mis—"
"By the way, congratulations on the baby," the doctor smiled, her green eyes twinkling.
"Baby?" the patient raised one eyebrow. "What baby?"
"You are aware that you’re pregnant, right?" the dark haired physician held her smile.
It was like a pail of ice cold water had washed over the German-blooded lass. She didn’t expect this. She never expected this. Once, she had thought that she was infertile due to the fact that she had so many men come and go in her life yet they never made her a mother. Not that she wanted them to. But now, it was all so sudden.
"Miss Briefs? Miss Briefs?"
"Oh," Bulma snapped out of her reverie. "Forgive me doctor. Are you sure of this?
"Ab-so-lute-ly," the lady doctor confirmed. "The baby’s about a month old. Must be pretty resilient too, being that it survived the blast and all. Oh, sorry. I should be calling you Mrs. Vegeta now, right?"
"But I can’t be pregnant!" the woman shook her head, her viridian strands flying from side to side. "I can’t be! I haven’t experienced any symptoms!"
"Trust me. You will. Even some women experience the symptoms only when the baby is over two months old," the medical personnel looked at her patient with quizzical eyes. "Are you saying that you don’t want to have a child?"
"No, I mean yes…I mean…it’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just…"
"Quite a surprise?" the doctor continued. "I understand. Most unplanned pregnancies come with the same reaction. Anyway, my advice for you is…."
As the doctor droned on and on, Bulma fell back to her thoughts. There was a child growing inside of her, a child that could only belong to Vegeta.
"Should I tell him about this? How will he react? What if he doesn’t want the baby and decide to leave me?" she sighed heavily. No. She wasn’t going to tell him…yet. His mentor had just died. It wouldn’t be safe to bring up the issue with the atmosphere of death surrounding them.
"Okay. That’s that. Just remember: what you eat, the baby eats so stick with the greens," Dr. Reeves stood up, as did the wounded performer. "Feel free to come back from time to time if you have any problems at all."
"Thank you, doctor," the flapper shook hands with the physician once more before making her way to the prince’s suite.
* * * * *
Ab-so-lute-ly = affirmative
Beau = usually referring to one’s boyfriend; plural: Beaux/Beaus
Bump Off = To kill/murder
Dogs = feet