Warning: This story is rated NC-17 for some sexual content (B/V) in Chapter 5.
Do not read if you are under 17!
Disclaimer: I do not own Dragonball Z or any of its characters, and am writing this fanfic purely for entertainment purposes.
TIMELINE: This story takes place immediately after the first Broly movie, during the ten days before the Cell Games begin.
Vegeta shifted uncomfortably in the space capsule that had been designed to carry far less passengers than it held right now. The stench of blood and human sweat was revolting. He wanted nothing more than to get away from this group and escape to the solitude of a hot shower, and the peace and comfort of his own bed, with his woman nestled in his arms…
His woman. There would be hell to pay for the way he had left this time, and he knew in his heart that he deserved it. She would most likely scream her head off at him about how he had deserted her and the baby without so much as a word, at the promise of a new Vegeta-sei that needed him as King, and a Super Saiyan whom only he would have the power to destroy…
It had all been a sick, cruel joke. A ruse to lure him, his son, and the other remaining Saiyans, to their deaths. All for the revenge of a madman who blamed his father, King Vegeta, for trying to kill him and his son Broly…
As the father of a small child, Vegeta could, on some level, understand Paragus’ fury. The infant Broly had been guilty of nothing but an incredibly powerful ki. Paragus had tried to convince King Vegeta that the child could become a loyal servant to his son, the young Prince Vegeta who had been barely four years old himself at the time. But Vegeta knew full well what his father had feared, and against his own conscience, approved his decision. Strength was all that mattered in the Saiyan Empire. Vegeta would have only ruled as long as he was perceived to be the most powerful. His father had had great dreams that the Prince would someday become a Super Saiyan, that he would be "the Legendary" reborn. What pride his father would have felt to see that he, and his son, had ascended even beyond Super Saiyan…
And what shame and disappointment would have eaten away at the old man as he’d seen his only son, the Prince of all Saiyans, cowering in fear at the sight of Broly’s incredible power?
He couldn’t even bear to think of it. The fact that he had gotten up to fight, eventually played a role in Broly’s destruction, was meaningless. He had been a coward, and all those who were present right now had borne witness to his disgrace.
Once again, Kakarot had saved the day. And Vegeta both admired and hated him for it.
"You were great, Dad," a bloodied, but grinning Gohan was telling his father. What admiration the boy had for his father. Would baby Trunks ever look at him with such pride? He glanced over at Trunks’ older self, remembering with regret that he had called the boy a coward for warning him to be cautious. Yet with pride and astonishment he had seen the boy fight just as fearlessly as the rest. Vegeta realized suddenly that Trunks was looking back at him, and he looked away. There were so many things he wished he could say, but now would not be the time, even if he could find the strength to say them.
"I never would have been able to do it without you guys," Kakarot was saying with a humility that was sickening. "If you hadn’t all given me your power…he was about to blast me into the next dimension." He said it so carelessly, almost as a joke. Was there any fear in the son of a bitch at all? Just then, Kakarot turned to him. "Thank you, Vegeta," he said with an unexpected sincerity. "I know it’s not the way you would have wanted to do it, but I couldn’t have beaten him without your power."
Vegeta just nodded and grunted, taken too much by surprise to think of a comeback. He glanced at his son and saw that Trunks was nodding his approval to him as well, his light
smile saying something he wouldn’t dare aloud.
Vegeta just turned away. If his son did have any pride in him, at the moment he was convinced it was undeserved.
Bulma stood on her balcony looking into the night sky for some sign of the capsule she knew was on its way. Baby Trunks had long been asleep when her father had come to tell her that he’d detected the ship’s approach. She’d sighed with relief when he’d said there were eight life signs aboard. They were all coming back.
Vegeta was coming back.
She’d been in shock when he’d taken off so abruptly, and for the first time in her life, at a loss for words. Life with him hadn’t been easy, even after Trunks had been born. He’d go off for days at a time to train, claiming that she and the baby distracted him too much. But he’d always come back. And in those precious moments that they shared alone together, she knew that he was happy with them. It was something he would never show publicly, but that she could feel through the bond that had grown stronger between them each day. The special Saiyan bond that connected a Saiyan and his mate for all time, he had told her. It had begun to form the night they’d first made love, their minds and spirits seeming to meld together even as their bodies became one. It was through this magical connection that she’d felt the love he could never bring himself to voice aloud. His thoughts had begun to touch hers even when they were apart, giving her the strength to go on whenever he’d been away. Yet this time, as he’d left with the strange Saiyan Paragus, she’d felt nothing from him. No regret at having to leave her behind, no reassurances that he would return. Just a dark obsession with his own power, and need to prove himself yet again…
She wasn’t sure how she would react when she saw him. Part of her wanted to run into his arms and cry with relief that he had come back to her. Another part of her wanted to slap him hard and scream at him for abandoning her yet again…
She knew that neither would go over very well. But the decision became moot as a tiny dot in the sky began to grow brighter. He was home. That was all that mattered now.
Bulma ran downstairs just as the ship landed not so delicately on her front lawn. She held her breath as the hatch slowly opened…
…and her son stumbled out.
"Trunks!" She hugged him tightly, feeling him nearly slump in her arms. "Are you okay?" she asked worriedly, looking into his pale face. She’d known that Piccolo had taken Senzu along, and couldn’t imagine why Trunks still seemed so weak.
"I’m fine, Mom," he said, forcing a reassuring smile. "I just need a good night’s sleep."
One by one they piled out, Goku looking less exuberant than usual, Gohan bloodied and tired but in one piece. Master Roshi was going on to Oolong as if he were still drunk, and Krillin was helping his master walk straight. Impatiently, she turned to Trunks. "Where’s your —?"
Trunks motioned to the ship just as Vegeta emerged. "I promised you I‘d bring him back," he told his mother softly.
Her heart leapt as she saw him, clothes tattered and spotted with blood. She wanted to run to him then, but knew it would mortify him in front of this group. Their eyes met, and for a moment she could feel his thoughts touch hers, warmth and gladness mixed with an inexplicable…shame?
Then, even as she approached him, he was off into the night sky.
"Vegeta, you bastard, get back here!" she cried without even thinking, her fury and humiliation rising as one.
"Take it easy, Mom," Trunks told her gently. "He’s been through a rough time."
"That’s no excuse to---" She stopped mid-sentence, feeling her tears of despair about to spill out with her anger.
"No, it’s not." Goku’s voice was deeper than usual, and as she turned to him she could see a dark controlled rage that he had displayed very few times in the years she had known him. "He’s got to start thinking of someone besides himself. I won’t let him go on treating you this way!"
Bulma simply stared at him, wondering what the hell had gone on in their absence. Goku had always been the one to see the good in everyone, even Vegeta. How many times had he calmed her with reassurances that Vegeta really cared about her, and just had difficulty expressing it? What had brought this sudden anger to her friend’s voice?
Luckily, Trunks broke the awkward silence. "Uh, Goku, I think we all just need to get some sleep. Senzu can’t do everything."
"Yeah, come on, Daddy," Gohan beckoned him cautiously, obviously just as surprised as Bulma at his outburst. "Mom’s probably up waiting for us."
Goku hesitated for a moment, as if trying to get his thoughts straight. He turned to Bulma. "Will you be all right?"
"Okay, come on, son." They flew off, and Krillin turned to Bulma.
"That was…weird," he said simply. "Goku doesn’t usually get pissed off so easily."
"There was something strange in their ki," Piccolo said with concern. "Both of them. I think we should keep an eye on them."
As soon as they had gone, she looked at Trunks. He seemed somehow…shaky. "Come on, let’s get you to sleep," she said leading him inside.
Even before he had left the space capsule he had known she was there, felt her presence wrap around him like a warm comforter in winter, as her mind reached out to his. He’d held back to the last, at once yearning for and dreading this reunion. His pride has been shattered in more ways than he cared to contemplate, and the familiar comfort of solitude beckoned him even as his woman’s spirit called out to his.
Then their eyes met, and she gave him that smile that always seemed to heal even the wounds in his pride. The warmth of her feeling for him sought him out even before she started towards him, and for the briefest of moments he felt the peace that only she had been able to restore to his soul. But then, an errant thought brushed his mind, as her despair settled over him, and her voice whispered to him. Why, Vegeta? Why did you leave us again?
The soothing spell was broken, as guilt and self-deprecation overwhelmed him once more. His failure was complete. As a Prince of his Saiyan race. As a husband to Bulma. As a father to their son. He sank deeper into his depression even as he shot into the air.
He flew without thinking, her angry cries ringing in his ears even as he cursed himself anew for his cowardice. Away from Capsule Corp, away from those who had witnessed his humiliation, away from the woman whom he had failed time and again. Away from the infant son he’d found so difficult to hold, and the grown son he’d insulted and ignored. He couldn’t face them, not right now…
The sun had begun to come up when the anger that had fueled his furious retreat finally dissipated into a dull exhaustion. He stood on a cliff side looking down at the pathetic ball of rock that had become his home, suddenly conscious of the fact that it was more beautiful than he’d ever realized. Hadn’t he and Bulma lain here once together? That day when she’d forced him to put aside his training, when he’d discovered there was so much more in life he thirsted for than power and strength…
He breathed deeply, a swirl of emotions rushing through him more quickly than he could define them. All he knew was that he was tired. And he wanted to lie with her again.
Their home at Capsule Corp was still quiet when he flew into the balcony. For a long moment he watched her face, so angelically peaceful in sleep, wanting nothing more than to crawl in beside her. He smiled to himself as he decided that he absolutely reeked, and didn’t want to awaken her with the aroma of blood and battle. He showered, the hot water beating upon his strained muscles, relaxing them to the point that he almost felt he would drift off while standing. He was about to reenter their room when a thought struck him, and he slipped quietly instead into his infant son’s nursery.
Remarkably, Trunks seemed to have grown in the last few days. Now that Vegeta knew his potential, he was anxious to begin his training. Until he had met the Trunks from the future he had never imagined that the boy would become so powerful, thinking that his human blood would weaken him. But on the contrary, the older Trunks had proved himself to be not only powerful but courageous. A pang of regret touched him as he thought of how in that other time, he had missed seeing his son grow up; Trunks had barely even known his father. In this time, Vegeta had avoided death at the hands of the Androids. But as the Cell games rapidly approached, he wondered if this Trunks, too, would grow up without his father. It would be my own fault, he thought bitterly. If he had destroyed Cell when he’d had the chance…
The baby stirred suddenly, and Vegeta reached down gingerly to rub his back, as he’d seen Bulma do. The child’s warmth seemed to flow into his own body with the rare contact, and he vowed silently that this son would not grow up without him.
Vegeta wasn’t sure how long he stood there, but suddenly he reeled as the room seemed to spin. Outside of battle, he’d never felt like this before. Chalking it up to his fatigue, he looked down at the baby once more, then headed straight for his bed.
Bulma was still lying asleep, her back to him. Gently he eased himself in, spooning against her, slipping his arm around her flat stomach and burying his face in the sweet scent of her hair. He’d be content to lie here like this forever…
Or at least until she woke up to scream at him.
Bulma had cried herself to sleep, physical and emotional exhaustion consuming her as the sun had begun to peek over the horizon. Only when she awoke to the sound of the shower did she relax for the first time in days, with the knowledge that he was home.
She’d drifted off again when she felt him slip quietly in behind her, holding her close as he molded his body against hers and buried his face in her hair. Her heart began to flutter with the contact that both soothed her and excited her at once. His breath was hot against her neck, and as his lips gently caressed her skin with a tender kiss, a flush of desire for him surged throughout her body.
For a long while he lay there against her, probably thinking her asleep, and Bulma fought the urge to turn to him and take him into her arms. Too many times it had been like this. He would disappear without a word, to train or to deal with his personal demons, leaving her to wonder when and if he would ever return. Then he would appear, his battles won or lost, and reach out to her in the only way he had been able to express his love for her. And in his gentle but passionate lovemaking, she would forget her anger as he opened his soul to hers through their bond, baring himself to her completely. In those moments she would know undeniably how much he loved her, in a way that mere words could never set her mind at rest.
But this time, his leaving had hurt her too much. Her pain and anger was something that begged to be said, and not merely washed away in his silent reassurances. This time, he would have to answer to her.
At first, she thought that he had fallen asleep, until his lips began once more to taste her skin, tiny kisses on her neck, then her shoulder, that sent a rush of warmth through her being. Then his hand on her stomach began to caress, moving downward, leaving heat in its wake, as she could feel his own arousal growing against her…
"Vegeta, no…" she forced herself to whisper even as his fingers played gently at the core of her desire, and her body betrayed how much she wanted him.
"Don’t deny me, woman," he said huskily, in that commanding voice that she had come to recognize as more of a plea. He gently turned her to face him, and she was struck by the troubled gaze he rested on her as he nearly begged, "I…need you."
Kami, she needed him too! But even as she wrestled with her own desire for him, she knew that she couldn’t give in. "I need you too," she said softly but firmly, looking into his
eyes. "But not just like this."
Bulma, please… She could hear a weak desperation through their bond, tugging at her heart as only he could.
"Vegeta, you can’t keep doing this to me," she blurted suddenly in a gush of emotion that she’d held back for too long. "You really hurt me this time! Going off into space without a word, leaving me to wonder if you were ever going to come back to us—"
"I would not have deserted you or my son," he said stiffly, as if the admission were self-evident.
"You went off because someone promised to make you king of a new planet," she said, knowing how ludicrous it sounded. "This wasn’t exactly like going off into the mountains to train—"
"I do not wish to speak of it," he said with finality, a mixture of anger and embarrassment falling over his face.
"You have to! You can’t just take off with no explanation, then slip back into our bed as if nothing had happened. I’m your wife, not your servant and personal whore—" Her voice broke off as she choked back her tears. She had never stated it so plainly, but it was precisely how he had made her feel. She could see that her words had stung him; could he truly not have known that he was doing this to her?
"You are my wife," he said shakily. "And we have bonded for all time. To a Saiyan that means significantly more than the pathetic verbal promises that you humans make and break at a whim. There should be no question in your mind as to my feeling for you and the boy—"
"That doesn’t mean that I don’t need to hear it from time to time!" she cried as if she were talking to a wall. "You didn’t even have the decency to speak to me as soon as you got off that ship. Instead, you flew away as if I meant nothing to you! Do you know how humiliating that was in front of all of my friends? They must think I’m pathetic for letting you treat me this way!"
"This is absurd," he said angrily, rising from the bed. "And I’m sure your friends told you all about what happened on that planet. So there was no need for me to—"
"They told me nothing," she interrupted him. "Goku knew his first duty was to get back to his wife!"
He glared at her, and she knew that comparing him to his rival had enraged him. But she didn’t care.
"So Kakarot didn’t bother to tell you how he saved the day again?" he snapped bitterly.
"No." She wasn’t cruel enough to tell him that it didn’t surprise her. "Trunks told me a few things before he went to bed."
"And did he also tell you about how his father behaved?" he accused.
She shook her head. Trunks had mentioned very little about Vegeta. "He just said you all gave Goku your power to defeat Broly."
"Well then let me tell you, woman, if you want so desperately to know!" he cried, seeming almost feverish. "I was a fool and a coward, and I fell right into Paragus’ trap, then cowered in fear of Broly’s power! The Prince of all Saiyans was paralyzed by fear while mere soldiers fought nearly to their deaths! Is that what you needed so desperately, Bulma?! For me to admit to you my failure and humiliation?!"
Bulma stared at him speechless, realizing the severity of what she had forced him to dredge up. She would have never imagined it, much less expected him to verbalize it. "I…I didn’t know," she managed finally, reaching for his hand. "Vegeta, I’m sorry—"
He pulled his hand from hers, grabbing a pair of black training pants and pulling them on.
"Where are you going?" she asked quietly, almost afraid.
"To train," he answered without looking at her.
"Vegeta, please, don’t go," she begged. For a moment he seemed to hesitate in indecision, but then he left without another word.
Bulma collapsed back on the bed, crying into the pillows that still held his warmth and scent. Vegeta, please come back! I’m sorry! she sent to him through their bond. But even if he heard her, she was not surprised when he did not respond.
Vegeta stormed into the Gravity Chamber, throwing the switch that would seal him away from the rest of the world, and setting the gravity for 150G. A modest start for him, but he hadn’t exactly been prepared to do this right now. His entire body ached, and waves of dizziness kept setting him off-balance. What he really needed was sleep, but that blasted woman had made it impossible. All he had wanted was to lose himself in her, and fall asleep in her arms. But her incessant need for what she called ‘communication’ between them had ruined all that.
In a way, he knew that he had been wrong. He’d expected her to be angry at the way he had left, and had attempted the easy way out. How many times had he silenced her with a kiss, or chosen to comfort her with actions rather than words? For each time they made love, their bond grew more intense, and the emotions that passed between them made their love for each other an undeniable fact that need not be spoken aloud. At least, as far as he was concerned. Why was it that she always needed those verbal affirmations and reassurances?
In a maddened frenzy, he threw punches faster than his own eyes could follow, imagining that idiot Kakarot in front of him. It hadn’t been humiliating enough to have to give his power over to that mere soldier. Why did his own wife constantly have to hold that clown up as some shining example? Who cared if he had gone off immediately to see that screaming witch that he called his wife? Most likely the fool was afraid of her. Did Bulma actually expect the Prince of all Saiyans to behave like that? Sometimes he wondered with more jealousy than he liked to admit why Bulma and Kakarot had never, in all those years, become more than friends. She seemed to admire and care for him so damn much…
In a burst of rage he ascended to Super Saiyan, with such explosive energy that the chamber itself shuddered. But something was terribly wrong, as he seemed suddenly to be sweltering in the heat of his own ki. The dizziness overcame him again even as he could see Kakarot laughing in his face. He could still hear that bastard laughing as the blackness engulfed him.
Bulma awoke to a high-pitched cry that she hadn’t heard since Baby Trunks had fallen off the balcony and hit his head. She’d nearly died of fear that day, until Vegeta had flown down to retrieve him, and she’d seen that the child had suffered nothing more than a black and blue mark and a bad fright. Vegeta had assured her that Saiyan babies were strong and durable, and couldn’t be hurt by such an accident. But she’d hovered over him nevertheless, much to Vegeta’s chagrin, knowing that if anything happened to her precious son it would destroy her. Now she ran to him in alarm, the despair that had filled her dreams taking a back seat to her maternal instinct. She found him standing up in his crib, safe and sound, but still screaming his head off.
"It’s okay, Sweetie, Mommy’s here," she soothed him, taking him into her arms. But even as she pressed her cheek against his, she knew that something was definitely wrong.
"Momma, come quick!" she called frantically.
She was holding Trunks at arm’s distance, examining him, when both of her parents ran into the room.
"What’s the matter, Bulma? Is the baby okay?" her mother asked, wide-eyed with worry.
"He’s burning up with fever!"
"Oh, poor baby…" her mother cooed, feeling his forehead.
"That’s odd," her father said with worry. "He’s never been sick a day in his life. Just like Gohan. Didn’t Vegeta say Saiyan babies don’t usually contract the same viruses we do?"
"He’s still half-human," Bulma murmured absently as her mother fumbled for the thermometer and inserted it gently into Trunks’ ear. "Well, what is it?"
Her mother’s usually calm expression had darkened. "A hundred and four."
Bulma took a deep breath, willing herself not to panic. Just because her son had enjoyed good health for the first two years of his life didn’t mean he would be completely immune to common childhood illnesses. A hundred and four was high, but not dangerous. "Ibuprofen," she said, motioning to the medicine cabinet in Trunks’ bathroom. "The pediatrician had given me some samples—"
Within an hour of squirting the liquid medicine into the baby’s mouth, and after giving him a cool bath, his fever had gone down considerably. He’d fallen asleep in Bulma’s arms, and she gently laid him back into the crib. "He must have had a headache from the fever," she told her parents as she met them outside his room. "That’s probably why he was crying."
"I wouldn’t worry, dear," her father said in a comforting tone. "It’s probably just a passing bug."
She shook her head. "I don’t know, Poppa, none of us is sick, and like you said before, Saiyans don’t usually react like that to Earth virus—"
She stopped mid-sentence as her older son came from his own bedroom, his face pale white. If he’d seemed worn out last night, sleep had left him in even worse condition. "Mom, I need….something…I have a terrible fever—"
"Trunks!" Bulma ran to him as he fell to his knees. "Poppa, help me get him back to bed."
The older Trunks was barely conscious. Remembering the small supply of Senzu beans that Vegeta kept in their room, Bulma found one and slipped it into her son’s mouth. Only when he failed to respond did she truly begin to panic.
"Try the Ibuprofen, Bulma," her father said gently. "The children’s dose helped the baby. They look to be suffering from the same thing."
"But how? Trunks never even went near Baby Trunks last night—" Then it hit her. "Vegeta." More than once she’d found him slipping discretely into the baby’s room to check on him. "He must have gone in there last night. He and Goku were both acting strangely—Piccolo said there was something weird in their ki…"
"They must have picked up some kind of virus in space that only affects Saiyans," her father surmised. "Otherwise you would have had it, too." He put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Don’t worry, Bulma. The baby’s fever went down immediately. His will, too. After all, they do have precisely the same genetic makeup."
Bulma nodded. It was just a virus. A fever. How bad could that be?
The next few hours kept Bulma too stressed over her sons’ health to deliberate her own problems. At half hour intervals she had been taking Baby Trunks’ temperature, until finally she was relieved to see it slip under one hundred. He was still sleeping peacefully when she went back to her other charge, her son from the future. The virus had hit him much harder, probably because he had contracted it from the source. His temperature had stubbornly remained at one hundred and two, and his only waking moments were filled with delirium. She sat at his bedside looking down at him now, struck once more by how much he resembled Vegeta. Of course, his disposition was much sweeter, but she had often thought that Vegeta’s gruff manner was more a result of the horrors he had lived than his true character. She would miss him so much when he went back to his time, but she could only imagine how her older self must be worried sick about him. She would be.
Trunks stirred, then looked up at her with glassy eyes. "Mom? Is that you?" he asked weakly.
"I’m right here, Trunks," she said, grasping his hand. "You had me really worried."
"I told you I’d be back," he said, attempting a grin. Only then did Bulma realize that in his delirium he thought he was back home with his own mother.
"You just rest, Sweetie, and you’ll be fine," she promised him, kissing his forehead.
"Hey, Mom, it was great…" he told her.
"What was, Trunks?" she asked gently.
"Meeting my father…fighting with him…" Even his weakened state could not diminish the excitement in his eyes.
Bulma struggled against the swell of emotions as she thought of how awful it must have been, both for this boy, and her other self, to have spent those years without Vegeta. Obnoxious as he could be at times, she still loved him desperately. "I’m…glad you got to meet him," she managed, trying to smile through her anguish for the boy.
"Mom…there’s something else…I want you to know…" he said.
"What is it, Trunks?" she asked softly.
"You told me he never said it to you…but…he did love you…"
Bulma was too astonished to speak. Surely this must be Trunks’ disorientation speaking. "How…do you know?" she found herself asking.
"I asked him. And he told me. When we were training for a year…in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber." He smiled. "I guess I got him at a weak moment."
"I guess you did," she agreed, tears pooling in her eyes.
Trunks lost the battle with his eyelids. "I wanna sleep now, Momma," he said in a little boy’s voice.
Bulma bent down to kiss him on the cheek. "Sweet dreams, baby," she whispered.
Bulma left her son’s room and burst into silent tears. But at first she wasn’t even sure what had brought them on.
It was difficult to believe that Vegeta had admitted to his son what he could barely bring himself to tell her aloud. But they had spent a year alone together in training. Though Vegeta had ignored the young man at first, she knew that he had softened in the end, and they had spent a good deal of time sparring—the Saiyan equivalent of father-son bonding. In those moments he must have been affected by the boy’s deep devotion to his parents, the mother who had raised him alone, and the father he had barely known. He’d come to the past to do more than save Goku, or help the others defeat the Androids. He’d yearned desperately to know the Saiyan Prince whose blood flowed through his veins. That year of training, though it had been the most difficult time of his young life, had been like a dream come true. In the end he had emerged with new respect and admiration for his father, and an understanding, he’d told her, of the man his mother had fallen in love with. That other Bulma had never known the depth of intimacy that she had shared with Vegeta. He’d been taken from her too soon. The revelation that Trunks would bring back to her would warm her heart in ways that only Bulma could understand.
Bulma knew that her heart ached for her other self, and the joy she had never truly known. And it ached for Trunks, so desperate to know his father. In sudden fear she wondered if the Cell Games would leave her and her infant son to the same fate. She didn’t know if she could bear losing Vegeta. Not now. Not after they had broken down so many walls to be together.
Only now that her sons both seemed to be stabilized did she realize that he had been gone training for hours. Taking a last look in on the baby, she smiled brightly as she saw him standing up in his crib, reaching out to her with his chubby little arms.
She scooped him into her arms, relieved that he was cool as a cucumber. His fever had broken. She hugged him tightly, then changed his sweat-filled clothes, just as her mother came into the room.
"Is he better?" she asked hopefully.
"Yes, thank goodness." Bulma hugged him to her. "The fever’s gone. Isn’t it Trunksy?" she cooed. The baby laughed and pulled at her hair.
"Oh, by the way, Bulma, that was Chichi calling," Mrs. Briefs said as she held her arms out to her grandson. "It looks like Gohan has the same thing as our boys. She was actually looking for Goku. He was acting strangely all day and just took off somewhere."
That wasn’t unlike Goku, and yet Bulma was certain that both Goku and Vegeta must be suffering from some form of the same affliction as their sons. "Momma, would you please watch Trunks? I really should check on Vegeta. He went to train hours ago, and if he is sick he’s most probably in denial about it."
"Sure, honey, go on. I saw him go into the Gravity Chamber this morning, but he didn’t come out even to eat. That’s really not like him."
Suddenly worried, Bulma hurried outside, peering into the windows of the GT, expecting to see him in one of his frenzied workouts…
And her heart stopped as she spied Vegeta lying lifeless on the floor.
"Vegeta!" she cried, knowing that even had he been conscious he wouldn’t hear her. She ran to the control panel on the chamber door, lowering the gravity to normal, each millisecond she had to wait seeming to crawl by so slowly that she felt she would burst.
Then she was inside, kneeling beside him, pressing her ear against his burning chest until with relief she could hear the steady beat of his heart.
"Vegeta, wake up," she pleaded, caressing his cheek. His entire body seemed to be emanating heat at a temperature she didn’t even want to contemplate. "Vegeta, it’s me. Please, wake up…"
She heaved a great sigh as his eyelids fluttered open, and his glassy gaze focused on her. "Bulma?" he asked, as if in confusion. She could feel his thoughts, a swirling brew of disorientation.
"Yes, it’s me, I’m right here," she said softly. "You’re sick, Vegeta. I need to get you back to the house."
He didn’t answer her, instead, looking about him as if sensing something there besides the two of them. "Where is he?" he asked sharply, pulling himself to a sitting position.
"Who?" she asked, realizing he was probably just as delirious as Trunks had been.
He looked at her with distrust. "You know who I’m talking about, woman. Kakarot! He was just here!" He stood up, brushing off her help, and looked around the chamber.
"Vegeta, Goku isn’t here. He left last night. You must have been imagining that you saw him—"
"Are you mad, or is this some kind of a sick joke?" he growled. "Kakarot was right here. I was fighting him, and—" He stopped as if trying to remember just what had happened next.
"Vegeta, listen to me. You’re very ill. You’re burning up with fever." She tried to take his hand but he pulled it away.
"Trunks came down with the same thing. He’s delirious with fever and nearly passed out. That must be what happened to you."
He shook his head vigorously. "No. I’m fine. I was just resting—"
"You both contracted something out in space. Even the baby caught it from you!"
For a moment she saw worry flash in his eyes as her words hit a nerve he could not ignore. "The baby? What’s wrong with him?"
"He’s all right now," she assured him. "But his fever had gone up to almost a hundred and five—"
"The child’s never been sick a day in his life," he said, dismissing her. "He’s a Saiyan—"
"And all of you who have Saiyan blood have been affected," she broke in. "Even Gohan and Goku."
Vegeta eyed her suspiciously. "You’ve seen Kakarot then?"
"No," she responded, not quite sure where his thoughts were taking him. "Chichi called." She reached out gingerly to touch his cheek, looking into his eyes. "Vegeta, please. You’re burning up. You need to get in bed."
For a moment he seemed to calm at her caress, but then anger flared in his eyes at her words. "That is precisely what I tried to do, but for some reason I wasn’t welcome there."
Bulma closed her eyes and sighed deeply. "Vegeta, I’m sorry," she said, gazing into his eyes again to show him that she was sincere. "I was just hurt. I didn’t know what you had been through."
His hand reached up to hers, gently but firmly detaching it from his face. "I don’t need your pity, woman," he spat. "Nor will I tolerate it."
Bulma tried to remain patient, knowing that the fever was speaking to her now. "I wasn’t pitying you, Vegeta, I was trying to tell you that I’m sorry."
"Save your apologies. I couldn’t care less," he said turning away from her. He put his hand on the control panel, although she could swear he’d done it to steady himself.
"Vegeta, listen to me. You’re not thinking clearly—"
"I am thinking with perfect clarity for the first time in over two years," he told her with venom in his voice. "To think that I, the Prince of all Saiyans, would seek comfort and refuge in the bed of a low-born Earth woman---"
"Stop it, Vegeta," she warned, slowly dying inside as his malady brought out the rude and arrogant brute that she had hoped gone forever.
"You are the cause of my weakness, woman!" he cried with insanity in his eyes. "You and your half-breed brat, distracting me from my true destiny! Had I spent the last two years training instead of letting you corrupt my warrior spirit, I would have destroyed Broly myself with no one’s help, then shown that son of a bitch Kakarot who is truly the most powerful Super Saiyan!"
"Vegeta, please stop," she said in a shaky voice, her exhaustion weakening her defense to his verbal assault. "Just come back home, let’s get your fever down, and then we can talk about this."
"There is nothing to talk about," he told her in no uncertain terms, although she could feel him battling to guard his thoughts from her penetration, shutting her out in every way he possibly could. "Now leave me alone to my training."
"No," she said stubbornly. "You’re sick, and I won’t leave you here like this."
His face took on an evil smirk she had not seen since Namek, as he put his hand on the gravity control. "You will leave right now, or I’ll turn the gravity up to 300G with you in here."
Bulma shuddered. In a normal state, it would be an empty threat. But for the first time in their relationship, she was suddenly afraid of him. He might turn her into a pancake just for sport. Of course, once he was cured, he would probably kill himself when he realized what he had done. But that wouldn’t help her much, would it?
"Okay. I’ll go," she said quietly.
It took every ounce of will she had to leave without looking back.
She knew he was sick. Delirious. Yet the words he had spewed in his anger had cut through her heart like a knife, wrenching at her insides as they touched upon every insecurity she had ever sought to keep under control. She knew in the deepest part of her soul that he would not have hurt her. Yet she had feared him. That in itself was more disturbing than anything he had said.
Even now, as she made her way back to the house, she tried desperately to touch his thoughts with her own, to reach out to him in the only way that she sometimes could, in a place where his unspoken emotions betrayed him, and his spirit wrapped around hers with such unbridled love that it brought forth tears of joy. In those times she could forgive all that had been said, and all that should have been said but hadn’t been. Standing now on the balcony of their bedroom she looked down on the GT chamber where her heart lay, and closed her eyes, calling out to him again and again, praying he would respond…
The hot touch of hands on her shoulders made her jump out of her skin, and she turned wide-eyed to see who had come up from behind her.
"Goku?" she asked in confusion, though she breathed an audible sigh of relief. "Kami, you scared the hell out of me; I thought you were Vegeta—"
She stopped mid-sentence as her friend’s face darkened, and she realized with regret how that had sounded.
"I’m sorry I scared you, Bulma, but… why would you be afraid of Vegeta?" he asked suspiciously. That same dark anger that she had seen yesterday fell once more over his face. "Bulma, has he hurt you in some way? Because if he has—"
"No, he hasn’t," she assured him quickly, realizing that his eyes were glazed over with the fever as Vegeta’s and Trunks’ had been.
"Are you sure?"
She nodded, then, knowing she could hide little from her friend, said, "Not physically, at least. We just had a bad argument. It’ll be okay."
Goku seemed to relax somewhat, but still appeared troubled. "I don’t like how he treats you. He’s not very nice to you."
Goku’s concern, expressed in his characteristic simplicity, was touching. The fever seemed to have only enhanced the friendship and loyalty he had always shown her. "I know," she admitted shakily. "But he does love me, Goku," she said, not sure if she were trying to
convince him or herself.
Goku shook his head in disgust, something so unlike him, as he said, "No. Bulma. I wanted to believe that he would be good to you. I thought having you and Trunks would change him, and make him think of someone besides himself. But it hasn’t. He’s still selfish, and mean, and doesn’t care about anything except his own power."
Bulma was too stunned to respond. She’d never heard Goku speak of her husband in that way. He’d always seen the good in everyone, including Vegeta, and had gone out of his way to reassure her in times when her own optimism had faltered. But now, if even Goku had come to such a conclusion…
No, he has the fever, too, she reminded herself.
"Look what he’s done to you, Bulma," Goku said softly, the rage in his eyes having been replaced with anguish. He lifted a strong hand gingerly to her face, his thumb wiping away tears that she hadn’t even realized she’d shed. "He’s made you cry…and I know it’s not the first time."
"Son-kun, he’s sick," she said quietly, using the affectionate term she had called him since he was a child. "You’ve all been infected with some kind of virus—"
"He doesn’t deserve you, Bulma," he said, barely above a whisper, looking at her in a way he never had before. "You’re so good…and smart…and brave…and beautiful—"
"Goku, no," she protested as he brought his lips towards hers.
She should have seen this coming. Yet before she could react, Goku had crushed his lips against hers, in a deep kiss that caught her totally off guard. A kiss so gentle and loving that she never for an instant felt threatened. Yet even in its innocence, it was so wrong that she immediately pulled her face away. "Goku, stop it!"
"I can’t," he whispered, nibbling at her ear. His hands were roving all over her, as he pressed his body against hers, backing her into the railing of the balcony. She realized suddenly that if the fever had made him lose all reason, she would never be able to physically fight him off. For the second time that day, fear of someone she had loved and trusted crept into her soul.
"Goku, I want you to stop!" she said firmly, in that voice she had used on him when he was just a boy. At the same time she pushed him away, relief flooding her as he let her do so.
"Bulma, I’m sorry, it’s just that…I love you so much. I can’t watch him do this to you!"
"I know," she said tenderly, knowing that the emotions behind his madness were sincere. "And I love you, too, Goku. But not…like that." He looked like he would cry, and she added, "Goku, you’re not thinking straight. The fever has affected you, too. You know you love Chichi. She’s the one you want that way. Not me."
He hesitated, and she knew that mentioning his wife had brought a second of clarity to his mind. But then he smiled at her a way that was so unlike him, one of those wicked smirks that fit much better on Vegeta’s face. "But you were the first girl I ever saw. Don’t you remember? When I took off your panties in your sleep to see why you felt different, and realized you had no—"
"Goku!" she yelled, her face turning crimson. She couldn’t forget the humiliation, when she’d lifted her nightgown to show that pervert Master Roshi her panties in exchange for his dragon ball, only to find that she had nothing on underneath! She’d nearly killed Goku when she’d realized what had happened, but had chalked it all up to his naiveté. But as he stood before her now, he was no longer an innocent little boy. "Goku, I want you to leave here, right now," she said angrily.
Goku’s lustful smirk fell away as his more characteristic wounded puppy look took over. "Don’t be mad, Bulma. I didn’t mean anything bad by it. Please, don’t be mad at me."
Her face softened. "I’m not. Just go. Please. You need to go home and rest until the fever breaks."
He hesitated a long moment, as if trying to clear his thoughts. Finally, he relented, but not before looking into her eyes to say, "Even when the fever’s gone—it won’t change
the way I feel about you." He paused, adding sadly, "Or the way he treats you."
With that he was off into the night.
Bulma heaved a deep sigh of relief. She knew for certain that once the fever had left Goku, his feelings for her would go back to what they had been—protectiveness and love, as towards a sister. Goku’s illness had only exaggerated something that was really innocent and pure. But on the other count, Son-kun had been right. Even cured, Vegeta would most probably not change the way he treated her.
It was a grim realization, but suddenly a far more frightening one struck her. It would be almost impossible for her to hide from Vegeta what had nearly happened here tonight. Through their bond, everything was shared. If he were ever to learn that Goku had tried to…
Footsteps behind her made her start. She turned to see Vegeta standing at the door to the balcony.
"Woman, I came to tell you that—" he began. Suddenly, his face turned white. And as he stepped towards her, fury rose in his eyes.
Bulma swallowed hard.
Vegeta had watched her leave with only half-hearted satisfaction. She’d turned him away when he’d needed her desperately, then come to him when she’d realized what had really happened. What, would she make love to him now out of pity, now that she knew of his disgrace? He didn’t want her pity. So he’d purposely pushed her away, although for the life of him he couldn’t even now remember the harsh words that had flowed from his lips. He hadn’t meant them, of course. He never did. It was just so much easier to revert to the selfish brute he pretended to be, than to tell her how much he really needed her. So much that it hurt to imagine what his life would be like if he had never come to this forsaken place, if he had never taken her to be his mate…
But then he had seen in her eyes something he’d never seen there before. And it haunted him, plagued him, even as he tried to block out the image, and focus on the workout he no longer had strength or desire to do.
She’d been afraid of him.
He’d evoked fear in his enemies, in his prey, and reveled in the power. Yet she had never feared him, not even before they had come together. His threats had been empty—he would die rather than cause her harm. Didn’t she know that? Or had he pushed too far this time, and broken the unspoken trust that lie between them?
Relenting finally, he shut down the gravity control, and abandoned his training, knowing there was something more important he had to do right now. The cold night air hit him with a chill that was uncustomary, and again he tensed at the sense of Kakarot’s ki somewhere nearby. Maybe Bulma was right. Perhaps he had been affected by some illness that was clouding his mind and weakening his body. He thought of his son, no, his sons, and wondered if they were all right. He would have to check on them both after he and Bulma had resolved things.
He stepped into their room to find the bed empty, and looked up as he sensed that she was outside on the balcony. He took a deep breath and walked towards her. "Woman, I came to tell you that---"
He stopped dead in his tracks. And as his senses were assaulted at once with the presence that had been there, the blood drained from his face. The closer he came to her, the stronger it grew, and the realization brought sudden fury raging to the surface even as he felt his entire world crash around him.
"Kakarot…was here…with you," he rasped, choking on the last words.
"Vegeta, it’s not what you think," she began to say as she came towards him, trying to put her arms around his neck. It only intensified the stench that had filled his nostrils, and confirmed the horror of what was unfolding before him.
"His scent…is all over you…" He could barely say the words, and her gentle touch was threatening to bring his despair to the surface. He pushed her away, then burst into Super Saiyan, his ki raging with his pain and fury, and shot off into the sky, heedless of her cries.
He would kill Kakarot for this. He would rip him to shreds, or die in the attempt.
It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered any more…
Bulma screamed his name, begging, pleading for him to come back, but in moments he had disappeared into the night sky. It was worse than she’d feared, oh, so much worse… She had seen the pain in his eyes, the anguish of believing that she had betrayed him. He’d given her no time to explain that nothing had happened, that Goku, in his own delirium, had tried to kiss her. Vegeta didn’t know that she had pushed him away, that she would never, could never, be untrue to him. All he knew was what his primal senses had told him in his own fevered state. And she knew what he had gone off to do.
She ran to Trunks’ room, knocking wildly on the door, relieved to find him lucid once more. "Trunks, you need to stop your father. He’s gone to kill Goku."
Trunks’ eyes opened wide, but he nodded and headed for the balcony. "Don’t worry, Mom—"
"I won’t," she said, putting a hand on his arm before he could leap into the sky. "I’m going with you."
Vegeta flew wildly in the direction of his mortal enemy’s ki, battling the most horrific images his imagination could conjure. His woman in Kakarot’s arms, engaged in intimacies that had been theirs alone, as Kakarot defiled her in every way possible. The agony rose to his throat, and he screamed in anguish as his ki flared bright as a supernova. He forced the visions down as he concentrated on something far less painful, something that would give him the only satisfaction he would ever feel again.
Killing Kakarot. A final flash from afar would be far too merciful, with less honor than befitted his vengeance. No, Kakarot would know the same pain that Vegeta was feeling right now. With his bare hands he would rip him to shreds, tearing out his heart just as they had torn out his. He’d never revealed the depth of his love, but Kakarot would know the extent of his wrath.
And Bulma… would this be the proof she needed, he thought bitterly? Would seeing him lose his mind finally convince her that he’d already lost his heart and soul to her long ago? He wanted desperately to hate her for what she had done to him, to despise her as much as he despised himself. But it was precisely because he knew that he had driven her to this that he could not hate her. On the contrary, his love for her had become such an integral part of his being that he was terrified at the thought of losing her.
A sudden burst of ki flowed towards him and he knew his prey was near. He wondered absently if Bulma would hate him for killing her lover. But it didn’t really matter, did it? It would feel too good….
Bulma held on tightly to her son as he flew towards his father’s ki. She’d told him what had transpired, and he’d assured her that he’d prevent anyone from getting hurt. She looked up at his face now, serious and determined like Vegeta’s, but with a tinge of worry in the blue eyes that were hers. "Do you feel any better?" she asked him as she noticed that the color had returned to his face.
"A lot," he said. "Gramps came into my room after he examined my blood sample. He said it’s some kind of retrovirus that’s only attacking the Saiyan components in our blood. The human antibodies are fighting it off."
"That’s why your father and Goku are in worse shape," she surmised, the scientist in her taking over for a moment. "Then we should be able to cure them using a serum from your blood, and Gohan’s—"
"Let’s find them, first," Trunks said grimly. Suddenly he cocked his head to the side as if he had sensed something. "There," he told her, and went off in the direction of the energies he had felt.
Vegeta, please, listen to me… she implored silently through their bond. But as she closed her eyes and strained to feel him, her being was suddenly overwhelmed by the assault of his emotions, a confused brew of rage and agony that threatened to make her cry out in pain. How could he feel this all, and still breathe? How could she ever break through his anguish and fury and bring him back from the madness that she could feel him slowly falling into?
"Mom, are you okay?" Trunks asked, looking at her strangely. Had her face revealed the horror of what she had felt?
"Yes…but we’d better hurry."
Vegeta stopped mid-air as the ki he had been tracking began to make a descent. It was but a few miles from the Son home, and Vegeta realized at once that Kakarot must have sensed him coming. Not once letting down his guard, he slowly set down, singeing the grass with each step that he took towards his victim.
"Kakarot!!" he shouted at the top of his lungs, his voice echoing in the mountains.
A figure stepped from the shadows, glaring at him with a ferocious look that seemed strange on that clown, making him look much more like his brother Raditz. "You have a problem, Vegeta?" he challenged.
"Yes! The fact that you’re still alive!" he growled, slamming his fist into his enemy’s face so hard that it sent the other man flying into a tree. Before Kakarot could recover, Vegeta had grabbed him by the neck with both hands, choking him with a grip that would have snapped a human’s neck.
His woman’s cry caught him off guard, long enough for Kakarot to burst into Super Saiyan and throw him across the field.
"Vegeta!" She ran to him, mocking him with what he once would have believed was real concern on her face.
"What’s the matter, woman?" he taunted her bitterly, as he brought himself to his feet. "Are you worried that I’ll make your lover’s death as painful as he deserves!?"
"He’s not my lover, you big jerk!" she had the nerve to chastise him. "Nothing happened between us. I swear to you!"
"She’s telling the truth, Dad!" His son ran up to him. That explained at least how Bulma had gotten here. Why had she come here?
"Leave this place now, boy," Vegeta ordered him. "And take your mother with you. This is none of your concern."
"Dad, nothing is going on between Mom and Goku—"
Vegeta looked at him, suddenly feeling sorry for the young man who had failed to see the truth. "Doesn’t it all make sense to you now? Think about it. She didn’t send you back in time to save me, did she, Trunks? It was to save Kakarot. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was fucking her in your time, too—"
"Vegeta, how dare you talk like that to our son!" Bulma was yelling.
He looked at her for a long moment, struggling to hold on to the anger rather than betray his pain to her. "If he really is my son," he said sharply.
"You stupid son of a bitch, Vegeta! Stop it, right now!" Why were there tears in her eyes?
"I don’t care how sick and deluded you are," Trunks said, stepping up to him in sudden anger. "I’m not going to let you talk about my mom that way!"
"I’m not sick," he spat.
"Yes you are! We all are! And I’m not going to let you and Goku kill each other!"
He smirked, as out of the corner of his eye he saw Kakarot walking towards him. "Don’t worry, Trunks. Only one of us will die tonight."
He raised a hand, hurling a blue ball of ki directly at the other Saiyans face. Faster than the speed of light Kakarot disappeared—damn that Instant Transmission!—reappearing less than two feet in front of him, a sneer on his face. "If it isn’t the Prince of all assholes," he mocked, surprising Vegeta even as he enraged him.
"It wasn’t enough for you, was it Kakarot?!" he accused, knowing the moment of truth had come. "To have robbed me of my destiny—my honor--"
"A man who would treat a woman as you do has no honor!" Kakarot spat back at him.
"She was everything to me!" he cried, ramming his fist into that smug face. Over and over he pummeled his fists into Kakarot’s body as if it were a punching bag, until blood began to flow from the Saiyan’s wounds. Kakarot was fighting him back now, matching blow for blow. As if in a dream he could hear his woman screaming for them to stop, but the nightmare that had descended upon him would not let him relent. Only once he had killed Kakarot could this all be set to rest, only then would she be his and his alone once more…
Bulma watched helplessly as Vegeta and Goku pounded each other into bloody pulps, exchanging blows in a furious frenzy that her eyes could barely follow. Alien fever and primal instincts had driven both men to the brink of insanity, as they attacked each other with more ferocity than she had ever seen in either of them. Through her bond with Vegeta she could feel his pain, both physical and emotional, as he lashed out at Goku for all his transgressions, both real and imagined. And Goku had taken on a fierce countenance that was unnatural for him, as he met her husband’s attacks with a frightening ease. Goku was the stronger of the two—she knew that—but Vegeta’s rage had empowered him. In horror she watched as they began to throw each other into the cliff side, shaking the ground with each impact, leaving craters in their wake. Trunks was trying to stop them, but to no avail. Both men were beyond all reason as they fell, and rose again, each time with less strength but greater determination than before.
Trunks went flying through the air as he tried once more to get between them, becoming instead the victim of their blows. Still exhausted himself, from his bout with the fever, he collapsed on the ground near her, close to losing consciousness. "Trunks!" she cried, running to him.
"I’m…sorry, Mom," he managed.
In horror she looked up to see the fatal stance both men had taken as they stood facing each other from a distance. Goku was drawing his hands together in an all-too-familiar pose, as Vegeta raised his arms up to call forth the last of his energy for his finishing move.
"Goku, no!!! Don’t do it! Please!" Tears started to stream from her eyes as she realized what he meant to do.
She looked desperately at Vegeta, who was beginning to draw his hands together to combine the awesome energy between them. "FINAL…"
She moved without thinking, her instincts telling her the only way she could avert the tragedy that was about to unfold. She leapt at Vegeta, throwing her arms around his neck, clutching at him desperately both to stop him from attacking and to shield him from the blow that Goku meant to kill him.
Vegeta’s eyes opened wide in surprise as she lunged at him, and the fearsome power that he had held at his fingertips was swept back into his body as he caught her in his arms.
Goku’s reactions had not been so quick. Or perhaps he had been so consumed by the fever that he didn’t care. Bulma buried her head in her husband’s chest, bracing herself for what was to come, her only thought a prayer that her body would absorb enough of the blast so that Vegeta would live…
The heat of the Kamehameha wave dissipated into the cool chill of air as Vegeta flew up and away from the attack. In shock, she looked down below at the mountain that was blown into rubble by Goku’s blast. She shuddered as she realized that neither of them would have survived that.
"Foolish woman," he chastised, but his voice betrayed just how shaken he was. "What the hell did you think you were doing?"
She didn’t answer. She didn’t have to. He knew. And as she looked into his eyes, she saw none of the fury that had been there. "I had to get your attention somehow," she said softly.
He sighed deeply, looking as if he would cry with relief. "You have it now," he replied.
"Then trust me," she said slowly. "And see what’s in my heart…"
He nodded slowly as their lips crushed together in a joy of being alive together. And as she felt his mind open to hers, she let him see all that was there. The incident on the terrace, where betrayal had never once entered her mind or her heart. The struggle of the past few hours, as the fever had swept through their house, their family…
Vegeta kissed her hungrily, drawing in her taste, her warmth, even as their minds interlaced. To his shame he saw all as she had lived it, and knew that he had wrongly accused her. She had never betrayed him. She never would. How foolish he had been not to believe her!
But then there was more, so much more! Her worry over their sons, and the illness that had consumed them. Gods, I gave it to the baby…
He’s alright now… she promised him, hearing his guilt. And he saw their precious son through her eyes, happy and healthy once more…
Then, as her consciousness streamed into his, he saw her alone, crying over him, wondering if he had abandoned her for good this time… And the memory flowed into countless others, a myriad of painful images of abandonment, insecurity, uncertainty and loneliness. She loved him so much it hurt, and he treated her as if she were nothing…Why was it so hard to say that he loved her? Why did he act as if she were nothing more to him that a---
"Oh, Bulma, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry…" he said in a hushed whisper as he hugged her tightly to him, clinging to her for dear life. "I’m so…sorry…" His voice broke with emotion as the cleansing tears fell from his eyes. He didn’t care. They were nearly in the clouds, and no one could see but her. And she needed to see. She needed to know what she meant to him.
"I do," she said, reading his thoughts, looking into his eyes and smiling through the tears that he wasn’t sure were hers or his own. "I do now."
But he knew that it wasn’t enough. He had to give her what she needed. What she deserved.
"I love you," he said passionately, unabashed. Then, as her beautiful eyes opened wide in delight, he knew it was right and said it again, this time with even more emotion, if that were possible. "I love you."
"And I love you, Vegeta," she said with a tender smile. "So, so much…"
He kissed her again. "Let’s go home."
The sun had dawned on a new day, and night had fallen once more, and he had missed it. That awful serum his father-in-law had concocted had put him out for almost a day, and he had awoken to find himself alone.
Trunks popped his head hesitantly in the room. "Dad? Mom said to tell you she’ll be in in a minute. She’s just putting down Baby—uh—me," he said awkwardly.
Vegeta grunted, then looked at his son more closely. "I hear your blood brought me out of that blasted fever. I suppose I should thank you."
The young man nodded. "I guess being half human comes in handy after all."
"Yes," Vegeta said absently, wondering if his mother had told him how many times he had referred to his infant son as being a half-breed. It wasn’t something he was particularly proud of at the moment, as with many things he had said and done.
Trunks seemed to hesitate as if there were something he wanted to say, and Vegeta thought of how the boy seemed almost intimidated by him at times. He didn’t like that much either. "Was there…something else you wanted to say?" he asked in the least obnoxious tone he was capable of.
The boy took a deep breath. "I’m going to the Lookout, to spend the next day in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber training. I’m hoping I can get stronger in a year—"
"Trunks," his father interrupted him. Gods, this was difficult, more difficult than battle. "I said many things to you…I regret."
"That’s okay, Dad. I understand," he said quickly, although Vegeta could tell that his half-assed apology had meant something to the boy.
"On the planet, too. I called you a coward." In his mind, that had been the worst, for no fever had yet taken over his brain. "It was wrong. I was wrong." Vegeta looked down, not before seeing the look of astonishment that turned into a smile on his son’s face.
"Thanks, Dad," he said gratefully. "I’ll see you at the Cell Games."
Vegeta knew he was turning to leave and he stopped him. "Wait. Trunks." There were so many things he wanted to say, but he knew that he could never do it. Yet the mere fact that the Games approached, that they might all die, and that even if they didn’t, this son of his would go back to his own time and be gone forever…all these things gave Vegeta the impetus to speak aloud.
"You do great honor to the Royal House of Vegeta-sei," he said solemnly, then added softly, "And to me. You are a true Saiyan Elite."
He could see his son struggling not to break out into a little boy’s grin, but rather to take the compliment with the dignity he thought his father would expect. Trunks nodded his thanks to his father, then said boldly with pride, "My father is the Prince of all Saiyans. I have a lot to live up to."
Vegeta wondered just when and where he had earned the respect and admiration his son seemed to have for him. "You’ve done that and more," he said quietly.
And when Trunks was gone, he thought of Baby Trunks lying in his crib. He would have many years to make up to that Trunks all the years that he and his older son had missed. He was going to try his damnedest to do just that.
He was drifting off into dreams of second chances when Bulma slipped into the room, her hair still wet and sweetly perfumed, her body wrapped in a fluffy towel. She smiled at him when she saw that he was awake, and sat down on the bed to look at him. "Hey, how do you feel? I came in before, but you’d fallen back asleep."
"Except for the fact that you’re starving me to death, I’m fine," he grumbled.
She touched his forehead, then his cheek, her warm hand seeming to send a pulse of heat throughout his body. "Well, your fever’s gone. I think you had it the worst of all. Except maybe for Goku."
He was silent for a moment as the memory of all that had happened flashed in front of him once more. The jealous rage that the fever had engendered was gone, but the mention of that baka’s name still evoked anger. To think that he had tried to…
"He’s gone," Bulma said softly, reassuring him. Her fingers still caressed his cheek, beginning once more to work their calming magic on him. "And he doesn’t remember a thing."
"Are you serious?" he asked, putting his hand over hers. "I know he’s not that sharp, but how could he forget everything?"
"He was delirious," she told him. "Once the fever broke, he didn’t even know why he was here. Or," she added, "how he broke two ribs."
"I hope you told him I did it," he said mischievously.
"All he knows is that the two of you went mad and started fighting. I didn’t really want to tell him why. I’m just glad he forgot."
He could see that she was truly relieved, and in a way he was as well. Why should that idiot be able to savor the memory of having kissed his wife? "Why am I lucky enough to remember everything?" he asked dryly.
"I guess that’s my fault," she said apologetically. Of course. Through their bond he had seen everything as she had, and her memories had supplanted his own fading ones. "I’m sorry, Vegeta. If I could make you forget—"
"I wouldn’t want you to," he said softly. "I’ve learned too much about what’s important in my life."
She smiled brightly at him, and he wondered how the fever had ever prevented him from seeing the love in her eyes.
"Is the baby better?" he asked, still feeling a pang of guilt for having infected his infant son.
She nodded. "It didn’t hit him as badly as the rest of you. And by the way—I don’t know what you said to our older Trunks, but he was absolutely beaming when he left to go train."
"Just some things a father should tell a son," he said simply, knowing that if she wanted details she could sift it out of his brain anyway.
I wouldn’t do that, she chastised him silently, and he chuckled. Then, as he thought again of the boy, his face grew dark.
"He’s had a difficult life. It pains me to think that I was not there for him…and his mother," he said, looking into her eyes. Then, almost whispering as if he didn’t want to say
it aloud, he added, "I would not want that to happen to you and our baby."
"It won’t," she told him with certainty. "The Androids aren’t a threat anymore. That Vegeta was killed by them—"
"But Cell is a threat," he reminded her, then added with guilt, "And I am to blame for that. If I had destroyed him when I’d had the chance—"
"Shhhhhhhhh. Forget about that now," she said, running her fingers through his hair. "You guys are gonna win. I know that."
She truly did believe it, he knew, and yet he wasn’t sure that any of them could live up to her expectations. "Bulma, I just want you to know…If we do defeat Cell—"
"Not if, but when," she corrected him.
He sat up to face her, taking her face in his hands. "I vow to you that I will never leave you and our son again. Never. Until I draw my last breath, woman, I will be by your side. I swear it." He could see tears beginning to pool in her eyes, and he feared his own emotions would overtake him if he said another word. He kissed her gently on the lips, relishing her warmth and drinking in the soft scent that was her. I love you, Bulma… he told her silently. I love you.
For the first time, Bulma didn’t need to hear those words aloud. He had poured out his heart to her, promising her the rest of their lives. He had seen her doubts and insecurities, and assuaged them, and she knew that she would never have to question his devotion to her again. That in itself made the nightmare of the last few days worthwhile. He kissed her tenderly, pulling her down on the bed next to him, and she wondered if he was still starving. She didn’t feel much like getting up to cook at the moment.
"I’m only hungry for you right now," he said huskily, having read her thoughts. His breath was hot as he tasted her skin, burying himself in her hair. "You smell so good…" he whispered. She could hear him thinking, At least the scent of that bastard Kakarot is gone… and she giggled.
"What is it?" he asked looking into her eyes. Then he realized that she had caught his thoughts and grew crimson.
"I made sure to take a long shower before coming to you for that very reason," she told him. "Not that I could smell it myself, but the thought was kind of icky."
Vegeta smirked. "You know that you deprived me of my right as your husband, by Saiyan law, to personally scrub every inch of your body to remove the objectionable scent of another man."
She looked at him slyly. "You made that up."
"Perhaps. But it would have been fun, don’t you think?" He smiled at her wickedly. "I should at least have the right to examine you closely myself just to make sure…"
Bulma smiled seductively at him, lying on her back. "Go ahead. Far be it from me to question a Saiyan tradition."
He began with a kiss, slow and deep, leaving her breathless as his lips brushed gently to her neck, soft kisses that left heat in their wake. His breath was hot as he nibbled at her ear, and whispered, "So far, so good…"
Lost in the pleasure of it, for a moment she’d forgotten their game. His fingers began to trace a path down her neck, slipping under the towel to peel it away, exposing her completely to him. His hands were hot as he cupped her breasts, his caresses sending waves of arousal through her body. "I hope you know no one’s been there but you," she breathed, as his mouth made its own exploration. In response he twirled his tongue around her already hardened bud, tasting for himself.
Just making sure… he replied wordlessly. He was taking his time with this torturous pleasure, burying himself in her mounds of flesh, reveling in the taste of her skin… I want to taste every inch of you…
Even as the glorious sensations deepened her need for him, she was suddenly aware of his own growing arousal. Through their bond she could feel him struggling to restrain his escalating need to be inside her, just long enough to complete the task he had set out to do, to explore and cherish every inch of her… And as their desires became intertwined, the passion drawing them towards fulfillment intensified a hundred-fold…
Vegeta, please… she begged him, unable to speak, as his lips trailed downward, lingering over her quivering abdomen.
I’m not done yet, woman… he responded, teasing her with his kisses. I just need to make sure no one has touched what is mine…
Now, you know no one else has been—
She gasped out loud as his mouth found its destination, tasting her desire, teasing the source of her pleasure with his tongue until she felt she would…
"Oh!" In an explosion she came, even as he continued to play at her pulsing core.
She was weak from her passion, and closed her eyes, swimming in the sea of warm completion, stroking his hair lovingly as he rested his head on her stomach. But even as he began kissing his way back up her body, the sense of his own urgent arousal made her want him again…
His lips met hers in a tender kiss, and she reached for him, caressing him until he seemed to tremble in her hands. I want you, woman… she could hear him say, and she slowly guided him into her warmth, not wanting to make him wait any longer…
And as their bodies melded into one, Bulma could feel the essence of his being interlacing with hers, until neither of them existed except as part of the other. The swirl of emotions that were his became once more indelibly imprinted on her soul, as everything she had ever known and felt became a part of him. "I love you…" was the only conscious thought, but neither knew whose thought it was, as though they had said it in unison.
Clinging to each other as their physical bodies strained towards completion, their passion was one…
And as one, they exploded in a burst of ecstasy…
Vegeta held her tightly, possessively, not wanting to separate from her just yet. Her warmth was still pulsing around him, and he was afraid that any break in physical contact would dissipate the emotional bond that had intensified during their lovemaking. He couldn’t bear to lose that. He couldn’t bear to lose the sense of her, and of her love for him, that had wrapped itself around his soul.
You’ll never lose it. And you’ll never lose me.
He looked into her eyes, smiling brightly at him, and knew that it was true. After all he had lost in his lifetime—his family, his world, his race—he would never lose her. And all that he had striven for in his life, all he had desired, seemed to pale in comparison to what he had found on this small world. And he knew that he would never again seek power and strength for any reason greater than to protect the wife and child he loved more than he had ever imagined possible.
"I love you, Bulma," he whispered tenderly.
And for the first time, he said it with no effort at all.
It felt good.