Disclaimer: Not mine! (*sniffle*dammit*sob*) All hail to those wonderful people who brought it into our mundane lives; Toriyama, the people at Bird Studios, etc. etc.
Summary: This is a story told from the point of view of Mirai Bulma. Warning; lemon.
A Million Times Over
It’s only recently that I’ve come to appreciate the importance of time. I never gave it much thought before, but time really does change everything. If you know what you’re doing of course. But even though I’ve been able to create a time machine to send my son back in time to hopefully save the world and my friends and family that does not mean I know the outcome. And I might never know.
There are a few possible outcomes; Trunks may die and I will never know what happened (I try not to think about that outcome too much). Or he could succeed, time will change and I may or may not exist. And if I do exist, I may not exist as I do now. Things may have changed; I may be a different person. I don’t really like the idea of being any other person than I am now. But if it happens, I probably won’t know anyway and it will mean the freedom and peace of the human race. I can’t hold back for that. I suppose what I’d miss most are the memories; not that all of them were that pleasant, though they were mine….
(At the beginning)
"I swear Chichi, things between me and Yamucha are over," I said, my voice earnest.
"Mmm-hmm," replied Chichi. "Well, I tried to warn you a while ago he was cheating. But you didn’t listen. How am I meant to believe it’s over now?"
"I’m serious this time," I told her over tea at my place. "It’s been over for a while, I was just too foolish to admit it."
"I know that feeling," said Chichi distantly and I paused mid-sip. I hadn’t thought there was ever anyone besides Goku. Sensing she hadn’t meant to say that, I decided to leave it well alone.
"Well," I continued, "I don’t feel any remorse. Only that it took me so long."
"So you won’t be entering anymore relationships anytime soon?" Chichi asked.
"Of course not. I know I’m not getting any younger but there’s no need to hurry," I said.
"That’s what I thought, too," she said. "Until Goku came along and I realised what I was waiting for was right in front of me."
I smiled inwardly. It might seem like Goku and Chichi argued more than anything else, but I knew she loved him. Perhaps more than she realised, or it only really showed when disaster struck. Though things had been quiet in the months…no, year or so…since Freeza and King Cold were destroyed by Goku.
That was a close thing, too. It seemed that he would not make it back home in time to stop them, but Vegeta and the guys managed to hold them off until Goku arrived; great sense of timing that guy has.
The room shook as a bolt of energy shot too close to the roof again.
"I think it’s great the guys are trying to keep their skills up in times of peace," I told Chichi. "I just wish they wouldn’t train so close to the house."
"I know," Chichi said as a loud Kamehameya could be heard in the background. "Remember, Goku and Vegeta were at my place last time. How is Vegeta healing, by the way?"
"Fine, just fine," I told her. "I think the only thing hurt was Vegeta’s ego and it could do with a little damage. He keeps trying to tell me that he wanted Goku to get him so that he could be injured and get stronger after he healed. That saiyajin pride of theirs is gonna get them seriously hurt someday."
"You’re telling me," said Chichi. "I wouldn’t tell him this because it would embarrass him, but every time Goku walks out that door, I wonder what kind of condition he’ll be in when he comes home and it worries the hell out of me."
I’ll get you for that Kakarott.
"So how are things with you and Vegeta?" Chichi asked me. "Surviving life with ‘his royal highness’?"
"Well, I honestly don’t know. After he got injured by Goku, I was taking care of him for a while. He was unconscious and he woke up just as I was fixing his bandages. For a moment, there was something in his eyes I couldn’t understand, then he got madder at me than ever."
Chichi smiled and simply said, "I used to think Goku hated me too. Or at least, was indifferent to me."
"Oh, no. You don’t think Vegeta…I mean, we’re not even the same species!"
"Close enough, Bulma, close enough."
"Woman! I’m hungry," Vegeta cried as he slammed the door. I winced inwardly, glad that my parents were away at a Engineers of Science conference and they wouldn‘t be able to hear Vegeta‘s constant complaining.
"You know where the fridge is!" I cried back. "And you have feet, use them! Or are you too sore after fighting Goku?" That last part was an unnecessary taunt, but I couldn’t help myself.
Vegeta glowered at me, as he stormed past me to get to the fridge. I just ignored him and continued to read my magazine. I did, guiltily, sneak a peek at him bent over in front of the fridge. Not bad, not bad…oh, Kame, what am I thinking? It can’t have been that long since…
"Well?" Vegeta was staring at me when I broke out of my daydream.
"There’s no food in here."
"Not my fault, I wasn’t the one sent out to get food."
"And I’ve told you before; I am a Prince, you don’t send me out to do the ‘groceries’. On Vegitasei, I could have you executed for that," he said, his eyes dark and menacing. But I was used to it by now and didn’t even raise an eyebrow, which annoyed him more than ever.
"You aren’t on Vegitasei, so you’ll just have to do what I say," I told him. "I’m not some concubine that you can just order around."
"Concubine? I don’t know what you are talking about, woman!"
I then realised what a mistake I’d made; bringing up something slightly sexually related that I might have to actually explain to him.
"Uh, it’s nothing," I said.
"No, tell me."
"Well," I began nervously. How was it I - a successful, independent, woman - could feel like a stuttering teenage girl, just because of a guy? Even if he was a prince. "A concubine is a woman…rich and powerful men own them…and they use them for…" I trailed off, embarrassed.
"For sex?" Vegeta asked, a hint of a smile at his lips. "Is that what you’re trying to say?"
"Yes." I admitted it hesitantly.
"Do you want to be used for sex?" Vegeta asked and for a moment I didn’t realise he was teasing me; he said it so frankly. Then I saw him grinning at my shock out of the corner of my eye.
"Why you…you…ecchi!" I cried, throwing myself against him in a tackle, knowing full well he could push me away with one finger. But he didn’t. Instead he laughed, not in that mocking way he always did, but a genuine laugh, as I pummelled my fists against his firm chest. I was hitting and swearing for a good few minutes, till my face was flushed and my hands sore. Then, with no more effort than it took to blink, Vegeta caught my wrists in my hands.
"Do you?" he asked again, this time, his voice low and husky. I fell a tingle run down my spine as I realised he was serious this time.
"I…I don’t know, Vegeta," I said, even as he leant forward, his breath against my neck.
"I promise not to hurt you," he whispered and as I turned to face him, he caught my lips with his and passion flared within me as I wrapped my arms around his neck and my legs around his waist. He picked me up easily, and without breaking contact between our mouths, he carried me to the bed upstairs.
When Vegeta touched me without gloves on, I nearly died, it was so gentle. I’d taken it for granted that he always wore those gloves and that any way he had of touching anyone usually resulted in bruises. And not only that, but as I pulled off his blue outfit and boots, he touched me with fingers so expert I thought I would pass out, right there and then.
"How?" I gasped, unable to believe the intensity of what I was feeling.
"Shhh," he whispered, catching my lips between his. He tasted so good; like salt and the outdoors and something much more terrifying…
Lust. It was lust for me. It thrilled me that someone so powerful could need me so badly and it drove me to start ripping off my own blouse and skirt until we were both naked against each other. I wasn’t surprised to find Vegeta as muscular-looking naked as he was clothed.
He touched me, kissed me, like no man had ever done before; not even Yamucha. I gasped and clung to him until I arched off the bed and white dots appeared before my eyes. And I knew he wasn’t even anywhere near finished.
Vegeta positioned himself above me and all I could see were his eyes; deeper and blacker than they’d ever been before.
"I won’t hurt you," he told me again, as if I might be afraid. But I’d never needed anyone so badly before in my life. Even if he had told me he might hurt me, I would still have pushed myself up against him the way I did then. And I still would have wrapped my arms and legs around him so tightly, urging him on as he gasped and moaned against my lips. We moved together and I could feel something inside me snapping and for the tiniest moment I wondered if such joy could only result in heart-ache.
Then Vegeta moaned and I cried out as I buried my face in his shoulder and any thought was impossible.
It continued like that all night.
In the morning he was gone.
And I realised that when he said he wouldn’t hurt me, he had meant physically.
Emotionally, he’d killed me a million times over.
"Oh, kame. Chichi, what’s wrong with me?" I asked, my head bent over her toilet bowl. It was now plastered with the remains of my breakfast as Chichi gently patted me on the back.
It was nearly two months since that night Vegeta and I spent together. And he’d managed to avoid me ever since. I think maybe he just had good timing and found something else to do whenever I was around or perhaps he sensed my ‘pathetic excuse for a ki’ and ran if he sensed me coming. Or maybe I was just being paranoid; it wasn’t as if I’d seen him all that much before we were…lovers? It didn’t seem like the right word for it but it would have to do.
That morning, Vegeta had announced that he was going to ‘Kakarott’s’ place to train and, seeking women’s company, I made him take me too. Though we said nothing to each other on the way over and the moment we landed I unceremoniously ran to Chichi’s bathroom.
"Bulma," she said from behind me, "if you don’t mind me asking, when was the last time you had your…you know."
"Huh? Oh, ages ago. But I’m always running late, so I didn’t give it much thought."
"How late are you usually?"
I pursed my lips as I realised the answer. "Not this late, Chichi. Oh, Kame, what am I going to do?"
Chichi’s face was plainly worried. "How do you think Yamucha will react?"
"I don’t know," I told her, summoning up the courage to go on, "considering it isn’t his child."
"Oh, Bulma," Chichi gasped and her eyes widened as she put two and two together. "Not Vegeta? But how? No - why?"
I stood up and washed my face in the sink. When I stood up I caught a glance at my face in the mirror. It was the face of a woman destroyed.
"It was a mistake, Chichi. At least, that’s what Vegeta thinks. I know that much. He’ll hate that I’m pregnant."
"You don’t think he’d…I mean, I know he’s a murderer and everything…but Bulma, he wouldn’t do anything to hurt his own child? Would he?"
I hung my head in my hands and wished I could tell her, without a doubt, that he wouldn’t. When I didn’t answer, Chichi asked, "What will you do?"
I stared at my face in the mirror again. True, I was a woman destroyed but I would be damned if I was going to be a woman defeated.
"I’ll do the only thing I can do."
I’ve never tried to make the false claim that I’m brave.
Goku is brave; he’ll fight to the death if it’s the right thing to do.
Vegeta could be called brave, in a strange, proud, egotistical kind of way.
Hell, even little Chou-tsu is braver than I am. The only reason I ever got mixed up with the dragonballs is greed. Not for money or power; hard work will get you that. For the perfect life; a husband who loved me, beautiful children who would call me ‘mother‘ and would ask me to read them bed time stories. Considering where the hunt for those dragonballs had gotten me (pregnant to a man who doesn’t love me and driving along the highway to as far from home as I can possibly get) the irony was laughable.
It’s not that I was afraid. I have done my share of foolish things in my life and not enough of them have been cowardly. More often than not, I ran headlong into danger because as unusual as it sounds, the adventure is addictive. And I guess, after wishing people back from the dead and so forth, losing my life didn’t seem that terrible.
But it wasn’t just my life I was worried about. There was someone else to consider now; my child.
And it wasn’t even my life I was so afraid for. Deep down, I knew that even if Vegeta tried to hurt me, he wouldn’t be able to, even if it were just because I wasn’t worth the effort.
To tell the truth, I was afraid to face him, to re-open all the wounds he’d left in my heart which had begun to heal. And I was afraid of seeing those eyes, black and cold, as I told him I was carrying his child, a child he would not want. Hell, he didn’t even want me. I could imagine the look perfectly, until it burned a hole into my soul, but to actually be able to see that image before me; it would be too much.
So I wiped the tears from my eyes and continued down the highway. I hadn’t told Chichi where I was going because I didn’t even know myself. I just went home, grabbed some clothes (the loosest and most casual I could find) and some spare cash, though there wasn‘t much of that. I couldn’t take any credit cards with me because if my parents tried to find me, and I know they would, that would be the easiest way.
There I was then, a mother carrying an alien child who was unwanted by the alien father and had been conceived in an accident of passion. It didn’t matter that I dreamed of being with Vegeta, or that I was in love with him; reality was reality. I was just another one of those girls, the ones mothers warn their daughters about.
That was where the dragonballs had gotten me. If I ever saw one again I would drop it into the deepest hole I could find then fill it up with cement.
Time, as it has a habit of doing, kept on passing. Days became weeks, became months. I stretched the money I had as best I could, jumping from one dingy motel to the next in order not to be found. The media got a hold of the ‘missing scientist heiress’ story and suddenly my face was plastered everywhere and I could only hide by dying my hair a darker shade and avoiding very public places. Meanwhile, my stomach was growing more day after day and day after day I had to go through the pain and sickness on my own.
But I never blamed my baby. At night, when it was really easy to remember that I was alone, I would try to tell the child stories above the noise of room 18A’s TV. I told my baby fairy tales about wicked Queens and beautiful princesses who found their prince charming. Just because my prince charming was not there for me, didn’t mean my baby didn’t get to believe in the fantasy.
Then the money ran out. For a little while people took pity on me and let me stay in their motel a little longer than I should have, but eventually I had to leave. I couldn’t even go to a charity group because when they asked me who I was and I told them I was Bulma Briefs they would either send me home or think I was nuts and put me in an institution.
On the day I left the city it was raining heavily, which suited how I felt perfectly. Without any money and any way of knowing where I was going I found myself at a cave I had once used back in the old days as a shelter from danger. It was high up the mountain side and apparently inaccessible. But if you knew where the path was, it wasn’t a very difficult climb at all, or at least it used to be easy before I blew up to the size of a house.
With some huffing and puffing and a great deal of shivering, I made my way up and quickly lit a fire in the cave. My clothes were soaked to the bone but that didn’t matter considering the tiny scraps of fabric offered little protection from the elements under normal conditions anyway.
I was halfway through boiling some water by the pathetic fire I’d built when it struck; a sudden tightening of muscles which shouldn’t be being used. Not yet anyway. It was too soon, there was still a good two months or so to go.
But it turned out my child had other ideas about that and as my water broke, I knew we were both doomed. Lancinating pain shot through my abdomen and I fell to the ground, crying. I remember thinking whether or not Vegeta would ever find out about what had happened to me, or whether he would ever discover he had a child. Would he even mourn my death?
Then a voice called out above the lightning. "BUUUULLLLMAAA!"
At first I thought it was the wind and tricks of my mind. Then I heard, "Bulma! Woman, where are you?"
That settled it. There was only one person in the world who called me ‘woman’ and only one person brave, or stupid, enough to be out in this storm looking for me. I turned my head and beyond the flames of the fire, I could see his outline, backlit by the lightning.
"Vegeta!" I tried to call out but it came as a half-gasp. He was beside me in an instant, clutching my hand.
"Foolish woman," he told me with not as much viciousness as he always had. "What on earth are you doing out here? If you had to run away, you could have at least chosen a more…appropriate…place to stay."
"I was…I ran out of money," I was in too much pain and shock to bother lying.
"It does not matter. If you had not moved so far away from other people, I might not have been able to sense your pathetic excuse for a ki."
I tried to sit up to face him, but it was impossible. "Why are you here anyway, Vegeta?"
He furrowed his brows. "Don’t you think a better question would be, why are you out here?"
I turned my head to the side to try and avoid his stare, but it was not enough. Vegeta would always be able to see straight through me, even if he was like a stone wall to me. Most of the time, anyway.
"Don’t tell me…you truly are foolish, woman! Did you honestly think that I would hurt the child? That I would not be able to accept my child?"
It was hard to tell what was worse. The pain in my abdomen or the pain in my heart. Tears flowing from my eyes, I turned to him and cried, "What did you expect, Vegeta? You’d never given me any hope otherwise! You left the next morning and didn’t say a word to me for months! I would rather have the child believe it had no father than one who didn’t love it and you…"
I was cut off by another contraction. It wasn’t that there hadn’t been uncountable ones before, but this was worse than the others. Much worse. Deep down, I sensed something was very wrong.
Vegeta sensed my worry and took my face in his hands. "Woman, what is it?"
"The baby…it’s coming."
"No! How? Kakarott’s mate told me there was still time."
"Turn’s out your child is as impatient as you are, Vegeta, because it doesn’t want to wait!" I cried out again and I saw Vegeta’s strong face visibly soften, if that were possible. He may not have yet understood me, but he understood what pain was. Possibly better than anyone, he knew what the sickening mix of desolation and physical pain tasted like.
"Don’t worry, Bulma," he said, grabbing one of my paper thin blankets and slipping it beneath me while he tucked one of my jumpers under my head. "I’ve had ‘instruction’ from Kakarott’s mate. I won’t let the child die."
"He’s as strong as his father, he’ll be fine. It’s not the baby you’ll have to worry about."
Vegeta lifted his head sharply and stared at me. For a second, I thought I could see fear, real fear, in his eyes before the look faded. "Just try to relax," he told me.
I did, but the pain was almost unbearable. I pushed and pushed the way I thought one had to, but it seemed nothing was happening. Then Vegeta called out, "Harder, woman, I can see the head!"
"Vegeta! I don’t think I can do this! It hurts!"
I suppose I expected him to chastise me for being weak or something but he only said, "I know, but you have to push."
With this renewed faith in the worth of my own life, I pushed and pushed. Tears sprung to my eyes and I cried out more than once, my cries echoing off the cave’s walls. Finally, there was release. A small cry, a tiny whimper. I lifted my head as much as possible and was confronted with the most amazing, beautiful image. One which would keep me warm in the upcoming cold nights.
Vegeta was kneeling, his arms cradled around a tiny, wriggling, pink bundle. The bundle was reaching up a minute arm to his father’s face as Vegeta, tears gathering in his eyes, looked down on his son. A son; I’d given him a son.
And then I lost my battle to stay conscious.
The last thing I heard before I passed out was Vegeta’s voice calling my name.
My own name bounced around my head like a pinball. I gingerly opened my eyes and saw my lover’s face. "Gee Vegeta, did you have to call me so loudly? I’m right here."
He jumped, still managing to hold on to our baby boy, a tiny creature with little locks of lavender hair and eyes like his father‘s, only painted in my colours. "You’re awake."
"How long was I out for?" I asked. My throat was dry and my voice raspy.
"It still hurts."
"You will have to see a doctor when I take you to your home."
I held my breath. I waited for him to say he would be staying with us. But there was only silence. Closing my eyes, I tried to turn to the side so Vegeta wouldn’t see me cry but I couldn’t move for the pain so I just squeezed my eyelids shut so tightly no tears leaked out.
When I could trust myself not to stay bawling, I opened my eyes and tried to feast on the sight before me; Vegeta, sitting down cross-legged, our baby son, cradled in his arms. His face was equal parts confused, proud and amazed. I just wished the feelings he was feeling would draw him so strongly to us so as to make him stay. But I knew him, and one night of miracles wouldn’t change things. It would take time, and pain, on my part. And I was ready for that, but I wasn’t sure if I could put our son through the same thing.
"Trunks," Vegeta said quietly.
"What was that?"
"Trunks, I think his name should be Trunks. A true Saiya-jin name. Though if it weren’t for the tail, you couldn’t tell."
"Trunks; I like the name," and I did, because it was the name Vegeta had given him. "But the tail will have to go. I won’t risk him stomping us to death."
Vegeta grumbled but he knew when he could not win. "Fine, woman."
He stood up and, holding Trunks rather unceremoniously in one arm, carried me in the other. Within hours, I was recovering in the finest hospital bed my father’s money could buy. Trunks was being cared for in the nursery and by my wishes, the tail was removed by some very shocked nurses. My parents came, crying and yelling, but overall, I knew they’d forgiven me. Chichi even dropped by too, to offer her congratulations. But when I saw all the other mothers, their husbands happily by their side, I felt I didn’t deserve her congratulations at all. The dream I had hoped to have, and did have for a moment, was over.
Three days after I left the hospital, things had only just begun to return to normal when Goku fell sick. No one saw it coming. I heard that one day he was just training with Gohan in the backyard when he collapsed. Chichi rushed him to the hospital as soon as possible and spent nearly every day and night by his bedside. Two nights later he passed away. I had come to visit, but was too late. I knew it too, when I arrived at the hospital to find Chichi sitting on the empty bed, a sleeping Gohan cradled in her arms.
"He’s gone," she whispered. "An hour ago. His heart just…stopped."
"Oh, Chichi," I could feel tears welling in my eyes but I blinked them away.
She didn’t say anything, just rocked Gohan back and forth. "Gohan couldn’t stop crying. I just let him sleep instead."
"Chichi, I just…I can’t believe he’s gone," I told her. "Not Goku, not like this."
"I know, but it’s okay, it‘s going to be okay," she said, although it was plain from her pale face and slumped shoulders that it was anything but. She’d just lost her partner for life and the only thing keeping her from crying was the fear she’d wake Gohan. I was amazed at her inner strength.
"Chichi, wait! You can wish him back with the dragonballs," I said.
"I already thought of that," she said, gazing down onto her son. "But he’s already been wished back with the dragonballs of earth and the ones from Namek disappeared, remember?"
I sighed but it became a sob. Finally, I thought I could hold it in no longer and I ran to the bathroom to weep over the loss of a good, and kind, friend. Somehow, I felt guilty that Vegeta and I weren’t nearly as close as Chichi and Goku but we were still alive. It just didn’t seem fair.
The funeral was held a week later. Master Roshi said some wonderful things about the honour and heart of a warrior while Krillin told some amazing and humorous things about Goku. Gohan was so brave, he didn’t shed a tear once and I was later to contemplate just how much his father’s spirit lived on in him. Chichi didn’t cry either, but her face was still as pale as always, looking even paler than ever against her black hair. When the funeral was over, Ox King took Chichi and Gohan home and all the others left, to train on as Goku would have wanted. But I stayed behind with baby Trunks, to try and remember all the fun times we had in our wild and crazy adventures. I could almost hear Goku laughing in his childlike way beside me.
That was when I sensed Vegeta arrive. I knew I had no special senses and the idea of ki was foreign to me, but after time, I could sense when Vegeta was coming. Probably because he wasn’t around that often, my body was super sensitive to when he was.
"I didn’t see you at the funeral, Vegeta," I said coldly.
"Kakarott was my opponent, not my enemy. I am here to pay my respects in the manner I wish."
We lapsed into silence then. Finally Vegeta said, "I made a promise to Kakarott some time ago, a debt of honour for his being a worthy opponent. If he were to die, I would bear the responsibility of protecting his family, as I would my own."
I smiled a little. Vegeta never spoke of us as a family before. "You need not worry, Chichi is moving in with me once things settle down."
More silence. "Good," he said and as abruptly as he had arrived, he left . Once again, I was on my own.
Though, as I glanced at Goku’s grave, not as alone as Chichi was. And always would be, I thought with a heavy heart.
Chichi did move in with me, and Gohan soon became playmates with Trunks, who grew bigger everyday. I did fear that one day he would be big enough to train and Vegeta might change his mind about being a father and return to take him away from me. I wanted him to spend time with Trunks but not to leave with him.
Goku’s death weighed heavily on all of us for a long time, but somehow that brought us closer together. Krillin dropped by regularly and we all often travelled to Master Roshi’s for reunions. I hardly ever saw Vegeta but I was becoming comfortable with the idea of him not really being a part of my life. He took the gravity room away with him one day and I was lucky just to see him every few months or so, when he felt like stopping by or when the gravity room needed repair. Under other circumstances, I would have been upset, but with Gohan and Trunks to care for, and Chichi to comfort, I didn’t have the time.
Poor Chichi, she tried so hard to be the woman she once was. But the more she tried, and the more she struggled, the more she lost hope. I could do nothing, but try and ease the burden on her by caring for Gohan.
About one year after Goku died, the first attack came.
I was watching the attack on TV and when they lost coverage of the disaster in South City, I knew something was very wrong. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when Krillen rang, asking for Gohan’s help in a great battle with these things called ’androids’. I was forever to hate that word as Chichi very reluctantly allowed Gohan to go.
Less than an hour later, Gohan returned. I knew things were bleak if he returned so early; it seems strange but all the battles we’ve won have taken hours, maybe days. The only time someone returns early is if….
"They’re dead! All dead!" Gohan cried as he burst through the door. "Even Piccolo and without him we can’t wish them back and…oh, kame, we’re doomed! Vegeta too…"
At the sound of those two simple words, my heart was ripped open like it had never been before. All the dams I had subconsciously built to hold back feelings about Vegeta suddenly burst open.
"Dead?" I whispered to myself. "No. He’s the strongest man…he can’t be. He just can’t."
Gohan and Chichi saw my pain but there was too much to do for them to do anything to help me. And I watched it all happen in a daze, everything was in a daze. Then I realised I wasn’t as strong as Chichi.
I fell to my knees, clutching Trunks, clutching all I had left of Vegeta and screamed. A loud, inhuman cry I didn’t think I was able to produce.
"Vegeeeeettaaaaa!" I cried out until my throat hurt and Trunks wailings drowned me out. I felt Chichi’s arms around my shoulders and saw Gohan’s terrified and mournful eyes but nothing of it mattered.
I really was alone.
I don’t remember much of the next few days. I was like a ship on autopilot; I was there but there was no one really in my mind. I was locked away, mentally, in a place where Vegeta and Goku and Krillin and all the others were alive and Vegeta loved me and cared about me the way a husband should.
Outside, in the real world, we were evacuating our homes. I tried to contact my parents but when I discovered that the city they’d been staying in was attacked, I gave up hope and joined Chichi and Gohan in fleeing. We had to stay away from the main roads; they were jammed up with people. Gohan - who had grown so big before my very eyes - flew us as far as he could before he could go no further and we had to walk. Somehow, and I don’t know how it happened, but we ended up at the cave where Trunks was born. Holding back my feelings, I went to work gathering supplies from the nearby forest and setting up a small shelter in the rear of the cave.
For weeks we hid in that cave, waiting for some news of hope on the portable radio I had brought along. But there was nothing. City after city fell to the androids whims of destruction. And as I sat, baby Trunks on my lap, I realised just how bad things were for us and just how worse things were going to get. At night-time - much to Chichi’s dismay - Gohan would fly outside, scouting for survivors and collecting supplies. He found no-one in the cities and we assumed whoever was left would be hiding in underground tunnels and sewers.
One day, Gohan returned to report that there were other people alive, hiding in tunnels and ruins beneath the city. Longing to be with other people, to share our grief and find a way to fight back, we risked death and made our way to the tunnels. Admittedly, they were not a great improvement on the cave, but at least in the tunnels I could go about the painstaking task of assembling what I needed; equipment and tools for a very special, very important project.
We lost Chichi a few years after that, just as Gohan was finally beginning to get over his father’s death, the poor boy. She had been injured in an attack from the androids on an area just above our hiding place. For a while, we thought she was okay, that she would pull through. Then she just seemed to fade away, to slowly leave the burdened life we’d been leading. I almost understood how she felt; that emptiness that came from once being whole and now, half. From knowing completeness, then, being cleaved into two once more. Though I knew Chichi’s heart was also with Gohan, her body and mind were weary from all we had been through. We could only be consoled by the fact that now she would be reunited with Goku.
It was about that time that Trunks asked me about his father, one day as I was working on my plan of ‘hope’. I wasn’t quite sure what to tell him for a moment. There were so many different sides to Vegeta that I had been both fortunate and unfortunate to know.
"Your father, Trunks?" I took a screwdriver into my hand and decided it best just to keep to what my heart knew. "He was a man of amazing talent - you wouldn’t believe some of the things he could do." I sighed. "But he was a hard man and a difficult man to know. Would you believe he never once told me he cared about me…." my heart broke again at that revelation. "But I could tell."
Trunks stood there in surprise for a long time and I suppose, in a way, I’d revealed to him a side of myself I wasn’t sure was there anymore. Through all the tragedy we suffered, I’d tried my best to remain warm and loving, as a mother should be. But perhaps too much of Vegeta rubbed off on me, and often I buried the emotions I didn’t have the courage to show.
"The past is in the past, though," I told my son. "Your father would want us to fight on, to be strong. Now go find Gohan; see if there’s any training he’d like you to do," and with that I gave Trunks a playful rub on the head.
He smiled at me, a little warily, mind you. "Okay, Okaasan."
And now I’m here: waiting for him to return. While he only left two minutes ago in the time capsule, if my calculations are correct, he should return almost straight away. Or he may not; time may have changed and these versions of our selves that we know may cease to exist. In which case, I don’t know what will happen to me, or Trunks. Or perhaps he may fail, unknowingly, and when he returns, things will not have changed. I can only wait…time has one certainty; it passes.
The sky above me is clear and blue. Wait a minute…you can’t see the sky from our tunnels. And last time I saw it, it wasn’t blue, but grey with smog. Where am I? What happened?
I sit up and look about. I am in a park, children are playing and birds are singing. If it is all a dream, then it is the cruellest trick my mind has ever played on me before; it is all too real.
But you know this place; it’s the park near Capsule Corp. It’s a Sunday and you’ve come here on a picnic with your family and Goku‘s family…
A part of my mind answers my silent question and simultaneously, the two parts discover what’s happened. Trunks changed the past, but instead of me ceasing to exist, I’ve become a part of the Bulma who lived in the past, who lived in relative peace. And she has become a part of me.
But why me? I look about me and no one else seems to feel the same way I do. Perhaps I am the only one who remains this way because I was directly responsible for the time shift. Perhaps I am not really here, but that during the time shift, part of my consciousness became part of this Bulma’s mind…that would explain where Trunks went. Or perhaps the Gods have their own reasons I could never hope to understand.
"About time you woke up." A deep voice behind me says, a voice I could never have hoped to hear again. Even the Bulma who recognises this voice well is overjoyed. We share the same feelings, after all. And she knows, also, how horrible it is to be without him. She too knows how it feels to be left behind.
"Vegeta!" I cry, turning around on the picnic blanket so I can throw myself into his arms and kiss him, deeply. I don’t care who sees us - I’ve missed this more than any of them could understand.
"Woman, what on Chikyuu has gotten into you? Have you had to much sun?" he asks me, annoyed but also concerned.
I pull back slightly, breathing his scent in deeply, feasting my eyes on his face. Those darker than dark eyes, the peaked eyebrows which express so much - I can’t believe there was a time I thought I could live without him. "No, I just missed you, that’s all."
He raises one perfect black eyebrow at me and I can see him mentally calling me baka. "I simply took your son for some of that strange food you call ice-cream. He then ran off with Kakarott’s brat. You fell asleep."
It was only minutes for him…for me it has been years and years. Years in which the Vegeta I knew, also the Vegeta before me, could have grown and loved and become the man I see now. The Bulma from this time hastens to warn me though, that things have not been perfect and Vegeta is far from the perfect husband. There has been pain and separation as well.
In reply to that, I send her images of a life without the ability to feel the good and the bad with Vegeta. The loneliness and hopelessness that accompanied all that. Walking a rough path with someone is better than not walking one at all.
And as one mind we decide that what I told Trunks was true; the past is the past and the future awaits me. It awaits all of us.
"Come here, Vegeta," I say, pulling him closer by his shirt collar. His face is a mixture of amusement, confusion and desire. As he then takes control, taking me into a rough embrace and a gentle, passionate kiss, I know which emotion won over.
The past is the past………
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