Disclaimer: I don't own DBZ or any of the characters seen in the show, manga, movies, etc. But in the twisted world of my mind…well, that’s a different story.
A/N: Alright guys, there are a few things you should know before you read this. First and foremost, THIS HAS LEMON! So if that is not your cup of tea, I suggest you turn back now. Second of all, this is a MAJOR alternate universe fic, and it’s a one-shot, though I broke it up into parts. Just in case you all get a little confused, in this story, Yamcha is the ruler, king, whatever of a powerful desert planet, Vegeta is still a prince, and Frieza’s a tyrant trying to war with Vegeta-sei. I know it’s a little far-fetched, and some people might be slightly out of character, but please bear with me. This is the first lemon I’ve written, and although I was tempted to just write a scene and be done with it, I decided to put a little (actually, a huge) background story with it. Hope you like.
Acknoledgments: Thanks Ember for the support and motivation, and thank you Lady Kylandra for your wonderful beta-ing.
In the quiet loneliness of the darkened room, she waited. He was late. She had expected a lot of things this night, but somehow in her muddled anxiety she had thought he would have made the effort to return to her as soon as possible. For her, the wait had been painfully uncomfortable. The anticipation of his coming had been great enough to keep her from doing much else other than pacing the room and trying to keep her wits about her as she awaited his return.
She had been edgy, almost snappish to the servant girls tending to her earlier this afternoon. They had been prudent as always, calmly standing aside as she tossed elegant dress after elegant dress over her shoulder, and reproachfully shaking their heads as she growled out her dissatisfaction at the large selection hanging compliantly before her. It was strange to think that at one time she would have gawked at the amount of clothing in front of her. There had once been a time when she would have thought her childhood dreams had been fulfilled, that she had become a princess in a grand palace. But now it didn’t seem like enough.
As she rifled through her closets for a dress a bit more demure than the ones she usually wore, her frustration became overwhelming. It had annoyed her to no end that almost every dress in her wardrobe looked like that of a royal pleasure slave’s. Of course she had been allowed to pick out her wardrobe, and had even helped design a few of her more daring dresses, but that had been before it mattered, when she’d felt like a pleasure slave. But now her closets seem to mock her. Didn’t she have one dress that didn’t blatantly remind her of what she was? Of course not. That was what she was anyway; a pleasure slave, born to serve and ignite the desires of her master and give him any and all sexual gratification he sought from her. But everything has changed, Bulma thought apprehensively to herself.
After a long deliberation, she had decided against the dress altogether. Now she sat facing the soft, silvery light of the half-moon, unconsciously tugging the thin cloth of her thigh-length robe closer as the chilled, nocturnal breeze from the open balcony fluttered the curtains into a riotous, shifting dance. The sheer, matching silk nightie beneath the robe did nothing to help warm her. It amazed her that she owned a nightgown at all; she was never allowed to get into bed unless she was completely disrobed. Whenever she tried, her clothing was usually damaged beyond repair, many times just ripped from her body in the heat of the moment. She didn’t know why she had chosen a nightgown instead of one of the fitted, low-cut, beautiful dresses she had such an abundance of. Maybe it was because this night was different from the others. This night she was expected to throw off all pretenses and see things as they really were. And to her, the beautiful dresses she usually clothed her body in symbolized that which she had been. Before they were sufficient. Tonight they weren’t.
It felt unusual, sitting here on her own like this in the dark, alone with her thoughts and reflections of the day. She had been able to do that more often as of late. It was a little disconcerting because it gave her more time to think on her predicament, and because she had begun to realize that her will was fighting a losing battle. She had once disliked being alone. She no longer had the constant distractions to keep her mind from wandering on the possibilities of her future. As strange as it was, she had never really been alone much during the past eight years. Yamcha had always kept her close by, and when he had not been around, the other girls of his desert palace had been engaging enough company. At night, she had been nestled within the crook of her former master’s protective arm, occasionally coaxed out of sleep by a soft, panting breath and warm, searching hands.
It was hard to think of Yamcha right now. She had been his for so long, it had become difficult to distinguish her old life from her newly found freedom. She had been somewhat at ease in that life, whether she’d liked it or not, and it had been comfortingly predictable. And now…now her life was not as predictable. Now she had no way of knowing what her future held, and it was distressing, to say the very least, to think that she could change everything with a few simple decisions. She was no longer supposed to be a pleasure slave. She had been given a choice. But what did that mean? If she was no longer a slave, then what was she?
Bulma stood up, absently running a hand across the soft fabric of the overhanging canopy draped over the bed before stepping barefoot onto the cool, marble flooring of balcony. The air of Vegeta-sei was so different than what she was accustomed to. Not exactly uncomfortable, but much more humid than the dry air of the desert. She had gotten used to it by now; she had become fond of the gentle aroma from the strange, exotic flowers growing just below the window that the wind carried in at night. When it mingled with the light, piquant scent of the dark-haired Saiyan who now slept beside her, it lulled her to sleep when nothing else would.
Bulma closed her eyes against the moonlight and immediately opened them again at the image she saw behind her lowered lids. Vegeta. Her mind could not avoid him any longer. He was the reason she was up now, anxiously awaiting his return from battle. She had no doubt that he would come back triumphant. He had become stronger than he’d ever been, working furiously to achieve levels of power above and beyond what she had ever thought possible. And when he left, she had every confidence that he would return a champion to his people, an exactor of revenge for all of the slights Frieza had dealt his strong and powerful race. But he was also coming back for an answer. The night he had come to her to kiss her good-bye before leaving had been replaying mercilessly in her mind; his parting words had been what had spawned her anxiety.
When I return, woman, there will be no more games between us. We will put aside all that stands between us, and you will accept what has come to pass; I will no longer allow you to deny what you know in your heart.
She hadn’t said anything then—he hadn’t given her a chance to. He cut off her train of thought as soon as he kissed her. Then he was out the window and joining his troops before she could even begin to comprehend his words. But when the full weight of his meaning hit her, she had become almost desperate with despair. She knew what he wanted, but she knew she couldn’t give it to him. Not to him. Not to the man who destroyed Chikyuu.
A strong gust of air met her as she leaned over the stone railing of the balcony, tossing her hair about her shoulders in a disorderly flurry of blue. Looking down on the lush, well-tended palace gardens that spread to the outermost reaches of the sizeable courtyard before her, she sighed and allowed her mind to wander back to a time when things hadn’t been so complicated, when her circumstances hadn’t seemed so dire and significant. When love hadn’t been an issue.
Vegeta sagged against the side of the bathing pool, trying not to let his weariness interfere with his effort to get clean. It probably would have been much easier to rid himself of the dirt and blood that seemed to be impressed into his pores if he hadn’t sent the bathing slaves away, but he was in no mood for company and he had never really been comfortable with them anyway. His day, though successful, had been grueling and strenuous. He had been exceedingly irritated at the unexpected amount of soldiers Frieza brought with him on the battlefield. His advisors had assured him that Frieza’s overconfidence would eclipse his judgment for a reliable defense. But Frieza had surrounded himself with soldiers, all equipped with their new energy weapons, and each weapon fitted with powerful Taji crystals from the plentiful mines of Kuraji, to increase its power tenfold. Vegeta and his men had been forced to plow through the soldiers first in order to get to Frieza, and it had taken a lot out of them. It would have been a nearly impossible battle had he and his men not been contrarily equipped with the negative energy absorbers that they’d just recently acquired. Of course, Vegeta had been the one who had planned to face Frieza, and his men took on the brunt of Frieza’s army to allow him to conserve his strength and energy; but still, it had not gone as quickly as he would have liked.
But in the end, it had been him and Frieza, face to hideous face in the middle of a raging battlefield, all else phasing out as he focused in on the bastard who had managed to control him for ten long years. It had been a hard battle, had exhausted him more than he’d thought possible, and it had been with his last ounce of energy that he’d blown the weakened bastard to bits with his most powerful ki attack. And then he had collapsed.
Vegeta nearly threw a ki blast into the corner of the bathing room when his com-link, buried beneath the grimy, dirt-encrusted mass of metal, leather, and Tantium plastic that had once been his armor, began to beep furiously. He grumbled audibly as he dragged himself from the warm, soothing pool of water and snatched it up after fumbling with the small pocket it had been enclosed in.
"What!?" he bellowed into it, eternally annoyed that he was forced to carry the device with him everywhere he went.
"Forgive me for the interruption, Saiyan no Ouji. It was not my intention to bother you further—"
"What the hell is it, Nappa?" He recognized the bald Saiyan’s voice and his irksome inclination for brownnosing almost immediately, though Vegeta’s sharp tone had put a quick end to that.
"We have captured the desert scum, your Highness. He is being interrogated as we speak."
"He’s still alive? I was sure Frieza took care of him along with his worthless planet."
"Actually, we found him hiding in Frieza’s headquarters, of all places. "
"This is an interesting development," Vegeta said with slow, calculated malice. "Keep him alive, Nappa. I want speak to him myself before I take his pathetic life." Vegeta allowed himself a cruel chuckle as he thought of the irrefutable fate of the pretty-boy desert king. The man would pay for all he had done in the name of jealousy.
"As you wish, your Highness. There is one more thing, Ouji-sama, that I’d—"
"Out with it, Nappa," Vegeta ground out.
"The king wishes to speak with you."
Vegeta snorted angrily before answering. "I already know what that’s about, and I don’t give a damn what he says about anything. You tell your king that I am through with following his orders. I have defeated Frieza, and what I plan to do with my life is my concern, and mine alone!" Vegeta yanked the com-link off of his ear before the befuddled Elite had a chance to answer and threw it vehemently on top of the dirty pile of clothing and armor. His father infuriated him! That the king still had the nerve to scold him on his choice of mate made his blood boil. Had he not just freed his people from Frieza’s strangling oppression? Had he not just reached a power level beyond any previously obtained by his entire race? What did he have to do to prove that he was worthy enough to make his own decisions? And why, after the grave mistakes his father had made for his people, would he listen to anything the old man had to say?
Vegeta raked a negligent hand through his hair. He should go to her now. It had been because of her that he had even bothered to take a bath, instead of just collapsing onto his bed in exhaustion. But now, looking at the various cuts and bruises that covered his body, he knew that it would be a wiser choice to go to a regen tank first. Then he could rest and gather his thoughts for the dispute that was sure to come. But it wasn’t as if he didn’t know what he would say to the woman waiting for him in his rooms. He had made it clear to her before he left what he wanted. And now, all that remained was coaxing an answer out of her. And he would get an answer from her this time. He had grown weary of their game and now he wanted more than ever to have what she had given him only glimpses of; he wanted everything. It really shouldn’t have been this way. He was the one who should have been repudiating what they had from the very start. But he couldn’t, wouldn’t, ever give her up if it was in his power to keep her, at least not without a fight. And tonight she would understand that.
He made his way to the med-bay quickly, ignoring the insistent throbbing in his right leg where Frieza had viciously kicked him before delivering him a bone-shattering blow to his ribcage. He hadn’t really felt all of his injuries until now, and he was nearly wheezing by the time he made it to the medical wing. Immediately upon his arrival, a med-bay staff member rushed to his side and helped him over to a regen tank. Fortunately, he obtained use of an empty tank because one of his men had just been pulled out of one, groggily gesturing a salute in his direction as one of the med-aides led him to another room. Vegeta could have justly ordered a tank cleared for him, but his men had fought well for him, and they deserved any medical attention they required.
He let the aide strap an oxygen mask onto him and braced himself as the nearly scalding hot regenerative liquid surged in, causing a muscle in his cheek to twitch reflexively. Every other Saiyan warrior who had lived their whole lives on Vegeta-sei had become used to the unpleasant sensations associated with the regen tank, but while Vegeta had been in Frieza’s custody, he had never been allowed to use one. No matter how severe his injuries had been, Frieza made him suffer them in silence to punish him for any insubordinate actions. Now, when he’d been advised to used the tanks as much as possible, he felt just a little reluctant to use them, simply because they seemed like such a waste of a couple of hours. He could be training in that time. But now, Vegeta considered thoughtfully, he had little to train diligently for anymore; he had defeated Frieza and his army, had secured his place among the vast empire that Frieza had left behind, and now he could focus on other things. Like Bulma.
Bulma gave in to the soft, downy comfort of the bed as she let her head sink into the pillows, mentally drained from dwelling so much on the possible outcomes of her upcoming evening with Vegeta. What exactly did he want from her? Was he seeking forgiveness for all that he had done to her? He had said he wished to put aside the games they played, the feigned indifference that they both sustained whenever they were in the same room together. The angry barbs and the piercing glares did well to cover the underlying passion that burned within them ever since the first day they met. But it was all Bulma had left. If she let go of her anger, then the guilt that she carried each time she gave herself to him, would consume her conscience until she could no longer bear it.
Things had been so much easier with Yamcha. With Yamcha, it had been her duty to be with him, to pretend devotion, and allow him use of her body no matter how she felt about it. She’d had no other choice, and at the time, that hadn’t bothered her much because she had been grateful for Yamcha’s aid. She didn’t know what would have happened to her if Yamcha hadn’t found her. It seemed so long ago since she’d first met the handsome, dark-haired desert king, and at that point in time, life with him had seemed like a refreshing and practical idea. Before then, she would have most likely starved to death with her family on the streets. Yamcha had come to her almost like a blessing from above.
Her life truly began when she caught the desert king’s eye that momentous day in the marketplace nearly eight years ago. She hadn’t known who he was the first time she had laid eyes on him. He had been dressed in normal enough clothing, a bit nomadic-looking and heavy compared to the light, conventional garments meant for the balmy weather of Chikyuu, but he blended into the crowd well enough that she hadn’t really noticed him until he’d approached her. He had saved her from the heavy hand of the market clerk after being caught with her generous plunder of food and small, metal trinkets. Yamcha’s charming smile had dazzled her to the point of speechlessness as he’d calmly tried to placate the incensed clerk and casually slipped him further reparation in the form of shiny, new gold coins. Needless to say, the clerk’s eyes widen considerably at the sight of the pricey compensation and he was very quick to concede.
She had been so shocked by his generous actions that she hadn’t even realized he was leading her away from the market place until they’d reached an inn, far away from the bustle of the crowded streets. It was there he’d asked for her name and enamored her with his roguish smile and smooth, charismatic voice. And somehow, though to this day she was still not completely sure how, he had convinced her to join him in his rooms and dine with him. She discovered then, by the expensive furnishings and exquisite meal that didn’t seem to fit the ambiance of the drab inn in which they were located, that he was more than just a charming man who liked to rescue poor, hungry girls off of the street. He was Yamcha the Second, ruler of the powerful desert planet, Kuraji, in the Western galaxy, and he was trying to keep a low profile on Chikyuu until his departure back to his home planet.
Time seemed to blur after that. Someway or another, she had ended up in his arms, laying on the cool silk sheets of his bed as he stroked up a gentle fever within her, making her cling helplessly to him as he ravaged her trembling body. And a few days later, after making love to her intermittently throughout the afternoon, he had asked her if she’d like to join him on his return trip home. It hadn’t taken her long to comply. With his teasing kisses and tender caresses, she had been loath to even leave his bed, let alone his presence. Her family would most likely be grateful to have one less mouth to feed and wouldn’t be too heartbroken if she were to just up and disappear. With her thieving and swindling abilities, she felt like nothing more than a profitable asset to them. And so, with much less than a tearful good-bye to her poverty-stricken life on Chikyuu, she had gone back with Yamcha to Kuraji.
Things had changed drastically by the time they arrived on Kuraji. During most of the trip, she and Yamcha spent their time in his quarters, getting to know each other’s minds and bodies almost desperately, as if somehow they would be separated the moment they arrived on the arid desert planet. And much to Bulma’s surprise, that had been just the case. As soon as they reached the palace, Yamcha was immediately whisked away by a small crowd of advisors, harping and harrying at him about his prolonged absence from the throne. She had stood there awkwardly, waiting for him to explain whom she was and why she was there, until it suddenly dawned on her that she wasn’t even sure of why she was there. She had been under the impression that Yamcha had developed semi-serious feelings for her; but could she really be sure? In the short time they had gotten to know each other, he had been caring and loving, always conscious of her needs and wants, and he had tried his best to give her every thing she’d desired. But now, standing there in the empty hallway of his grand palace, she realized that she was clueless as to what place in his life she would have. He was a king, and she was a pretty but poor street urchin who had absolutely no idea what she was supposed to do here on such a large and unfamiliar planet. Yamcha had told her a few things about Kuraji, but mainly facts about the geographical landscape and indigenous life. It annoyed her that she hadn’t even thought to ask him anything about what her place would be in his kingdom on the trip there. Did she expect him, the king of an entire planet, to marry her? What had she gotten herself into?
She had wandered aimlessly about the palace, pondering these deep thoughts until a guard, stationed at the entrance of one of the large, open doorways, questioned her about her purposes in the palace. At first she hadn’t known how to respond, but then after a moment’s contemplation, she blurted out quickly that she was searching for Yamcha. She nearly cringed when the guard barked out a reprimand for not using the king’s proper title, but then gruffly directed her to a large room with closed doors a few hallways down.
Her fears were not assuaged after she found the Kuraji king in what looked to be a large, humid bathing room draped with dark silk curtains and furnished with nothing more than satin-covered couches and beds scattered randomly about the room. And it had irritated her further when she saw Yamcha sprawled on one of these couches, surrounded by scantily clad females, all of whom were trying their damnedest to touch him in one way or another. She had practically stormed over to him, barely keeping herself in check as she remembered the importance of his status, and pushed her way none-to-gently through the flock of adoring women. And after a politely worded inquiry through clenched teeth, she had been thoroughly embarrassed to find out, as Yamcha coolly explained to her, that this was his royal harem and her new place of residence. She hadn’t had known what to say then. Had she been the crying type, she would have burst into tears; but the hard truths of Chikyuu’s alley-life had toughened her up, and she had been able to keep her dignity, instead quietly thundering out of the room.
It had taken a week for her to accept her new role as the king of Kuraji’s concubine. After carefully weighing her options, and acknowledging Yamcha’s strong determination to keep her, she had decided that this new life would be a definite step up from her underprivileged one back on Chikyuu. Here, she got to dine with a king, live in luxury, and make love to a man who she was considerably attracted to. It was almost everything a girl of her standing could ask for. Yet, even as she tried to acknowledge only the good in her situation, she couldn’t help the empty feeling it left her with.
Time passed, and with it, her unease. Her life had actually become somewhat enjoyable. Yamcha had been a good master, and not overly demanding; at least, it hadn’t bothered her much when he finally asked her to sleep in his bed at night permanently instead of in the harem. He had become increasingly fond of her, and tried to spend whatever time he had available taking her on long walks around the palace gardens, talking to her over evening meals, or even traveling outside of the palace to visit the country. He’d even let her indulge in a growing interest of hers: electronics. Bulma sensed that his feelings for her had amplified over time and although that should have pleased her, she found that she was not as content with that fact as she would have been long ago. She was still a slave, still unable to do anything that Yamcha forbade her to, and still incapable of leaving if she ever chose to do so. She was property, and if Yamcha wanted to be rid of her, he could be. And if Yamcha wanted to keep her forever, he could do that too.
But it was something Bulma had learned to deal with, and if living well meant that she had to live without certain freedoms, she was sure she could do it. So what if love and true happiness weren’t in her future? She could handle that. So what if she would never be able to make choices for herself again? That just made things a whole lot easier. Or so she thought. But she hadn’t known that she would be tested; she hadn’t thought that she would actually catch a glimpse of genuine happiness and true passion. And that had been when her real problems, and pleasures, had begun.
Despite the burning sensation on his skin, Vegeta was beginning to relax amidst the swirling liquid of the regen tank. Sleep was not coming easily to him though. Every time he came close, that familiar shock of blue hair and the image of that wonderfully soft, lithe body assailed his mind and prevented him from reaching that peaceful state of rest. Much to his discontent, Bulma had been on his mind throughout the whole battle with Frieza. He usually prided himself on keeping a clear head during combat, but it had been nearly impossible to go through battle with Frieza and not be reminiscent of the first time he’d laid eyes on her. She was his reason for fighting. Whenever his resolve began to crumble, a pair of lovely blue eyes and a beautiful, tantalizing smile would remind him of what his true purposes were.
His first meeting with Bulma had been one of the most memorable events in his life. He hadn’t had a clue as to what he’d involved himself in when he initially decided to take up the desert king’s offer, granting him and his squad use of Yamcha’s royal harem. They had been sent by Frieza to Kuraji in order to make a deal with the desert king for the precious Taji energy crystals that were reported to contain considerably potent energy. Two of Frieza’s more loyal soldiers, Dodoria and Zarbon were acting as Frieza’s spokesmen and conducting the negotiations.
Shortly after arriving, they had been informed that King Yamcha extended his most hospitable salutations and that, along with anything else they might need, they were allowed access to his well-renowned harem. The men had sounded their approval and appreciation, but Vegeta hadn’t been particularly enthused. It was usually beneath him to take part in the spoils of women; he would never condemn another man for taking up such pleasure, but given his depressing circumstances with Frieza, Vegeta had chosen to bury his misery by concentrating his energies on his purging missions. It was only after he heard a group of his squad-mates discussing the talents and alluring charms that the women in Yamcha’s harem were rumored to possess, did he even considered going there himself.
"He gets them from all over," one enthusiastic man divulged to the rapt audience of soldiers surrounding him. "They say every planet he visits, he almost always finds another one add to his collection. And only the most beautiful and skillful women. All for our enjoyment, gentlemen."
"How beautiful?" asked one skeptical man.
"It is said that whenever he wants to make a deal turn in his favor with a visiting dignitary, he sends them to his harem, and he almost always gets his way. I bet the only reason he’s giving us permission is because he’s scared shitless of Frieza. Frieza’s only use for this planet is to get those energy crystals they seem to have an abundance of here. Better to keep Frieza and his men happy, or else the boss might just get rid of him and this dusty planet. But I’m not complaining. I plan to make good use of what’s offered." The talkative soldier gave a knowing smile and the small crowd of men murmured their agreement.
"I heard there’s one that Yamcha keeps for himself, though," another soldier piped in above the buzz of voices. "One that’s rumored to be the most beautiful of them all."
"Yes," the first soldier replied thoughtfully, nodding his head. "The desert flower, they call her. Supposedly the most beautiful and desirable creature amongst his entire collection. He won’t let another man go near her. I hear that she even sleeps in his bed. But not to worry men. There will be plenty enough to go around for us all. And we’re permitted to use them for as long as we’re here. Let’s just hope Dodoria and Zarbon take their time with negotiations." The conversation soon turned raunchy when the soldiers began discussing their previous exploits, and Vegeta turned away, disinterested by the no-doubt exaggerated stories and hooting laughter of the other men. The conversation he had just overheard had somewhat intrigued him though. If the women of Yamcha’s harem were as good as the rumors suggested, then maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to indulge a little.
Although it had been midday when they arrived, Vegeta had taken the time to rest in the barracks provided for him and his squad before he wandered down the hallways in search of the harem. The barracks had been blessedly empty and Vegeta was spared the collective clatters of the boisterous soldiers. Evidently, the soldiers had been so eager to sample the feminine pleasures Yamcha had provided, they had decided to put off resting from the long trip and went straight to the harem instead. Vegeta was not so impatient. He had made up his mind to at least have a look at what was available, but if it didn’t suit him, he would leave with at least his curiosity appeased.
The hallways of the desert palace were wide and airy. Most of the passageways aligning the immense stone courtyard in the center of the palace were open on one side, and a constant breeze stirred the air and fluttered into the connecting corridors. The effect was pleasant and kept the marble hallways from becoming as stifling as the heat outside. Stone and marble pillars lined most of the hallways and there were an abundance of tropical plants and trees scattered sporadically along the walls. Vegeta took his time roaming, allowing his mind to briefly drift back to the time when he had once walked the hallways of his own palace at such a leisurely pace.
It had been four years since he had first been inducted by his father into Frieza’s service. His mind would never forget the day his perception of his father slipped irreversibly, after the king of Vegeta-sei informed him that the Saiyan-jin Empire was no match for Frieza and his army, and that they were to submit to any request Frieza gave them. Vegeta had seen the folly in his father’s decision. Second only to Frieza, the Saiyan-jin empire had become one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Frieza realized their potential to overthrow him, and had threatened to attack Vegeta-sei if they did not swear fealty to him and follow his command. His father had let the size of Frieza’s army overwhelm and blind him to the real truth that made their submission imprudent: Frieza only needed the Saiya-jin’s strength to secure his position as ruler of the known universe. After he had conquered the universe completely—which would not take long with their help—he would have no use of the Saiya-jin.
Vegeta’s father ignored his appeal to resist Frieza and surprise him with an attack of their own; instead he agreed to Frieza’s request for Saiya-jin soldiers to add to his ranks. And after a few days consideration, he agreed to an additional request made by Frieza: to have the crown prince of the Saiya-jin Empire serve under him as a common soldier. It was the ultimate act of submission to Frieza and would be the final testimony to the Saiya-jin’s lost power and pride. When Vegeta had first heard Frieza’s stipulation, he had laughed at the incredulous demand. But his laughter ended abruptly when he noticed his father was not laughing with him. In fact, his father’s grave expression sparked an uncontrollable anger within him. He could not believe his father was actually considering the white lizard’s demand. It was ludicrous and almost guaranteed betrayal. But his father had not wanted to incur Frieza’s anger and Vegeta now wondered bitterly if Frieza’s order had been to take his life, would the king have complied just as willingly. Vegeta did not see much difference; handing him over to Frieza would be the same as ending his life immediately. He had been unable to change his father’s mind, and within a week of Frieza’s request, Vegeta had been sent to Frieza.
The melodic sound of music and laughter forced Vegeta to adjourn his dark thoughts, and judging by the considerable distance away from the main halls of the palace and the faint aroma of perfumed air, he presumed he was getting close to the harem. He had almost reached the source of the mirthful noise, when suddenly a flash of blue, passing directly in front of him in an adjoining, perpendicular hallway, caught his immediate attention. He paused momentarily, his mind trying to register what he had just seen. His exceptional Saiyan vision had caught sight of a slender figure, obviously female, with what appeared to be a mass of blue curls trailing almost ethereally behind her as she hurried down the corridor. He had only caught a glimpse of her face, but he was sure the eyes that had flashed briefly in his direction had been blue as well. Without giving conscious thought to what he was doing, he made a sharp left turn, away from the raucous noise of the harem, and followed the mystifying creature.
He trailed stealthily behind her as she moved through the corridor, watching her hair whip about as she kept up her brisk pace. He detected an almost frantic air about her as she hastily turned corners, but when she reached what looked to be a garden of a sorts, amid prickly desert plants blooming with vibrantly colored flowers, she slowed, and with a sigh, dropped down onto a stone bench placed in the middle of the enclosed area.
Vegeta watched her for a few minutes from behind one of the large tropical trees bordering the garden, stunned by what he had not been able to see while he followed behind her. She was an exquisite creature, a shocking combination of cerulean and cream, with smooth, flawless skin covering the elegant curve of her neck and shoulders, and long, blue tresses, partially pinned up so that the bottom portion flowed freely. At that moment, she reached a slim arm up and removed the combs that suspended her hair, shaking her head and allowing the now unbound curls to tumble down over her shoulders. Her full lips pouted ever so slightly, almost demanding amorous attention, and her eyes…he had never known such a vivid shade of blue existed; they were like two translucent sapphires, wide and thickly lashed.
He never remembered exactly what thought had crept into his mind then, but somehow he had begun walking towards her, as if his legs and body were sure of what they wanted even if he did not. Her startled gasp gave him pause, immediately captivated by the clear reservoirs of blue that stared up at him in surprise. Her voice, soft and melodious, brought him out of his daze.
"What are you doing here in my garden?" Her brows were knitted into a frown, her eyes questioning.
"Your garden? I was under the impression that this entire palace and its grounds belonged to the king of this planet."
"It does. But King Yamcha is generous with his possessions. He has allowed me this little plot of dirt to grow whatever I choose." Vegeta cast an amused glance at his surroundings as he lowered himself down onto the edge of the stone bench.
"It seems that you have a fancy for a particular type of plant. Why plant a whole garden of the same kind of flower?" He quirked an eyebrow at her suddenly annoyed expression. This little one has spirit, he thought as she crossed her arms in front of her irritably.
"It didn’t start out that way," she said with surprising vehemence. "In the beginning, I planted all kinds of flowers, even rare flowers that Yamcha acquired from my home planet. That prickly desert weed that you see now has all but strangled every other flowering plant growing around it until there was nothing left. Now it thrives and lives off of the decaying remains of my once beautiful roses. They were my favorite flower."
Vegeta felt the corners of his mouth twitch, but successfully kept the smile threatening to spread on his lips at bay. Her anger was highly amusing. "All is not lost, little one. Just uproot the weed and start fresh. Or have your generous king grant you another plot of land."
"I suppose. Though this place does serve its purpose," she said with a sigh, her anger seemingly forgotten as her eyes scanned over the enclosed terrain.
"Which is what exactly?"
"A quiet place in which one can be alone with one’s thoughts. It’s strange, but I really haven’t gotten to come out here often. There is always some duty I must perform that keeps me from coming. The most I’ve been able to do is occasionally tend the garden, but after that cancerous plant destroyed everything, I gave up and haven’t bothered since."
"What brought you out here today?" he asked gently, and the woman glanced over at him, blinking absently, then narrowing her eyes at him as if she were seeing him for the first time.
"Who are you?" She tilted her head at him curiously. "Are you a visiting dignitary? You carry yourself like a prince." Vegeta snorted at her choice of words, but ignored the question by asking one of his own.
"What is your name?" She stared at him suspiciously for a moment, obviously aware that he’d avoided her question.
"You live here at the palace? Are you a servant to the king?"
"Of a sorts," she said slowly. "The king uses my services on occasion." Her evasive answer sparked Vegeta’s curiosity. His mind began to register what her cryptic meaning might be, though he wasn’t surprised. Any man with a creature like her in his household, especially a man such as Yamcha, who exalted feminine beauty, would be crazy to let her slip by unappreciated. He decided to refrain from asking the obvious question and instead focused on a more pertinent one.
"What were you trying to escape by coming out here?" He watched her move her hands to her lap, fidgeting as she chose her words carefully.
"I was trying to escape the monotony of everyday life, I guess," she said with her gaze centered squarely on the flagstone pathway in front of her. "Just for a moment," she added quietly. "Life, it seems, holds little promise of improving when every day is the same as the next. I just needed a break from my duties."
"That is understandable. That is something we all wish to do from time to time. Boredom can be a cruel foe when we are burdened inescapable responsibilities."
"I am beginning to understand that sentiment. I know it sounds ridiculous to wish for more obstacles, but sometimes I feel like there is so much more out there that life has to offer, and I’m stuck here watching it pass me by. It’s frustrating." Her statement surprised Vegeta. It spoke so much of his own frustrations, his own distress that he was trapped within this parody of a life, that he would live and die under Frieza’s oppressive control and never become the leader he’d been raised to be.
"That is the way life usually goes. We catch glimpses of the things we desire, but rarely are we allowed the chance to obtain it. And when you do get a chance at it, you sometimes find that the object of your desire has been tainted beyond recovery." Vegeta tried to push away the bitter thoughts of his father’s betrayal, but he couldn’t seem to block out the angry emotion they triggered. His life had become a farce of mockery and servitude all because of his father’s weaknesses. The life he should have had, the prospect of becoming a great and powerful king, had been taken away from him. "It is the same as dangling a skin of water in front of a thirsty man, then pouring it out onto the desert sand. The thirsty man is forced to eat wet sand because he has nothing else. Life is usually like wet sand; unfulfilling, yet all you have."
She flashed him a curious glance, then her gaze suddenly returned to his, and he felt himself trapped within the intensity of her eyes. They were lit with understanding, and something else that he could not place, but he didn’t have time to ponder it because she leaned in closer to him, close enough so that he could inhale her delicate fragrance, and whispered an inquiry. "Who are you?"
"I am Vegeta."
"Just Vegeta? No title? I was sure you were nobility of some kind. Your clothing might not be as refined as most, but you definitely have an air about you. King Yamcha never dresses in clothing appropriate for his station," she added as an afterthought.
As far as Vegeta was concerned, to consider himself royalty after his father, the king of one of the most powerful race of warriors in the known galaxy, handed him over to Frieza was a joke. His admiration for his father and the throne had been all but crushed by Frieza’s mocking and painfully accurate taunts about his father’s weakness and disregard for his only son’s life. Besides, admitting that he was royalty brought up the infuriating circumstances of his father’s submission, which was something he did not want to discuss with anyone. "No, I am just Vegeta."
"So, what brings you to Kuraji?"
"I am here with my squad while your king makes negotiations with Frieza’s spokesmen." He briefly explained the situation and Bulma nodded her head in comprehension.
"Yes, I know of all that. Yamcha told me about it a while ago. So, you’re one of Frieza’s men then?"
Vegeta looked away with distaste, unable to bear saying the words that made his blood simmer every time he thought of them. He nodded reluctantly but she didn’t seem to notice.
"Shouldn’t you be joining the other soldiers in the harem?" She gazed off into the distance, an unidentifiable emotion passing into those blue depths. "It’s said that King Yamcha has the best selection in the galaxy."
"I don’t think any could compare to my present company," he said softly and watched her face flush as she turned towards him, slightly surprised by his comment. He was just as stunned. What had caused him to say such a thing? It was a little unnerving to think that her presence was stealing away the stony control that he usually prided himself in.
"Well…I thank you, but I’m guessing that you haven’t seen the selection."
"I don’t think I need to see it," Vegeta replied huskily, unconsciously shifting closer to her. Her scent was so enticing, her hair shimmering in the dusky light of the receding day. When she tilted her face upwards to look at him, he realized that he had moved close enough to kiss her. And gods, he wanted to, staring down at those soft, slightly parted lips he wanted to more than anything. As he met her gaze, he recognized something heated and potent within her azure eyes that excited him and baffled him at the same time. It was almost as if she were trying to decide whether or not to throw caution to the wind or stem the almost electric, mutual desire that seemed to be suddenly coursing between them. Vegeta hoped she decided soon, because her close proximity was making him want to assist her decision with a few pleasurably persuasive techniques.
He was so caught up in his heated thoughts that he was completely caught off guard when he felt her lips touch lightly against his. They were as soft and smooth as the petals of a flower. She pulled back, searching his eyes for a reaction, and what she found must have been enough to satisfy her, because after only a moment’s pause, she pressed her lips back to his more firmly. Vegeta pulled her closer to him and deepened the kiss, plunging deeper still when he felt her tongue exploring his with the same vigor. Her arms moved to encircle his neck as he pilfered her mouth of its delectable taste and he nearly moaned into her mouth when he felt her soft curves press against his chest.
Vegeta knew he should be fighting this. To allow a mere woman to strip him so thoroughly of his control was ludicrous. But he already felt himself pushing her body down onto the bench, his mind already beginning to disregard cognizant thought as his hands roamed her clothed body for openings in the tight satiny fabric to fully access that creamy silk he knew was waiting beneath. Her hands were just as frenzied; one threaded in his hair while the other had already found its way under the hem of his shirt, smoothing over the hard, warm flesh of his abdomen.
How did something so fierce and passionate escalate between them in so short a time, Vegeta briefly wondered, reveling in the sound of her low moan as his hand dipped beneath the material of her dress and stroked the smooth skin of her thigh. He quickly dismissed the thought when her hands found his tail, and with a curious hesitancy, stroked the soft fur with delicate fingers. It didn’t matter how or why the passion between them had become so intense. All that did matter was this beautiful female lying beneath him.
He was startled when he felt her slender body suddenly stiffen in his arms, and he was vaguely aware of a voice calling out to them from what seemed like miles away in his passion-hazed mind. The feel of her small hands pushing at his chest brought him back to reality. Reluctantly, he let her up and watched her smooth down her clothing and hair as she stood before the common servant girl waiting tentatively in front of them. He was pleased to see that she had not completely recovered from his caresses, the rosy flush tinting her skin evidence enough of her previous arousal.
"Mistress Bulma, I apologize, but King Yamcha requests your presence immediately. He was most distressed to find that you were not in his chambers as he originally asked."
Bulma sighed in obvious frustration. "Fine. I shall be right behind you, Tyra. Please go and inform the king of my coming." The girl hurried out of the garden as Bulma turned to Vegeta, regret radiating from her eyes. "I’m sorry, Vegeta, but…" Vegeta cut her off with a restricting hand on her arm.
"When can I see you again?"
"I’m not sure that’s possible. I stretched the truth when I said Yamcha was generous with his possessions. He will not be willing to share me. I am thankful that my servant girl is extremely loyal to me. Otherwise, I would not know how to explain myself to Yamcha. " He felt her trying to reclaim her arm, but his grip was steady, determined.
"Then we can meet in secret." Vegeta knew he wasn’t thinking very clearly, but the possibility of never seeing her again was clouding his mind against all rational thought.
Bulma stared at him for a moment, her blue gaze narrowing slightly as she mulled over his suggestion. "It will have to be tomorrow then, at twilight," she said quickly, throwing a look over her shoulder as if there were an interloper listening behind her, "after the king has his evening meal. He usually goes to bed then and will be dead to the world once he falls asleep. I will try to be here. But I must go now," she said, pulling away from him. And before he had a chance to respond to her, in a flash of blue hair and rustle of silk, she glided out of the garden and disappeared from sight.
Vegeta sat down heavily on the bench, disappointed by her departure but anxious for their next meeting. There was nothing for him to do except go back to the barracks. Any thoughts of visiting the harem had left his mind once he’d seen Bulma. But who exactly was she? Could she be the desert flower he had overheard the soldiers discussing? If she was, he would have to tread carefully with her, but that would by no means stop him from meeting her the following night. As long as she was willing that was all that mattered. And she had definitely been willing. Vegeta suppressed a shudder as he remembered the feel of her hands on his tail and the gentle inviting kiss she had placed on his lips. He already knew he would have little sleep that night with the memory of her body pressed against his in his mind.
How was it that such a lovely creature existed? He had never seen anything like her before in all his travels in Frieza’s service. She had to be Yamcha’s desert flower; Vegeta couldn’t imagine a woman more beautiful. The fact that she belonged to Yamcha infuriated him but did not deter him. Obviously, her devotion for the desert king did not run deep.
But another thought troubled him. If she was, in fact, Yamcha’s desert flower, she was nothing but a trained concubine. Was her reaction to him purely an act? It would bother him to think that she was merely playing with him, using him as a much-needed break from bedding solely Yamcha. But it didn’t seem that way, Vegeta thought. They’d had a connection, and he had seen the desire stirring within him mirrored in the depths of the eyes. It couldn’t have been an act.
That night, when he was finally able to drift off to sleep, his dreams were colored in sapphire and cream.
Bulma tensed at the sound of the light knock on the door. She stood anxiously, imagining Vegeta on the other side of the door, his face set with determined brows, prepared to ignore her protests and entreaties to stop trying to win her over, but then it suddenly dawned on her that Vegeta would never knock on the door to his own chamber. She found the voice that had unexpectedly withered away in her anxiety, and bid the person on the other side entry.
A tawny-haired servant girl entered the room carrying a silver tray laden with food, and Bulma took a calming breath and sat back down. The girl was only doing her duty; it was common knowledge that Saiya-jin had sizable appetites and the servants were constantly coming to replenish the quickly emptying trays set about the room. The servants were probably unaware that Vegeta had not come to his chambers yet. After setting the tray down, Bulma expected the girl to leave, but instead she stood nervously before her mistress, waiting for permission to speak.
"What is it, Seria?" Bulma had made a point of learning all of the names of the servants who attended her.
"Well, mistress, I have a message for you."
"Is it from the prince?" She was aware that her voice was barely above a whisper, but surprisingly, the girl heard it.
"No, mistress, it’s from Yamcha." Bulma stood up so suddenly, the servant took a quick step back. Seria seemed to wait for some cue to continue, since the shock of her statement had frozen Bulma’s body and tongue. The girl began a bit hesitantly. "I was one of the servants ordered to clean him up before his interrogation. He was very weak from his injuries and someone had cut up his face very badly. I don’t think it was our Saiyan masters, mistress, because I overheard the guards say he was unconscious when they found him and stayed that way for most of the trip. He’s probably being interrogated as we speak. While I tended to his wounds, he slipped me this letter and told me to give it to you if I was able. He said he had been carrying it with him for a long while." The girl pulled out a cream colored envelope stained with crimson fingerprints.
Bulma didn’t move. She stared at the girl’s outstretched hand that supposedly clutched a letter from a dead man. For a moment her mind stayed in that frozen state of shock, trying to comprehend, but after a long silence, Bulma finally broke from her paralysis. Yamcha was alive? "Did he say anything else?" She hadn’t reached for the letter yet. She needed conformation that it was indeed from a man whose death she had grieved whole-heartedly just a few days ago.
"He began to speak, but the guards came in to interrogate him and I was forced to leave."
Another long, uncomfortable silence punctuated Seria’s comments as Bulma’s mind reeled from the information she had just received. Yamcha, the man whom she had once cared for then hated, then cared for again, was alive and now would be sentenced to death. Of course, he could possibly have a trial first, but not even the most lenient judge would overlook his unmistakable association with Frieza. He had openly joined Frieza and declared war on Vegeta-sei and her allies. And all because of her. The heavy weight of her conscience caused her to sit down. Seria must have sensed her mistress’ distress, because she set the envelope on the arm of the chair, and after giving a respectful bow, left the room just as quietly as she’d entered. Bulma barely noticed her departure, still thinking about the handsome desert king who had abandoned his people to a monster just to possess her. In essence, his crimes were her crimes because she was the sole reason he had sold his soul and his people to Frieza. And now he would die because of her.
Bulma sat numbly in the silence, staring down at the bloodstained envelope with Kuraji’s royal seal. She drew in a deep breath, then snatched up the letter and ripped the envelope in her haste to open it. The two-page letter was neatly folded inside, and as she opened it, Yamcha’s perfect calligraphy filled the page. She let out the breath she had been holding in and began to read.
My dearest Bulma,
If you are reading this now, then one of two things has happened. I could be sitting beside you as you read, holding you close after bringing you safely back to me. Or I’m rotting away in Hell, or at least on my way there. Either way, I’m a condemned man. If I’m dead, there is no way to ever repair the suffering I’ve caused you. And if I’m alive, then I have to face the fact that you may never want to speak to me again. I have lied to you, Bulma. At the time, I felt I had reason. I let greed rule my actions, and I didn’t ever think about the consequence until it was too late, and you were snatched from my arms.
I have spent this lonesome year doing things that I never thought I would ever do. I’ve joined with a monster, and in the process I have become a monster myself. I have watched as Frieza’s men destroyed planet after planet with the help of the Taji crystals I supplied them. I saw children, Bulma, shot down like criminals in the streets of there own home world. If I live a hundred years, I think I’ll never see anything as horrific as that which I witnessed on my trips with Frieza. It was worse than what I described to you, Bulma, much worse.
It’s seemed like Frieza appeared from thin air when I was grieving your loss. I knew I had no chance of getting you back, although I promise you, Bulma. I went through every resource I had trying. So many men lost their lives doing my bidding to try and sneak you out. All were found out and killed before they even reached you. I even came myself, but barely got out alive. I doubt you were even told. Then Frieza showed up. I should have known by the crafty smile and empty condolences that he was up to something, but I was so caught up in my hatred for the Saiyan bastard who stole you from me that I didn’t listen to my instincts. I let Frieza use me because he promised to destroyed the Saiyans and bring you back to me. I knew it was dangerous to strike a deal with him, but I ignored all precautions and gave him all the energy crystals he wanted.
Frieza has turned on me. Now that he has what he wants, he is no longer the cordial associate he once professed to be. When I threatened to cut off his supply of crystals, he laughed at me and told me that once this war with the Saiya-jins was won, I would be lucky if he didn’t decide to destroy me and my planet. I can’t let him kill my people, Bulma. So I am forced to wait this out, but I have a plan. I will kill Frieza myself. While he is occupied with the Saiya-jin, I will ambush him and destroy him with his very own Taji-powered weapon. I know it seems dubious, but I have confidence that I will be able to save my people from a monster like Frieza. I have to.
As it gets closer and closer to the battle with the Saiya-jin, I can no longer justify my actions, no matter what the reason behind it. I have joined with the one being who is responsible for the death of hundreds of worlds, yours included, and sat back and did nothing while he destroyed more with my help. You should hate me, Bulma, for all I have done, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you did already. But I haven’t yet explained to you what I did before all of this began, something you will probably despise me for to your grave.
Chikyuu wasn’t destroyed six years ago. It was destroyed eight years ago, approximately fifteen days after you came to Kuraji. I took you with me, knowing its fate. I had a few contacts who were keeping an eye on Frieza, knowing that he had his sights set on my crystals. That’s how I found out that Chikyuu was to be purged. I went there to tie up some business connections that I knew would be undeniably severed when Frieza purged Chikyuu so that I would come out on top. I was a selfish man back then, Bulma. But I believe you have changed me. When I found you, I knew I couldn’t leave you to die with the rest of your planet.
I know you must wonder why I didn’t warn the people of Chikyuu of their destruction. At the time, I didn’t know how to, and I knew that even if they knew, they would still perish. So I surmised that ignorance was bliss. I was very wrong in my judgment, and now I can add Chikyuu to my growing list of evil deeds. I hadn’t been strong enough to tell you before because I feared your hatred. I knew you would see me for the coward I was, so I delayed in telling you until I couldn’t bear it on my conscious any longer. And even then, I didn’t tell you the whole truth.
There is still yet another untruth that I can be accounted for, although this time it was not my doing, and as bad as it sounds, I am less sorry for it. It is about what I told you of that bastard monkey prince, Vegeta. I’m sure you remember that fateful night. That night I told you that about Chikyuu, and then later I told you that Vegeta had been part of the purging squad that destroyed it. Frieza informed me later, after his betrayal, that he lied to me in that respect. He thought it would be amusing to cause the Saiyan more grief, and didn’t care what he did to do it. I doubt this information will make much of a difference to you. Vegeta is still responsible for the destruction of many other worlds. He is still the murderer I warned you of, Bulma, and I pray to the gods everyday that he has not harmed you.
So I have made it my duty to right the wrongs I have caused. My soul has already been sullied by Frieza, but maybe if I kill him and I free you, I’ll have a chance at redemption. I do not expect you to come running back into my arms. As much as I know you are suffering with that bastard now, I will not force you to stay with me and hate me, as I’m sure you must hate Vegeta.
I love you, Bulma. Even though I remember saying that often, I’m not sure it was enough. I know that your feelings don’t run as deep as mine, but I had hoped time would change that. If I am able to free you, you need never look on my face again if it is not your wish. But if you can find it in you heart to forgive me, I swear I will try to be the man you deserve, and I will use your goodness to cleanse my soul. I am truly sorry for everything I have done. I hope this letter finds you, even if I am dead, because then you will know what’s in my mind, heart and soul. There is nothing more precious to me in the world than you, my love.
The letter fell from Bulma’s trembling fingers. What did this mean? Yamcha had lied to her about Chikyuu. And although she wanted to hate him for not telling her sooner, her mind could not dwell on his dishonesty with her for long. No, it was the misinformation he had relayed to her that demanded her immediate attention. Yamcha said Vegeta hadn’t destroyed Chikyuu. Vegeta, the man she had resisted and scorned for so long hadn’t been the one to destroy her planet. Which meant that everything she had been doing for the past year had been unwarranted and based on a lie. It was almost too much to handle.
Bulma had been reluctant to believe that Frieza had forced Vegeta to purge worlds, after Yamcha had planted so many doubts in her mind. Eventually, after he waged war against Frieza, she began to accept that maybe he was just as unhappy as he professed to be in Frieza’s service. But that still hadn’t changed the fact that he had purged Chikyuu. She had told him that she would never forgive him for that fact. And Vegeta never denied her accusations. He had tried to make amends, but she had been stubborn in her un-acceptance. She had let her anger rule her, and had refused to even listen to Vegeta’s entreaties to put the past behind them. She had let him know that she would never forget what he had done. And now it had all been meaningless. Because of Yamcha, she had rejected the feelings she had for Vegeta.
If Yamcha had helped Frieza, then maybe he was just as bad as she had accused Vegeta of being. His people were dead because he had ignored the fact that Frieza was one of the most hated and feared tyrants in the universe.Yamcha’s jealousy had spawned a war just barely won by Vegeta’s extraordinary battle skills and Bulma’s unusual photographic memory. She had been sure that Yamcha’s alliance with Frieza had given the tyrant what he needed to strike down the Saiyans for good. Vegeta had been extremely lucky that she had managed to remember the plans and schematics for the negative energy absorbers that Yamcha had had his scientists working on to counter the effects of the Taji crystals. She had been able to take a glimpse of the plans only because Yamcha indulged her in the one diversion that had always given her peace of mind: electronics. Back on Chikyuu, when she’d had the time between foraging and scraping for a living, she spent her time trying to find old, broken radios in the trash and repairing them for her younger brothers and sisters to enjoy. Granted, her knowledge had been limited as a child, since most of it came from a torn and tattered book on radio repair she had found lying in a gutter; but Yamcha’s scientists had bedazzled her with new inventions and electronic gizmos that she would had never have dreamed of living in the dirty back alleys of Chikyuu, and she realized then that she had a knack for making things work. Because of her fascination with things of an electronical nature, Yamcha had allowed her to see the top secret plans for the energy absorbers. Yamcha had wanted to keep their existence quiet because if it were known that there was a way to disable a Taji-powered weapon, Taji crystal trade would have plummeted and put a serious dent in Kuraji’s economy.
Her decision to tell Vegeta of the energy absorbers had been intuition; she would have done anything to stop the war and save as many lives as possible. But that step had another significance as well: she had chosen a side. She had helped Vegeta and thus secured his victory against Frieza and Yamcha. Yamcha must have known it, as well as Vegeta, and try as she might to dismiss the fact that she felt something for Vegeta, be it sympathy, caring, or something stronger, she knew that she could not remain neutral as she’d once intended to do. The hard truth of it was, she didn’t want Vegeta to die, and in a sad, disparaging way, she knew that Yamcha deserved whatever fate he had created for himself. If you join the devil, she had once heard, expect to get burned.
Yamcha had let his emotions steer him down a path of destruction. But it wasn’t as though he hadn’t had a push in that direction. All of it, his jealousy, his anger, had been sparked by her actions. She remembered the day he had first become suspicious of her with overwhelming clarity. She and the desert king had just finished their evening meal together, and Yamcha, as always, was already yawning, anticipating his evening slumber. Her distraction must have shown, because he had repeatedly asked her throughout the meal if all was well with her. She had given him short, almost curt answers, distinctly aware that their meal had been a good half an hour past their normal dining hour. Vegeta was waiting for her in the garden, as he did almost every evening since their first encounter, and Yamcha was taking his own sweet time walking towards his chambers, with her in tow. Bulma tried hurrying him along, complaining that the chill of the evening was giving her a headache, but Yamcha, as usual, was not one to be rushed. Even as they entered the bedroom, Yamcha didn’t seem to want to lie down right away. As he pulled off his clothing, he was tugging at hers as well, a small, devious smile curling the corner his mouth. Although it wasn’t entirely unusual for Yamcha to want to make love before he went to sleep, Bulma had begun to become annoyed with his increasing attachment to her, and the more frequent lovemaking that accompanied it. It felt as though she was somehow cheating on Vegeta every time she lay with Yamcha, especially when she was forced to do so right before her rendezvous with the handsome Saiyan.
"Is there something wrong, Bulma?" His questioning voice snapped her out of her thoughts, and with a few absent blinks of cognition, she realized that he was staring down at her chest in puzzlement. She followed his gaze, and eventually comprehended his confusion. In her troubled thoughts about Vegeta, she had been gripping the flimsy edges of her wrap dress tightly, pulling the neck closed as if to ward off Yamcha’s offending hands. She hadn’t been aware she’d been doing so, but as she looked up at him, she recognized a slightly hurt expression cross his features.
"No," she said, trying to keep her voice light and casual as she released the edges of the dress. "Nothing’s wrong." She realized that this would be her cue to prove to him that his touch didn’t offend her by making love to him, but for some reason, she couldn’t bring herself to do it. They stood there awkwardly for a moment until Yamcha turned away from her. He moved over to the bed and lay down, staring up at the high ceilings through the thin, transparent silk canopy draped over the huge four-poster bed.
"Are you coming to bed?" he asked, his voice sounding a bit more hollow than usual. Bulma knew she couldn’t refuse to stay with him, or else he really would have a reason to be suspicious of her. She reluctantly stripped down to her underwear and joined him in the bed, mentally willing him to fall asleep so that she could leave and meet Vegeta. He pulled her closer to him as he shifted his weight into a more comfortable position, and she heard him give a sigh of contentment as he closed his eyes.
Within five minutes, Yamcha was snoring and oblivious to his surroundings. He didn’t stir when Bulma extracted herself from his arms and moved across the room to redress. She didn’t even bother closing the door to the small hidden side passage leading from the room, knowing that nothing short of Armageddon would wake the desert king from his slumber. The passage was meant to be an escape route for the king in case of danger, but she was sure Yamcha barely remembered its existence.
She traversed the narrow tunnel with familiar ease, quickly picking the appropriate pathways that would lead to the hallway just outside her garden. She hurried through the archway and stopped short at the image that greeted her.
Vegeta was standing directly in front of her in the entryway, arms crossed over his chest, waiting impatiently for her presence. He looked perturbed; she could tell as much from the slightly deepened slant of his eyebrows. He eyed her critically for a moment, taking in her somewhat mussed hair and the clothing that she had haphazardly thrown on in her rush to get to him. She self-consciously straightened them, but she knew he would not bring up what she was sure he suspected. "I was not sure if you were coming," he said softly over the gentle hum of the night insect’s mating calls serenading them in the background. "This is the first time that you’ve been late."
"I know, and I apologize. Yamcha was late for dinner and there was nothing I could do but sit there and wait for him to finish. I came as soon as it was possible."
"I know," he said after a pause, and was silent as they walked over to the stone bench. She was tingling with anticipation when she seated herself next to him. Since a few days after their first encounter, they had made love almost every night under the emerging stars of twilight. She had expected as much after the intense passion at which they had come together during their first meeting, but she’d had no idea it would continue so long and still contain the same unrelenting fervor that had been almost impossible to resist when she had first touched her lips to his. It had been sheer luck that he had been able to stay on Kuraji so long; negotiations were going slower than expected, hindered by Frieza’s greed and Yamcha’s wariness of the tyrant. Maybe that was the reason they clung to each other each time they coupled, like at any moment it would be over and he would be gone forever. Looking at him now, she couldn’t even imagine the emotions she would feel when he left her.
She felt his dark gaze on her and turned to meet it, instantly recognizing the desire that swelled within those dark depths. Her arms reached to encircle his neck and she felt herself being pressed against his hard chest with carefully restrained strength. Her mouth found his and after a breathless moment, when she was in the process of sliding down the shoulders of her dress to give him access to what was hidden beneath, he stopped her. His hands cupped her face with a gentleness she was still in awe of, his thumb sweeping over her bottom lip tenderly as he looked into her eyes. It was then that she realized that something was wrong. His eyes held an emotion she was unfamiliar with. In the time they had spent together, she had resigned herself to the task of trying to read emotions on that finely chiseled face of his, and now as she smoothed a finger over the hard line of his mouth, she could see that something was definitely bothering him. He suddenly pushed her away from him, gently, but soberly; he must have realized how well she was getting to know him. He sat forward and didn’t look at her as he spoke.
"The negotiations are nearly finished. I heard Jeice speaking of it today. He says they will be done in a few days." He left off there and Bulma slowly closed her eyes, trying to ignore the tightening feeling in her chest. If negotiations were finished, that meant he would be forced to leave with his squad when the time came. They would never see each other again.
"And you will have to leave. I understand," she said, but she really didn’t understand. How could she understand the twisted reasoning of the gods who would allow her this small piece of happiness only to rip it away from her before she could even really enjoy it? Her nights with Vegeta had been like nothing she’d ever experienced before. They had seemed almost magical, her garden becoming something of an enchanted paradise where she and Vegeta could share their minds and bodies and the budding fondness beginning to grow between them. It had been almost four weeks; four weeks of getting passed the awkward silences following their love-making; four weeks of discovering the similarities and differences in their opinions of life and the world; and four weeks of beginning to understand each other’s thoughts and emotions. Granted, it had been a hard route, trying to tear down a few of the walls Vegeta had thrust at her when she began to question his background and his past. But she had not let the underlying anger he had tried to shield himself with discourage her. She saw the man beneath the stone, the strong and noble person that he was meant to become under the mask of gruffness and resentment. He had never fully explained his circumstances or why his face seemed to darken every time she mentioned Frieza, but she had tried to gain his trust by telling him anything and everything he wanted to know about herself. She felt that if she could only have a little more time with him, he would eventually let her in, beyond the stony barrier of his past. But now she would never know.
She met his eyes once more and, as always, she felt as if she were being drawn to him by an intensity stronger than herself, as he studied her expression. There was a hint of sadness in his eyes, but there was also a stronger, more dominant emotion shining from the midnight black: the look of fierce determination.
"I will come back for you," he said resolutely, setting his jaw.
"You heard me, woman. I will not leave you here to rot on this desert planet. When I am able, I will take you from this life of servitude."
For a moment, Bulma was speechless. What kind of response could she give him? She could tell him ‘sure, why not?’ It was all she’d dreamed about in the past four weeks, a place where they would both be free from the chains that bound them, free to love and give and take from each other as their minds and bodies demanded. But it had been an unfeasible dream. He could no more escape Frieza’s command than she could Yamcha’s doting affections. Yamcha had become close to obsessive with her, going nearly ballistic when he had witnessed one of the young guards giving her an appraising look. In the past, the admiration she received had pleased Yamcha because it reflected on his good taste and made his possession of her all the more rewarding for him. She wasn’t sure when exactly that had turned into jealousy, but it had abruptly severed her privileges of freedom. The desert king made sure female servants always surrounded her whenever she was allowed to roam the halls. The unfortunate guard who had been caught ogling her was saved from a severe punishment by her quick intervention, but after that, word got around among the ranks of royal guards that they were to keep their gazes trained on the ground when Bulma passed them. It made the occasional bouts of freedom she was allowed a bit depressing, since none of the friendly guards she had made acquaintances with would meet her eye.
Yamcha’s jealously increased more and more until, as he had done when Frieza’s men arrived, he had her confined to his chambers while he was away dealing with visiting leaders and dignitaries, forbidding her to leave without proper escort. He seemed afraid that if given the chance, she would take every opportunity to betray him with another man. Well, she thought as she allowed her eyes to travel over the smooth olive skin and handsome features of her hard-faced lover, he must have seen something she hadn’t. She couldn’t barely comprehend the force that had brought her and Vegeta together, but she was sure a little of her willingness to submit to that force had come from Yamcha’s jealousy.
Vegeta was studying her again, probably a little confused because she hadn’t spoken yet or given him any sign of agreement. She took one of his large, calloused hands and brought it to her lips, kissing each knuckle. They were healed now, no longer cracked and bruised as they once were when she’d first met him. This short retreat he and his squad were being allowed during negotiations had done him good. She had learned from an old crone back on Chikyuu that you could always tell about a man’s character through his hands. His hands were healed now, scarred but healed, and she’d like to think that she had a little to do with that. She released his hand and leaned against his shoulder, smiling as she felt his arm wrap around her and pull her closer. That was another change. He had seemed a bit ill at ease after their first few lovemaking sessions, and had looked a little confused when she had tried to snuggle up against him. Obviously, he was used to simply satisfying and leaving his partners as soon as the coupling was over. She had been subtly encouraging him to show a little affection towards her, and now, to her immense satisfaction, he needed no prompting at all. She drew in an unsteady breath before she spoke, trying to keep her voice even, knowing that if she cried she would just make things harder for him.
"Vegeta, we both know that would be nearly impossible. Frieza won’t allow you, and Yamcha won’t allow me."
"When I destroy Frieza, I will be free to do as I please, and the Kuraji king won’t be able to stop me from taking you." Bulma looked up sharply at his mention of Frieza. When he destroyed Frieza? Did he really think he could defeat a monster like Frieza? What else did he think himself capable of?
"Yamcha’s a king, Vegeta…" Her voice tapered off when she realized that he might reveal a little more of who he really was. She had always suspected that he was more than he admitted to, but whenever the conversation would drift over to his past, he would clam up and change the subject. He was a man who walked and talked with a conviction and confidence that would rival a king’s. Would it be so surprising to find out that he really was a king, enslaved by Frieza against his will?
"I am Saiyan. If I so choose, I could destroy this planet with just a flick of my wrists. Frieza is the only one standing in my way and once I rid myself of him, there would be no one to defeat me." She saw the burning determination in his eyes, and at that moment, she really did believe that he could accomplish anything he set his mind to. She nodded slowly.
"When you do, Vegeta, I will be waiting for you." She lifted her head and kissed him, feeling that familiar rush of passion wash over her as he tightened his hold on her and kissed her back, thoroughly. "So these last few days aren’t ‘goodbye’," she whispered against his neck as he held her, "They’re just ‘see you later.’"
"In a manner of speaking, yes. And I will return for you, Bulma. Never doubt that. Only death would keep me from following through with my promise." She drew back from him now, and ran her fingers over an angular cheekbone.
"I know, Vegeta," she said softly. "I…I don’t know what’s in store for us once we get through this, but I know that if we can manage to stay together, everything will be okay." And with that she pulled him down on top of her, and embraced him fully, mind, body, and heart.
She had been smiling when she made her way back through the hidden passages to Yamcha’s chamber. She stripped almost dreamily and made her way to the bed, thoughts and plans regarding her future whirling about in her head. Whatever happened, whatever stood in their way, she and Vegeta would work through it. Bulma smiled at the thought. She lay down next to Yamcha, her back to him and had to stifle a scream when she felt a strong arm settle on her waist and tighten. She held her breath, hoping that Yamcha was just stirring in his sleep, and when she finally felt his grip gradually loosening, she shifted carefully in his arms to sneak a peek at him.
Two narrowed black eyes stared back at her through the moonlit darkness. She felt a flicker of fear as Yamcha sat up, stiff and silent, but his eyes teeming suspicion.
"Yamcha, I thought you were asleep."
"I was Bulma-girl," he said with surprising coldness. It was a nickname he used when he was more than a little upset with her, which was usually not often. "But then I was disturbed by one of the guards. You see, the negotiations I’m doing with Frieza’s spokesmen are coming to a close, and Frieza himself wanted to speak to me over vid-comm, and well, the pasty bastard just doesn’t care how inconvenient the hour might be to his associates. But you can imagine my surprise when I discovered you missing. I was ready to send the guards searching for you, but then I noticed the door." He gestured over to the wall with the secret passage. "I kept Frieza on hold to look for you." His voice suddenly turned accusing and it held a note of forewarning menace. "I went to the garden, Bulma, and what do you think I saw?"
Her eyes widened at the sudden realization that it might not be just her who would be punished, but Vegeta as well. He had seen them and there was no way to deny it. She had to convince Yamcha that it was all her doing, that Vegeta had merely responded to her attentions. She would have to do anything, anything to keep Yamcha from trying to harm Vegeta and keep him from ending their plans for the future.
"You betrayed me, Bulma. You left my bed for that monkey, a Saiyan!"
"Please, Yamcha," she pleaded. "It was all my fault, I—" His hand gripped her arm painfully and she bit back a cry. Dread filled her as she realized that Yamcha might be beyond words. The rage in his eyes was overwhelming, and she wracked her brain for something she could say to him that would quell his anger.
"Why, Bulma? Haven’t I given you everything you ever wanted? Haven’t I kept you safe, and taken care of you? I brought you from the dirty streets of Chikyuu, got closer to you than a king should to his pleasure slave. Why have you done this? Did that filthy monkey force you into this?" He was gripping both of her arms now, shaking her, just on the brink of explosion…and her answer now would determine both her fate and Vegeta’s, whether Vegeta lived to break free from Frieza and take her away from all this. Oh, how she wanted to just yell at Yamcha that his smothering affection wasn’t enough for her, that any touch except Vegeta’s close to sickened her now, and that living with him was like living in agony because now she had seen what it could have been like, should have been like. She might have had the possibility of real happiness if she had refused Yamcha on that fatefully day back on Chikyuu. Now all she had were handful of possible hopes and dreams, all of which would be shattered if she couldn’t soothe Yamcha’s anger.
"I-I thought," she faltered as she struggled for words. "I thought you didn’t love me anymore, my lord." She dragged in a breath as Yamcha’s grip lessened minutely. "I thought…I thought you viewed me as just your possession and nothing more." If she’d had a private moment alone, she would have sighed an enormous sigh of relief, because, after a moment’s scrutiny, Yamcha’s eyes softened a little, the angry fire dulling into something just above a low burn.
"Why would you think that, Bulma? I have tried to spend all of the time I have with you. I have nothing more precious in my life than you, Bulma. And to see you in the arms of that Saiyan beast…" The seething fire flared once more. "I’ll make him pay for this. I can’t have him punished myself because he’s Frieza little plaything, but Frieza told me that he would highly enjoy actually having a reason to beat the little monkey prince this time." Bulma froze momentarily, digesting his words. Prince? She shouldn’t be surprised. But she couldn’t have Vegeta punished for something she’d done willingly, even if she was going to maintain her lie to Yamcha.
"Yamcha, it was all my fault. I sought him out. I saw him and I wanted to ease the pain I was feeling when I thought you’d abandoned me." She was surprised how easily the lies rolled off of her tongue. "He didn’t know I was forbidden to him. I never told him."
"Did he tell you what he is? What he’s done?" Before Bulma even had a chance to reply, Yamcha continued. "He’s a murderer, Bulma. Every bit of a monster as Frieza is. He and his squad had just finished a purging mission before they came here."
Hesitantly, Bulma asked, "Purging mission?"
"It’s when they clear a planet of all life-forms. They kill them, Bulma, kill the animals and the all of people, and then they sell the planet to the highest bidder."
"But that’s Frieza’s doing. He orders them to do it." She could hear her voice trembling slightly, and she tried to steel herself against Yamcha’s ugly words. He’s trying to make me hate Vegeta, she thought angrily.
"Bulma," he said softly, almost comfortingly, "the Saiyans in Frieza’s ranks joined of their own free will, including their prince. Frieza told me all about it. But that little monkey prince is unruly. His own father sent him to be disciplined by Frieza. But I’m told he enjoys the purging missions immensely, due to the Saiya-jin’s inherently violent and aggressive nature."
Bulma shut her eyes, trying to block out Yamcha’s horrible accusations. This was not the Vegeta she knew. The Vegeta she knew was gruff, yet gentle and compassionate. He was not the merciless killer Yamcha was making him out to be.
"Bulma," he began, looking at her guiltily. Why was his face so grim all of a sudden? "I…there is something you should know. This isn’t the right time to tell you this, and I have been thinking about how to break this to you for a long time. Chikyuu…Bulma, Frieza had Chikyuu purged. It was about three months ago. Chikyuu refused to join his alliance and he declared war on them. They were no match for him, I’m afraid."
His words were like a stunning punch in the stomach. She sat there, unmoving, staring up at him, searching his eyes for some hint of deception. There was none. It couldn’t be true, Bulma thought. Her world, her family…gone? And Vegeta was one and the same as those killers. How could that be? Vegeta loved her, cared about her. He couldn’t be like one of the monsters that destroyed her planet. How could he keep something like that from her? She couldn’t remember when she had finally broken down, or when Yamcha’s arms had wrapped around her in an attempt to console, but she did remember laying in his arms, exhausted from her tears, and hearing him whisper above her, "I forgive you, Bulma. I forgive you for everything. Just don’t ever do this to me again." She fell asleep feeling shattered and dispirited, her final thoughts dwelling on the happiness that would never be hers.
Through the thick, green murk of the regen tank, Vegeta could hear the muffled bleeps signaling the initiation of the drain out process. His body felt much better than it had a few hours ago, although that damn stinging sensation on his skin hadn’t disappeared. He felt a resounding ripple through the liquid as the level of the regenerative solution began to slowly drop until, as it finally drained away from his face, he was able to rip the oxygen mask off and take a deep breath through his own lungs. He carefully flexed his newly healed limbs. Maybe the regen tanks were worth the couple hours it took to heal in them. If he had let himself heal naturally, it would have taken him weeks to regain his strength.
A soft hiss caught his attention as a light shower of water and chemicals misted over him, and he lazily scrubbed his skin to rid himself of the lingering residue from the regeneration liquids. Vegeta exhaled slowly, trying to calm his nerves from the lasting effects of the dream he’d had in his curative rest. His dreams, as they almost always were as of late, had been haunted by images of Bulma; vivid pictures of the past and the time he spent with her. The way her smile lit up as she approached him in the garden with open arms. The way her blue eyes darkened with desire as he touched her. The way her face crumpled in pain as she stared up at him with pleading eyes. Vegeta shook his head, as if he could remove the last disquieting images with a physical motion. There was no way to change the past, he thought regretfully, but he could do his best to put it to rights. Bulma deserved that much from him.
Tonight would be the beginning of their new lives together, the lives they had both wanted back in their days on Kuraji. It had been a hard struggle; Bulma had harbored her anger for him her entire stay on Vegeta-sei. While he was training for his battle with Frieza, he reasoned, it couldn’t be helped. His main goal had been to become stronger, to protect the future he and Bulma would have together. But now that he had done that, he would finally have to face that anger, and dissolve it. How, he wasn’t sure, but he had slowly been making chinks in the wall she had erected against him, testing her resolve and lowering her defenses with the one weapon he still had left in his arsenal: the passion between them. It was the one thing, despite the angry words and the cool countenance, that she could no sooner resist than she could refuse air to her lungs.
He knew she loved him. She had loved him back on Kuraji, although they had never spoken the words. Even now, as she spit fire and insults at him, the emotion in her eyes was not hate but hurt. And he had hurt her, unknowingly as well as intentionally.
It was a painful memory, the night he returned for her on Kuraji. He’d had no idea what to expect when he touched down in the garden, after sensing her ki signature, five years since his last visit to the desert planet. Bulma had never returned to the garden after the night he’d told her he was leaving, and even though he received no word from her, he had still continued to wait in the garden until the night before his departure. His mind had reeled with possible reasons for her absence, but none of them made any sense. Their last night together was ingrained for all time in his memory, the wild, feverish timbre of their lovemaking fueling his resolve to come back to her as soon as he possibly could.
It had taken him five years to finally leave Frieza’s service, after his father sent him a message through a well-hidden spy in Frieza’s army, that Vegeta-sei’s days were numbered. Frieza had come ever closer to his goal of forcing most of the known galaxy under his thumb, and that meant he would soon no longer need the help of the Saiya-jin, or their lives. After nine years of serving the cruel, sadistic bastard, his father had informed him that he was now allowed to just simply walk away and return to Vegeta-sei, since Frieza would most likely start his extermination of the Saiya-jin race with those in his army. Vegeta, numb to any real emotion he felt returning to his home planet, had grudgingly complied, prepared to avoid his father and instead focus on the defense of Vegeta-sei. He was moderately surprised at the level of preparation his father had gone through to try and fend off an attack from Frieza. It wouldn’t be enough of course, but Vegeta had a trump card.
During the past five years, Vegeta had been secretly training, through a new technique he had picked up on one of the planets he had been ordered to purge. The old man he had encountered on the near waste-laid planet had caught him off guard with a series of ki attacks Vegeta could only begin to describe as exceptional. Vegeta eventually overpowered him, the man’s frail body betraying him as he tired from Vegeta’s unflagging endurance. But Vegeta, slightly in awe of the man’s skill, gave the old man an option of life if he would but teach him his technique. The elderly man was understandably reluctant, seeing as he was making a deal with one of the beings who had destroyed his planet, but he grudgingly agreed to teach him.
Vegeta successfully smuggled the man off-planet and onto a planet near Frieza’s headquarters. Over the years he had covertly visited the old man during the brief reprieves between missions and learned the secret of the technique. Unfortunately, one of Frieza’s men discovered his secret outings and informed Frieza. Although the tyrannical bastard never learned the reason for his visits, Frieza had the man killed and beat Vegeta into unconsciousness for his insubordination. But all the while, Vegeta suppressed a secret smile, coveting the knowledge that he would one day pay Frieza back in kind for all of the injustices wrought against him.
So Vegeta returned to Kuraji that breezy twilight evening to fulfill the promise he had made to Bulma five years before. With a few more months of training, his strength would be equal to that of Frieza’s and after the tyrant’s defeat, he and Bulma could begin their lives anew. He had briefly told his father what he planned to do, and had been furious when the old man stated his disapproval. Vegeta hadn’t said another word to him after that but instead walked away, internally boiling at the fact that his father still sought to control his life. The king had seen the great increase in his son’s strength, knew the possibility of his successful victory against Frieza, but still continued to lecture him on the responsibilities of a future king. He would show his father. After he defeated Frieza, Bulma would become his mate and future queen and anyone who disputed that would suffer his wrath. The thought of her had been the only thing that had gotten him through the last few agonizing years. Now she would belong to him, and only him.
She was sitting on the stone bench, staring up at the slowly darkening sky, clothed in some white silken material that hugged her soft curves like a second skin. Her hair hung loosely about her shoulders and down her back, just as soft looking and silky as he remembered. He moved towards her in the overhanging shadows of the bordering trees, distinctly aware that he had approached her in much the same way the first time he’d seen her. As if following a script from the past, Bulma suddenly turned towards him and gasped. Her voice was soft, though this time it held a note of fear.
"What are you doing here?" Vegeta frowned, at first wondering why his presence would instill fear in her, and then wondering why she would ask such a question.
"I am here to fulfill my promise, woman. I am here to take you away from all this. I have broken away from Frieza and now all that’s left is to get stronger and defeat him." He moved closer to her, intending to caress the soft line of her jaw, and watched in frustration as she edged herself away from him.
"I…I can’t come with you." Her voice was trembling and she looked positively terrified. What was wrong with her?
"What do you mean? I am more than able to defend myself against that weakling desert king. If you wish it, I will not kill him if he tries to come after us. But we must leave now."
He took hold of her arm but she frantically wrenched it away. "No! Don’t touch me! I’m not going anywhere with you. You’re a murderer and a liar, and I won’t spend my life with the man who killed my people!" She turned and began to run towards the exit, but he quickly stepped into her path.
"What are you talking about, Bulma?" He was trying to keep his voice calm, but her fear was affecting him. He had expected her to throw her arms around him when he arrived, not run away from him, shouting accusations. He was clueless as to what she was talking about.
"You destroyed Chikyuu!" she screamed at him. "You and you’re purging squad decimated Chikyuu like it was nothing. And you knew the whole time and didn’t tell me. You let me care for you, used my body, and all the while you knew what you had done." Her accusing outburst stunned him. Chikyuu? Had he purged Chikyuu and simply not remembered it? As Vegeta pondered that question, he realized that it was possible. By now, he had purged nearly a hundred worlds in Frieza’s name. He remembered particular faces, usually twisted in grief and agony; but the names of the planets themselves had become lost in the swirling numbness that habitually accompanied his purges. He could have very well destroyed Bulma’s home world and forgotten it.
"Bulma…" he began, unable to find the right words to console her. How could he tell her that he was sorry for killing her family and destroying her world? That he didn’t remember it? A thought suddenly sprang into his mind. How could she know that he he’d been part of the squad that purged Chikyuu? There were so many squads; she could be mistaken.
"Whom did you hear this from?"
"Yamcha," she said spitefully. "Yamcha told me everything."
"And what is ‘everything’?" he asked tersely, his temper rising. He was beginning to understand what had happened. Somehow, Yamcha must have found out about them, and was taking his revenge by telling Bulma lies.
"That you enjoyed purging. That you went to Frieza willingly. He told me you purged Chikyuu, and Frieza confirmed it." Vegeta clenched his fists in frustration. What could he say to her? Yamcha had obviously planted the seeds of anger and resentment towards him in Bulma, but if he had really spoken to Frieza, then it would be hard to dispute what was fact of fiction. What he didn’t remember could be used against him.
"Bulma, I swear to you, I had no idea—"
"Just stop it!" she yelled at him. Her eyes were so full of hurt and pain. "I don’t want to hear it. Just…go. I won’t tell Yamcha you were here if you just leave now and never come back." She turned away then, unsuccessfully trying to hide her tears from him.
Vegeta closed his eyes against the pain of her rejection. He had come all this way for her. She had been his beacon in the darkness, his reason for surviving all those years with Frieza. And now, because of a few half-truths, she was shunning him and telling him she never wanted to see him again. No, he shouted to himself. I will not accept defeat! He needed time to explain to her, to show her that he cared for her more than anything else in his life. He would not let her dismiss him so quickly. But they couldn’t discuss this here.
His movements were quick and precise as he struck the back of her neck, deftly moving around her and catching her limp body before it fell to the ground. He pulled his warm, unconscious bundle closer to him as he lifted into the air and rocketed away from the desert palace towards his ship, hidden a few miles away. Intuitively, he knew the trip back to Vegeta-sei would be long and difficult, but he was prepared to do whatever it took to assuage her anger towards him. He would not let her go without a fight.
Bulma finally sat down, tired of pacing the room. She needed time to think, time to sort things out. Yamcha’s words were eating a hole through her mind. Where was Vegeta? She was torn between the need to see him and the need to be alone to ponder her new predicament. He should have been here by now, unless something happened…
No, she amended to herself. He was more than capable of defeating Frieza. He would return to her. She knew that. Besides, he still had yet to get her to submit to him, and Vegeta was never one to dismiss a challenge. Yes, Vegeta said he would come back for his answer. But what was she going to say to him when he finally arrived?
Within the last twenty minutes, everything had changed. Yamcha had lied to her, and Vegeta hadn’t destroyed Chikyuu. But, the little voice in the back of her mind worried at her, he’s still a killer. Did it really matter that he hadn’t destroyed Chikyuu when he had murdered countless others? Bulma tugged at her hair fretfully as she reached the window and gazed out unseeingly. It shouldn’t matter, she thought to herself, she knew it shouldn’t matter. But that had been the one thing she had clung to like a life preserver, the one reality she threw back in his face every time he tried reason with her, and now to find out that her accusations were based on untruths…how could she face him now?
It was simple, her mind reasoned. She just wouldn’t tell him what she had discovered. He would never know that that she knew he hadn’t been the one to purge Chikyuu and she would hope and pray that he would eventually grow weary of trying to gain her submission. Then…then what? She couldn’t return to Chikyuu or Kuraji. Both had suffered Frieza’s wrath and been destroyed with a snap the tyrant’s ashen fingers. The only person she had left was a man whom she’d spurned from moment she’d arrived on Vegeta-sei.
She was sure Vegeta loved her. His patience with her had been too scrupulous and god-like for it not to be so. He was so sure of himself, so intent on finding a way past the barrier she had put up against. It seemed as though their positions had been switched since Kuraji. Now he was the one trying to read her emotions and test her weaknesses for ways to get her to open up to him. She had been very good at keeping the weaker emotions bottled up. Not since the night he brought to his home planet, had he ever seen her shed a single tear. She closed herself off, much like a dam stanches a river, and the only time she let herself lose control of her tears was when she was away from Vegeta’s presence.
The one emotion she did allow herself to feel was anger, and she’d had a ready supply of that. But in all the time she’d spent steeling herself against him, Vegeta always kept a cool head. She’d found that the insults she hurled at him did not have the desired effect on him; in fact, the passion in his eyes increased exponentially when she was screaming at him in anger. It seemed that whenever they were around each other, the casual banter they regularly exchanged almost always escalated into a battle of witty insults and barbs. He deliberately baited her and her voice would raise to shrill octaves in her agitated state until she was on the verge of explosion. Then she would stare rebelliously into those black, soul-stealing eyes and… kiss him. She didn’t know how to stop herself. In the heat of the moment, his proximity was nerve-wracking, and all she could seem to think about were his strong hands and hard mouth and dark, challenging eyes that beckoned to her. And he was never the one to initiate it. No, he would stand there calmly as she worked herself up into a pitch, expectantly waiting for her to move closer to him. And when she gave in to the wanton urges her mind and body imposed on her, he would wrap his arms around her and carry her to his bed. And then they would make love.
It was almost as good as it had been on Kuraji. Their lovemaking was still just as heated and intense, and Vegeta’s tenderness was almost enough to make her weep. It was a game they played regularly, a game Bulma knew even before it began, that she would lose. And in this way she had been fooling herself, blaming her passions on Vegeta’s dark allure and subtle manipulations, assuring herself that it wasn’t her fault that her body ignited with lust and her mind clouded over with desire every time he was near. He was the one turning her into this creature who lived to feel, touch, and taste, and he was stealing her rational mind. It wasn’t her doing.
He was tireless in his efforts to make her admit to him that she cared for him. There had only been one occasion when he had lost that diligent patience of his, and the events of that night would be forever burned in her memory, the remembrance of that near murderous look on his face enough to wake her in the middle of the night.
She had woken up on Vegeta’s ship after her abduction in a daze, unable to remember what had occurred in the last few hours. Vegeta had been laying next to her, his arms wrapped around her in a protective embrace, and for a moment she relaxed against him, inhaling the light, strong scent of him. But then her memory came flooding back to her all at once, and she was instantly pushing him away and struggling to pull herself from the narrow bed that he’d imprisoned her on. His grip tightened momentarily as he woke, but he released her and allowed her to back away from him.
"Where are we?" she asked, unable to keep the edge of panic from her voice as her eyes darted around at their surrounding.
"On my ship," he replied dispassionately.
On his ship? The last thing Bulma remembered was turning away from him and asking him to leave. How had they ended up on his ship? "Where are you taking me?"
"To Vegeta-sei. It would have done no good to stay on Kuraji."
"Take me back, Vegeta. Now." She watched in irritation and growing apprehension as his face hardened at her command.
"No. We will discuss this matter further. I will not allow you to believe something a jealous lover told you. Am I right in assuming Yamcha found out about us?"
She didn’t answer him, but instead moved swiftly over to the ship’s control panel. She searched frantically for piloting apparatus, but she soon realized that all the labeling was in a language she had never seen before. But that didn’t stop her from pushing buttons. She was so desperate that she would do anything she could to get away from him. At the push of a green button, the ship lurched precariously to one side and she stumbled into Vegeta’s grasp.
"Woman, are you crazy?!" He quickly reached over her and pressed a few buttons to fix the damage she had wrought.
"Vegeta, let me go. Take me back right now." When he didn’t respond, she screamed at him. "I’ll crash this ship with both of us in it if you don’t." His face was as hard and immovable as stone. She was at her wit’s end. "I hate you, Vegeta!" She decided to add more poison to the barb. "I care for Yamcha, not you, so let me go. I won’t ever let you touch me again. You disgust me too much. You’re a monster and I’ll never be yours. Never! You and Frieza deserve to burn in Hell for what you did!"
She didn’t notice the darkening of his expression during her tirade, or the hardness that replaced the gentleness in his gaze until it was too late. Before she could struggle out of his tightening grip, he hefted her over his shoulder and strode out of the room as she kicked wildly at him. Two doorways later, he reached a small, closet-sized room where he promptly dropped her on the floor. She didn’t even have the chance to yell at him before the door slid shut and she heard the resounding click of the lock being put in place. She couldn’t believe he had locked her in a closet. A closet!
Bulma heard the squeak of the pilot’s chair and instinctively knew that he would be able to hear her if she screamed. She took a deep breath—readying her lungs for the diatribe she was about to perform—and screamed. She screamed out her rage at her imprisonment, at her family’s death, at her world’s destruction, at Vegeta’s betrayal. She screamed out everything she had in her at him, called him every obscenity she had ever heard in three different languages and when she had finally exhausted herself, she silently cried herself to sleep. She didn’t even wake when Vegeta finally came for her and carried her out of the ship.
He left her in an empty chamber, huddled beneath thick, warm blankets in the center of the bed. When she awoke, very near the middle of the night, her mind was filled with one desperate thought: she had to escape. She found the door unlocked; obviously Vegeta thought that she wouldn’t be able to go anywhere he couldn’t find her and probably didn’t think she had the gall to try and leave the planet. She made her way down the long, spacious hallways, darting behind a protruding section of wall or a wide, open doorframe when an occasional guard passed her way. She almost lost her nerve after she spotted the first guard. The fearsome-faced man had to be at least seven feet tall. Why wasn’t Vegeta that size? She should be glad for it though; otherwise he would have appeared even more terrifying in his anger, if that were possible. She didn’t even want to think of what he would do if he caught her.
By chance, she stumbled upon the docking bay. It was larger than any single room she had ever set eyes on, and packed full of sleek, deadly-looking ships that Bulma quickly supposed must be battle cruisers. There were guards everywhere, and from her hiding place she searched frantically for the tiny ship Vegeta had taken her in. She knew she would have a little trouble flying it because all of the controls were most likely in Saiyago, but all aircrafts were similarly made, and Yamcha’s scientists had taught her well. It would probably only take her a few minutes scrutiny to figure out what controls did what. As for how she planned to leave the docking bay…well, she could only solve one problem at a time, and she would have to deal with it as she came to it.
She couldn’t suppress her startled cry when a heavy hand seized her shoulder and whipped her around. The dark scowl on the face of her discoverer was almost enough to make her cry out again. Without a word, Vegeta grabbed her by the arm and began to drag her out of the docking bay, drawing the attention of stunned guards along the way, all probably wondering how she’d escaped their notice.
As he yanked her along, Bulma didn’t even try to discern how he’d found her so quickly. No, she was too angry for that, and the indignant fury boiling within her had been enough to rid her mind of everything except that seething anger. Vegeta pulled her into a completely different chamber than the one she’d woken up in, and by the lavish blue and gold furnishings, she decided that it must be his room. He all but flung her into the room and Bulma crossed her arms in a show of defiance as she tried to scorch him with her eyes.
"You will not leave again," he said softly but his tone menacing. "Not until we’ve discussed this and you see reason."
"I’ll take every opportunity I can to escape." She left no room for dispute. She would leave if she could, and she could see by the frustrated furrow of his brows that he believed her.
"To where? Back to Kuraji as Yamcha’s whore?
"Well, it’s better than staying with a bastard like you," she said as cruelly as she possibly could. Her anger was guarding her against his angry scowl that deepened with her words.
"Stop this, Bulma. I will not have you hate me for something you know nothing about. If you would only listen—"
"It’s too late for that, Vegeta," she interrupted. She had heard all she needed to hear of his excuses. "I already hate you. You murdered my family, my people, and now you kidnap me and hold me against my will? You’re already proving what a monster you are. You’re just like Frieza, Vegeta. A lying, cold-hearted, remorseless—" The breath was knocked out of her as Vegeta forcefully pushed her down on the bed. His murderous look was enough to make her hold her tongue.
"You know nothing of Frieza!" he hissed at her as he pinned her stunned body down beneath him, his black eyes piercing hers angrily. "You know nothing of what I had to endure, the shame I had to bear. You think you know pain? Humiliation? Try being beaten to the point of death everyday for a year, then having to suffer the taunts of Frieza’s men while you try to hold your tattered pride together, all because your own father trades you in like a bargaining chip to a monster like Frieza!" His eyes had turned icy. "And you think I am like him." Vegeta gave a sardonic chuckle. "Maybe I am. Maybe after all of the killing, I became the person I hated most. I think you are right, you know. I think I am cold-hearted." His weight shifted slightly so that he was covering her body completely, and Bulma felt a cold thread of panic as his face nuzzled her throat. "I thought my life had changed when I met you," he murmured against the smooth skin drawn taught with fear. "But maybe I was wrong to think that anyone could truly care for me. I am a monster, as you say." His tone changed suddenly as he pulled away from her to stare down into her eyes. The look he gave her chilled her to the bone. "So you say you would rather be a man’s whore?" he said whisper-soft. His hand reached between them and brushed the soft curve of her breast with agonizing slowness. "I had been willing to make you my queen." He made a quick movement and Bulma found her wrists ensnared above her head by one of his hands. "But if that is what you want…it can be easily arranged."
His mouth captured hers in a dominating, breath-stealing kiss that, even in her fear and anger, made her ache with need. She struggled with him a moment, but then had to force herself not to give in to the temptation to wrap her arms around his neck and draw him closer. His hands descended on her body, pulling at her clothing, smoothing over exposed skin, caressing her most intimate parts—and then his words finally hit home like bucket of ice water in the face.
Bulma pushed at him desperately, whimpering against his mouth in dismay when she realized that her fierce attempts to budge him were futile. He didn’t seem to notice her panic, his hands fairly ripping the material of her dress as if it were made of crepe paper. The anger that she had kept well housed until now was blotted out by trepidation as her clothing fell away. Up until now, she hadn’t thought he would go this far. Strangely, she had felt guilty after she‘d yelled at him. It was an odd feeling. She should have been hating him for all he’d done, but for some reason, all she could feel was hurt and pain. She didn’t hate him and, she thought angrily to herself, she didn’t think she ever could. They had shared too much on Kuraji for her to hate him. She knew him too well, for all that he hadn’t told her about his past. Bulma understood then that no matter what he’d done, she would always remember the man he had been back when they were together in her garden. Deep down she knew that he couldn’t have pretended the gentleness he had showed her, even if he was a callous killer. She had seen the wall he’d erected, but she had been heedless in the warning signs that would have alerted her to the truth. She had made the greatest error of her life: she had fallen in love with a murderer. And now he was about to hurt her worse than he’d ever had before.
She felt him position himself between her thighs, and she sucked in a breath and squeezed her eyes shut, bracing herself for pain that never came. After a few seconds, she opened her eyes and hesitantly looked up at him, expecting the worst. But his eyes… the dark, fathomless depths that had just moments before radiated anger, were now filled with deep regret. He pulled himself abruptly off of her and stood, showing his profile to her, his head bowed and eyes closed as if he were praying to some nameless god for strength and guidance. Though his voice was soft, it carried to her clear and true.
"I will not take you in anger, Bulma. In fact, I will take you at all if you do not ask it of me." He opened his eyes and met her bewildered gaze. "But I will not let you leave until you can tell me truthfully that you do not love me. And I will not help you return to Yamcha. He is not worthy of your affections." Before she could respond, he left her in the oppressive silence of the room. Bulma pulled the ragged edges of her dress together and only then reached trembling fingers up to the wet trail of tears running down her cheeks. That night she vowed to herself that she would never cry in front of Vegeta again, not if she could help it. She would have to be strong, strong enough to resist him if the situation ever came up again, and strong enough to dispel the lust-hazed cloud that had unexpectedly settled over her mind when he’d kissed her.
After that incident, her days were slightly less taxing, but not by much. She stopped trying to escape, mostly because she realized that she now had the power to leave if she wanted to. Vegeta had also made it very clear that all she had to do was tell him she didn’t love him, that she didn’t want to be here with him. And to her astonishment and chagrin, she found that she couldn’t truthfully say these things to him. She did love him, but she knew she shouldn’t. He had purged so many planets, killed so many people. How could she have let this happen?
A few weeks later, she made up her mind to tell him what he’d asked, regardless of her feelings, after her guilt of loving a murderer became to much for her mind to bear. She never got the words out. She had started the conversation by throwing a few casual insults at him while they ate dinner together, as she thought it would be the best approach. But before she knew it, the argument got out of control, and she was soon standing up and screeching at the top of her lungs, countering the antagonistic barbs he responded to her with. It was only a matter of time before they ended up in his bed, his hands and mouth doing things to her that she knew would make her guilt all the more the eminent the following morning.
Of course there were infinitely many worlds that she could have gone to had she been able to refuse Vegeta, but nowhere she felt she could start her life completely anew in. She couldn’t go back to Yamcha. Though she knew he would welcome her back with open arms, she didn’t think she could go back to his overbearing covetousness of her. After he‘d found out about Vegeta, his wariness of the people around her had doubled, until she hadn’t been allowed to go anywhere outside the residential wings of the palace. The night Vegeta had come back for her, Bulma had snuck out of Yamcha’s chamber via the secret passage—Yamcha hadn’t thought to seal it—and went to the garden to be alone. The years that had passed since Vegeta’s original departure had been long and difficult for her, and despite Yamcha’s accusations, she still dreamed of the what-ifs and possibilities she could have had if she and Vegeta had been able to live in peace and happiness. Even though Yamcha had told her everyday that he loved her, he had never made plans to marry her. She hadn’t been bothered by that fact; somewhere, inside her heart, she had wished that he would tire of her and simply send her away. But it hadn’t looked hopeful.
Her life on Vegeta-sei had fallen into routine. Their encounters would always begin the same way: after Vegeta’s summons, she would arrive at the dining hall, dressed in the revealing finery that he provided for her and dine with him. As they ate, Bulma would start the evening off with some small comment meant to antagonize him, and he would oblige her, arrogantly responding to her insults and fueling her antagonism onward. She argued with him relentlessly over just about anything he brought up. He’d allowed her that privilege; she was permitted to say whatever was on her mind, without punishment. She suspected that he enjoyed their arguments as much as he did the lovemaking afterwards, though their verbal sparring was trivial for the most part; she kept all of her comments regarding the loss of her planet and her abduction repressed during their quarrels, but the anger was still there. Vegeta would continue to goad her until she couldn’t stand his nearness any longer and kissed him desperately. Then he would make love to her, passionately and mercilessly until she cried out in defeat and succumbed to the pleasurable waves of ecstasy he always managed to incite within her. It seemed a never-ending cycle.
Strangely, the only time they ever discussed her resistance was when he held her in his arms after they’d made love. She had allowed him that much, to hold her. She’d reasoned that they were both usually exhausted after the act, and the nights did get cold on Vegeta-sei. At least that had been the excuse she’d used the first time it happened. He waited until she was just catching her breath to ask her if she had proof enough that she cared for him. And she would always answer ‘no’. He was never daunted by her answer, would just nod his head and say that he would try harder the next time. She usually remarked that there wouldn’t be a next time, and he would smirk, knowing that there was as much truth in that statement as there was light in a black hole. That had annoyed her at first, but now it just became part of the routine, the script that they followed in order to coexist with one another. He would continue to urge her into admitting she felt for him, and she would continue to resist.
But now things were different. From what she’d gathered from Vegeta’s words, he was no longer going to allow her to deny her feelings for him. She knew she had been contradicting herself on almost a daily basis, shouting at him in anger while she gazed at him with longing desire, and by now he must have known that she felt more than she admitted to. Now, there wasn’t a reason to deny him any longer. But could she do it? Could she give herself completely without any regret and simply forget all of the anger she had let bloom inside of her? It had been a bitter battle she’d waged against him. She wasn’t sure how easily a year’s worth of animosity could be forgotten in so little time. Maybe it couldn’t be. But if it couldn’t, there was no way she could stay with him. He may not have destroyed Chikyuu, but he was still the killer Yamcha had said he was. From the little Vegeta had told her, she knew that he carried resentment towards his father over his abandonment to Frieza, but the Saiya-jin race were born battle-thirsty warriors. Vegeta might have hated the control Frieza wielded over him, but could very well have enjoyed purging. So the real question was, did that matter? Could she forgive his past and take what he was offering her?
She had almost been willing to do that before she had received Yamcha’s letter. The guilt had been eating her up inside, but it had been hard to deny the feelings that coursed between them every time Vegeta was near. That was why it had frightened her when Vegeta suddenly announced that he would no longer accept her denial of her feelings. She knew that if he brought up the fact that she was giving herself to him every night, regardless of her anger, she would have to answer him. And thus, she would be forced to admit that she did feel for him, that she did love him, despite what she’d thought he had done. After Yamcha’s letter, there was now no reason she could supply that made any sense. She would have to accept the truth.
Vegeta dressed slowly, still trying to shake off the after-effects of the regen tank. He had been able to rest and now didn’t feel quite as worn down as he previously had. The aides had brought him the traditional clothing worn by royalty, but he had disregarded the heavy over-shirt and stiff slacks and settled for a light open-throated shirt and loose training pants instead. He’d never be comfortable in all that frivolry. His father was welcome to parade around in it, but Vegeta opted for comfortable, serviceable clothing that didn’t break you out in a sweat by time you reached the end of the hall. Living under Frieza’s command for ten years tended to make you more practical.
He made it halfway to his rooms without disturbance until he spotted Nappa keeping a brisk pace in his direction, hailing him to make sure he wasn’t ignored. Vegeta nearly groaned aloud. He hadn’t wanted to speak to anyone yet, had only wanted to make it to his rooms and confront Bulma, but these inescapable incidents seemed to want to interfere with that simplistic plan. Nappa approached him, and after one of his long, elaborately drawn out bows, he got on with his purpose.
"Ouji-sama, the prisoner is awaiting your appearance. Shall we proceed there?" As much as Vegeta wanted to yell ‘no’ at the eager, importunate bastard and go to his rooms, he reluctantly realized that the sooner this business with the Kuraji king was finished, the sooner he would be able to forget about it. He nodded brusquely, and followed the bald Elite down a series of hallways until they reached a set of double doors. The sound of flesh hitting solid flesh and the muffled groaning that followed could be heard through the closed doors, and when the guard stationed outside opened the doors for them, the sound intensified. When they reached the room where the prisoner was being held, Vegeta moved in front of Nappa to enter first.
Yamcha, king of the planet Kuraji, sat tied to a chair, his face a bloody mess as the thick, crimson liquid congealed around his nose and flowed freely from the nasty wounds cut into his face onto his shirt. He looked unconscious, yet he managed to raise his head and glare at the prince as he entered the room. Vegeta stalked up to the battered prisoner, standing before him with crossed arms and looking down at him with a malicious glint in his eye.
"King Yamcha, how good of you to come back to Vegeta-sei. I’m afraid we weren’t able to welcome you properly the last time you were here." Vegeta gave him a cruel smirk.
"It wasn’t by choice, you arrogant monkey." Yamcha immediately flinched, expecting a blow, but Vegeta’s smirk merely widened as he waited for the man to return his gaze.
"You know, the last person who called me that is now a pile of ashes. But then, you know of whom I’m speaking, don’t you? Isn’t Frieza the one you gave your precious Taji crystals to?"
"I don’t give a damn about Frieza," Yamcha spat. "But if I could’ve given him something that would help obliterate you and your disgusting race, then I would have given him anything." Yamcha’s voice was smooth and steely, despite his condition, and his piercing, black eyes narrowed defiantly at Vegeta. "You stole her from me, you bastard, and you deserve to rot in Hell."
"For taking Bulma from a life which she despised? For giving her a choice as to whether or not she wanted to be your whore? You think too highly of yourself, desert fool."
"And what have you been doing with her? Would you let her leave this hellhole if she wanted to?"
"You forget, baka, that it was I she turned to for help in the beginning. I was the only one who was there for her when you smothered her with your unworthy attentions."
"You think she wants you now?" Yamcha sneered. "Now that she knows what you are? You’re a murderous bastard, just like Frieza, and after you kill me, she will know that for certain. She will never be able to love you because you’re a monster in her eyes." This time Vegeta did strike him, and although he didn’t use his full strength, it was enough to shut him up. Yamcha spat out the blood that filled his mouth and glared daggers at Vegeta.
"You were a fool to listen to anything Frieza had to say, as I am sure you are realizing now. Whatever you told Bulma doesn’t matter. She will have me, of that I am certain, but you, boyo, will never lay eyes upon her again. I have decided against killing you myself. I will let you stand trial for supporting Frieza, and I am sure the other planets that have suffered Frieza’s wrath will be fair in judging your treasonous acts." Vegeta regarded him coolly before turning to Nappa. "See that he is given to the intergalactic council, and tell them that Vegeta-sei supports whatever decision they come to, short of releasing him unpunished." Vegeta turned back to Yamcha, his eyes banking barely contained fury. "If they do not execute you, and I find you back on Vegeta-sei for any reason, I will take my time in delivering the punishment you so truly deserve, desert fool." With that said, Vegeta left the room, trying not to let the desert king’s previous words affect him.
The man’s statement wasn’t far from the truth; Bulma did hold him responsible for the destruction of her planet. It was the one thing standing between them and happiness that he couldn’t seem to conquer, but hopefully tonight would change all of that. Bit by bit, he had been wearing down her defenses, and now that he had beaten Frieza and taken care of Yamcha, he was ready to tear down the fragile walls of her animosity completely. If only he could make it to his chamber.
Nappa rushed after him, earnestly trying to catch up with him as he quickly made his way down the hallway towards his chamber. The lumbering Elite managed to reach his prince’s side and Vegeta threw him an annoyed glance, but continued walking. Nappa was like a buzzing insect he couldn’t seem to avoid.
"Ouji-sama," the big man inquired hesitantly. "I was just curious as to why you spared the desert scum’s life. I thought you wanted him dead after he threatened to come after the pleasure slave. Wasn’t that the order you issued?" Vegeta halted and forced out an angry sigh as he gave Nappa a hard look. Nappa knew that he regarded Bulma as more than just a pleasure slave and he knew even better than to question his authority. The fact that he was chancing his life to ask such a hazardous question made Vegeta wonder exactly what the bald Elite was getting at.
"Yamcha is no longer a real threat to Vegeta-sei. The power crystals that he provided Frieza with were easily countered by the energy absorbers we obtained from the pleasure slave," he emphasized meaningfully, "that he wanted so badly. I originally thought that Frieza had disposed of him along with his planet, but I find that letting him stand trial and face up to all those he betrayed when siding with Frieza will be far less easy for him than a quick death."
"But with all due respect, Ouji-sama, no one will fault us if we dispose of him ourselves. It is possible that they might just imprison him. Don’t the people of Vegeta-sei deserve justice against such acts of malice against us? He only helped Frieza to destroy us."
"As I mentioned before, Nappa, he will suffer more bearing his sins on his conscious. Since when did you question your prince with such insolence?"
"Since I ordered him to," came a voice from behind him, and Vegeta whipped around angrily to stare at an older, flesh and blood reflection of himself. "I wanted to see if that woman bewitched you beyond the point of reason." The anger Vegeta had been steadily keeping at bay burst within him.
"Stay out of my affairs, old man," he growled, staring his father directly in the eye. "As I told your lackey here before, they are none of your concern."
"As long as I am king, everything you do is my concern. The Kuraji king deserves to die, and I am surprised that you are not dealing out the punishment yourself. Even though his involvement was prompted solely by your abduction of his whore." Before Vegeta could even begin to express the fury and loathing sparked by his father’s comment, the king raised a hand of dismissal. "We will conduct this in my chamber. Nappa, you are no longer needed." And with that, the king headed off in the direction of his chamber, leaving a still-fuming Vegeta behind to follow.
Vegeta was tempted not to follow him. He was through with his father’s demands and orders and now that he was free of Frieza, he was no longer forced to live under anyone’s control. But he had waited for this moment a long time, and now he had the perfect opportunity to tell his father every hateful thought that had been plaguing his mind ever since his abandonment. His only regret was that he would be keeping Bulma waiting longer than he wished to. She was no doubt pacing the room, planning a battle in her mind to accost him with as soon as he walked through the door. At any other time, the thought might have amused him. But he was ready to set all pretenses aside and deal with the real issue at hand. It was time for Bulma to recognize that what was between them was far stronger than just a mutual attraction. It went much deeper than that, and although he wasn’t sure what that meant, he knew that there was little either of them could do to stop it.
Vegeta sighed and started off in the direction of his father’s chamber. As eager as he was to finally bare his mind to his father, he was even more anxious to get to Bulma; but like the issue with the desert king, it would be wiser to get this all out of the way now. After a few twists and turns of the long, elaborately decorated hallways, he was standing in front of the open doorway of his father’s chamber. Mentally bracing himself for the upcoming battle, Vegeta stepped in and faced the man whom he had learned to hate throughout the past ten years.
His father stood at a large, open window that stretched almost from floor to ceiling, overlooking the palace gardens. The tiny lines edging his eyes and mouth faintly hinted at maturing age, and the well-groomed beard that covered his chin carried scarce traces of gray, but other than that, father and son looked identical. Even the cool, passive expressions on both of their faces were alike, with the exception of their eyes. Where one’s gaze carried a cool disdain, the other was churning with blazing emotion.
The king continued to look out of the window as he spoke, his voice as casual as his stance. "So was I right? Are you letting the woman turn you soft?"
"What does it matter to you, old man? You never cared about my well-being before."
"Shouldn’t I be concerned about Vegeta-sei’s future king?" Again, that nonchalant tone.
"You weren’t concerned when you handed me over to Frieza," Vegeta replied venomously. "Were you planning on raising another heir to take my place?"
Now the king turned towards him, but his expression was still inscrutable. "I had always intended for you rule when I died. I knew the time would come when you would one day break free of the chains Frieza placed on you. It was only a matter of time before you tired of Frieza’s domination and tyranny."
"So it was a test?" It was more of an accusation than a question. "You let Frieza humiliate me and beat me close to death just to see if I was worthy of the throne?"
"At the time there was no other way. You wanted to face Frieza head on and Vegeta-sei would have perished. I knew Frieza wanted us out of the way, so I thought if we complied with his demands for a while, it would buy us a little more time. And it gave you a chance to focus all that anger you had in you onto a significant goal. If I remember correctly, before you went to Frieza, the quantity of guards and slaves in the palace were considerably low due to your temper. You think I would have put such a hothead on the throne?"
"If this is meant to subdue me, old man, you’re doing a pathetic job," Vegeta said sourly.
"It isn’t meant to subdue. I’m just telling you the truth. I was well aware of Frieza’s intentions, and I knew you thought me weak and gutless to send you to him. But in truth, I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to see what you were made of. I knew that this was all you needed to prove that you had the potential to be a strong and capable king. Frieza was our greatest enemy, and you defeated him. You have proved you are worthy of the throne and I would gladly die knowing that you would succeed me."
If the king had chosen this moment to deal Vegeta a mortal blow, his own death still wouldn’t have been enough to knock him out of the stupor his father’s words put him in. Had he heard him right? His father was proud of him? Throughout most of his childhood he had waited to hear those words, and even through the beginning of adulthood when his thoughts were poisoned by hatred for his father, he had secretly wished that the king had never really meant to abandon him, that some day his father would miraculously appear and rescue him from the hell he’d put him in.
The king had momentarily turned back to the window, but now he faced Vegeta again, the light of the half-moon glowing behind him. "I am just concerned that you might be throwing it all away with your obsession for the woman. She is no more than a concubine and you are a future king. I don’t fault you for being taken with her. She is a beautiful creature, and I myself have had my share of fixations for my pleasure slaves. But your insistence on making her your queen is foolish, boy. She will never be accepted among the people of Vegeta-sei."
"I don’t care what the people of Vegeta-sei think. When I am king, my word will be law. They will have to obey."
"And if they revolt? What then? Will you kill everyone who disagrees with you? That would be at least three quarters of the planet."
Vegeta paused briefly, seeing the logic in his father’s statement, but dismissed it immediately. He was his own master now; he had fought for his honor and respect and the people of Vegeta-sei would have to understand that. "They may not accept her, but they will have to deal with it. She will stay by my side no matter what."
"Until they send an assassin after her," the king reproved. "Think, boy. As a concubine she would not be perceived as a threat. You could take a queen, but keep the woman as a slave. Then you can have the best of both worlds."
"I don’t want any other woman. She is the only one worthy of me and of the throne."
"Maybe, but being king is not about wanting, boy. Even being a man means accepting the fact that you must discard your childish ideas and take on real responsibility. You want to have her and keep her safe. I understand that, I even agree with it. She has been pivotal in this war against Frieza. The knowledge she provided us with made Frieza’s defeat much simpler. She has value, and for that reason I would even extend my own protection to her, should she need it. But do not ask the people of Vegeta-sei to throw away centuries of tradition. You will fail if you try to. And the woman will die."
More of that damn logic, Vegeta thought irritably. His father was right of course. Bulma would be free of danger if he could just be content with the fact that Bulma would his concubine and not his queen. But was it really as simple as that? In the back of his mind, a thought continued to nag at him. How would she take being only his concubine? For nearly eight years she had been another man’s concubine, and when he took her from Kuraji, he had promised her that she would never again be a slave. He wanted to give her the freedom she deserved, wanted her beside him when he took on the heavy, momentous weight of being king of a planet. But was it worth putting her life in danger?
"I…I will think on it, old man, but this in no way means that I yield to you. There is far too much that has yet to be resolved for me to forget the years stolen from my life." He then turned sharply on his heel, after seeing his father sternly nod his assent, and left the room, feeling strangely unnerved by his meeting with his father. It had not gone as he’d imagined. He had expected explosive anger, shouting, maybe a few ki blasts volleyed at one another, but not this frank, nearly civilized discussion in which his father gave him advice and told him how proud of him he was. Maybe his father had changed during the years he’d been gone. Or maybe…maybe it was he who had changed. Even through his anger, Vegeta realized his father had been right in his assessment of his youth. He had been hot-tempered and easy to goad into battle. And Frieza had certainly changed that. After six continuous weeks of Frieza beating him into submission, Vegeta finally learned the meaning of ‘living to fight another day.’ He hadn’t actually submitted, just stopped fighting until Frieza tired of beating him senseless. Then when Frieza waited eagerly to hear Vegeta’s heartfelt words of allegiance, Vegeta was steadfast in his silence. Frieza had become enraged, his violent vigor renewed as he beat Vegeta some more, so much so that he didn’t regain consciousness for almost three days. Frieza began to start his days off with a good sound beating, that condescending leer of satisfaction frozen in place as he pounded Vegeta into the ground. He had been no good as a soldier during his first year in Frieza’s service because most of the time, he could barely stand.
And after his time in close quarters with Frieza, his life as a member of Frieza’s purging squad had been little better. True, he didn’t have to suffer the violent attentions of the pallid bastard, but his squad member’s taunts were almost unbearable. At least with Frieza he had unconsciousness to look forward to. With Frieza’s men, every single one of them knew the conditions of his surrender and would not let him forget it. And Frieza had been sure to keep him in a squad where there were no other Saiyans present.
It had been a slow, excruciating battle to finally get them to stop baiting and harassing him. He had realized that even if he killed them all, Frieza would just keep moving him from squad to squad, and probably delight in his delinquency because it meant another beating by his hand. So, in the end, it had been silence that kept them from badgering him. He let them taunt him…and simply didn’t respond. And after a while, he found that he didn’t respond to much of anything anymore, whether he tried to or not. His face, though a portion of it had come from his Saiyan heritage, had become nearly expressionless. The mask of indifference that his people usually needed years to perfect, he had accomplished in less than a year and a half. Only someone who knew him well enough could sense the almost imperceptible change in his emotions by looking at his face. Bulma had been able to do it.
She had gotten to know him well in the short weeks they had met with each other on Kuraji. It had been a strange happening for Vegeta. He had not been used to sharing his thoughts and feelings aloud, but Bulma seemed to have no qualms about it. She had spoken her opinion so often and so openly in front of him, that he could not help but add his own occasionally. They had seen eye to eye on a lot of subjects, and debated on so many issues that Vegeta soon forgot to feel awkward around her after their coupling. She had brought out a part of him he’d thought Frieza had crushed, and gave his life a little meaning when he had felt lost within the insufferable, pride-bruising hell he’d been in.
And then it all changed when he brought her to Vegeta-sei. They argued, but it was never like it had been on Kuraji. Many times she argued with him just to spite him, but he soon realized that it was just her way of keeping herself focused on the anger she felt. The first night they had really quarreled, a few weeks after he brought her to Vegeta-sei, an odd thing happened. She had been angry, screaming at him, and he had kept his expression carefully neutral as she ranted and raved about some inconsequential topic. And then as she neared him and he felt the heat of her body radiating toward him, he had been completely stunned to find desire swirling in the blue of her eyes. He held her gaze for a long moment, then crushed her body to him when she suddenly wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. The kiss was so hot, so sweet, that he felt his blood quickening and he hadn’t even been aware that he was carrying her into his bedchamber until he had her beneath him on the bed and was tearing at her clothing and his own. The marvelous feel of her body arching under his was enough for him to disregard gentleness as he roughly pushed himself between her thighs and entered her, feeling her nails dig into his bare back as he filled her with himself. It had been too long since he’d felt her, tasted her. They strove against each other like sprinters in a race, pushing each other closer and closer to that pinnacle of pleasure until they could hold back no more and gave each other all they had to give.
When they had both found their release and he finally moved to her side to gather her close, he was genuinely surprised when she rolled away from him with her back to him. It was almost as effective as a slap in the face. He lay beside her, brooding, for the rest of the night, trying unsuccessfully not to let her rejection affect him, until he finally fell asleep in the early hours of morning. He awoke hours later to find a slender hand resting on his chest and a soft, warm body snuggled up beside him, and it was then that he came to a decision. Though she had tried, she hadn’t been able to resist the chemistry between them. She had fought him constantly in the past few weeks, but she never once broached the motive behind her anger since the night he’d brought her here. He had refrained from mentioning it as well, somewhat glad that he hadn’t had to deal with questions about his past that he wouldn’t know how to answer. But maybe it was time to address that issue now, before it escalated into something more. Better to get all of her doubts and misconceptions out of the way now. What better time to do so than when she had just proven to both of them that her feelings for him were not as hateful as she would have him believe?
He waited for her to awaken, watching the play of emotions cross her attractive features as she slowly became conscious of their intimate proximity. As she looked up at him tentatively, he could see her deliberately schooling her features to appear as unaffected as possible, but he artfully stroked the soft skin of her back, sending shudders though her body and dissolving any doubt in his mind that she was impervious to his touch.
"We must talk," he said to her gently. Her response was to immediately roll away from him to the other side of the bed. He followed her, coming up behind her and placing a few light, teasing kisses on the curve of her neck. "You know of what I speak. You can not hate me after the night we’ve had together."
She suddenly turned to face him. "Can’t I? This changes nothing, Vegeta."
"This changes everything," he advocated determinedly. She turned away from him again, causing him to frown. He grasped her shoulder and pulled her gently back to face him.
"Bulma," he hesitated, not quite sure what he wanted to ask of her. What did she want from him? "What…must I do?" It was a hard thing for him to even say this much, as close as he had ever come to telling her that he would do anything for her, if she would but ask it.
"Give me back my family, my world, Vegeta. Undo every sin you’ve made against the innocent people of the worlds you’ve destroyed. Besides that, there is nothing you could ever do to make me want you again." He stared at her a long while, first anger passing through him at her impossible demand, then despondency as he realized that she might not ever be able to forgive him for his past deeds.
The woman was being unreasonable. Hadn’t he shown her how much he cared for her by honoring his promise and bringing her back with him? Hadn’t he put up with two weeks of angry insults and bitter moods? Granted, she deserved to be angry, but why couldn’t she understand that he hadn’t been given a choice? His father had given him over to Frieza, and he’d been forced to obey or die. True, he had learned to detach himself from the killing, had let his instincts override the guilt of murdering senselessly. But he hadn’t wanted to do it. And the only thing that had kept him afloat in that sea of misery for the past five years was the hope that he would one day break free, and after liberating her from her life of slavery, take her back with him to rule by his side. It was all he could do not to yell these things at her. No, but he could not ruin this, not at so delicate a moment. He would have to take a different approach.
"I can not change the past, Bulma, but I will try to prove to you that I am not as I was so many years ago." She gave him a blatantly doubtful look and her distrust in his words spurred him onward. "If there is nothing I can say to prove this to you, then let my actions speak for me." He reluctantly pulled away from her and left the bed, gazing down at her, trying to still his quickly-beating heart at the sight she created, the way her tousled hair and smooth, rose-tinted skin made her look like some revered goddess of passion. The sheet twisted indecently around her body, barely hiding her curves from his hungry gaze. He looked away, forcing himself to calm down and deal with the situation at hand.
"I will make you not hate me, by whatever means necessary."
She sat up, seemingly unaware of the sheet that dropped down and exposed the creamy-white skin of her breasts. "There is nothing you can do, Vegeta, short of erasing my memories. Nothing. I will not yield."
Vegeta noticed the determined set of her jaw, the clenched fists at her sides, but discounted it. She was challenging him to prove her wrong, to do what she deemed impossible, and he was more than willing to oblige her. Yes, if that was the only way he could win her over, then that was what he was going to do. He gave her a curt nod, and after throwing on some pants, he headed for the door. "We shall see, Bulma," he threw over his shoulder and left before she could dispute it further. If it was a battle of wills she wanted, then that was what she would get.
Bulma’s every sense was attuned to the bedroom door quietly opening, the light spilling in from around a darkened silhouette, then shutting in the darkness.
He was here.
Somehow, her imagination had conjured something a bit more extravagant, a little more heart stopping for his entrance; but then, his face was still hidden in shadows and he had yet to speak. And he hadn’t moved forward into the moonlight yet. No, he hung back in the nearly black shroud of darkness, watching her. She considered standing up to face him and ending the undisclosed staring contest in the dark, instead of peering over her shoulder at him from the bed; but this was like so many other challenges he’d issued to her in the past. If she yielded first and looked away, then she was the loser and it would attest to his triumph over her. She could not yield. Even the sound of footsteps moving toward her did not keep her from staring at the spot in the darkness where his face should be.
When he crossed the threshold of moonlight, she was not surprised to see his sharp gaze piercing into hers. He continued to move toward her, his eyes focused intently on her as she allowed herself a brief glance at his appearance. His body did not look as though he had just returned from battle. He was dressed casually in a royal blue shirt—did he ever wear any other color? —and loose black training pants. She had seen him this way many times before, and it still amazed her how he could look so regal in such informal clothing. She looked back up at him and realized his eyes were doing the same, assessing her with the same close scrutiny.
Their eyes finally met, though she noticed a slight weariness in his. So, he was not as unaffected by battle as she’d originally thought. He must have made use of the regen tanks, and that thought made her wonder just how badly he had been injured, knowing his usual hesitancy towards regen tanks. But her thoughts were abruptly cut off as he moved forward and stopped in front of her, grasping her chin with ungloved fingers. His face unreadable in the dim light.
"Have you an answer to my challenge, woman?"
"Yes," she said, trying to control her breathing and the shivers that had made their way down her spine at the low, husky pitch of his voice. I will not be affected by him, she admonished herself mentally. His thumb was rubbing gently against her jaw line as he waited for an answer, his eyes not giving her an ounce of respite as he stared down at her. She pulled away before she could embarrass herself further by reacting indecently to his touch. He was asking her a question. And she had waited this long to give him an answer. But how would he react to her answer? She had just figured out herself what she was going to say, actually moments before he’d arrived, but now she wasn’t so sure she could do it. Was she ready for this? Could she tell him her answer and keep her wits about her?
"Do you yield?" he asked a few moments later when she didn’t respond. When he put it like that, how could she? She had once told him that she would never yield to him, and now he was asking her to recant it. He had always been blunt about what he wanted, had never led her to believe anything else other than that he wanted her to accept him.
Bulma relaxed slightly as she realized that this conversation was very similar to the others they’d had. Why had she thought that he would use different tactics this time, that he would somehow do something that she couldn’t combat and would be forced to submit to? He had been persistent yet passive in his campaign for her submission, never once going beyond arguing with her over her resistance. She had always been the one to initiate their intimate encounters while he stood waiting for her to weaken. He had not once initiated contact between them or forced himself on her as he’d done her first night on Vegeta-sei. But what had he meant then, when he’d told her he wouldn’t allow her to deny her feelings anymore? That sounded like he had something in mind.
Her answer came out in a sigh. "No." She watched him warily as he set his jaw and turned away from her. She had made up her mind to deny him. There was no going back to what they had before. How could they? He might not have been the one to destroy her planet, but it would be imprudent to believe that he had completely changed from the killer he’d been. Whether he had been forced or not, he still didn’t view the act of killing and purging as entirely bad. It had been pure chance that he hadn’t been the one to destroy Chikyuu. How could she stay with a man who didn’t think killing was wrong? Bulma lowered her eyes as she thought of the disparaging truth of the matter. She loved him, more than ever, but this rift would always exist between them. Vegeta thought that it could be overlooked, but she would never be convinced that it could, and because of that, she and Vegeta could never be. She looked up from the floor she’d been staring at, wondering why Vegeta hadn’t responded to her. Her eyes met with Vegeta’s turned back. What was he doing?
She had nearly voiced her question when she heard a dull thud in the darkness, like a heavy weight hitting the floor. As she scanned the floor, her eyes fell on a boot, partially illuminated in the moonlight. She stared at it dumbly for a moment, trying to comprehend the significance of the mislaid boot, until its mate dropped to the floor beside it. Bulma looked up at their owner, her eyes widening as she realized Vegeta was slowly unbuttoning his shirt, staring straight at her as he did so, almost challenging her to say something to stop him.
For a moment, Bulma panicked. Her rational mind knew she had nothing to fear; she believed his promise that he would never force himself on her again if she didn’t want it. Yet here he was, undressing before her very eyes, slowly shrugging out of his shirt and pants and dropping them onto the floor carelessly, unclothing his perfectly sculpted body for her to peruse at her leisure—Oh no. A thought suddenly sprang into her mind, and she gasped at the incredulousness of it. He was not planning on forcing her at all. No, he wanted her come to him, wanted to taunt her with his body until she gave in to her wanton urges. But why this way? He knew she had always been weak in that respect; he had only to come within a few inches of her to get her to disregard all of her self-control. What was he trying to prove by doing things this way? What was he trying to accomplish?
Bulma closed her eyes, her mind and body warring with each other, as she thought of him naked, standing before her in all his muscled glory, waiting for her to jump him and prove that she wanted him more than she could deny. She did, but he didn’t need to know that. No, she could resist this, she thought determinedly. She would not be ruled by her lust. It wasn’t so hard. She would not—
He was walking towards her, strong and beautiful and reaching for her. She backed away from him, knowing that his touch could be the end of her. How was she going to resist him when his proximity made her ache with need? He must have known that, because he continued to move towards her until her back was pressed firmly against the wall and his face was mere inches away from her ear. She was breathing as though she had just run a marathon, closing her eyes again and suppressing a moan as his warm, teasing breath kindled a fire in her that spread searing feeling down to the very tips of her toes. He had to know what this was doing to her. This was his secret weapon; this was what he had planned to do to her from the very beginning. He wanted her to beg him. He wanted her to submit to her desire and offer herself to him. No, her mind shouted at her. Remember why you chose to resist him. If you give in now, it’s forever. She collected herself as best she could and stood there stiffly as his mouth hovered near her ear. She could do this. He would become frustrated by her cool reaction and then he would give up. He had to, or else she would not last for more than a few minutes with his nearness torturing her this way.
"Bulma," he husked into her ear. "This game between us cannot last much longer. You cannot resist your feelings forever. It is time to give in, woman. It is time to accept what’s between us and build on from there." He leaned in closer as his hands pressed against the wall on either side of her, imprisoning her. "So I ask you again," he whispered as he nuzzled his face against her cheek, sending a dizzying sensation through her body. "Do you yield?"
"I…" Her mind seemed vacant as she sought out an answer, any answer that would end this agonizing torment. Remember, a tiny voice persisted at her.
"No." She exhaled a relieved sigh as she commended herself on her firm resolve. She had done it again. She had refused Vegeta, and she had kept her wits—
Her knees buckled as she felt the warm tip of his tongue stroke the sensitive edge of her ear. He caught her just before she slipped to the floor, his arms tightening around her and lifting her off of the ground. He was carrying her somewhere, but she was in too much of a daze to protest. He suddenly stopped and set her down in front of the bed. "Vegeta…" she tried to whisper, but he didn’t allow her to finish, instead brushing her lips teasingly with his own, pulling back whenever she tried to deepen the kiss, chuckling as she growled in frustration and caught his lower lip between her teeth. He opened up to her then and gave her what she wanted, tasting her with excruciating slowness, drowning out the rest of her thoughts until all that remained was him, his mouth, his touch, his passion. "Vegeta," she said again against his mouth, but this time it came out in a moan as his hand smoothed up her thigh and stopped at the hem of her robe, and then ventured just beyond. How could he do this to her? She felt like a lump of molten wax, aching to mold herself around him and take all he had to offer.
But she couldn’t, she shouldn’t. He wanted her to give up everything she had left in her. She had to fight him. His breath was in her ear again, soft and low, his hand dragging her thigh up to rest on his hip. "Tell me, Bulma. What do you want?" Bulma couldn’t answer, not when she could feel his arousal so close to her, his body so tightly pressed against her. So this was what he’d had in mind. Drive her crazy with lust, then make her admit that she wanted him, needed him. Her resolve had crumbled. She wanted him so much, it was painful. But she could not say it. She would not say it. Bulma repeated that thought over and over in her mind as she felt him untying the silken knot of her robe, and hoped desperately that it would be enough to keep her from tumbling over the damning precipice of ruination.
He pulled her small, heaving form onto the bed slowly, letting the silky material of her robe slide off her shoulders as he lifted her to straddle his hips. His face nuzzled her neck, inhaling the delicate perfume of her scent, and she sucked in a quivering breath as his hands slid up the soft flesh of her bare thighs.
"Is this what you want?" he whispered seductively into her ear as he allowed his fingers to linger inside the lace of her panties, stroking the damp patch of blue curls just above the wet, musky heat of her desire. "Tell me you want it, and I’ll give it all to you." His hand inched slowly downwards, eliciting from her a moan of anticipation, before promptly pulling back up, awaiting her response.
"No," she breathed out huskily, even as she lifted her chin to invite him to ravish the lovely column of her neck. He obliged hungrily, smoothing a hand up the curve of her back to slip his deft fingers into the soft, loosely hanging curls. She belonged to him, loved him, but refused to believe it. He would have to make her understand. This was the only way. Wrapping the soft, cerulean hair quickly around his fist, he tugged, hard, making her arch her back and thrust out beautifully rounded breasts tipped with stiff, rosy peaks, straining beneath the transparent material of her nightgown. Roughly, he pulled up the flimsy fabric, ripping it in the process, and swiftly took an erect nipple into his mouth, suckling the firm swell of flesh until her hips ground against his own in wild abandon. He felt her arms slip around his neck and tighten as he grazed the puckered skin of her nipple with his teeth, granting him a low whimper of pleasure.
"Say you want it," he murmured against the smooth skin of her breasts between kisses and caresses of his tongue. "Say you want me. Tell me that you’ve wanted me inside you ever since the day I took you from that bastard." He lifted his head and nipped roughly at her shoulder before looking her in the eyes, probing the deep, blue depths for the answers he knew were true.
"I can’t," she sighed softly, casting her eyes downward. "If I do, I’ll be betraying every thing I vowed not to do. I can’t ever forget what you are, what you’ve done. I…I don’t think I could ever love you, you know," she said as she allowed herself a quick glance into the dark, scrutinizing eyes. "I can’t allow myself to love you."
"You already do love me," he growled angrily as he pulled her to him sharply, pushing the flat taughtness of her stomach against his hard, solid abs. There had to be a way to reach her, to show her that what was between them was to far gone to deny. His black eyes burned into hers as he moved his face closer, and his lips suddenly pressed against hers with a bruising force. He would have to show her. She gasped for breath as he tilted his head and thrust his tongue into the enticing warmth of her mouth, at first punishing, and then melting into something more loving and affectionate, rubbing his tongue gently against hers until he felt her relax in his arms. Her slender arms moved druggedly to grip the wide, muscled planes of his back and he felt her pulse quicken at the feel of his fingers playing at the thin band of her panties.
He released her mouth as he pulled back and pushed her down into the softness of the bed, bracing himself with his arms as he stared down into the beautiful face that had haunted his dreams and nightmares for countless nights. "Before this night is over, woman, I will make you cry out in passion, and then you will accept what you have denied to yourself for far too long. You belong to me, just as I do you. Nothing can or will change that. And I’ll be damned if I’d let another bastard have you."
Without breaking eye contact he moved down her body, gripping the edges of her panties almost savagely and yanking them down to her knees before ripping the material to shreds. Her chest began rising and falling rapidly, and he almost wanted to freeze the moment in time at the sight of her flushed skin, her parted lips framed by the blue silk of her hair. She was so beautiful in the pale, lunar light cascading over the soft curves of her body; he knew that he’d be condemning his chances for restraint as soon as he tasted her. Parting her legs gently and propping them up on either side of him, he dipped his head slowly to sample her, looking up briefly to watch her writhe under his ministrations before diving back down to punish her some more. He delved deeply into her, drawing from her desperate moans of pleasure as he plunging in and out and stroked her mercilessly, savoring her flavor.
She arched against him, offering him more of the honeyed delight of her arousal, and he gladly indulged himself. He pressed her thighs apart a little more, and after suckling the swollen nub of flesh that made her thrash her head violently on the pillow, he traced two nimble fingers around the slick entrance and slid them in slowly, feeling the strong inner muscles grip him tightly. He almost groaned aloud in eager anticipation at the urgency of her arousal. She felt so tight and wet around his fingers that he almost got ahead of himself and nearly abandoned his sweet torment to ravish her ruthlessly.
He continued his ministrations until he felt her fingers threading through his stiff hair, gripping it tightly as she neared her release. Disengaged himself, much to her dismay, he moved to cover her body with his own, positioning himself at her entrance before looking up at her, his eyes serious and piercing. He trailed his fingers lightly down the length her arm, brushing over the creamy skin and sending the nerves connected to the delicate hairs of its surface into an uncontrollable frenzy. He reached a hand up to briefly cup her face, and then slowly slid it back until it tangled itself in the silken strands of her hair.
"Tell me, woman. I have to hear it."
"Why are you doing this to me, Vegeta?" she said suddenly and spitefully. "Why can’t my body just be enough?" Her eyes glistened lucidly in the silver light of the moon. That strong will of hers was breaking under his request, and it was then that he realized that she must have been trying to ignore the intense and definite chemistry that had always existed between them. She didn’t want to believe that she actually felt for a brutal killer such as himself. It had been much easier for her to explain their passion on the heated battles and highly emotional states they frequently worked themselves up to in their opposition for each other; that their fiery couplings were due to the intense attraction that the opposite sides of morality posed. He couldn’t let her deny it any longer. If he did, it would drive them both crazy. It didn’t matter anymore who was justified or not. He just wanted her here, in his arms, giving him what he so desperately needed from her, and filling her own need with what he knew only he could give her.
"I don’t want just your body, baka woman. I want you. I want what you’ve been holding back from me all this time. Dammit! Stop fighting it and just give in. Give in." He said the last words forcefully as he pushed himself roughly inside her, causing her to gasp and arch against him as she shuddered at the frictional contact of their bodies. He hadn’t wanted to do it this way, had wanted her to admit to her need of him. But she was already melting in his arms, moaning as he slid in deeper, and he couldn’t stop himself now if he wanted to. He held on to her firmly, almost triumphantly as he felt her tighten around him, but immediately regretted his actions as he looked at her, feeling his chest constrict as he watched her shoulders begin to shake with sudden emotion, the tears now flowing freely down the pale hue of her cheeks. It reminded him too much of their first night together in his palace.
"How can I? How can I accept that I’m in love with a murderer? Yamcha wasn’t a murderer. He was kind and good and he only did what he did out of love for me. I know that now, and to betray him with you…how could I be so cruel to him? How could I explain that what I feel for you is something more powerful than I ever felt with him? And now I’ll never be able to tell him that I’m sorry, that I could never have loved him the way I love you, that he sold his soul for nothing…" She broke down then, the sobs wracking her slight frame as she lifted her arms instinctively to encircle his neck, burying her tear-stained face into the comforting hollow that seemed almost made to soothe and console.
Vegeta held her tightly to him, letting her cry out everything that had kept her from giving herself completely to him. As her sobs dwindled into soft whimpers, he pulled back gently, wiping the tears from her face with the pads of his thumbs. Leaning down, kissing her slowly and thoroughly, tasting, savoring each and every inch of her delectable mouth, he tried to banish the sorrow with his tenderness, finally showing her what he had been practically begging her to see since he had first recognized it: that he loved her with his whole being; that without her, his life would have been empty and void of destination; that without her, he would have killed himself ages ago and submitted to the silent misery of a bleak and unwelcoming afterlife.
Now, she was kissing him back, with more passion than she had ever shown, and he felt his heart ache at the truth of her surrender to him. She was accepting him. He pulled back once more, cupping the beautiful face and smiling down into it, his fingers reaching out and brushing the loose strands of brilliant blue hair from her face, seemingly of their own volition. Her eyes looked up at him with such pain and confusion and…love. I love you, her eyes said to him. Even though I don’t want to, I do.
"This is what I want, Bulma. I want you, all of you, everything that you are. I want you here with me for as long as we both have in this life. I can’t erase what I’ve done to you, gods, there’s so much that I want you to forgive me for; but I know only one thing: this thing between us it too powerful for us to ignore. And I know that you feel it too. You feel it," he said as he began to move against her slowly, causing her arms to tighten around his neck. "You feel it… every time we’re together. You feel it…whenever we fight…when we make love…when we…oh gods, Bulma…"
His movements had become frantic by then, the thrusts between his words making it more and more difficult to maintain his thin leash of control, so he silenced himself in the smooth junction between her neck and her shoulder, continuing his thrusting like a man possessed as he slid in and out of her velvety warmth.
Bulma was the one holding him now, her arms wrapped around the hard body above her in a soothing embrace, as he lost himself within her. She soon began to adopt his frenzied movements, taking up his maddening pace as she moaned out her acquiescence, and soon they were moving together, breathing as one and clinging to each other as they had never done before, even in their most intimate of moments. During this act of passion, they had both acknowledged and accepted the love between them, and even though it had not been audibly spoken, as the first mind-numbing wave of pleasure washed over them in a simultaneous whirlwind of bliss, she lifted her head and kissed him deeply, giving him a final sign of her submission to her once clandestine feelings.
He was left breathing heavily against her sweat-sheened shoulder, after collapsing, just moments ago, from the final release of their union; and as he raised his head to look into those expressive blue eyes, he knew that there was nothing else in his lifetime that could possibly compare to these short, hushed moments when he held her trembling form beneath him after they had made love in such a way. It didn’t matter what happened to him in the future; he would die a happy man as long as he retained memory of the peaceful stillness present in this moment. No matter what happened, they would be together.
He heard her give a contented sigh as he repositioned himself to pull her snugly into his arms, still inside her and still feeling the burning desire that overwhelmed him whenever she was near. He suspected that he would always feel that way; that she would always bring out the feral and passionate nature that he had such trouble controlling at times. But she also soothed that passion, even as she inflamed it with her caresses, and kept it in check, rerouting it into forms other than killing and destruction. She was what he needed, just as she needed him, and that fact was enough to satisfy him for the rest of his time on this mortal plane.
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