A Price to Pay
Trunks sighed. How was he ever, ever going to get all this business straightened out?
He rubbed his eyes, straining to see the computer screen clearly. Kami, was this really what his mother had had to deal with everyday? And she still had had time for inventing?
"Oniisan," Bra called, walking into the room. "Iím finished."
She pressed a piece of paper onto his cluttered desk. "Like it? Arenít I neat?"
Glancing at it, he took note of the enormous detail in the machine blueprint. "Yes, yes, Bra, thanks. Now go figure out the marketing."
"Canít I put it together?" she whined.
He paused in his typing. "Okay," he said, facing her. "Bra-chan, you act too much like Kaasan."
"Whatever," she said, seemingly indifferent. But it hurt them both in their hearts when they remembered their mother, Bulma.
"Well, letís get going," he said, heaving a sigh of exhaustion. Then, before Bra left, he put a hand on her arm.
"Arigatou, Bra-chan. Youíre a great help." It was the first time he had thanked her for all she had done sinceÖsince Bulma had died.
She smiled, again painfully resembling her mother. "No problem."
Do you know the price Iíd pay
Just to see your face for another day
Drip drip, drip drip.
Bulma Briefs, beloved mother and wife
"The butterfly that made the winds sing"
Crimson droplets fell upon the smooth marble headstone, collecting in a small patch at the foot of the block. A bleeding finger lifted and glowed, an invisible point of infinite sharpness at the tip. Slowly he etched the alien words into the stone, in beautiful script.
"Queen of the Saiyajin"
Vejita let his hand fall. For a minute longer he let a little more of his blood to adorn the stone. Every drop lost will one day be a drop gained.
When he had first taken her, unceremoniously and violently, he had made her shed blood. She had bled for his desires. But never had she complained. And now, he would give her his blood in return, upon her grave.
A single clear tear fell amongst the dripping blood, mixing into the puddle. He bowed his head, stood up, and rocketed off into the sky.
All this time that passes us by
All the while Iím wondering why
"Tousan," she said, seeing her father in the kitchen. This was the first time he had been in the house since a week ago.
"Yes?" His voice was blank and emotionless; he did not look up from the hastily prepared food on the table.
"Nothing. Just wondering how you were doing. Do you want to spar with Ojisan a little?" she asked, forcing cheerfulness.
"Why would I want to spar with that air-headed idiot?" he almost snarled. Bra drew back. His attitude had gotten increasingly poisonous lately, even towards her.
"Okay," she said. Taking two cups of coffee, she walked out and left him alone.
"We just donít have time," he argued.
"I know, but look at his condition! It looks like he hasnít slept for weeks. And heís even giving ME that nasty attitude."
"Bra, you can go collect the Dragonballs if you want to. But Iím staying here, thereís too much work to get done," Trunks said.
"Fine, Iíll do it myself. Maybe Iíll get Ojisan to help," she huffed, stalking out of the room.
After digging through multiple drawers in the old laboratory she found the radar, still in perfect condition. Going outside, she flew quickly to the Sonís house in the woods.
We never notice those things till theyíre gone
Never knowing just where we were wrong
"Bra-chan," Chichi greeted from the kitchen. "How are you?"
"Iím fine, Chichi-san," the girl replied, walking shyly into the room. "Do you think that I could borrow Ojisan for a little? I have to go find the Dragonballs."
"What for?" the woman asked curiously, wiping a spoon on her apron.
"Well, Trunks and I were thinking about making a wish for the good of Otousan." Braís eyes turned to the floor, and she shuffled her feet.
Despite her past grudges against the moody Saiyajin, Chichi felt pity for him and his children. Bulmaís death mustíve been really hard on himÖ
A new voice called, "Okaasan, whereís my economics bookóhi, Bra-chan!"
"Goten, I didnít know you were home," Bra said cheerfully.
"Hai, he has a few days off from university. Maybe he can help you. Right, Goten-kun?"
"Nani?" The typical Goku-style confused look appeared on his face.
Bra laughed. "Could you come help me find the Dragonballs? Itíll take a lot less time if I had some help."
"Sure!" Goten was more than relieved at his mother letting him off of studying.
"Be back before dinner," Chichi ordered, waving her spatula at them as they left.
"I will," Goten answered, then said to Bra, "That doesnít give us a lot of time. Letís hurry."
He blasted off into the air, Braís arm latched around his neck.
Her head broke the surface, hair matted messily around her face. In her hand she held up a shining orb with two stars inside.
"Just three more, right?" she gasped, taking in air.
"Yeah," Goten said, helping her out of the water. His hand slipped on her dripping arm, and she wobbled before righting herself by levitating. He tried not to notice the fact that she was dripping wet.
"Well, letís go," she said, concentrating in the beeping radar. "Thereís another one in the mountains to the east."
Putting on a surge of ki, she evaporated the water on her body, her fine hair flaring up. She looped an arm around Goten, her lips accidentally brushing his as they both turned to talk to each other.
His face turned bright red, while she only laughed. "Gomen, Goten-kun. Come on, letís go to the mountains!"
Her voice rang clear through the air, summoning the eternal dragon from its dormancy in the seven magical spheres. Its thick serpentine body unfurled itself into the sky, upon layers and layers of coils.
"WHO HAS AWAKENED ME FROM MY SLUMBER?" the deep reverberating voice boomed.
"Iíd like to make a wish," Braís tiny voice called. Trunks and Goten stood by her side, looking up at the dragon.
"I wish that my father will no longer feel any pain from losing my mother," she said firmly.
"YOUR WISH IS GRANTED!" Shenlongís eyes glowed dully, and a shiver ran through the length of his coils.
Goten whistled. "The dragonís having a spasm."
"Nah. Heís just probably having a hard time changing Otousanís mind around. Pretty difficult task," Trunks replied indifferently.
The dragon slowly curled and shrunk downward, its power pouring into the Dragonballs. The orbs flared with light, then separated in seven different paths.
Bra sighed. "Well, thatís done with. I hope Otousan feels better now."
"Where is your dad, anyway?" Goten asked.
"Heíll come home pretty soon, probably," Trunks assured him.
So maybe just for this one time
Let me repent for my crimes
Not too far away, in the neighboring woods, Vejita was indeed on his way back to Capsule Corp. He had seen the sky turn black as a sign of the dragonís arising. But why had it been summoned?
A jolt wracked his body suddenly, and his sight filled with light. Doubling over, he grasped the sides of his head in his hands. It felt like his brain was being turned inside out! Violently his thoughts, every single memory he had stored away, all thrashed up at once, beleaguering his mind like a thousand jackhammers.
"KusoÖ" he rasped, his teeth grinding together.
He powered up to Super-Saiyajin, trying to block out the pain. What the hell was happening?
Then the agony was gone. In astonishment he felt the magnitude of his own power, he was a Super-Saiyajin! Looking down, he noticed the strange flimsy clothing he was wearing. Where was his armor? Then, he remembered his mission. Where was his space pod, and what planet was he on? Taking in his surroundings, he judged that he was on Chikyuu again. His anger boiled when he recalled his shameful loss to the Chikyuu-jin and that accursed Kakarotto.
What had happened to him? How had he gotten so powerful, and why was he on this planet? He whirled around, and felt three substantially powerful life forces heading his way, one weaker than the other two, which were about equal.
He smirked and tensed up for a fight. It seemed a long time since he had done battle, although his fight with Kakarotto was clear in his mind. Perhaps now he could teach the lowly moron a lesson.
How I wish itíd all go away
This is the price Iíd pay, what Iíd pay
"Niisan, heís turned Super-Saiyajin," Bra said with concern.
"I know," Trunks said, flying alongside her and Goten. "Itís fine, itís probably just from the shock of loss of pain, I guess."
"I donít know," she muttered. "I have a weird feeling about thisÖ"
"Donít worry, Bra-chan. Your fatherís fine," Goten reassured her. "If anything, heís feeling better."
"Oi, Tousan!" Trunks called, approaching at the head of the trio.
Vejita stood with his arms folded across his chest, a disdainful look on his face as usual. His eyes narrowed at them as they stopped. And he let out a scornful laugh that caused Bra to shiver.
"Who are you, boy? Certainly not my son. And I demand that you tell me why I am on this worthless planet," his voice was cold and insulting.
Trunksí mouth hung agape. "Otousan, Iím Trunks! How couldÖ"
The air was knocked out of him from a stunning blow to the stomach. "Impossible. You are not Saiyajin. Now tell me what has happened to bring me here, or be killed."
"Otousan!" Bra spread her arms protectively in front of Trunks, forming a barrier between him and Vejita. "You donít remember anything?!"
"Whatís there to remember, brat? Get out of my way! If you wonít be of any use to me, then Iíll just destroy you and find Kakarotto!"
He struck at her with a fist, but found himself careening sideways from a vaulting kick. The third brat! He had forgotten about him.
Snarling, he righted himself and charged up for a flurry of ki attacks. But then, strong arms and legs latched themselves around him tightly, restraining him from moving. In rage he thrashed, struggling to shake his captor off.
"Bra, get Jisan! Goten, help me!" Trunks shouted, straining with the effort of holding back his father, who was acting up like a madman.
"But Trunks-" Bra cried, hesitating.
"GO!" he screamed, his hair flaring gold in the transformation to Super-Saiyajin.
Turning, Bra blasted herself towards the forest, in the midst of a horror she had never expected to see.
"Itíll be all right," he said, a confident smile crossing his face. Putting two fingers to his forehead, he placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Iíll be back soon, Chichi," he called over his shoulder at his wife.
"You better be! Make sure Goten doesnít get hurt!"
Bra felt the slight whoosh of air from teleportation and after a second of delay time, heard and felt the sounds of battle. She felt Gokuís hand push her down, and in her confusion she felt the heat of a ki blast whiz overhead, missing her by inches. Before she could utter a sound, Goku had let go of her and was racing towards the three figures tangled in battle.
Trunks and Goten paused, panting, and turned their heads to see him approaching. Vejita, however, took this chance to deal them both severe jarring blows to their heads. Their unconscious forms fell to the ground and bounced once clumsily.
"Ah, Kakarotto," he planted his freezing gaze upon Goku. "We meet again."
"Vejita, whatís gotten into you? You just knocked out your own son!" Goku said, secretly gathering his ki in case Vejita chose to attack now.
"He is not my son. I would never sire a half-breed, especially not with a human mate! Now letís finish what we started, and Iíll make sure to kill you this time," he sneered.
"Listen to me! Your son and daughter wished for you to no longer feel pain over Bulmaís death! And somehow youíve forgotten everything since you stayed on Chikyuu!" Goku tried to reason.
"Nonsense. Itís a shame you canít even carry on an intelligent conversation; I have no idea what youíre talking about," Vejita spat, and charged at him.
Goku immediately turned Super Saiyajin and blocked Vejitaís furious onslaught, slowly increasing his own power until he was halfway to Super Saiyajin two. Calmly he parried and deflected any blasts directed at him, waiting for the other man to tire.
If heís forgotten everything from his life on Chikyuu, then he wonít be able to do Big Bang Attack or Final Flash or any other techniques heís learned hereÖ
But still Vejita fought at him with a savagery he had never seen, even at their first battle twenty somewhat years before. Goku was beginning to enjoy this fight, as his Saiyajin blood began to course strongly in his veins and mind.
Suddenly his opponentís power increased exponentially, and with a victorious cry Vejita slammed a fist into Gokuís abdomen, then swung him down into the ground as forcefully as he could. In an instant he had shot over a score of ki blasts down where his stunned adversary lay, cackling maniacally as the bloodlust overtook him.
Can you see through my life
Can you see through the price
A new form zoomed past Bra and toward the triumphing Vejita. She saw a tie and a torn collared shirt flutter to the ground as Gohan charged at her father.
She so dearly wished she could help, but this battle was out of her league. If she intervened she would only become an impediment.
What have I done? She had thought that she was helping, but obviously something had gone terribly wrong with the wish. If Vejita truly had forgotten everything, thenÖ
He wouldnít remember Bulma, either. He wouldnít even know who she was.
Bra swore at herself. He was feeling no pain because all memories of her mother had been erased!
Her mind raced, trying to decide what was best to do. It must be the dragonís problemÖthen Iíll go collect the Dragonballs-no, that would take too long, uhh, come on, Bra, think! She spotted Goku on the ground, getting up and dusting himself off.
She dove down to him and grabbed him by the arm. "Jisan, take me to Dende. Heíll know what to do about this. Somethingís gone wrong with Shenlong. He twisted my wish around."
"Hai," Goku said, and prepared for shunkan idou.
Just then they were both bowled aside as Gohanís body slammed into them. Bra let go of Gokuís arm and went tumbling crazily across the ground. Already she could hear Goku beginning to fight her father again.
"Pity, Kakarotto, your brat always held something back," Vejita jeered, catching one of Gokuís fists in his palm. "Not Saiyajin enough to hold up a good fight."
Gohan recovered and flew up again, to join his father in the battle. "Tousan, what do you say we end this right now!" he gritted.
"Wait, Gohan!" Goku yelled.
Too late. Gohan burst into his Mystic stage, his mighty aura forcing them both back.
"Na-nani?" Vejita gasped in awe. A split-second later he went plummeting to the ground and smashed into several rows of trees. Before he could blink Gohan was on top of him, pinning him down.
"Vejita-san," his voice was calm and controlled. "Listen to me."
Vejita snarled and spat, but could not break free of Gohanís iron grip.
"You stayed on Earth after my father defeated Furiza on Namek-sei. Eventually you settled down and took a human as your mate. Her name was Bulma. Try to remember her. You had two children. Then Bulma died. Youíd become so grief-stricken that your daughter couldnít bear seeing you like that, so she wished on the Dragonballs to remove your pain over the loss. Got that? Now the dragon screwed up and youíve forgotten everything. So youíre feeling no pain, because you donít remember."
Slowly Vejita digested all the information. And he snorted. "You mean to say Iíve stayed on Chikyuu bowing to a womanís will for twenty-odd years? Impossible. I wouldíve killed Kakarotto by now, and you as well. The brats? Forget them. The woman must have drugged me all this time. Good riddance to her."
Gohan cringed at hearing those last words, and, seizing the moment, Vejita tore free and blasted off into the sky. He readied himself for an attack he knew just too well. Nothing could stop him now.
Maybe Iíll lose a little control
Maybe Iíll let it all go
"Gariku-ho!" He powered up a gigantic blast and began to send it down with incredible speed and force. Neither Kakarotto nor Gohan would have a way of intercepting it now without endangering the planet with a blast of his own.
"STOP!!!" a voice shouted at him, and a girl appeared in front of him. "Otousan!"
It was his so-called daughterÖshe spread her arms out in front of him, in front of the oncoming blast. He felt her ki increasing dramatically, but she was still weak.
His hands released the beam, which in the blink of an eye, struck her. A huge explosion rocked the air, an enormous purple cloud blew out in all directions, and Vejita drew an arm over his eyes. The brat! She had ruined his attack!
Slowly the clouds cleared, and Vejita began to power up for another blast.
"DaddyÖ" a weak little voice croaked. He peered through the floating debris and saw the child.
Blood poured steadily out of a deep jagged hole in her stomach. She looked down at the wound, and let out a hacking cough. Then her eyes met his, and smiled crookedly at the look of horror on his face.
"Do you rememberÖnowÖDaddyÖ"
She fell hundreds of feet to the earth, and lay still.
Just give me some wounds to heal
Iíll be all right when I know youíre real
It felt like a bomb inside his head had exploded. Oh Kami! What had he done?
He remembered all now, everything! He remembered that he had forgotten, and what he had done while in his amnesia!
"No!!!!!" With a strangled cry he plunged down to the ground by her side.
Her eyes were half-closed in a dazed state. Those beautiful eyes, so much like BulmaísÖhe would have to see another deathÖ
He let out another scream of agony, of loss and pain. In trembling hands he grasped his child closely to him, his clothes soaking through with her blood. He had killed her! How could he-
A hand fell on his shoulder, and instantly he found himself inĖKamiís palace. Goku had used shunkan idou.
"Vejita-san," a gentle voice said. A voice he had not heard in a long time. "Let me take care of this."
With unshed tears in his eyes Vejita turned to see the little Namek-jin looking concernedly at him. Tenderly he pried his daughter from his arms, and placed two hands at her sides. Vejita could do nothing but watch.
"Iím so sorry, Vejita," Goku said remorsefully. "But itíll be all right."
"Sheís not dead yet, just barely alive," Dende murmured as he began to heal. "You have a strong child, Vejita-san."
"Tousan," Trunks said, coming to kneel next to his father. He rubbed a sore on his head.
"Trunks. Whenever your sister gets a hellish idea in her mind again, you make sure she doesnít try something like this," Vejita whispered without looking at his son.
Sweet innocence can kill me now
If only these sins would allow
Goku spoke. "Itís Shenlong. Somethingís happened to him. Trunks, come, letís go get the Dragonballs and figure out whatís wrong."
Suddenly the floor shook with seven large reverberations, and they all turned to see the Dragonballs, active again, each in a small pit of impact in the fine marble floor.
"Nani?" Vejita stood up.
"They came by themselves," Goku said confusedly, walking over to the glowing orbs. "Whoa!"
He tilted his head backward to avoid being hit in the jaw by the gigantic form that sprang forth from the Dragonballs. Shenlong had arisen, all on its own.
Everyone looked up at the mighty dragon in awe. It reared its head down at them, and bowed, closing its glowing eyes.
"MY APOLOGIES TO YOU ALL." The dragon was apologizing! Goku scratched his head.
"THERE HAS BEEN A DISTURBANCE IN MY SOUL. TOO MUCH EVIL HAS ENTERED MY PLANEÖIT IS TOO DANGEROUS TO MAKE ANY MORE WISHES. THE RESULTS MAY BE AS HAZARDOUS AS THE WISH YOU HAVE JUST MADE."
"Too much evil?" Dende looked up from Braís now healed body. "When will you be able to grant wishes again, Shenlong?"
"MY SOUL MUST BE HEALED FIRST. I WILL GRANT WISHES AGAIN WHEN I AM HEALED," it replied.
Bra stirred and groaned. Immediately Vejita took her into his arms and held her, uncaring of the eyes that looked on. "Otousan," she realized what had happened, and hugged him back. "Iím sorry."
"Donít be," was the simple answer.
"Shenlong," Trunks spoke up. "Can you grant one more wish before you leave? Just one?"
Donít undermine the price to pay
Black and white may become the gray
Silence. The great dragon was contemplating the request, and the five onlookers held their breaths.
"YES. IT WILL BE A GREAT STRAIN ON ME, BUT I WILL. PERHAPS TO REPAY YOU FOR YOUR LOSSES," he grumbled.
"I wish," Trunks rethought his words in his head. "for one last chance to speak to my mother in person. For as long of a time as you can grant."
Shenlong nodded, and his eyes lit up. "YOUR WISHÖIS GRANTED!"
I know the price
Iíll pay it here, this one time
His head whipped around, to seeÖhe gasped.
She was there, in a misty white haze, looking amused at them all. Her hair had grown long and lustrous, her smile was gentle and her eyes sparkled. Kami, she looked so young againÖ
"BulmaÖ" Vejita disengaged himself from his daughter and tentatively reached a hand toward her.
His hand went through her face, he could not touch her, she was but a spirit. "You-"
"Itís all right," she said, her voice mellifluous and soft. "Oh Gods, youíre still as stupid and stubborn as ever, with that silly ritual over my grave."
She laughed, a sweet ringing sound. Her light blue eyes turned to her children. "Iím sorry, guys. Iím so proud of you both. Donít feel bad about me, Iím happy where I am. Just get on with your lives, and Trunks, donít get too hung up on work, all right? Thatís what hired assistants are for. Bra-chan, make sure you keep up my image!"
Another laugh. But time was ticking away, she could only stay so longÖ
Her face grew serious. "Vejita. Please, I beg of you, donít keep thinking of me that way. Itís not your fault. It never was. Youíve got two wonderful children to take care of. They need you. Please, just be happy for me. At least you wonít have to deal with my bitching anymore."
Her glowing form floated toward him. He was still speechless, and once again tried reaching out to her.
"Seems like Iím doing all the talking," she commented lightly. "Havenít you people got anything to say?"
"Thanks for everything, Kaasan," Trunks said briefly. "Iíd say I love you, but then I said that already the last timeÖne?"
She nodded and smiled. Bra spoke. "I could say I love you a million times, itís still not enough to bring you back. So Iíll just say it one more time. I love you, Okaasan."
"Bulma," Vejita whispered. The wondrous spirit before him had begun to fade.
His hands longed to hold her desperately. Again they penetrated nothing but mist.
"Itís okay," she said softly. And she leaned forward and planted a light kiss on his lips. It felt like air, but Vejita was overwhelmed at once.
So Iíve paid the price to see you again
Iíve made the sacrifice and I canít pretend
"IÖI love you," he choked out. The phrase he had so dreaded to say before, finally torn out from him.
"Baka." The insult was like an affectionate caress. "You think I didnít know that? I love you too. Now, get on with your life. Iíll be waitingÖ"
A wistful smile, and a stroke on his cheekÖShe vanished in a curl of mist, echoes of the word "Aishiteru" ringing around the air.
Canít pretend anymoreÖ
Strangely the Dragonballs had not scattered, but had stayed active and glowing. Dende placed them in a crystal box for safekeeping. "Theyíll stay here while Shenlong heals."
Vejita was quiet. He had seen her again. One last time, to make amends for what he did not say atÖat her death.
Their time had been so short! He needed her, he would never stop needing her!
A pair of arms wrapped themselves around him, and another hand rested on his shoulder. Two pairs of blue eyes looked hopefully into his.
Perhaps this was enoughÖ
And now that thereís nothing left to say,
ÖUntil we meet again, one sweet dayÖ