Author’s Note: There’s a lot of time-period shifting in this chapter (even within time periods), so please don’t get confused! ^_^
Ouji Resort, Present
He knew where Frieza would be.
He had only encountered his arch-enemy once in this lifetime; shortly after he had bought this island and built the resort, Frieza had appeared, as if from nowhere, and warned him that he would return.
"So you think you’ve won because you’ve earned some money," the raspy, effeminate voice reproached him.
Vegeta stiffened. "You should be dead." Outwardly, his manner seemed calm; inside, a fire raged almost out of control. He still remembered everything that this man had done to him.
Frieza chuckled, a sound that reminded Vegeta of a snake writhing on the ground in pain.
"You’re a fool, Vegeta. You didn’t succeed last time, and you won’t succeed this time." The short, squat man’s tongue darted from inside his mouth to lick his lips as though he were about to taste a fine delicacy. "And this is your last chance."
Vegeta’s fist clenched against is will. How dare Frieza come here, to his own property, and taunt him like this?
They were in Vegeta’s personal garden, located just off his private residence, several yards away from the main resort. The garden was large and square, filled with lush, exotic foliage and encased in a high stone wall that blocked it from unbidden eyes. A stone bench stood beside the far wall, and this was where Vegeta had chosen to sit. Whenever his thoughts turned to Bulma, he would come out to his garden and sit amidst the peaceful greenery. It would calm his nerves and soothe his mind.
It always felt strange coming here, though; the garden reminded him of a similar place where, several lifetimes ago, he and Bulma had once met secretly for midnight rendezvous just outside her father’s palace. As he recalled, Frieza had destroyed their happiness that time, too.
But this was his last chance. If he could make her fall in love with him in this life, then they would be able to spend eternity together. If he failed, he would spend eternity alone, amidst the flames of Hell.
Technically, this lifetime never should have come; his previous life, as a gangster, should have been his last before he could retire from the land of the living and spend the rest of eternity wandering the universe with his love. But Frieza’s cruel tricks had taken her from him. If it hadn’t been for a minor technicality—she had sacrificed her life in order to save his—he would have been trapped without her to the ends of forever.
But now that he’d been given a second chance, with full knowledge of all their past lives—and the past failures that stung his soul with bitterness—he refused to fail. He would make her fall in love with him, as he had done in every lifetime before. And when she did, their bodies would disappear and they would begin their existence anew, free of tangible restraints, ready to spend the rest of eternity together.
He couldn’t wait.
But Frieza, making an appearance like this, unnerved him. What could the fiendish man, who had always managed to destroy Vegeta’s happiness, be up to?
But when he turned to face the villain, Frieza had disappeared, just like that.
Because of that one incident, however, Vegeta knew exactly where Frieza had taken Bulma.
He had to get her back—he wouldn’t fail this time. This was his last chance to make things right.
Without a second thought, he marched resolutely towards his private garden, mentally preparing himself for the greatest battle of all his lifetimes.
Satan City, 1927
"O.K., Chi, stop here!"
Bulma climbed out of her friend’s fivver, giving the dark-haired woman a look of reassurance.
"Don’t worry about me, Chi, I’ll be fine."
"You’d better come out of there alive!" Chi Chi hissed.
"I will, Chi! Now beat it … I need to do this alone."
Reluctantly, Chi Chi drove away, leaving Bulma alone.
She walked the two final blocks to the building in which Vegeta’s ‘meeting’ would soon take place.
Why didn’t he tell me about this? She wondered to herself. She had seen him last night, trying very hard not to blurt out that she had overheard his conversation with the tall man with the deep voice. She had waited and waited for him to say something about it, but all he seemed interested in was making love to her. It had been rather poignant, actually; he had made love to her as though it were the last time.
Bulma choked back a sob as she promised herself silently that it wouldn’t be the last time; she would do whatever she had to, by whatever means necessary, to keep him from harm.
Even if it meant laying down her own life.
Her determination rejuvenated, Bulma cautiously entered the large, dark garage, located between two prominent, disreputable buildings, prepared for the worst.
Ouji Island Resort, Present
Bulma awoke with an ache in her head and a ringing in her ears.
She moaned softly, attempting to turn over, but she soon realized that her hands had been tied behind her back, and her legs were tied together. She tried jerking her body into movement, but her limbs felt as heavy as lead; she couldn’t even move an inch.
Behind her she heard a familiar, malicious chuckle.
"Frieza," she ground out, remembering that it had been this man, a man who had previously existed only in her nightmares, who had come to her room and knocked her unconscious.
"I see you remember, little girl," Frieza mocked in his raspy voice. "But the question remains: How much do you remember?" He chuckled again, obviously enjoying this moment very much.
Bulma refused to answer his question; giving information to him was the last thing she wanted to do. Sure, Vegeta had killed her, but right now he was the lesser of two evils. Frieza, she knew from her previous lifetime, was a madman.
"If you’re going to do something to me," she spat, "Then just do it. I’m not a very patient person."
There came that annoying chuckle again. If only she had use of her arms, she would be able to strangle him, or at least knock the breath out of him so that he wouldn’t be able to chuckle like that anymore.
"Silly girl," Frieza hissed. "Are you telling me that you don’t remember how your lover, Vegeta, viciously betrayed and killed you?"
Bulma gasped. How did Frieza know what happened? Of course … he’d been there.
The man across from him had a face that would make little children cry. Dark, slanted eyes that spoke of half a million evil deeds, a purplish face mottled with rage, and a small, tense body. He looked as though he wanted to strike out at something, to cause physical pain to someone, anyone.
Yes, she remembered now. Vegeta had gone to talk to Frieza.
Her head began to pound with a violent fervor as she tried to remember anything beyond that.
What had happened next, just before she’d died?
If only she could remember …
Satan City, 1927
Bulma watched intently from behind the hood of an old jalopy as the men carried on their conversation. She was too far away to hear what they were saying, but it couldn’t be too bad; Vegeta seemed to be taking it rather calmly. As though he hadn’t a single nerve in his body.
As though they could pull out their guns and shoot him, right then and there.
Something flashed, and Bulma nearly gasped as she thought she saw a gun; but it was only a pocket watch, that one of Frieza’s torpedoes had whipped out. He must be getting just as impatient as Bulma as the meeting dragged on.
It felt bad, though. Something about this entire situation felt very, very wrong. Vegeta had come here alone, or so he thought. Frieza, meanwhile, had his two henchmen to back him up. Surely at least one of them had a chopper handy, even though she knew for a fact that Vegeta didn’t have any weapons with him—she had seen Goku attempt to persuade him into taking them, but Vegeta was a man of honor. He refused to take a weapon to what might well just be a legitimate business transaction.
Or what might be a legitimate setup.
But if Frieza thought that he could bump off her man, he didn’t know Bulma Briefs.
She would die before she let Frieza harm her sheik.
Ouji Island Resort, Present
The short, purple-face man turned around, a wicked grin adorning his ugly face.
"Ah, if it isn’t Prince Vegeta Ouji." Frieza gave the angry man a mocking bow. "I’d say that it was a pleasure to see you, but it’s not."
"Likewise," Vegeta bit out before getting straight to the point. "Where is she? What have you done to her?"
Frieza chuckled, and Vegeta felt as though a thousand live spiders had just crawled up his spine and embedded themselves in his skin. "All in good time, your Highness."
Vegeta’s eyes narrowed. "You still haven’t gotten over that?"
Frieza harrumphed. "It would take more than five hundred thousand lifetimes to get over that incident, you ungrateful swine!"
Vegeta bared his teeth. "If you want to fight me, go ahead. But I warn you, I’ll win—just like last time." He smirked.
Frieza roared with rage. "You insolent pig! How dare you! My father, King Cold, was the most powerful man in the universe! If not for you, I would be ruling by his side right now, presiding over the entire population of this filthy planet, and all others like it!"
"Exactly!" Vegeta yelled. "You would take your power for granted and kill the very people you had enslaved! I would spend an eternity in Hell before I would let you take that kind of power!"
Frieza laughed out loud, tossing his head back as the laughter spilled violently from his tongue. "You fool!" he crowed. "An eternity in Hell is the least of your problems!" He pulled out a gun from a hidden holster behind his back and pointed it straight at Vegeta.
"You’re going to shoot me?" Vegeta sneered. "Take the coward’s way out, as always?"
Frieza glared at him. "How dare you accuse me of being a coward! I have never been a coward, and I never will be!" The evil man smirked, an expression that filled Vegeta with dread. "Since I’m such a sporting fellow, I will give you a chance." He sauntered casually towards a large shrub, and pulled Bulma out from behind it. She lay limp in his arms, obviously in tremendous pain.
"Bulma!" Vegeta cried out, his concern for her overriding his personal safety. He rushed towards her without a second thought for himself.
"Uh, uh, uh!" Frieza cackled, pointing the gun to Bulma’s head. Vegeta stopped in his tracks, unable to give the madman fuel to shoot her. "I don’t think, so Princy. If you make one false move, the woman dies." He chuckled again. "Now, ask her what she remembers."
Vegeta’s face paled. If she remembered everything she could about that night … she would hate him forever. He couldn’t make her relive those moments; he couldn’t make her hate him, not again …
"ASK HER!" Frieza cried, cocking the gun.
Vegeta gritted his teeth and prepared himself for the final gamble. He still had one last trick at his disposal; the odds of its success were nearly impossible. But he had to try.
He had nothing to lose … and forever to gain.
Satan City, 1927
She had almost screamed when she felt the rat nipping at her leg; she had managed, however, to remain composed and to clamp her hands over her mouth, so that not a single sound escaped her lips.
Not many people knew it, but Bulma Briefs was deathly afraid of rats.
She could still remember vividly the hot, sticky summer when she had been ten, sleeping on the fire escape with her parents. She had awoken one morning to find a dead rat lying mere inches from her face. She’d screamed loud enough to wake up the whole neighborhood, and get a rather painful whipping from her father, too.
Needless to say, she’d hated rats ever since.
This one, however, refused to go away. It licked and nipped at her leg, forcing her to use every ounce of self-control she had to keep from screaming loud enough to wake the dead. And it distracted her attention away from the meeting between the men—her sole reason for being here.
Finally, something scared the rat away, and he scampered off, allowing Bulma to turn her attention once more to the matter at hand.
The matter that had become, as she had looked away, out of hand.
One of Frieza’s men now had a Tommy gun pointed directly at Vegeta. Frieza himself was laughing.
"You’re a fool, Vegeta!" he hissed, "Trusting me! You’re just too honorable for your own good." With a nod of his head, he signaled for the other man to shoot.
"Vegeta!" Bulma cried, terrified. They were planning to kill him—but she had other ideas.
Her cry garnered the attention of all the men, including Vegeta, who looked particularly startled to see her there.
She jumped up from her hiding spot and ran towards him, heedless of the danger. All she could think of right now was reaching him in time, saving him from the man with the gun. Shielding him with her own body, if necessary. Whatever it took, she would do it.
As she drew closer, she thought she saw the glint of cold black metal in his right hand. A gun? She’d thought he’d declined one, preferring to come unprepared. Then why would he have a gun with him? Could it be …
Her thoughts immediately stopped as a sharp pain ripped through her abdomen. She gasped at the burning that consumed her as her vision flashed white, and the sounds around her were drowned out by the ringing of her ears.
She saw Vegeta’s lips moving through a milky haze, but she couldn’t quite make out his words. What was that he was saying?
Her eyes unfocused, and everything blurred and doubled before returning to normal. And even then, she could barely see anything. Was this … could this be the end?
Could she be dying?
The last thing she saw before her knees gave out and forced her to collapse was his gun.
It pointed straight at her.
Vegeta, the man she loved, had shot her.
Ouji Island Resort, Present
"Ask her," Frieza bit out again, his patience wearing thin.
"What do you remember?" Vegeta asked, his voice cold and unemotional.
Bulma could barely hear either of them through the deafening haze of pain that gripped her head. "I … I can’t remember," she moaned. Even the feel of the cold steel of Frieza’s gun against her head couldn’t jumpstart her memory.
Frieza jabbed the barrel of the gun against her head, causing more pain and making her wince. "Remember, bitch! You remember what he did to you!"
"No … I—I told you, I can’t remember!"
With a vicious snarl, Frieza pistol whipped her on the back of her head, knocking her to the ground with a cry of pain.
"Frieza!" Vegeta cried, enraged. "Stop this stupid game of yours!"
"Never!" Frieza yelled back. "She will remember what you did to her—and you will lose this game once and for all!"
"It’s not a game! It’s all a sick joke to you—but I’m not laughing, Frieza," Vegeta growled. He stood his ground, waiting for an opportunity. If he managed to make Frieza mad enough, the other man would slip—and one slip was all Vegeta needed to take control of the situation.
Just one slip.
Frieza kicked Bulma in the stomach, causing her to cough up blood.
"Stop that Frieza!" Vegeta’s composure was fast disintegrating; it killed him to see the madman hurting Bulma like that. Much more of this, and he’d be the one who would slip.
"If you want me to stop," Frieza said, his husky voice filled with silken promises, "Then make her remember."
Vegeta’s entire body tensed; so this was Frieza’s game. He would force Vegeta to make her remember … thus forcing him into his own downfall.
"Go ahead, ask her," Frieza mocked.
Vegeta looked down at Bulma, who lay helplessly at Frieza’s feet, moaning in pain.
"Bulma," he said, his voice hoarse. He’d lost, and he knew it. The only thing to do now was to decrease her pain; he would make her remember. "Bulma, you have to remember."
He would lose his eternity; but she would gain her life.
Satan City, 1927
She spoke the words calmly, but before she could say anything else she felt a sharp pain in her throat and began coughing up a good deal of blood.
After the coughing spell had passed, she continued; she had no time to waste. She could feel her death closing in on her; it was imminent.
But before she died, she needed to know the truth.
Why had Vegeta killed her?
"Why did you shoot me, Vegeta?"
Her eyelids grew heavy—so heavy—she couldn’t keep them open.
"Woman," she heard him say. She couldn’t see him anymore, couldn’t see anything, and it scared her. She tried desperately to open her eyelids, to focus on something, but they refused. They simply refused to open.
"Woman, I didn’t shoot you. Do you hear me, woman?"
He didn’t shoot her?
How could that be?
She struggled to remember the blur of vision that had occurred before her collapse, but she couldn’t quite remember. Those crucial moments, she had been focused on him. She hadn’t noticed anything else; had he really not killed her?
If he hadn’t, then who had?
She tried to speak, to say something, but her voice failed her and once again she ended up coughing more blood onto him.
What do you mean, you didn’t shoot me? She wanted to ask. But the words refused to pass through her lips. She struggled to say something, anything. Her lips simply would not move.
Vegeta! Her mind cried out.
Please, Vegeta! Help me! I’m dying!
He couldn’t hear her; she didn’t know why, but he couldn’t. And she couldn’t see him.
Although her hearing was fading fast, his desperate words came through the fog.
"Woman! Bulma! BULMA!"
He sounded so sad—so lonely. He didn’t want her to die. He couldn’t have shot her—he didn’t want her to leave him alone. He wanted her to live.
So then who had killed her?
She felt him bury his face in her shoulder, felt his hot, salty tears against her flesh. She had never seen him cry—why was he crying?
And just who killed her?
Ouji Island Resort, Present
"I … I think I … I think I can remember something," Bulma moaned.
She racked her brain, ignoring the painful throbbing that attempted to block her memories. She had to remember! She had to remember what happened!
But … she could remember clearly hearing Vegeta’s distressed cries. He had called out her name—he hadn’t wanted her to die. He had told her that he hadn’t shot her.
But if he didn’t do it, then who did?
She struggled to remember, but each time her mind went back to that moment, those few seconds before she was shot as she ran towards him, the pain in her head grew worse.
It was almost as if someone didn’t want her to find out.
She froze, the truth suddenly clicking into place in her mind.
He was the one causing the pain inside her head—in spite of what he said, he didn’t want her to remember. He only wanted her to remember what she had died thinking—that she had died by Vegeta’s hand.
But she hadn’t.
So then … who had it been?
"Vegeta," she moaned, struggling against the pain in both body and mind. "Vegeta, I know … I know the truth."
She managed to look up at him, even from her current position with her cheek buried in the short green grass.
"Vegeta," she said again, her voice filled with ample meaning, "I know."
She saw the realization dawn in his eyes, and saw his glance dart to Frieza. She couldn’t let Frieza know that she had seen past his tricks; he would kill both of them for sure, and not regret it for a minute.
The only reason they were both alive right now was because the madman enjoyed toying with them. He thought this was all some sort of game.
And that would be his downfall.
Frieza laughed above her. "Finally, we’re getting somewhere!" he said. "Now tell me," he placed the sole of his foot atop her head, as though ready to press down and crush her skull at any moment, "what, exactly, do you remember?"
"I remember … I remember who shot me."
"And who might that be?" She could hear the smugness in her voice, and it made her victory all the more satisfying.
She could see it clearly now. She ran towards Vegeta, saving him the singular goal in her mind. From the corner of her eye something flashed; she took no notice of it, and a moment later the pain ripping through her insides made her forget it.
But as she forced her sluggish mind back to that moment, she could see exactly what happened.
She forced herself to relive that moment, turning her head to the side. Seeing him, standing there, his face livid that she would interrupt their game.
She saw Frieza pull out his hidden gun and point it straight at her.
Vegeta hadn’t killed her; it had been Frieza all along.
Instantly, the pain dissolved from her mind, and the madman stumbled away from her, dropping his gun and collapsing to the ground, panting.
"How—how did you—how could you remember?" he shrieked.
"I didn’t have to remember," Bulma told him. Now that her body had been freed of pain, she managed to sit up and glare at him. "All I had to do was to know—without a doubt—that Vegeta would never shoot me." She turned her gaze to the man she loved, her heart in her eyes. "And I know that he never would."
"Vegeta …" She couldn’t bear the feel of his tears against her neck. Not when she knew the truth; not when she knew that Frieza had been the one responsible for her imminent death, not him. Not Vegeta—never Vegeta.
She was ashamed of herself for even thinking that Vegeta might be capable of that.
He stiffened and lifted his head, staring down at her.
"Bulma … you’re still alive …" he breathed, unbelieving.
They were in their own little world; two lovers, preparing to meet their fate. Behind them, the sounds of Vegeta’s hidden men trouncing Frieza’s henchmen filled the background.
"Vegeta … I’m dying." Each word was a struggle, but she had to tell him. She had to let him know.
"Vegeta … I know you didn’t shoot me."
"What?" he gasped.
"I … I know you didn’t shoot me, Vegeta. I was foolish for ever thinking that you did." Her eyes still refused to open, but at least her lips managed to crack a small smile for him. "Please … forgive me for doubting you." She could feel the abyss closing in on her, giving her just seconds left to let him know everything that resided in her heart. "I love you," she whispered with her dying breath.
Vegeta’s eyes widened.
His memories …
He doubled over with pain—his memories were changing!
But how could actions in the future change the past?
Bulma’s voice was a beacon, guiding him to safety. He made his way over to her as the pain in his body dissolved, giving way to a feeling of lightheadedness.
He couldn’t help himself; he kissed her.
Her arms, which had become unbound when Frieza collapsed, wrapped around his neck. He wrapped his own arms around her waist, loving the feel of her.
This is where she belongs, he told himself. This is where I belong …
"Vegeta!" Bulma cried, pulling away from him. "Vegeta … we’re disappearing."
He smirked, watching her form waver between transparency and opacity. His gaze darted to the spot where Frieza had fallen, but the madman could no longer be seen. He had disappeared once and for all.
Good riddance, Vegeta thought.
"What’s happening to us, Vegeta?" Bulma asked.
"Exactly what’s supposed to happen," he replied calmly.
Angrily, Bulma smacked him on the arm. "Don’t play word games with me, Mr. I-Know-Everything-And-Won’t-Tell-You-Anything! My body is disappearing, and I want to know why."
Vegeta winced. He’d forgotten how loud her voice could get when he roused her anger.
He cupped her face in his hands and looked into her eyes, smirking.
"We just won ourselves an eternity of happiness," he told her simply.
Before she could say anything, his lips closed in on hers again, making her forget any transient words.
There would be time enough for words later; an eternity in which words would no longer matter.
When their physical bodies disappeared, they would have forever—together.
Exactly as it should be.
"Vegeta? Mr. Ouji?"
Chi Chi came through the entrance to her employer’s private garden, surprised by the sight that greeted her. Mr. Ouji and Ms. Briefs were kneeling on the grass, kissing!
The next moment, however, they disappeared.
Chi Chi blinked. Had she just been seeing things? She could have sworn that a moment before she had seen Bulma and Vegeta kissing there in the garden, but now they weren’t there anymore.
Shrugging it off, Chi Chi left the garden, wondering where to look for her employer next.
She stopped suddenly as a tearing pain burst through her head, almost bringing her to her knees. It left as quickly as it came, and Chi Chi steadied herself on shaky legs.
Now … what was I just thinking of? She asked herself. B … Bulma … and … Vegeta?
Chi Chi blinked. Bulma and Vegeta? She’d never heard either of those names before in her life, so why was she thinking about them now?
Chi Chi shook her head. She didn’t have time for this now!
She smiled as she gazed out across the golden beaches and the sapphire ocean lapping at the shore. The Son Island Resort was a thriving business of which she was incredibly proud. She couldn’t wait until little Gohan was old enough to learn all the ins and outs of the business.
Chi Chi grinned as she squared her shoulders and marched past her private garden towards the main building of the resort. She didn’t have time for all this nonsense, she had work to do. And besides, everyone knew there was no such thing as a ghost, especially a pair of ghosts who also happened to be lovers and haunted her family’s resort, making odd yet familiar noises in the dead of night.
Chi Chi laughed. So what if this place were haunted by a few little ghosts? That didn’t stop guests from flocking here in droves, or her husband from making love to her at night.
None of it mattered, anyway—she was a busy woman. She and Goku had a resort to run!
Bulma smiled as she watched the dark haired woman pass obliviously below her floating, translucent form.
She looked over her shoulder at Vegeta, whose transparent silhouette leaned against a fourth story window of the resort.
"What do you say," she murmured wickedly, "that we do it in the room next to theirs tonight?"
Vegeta smirked. "I’d say," his husky voice trailed behind him as he drew his lips close to hers, "that I like the way you think." His ghostly lips captured hers in a passionate kiss.
Their two transparent forms merged into one for a moment before reluctantly drawing apart.
"How about a little skinny dipping to pass the time until sundown?" Bulma winked at him. "Last one to the beach is a rotten egg!" With a girlish giggle of delight, she shot off in a beam of light.
Vegeta smirked as he watched her sail above the island. She was still the same old Bulma; reckless to a fault. He rolled his eyes. It was exactly that kind of recklessness that had gotten her killed in the first place.
Then again …
He trailed behind her slowly, not once taking his eyes off her. She loved to win, so he let her, sometimes; but she hated it when he let her win, so he was always careful to make her believe that he hadn’t.
She turned around too early, however, and caught his slowness with her quick gaze. She glared at him and stuck out her tongue. In a flash she was gone, streaking across the sky to the other side of the island.
Vegeta smiled then, a true, honest-to-goodness genuine smile.
What would he do without her?
The answer didn’t matter anymore. The question that had once plagued his mortal thoughts to the point of obsession no longer remained valid. Their souls were linked forever; they were never apart for more than a few minutes at a time, whether ghosts haunting a luxury resort, or souls wandering across the vast confines of the universe.
Their love had lasted far longer than a single lifetime, and would last longer still, until the end of eternity.
And, honestly … he wouldn’t have it any other way.
And so it was that with a loud, whooping cry, he streaked across the sky after his love, leaving a small, wide-eyed girl in pigtails standing barefoot on the bronzed beach below to stare in awe at the two shimmering points of light that laughed and danced together off in the distance.
Author’s Note: I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it! I put a lot of work into this fic (it’s my first!), and had a great time doing it. If you liked it, or didn’t, or whatever, email me atAtomicacid06@hotmail.com with any feedback!
Here’s to the eternal love of Bulma and Vegeta! ^_^