Disclaimer: I do not own DBZ or the characters attributed to the series.
Notes: I thought I would get this story in two parts, when it seemed too long for one big story and then it became painfully clear that it needed to be in three. So here is Part Two, part three is around the corner. Enjoy.
Bulma lay in the warm expanse of his arms, breathing in the cool, night air and relishing the pureness of what was for her an absolute perfect moment. It was one of those rare moments where she felt vast, endless, and happy to be alive. and, she thought, happy to know this man that lay beside her, happy that he was alive to share this moment in time and happy that he was hers. The thought was enough to set her body quivering with a plethora of heady emotions. She was joyful that he had thought to bring her back to this place they had first claimed each other on—this perfect island that was theirs. She could have easily called it home as long as he was there with her. Still, much to her chagrin, despite the warmth that shot through her body and filled her whole, she was helpless to shake some small, cool, sense of impending doom and it hung heavy and unwanted over her like a dark cloud.
"Are you cold?" His deep voice rumbled against her cheek and she smiled, reveling in the heated smoothness of his tones.
"Hardly." She snorted. "You’re like a hot potato." And it was the truth. Whether it was something that burned from inside of him, or some natural trait of his Saiya-jin blood, the man was hotter than a burning coal.
"A potato?" Vegeta replied haughtily. "Surely you could describe the Saiya-jin Prince better than that?" His lips grazed her ear, inducing a faint tremor that ran the length of her body. He chuckled lightly at her response, arrogantly pleased that he could move her the way he did.
"Vegeta," Bulma replied seriously, ignoring his banter. "I wonder…well—" She broke off briefly before pressing forward, unsure if the time was right or not for her mention the idea of another baby, especially with all the talk of Koola and her own warped sense of something headed their way. "I wonder… why I haven’t had another child yet?" The words spilled out of her and she felt him stiffen beside her, before he relaxed and rolled onto his side to stare down at her.
Looking up into his eyes, she wasn’t surprised to see them shuttered and guarded—his emotions completely unreadable to her. It was the only the stiff set of his mouth that clued her into his discomfit over the question.
"Why are you asking me this now?" He asked neutrally, forcing himself to remain calm. He fought the urge to look away from that trusting, contented blue gaze.
"Well, I have been giving some thought to having another child. I think I would like to have a brother or sister for Trunks. I haven’t used any protection since we killed Frieza and yet…well I have never gotten pregnant. You said all that time ago that you were okay with having another child and that we would have one when the time was right, but…it’s been nearly three years and we have yet to produce a thing. I just don’t understand it."
Bulma looked at him, blue eyes glowing like hot coals, burning him straight to his soul. He had thought her desire for a child beyond her, forgotten among the demands of her career. She was happy—busy even and Trunks took up more time than she had. Why on Chikyuu would she even want another one? Still, his own words, uttered at the site of her brother’s grave came back to haunt him. They had been said to appease her, to ease her grieving from both the loss of her brother and unborn child. He had never really meant them.
"Dad gave me that senzu on Frieza’s ship and it healed up all the trauma that my miscarriage had caused me, or so I thought, but well…as every month since that day goes by, I wonder if something happened…if I can’t have any more children." Bulma peered up at him, searching his obsidian eyes for any clue to his thoughts. Vegeta was always brutally honest with her, and if there were a problem, he wouldn’t hide it from her.
Vegeta stared down into her sapphire eyes, heart constricting painfully in his chest, at the look of sad uncertainty that hung in them. What in the hell was he supposed to tell her? He had been meticulous in ensuring that she didn’t get pregnant, but to tell her that now would cause a rift between them so wide, he wasn’t certain they would ever be able to breech it. Dammit, she trusted him completely and he had been betraying that trust for close to three years. And now—now he was trapped by his own actions. But what was the alternative, that he get her with another Saiya-jin child and lose her? He felt his body tighten at the thought, before pushing the unwanted visions away. No, he would never allow that to happen.
He had been witness to Trunks birth, and while she had come through it unscathed, it had been a hard thing and it was a miracle that she was still here with him. He was certain he would ever be able to forget that first sight of her after months of believing her dead. She had been on her hands and knees, pale and sweating—had looked as if she were dying. The image was branded into his memories for all time and nothing he did would ever lessen it. The second pregnancy had been a fluke, something he had not wanted, and though he had felt pain at the child’s loss, he couldn’t say he wasn’t grateful that she hadn’t had to attempt another Saiya-jin birth. She was a human and as such was too weak to give birth to a Saiya-jin child. She had been extremely lucky with Trunks and he wouldn’t risk her life unnecessarily again. Losing her was his greatest, single fear—his only fear much to his great rage, and it was that fear that had led him down the path he had chosen.
He had made love to her only once without using the protection he had bought and paid for since the night Frieza had died. It had been the same night they had returned from Frieza’s ship, and after she had given him the antidote that had saved his life. He had taken her then in a mindless need, and thankfully, she had not gotten pregnant. He had never repeated the mistake. The next day, he had gone to an underworld shop that specialized in contraband and certain kinds of drugs and medications—ones not readily found on Chikyuu. It was had been a contraceptive called Degeron.
Vegeta had first heard of it from the whores on board Frieza’s ship. It had been long before he ever met Bulma, and before he had ever given thought that he might actually have a need for such a thing. He had been sixteen, passing down the hall of the ship, and just happening to bump into two rather disgusting creatures that were trolling for something to fuck. He had shoved past them haughtily, but their stringent voices had halted him, calling him to come back to them.
"Lookie, it’s Prince Vegeta. He is a proud one and so handsome too…come back here love and let us show you a good time." One of them had crooned to him. The memory of her high-strung voice was still enough to make him shudder.
"I’m not interested, bitch." He had replied. So go somewhere else. Go trouble Nappa. He’ll screw anything." He turned away from them, trying to hold back the bile that had risen at the sight of their ugly, used up features.
"What’s wrong Prince?" The second woman had slurred at him snootily. "You afraid of getting your royal self a bastard?" She snickered and he had turned back to her in a fury.
"You needn’t worry about that, love. We use protection. There is a drug called Degeron. It will ensure you father yourself no unwanted brats." She had sidled up to him, daring to caress his tail. "I hear that you Saiya-jin monkeys like your tails touched. "
Vegeta had stared at her in horror for a moment, before he calmly and coolly blasted her to Hell for daring to touch him in such a way. That she would think to even lay one finger on him disgusted him. He was a Prince, she was a whore. If he really needed to go get laid, he had a hundred different courtesans to choose from in his father’s palace—ones that were well maintained and suited to his pleasures. He would be damned if he would let some used up whore, touched by every disgusting creature in Frieza’s employ, lay one dirty finger on him. Truth be told, he had gone to the courtesans of his father’s palace before but had never been moved by any of them. They were all false and condescending, and that had been obvious from the moment they had first sought to please him, and so he had left in a huff. He had yet to return.
When he gave pleasure to a woman, he wanted to feel her respond, not have her pretend she was enjoying herself and fawn all over him because it was expected of her. There was something to be said for raw, unbridled passion and response—it was something he shared with Bulma. And it was a far cry from the women who responded like robots.
And there was absolutely no comparison to the whores that had served Frieza, some willingly, some not. He had known that he would sure as hell never give himself to one of those things, resisting them and their pitiful attempts at seduction had not been a difficult task. His control, even at a young age, had been well honed.
So he had stared down at the smoking place the whore had once stood, before the sound of muted whimpering had breached his senses and reached his ears. He had turned to the second one but she had shrieked and fallen to the floor, begging him to have mercy and to spare her life. There was no point in killing something that was already dead, so he had removed himself and had never been troubled by any of the whores again.
But the name of the drug had remained with him for years…a small bit of information stored in some small recess of his brain. Why he had kept it with him, he would never know, but it had rushed forth from his brain as if he had heard it uttered yesterday, instead of some ten years ago.
And so when it came to Bulma—the only woman whom he gave a shit about, the one who had already given him a son and heir, and the only woman he cared to have near him—when it came to her well-being, he had made the decision of pregnancy for her and he had recalled that drug clearly. Though he hated himself for betraying her trust, he had felt with all his heart, that the ends justified the means. She had Trunks. The boy would just have to be enough. It required only that he slip it into her food or drink once a month, and that was something he had found easy enough to do, no matter how much he despised himself for doing it.
Vegeta wanted her safe and sound— healthy. He never wanted to see her go through anything like what she had on Hell with Trunks. The memory of her pain-filled face, white and drawn, struggling to breathe, to survive and give birth to a child that was stronger than her still left him cold and empty. And despite what he had told her, about giving her another child when the time was right, he found that he just couldn’t go through with it. They had been hollow words and ones that he wished he had never even uttered. He clenched his fist at her side.
"Vegeta," Bulma murmured quietly. "Are you still with me." Her soft voice jolted him from his reverie and he looked down at her with a frown.
"I was thinking about that day…when you lost our child." Vegeta whispered hoarsely, forcing the lie past lips that had no desire to betray her. "I don’t know what that…has done to you, but we can try." He smiled suggestively, clamping down on the desire to admit all and ask for her forgiveness. He would never do that. She was his woman and he knew what was best for her, end of story. What she didn’t know couldn’t hurt her.
Bulma smiled languidly, wrapping her arms around him and pulling him close. It had been a long, heat-filled night between them, but laying here with him, looking up into that gorgeous face that smirked rakishly down at her, she found her body responding and stretching out next to his like a cat. "I think I’d like nothing better, Prince. Nothing better."
Bulma stared down at the small circuit board that refused to cooperate with her. Dammit, she didn’t need this. Why couldn’t these things just go well the first damn time she tried? With a sigh, she pushed away from her desk and the board, turning to look out at the wide, shining, blue sky that gleamed at her through her window.
Idly, she ran her hand over her belly, smoothing over the flat expanse of silk and cotton clad stomach. It had been two weeks since Vegeta had taken her to their island paradise, two weeks since he had made love to her. Damn the man for training endlessly with Kakkarot out in the wilds. He had flitted home briefly the previous week, but had not stayed long enough to do much of anything. There had been one quickie on this very desk, and that was it. She had not seen him since, though from time to time, he checked in through the telepathy that they had worked on developing for a few years now.
Was she pregnant? Had their night together two weeks ago finally produced another child for them? Somehow she doubted it. She had not gotten pregnant in close to three years and the facts were starting to lead her down the path towards harsh reality. Frieza and Parisia had screwed her up somehow. She would probably never be able to have another child. Damn them both, she hoped they were rotting in Hell.
With a sigh of frustration, Bulma pushed back from the desk and grabbed the circuit board. Maybe some time in her lab would help her out. She could lose herself in her creation and forget these other problems that seemed to plague her mind.
Bardock landed on the front lawn of the Capsule Corporation, dressed in full battle armor, prepared to go away for days with Toma and train. Vegeta had ordered that they train full time and prepare themselves for Koola’s inevitable attack, so he had made plans with his best friend to head to the mountains and spend the time beating the hell out of each other, going Oozaru, and feeling the mad rush of power as the change roared through him. There was nothing like it in the world.
The glass doors of the Capsule Corporation swinging open caught his eye as they glared blindingly in the hot sun, and he squinted against the sudden brilliance momentarily, before he recognized the familiar figure that stood silhouetted in the frame.
"Bulma, what are you doing out here?" Bardock smiled at the blue haired woman as she came out of the main Capsule Corp building and strolled towards his spot on the ground. He watched her shade her eyes against the bright glare of the sun and he had to suppress a shudder as he watched the glittering blue eyes sweep over his body. He could well remember holding that body against his own on Hell. The thought was still enough to wake him in the night and he wondered for a moment if it was something she ever thought about.
With a shake of his head, he stood up and watched as she approached. He was being foolish. She belonged to Vegeta, loved the Prince with all her heart. All this reminiscing about his life with Negi had made him feel needy, and he despised that emotion. Bulma would not be able to take away the pain of those memories. What had happened between them had been a one-time thing brought on from the intensity of their situation on Hell. They hadn’t even slept together. It had amounted to nothing more than kisses and touching. Keep telling yourself that, Bardock. The voice flitted through his mind and he grimaced realizing that he was growing hard at the memory of her hand caressing him and he groaned in frustration.
"Bardock, I was on my way to the lab." Bulma smiled widely at him, hurrying over to where he stood and pressing herself against him in a tight hug. "I need to go and figure out why this damn circuit won’t work right." She released him and stepped back holding up a small board for him to view. What are you doing out here?" She leaned back to stare up into his face and flushed at his lazy perusal of her features. He hadn’t looked at her like that since that night on Hell when they had almost made love. With a shiver she stepped back. What was it about this man that still got to her? She loved Vegeta, wanted no one but him and yet…here standing this close to the powerful older Saiya-jin dressed in his battle armor she felt a sudden ache in places she shouldn’t be having them
"I was waiting for Toma to get here so we could go and spar. " He nodded towards the north. "Your husband and my son already headed out to go train. Vegeta was adamant that we all come and prepare for Koola, so Toma and I were going to head for the mountains…preferably somewhere away from where Kakkarot and Vegeta went." He gave her a half-grin before swinging his arms out, flexing his broad chest that was bare save the Saiya-jin armor that he had thrown on. "What is the problem with the board?"
His eyes swept over her again, this time lingering on her mouth and Bulma had to fight back the urge to wet her lips. God, what had gotten into him today? "I suppose that’s a good idea." She said nervously, watching as he reached towards her and took the board from her hand, fighting back the urge to run like a rabbit fleeing its hunter. This was Bardock and she knew he would never do anything to hurt her or make her feel uncomfortable. Whatever was going on here now was a productive of her mind. She apparently had some things she needed to deal with.
Bardock stopped before her and took the board, grazing her fingers with his own. He suppressed a shiver at the contact. "While I’m waiting for Toma, why don’t I go into the lab with you and see what we can do. We always did work well together." He shot her a half smile and began the short trek towards the building that housed her lab.
Bulma hesitated for a half a heartbeat before rolling her eyes and following after him. For gods sake she was being an idiot. Whatever it was she had seen or thought she seen was a figment of her own imagination. Perhaps something had triggered the deeply buried memory of that night on Hell when they had sought comfort from one another. Nothing had even really happened. She had been unable to go through with it and he had not pressured her. It was all in the past.
Running to catch up to him, she pulled alongside and smiled up at him. "I actually miss working with you." She said quietly. "Your genius nearly rivals my own." She laughed at the look he shot her.
"That’s always what I admired about you, Bulma. Your modesty." He jerked open the door and held it as she entered, following behind her as she led him to a table. He watched her as she switched on the table lamp, fighting back another strong surge of desire that rose up to swallow him. Good God, what in the hell was wrong with him. He had been fine, had even dealt with the memories invoked that night over two weeks ago when he had finally told Toma all that had occurred with Negi’s death.
He had taken flight that night to the middle of nowhere and had not been seen for a week, had allowed his soul to be flooded with every memory he had of his dead mate. He had relived every painful moment of her final days—the blistering, scalding heat of her anger and the sharp bite of her words as they blasted him for allowing Raditz to be pressed into service with Frieza. He had recalled the desperation that had permeated her soul and the dawning realization that no matter how strong she was; she would never be able to beat Frieza…not by sheer brute force. And then the memory of her broken, battered body had come and that had nearly destroyed him all over again.
Bardock had not shed one tear in twenty years for her, had believed it a dishonor to her memory—to who she had been as a Saiya-jin warrior to even think about showing any emotion over her death. And yet two weeks ago, following his conversation with Toma, when he had flown away and found his spot of seclusion, he had fallen to his knees and they had come, falling from him like his life’s blood, painful and burning; wracking his body until he was nothing but an exhausted shell on the ground. He had been drained and numb and he had lain on the cold hard ground, unable to move searching his memory for every small detail he could recall.
He had felt again the lush silk of her black hair as it brushed against his skin, seen the bright glow in her midnight eyes as they swept lazily over him, cool, inviting—God, he had even felt himself grow warm recalling it. He had seen again the look of awe and wonder and relief as her first son slid from her body and into his arms and then he had felt the smooth silk of her lean, taut skin as it slid against him in the night.
And then he had sobbed again, cried like a weak baby for all that had been denied him, and all that they had lost. And when it had been over, all of it, he had stood and he had locked them away deep in his heart. Negi would always own his soul, but he needed his heart clear to move on. If her betrayer still lived he would avenge her and he would need all his wits and instincts about him to do so.
"Bardock," Bulma whispered quietly. "Are you alright?" Bulma peered at him intently and he looked down, realizing he had clutched the circuit board to his chest in an almost protective manner. It was amazing he had not broken it. With a shake of his head, he laid it down and watched as she began plugging the wiring into a small port. Unconsciously he leaned over her, bracing his arms on either side of the desk and to his immense surprise she shuddered and leaned back against him.
"What seems to be the problem with it, Bulma," he whispered into her hair, rubbing his face against the blue silk and marveling at how much it reminded him of Negi. It was like a dream and in this one, it was Negi who leaned back against him and he leaned closer against her, cognizant of another tremor that shook through her body. God, it had been so long since he had felt her.
"Well, this—" Bulma paused, disconcerted with his close proximity. "This is my newest project…a cloaking device for the ships. When I plug into the computer’s central system and try to activate it for programming, it keeps coming up an error. She shivered as he pressed closer. His arms were braced along either side of her and suddenly she felt trapped. He had her enclosed and while her brain found the sensation disconcerting, her body seemed to be enjoying itself and she felt a small ball of fear unfurl within her belly and begin a slow crawl through her whole system. What in the hell was wrong with her? Fighting the urge to elbow him away, she attempted to remain focused on the small circuit board lying in front of her. "H-here…" Bulma spoke haltingly, suddenly very aware of every hard ridge and muscle of his body as it pressed hard against her and left her no room to run. "Let me show you." With fumbling fingers, she worked to finish the wiring, continually dropping the small board, until finally, blessedly, his long, rough tan fingers enclosed around her hand to help her.
"What has gotten into you, Bulma?" He breathed into her ear. "Let me help you." Deftly, he finished the job for her, slowly becoming aware of the shivering body when he finished. "Bulma?" He queried with concern. "Are you alright?" Gripping her trembling shoulders, he turned her gently to face him and looked down into her face; suddenly transported back to that damnable prison planet and that one night when they had bombed their first pipeline. All he could see then was her beautiful face laughing up at him and the feel of her body in his arms as she jumped and down with joy and God help him, the way she had clutched at him, it was as if...he felt himself hardening again and broke off the thought, suddenly very aware of the thin silk of her blouse against his fingers.
This was Bulma, Vegeta’s mate, not his, and no matter what had happened to them or between them he had to remember that. "What’s wrong, Bulma?" He asked softly, inhaling deeply in an attempt to calm his growing desire and grimacing, as all he managed to do was inhale the clean, fresh scent of her. She reminded him so much of Negi and that was a dangerous thought.
Shutting his eyes, he took several calming breaths, trying to return himself to the here and now. and get out of this memory-laden hell he seemed to have trapped himself in. He had dealt with this, why was she suddenly on his mind, driving him mad. Was he finally losing his mind? Had opening this tightly sealed dam to her place in his heart and soul unleashed something he could not control? God, why couldn’t it stop?
With a shudder he opened his eyes and gazed down at Bulma. She didn’t look happy right now, not like she had on Hell that one night when they had finally been successful in wreaking havoc. Her usually bright, open face was unusually pale and she looked like a cornered rabbit about to be shot. He watched silently as she kept her face downcast, and worked her bottom lip. It was a sure sign she was nervous about something…he had seen it before—many times. Cupping her face with his hands, he lifted it up, losing himself in the wide blue orbs that stared up at him with such fear and confusion and…God there was something else, something he couldn’t quite read but knew instinctively he wanted. "Bulma…" He breathed.
With little thought to anything else, his mouth lowered and pressed against hers, tight and hard. He heard the sharp intake of breath as he deepened the kiss, knew it was wrong, knew that he needed to stop…God he needed to stop, but he couldn’t, he just couldn’t and then he knew himself for lost the minute she relaxed against him.
Bulma was too shocked to push him away and as he deepened the kiss, searching for something she couldn’t give, she found herself instinctively leaning in towards him, opening herself to him, despite the knowledge that it was wrong and it wasn’t something she wanted. Her common sense seemed to be lost in some thick, murky fog, and for a brief second in time, she was back on Hell, pregnant and alone and in desperate need of something to save her.
It was only his hand cascading down her silken clad back to cup her bottom that brought her out of the haze-filled mist that seemed to have closed around her like a wall and she panicked, pushing hard at his broad chest to move him away.
With a low groan, Bardock leapt back, recoiling away from her as if he had touched hot coals "Bulma…" He rasped hoarsely. "I—I’m so sorry." He sunk down onto the chair and ran a shaky hand through his spiky black hair.
Shaking like a leaf, Bulma leaned back against the desk, knees rubbery and giving out. "What was that?" She whispered meekly when she was able to speak.
"I’m not sure." He replied, standing up quickly. "I-I didn’t mean to frighten you, I don’t know what came over me…" With a hoarse groan he broke off. What in the hell was wrong with him?
Instinctively, Bulma moved towards him, hand outstretched to lend him comfort. She wasn’t sure what was going on, but whatever it was it seemed to be serious. The look on his face frightened her, and she felt something twist in her belly. His face was pain-filled and terrible and it shook her to her core. "Bardock…" She whispered again, laying her hand on his shoulder. Maybe there was something she could do to help him. He would never have touched her that way…something was terribly wrong.
With another low groan, Bardock pulled back, grabbing her hand and pressing it against the rigid hardness between his legs. With a sharp hiss, he held her hand on it briefly before releasing her and pushing her away, stumbling out of the chair and moving behind it. "Do you feel that? Don’t touch me, Bulma. Don’t even look at me. I want you. I want you more than anything and God if you touch me, I will lose this battle and you will be on that table with me inside you." Bardock shuddered violently once and moved back another step. "Now I need to go and take a cold shower before I meet with Toma. I have to cool down. Is there one in this damned lab?"
"Bardock," Bulma whispered, taking another step towards him, trembling from the encounter but unable to believe the man she knew would toss her to the ground and take her.
"Bulma," He grated out harshly. "Unless you want to end up beneath me on that desk, get the fuck away from me and don‘t look at me like that…God. I can’t deal with this right now." He felt his knees go weak and he reached out to steady himself against the chair. Now a shower, please?"
Bulma gulped and nodded, very aware of the bulging hardness that pressed prominently against the tight material of his pants and her own response to the sight of it. "Back there," she whispered hoarsely. "Back there." She said nothing as he pushed past her and didn’t turn until she heard the door to the small bathroom close. It was only then that she jerked open the door to the lab and ran…ran straight to the house and the woman she called mother.
Vegeta froze in the sky at the feel of distress that permeated his mind. His woman was upset, but about what?
"What is it, Vegeta?" Kakkarot yelled from the ground. They had been battling for several hours and truth be told he hoped that whatever it was, it was enough to motivate the Prince to head for home. He was tired and hungry and he ached over every square inch of his body.
Vegeta lowered himself to the ground and shook his head. "My woman." He murmured quietly. "She is upset about something."
"Is it serious?" Kakkarot asked expectantly.
"I can’t tell." Vegeta replied softly, barely paying attention to his fellow Saiya-jin. "I’ve been avoiding her for a couple of weeks and I’m not as attuned to her as I normally am."
"Why are you avoiding her? Are you two fighting?" Kakkarot queried, cocking his head.
"Why in the fuck would I tell you, Kakkarot?" Vegeta snapped, lifting his head to glare at the third class Saiya-jin. "It doesn’t concern you."
"Alright, alright." Kakkarot lifted his hands in the air and backed away from the irate Prince. "I just thought that I might be able to help you out. Hell, you’re the one that brought it up."
Vegeta sighed before sitting down on the ground. "She wants another baby."
"Yeah?" Kakkarot came to sit beside him. "What’s the big deal with that?"
"Kakkarot, you fool…" Vegeta snapped impatiently. "She is not strong enough to handle another Saiya-jin birth. She is human. Her body was not made to carry Saiya-jin brats."
"She did alright with Trunks." Kakkarot stared at him wide-eyed. "I mean, she birthed him just fine and look at her…you’d never know. And look at Chi-Chi, Gohan was born just fine."
"You weren’t there for the birth, Kakkarot, you wouldn’t know how she did, and your woman is abnormal." Vegeta turned his head away like a petulant child. "Bulma struggled to give birth to him and then she lost the second one at Frieza’s hand…or Parisia’s." He amended, spitting on the ground. "I told her that I would give her another, but I can’t... I just can’t. I won’t do that to her again. So…I’ve been giving her a contraceptive."
"Well, maybe her difficulty with Trunks was a product of Hell. I mean she was there for close to a year with little to help…well except my father…" Kakkarot trailed off as he saw the looming thundercloud that passed over Vegeta’s face.
"I wonder why she had to spend that time there alone with Bardock, you bastard!" Vegeta stood, fists clenched. "Don’t remind me of what you did. I might just kill you now."
"Alright, I’m sorry. Look, what did you tell her when she asked?" Kakkarot tried to turn the subject away from Hell. He had no desire to see Vegeta erupt like a volcano. "Did you tell her the truth?"
"I told her that I didn’t know why she hadn’t gotten pregnant before now, and I told her that I would continue to try." Vegeta took a calming breath. "She is beginning to think that what happened with Frieza and Parisia harmed her in some irreparable way." Vegeta shook his head and moved away from the disconcerting glow of Kakkarot’s black eyes. How was it the bastard Saiya-jin could seem to look right through him? It drove him crazy and left him with the desire to plough his fist straight into Kakkarot’s face. The urge was so overwhelming, Vegeta almost gave it free reign, but he held himself in check.
"And you let her believe it?" Kakkarot frowned sharply. "Vegeta, lying to her is not a good idea. She has the right to know what you are doing."
"No one asked you, Kakkarot. Besides, no one said I enjoyed doing it to her." Vegeta intoned angrily pissed at the younger man’s self-righteous attitude. "But, she will not be having another child. I will not risk losing her. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her."
"And what if she finds out?" Kakkarot took a step towards the other Saiya-jin, laying a hand on his shoulder. "What then, Vegeta? You could lose her."
"She won’t find out." Vegeta snarled and shook off the hand. "Now keep your hands off of me and let’s get back to fighting." Vegeta launched himself into the sky.
With a weary shake of his head, Kakkarot smirked and rocketed off, following Vegeta. If it was a battle Vegeta wanted he would be happy to oblige.
Bulma found her mother sitting in the warm sun of her garden, nibbling on some kind of lavish pastry and flipping through the pages of a wedding magazine. "Mom?" She said quietly, trying to compose herself, and still her racing heart.
Teddi’s head shot up and she smiled widely at the sight of her daughter. "Darling, what are you doing here right now?" She discarded the magazine carelessly on the ground. "Oh dear, if you came to see Trunks, I’m afraid your father took him out for a walk. The little boy was too worked up to sit and play in the garden or help me plant." She giggled lightly.
Bulma smiled, happy to see her mother so childlike. The woman had suffered at the hands of Ginyu for so long…but yet whenever her father was around she was like a young woman all over again. The sight made her pounding heart swell. Bulma wasn’t sure she would be able to do justice to the emotions she felt with mere words at seeing her mother so pleased and untroubled, so she settled for just letting the sight wash over her like a calming wave, praying that it might ease her rioting emotions.
"Would you like a pastry, dear? " Teddi stood to embrace her daughter, motioning to the small tray of delectable cakes that sat on the patio table beside her. "I know I shouldn’t but they are so good. They were always my favorite when I was younger." Teddi pulled back to smile into Bulma’s face but something stopped her and she frowned as she searched the depths of her daughter’s blue eyes. "Bulma, honey, what’s wrong?"
"Am I that transparent?" Bulma asked weakly, moving away from her mother to stare out at the horizon.
"No, dear, but I am your mother. I realize that I wasn’t always there for you." Teddi paused and for one brief, horrible moment Bulma saw that same, black cloud pass over her features before the woman shook it off. "But I am here now and I can tell when you are not yourself."
"Oh Mom, I don’t know where to start." Bulma wrung her hands together. God, how was she supposed to tell her mother that she had allowed another man to kiss and her what was worse that she had enjoyed it. She pressed her lips together.
"It can’t be that difficult, honey." Teddi reached for her daughter’s shoulder, drawing her towards one of the chairs that sat around the table. Pressing her into it she rubbed Bulma’s shoulders gently. "Did you and Vegeta have a fight?"
"I wish it were that easy." Bulma half-sobbed, shutting her eyes. "I—" With a groan, she buried her head in her hands. "It's Bardock." She mumbled into her hands.
"Bardock?" Her mother asked curiously. "What has he done?"
"Mom…" Bulma paused, unsure how to phrase the next part. "Do you recall what I told you…" She paused again, frightened to go on. What would her mother think of her? "I just don’t know how to explain this."
"Start at the beginning dear." Teddi frowned worriedly. What in the name of Chikyuu could have rattled Bulma to such an extreme?
Inhaling slowly, Bulma tried again. "Do you recall what I told you of Hell…how Bardock and I were trapped there together for months. I was on the planet for a year.
"Yes, you told me what you had happened, how you and Bardock had bombed the pipeline and survived together for all that time. You mentioned he had helped you with your pregnancy." Teddi wrinkled her brow. "What does that have to do with this?"
Did I tell you that Bardock and I grew very close while we were on that planet." Bulma whispered, staring into her mother’s eyes. Angrily she swiped at a tear that slipped down her cheek.
"You alluded to it, dear." Teddi pulled a Kleenex from her pocket and handed it to her daughter. "But you never really said."
Bulma’s eyes darted towards the horizon. "We were very close."
"Did you…?" Teddi asked quietly, rubbing her daughter’s back with soothing, circular motions.
"No, but it was a close thing—very close." Bulma caught her lip between her teeth.
"What does that have to do with now, Bulma? Has something…happened?" Teddi could hardly fathom that her daughter would have looked at anyone else besides Vegeta, but one could never tell about emotions. They were a funny thing.
"Yes…no, yes, something happened, but not what you think. Mom, I have gone years without giving him any thought and all of a sudden this afternoon…" She gulped back a sob. "It’s like I was back on that planet and he was all I had to cling to."
"What started this?" Teddi asked with concern.
"He was helping me with something in the lab." Bulma whispered, unheeding of the tears that coursed down her face. "He was acting odd—there was something wrong with him, I don’t know what but anyway, he kissed me." She gulped painfully. "The thing is Mom, I didn’t push him away, not at first. I actually enjoyed it." With a low moan she buried her face in her hands.
"Bulma, sweetheart, I can imagine you did enjoy it. Bardock is a fine man and quite handsome. I daresay I’d enjoy it if he kissed me." Teddi smiled gently, reaching down to stroke the silky blue hair that fell across Bulma’s shoulders.
"You don’t understand, Mom." Bulma’s voice was a raw whisper. I wanted him…for a moment I wanted him."
"Bulma…" Teddi began soothingly.
"No, I’m horrible. I am a married woman, Mom. I love Vegeta. I love him and want him. I have never desired another man like I do him." Bulma glanced up, face red and tear-streaked. "And yet today, with Bardock, for a moment, it was like I was back on that damn planet—pregnant and alone and he and I were the only two people in the universe."
"Bulma," Teddi cleared her throat. "Have you and Bardock ever discussed what happened to you and between you on Hell?"
"Not really." Bulma wiped her eyes with the crumpled Kleenex. "I never really gave it much thought. I dreamt occasionally. They were always terrible, but Vegeta was always there, and he always held me until the worst was over. As time’s gone by, I just started to put it behind me."
"Perhaps you and Bardock need to have some closure. Maybe you and he have things you need to air out between the two of you. If you’ve never deal with what happened, you can’t put it behind you."
"I don’t know…" Bulma shook her head.
"I do. You need to go to Bardock and the two of you need to open up about what is between you. Of course you will always be bonded by your time together. You went through something that the people around you didn’t. Don’t hide from what happened, deal with it and move on." Teddi smiled at her daughter, clasping her hand and squeezing it gently. "Now go."
"I’m not sure now is a good time." Bulma looked up doubtfully at her mother, recalling the adamant way he had encouraged her to leave and the hard bulge that he had pressed her hand against. No it didn’t seem like a good idea to go and see him now at all.
"Do it now while these emotions are still fresh. Work this out and get it over with. " Teddi pulled her out of the chair.
"Alright, I guess. I hope you’re right." Bulma took a hesitating step in the direction of the lab, almost too frightened to go and face Bardock again. He had been so intense and so…God; she had never really seen him like that. On Hell, he had shown her passion and intensity but it had never had that raw, unfettered quality that he had held just a few moments earlier. Something had happened.
"You and Bardock need to clarify things between you. Do you want him more than Vegeta?" Teddi asked her daughter.
"God no! Vegeta is my life, he owns my soul. Whatever it is between Bardock and I—well it isn’t that deep." Bulma shivered. And that was what she couldn’t understand. There was no one who would ever be able to please her the way Vegeta could. She lusted and desired after him like nothing else, but for the life of her, there was something small that existed between her and Bardock and it frightened her. Was her mother right? Was it some left over feelings that had been buried from Hell? That was the only real explanation…it had to be that. They had started something and not finished it and there was probably some small part of her that was curious. That had to be all it was.
"Then go and face up to things, now." Teddi ordered with a light smile. "Then find me later. There are other things we need to discuss."
"Alright, mom…I suppose you’re right." Bulma took a step in the direction of the lab, not sure her mother was right about her going to him right now. He had told her to run and she had no desire to put herself in a vulnerable situation. She could never betray Vegeta with another man— ever, not in this life or the next. He was her life, her soul, and she loved him with everything she was. If she had some latent feelings that she had buried for Bardock from their time together, and he did as well, it was a bad idea to be alone with him. God, she didn’t think she would actually give into those feelings, but what if he did? What if he started something and didn’t stop? The thought of it was enough to make her ill to her stomach.
"Good." Teddi smiled. "If you talk to him, Bulma, you are bound to get to the bottom of things. "
Bulma smiled haltingly at her mother. How could she even think that about Bardock? He had stopped once for her in a moment of almost no return. That in itself showed the amount of discipline he had. It was something that all the Saiya-jin had, and she had no right to think ill of him. Bardock would never do anything to hurt her. "You’re right, Mom. I bet that it is something we could work out between the two of us. I’m being silly." With a little wave she set off with purpose back to the lab, hoping that Bardock was still there and that she would be able to get to the bottom of what had happened between them.
Bardock sighed as he felt the cool water run down his back and soak into the taut muscles of his body. What in the hell had happened? One minute he had been going to help Bulma with some circuitry and the next he had been transported to some place in time between Negi and her death and his time with Bulma on Hell. He had lost his fucking mind and what was worse, he had frightened her badly. He had never wanted to scare her away from him or make her feel as if she had to run whenever he was near.
With a curse he punched the tile of the shower, snarling in satisfaction when they cracked and crumbled beneath his fist. How did he go about making amends and what in the hell was he supposed to do if Vegeta found out. The Prince would kill him and rightfully so. He had just laid fingers on his mate—bonded too…he’d bet money on that fact. He, himself, would have struck down the man that had dared to do the same. Maybe that was the best thing. Maybe he could just allow Vegeta to end his life and he would go to join Negi in the afterlife. All his troubles would be over. But then, what about his sons and his grandson…what then? They needed him, Toma needed him, and Bulma too…he just couldn’t figure out how. Still, he had seen into her eyes, had stared into those wide blue eyes for a long minute, long enough to see some kind of need glimmering in them. He wasn’t fool enough to think that she desired him or wanted him more than Vegeta, but still…something was there and he couldn’t die without knowing what that was.
He would have to seek her out and straighten this thing out between them. There was no way around it.
With a sigh, he shut off the water and stepped from the small shower. Flaring his ki to dry himself, he slid back into his training pants and grabbed the rest of his armor before moving back out to the lab. He wasn’t in the least surprised to see Bulma enter the door just as he stepped into the room. She’d always been too bold for her own good.
"I thought I told you to leave me be, Bulma." He said gruffly. "It’s a bad idea for you to be in here with me now. I—I’m not myself."
"So I noticed, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that something needed to be said here. You aren’t acting like yourself and I—" She broke off and glanced away, continuing meekly. "You scared me Bardock, and I think I deserve some answers."
"I know that Bulma." With another heavy sigh, he ran a shaky hand through his spiky black hair. I’m just not sure what to tell you." He moved towards her, and for a moment she felt the same burgeoning fear bloom in her stomach, rising up like a thick vine to strangle her. Inhaling deeply, she managed to maintain control and stand her ground.
"Are you alright?" She asked him cautiously. "I can’t afford for you to go around kissing me whenever you feel like. " She shuddered at what Vegeta might do were he to find out. He could never know or he would kill Bardock.
"Dammit, Bulma! I didn’t see you fight it. You welcomed that kiss for a moment. Don’t deny it." Bardock snapped. Sure he had started it, but she had reacted, and he would never be able to forget that.
"I was shocked, Bardock. I wasn’t sure what to do at first." Bulma blushed and looked away, unable to admit that she might have had something to do with it. To admit to that would be tantamount to admitting she wanted him, and she could not do that. Hell, she wasn’t sure herself what her response had been about.
"Don’t lie to me, Bulma. I looked into your eyes and for a minute you wanted me. I saw it and I reacted to it." Bardock stalked towards her. "It was the same look I saw on Hell. I will never be able to forget it and what it looked like." He gripped her shoulders, forcing her to look at him.
"Bardock," Bulma whispered hoarsely, trying to free herself from his grip. "I don’t know what you saw…but I love Vegeta. I don’t feel anything for you…not like that."
"Then explain what happened between us. I sure can’t. " With a low growl, he whirled and turned from her, stalking back to his clothes and jerking his armor on. "I have done fine since what happened between us. And now, suddenly, I am back in that time and all I can think about is you and what didn’t happen between us."
"Maybe that’s why." She said bluntly. "Maybe there is some curiosity to finish what we started." Bulma watched as he whirled to stare at her. "I can admit that thinking of that time still makes me feel…" She shrugged, at a loss for words to properly explain what she felt. After a moment, she began again. "Maybe we didn’t get the proper closure for what happened between us."
"What do you mean?" He asked in a hushed tone.
"I mean…maybe we need to talk over what happened between us and deal with it. We both pretended that it never happened and while we might not have actually made love, I think that we still shared something very intense." Bulma whispered gently, moving towards him.
"What is there to say?" Bardock stared cluelessly down at her, and she scowled.
"Well I don’t know, Bardock." She snapped. "I am not actually an expert on all of this. I mean we did touch each other on Hell for Gods Sake. We were about ten seconds away from something more than that…what in the hell am I supposed to say?"
Bardock smirked at her irate attitude, pleased to see the fire that blazed in her eyes. That was always a good sign. "Well, I still remember what your body felt like under my fingers." He whispered, suppressing a chuckle at her suddenly flaming face.
"Bardock, that can never happen again. You do know that don’t you?" Bulma swallowed against a suddenly dry mouth, wishing desperately that she had a glass of water.
"Sure I know, but tell me this…" Bardock paused and flashed her a wry smile. "You wanted me to finish what we started didn’t you? You wanted to feel me inside you. You wanted me to take away everything for you on that miserable planet. "
Bulma felt her throat constrict and she struggled to answer. She needed to scream out no! That she had been loyal to Vegeta…had not given into his temptation. Instead she nodded, reluctantly. "At the time, I might have wished that I had chosen differently." She managed to say hoarsely. "But not now. "
"Are you sure?" He asked quietly. "Not that I would ever do that to my Prince, but I wonder if even now, you want to feel what it would have been like. I wonder if there weren’t things that developed between us that can never be closed. Maybe we should have done it then just to answer that question. If it hadn’t have been him, I think it would have been me, Bulma. There was a fire between us— hell, there is still one and you know it."
"You have an awfully high opinion of yourself, Bardock." She ground out. "Whatever I might have felt or should have done in the past is a moot point. It was Vegeta, and it will always be Vegeta. At the time that we were together, we weren’t certain if or when we would get off. I was pregnant and alone—scared to death of many things. You offered me security and hope. I might have some feelings for you…we shared a lot together, but it will never be what I feel for him."
"I know that, Bulma." Bardock smiled lightly. "I had a mate too, I know how I felt about her, but there is something between us…something we need to iron out."
"I don’t know what that is, Bardock." Bulma whispered. "It confuses me."
Bardock laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. "I know. Me too."
"I know that I love Vegeta, that I desire him, and that there is no one who could ever touch me or move me the way that man does, but this thing with you…I felt it on Hell when I needed something to believe in, and I felt it again just a little while ago. It was as if I was back there and you and I were the only two people on the face of the planet trying to survive. " Bulma hung her head, allowing the silken blue strands of her hair to fall around her face. She didn’t want to look at him, didn’t want to admit that she might harbor something deep inside her for the man.
"Have you seen Vegeta much in the past two weeks?" Bardock asked quietly.
"Hardly at all. He has been away for the better part of two weeks and the few times he has come around to visit, he has been distracted and well…" Bulma broke off sadly, not wanting to admit that her husband had not really been himself, not since the news of the surviving Saiya-jin. Hell, if she thought long and hard about it, there had been something off with him since before the transmission. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"I suspect everything. I think you responded to me because you were lonely and scared. The thought that Koola is out there, possibly stalking you and looking to kill you…well that can’t be easy to deal with, Bulma. And the man that you would turn to, that you want to turn to has left to go and train." Bardock gripped her shoulder tightly, lifting her head with a finger under her chin. "Am I right?"
"Maybe…" She whispered, staring into his bottomless black eyes. "I know he is training to be able to kill Koola and I know that is for me, and for his son, but…there is this part of me that feels deserted and…" She broke off again, swallowing hard. "I am being irrational I know. But with all of this Saiya-jin business and Koola too, I just feel vulnerable. I wish he were near."
"Bulma, " Bardock said quietly, voice low and intense. "I know that we shared something intense on Hell. I think that you’re scared and reaching out to a lifeline you know was there for you and I know that I have been going through some…difficulties myself. " He paused, debating on whether he should spill out his and Negi’s doomed story. He decided against it. He had no desire to dredge it up yet again and the last thing he needed was Bulma feeling some kind of pity for him. That would only make things worse. "I think that we reached out to each other out of desperation. Whatever existed between us is gone but the memory will always be there, and we will always have a special connection between us. Maybe…maybe instead of running from it and convincing ourselves that it is a bad thing we should strive to face it and see it for what it is."
"What’s that?" Bulma whispered, searching his eyes closely. God the resemblance to his son was amazing but yet, he was so different too…far more intense and brooding than Kakkarot.
"We are bonded as friends, Bulma…close friends. We suffered something together, experienced things together that no one around us has, and when the going gets tough, perhaps we seek each other out because we know that we survived something harsh and terrible together." Bardock gripped her other shoulder, rendering her motionless, gazing into the sapphire blue of her eyes.
"Then how do you explain the kiss and the way we felt…the way you felt." Bulma asked intently. "You seemed pretty turned on, Bardock."
"Of course I was. Bulma, you are a beautiful woman and I have the memory of things between us that…well that are erotic. I never got to make love to you, but somewhere deep down inside me I want to. I want to know what it would have felt like to touch you, to lay inside you. I am a man, Bulma." God, he was growing hard just thinking about it, but he couldn’t act on the desire. She didn’t want that, and he had to respect her and he had to respect Vegeta. She belonged to another man; she would always belong to another man. "I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I find you attractive. Any man would."
"You can’t talk like that, Bardock." Bulma glanced around. "If Vegeta ever got wind of any of this, he would kill you." She shook her head. "Whatever it was that lay between us…well there might be some residual feelings there, but…I can’t ever allow myself to go back to that time. I don’t want to and whatever curiosity I might have about what could or would have happened between us—" She broke off and glanced away. "I can never allow my mind to consider it. I don’t care how vulnerable or needy I am. I will never betray that man. He would never do it to me, and I could never do it to him. He trusts me."
"I know, Bulma and that is why I will never put you in the position I did earlier. I know I surprised you. It was wrong. As hard as it is for me to admit that, I can. " Bardock pulled her into a tight embrace. "Instead of denying that there is nothing between us though, how about we accept it as the friendship it is and quit avoiding each other. Maybe I can come back here and work with you. Perhaps if we spent more time together, we might be able to deal with things faster."
"I’d like that." She mumbled into his chest, inhaling the clean, musky scent of him. "I would like that a lot. I miss working with you. You challenge my scientific brain with your own." Bulma giggled lightly as he squeezed her.
"Modesty has never been your strong suit, Bulma." He laughed huskily into her ear. "But alright, you win…how about I go and train with Toma and then get in here tomorrow. You and I can see what we can invent next?" He pulled back and smiled, happy to see her slowly relaxing. God, she was just so much like Negi; sometimes it frightened him.
"I’d like that, Bardock. I’d like that a lot." Bulma stepped back and smiled up at him, wondering for the millionth time how he had come by that damn scar. She had asked him once and all he had ever said was Frieza. He had not seemed inclined to elaborate on the subject, so she had dropped it. It amazed her, though, that despite the scar he looked like he was barely thirty. Her mother was right…what woman wouldn’t enjoy a kiss from him and it had been a good one at that. He wasn’t Vegeta, but hey…it hadn’t been bad at all.
"Then let’s put all of this behind us and look forward, not backward." Bardock slipped on his armor.
"That works for me, Bardock." With a sigh, Bulma turned and looked down at the small board on the desk. "I never did figure this out."
Bardock stepped behind her, laying a hand on her shoulder. "I will look at it tomorrow and see what I can do with it. Why don’t you take the night off?"
Bulma felt her stomach flip flop at the proximity he had to her. It was just like earlier when he had trapped her with those muscled arms and pushed himself against her and—No, she wouldn’t have these thoughts. He had promised her and she had agreed. There was nothing to fear from him or herself.
"I think that’s a good idea. I feel exhausted." She sighed and allowed him to pull her along towards the door. She needed to go somewhere quiet and think about things anyway. And it would be wonderful to spend some time with her son.
Bardock paused at the door. "I’ll see you tomorrow, Bulma." He touched her lip with his finger. "Everything will be alright, I promise."
Bulma nodded, watching as he smirked rakishly at her before sticking his head out the door to look for Toma. God, she hoped he was right. He had to be right.
The next few days passed with relative quickness as she helped her mother prepare for the small wedding that had been planned. Vegeta had come back the night after the incident with Bardock, and by some miracle of God she had been able to hide the whole incident from him. It was over and behind her. She and Bardock had been working together for three days, and though she felt had at first felt a bit odd, they had somehow managed to slip back into the easy camaraderie they had always shared—at least until they had been stranded on Hell and things had turned far more serious than either had ever expected. It had been refreshing to have him near her again, a man who was as passionate about science and technology as she was and someone whom she could work easily with.
And so now, she sat next to her father, sipping on ice tea and looking out over the beautiful garden that her mother tended to. She was there now, bent over some flowers she wanted to harvest for the upcoming nuptials. There had been a moment between the two of them earlier, before her father had joined them. They had been sitting quietly, side by side, making small talk over morning coffee. Bulma had seen her mother staring wistfully at the sky, and she had covered her hand gently, thinking that something was troubling the woman.
"Mom." She had spoken easily, not wanting to startle or trouble her mother with whatever thoughts were lingering in her mind. "What’s wrong mom?"
Her mother had turned to her, beautiful face lined with sadness, smiling softly. "I can’t help but think of your father, dear—your real father. As happy as I am with Brennon, I miss him so. He was a good man, absolutely brilliant, like you. It’s easy to see where you get your brains."
"I’d like to think that he would have been happy for you." Bulma had smiled back at her, watching the play of emotions that flitted over her features. "What you shared with him can never be replaced, and neither can the love that Dad shared with my other mother. Yet together, you two have been given a chance to experience real happiness—something that has been in short supply for you. "
"I suppose you’re right, dear." Her mother had covered her hand, squeezing it gently. "I just can’t help but think of him and our wedding day all those years ago." And so they had spent a beautiful afternoon together, laughing and talking over the past, reminiscing over a man that Bulma had never known, but whom she admired greatly. He was a man whom she was proud to say she came from. Cotton Briefs had been a man of great talent and genius, who had faced terrible choices and in the end he had been lost in the evil that had been Frieza. Yet, a part of him lived on, in Bulma…in Trunks and even in the Corporation that he had founded all those years ago. She had rebuilt it using the funds from her ships and oil and now it flourished again.
Bulma smiled at the memory of her time with her mother. She felt closer to her than ever and now, a day before the event, her mother was as happy as Bulma had ever seen her, seemingly untroubled by any shadows that lurked in her past. The sight of her mother smiling and laughing made her feel joyous.
Looking over, she watched her father’s bemused face as he watched his fiancée happily selecting flowers to pick and she giggled, causing him to look her way. "You look funny, Dad." She said in response to his questioning gaze. "You aren’t getting cold feet are you?" It was said in jest. Her father was a brave man and not one to be dissuaded from his course once he had chosen it.
"Hardly, child." Brennon reached over and squeezed her hand, shooting her an easy smile. "I was just looking at her and thinking back—back to the first time I ever saw her. God, Bulma. The woman has been through hell and yet…she shines bright. Look at her. What strength of mind she must possess to have survived all she has and come through it unscathed."
"I don’t think she is unscathed, Dad. But I think that you have helped her let some of it go. You’ve made her happy." Bulma swallowed painfully against the lump in her throat. "I told her this morning, that you have both loved and lost. It’s time for you both to have some more happiness. I don’t know two people more deserving of it."
"I miss your mother—your other mother." He laughed lightly at his correction. "She was a beautiful ray of sunshine…the perfect wife to me. I know your mother feels the same way about your father. And yet, we are able to see something in each other that—well that is special. I’m not afraid to share my life with her. I will always love Marianna. She will always be the woman that I gave everything to. But I know she would want me happy and by all that is holy, Bulma—that woman," Brennon nodded in Teddi’s direction, "makes me feel happy. She makes me feel something I had never thought to feel again. It’s something I know I don’t want to live without." He enfolded her hand tightly in his own and reached over to brush a stray tear that meandered a course down his daughter’s cheek.
"I am so happy for you, Dad." Bulma sniffed loudly, moved by his words. It was his way of telling her that he would always take care of her mother. And everyone knew that Brennon Angione never said anything he didn’t mean. It was an attribute he shared with Vegeta. Neither man backed down from a fight, and neither man uttered a word they didn’t mean. To her that spoke volumes about both men’s character and what they stood for. It was a trait that all the Saiya-jin men she had met so far seemed to share. They weren’t particularly nice men, and their motives were not always pure, but they never said a damn thing they didn’t mean. One could always count on getting the straight truth from any of them. Though Vegeta could be mean-tempered and didn’t always do the right thing, there was a solid core of honor that ran straight through him. That he had been able to hang onto that through all of his years doing Frieza’s dirty work left her in awe.
"Speaking of your real father, Bulma. There was something I needed to tell you." Brennon leaned towards her, fixing her with a piercing gaze. "I know I told you the story of how I got you off of Frieza’s ship." He paused, remembering again the picture of Ginyu manhandling the woman that now worked happily in her garden. Shaking the memory off, he smiled again at his daughter. There was something I forgot to tell you about. I discovered it again this past summer on Correnia. When I left the ship, I took your father’s little vessel. It was small and there and I leapt into it and rocketed off before anyone could even question it. Once I made it to the resistance, I switched ships, but they loaded my ship for me and in the process, they must have loaded everything that your father’s small ship had on it. When I got it home I had it all unpacked and put away. It all turned back up." Brennon took a sip of his tea before continuing. "Looking through it, I discovered that your father had taken with him, all of his notes and designs. There must be twenty boxes of the material. As far as I can tell, it is designs for weaponry and ships among other things."
"Did you bring it with you?" Bulma asked eagerly, thrilled with the information. She would actually be able to look at things written in her own father’s hand. Perhaps she would be able to complete his designs. The possibilities were endless. It offered her a connection with her long-dead father that she had never dreamt of having and it was one way that she could add her work to his.
"No, I didn’t. I guess…" Brennon looked down at the table sheepishly before letting his eyes drift to their entwined hands on the table. "Well, I was loathe to bring up anything about that night. I know you were angry with me and rightfully so. I wasn’t certain how to bring it up to you. I can have them sent straight to the Capsule Corporation, though, if you want them."
"Of course I want them, Dad." Bulma bent her head, craning her neck to look into his eyes. "Look, I was foolish to be so angry with you. I admit, I was angry. I found out a lot of information that you should have told me from a woman who sought to hurt me. But deep down inside, I think I knew the only choice you had was to save me and if there was some way you could have saved her then…well I know you would have. As it is, you’ve saved her now. It’s all behind us, Dad. "
"I’m glad to hear you say that." Brennon relaxed visibly, yanking his daughter up and out of her chair for a crushing bear hug. "I love you, Bulma. You are the daughter of my heart…you always will be."
"I love you too, Dad. " Bulma returned the hug full force, wishing just once she could give one with the same backbreaking force he used. With a groan, she extricated herself from his grip. "Why don’t you and Mom spend some time together before the rush of the wedding tomorrow. I’m going to go and find Vegeta and make him take a break from training."
"Last I saw him, he was headed towards the gravity room with Kakkarot." Brennon released her and glanced in the direction of the room. "He’s taking this Koola threat seriously."
"I know, but he could take a rest here and there." Bulma pouted. "I’d like to spend more than five minutes of the day with him. I took today off to help Mom get ready for the wedding."
"Where’s Trunks?" Brennon asked. "I’m used to seeing the little devil wreaking havoc wherever is goes."
Bulma snorted before replying, "He’s taking a nap. Apparently Saiya-jin do tire out. His breaking point was trying on the nice clothes he has to wear tomorrow." Bulma laughed lightly at the memory of the mulish expression on her son’s face as she had wrestled the clothes on him. It had been one to rival his father. Yes, it was easy to see just how much like his father Trunks was.
Brennon laughed heartily. "Well, I’ll be sure to thank him for going to such extremes for his grandmother and I. Perhaps a trip to the park and some Chikyuu-jin ice cream would help him along."
"Oh sure, get him on a sugar high." Bulma smiled brightly at her father, blue eyes shining. "He should be waking up in about another hour. I think Mom has the monitor’s remote clipped to her belt." The monitor was her own invention, dreamt up ion frustration for a boy who always managed to be one step ahead of his authority. The only person who had ever made a serious dent in Trunks behavior was his father.
Vegeta seemed to have an uncanny knack for sensing when Trunks was up to no good and was usually right behind him. Unfortunately, when Vegeta was off training or away on something important, the task had been left to Bulma and she had found it difficult to trace the boy when he disappeared, usually slipping from his bed after his nap time and heading for trouble, either in her lab or the grounds. So she had made a handy little device—the size of a small button— that she had manufactured, and had implanted in all his clothes. It simply let her or, whoever was watching the boy know that he was up and about. All you needed was the remote that you kept with you. If attached to the base, the remote, which in itself was the size of a small button, could track him to any location. It had been a lifesaver and of all her inventions was probably one of the biggest sellers
"Alright, you go and track down Vegeta. Your mother and I will hold down the fort here."
"Alright…I’ll see you later." With a small smile, she turned and headed for the gravity room. It was going to take everything she had to cajole Vegeta out of an afternoon of training. She wasn’t certain that he would even consider the idea, but it was worth a try.
He had been unusually tense since he and Kakkarot had come back from their two-week bout of training. When she had asked him, he had snapped at her and told her it was none of her business. That he refused to talk to her was not in itself unusual, and even that he had spoke to her in irritation was no big deal—but this had been something more. His tone had been ugly and it had cut her to the quick to hear it directed at her. Instead of snapping at him she had simply left the room, slamming the door behind her with a sharp bang, letting him know in no uncertain terms just what she had felt at his response. She had worked the afternoon away with Bardock, though her mind had been unable to get past the look on his face or the way he had snapped at her.
Whatever the problem had been, it had been gone when she came back later that night. He had been waiting for her in the shadows of the house and he had drawn her away and made love to her like a man possessed. She supposed it had been his way of apologizing to her for his earlier behavior and neither had brought it up. In the end she had found herself content to lie in his arms and let him do things to her that more than made up for any grief that he might have caused her. Vegeta was his most expressive in bed and when they were together, it was if everything ceased to exist but them and the thing that lay between them.
She supposed it was something that Kakkarot had said or done to make him angry or maybe it was simply the stress of the impending arrival of the Saiya-jin. She knew he had to be concerned with it, though he had remained very blasé about the whole issue. She couldn’t imagine what it would be like to believe your whole race gone save a few lone survivors, and then suddenly, you found a whole slew of them had lived. It had seemingly changed everything.
Rounding the corner, she saw them, both hovering in the air, staring daggers at each other. Well, they had apparently become too heated to fight in the gravity room. She supposed she should be grateful for that. It would save her the time on repairs. Still, judging by the way they were looking at each other, she’d be surprised if one of them left the fight uninjured. She wasn’t certain she should interrupt them.
Sighing, she decided to bite the bullet and screech up at them. They had been at this for days straight and she had little doubt that the two of them were grating on each other’s nerves. A break would do them good. Moving closer to the field of battle, she winced as they engaged in a flurry of kicks and hits. She waited calmly until they broke apart, each man retreating to his own small section in the sky. She took the advantage. "Hey Vegeta! Kakkarot!" She bellowed at the top of her lungs, gratified when both Saiya-jin looked her way. "Come on down here."
"Hey Bulma!" Kakkarot smiled at her in greeting, beginning a slow descent. To her immense horror, she watched her husband slam into him from the back, sending him spiraling into the ground with a resounding boom.
"Never let yourself be distracted from a fight, idiot." Vegeta smirked as he lowered himself to the ground beside the fallen warrior.
"Vegeta!" Bulma cried, running to the two men, watching as Kakkarot pulled himself up off the ground. "How could you do that to poor Kakkarot! He was doing what I asked him to do."
" That was his first mistake, woman." Vegeta growled. "You never turn your back on the enemy, and you never allow yourself to be distracted from any battle—no matter what. Kakkarot knows better."
"He’s right, Bulma." Kakkarot smiled at her.
"Well, maybe Vegeta, he took his eyes off of you because he doesn’t consider you an enemy." Bulma frowned at her husband. "You two have been at this for days now…no make that weeks." Her hands flew to her hips and she stared stonily at the Saiya-jin. "I am sick and tired of spending all my time alone, Vegeta."
"Would you prefer Koola kill you?" Vegeta snarled in reply. Did the idiot woman not realize that he was doing this for her? He had to make sure he was strong enough to take out the bastard.
"I think you know the answer to that, Vegeta. But I don’t think you taking an afternoon off to spend with me will set you back that much. You two have to be getting tired of each other and I bet Chi-Chi is just as lonely as I am." Bulma stared pointedly at Kakkarot and was rewarded with a red flush that spread over his features.
"Woman." Vegeta warned. "I can’t afford to—"
"Vegeta…for Gods sake." Bulma turned her head in anger. Was it so much to ask that he spend some time alone with her?
Vegeta stared at her stony face, and found himself suddenly drawn back to that one moment before Freeza collapsed before him, dead at her hand. The features of her face were once again carved into those of an ethereal goddess come to save him—righteous, indignant…she was serious; yet so was he. He could not take even one break. It was becoming painfully clear that not only Koola was stronger than he but Kakkarot as well.
They had trained mercilessly for the past three weeks, Vegeta fueled on by the desire to end Koola’s life. He had known that Kakkarot’s strength rivaled his own; had known that the third class was close to catching him, but he had been unprepared fro just how strong the bastard really was and now, he was left with little option but to train his heart out to continue to remain the best. He was the Prince; Kakkarot was merely a third-class warrior. He could not afford to take even one day off.
So how did he tell her this? Bluntly, he supposed. Bulma understood directness and she understood hi. She wouldn’t be happy, but she would deal with it…just like she always did. Strength was the key to everything. The strong survived, the weak perished. He could not become weak and ineffectual. It wasn’t an option.
"Woman," Vegeta began in irritation. "Kakkarot may do what he wants, but I cannot afford to take a break. Koola could be on this very planet for all I know. I will be prepared to meet and destroy him." Vegeta turned from the look of sorrowful disappointment that spread over her features like a black cloud.
I will come to you tonight, woman. His voice echoed in her brain and she peered sharply at him. He was watching her warily, and she thought she saw a flicker of regret in his eyes. You don’t understand, woman. I have to be strong.
You already are strong. She replied back, sending him a pleading glance.
Not strong enough. His reply was gruff and terse, and it told Bulma, in no uncertain terms, that it was useless to argue with him any longer. Pursing her lips in frustration, she nodded once. "Fine, Vegeta. If I’m awake, I guess I’ll see you later." Whirling, she strode off, gait fast and furious, back rigid and straight.
Vegeta watched her go, aware of the angry strides and the tense, furious set of her muscles. She would get over it…she had to. He would go to her tonight and make sure she did.
"Was that wise, Vegeta?" Kakkarot stood, forgotten, at his side. His glance was earnest and warm and the feelings he saw shimmering in the black depths left him ill. He didn’t want or need Kakkarot’s concern or friendship. And he didn’t need to train with him either. He was still stronger than the bastard and he would make sure that Kakkarot never surpassed him. Damn his idiotic soul to hell.
Clenching his fist, he turned to face the younger warrior. "Go now, Kakkarot. I wish to train alone." The words were forced past clenched teeth and as soon as he had uttered them, he whirled and entered the gravity room, slamming the door behind him.
Kakkarot stood silently, watching the gravity room with bemusement. The Prince had been moodier than hell lately, and absolutely ferocious in training. He wasn’t certain that Koola would be able to defeat him. So what was with all of the damn training? Vegeta was like a man possessed. Certainly he had always taken his training seriously, especially when he felt their was a serious need to, but for the past few months…it had been nearing obsessive… and Vegeta—well Vegeta had been near raging, like maddened animal.
Shaking his head, Kakkarot stepped away for the gravity room and made his way to the house. Perhaps it was just stress. There was a lot happening and Vegeta had to be feeling it. The training might be the only way to fully expel it from his system. And after what he had told him about Bulma…about keeping her from getting pregnant, well Kakkarot wasn’t certain that their wasn’t some guilt and self-loathing at betraying her trust the way he had. Perhaps he felt fear as well. If she found out, the repercussions were bound to be ugly. And losing Bulma would drive Vegeta crazy. He was certain of that now. Whatever relationship he, himself, had shared with the Prince, well…it had been painfully clear that any friendship that had been there had been tainted forever by the events of the past. And Bulma was the only person whom Vegeta would turn to if he needed something.
That he had mentioned the contraceptive and what he was using it for, floored him. That had been a huge step for him to take. It had showed trust and that Vegeta might still trust him, even after all the things they had been through…Kakkarot swallowed hard. Vegeta was his Prince and had, at one time, been his friend, though he knew that Vegeta would have never labeled it as anything. That he had shared something so monumentally important with him left him with some small hope that with time, a friendship could be rekindled.
He had been bothered by what Vegeta had told him, hurt even, for Bulma…a woman he considered to be a close friend, and to ease the guilt of not telling her he had shared the information with Chi-Chi. It had been a huge mistake, for Chi-Chi had wanted to tell Bulma immediately. Somehow, Kakkarot had managed to convince her that neither of them wanted to be responsible for devastating that relationship. Though, Chi-Chi, didn’t particularly care for Vegeta, she knew that telling Bulma would destroy the woman and so she had held her tongue. Yes, he should have kept his mouth shut and figured out a way to convince Vegeta to stop all by himself. He didn’t want to contemplate what Vegeta would do were he to learn that Chi-Chi had that particular knowledge. It might force them both into actions that neither wanted.
Sighing, he shook his head and marched onwards to the house. God, he was hungry. He needed to get something to fill his belly before he flew home to Chi-Chi. All of this deep thought made his brain hurt anyway. He had to hope that things would be all right.
The day of the wedding had dawned beautiful and bright. Standing quietly beside her mother, Bulma thought she had never seen a more perfect day for a wedding. Her mother, dressed in a simple, white silk sheath, and her father, resplendent in his Correnian Officer’s uniform, burgundy cape billowing in the wind, both looked relaxed and happy. It was enough to make her want to cry.
Across from her, next to her father, Vegeta stood, looking splendid in his own, Saiya-jin armor. His cape, blood red, also billowed out behind him, and the whole effect was simply devastating to the senses. He looked every inch the Prince. She was glad he had insisted upon wearing the formal armor as opposed to the suit and tie she had initially picked out for him.
"If I am going to be forced to go to this thing," he had sniffed disdainfully that morning. " I will be dressed in a manner befitting who I am, woman."
After the night they had shared, she had been loathe to argue with him, and so now, he stood, absolutely stunning and regal watching the events unfold with a look of pure boredom scrawled across his handsome features.
He had certainly come to her last night, too. As promised the man had shown up and not left her side until the morning when Trunks had come bounding in, demanding his morning training session with his father. It had been neglected for several weeks, while Vegeta and Kakkarot had trained, and the boy would be put off no longer. Though he had feigned sharpness with the boy, she had seen the look of pride in his eyes and it had made her heart sing. She had not been too keen on Trunks being trained at such a young age…but Vegeta had insisted. The results spoke for themselves. Trunks completely idolized his father.
Though after a night of passionate lovemaking, she had not particularly wanted to let go of Vegeta. She would have enjoyed another round, but he had pushed her away gently and disappeared into the gravity room with his son for the better part of the morning.
Now, here they both stood, watching her parents join themselves together in a Chikyuu-jin ceremony, for all time. Bulma watched the Preacher as he uttered a prayer, vaguely aware of Trunks fidgeting against her legs. It was just the three of them here to witness the marriage. There would be a larger reception later for everyone.
Glancing up, she caught Vegeta’s eye and he lifted a slashing, black brow mockingly at her. She suppressed a smirk. She’d have to catch him later on, during the reception and see if she could sneak him off for a little fun. The images she conjured up sent a slow flush creeping across her face and she resisted the urge to fan herself.
Turning to the Preacher, she listened to his words.
"Do you, Teddi Briefs, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?" The Preacher’s voice was soft and lilting—a far cry from the booming rhetoric of the Priests on Correnia.
"I will." Teddi replied softly.
"Do you, Brennon Angione, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?" Bulma watched her father turn and caress his bride’s hand gently. The gentle look he bestowed upon her, brought tears to Bulma’s eyes.
"I will." Brennon’s deep voice was sure and smooth, leaving little doubt that he readily accepted the small woman beside him as his wife.
"Please, exchange your rings." Bulma watched as the two slipped plain bands of gold upon the other’s finger. They had opted for a simple exchange. Both of them had exchanged vows long ago—to very special people in their past. Neither had felt any need to do so again. Each knew what the other felt and were content with that knowledge.
With the rings on, the Preacher ended the ceremony. "I now pronounce you husband and wife. " With a dimpled smile, the Preacher turned towards Brennon. "You my kiss your bride."
Bulma watched her father bestow her mother with a sweet, gentle kiss. Smiling, she waited until both turned towards her before throwing herself into their welcoming arms and letting them engulf her in a warm embrace. God, they were both married. Her parents, both of who had suffered and lost terribly, had managed to find some type of happiness together, and the knowledge of that left her heart joyous and light.
It was only the dull roar of an engine that tore her attention from the two people who held her and she lifted a tear-streaked face to meet her husband’s tense expression. "Vegeta?" She extricated herself from her parents and made her way to his side. "Is that—"
"It looks like there are going to be more guests at your reception tonight." His voice was steely and hard. He turned to look at her.
Bulma stared into the black depths of her husband’s eyes, saw the handsome features, which had previously been relaxed, were now tight and rigid, and she watched as the black eyes turned hard—deathly cold. "Vegeta…" She managed to stutter out. No! She wanted to scream. They couldn’t be here today! Today was supposed to be happy and fun, not laden with stress and worry. This was going to change everything and she wasn‘t ready for that.
And as she turned to back to face him, she discovered with a jolt that he was already gone. "Vegeta." She whispered, dimly aware of a supporting arm slipping around her waist as she watched him stride arrogantly towards the now landed ship. "Vegeta."