"Those are some nasty scratches ya got there, Vegeta," Joe commented as he drank his tonic water, his cat, Precious, all snuggled up on his lap. Vegeta stopped throwing punches at the brand new punching bag for a moment, contemplating for an explanation as he touched his shoulder blade using his gloved hand. The wounds still stung were that woman had sunk her nails into.
"Some stupid stray cat came into my room and scratched it," he grumbled, and went back to working out his muscles. Joe gave out a smile as Precious looked up at Vegeta.
"Stray cat huh? Musta been pretty big ta give ya those," the black man stroked the soft, orange fur of his cat. Precious continued to stare at the boxer on the platform.
"Big…" the prince muttered, refusing to look into his mentor’s eyes.
"Ya weren’t wearin’ yer shirt? Or did ya sleep naked?"
"I…wasn’t wearing a shirt."
"Cat musta bit yer ear too huh?"
Vegeta finally turned to his old friend, who gave him an all-knowing smile. He scowled. Sometimes, this guy could be incorrigible!
"Yes. It bit me when I tried to fight it off. Could you please stop asking me questions?! You’re messing up my concentration!" the prince focused his sights back on the bag and threw punch after punch. Joe stifled a giggle.
"Alright. If that’s what ya say," the balding man stood up and left the room. Vegeta distinctively heard him mutter "Cat’s indeed." He stopped for a while, his eyes flying down to meet Precious’s huge yellow ones.
"What?!" he shot an angry look at the orange tabby cat, that continued giving him an incriminating stare, as if saying, "How dare you accuse my kin of wounding you, you filthy liar!"
"Beat it!" the boxer stomped his foot. Precious turned her back and slowly strutted out the door, raising her tail arrogantly above her.
Breathing heavily Vegeta pressed his forehead against the punching bag. He touched his wounded ear with one of his gloved fists, recalling the events that had taken place the night before. That night was a night of firsts for him: first time he had to pay a woman to go to bed with him, the first time a woman ever fought him on bed and the first time, in a very long time, that a woman didn’t take a single cent from his wallet. But there was one more first that he couldn’t understand and he hated himself for it: it was the first time a woman has lingered ever so long in his mind. He had woken up and decided then, to invite her for a bit of breakfast; but she was gone. Now, he couldn’t stop thinking about her.
"Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn! DAMN!" Vegeta cursed with his every blow, taking his frustration out on the punching bag. A lovely, sensuous voice began singing in his head and he knew it was HER voice. He drove his fist against the bag in a fit of rage, the strength surging forth from his body.
"AAAAHH!!!!" His hands flew towards his ears as he screamed, trying to block out the voice that was tormenting him. Then he was hit…and everything went black.
"Vegeta? Vegeta! Wake up!" Joe’s voice seemed to echo from the other side of a distant tunnel. The boxer started fluttering his eyes open. Then, a wave of extreme cold hit his face, causing him to sit up immediately.
"Haaah! What’d you do that for Joe!?" Vegeta complained, as he shook off the cold liquid that had clung to his skin and hair.
"Ya took some kinda blow there, boy," Joe helped his friend up to his feet.
"Heard ya scream so I came ta see if ya were okay. Ya were holdin’ yer ears, yellin’ yer head off ‘fore that punchin’ bag came back at ya. Ya must’ve pulled quite a strong punch at it ta make it come back an knock ya out like that. Wish I coulda seen it."
Vegeta staggered to one of the corner posts, holding it for balance, still woozy from his little accident. Joe helped him take off his huge boxing gloves, placing it near the stool the boxer had seated himself on to. The prince started stretching his fingers, ridding it of the tightness the glove had implemented upon it.
"Ya don’t look so good," Joe noticed. "Didn’t get too much sleep last night I reckon?"
Vegeta shot him a look. The black man pressed his lips together and backed off. The boy was unusually moody today. He had seen him this way many times before…but now seemed different from all those other times. It seemed only one more thing could set him off.
"I think ya need a time out, boy," Joe pulled up the ropes, stepped out of the boxing ring and left the room once more. He knew better than to infuriate his young friend more with questions especially when he was in a bad mood.
Vegeta slumped his head back against the post, his muscled chest lifting from his deep breathing. His mouth hung open, as he hungrily took in huge gasps of air. Behind his closed eyes, he could still see that head of forest green hair, and those eternally blue eyes sparkling against the streaks of light that hit it.
"Damn that woman! What did she do to me?!" his lids separated, allowing his onyx pupils direct view of the cracked ceiling, its lines crisscrossing towards each other. After several minutes of staying in that position, he stood up and got off the platform. He decided to put on his clothes. It was mechanical, what he was doing. He was barely thinking at all; it seemed like something else was controlling him. The dark blue silk trousers fit snugly into his muscular legs. He was quick to button up his white shirt but he forgot to close two of the buttons near his collar, part of his chest made visible by the opening. Not caring to put on his cedar blazer and diagonal-stripe red silk tie, he slipped on his coat, which matched his trousers perfectly. The blazer and tie hung on his arm, swaying as he ran towards the door.
"Vegeta? Where are you going? Hey! Vegeta!"
"Not now, Joe!!!" the boxer called irritably, as he quickly jumped into his Rolls Royce and started the engine. As he drove off into the night, he ignored the image of his mentor in the rearview mirror, who was waving his arms around like a maniac.
"Well…there he goes," the black man sighed as the Silver Ghost sped away, Vegeta’s black patent-leather shoes clutched tightly in his dark, chubby fingers.
"What?! I’m a paying customer!!! Why won’t you let me in?!" Vegeta demanded at the black security guard of the Harlem Nights nightclub, who was a few inches or so taller than he was.
"Sorry, sir. Club regulations strictly implement on the dress code and…" the guard looked down from Vegeta’s open shirt to his boxing shoes before stifling a giggle. "…clearly, you’re not following the rules so I’m afraid I can’t let you in."
Vegeta snarled to himself, barring his teeth in anger as he looked at the shoes he was wearing. He must’ve looked like some kind of street bum who didn’t know how to wear a rich man’s clothes.
"Look you old jigaboo!" the boxer demanded, ignoring the size of the man in front of him. "I’m a friend of that green-haired white singer who performed here last night. I have to see her."
"Oh really? If you’re really her friend, what’s her name?"
Vegeta thought for a moment. He had forgotten her name. He cursed himself for not remembering. Frustrated and angry, he reached up and grabbed the guard’s collar, pulling him down to the boxer’s eye level.
"You know very well who I’m talking about! Where is she?!"
"I-I d-don’t know!" the black guard stammered, sweat pouring down from his head. "M-Miss Bulma only has a one-night performance here!"
The prince of knockouts held the security guard for one moment longer, narrowing his eyes. When he was finally sure that the frightened Negro was telling the truth, he let him go. He turned away from the guard.
"Where does she live?!" he demanded one more time.
"I don’t know. Now, screw before I have you pinched!" the guard replied, regaining his confidence after he was released. Vegeta glared at him with daggers. Finally, he gave up and drove off with his vehicle.
It was easily eleven in the evening when Bulma strode into the Harlem River Bridge. She put her elbows against the railing and watched a ferryboat, cruising along the moonlit river. The cold wind blew against her, signaling the coming of winter. She clutched her cream-brown coat tightly, puffs of smoke coming out from her mouth as she exhaled. What little green strands her matching cap failed to cover, danced along with the frigid breeze. This was it. Tonight was the night she and her beau Yamcha would be spending together in each other’s arms. It had been quite awhile since they’ve done so…over a month it seemed. Now more than ever, she was determined to convince him to be more steady with her…and perhaps convince him to marry her too. Bulma let out a sigh. The prospect of that man marrying her was all too dim.
"I’ve got a better chance of being hit by lightning," she thought bitterly as her blue eyes traveled upon the stretch of land beyond the bridge: Manhattan. She bit her lip, running her fingers over her new leather handbag. She had bought it along with the coat, cap and shoes she was wearing using the money given to her by Vegeta. She began to wonder if she could ever spend another night at a place as grand as the Ritz. But most of all, she wondered if she was ever going to see Vegeta again.
"It’s better to ignore him if that ever happens," she rubbed her hands together to keep them warm. "He’s probably forgotten all about me anyway…with all that money, he could get as many women as he wished." She slowly reached down for her pocket watch, only to find that it was gone.
"Must’ve left it at home. Oh well…" Bulma turned to look for someone, hoping to ask for the time. She was in luck. One gentleman was leaning against an off-white car a few feet or so away from her. She walked toward him, making clickity noises with her high-heeled shoes. As she got closer, she noticed something familiar in the way the man held himself. He wore a shirt almost as white as the car he rested his back upon, the top two buttons opened. His dark blue trousers were almost invisible in the dark. His huge boots looked out of place against his upper garments. Bulma couldn’t see his face, for he had it turned away. Gingerly, she tapped him on the shoulder.
"Excuse me sir, but do you—" she was cut off when the man craned his neck and rested his eyes upon her. Her hands flew to her mouth, covering a gasp. It was Vegeta.
"YOU!" they both said at the same time. They were both left speechless. Bulma’s heart raced. She could feel it beating hard against her ribs, like a caged animal trying to free itself. She hadn’t expected to have a little rendezvous with him this soon…and of all places, near the Bronx.
"W-what are you doing here?!" Bulma stuttered, almost in a whisper. Vegeta regained his composure after his initial shock of seeing the woman again. He let out his infamous smirk, crossing his arms across his visible chest.
"I should be asking you that. You’re not following me are you?" he asked haughtily.
"Of course I wasn’t you conceited old goof! This is my neighborhood! What brought a high-hat cuddler such as yourself here?!"
"I’m no cuddler!"
"Oh yeah! Tell that to me now will you?"
Both onyx and blue eyes clashed together. The coldness in Vegeta’s made Bulma shiver and turn away first.
"If this is your neighborhood, where do you live then? Under the bridge?" the prince snickered at his own attempt at a joke. The flapper glared furiously at him.
"No, I don’t! And I’m not telling you where either so don’t be goin’ off and askin’ me!" she stormed away from the boxer, fearing that if she doesn’t, she could be arrested for hitting him square on the face.
"Where are you off to now?!" Vegeta called.
"Mind your potatoes!" Bulma called back, eager to get away from him.
"You’re walking all the way? What? Don’t have money for a cab?!"
The blue-eyed lady stopped abruptly in her tracks. It seemed the prince could read her thoughts. It was true. She didn’t have the money for a cab. She had been too excited to look at the price tags while shopping in Manhattan that she spent it all on the clothing she was wearing. She was left with only enough money to see her through the Harlem River Bridge. From there on, she had been walking. Her neighborhood was still a few miles away. More out of frustration than anger, she quickened her steps. She heard the rumble of a car engine and in moments, the Rolls Royce was right beside her.
"You want a ride?" Vegeta called from inside.
"No! Last time I went for a ride with you, I almost got raped!"
"But you enjoyed it didn’t you?"
"Uh!" Bulma started to jog. The sooner she gets away from him, the better.
"I’m serious! Do you want a lift or not?!" the boxer repeated, still following the green-haired woman. "I don’t mean that kind of ride. You don’t want to have varicose veins on them stilts now would you?"
That did it. If there was anything the German woman hated more than pimples on her face, it was varicose veins. She looked down on her legs, checking if there was any.
"Well?" Vegeta raised an eyebrow. Bulma sighed in exasperation. She didn’t have much of a choice. She was about to open the backseat when the prince opened the front seat for her. The woman gave him a suspicious stare, which was returned by a quick nod. Sitting as far away from him as she could, they hastened into the night.
Vegeta stared up at the cozy red-bricked building that was Bulma’s apartment. It was situated at the richer side of the Bronx, not too far away from Joe’s Gym. Some lights were still on in some windows. People could be seen moving about, unable to find the tranquility of sleep. The flapper stepped out of the car.
"Which floor do you live in?" the boxer asked innocently.
"Don’t get nosy on me now," Bulma faced him once again. She pressed her lips together. She felt she needed to thank him some way. Reluctantly, she poked her head through the window, looking straight into the driver’s eyes.
"Thanks for bringing me home," she gave him a quick smile before she ran inside the building, slamming the door shut. Vegeta’s head fell against his chair. What was next now that he knew where she lived? He really wasn’t sure. Truthfully, he hadn’t really thought of what he was going to do if he found her. He wasn’t even sure why he searched for her in the first place. But somehow, seeing her again had given him a sense of fulfillment. If he was happy, he wasn’t certain...and he didn’t want to find out either. With his fingers around the key, he started the engine. Just as he was about to drive off, he heard a scream that was undeniably from Bulma. Sure enough, she came out of the door, distraught to the point of hysteria. Much to the boxer’s surprise, she opened the door and jumped inside the vehicle with him.
"Vegeta, let’s go!" she hissed.
"What?!" the prince stared at her with a confused look in his face. "Where?"
"To your place! The Ritz!"
"I want to make love with you…NOW!"
Vegeta’s eyes grew wide as saucers. Now this was quite a shock. The thought of reliving that night made his stomach churn. He began to lick his lips. He couldn’t pass up the chance.
"What are you waiting for?! Get a wiggle on!" Bulma demanded.
"As you wish," Vegeta stepped on the gas pedal, unable to see the tears that had started to form behind his passenger’s eyes.
* * * * *
Beau = usually referring to one’s boyfriend; plural: Beaux
Cuddler = one who likes to make out
Flapper = A stylish, brash, hedonistic young woman of the 1920’s with short skirts and shorter hair
Get a wiggle on = get going
Goof = a stupid or bumbling person
High-hat = a snob
Jigaboo = a derogatory term for an African-American
Mind your potatoes = mind your own business
Oh Yeah = I doubt it
Pinched = arrested
Screw = get lost
Stilts = legs
* Harlem River Bridge runs over Harlem River (obviously) and it links Manhattan to the