Disclaimer: I do not own DBZ or any of the characters attributed to the show. No money is being made on any of this.

Author’s Note: This story was written for a good friend’s birthday and it belongs to her. She was kind enough to let me share it with others and so here it is. Happy birthday, Roe. You are a wonderful friend. Another note: I am working on my work again, so stick with me and you will see some more very soon. Lisa


By: Lisa Starr


She was dancing with that fool Kakkarot and having the time of her life. Vegeta watched his mate—wife as she preferred him to call her— swing her lithe body around to the thumping beat of the music, laughing, talking...living. She was, thankfully, very much alive and his son…his son was alive and well. Both were here now, making fools of themselves as they celebrated the joy of their life and the lives of their friends and planet. Yet what amazed him the most was that they celebrated his life as well. He marveled for a moment that his life could have ever come to mean anything to anyone. That it had left him with an odd sense of peace, a feeling he had rarely had in all the years of his life, was even more astonishing.

Vegeta stood silently, watching her make a fool of herself for a few minutes more as she laughed, shrieked, and clung to her friends with the joyful glow one could attribute to a girl of sixteen, not a woman nearing forty. She was absolutely breathtaking. His dark eyes took in every curve, swept over every contour, every nuance of her graceful body. His gaze burned through her and if she had happened to glance up in that one moment, she might have seen the desire, need, and—he paused for a moment, marveling again that he could even admit this…love.

When had it happened? When had this softening of his mind and soul taken place? Had it been during the years they had lived together after the defeat of Cell? Or had it been more recently as he had seen her life threatened—ended finally by events set into motion at his own hand, by his own selfish desires? He had watched his son die, seen yet another planet he called home blown to pieces, and he had been powerless to stop it. Just like he had been powerless to stave off her death at the hands of Majin Buu. They were memories that would haunt him forever, regardless of the happy outcome they had managed to obtain.

Vegeta clenched his fists in helpless fury at the remembrance of not being able to feel his wife's ki, or his son's, of feeling nothing but emptiness where their life energies should have been, and knowing that he had been the one that had led them to their destruction, that he was just as culpable for their deaths as if he had taken their lives with his own two hands.

He whirled and stalked out of the room heading for the shore of the beach that bordered the property, the need to escape the room running through his blood. He had barely spoken to Bulma since they had all been reunited, only exchanging polite words with her, and sharing a simple smile. She had been pleased to see him, he knew that, was thankful for it, though he could hardly fathom why. She’d spoken little, however, hell, both of them had left much unsaid, perhaps out of fear for what they might have to reveal. His own mind had been heavy with just one question: Would she be able to forgive him for his actions? Beyond that, would she be able to forget the sight of him wiping out thousands of her fellow earthlings? Would she be able to let go of the idea that he had oh so casually tossed aside their feelings for each other, or trying to expel her from his heart as if they shared something disposable and meaningless, for attempting to discard his son in the same manner? Or would she tell him to pack his things and go? She had given him no indication one way or the other, and she had seemed joyous to see him alive, had actually leapt into his arms upon seeing that ridiculous fat Buu. She at least trusted him to protect her and her life. That had to mean something.

Vegeta came to a stop at the water's edge watching the dancing yellows and whites of the strung-up lights reflect off the near black waters. It was a clear night, the sky littered with bright, shining stars. A fitting night for a celebration of life, he thought. Sticking his hands in his pockets he sighed and shut his eyes, reveling in the warm, salty breeze that caressed his skin. He had been in Hell, been sent to Hell and sentenced to an eternity of never feeling the sigh of the wind against his body or seeing the stars gleam in the sky. He had been sentenced to never feeling the silk of Bulma's hair slide through his bare fingers, of never again looking into her glittering sapphire eyes as they sparkled up at him with love. Nor had he ever again thought that he might feel her soft, bare skin against him as he made love to her.

Why had he run from something that had only ever brought him pleasure in his life? She had never brought him pain, not intentionally anyway. With her it had been good, with her life had been a pleasure.

His son... he had almost lost his son, had almost not been able to train the boy and raise him up as a man. He swallowed back the sudden shameful lump that threatened to choke him. No, he was still the Prince of the Saiya-jin race, his choices had been made and he would not cry like a baby or weep as a weakling might. With the sheer force of his will he pushed the painful knot of sorrow down, inhaling deeply with the effort. He would be all right and whatever happened good or bad he would survive it— for he was a Saiya-jin.

Still, there was no denying he had a second chance—a second chance to do things differently, to live a better life. He didn't have to be alone anymore, didn't have to live in another’s shadow or hide himself from the people that cared. He was bonded to no one but himself—well save the woman whom he had chosen for himself, but there were no more monsters that would ever tell him what to do again. He could share himself with his woman and maybe he could be...happy. It was a foreign idea, one that left him tense and unsure but it was a feeling he could no longer deny he wanted

He tensed as he felt her ki moving towards him followed by the slide of her small hand up the back of his shirt. He felt a delicious tingle of desire shoot up his spine at the heat of her touch.

"Vegeta," Bulma murmured quietly. "Why did you leave the party?" She pressed her body against his lightly, shocked when he didn't immediately step away from her touch. The smallest display of affection from her, other than in bed, usually sent him skittering away as if she had a disease. Truth be told, she had grown used to it, had even come to expect it from him, so it no longer really bothered her. It was a part of him that she had just grown to accept over the years and she had grown comfortable with that. And, she supposed, she had learned the times to look for his expressions of emotions, had learned to see them for what they were when he did express them—which was almost always through sex. That he didn't distance himself tonight from her casual touch surprised her, yet thrilled her all in the same breath. As much as she enjoyed sex with him and feeling what he would say to her through the touch of his fingers on her skin, or the shining glint in his ebony eyes, there was an elemental part of her that needed and wanted to be close to this man in more ways than one.

Vegeta shrugged before turning to face her, sliding a warm arm out to capture her in a steely embrace. "Perhaps I wanted to lure you out to the beach and ravish your body until you couldn't walk, woman." He teased playfully, smirking at the look of stunned shock that flitted across her face.

"Huh?" Bulma managed to sputter out, shocked. "R-ravish? Are you serious?" She stared, wide-eyed into his onyx eyes, searching him out, grateful that he was holding her up. The thought of being ravished by Vegeta had made her knees go weak.

Vegeta's smirk grew wider curving into a full-fledged smile at the mixture of astonishment and desire that mingled together on her face, presenting him with an altogether vulnerable expression. He watched her, never letting his eyes drift from her face, which was bathed in the far-reaching lights of the house, lending her an almost ethereal appearance, as he explored her body. He stroked his hands downwards over her back to cup her bottom through the silk of her short red dress, lifting her more tightly against him and maneuvering them both into a more private place with ease.

Bulma inhaled sharply at the gentle smile that had spread across his face. He looked so much younger when he smiled—so achingly vulnerable and open. Exhaling slowly in a pathetic attempt to still her pounding heart and ease the quickening of her blood as he roamed her body with his fingers, she spoke softly. "You're teasing me, Vegeta. There's no way you'd want to make love out here where someone might walk by and see you in a moment of weakness. " She smiled up at him triumphantly, pleased with herself at turning the tables on him and calling his bluff only to gasp as his mouth descended on hers, plundering her mouth in a searing, burning kiss that left her weak and boneless in his arms.

"Still think I'm bluffing woman?" Vegeta whispered huskily against her mouth.

"What has gotten into you, Vegeta?" Bulma whispered against his mouth, her lips brushing lightly against his as she spoke. Capturing his bottom lip with her teeth, she nipped at it lightly, earning herself a low growl. "Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It's just—well it’s just not often that you're this playful."

Vegeta pulled away from her, handsome face suddenly rigid and troubled before releasing her and turning back to face the water. "I was merely teasing you woman. I have little doubt that were I to toss you to the ground you would shriek like a banshee and have everyone of the fools in there..." he nodded his head pointedly at the lit up house. "…out here."

Bulma raised a blue eyebrow and smiled. "Funny, I don't recall making a sound, but..." Her hand snaked around his waist to caress him. "We could certainly test the theory on you." She smiled as another low rumble emanated from his chest. "What do you say Prince, think I can make you scream?"

"Highly unlikely wench." Vegeta smirked wickedly. "The Saiya-jin Prince screams for no-one."

"No, but he does do a lot of moaning." Bulma laughed as he did just that, giving into the feelings her stroking hand were inducing within him. "Vegeta," she murmured, pressing her lips in the hollow of his neck, inhaling the clean, musky scent of him and feeling the slow, steady pulse of his heart as it beat against her lips. "I know I didn't say this earlier—Dende knows I wanted to but I wasn't sure if I should. You get so damned touchy when I say it any other time." She took a deep calming breath of salty ocean air before continuing. "When I found out you were dead I was…devastated." She spoke carefully, choosing her words well. " I don't think I realized how much I felt for you until I no longer had you around close to me." She paused letting her arms fall from him and turning away, the still keen memories of feeling him die, of feeling his life force as it exited his place in her body assaulting her anew.

For a moment they was silent, the air around them devoid of any sound save the gentle breaking of the waves against the beach and the hum of music that vibrated through the air. Absently she brushed away a tear that slid slowly down her face, cursing herself for letting it escape. He wouldn't appreciate her tears. Vegeta hated weakness; prided strength— strength in himself, in his son...in her. Bulma felt warm hands slide up her bare arms in a gentle caress settling lightly on her shoulder. She sighed longingly as his long fingers began to knead the suddenly tense muscles ever so gently. "I guess what I'm trying to say, Vegeta," she whispered thickly. "What I should have said the minute I first saw you today: I love you and if you ever leave me again I don't think I could survive it."

Vegeta bowed his head resting the spiked peak of his hair against hers for the briefest of moments before pulling her body into the circle of his embrace. The words had been what he was looking for, an affirmation that she still loved him, still wanted him despite the atrocities he had afflicted on the innocent lives at the Budouki; despite attempting to drive her from his heart and forget what they shared; despite putting her, their son and this planet she called home in mortal danger. Still, he couldn’t even begin to fathom her forgiveness. It had been too easy, too readily given, and in his life experience, things were never readily given. "Why," he whispered into her ear, voice urgent and fierce. "Why…after everything I have done do you, when I have only ever given you half of myself would you still want me in your life?"

Bulma took another breath, unsure how to fully answer him. What was she supposed to say? There were no excuses for what he had done, and he was right, he did not give himself fully into the relationship, had never given deeply of himself in all the years they had been together. Goku had told her about Babidi and all that Vegeta had said to him, had spoken to her of all the rage and pain, had even mentioned that despite his angry denial of feelings for his family the Prince had seemed unconvinced himself that he actually felt nothing for them and had certainly dropped everything when he knew they were in mortal danger. So what did one do with all that information? She just wasn’t sure. All she knew was that the man needed her now more than he had ever needed her before and she would not desert him.

Bulma shrugged her shoulders before turning to face him. "I'm not going to deny that I'm not hurt. You have a lot of making up to do, Vegeta...if you care about me. But what's important, what I hold onto is that you did what you had to do in order for us to be safe. Vegeta," her blue eyes pierced into his, rendering him motionless. " You gave your…" She paused, swallowing back a hard, painful lump before going on. "… life for me and for our son and that isn’t something a girl can just forget." Despite her best efforts the lump in her throat refused to be banished and she choked on it, crying out in a hoarse sob as she thought about that moment, that one single moment that Goku had confirmed his death to her. Bulma had felt it in her own heart, felt his presence leaving her body, yet the words from her best friend had made it real... had confirmed her loss and it had nearly destroyed her. Perhaps they were far closer than Vegeta thought.

Vegeta pulled her quaking body to him and wrapped her in a warm, sheltering embrace. "Woman, I..." Vegeta hugged her shaking body more tightly, overwhelmed by her ability to forgive him. How many times had she cast away her own strong pride and given him chance after chance? Always he had used her kindness and generosity to suit his own selfish ends, never giving, never sharing but always taking—holding himself from her as if she were unworthy of his love and regard and keeping his growing feelings for her silent and unspoken. The only thing he had ever given her was Trunks and in that one gift he had managed to somehow give her the best of himself. Yet he had been unable to admit even that until now when it had almost been too late. "I'm sorry Bulma." He whispered into her hair uttering words that he had thought would never leave his mouth again. He had apologized only to Gohan, twice for letting the boy down—once with Cell and once with Buu. They had been words spoken from one warrior to another. And here he stood yet again, uttering the same words to a frail human that held more power over him than the strongest of warriors. It boggled the mind that she was as strong as she was, his very match in temperament and pride, and yet held no physical strength to speak of.

Vegeta tilted her head back, cupping the base of her neck gently in a warm hand. "I'm lost now woman. Everything I had come to believe about myself— the man that I had come to know is gone. He'd been slowly disappearing anyway for years and it scared me. The inability to look in the mirror and see who I knew myself to be, to sense these feelings that I couldn't control, that I didn’t want, terrified me in a way that I had never felt before. I was at ease for the first time in my life and I had no idea what to do with that, was content to settle for this gentle life that I did not know how to live. I actually saw things through the eyes of a Chikyuu-jin and that…" He paused for a moment, losing himself in the sparkling blue eyes that shone up at him. "It made me angry and coupled with Kakkarot— long dead Kakkarot always one step ahead of me no matter how hard I pushed myself— well I-I snapped and I just didn't know what else to do." He shut his eyes, unable to stare into the sapphire orbs that glittered with such a wealth of emotion for him.

"Vegeta, you've had a rough life, nothing is ever going to change that. But you have to learn to accept what you can’t change. You’re free now to make your own choices, to live the life you choose. " Bulma watched as the black eyes snapped open and stared at her, sparkling with some emotion she had thought never to see in his eyes. "You can have whatever life you choose. It can be with Trunks and me. It can be," she paused, not wanting to say it but knowing that it needed to be said. "It can be somewhere else if this isn't what you want."

"Fool woman, don't you understand that you are what I want? You have always been what I wanted, at least when I was able to think beyond fighting and defeating Kakkarot. I love you, Bulma." The words rushed out of him in one quick breath and he felt a bit queasy at having said them. But now that they were said he felt a certain peace at having spoken them. "I'll probably never say them to you again, but...you know them now. You heard me say it and you will feel me show you every time we come together. I'll never be lovey like that third class fool Kakkarot, but I will never leave you, and when I look into your eyes, when I touch your body, you will know my feelings and I will never hold myself from you again." Vegeta captured her mouth in a gentle kiss, deepening it into a possessive, soul-connecting union. Between them, he could feel the strings of their bond grow stronger as he shared his thoughts and feelings for her and for their life together. His body shook as she sent her own thoughts back to him sending her feelings for him washing over him.

"Do you want to leave this party, Vegeta?" Bulma whispered against his mouth, gasping as his roving hand slid up her thigh and under her dress. "Trunks is already spending the night at Roshi's house with Goten, and it is starting to get late. Mom and Dad will be here for awhile." She smiled lightly. "It would just be you and I."

Vegeta's black eyebrows arched upwards and he smirked wickedly. "Insatiable wench." His mouth descended to her neck, nibbling a path over the mark that he had put on her so many years ago. He would reclaim her tonight as his, and she could claim him, and they would be together. Everything would be all right. "Maybe I should take you now." He whispered seductively into her ear.

"Well, for one..." Bulma began breathlessly as he kissed a trail of fire down her neck; his body sheltering her from the suddenly strong gust of wind that blew inwards from the sea as he caressed her body with his hands. "As great as sand is, it is a bitch to get off and it really makes you itch..." She broke off as he glared down at her. Oops, she'd said too much.

"Have you had this experience before?" He growled lightly, smirking at the deer-in-headlights look she shot him.

"Well—I...no." Bulma clamped her mouth shut, laughing as he growled and swung her up in his arms rocketing into the air. Wrapping her arms around his neck she pulled herself close to him whispering in his ear. "I love to fly fast, Vegeta."

"I know." Vegeta glanced down at her mystified by why she was telling him something that was common knowledge between the two of them.

"But only with you."

Vegeta smirked and sped up, understanding. "Oh, don't worry woman. I'll make sure you have the ride of your life tonight."

"I'm counting on it Vegeta." A shiver snaked down her spine at the thought. "I'm counting on it."

Vegeta's mouth curved upwards and he sighed peacefully. For some reason, despite the harm he had caused throughout his life, the Gods had seen fit to grant him yet another second chance—not by accident, not by fluke but by his own merit. He had earned it and as he looked down at the woman he held in his arms he knew this time it wouldn't be squandered.





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