DISCLAIMER: DBZ may be owned by various heartless corporations, but the characters of Bulma and Vegeta belong to the imaginations of all who love them.
Warnings: light lemon, adult situations, swear words.
A/N: Much love to LisaB for beta-ing. She's brilliant. And this fanfic (my very first!) was inspired by and written especially for the loveliest, most looney list in the world, Moms Who Love Saiyans. Happy Mother's Day 2004!
first posted on mediaminer.org May 7, 2004
A FATHER AGAIN
There was no tail.
Vegeta looked at the sonogram of his gestating daughter and listened as the doctors insisted that she was healthy in all respects. His own scientist wife concurred with a broad smile, and then the heads of these knowledgeable persons crowded his view of a screen on which floated the full color image of some gelatinous mess of veins and exposed organs.
Horrific, he thought, while his wife continued to smile and even make giggly noises as she watched the little freak show.
He had never seen a human fetus before. Maybe there had been photos in those files about science and sports and odd cultural occasions and whatnot, magazines they were called, that he would occasionally browse on his wife's palm computer in those quiet hours after dinner and before bed. But no, he was quite sure he would've remembered something so disgusting as an image of a pre-born human. Nor had he seen the babies in their cylindrical gestation tanks on his home world; he had been too young when he left Vegetasai to have been exposed to much about his world at all. Maybe Nappa and Raditz had spoken of how babies were grown in immaculate laboratories, but his two fellow warriors had made it plain that such things were outside their interest. They had merely bragged about the efficiency of Vegetasai's way to grow babies; Karpalajin women were dummies who sat on muddy nests, Nappa had observed, and the dumb eggs never survived the Karpalajin monsoons anyway.
"Vegeta, look at the spine," his wife was cooing, "there's a little nub at the base that looks like the beginnings of a tail. Maybe it will grow into a tail eventually?" Her voice was delighted, her exposed stomach shimmering from some clear goop that had been spread there for a mysterious reason. "But Trunks had his tail already by this time, didn't he?" She was speaking to the doctors again, not to him.
"Your first child had a full tail half his fetal size at 28 weeks gestation," the senior doctor answered. "But who knows. We're dealing with the offspring of two highly compatible species, yet there are," the slight, bespectacled man paused, trying to buffer his next words with a smile and a shrug, "so many unknowns." The doctor and the mother on the examining table exchanged a familiar look that made Vegeta grimace. How long had Bulma known this man? Had he been her doctor the first time around? The doctor was droning on about the obvious, as if the fool was bored with his own lack of expertise. "…and in ways we've yet to understand, Ms. Briefs, your Saiyan and your human genotypes may be completely alien to one another."
Bulma made a snorting sound. "Highly compatible," she chuckled, "but completely alien to one another."
"This here is a wonderfully developed spinal cord," continued another doctor, a similarly bespectacled one. This weakling was moving some wand-like instrument over Bulma's nude belly. He delivered his next line as if he'd spoken it hundreds of times to new mothers: "You want the vertebrae to look just like this, like a string of pearls."
"There's really nothing to worry about," said a third doctor, this one displaying as much seniority, confidence and idiocy as the other two, "Three healthy Saiyan-humans have been born before this one, and, as you well know, those boys are…simply magnificent."
Vegeta relaxed his grimace a bit at that description of his own son, Trunks, and the other two half-breeds, the brothers belonging to Kakkarot's line. The extraordinary physical capabilities of the three boys were well-known within the scientific society of Capsule Corporation, if only rumored of outside that insular community. Yet again, these white-coated men were only stating the obvious, so why had his wife insisted he witness this insipid ritual? She was within her own compound, only an elevator away from her own bedroom, here among colleagues whose slavish brains apparently did not come anywhere near her own intelligence; there was no need for her to be lying here, nearly naked, smiling insanely at some wormy image (on a screen so bright it gave him a slight headache every time he glanced at it) in order to confirm the viability of a baby that had been perfectly fine the month before and would be perfectly fine the following month. Good thing there were only two more months--or was it three?--to go before the birth.
"Bulma," he said abruptly, "Get dressed."
At the sound of Vegeta's commanding voice, four faces turned away from the monitor for the first time and looked at him. The doctors began murmuring polite, hurried good-byes, and Bulma gave Vegeta a wink that thanked him for his patience thus far.
"That wasn't so bad, was it?" she asked him later, when they were alone in the examination room.
Vegeta handed Bulma her blouse. "Horrific," he said.
"They get prettier, you know," Bulma said. "And you really can't tell the skin coloring from these biograms. They look less humanoid and more like, well, real little people when they come out. Trunks was a tiny you. The second I looked at his face. A tiny Vegeta."
Vegeta said nothing. Trunks had been a few months old when Vegeta had returned from space to the surprise of a son. The boy had been unremarkable then, a doughy looking thing in his mother's arms, his grayish-lavender hair tucked under a dark cap, and a face that was unmistakably his father's but with blue eyes instead of black. Had Vegeta ever noticed a baby until that day? Surely there had been babies in the crowds at the space stations where Frieza's ship docked every few years, but no one memory with any detail surfaced. Had there been bundles who were actually babies in the arms of some beings? Did not some species carry their young on their backs and shoulders like articles of decorative clothing?
The headache was starting to flicker back. Almost none of Vegeta's memories of life before Bulma were summoned with ease. Memories of his many past selves--the boy on Vegetasai, the soldier in Frieza's army, the young, half-mad mutineer who had fought Kakkarot and had wanted to destroy the earth--materialized with clarity only in his dreams.
"Ve-geeee-tah," Bulma crooned his name in a girlish way and patted him on the shoulder with her foot as he sat in a chair near the examining table. On the cot, she sat dressed in her stretch slacks, buttoning the cuff of her blouse. She expected him to put on her shoes.
Vegeta took one flat-heeled slipper in his hand and held it before the nude foot; it was yet another part of his wife's body that seemed to be getting puffier as the pregnancy progressed.
"You make me feel like Cinderella," she said smiling. She wiggled her toes at him before sliding her foot in the shoe. "Cinderella was a princess who--"
"I understand the reference. A children's story told to girls."
He also understood that Bulma was capable of putting on her own shoes. She had been insisting for weeks now that bending over would soon become impossible for her, but she still seemed lithe enough to him, even as that belly of hers was ripening into the size of a Saibaman pod.
She slid off the table, into his arms, and landed a quick, chaste kiss on the corner of his mouth. "I know you want to go to the Gravity Room already. I'm going back to work. I'll tell the bots to serve roast beef and ice cream tonight."
"Bulma," he said, nose to nose with her pretty face. "Those doctor friends of yours are blind, decrepit simpletons. I will not humor them again with my presence."
She slipped out of his arms, flung her tool pack over her arm, and was at the door. She moved fast, he thought, for a pregnant, forty-year-old human.
"I know. Thanks for coming along today." Another broad smile.
Why was it that the image of her own innards being overtaken by a globular fetus had cheered the woman so much while it had done nothing but disquiet his own mood?
Bulma went back to her lab, but Vegeta did not want to go back to his training. It was early evening now, and he was, in the parlance of his teenage son, still somewhat freaked out by the image of the fetus. And by something else he did not have an image for.
He found the nearest window and flew into the open skies over Capsule Corporation.
As had been his habit for much of his earliest years on this planet, he was now given to spending hours sitting on balcony ledges, rooftops, broad limbs of ancient trees, and looking skyward. Near nightfall the skies, even within the city, were rarely starless. The reliable pattern of deep blue with stars clarified for him his place in…all of it, existence itself. It was as if the universe spoke in a language of light and dark, and unless he was ablaze as a Super Saiyan, his own voice was dark. Dark as in insignificant. He had long ago lost any claim to being evil. The humans saw him as one of their own.
He still managed to avoid humans for the most part. In the day he trained, a rigorous schedule honed by almost two decades of having to follow no command other than that of his own warrior's body. He sweated, drank gallons of water and those syrupy beverages in plastic jugs, took no food until it was time for dinner with Bulma and Trunks. His thirteen-year-old son trained with him for the better part of some mornings, shadowing his father's katas with a smaller but as exquisitely muscled body as Vegeta's.
Vegeta deeply appreciated this time with his son. The two spoke the language of men, a language of striking fists and feet against one another in formal displays of strength, of competition for its own raw pleasure. It was a language in which Saiyans had unrivaled fluency, the release of blows carrying no message other than the one that said look, my strength can meet yours.
Any language other than a pure physical one strained Vegeta's patience.
When he did have the occasion to dwell among humans outside the company of immediate family, whenever he ventured the aisles and elevators of Capsule Corporation's more public areas, people congratulated him on becoming a father again. He was accustomed to having to occasionally dwell on the odd phrases humans used, but the words "father again" sat in his head like one of the many annoying salesmen in CC's executive waiting rooms, with a briefcase full of secrets. Was he not a father already? And had not his own acknowledgement of that title come to him harder than any victory he had ever wrestled from an opponent?
He was as an authentic a father to Trunks as he knew how to be. He had spoken the words, "Trunks, I am proud of you, my son" only once, and yet the boy had always known that truth. The boy's devotion to him was an odd thing to witness; he seemed to have been born with it. Like his mother, Trunks seemed to sense that Vegeta did not want to taint the sacrament of action too often with words. Vegeta defined who he was by what he did, seldom by what he said.
And here he was, sitting in a tree not far from the family compound, freaking out.
He sat in the tree longer than he had planned. It was not unusual for him to be late for dinner, and no doubt the roast beef and ice cream would still be waiting, but given that today had been his first doctor's appointment with his wife and his first view of his fetal daughter, the woman would be wanting to talk about it.
He was going to have to face that music eventually.
So many evenings already had been spent trying to stay out of the path of that demon progesterone. Bulma said that it was this hormonal influence in her body that was behind her sudden fits of crying, giggling, eating ice cream in Saiyan quantities or yelling for him and Trunks not to leave their fucking boots on the stairway where she could trip on them. However, if his days were for training, with or without his son, and his evenings were for star-gazing or other quiet pursuits like reading those magazines (wasn't there an article about progesterone she had wanted him to read by tonight? Kuso, he'd forgotten!), his nights belonged to his wife. She had determined the course of them almost from the very beginning of their relationship, but these were pregnancy nights. He spoke no word or made no move upon her in their bed unless he was cued first.
If she was tired and asleep in bed before him, he would settle beside her, staying awake a few moments to gauge the soundness of her sleep by her breathing. If she was awake when he arrived to join her under one of those absurdly luxurious satiny blankets she fancied, he would wait for her to speak She had such a mouth, this woman of his, but the tenor of her speech was softer at this hour, and he was fond of it. If after a few hours sleep, she awoke in the pitch blackness and began to nudge at his body with her own, he would be instantly awake and answering her in the language she alone had taught him. He would not refuse her, not even in the odd moments when he was the slightest bit afraid, against all her reassurances, of hurting her or that liquid ball of life she carried.
It was strange how a body could grow both in bulk and in vulnerability.
He had been gone from the planet the last time she had been this far along in pregnancy. He had not known that a woman's body could be so sensitive at this time, that breasts produced a pearly, sweet liquid called colostrum, that this early milk would bead on her nipples and sometimes run in tiny rivulets down her torso as soon as he began touching her. He had not known that any pressure, no matter how gently he moved inside her, would always, always, even during the briefest lovemaking, cause tiny blood vessels in her swollen cervix to burst. She claimed to never feel pain; indeed she seemed more eager than usual to meet his thrusting with her own aggressive bottom. Always on her knees these nights as his body covered hers, the rounded abdomen scarcely grazing the sheets as they worked together, the tender fullness of her body in this state amazing him. Afterwards, his senses were startled every time by the light pink bleeding, and his hands and mouth would be moist with that strange delicate milk her body bled as well, but only at night, only when he touched her.
In his high tree, Vegeta could not help but smile when he remembered that yes, he had read the article Bulma had wanted him to. The text had mentioned something about an increase in a woman's sexual interest due to the demon progesterone.
Pregnancy did have its perks. And he deserved them--especially after those couple of weeks with the vomiting, sometimes the first thing after any intimacies and even hours before the actual morning period for which the syndrome was named. He shook off the memory along with some leaves on his shoulders. His head felt better. And he was hungry.
He stood up and flew home. For the dreaded conversation with his beautiful, unfailingly loquacious wife.
Even though he was wearing headphones and facing away from the door, Trunks had sensed his father the instant Vegeta entered the room. Without turning around, Trunks raised one hand in a two-fingered wave, and with the other, continued to click a tiny palm-shaped keyboard. The boy's fingers produced a whir of blue light against the human toy.
He wastes his time with these games, Vegeta thought. But he knew the boy was too young to know exactly what other challenges this planet could provide him. There is no use in lecturing teenagers.
Vegeta made his way to the kitchen. It was there, the large foil-covered tray on the counter. And beside it, two pink and yellow striped cardboard boxes that he recognized as coming from his favorite bakery. He ate the meat and two dozen petit fours without sitting down, but when he went to the freezer there was no ice cream at all, not even the remnants of the previous night's Chocolate Mousse Royale with Almonds. Ah, the demon progesterone. His woman would either be in a butterfat coma or fuming, sorting little girl clothes in the dressers and closets, ready to rage at him for having stayed out so long.
She was neither.
"There you are," she beamed from their bed as he cracked the door open. The nightstand lamp was on high, and both the room and her smile seemed too brightly lit for the hour. There was a half-gallon tub of ice cream between her knees, and the palm computer was shimmering a rapid sequence of images on the bedspread next to her.
"Why are you so happy, woman?"
She picked up the palm computer and held it to face him. Of course. This afternoon's fetus.
"She's beautiful and healthy and almost here," Bulma said, "Why shouldn't I be happy?"
"Because," Vegeta said, "you have been possessed of a demon of late. I read the article, the one about the hormone."
Bulma put down the palm computer, much to Vegeta's relief, and picked up the ice-cream spoon. "You didn't train," she observed.
Vegeta glanced down at his clothes; he was still wearing his slacks and shirt from the doctor appointment. Had he trained, he would've headed for the shower before coming anywhere near his wife's pregnancy-honed sense of smell.
"Come here," she said, and he did, dropping his whole body lengthwise on his side of the bed. The bedding sunk significantly beneath his Saiyan heft, and Bulma's body slid a little on the incline approaching his body.
She had to stretch to set both the ice cream tub and computer on the edge of the nightstand, and then, shifting her weight with a bit of difficulty, she reached for him. "You smell nice," she began, unbuttoning his shirt. "You smell like the trees in Momma's garden. Kusunoki, the magnolias, hakuunboku…" She had stopped mid-button and pressed her nose against his undershirt. "Mmmmm, the kusunoki."
One hand was rubbing circles against his chest and the other was palming his waist. Vegeta wasn't responding. She looked up at his face for a moment then dove her nose against his chest again, opening her mouth against the light material. She moved her kisses up to the hollow of his throat.
Vegeta hadn't even started to kick his shoes off. Nothing.
"What's the matter with you?" She closed her fist on his shirt and stared at him with an irritated look.
"Me? What's the matter with you?"
"Don't you want…" Vegeta paused, not sure why he was even broaching the subject at all. "Don't you want to talk?"
"Talk?" Bulma's brow was furrowing deeper. "No, Vegeta, I just want to fuck."
Hands again, undoing the last of the buttons and pulling the undershirt out of his pants. Vegeta put his own hands on his wife's shoulders as she rubbed one side of her face against his now bare chest, making purring noises, identifying the scents of various flora and foliage again in a mumbling voice.
He thumbed the skinny strap of her maternity gown. It was the pale yellow one. Did she have dozens of the same style or did she just stitch the delicate straps back on after he popped them loose with his thumb every night? He was about to pop the strap now, but he hesitated; instead his fingers began to worry themselves in small, affectionate circles against her white shoulder.
Bulma's hand had found his crotch. After a few strokes against the yielding area, she stopped. The rest of the Saiyan hadn't budged an inch.
"Vegeta?" She sat up and exhaled in frustration; turquoise wisps of her bangs feathered up with her breath. "Do you want to talk?"
He stared at her. Something in his face must have given him away because her expression immediately softened.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"It's the whole being a father again thing, isn't it?" He wasn't surprised that she nailed it so quickly, but then her next words did surprise him. She lay back on her pillow and said, "I'm scared too, Vegeta."
He was confused. "What do you mean?" Aware that he'd just repeated himself like an idiot, he tried again. "I mean--why?" The demon communication had seized him, and he was lost as hell now.
"I mean, we're not youngsters," she said. "I know you're Saiyan and you've barely aged one iota since the day I first saw you, but even with my stupendous intelligence and stamina and everything, not to mention my natural good looks--" She flashed him her prettiest smile; she was so endearingly immodest about her attributes. "--I'm fucking forty-three years old. I'm used to my work, to my schedules, my freedom. I think I've forgotten what it's like to have a baby stuck to your breast all the time."
A memory came to Vegeta of his infant son. The woman never put him down.
"It was your decision to have this child," he said. "And anything you choose to do, you do well," He spoke the words as if offering a simple evaluation, but the truth was that he was in awe of her.
"You too, Vegeta." She was in a rush to finish the conversation, and her voice was quieter, trailing off as one hand found his chest again. "Everything you do you do masterfully. You're an amazing man, you're an amazing--"
"Stop it!" The sound of his anger surprised him. He had not spoken so shortly to his wife in months, but she wasn't even startled. "I'm a warrior in a time of peace," he continued less roughly, and Bulma gave him an indulgent look, as if in her indeterminable wisdom, she had seen it all coming. "I was born to--to crush things, to face a combatant without mercy."
"Kill, kill, kill, yeah, yeah, yeah." Bulma 's voice was the one he recognized now. The daytime voice, the really sharp one. "You're so full of it, Vegeta. When's the last time you actually blasted out of control?"
"Last week. The vending machine."
"I mean like killing something innocent, and you know it. You are a responsible man now. You are an amazing father--you love Trunks. You are proud of Trunks."
Vegeta was looking at his hands, the upturned palms in relaxed fists. Sometimes he could summon a power that felt like his warrior ki, but the power did not manifest into balls of fire. Only in this bed, only with this woman did he find himself saying such things. "I am proud of myself. I see myself in the boy. When I see Trunks, I see what I could've become …. But a daughter," he paused, straining in an alien language. "A daughter…."
A daughter would become something else. Right now she was a wormy thing on a too-bright screen. She would somehow grow less wormy and be born. She would grow from a tail-less girl (Would she be told the Cinderella story? Would she actually enjoy such banal entertainments?) to a tail-less woman, not a warrior, not at all like himself, perhaps like…
"Bulma," Vegeta said, turning suddenly and capturing her face in his hands. Bulma's eyes narrowed a little, her expression melting with pleasure at the unexpected gesture, but then she realized that Vegeta was looking at her in a way that was more clinical than romantic. "Bulma, do all the humans in your line have such unusual coloring?"
"What?" She was amused. "You mean like my hair and eyes?"
"Yes, and the skin. It is lighter and less motley than most humans'."
Vegeta doubted that Bulma really believed he was paying her a compliment, but she seemed pleased by the description nonetheless. "Well, everyone is pretty fair. Momma's sisters all have blonde hair, but Poppa's had blue and green and lavender, like Trunks. We're all pale folk. Nothing like your skin." She touched his chest and was momentarily distracted. "Nothing like this smooth, tawny magnificence." Then she exhaled deeply and looked him in the eyes again. "Genetics is a game of chance--there's no telling who our little girl will look like. Is this what you're thinking about? About how Saiyan she will be?"
Vegeta dropped his hands from Bulma's face. "She has no tail," he said. "I suspect that no, she will not be as Saiyan as Trunks. Or even those brats in Kakkarot's line. They were born with tails."
It was a delicate issue. The fact that all Saiyans on this planet were tail-less, that the three half-breed boys had had theirs amputated in childhood to prevent the transformation to ozouru, the raging were-ape that could easily destroy whole populations within a remorseless tantrum lasting only seconds. And Vegeta's tail too was gone, lost to battle when he had first come to Earth.
Bulma had an idea. He saw the question in her eyes before she asked it. "Vegeta, what were Saiyan women like?"
'Strong," he said. "Many of them warriors." He had told her this before, and he wanted to reveal more, but he did not know what else to add. An image of a tall dark woman arose in his memory, a first class soldier in his father's court, her tail around her waist, a knife in her boot.
"She could be a warrior," Bulma mused.
"I would know how to be a father to a warrior," he said.
"But she could be just a human girl," Bulma said. "You could be a good father to a human girl, you know."
There was a feeling building in his chest. The woman was doing it; she was putting a name to his fear. "And why do you say that?" he asked.
"Because I'm a human girl, and you know how to take care of me!"
"Take care of you? I would send you into battle against Majin Buu himself. You know perfectly well how to take care of yourself."
"That's not what I mean, you dumb-ass." His wife sighed, falling back against her pillow, her hands folding over her belly, which looked larger than usual--maybe it was because of the scrunched way she was sitting, and the sheerness of her yellow gown. "I mean you know how to love me. Tell me you don't know how to do that, Vegeta, and I'll admit that we have a real problem here."
He did not know what to say. This time not knowing what to say was a relief; she had ended the conversation by decisively cornering him, and he was not in the mood for a battle of wits. Ok, she had won. She had settled it. He loved her, the bitch, and did that mean everything was alright now somehow? It was his turn to let out a long, hard breath.
He put his hand on her immense abdomen. He could feel the odd nub of her bellybutton beneath the thin yellow gown. What had once been a lovely dent on her fascinating white skin had bubbled into an outie as she called it. His woman was stretched to capacity in almost all places. She was so human and fragile--how could such skin hold up under such burgeoning activity inside her?
The thing was quiet now, but it kicked all the time, according to her. Bulma said that it seemed to be lulled somehow by the rhythm of lovemaking and would not kick much when Vegeta was awake to feel it, yet once, an early morning not long ago, he could've sworn he felt it lunge against his hand when he was lying, arm thrown around his wife, lost to dreamless sleep. The movement was as if something had punched hard against his loose fist, and he'd startled awake, ready to strike back.
In that dizzying pitch to consciousness, as soon as he had realized that he was in bed with his pregnant mate, on Earth, with no enemy to fight and no reason to jump, he knew. He knew he would always be a warrior before being a husband and father.
"She's asleep," Bulma said, misinterpreting Vegeta's hand not moving on her belly as a sign he was waiting for the baby to kick.
"She probably drowned in ice cream," Vegeta said. His hand pressed lightly against the nightgown. The belly was gorgeous really, if you didn't consider what was inside it. Almost like a third breast in sheer voluptuousness. His hand slid past it and began to swathe the area beneath. Bulma squirmed in what he thought was delight until he kissed her, and then she spoke against his mouth in a decidedly unamorous tone.
"You had to mention ice cream, didn't you?"
"It's right there next to you. Don't you claim that women are masters of multi-tasking? You just grab the tub and eat your ice cream, and I'll do my own--"
"Vegeta! It's all melted! I have to get some new stuff. And the freezer's empty. I'll be needing some for breakfast."
He swerved his legs off the bed and stood up. "Fine. I'm still almost completely dressed anyway."
"Nuh uh, Buster, you're not flying anywhere. I can't trust you to come back with it uneaten." She adjusted her straps, the ones he hadn't popped yet, and got out of bed. "I'll send Trunks. You stay right here. I have to pee anyway."
Vegeta was sitting back on the edge of the bed, thinking perhaps he would have time for a long shower before she was back again, when Bulma ducked her head back into the room, lifted one luminous, pregnant breast out of the yellow nightgown and flashed him, jiggling it with her hand. "I'll be right back. Don't you dare go anywhere."
The miraculous sound of Bulma Briefs' laughter echoed down the hallway as she walked away. The woman was so pleased with herself.
As he was pleased with his life with her. Vegeta lay back down on the bed. If the brat was going to be anything like Bulma, he was condemned to the sweet misery of loving her.
He found the tub of melted ice cream on the nightstand and downed the contents in a few gulping swallows. Sweet. He was glad there would be more soon.