Chapter VI - Three Men and A Bulma
You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.
~ Eric Hoffer
Vegeta felt relief course through him as the small woman cradled in his arms began breathing deeper. Her body relaxed into a state of light unconsciousness, recovering from the sudden and violent denial of oxygen. The Prince knew her rapid readjustment to Vegetasei's unfamiliar atmosphere was due in large part to her heightened ki. Even with the diffuser, she was stronger than she'd ever been before. So fragile and yet, so strong, he observed to himself, relishing the contradiction that was Bulma.
His attention was ripped from the Key as the doors to the throne room crashed open, and his father burst into the room. Vegeta growled low as he saw who trailed the King. Frieza and Zarbon, both aliens looking sly and maliciously superior. Just wait, lizard freaks, you'll get yours…
"What the hell is going on?" the King boomed, sneering at the woman in Vegeta's arms. "Is this the reason you're late? Because of some whore?"
Vegeta's face twisted into a snarl. "She's not a whore!" he ground out. "She's my concubine, and yes, she is the reason for my delay."
He refused to elaborate, bristling at the thought of having to explain himself to the old man. The King's face transformed into a feral expression not unlike his son's. Though both would die before ever admitting it, they were more alike than not.
"What?" the King demanded. "You make us wait so you can screw your little toy! Does a weakling slut hold more sway over the Prince of the Saiya-jins than his duty?"
"Fuck off, old man! How dare you question my honor! I'll blast you into the next dimension for that!"
"Why you snivelling bratling! As if a weakling like you could!"
Vegeta's eyes darkened, meeting his father's own black gaze in a glare that sizzled with white-hot rage. He felt himself powering up in response to his father's challenge. To onlookers, it seemed as if both Royals were about to battle to death right then and there. However, a sudden high peel of laughter broke through the tension.
"Tsk, tsk," Frieza said, "Family sqabbles in front of guests, though I must say it is quite entertaining."
Both Saiya-jins turned violently at the intruder. Vegeta kept his cold glare in place, but the King realized it would not do to offend his old ally. The lizard tyrant couldn't be trusted when he was calm. No one could predict how he'd be if enraged. Vegeta's father let his anger at his heir slip to the back of his mind.
"My apologies, Lord Frieza," he said. "I hope you can forgive my son's tardiness due to such an asinine reason."
The lizard laughed again, approaching both figures slowly. He stopped before Vegeta, reaching with a deceptively fragile hand towards Bulma, brushing her wild hair from her face. He stroked her pale cheek with a scaly finger for a few moments. "Such beauty would distract any man, commoner or prince," he finally said, admiring the delicate structure of her features.
Vegeta growled when Frieza touched what he considered to be solely his. The white and purple alien removed his hand from Bulma's face. He smiled a sly grin that did not reach his beady eyes. "I did not mean to cause offense, princeling. My apologies in return."
"No one touches what is mine," Vegeta whispered softly, his voice laced with menace.
Frieza's smile slipped from his lips, settling into a firm scowl of displeasure. "I adhere to that premise as well," he hissed. "Once, if I recall correctly, YOU were regarded as mine."
As he issued this challenge, Vegeta felt the lizard's tail graze the back of his leg before the slithery apendage settled at Frieza's feet. The Prince immediate stiffened as a rush of memories overwhelmed him. He knew very well what it meant to be considered Frieza's possession.
He was about to voice his true opinion of the alien, but his father, not wanting the battle of wills to go any further, cut in. "Well, that is true, Lord Frieza," he said in reconciliation. "However, as you know, Vegeta has been fulfilling his duties as Prince ever since he left your service. He might actually make a respectable king one day. I owe this development solely to his tutelage under you."
Frieza smirked, not truly believing the King, but not wanting to challenge the entire Saiya-jin race at this particular moment. But soon, very soon, he promised himself inwardly. Vegeta will pay for rejecting what I offered. Plastering a smile upon his leathery face once more, he said, "Thank you, Your Majesty. Training your son in the ways of a warrior, and about…life in general, was quite a challenging, but very…stimulating...experience."
The lizard stepped away from the Prince and his captive, affording his lieutenant, Zarbon, a better view of the goods. The green-haired warrior’s eyes immediately lit with animalistic lust at the delicious sight of Bulma. The cloak was bunched beneath her prone form, providing no protection for the flesh exposed by her dress. He couldn’t remember ever seeing legs so long, skin so creamy, or coloring more exotic. With his own unique complexion, Zarbon knew they’d make a striking couple.
He could also not help but notice the incredible possessiveness with which the Prince clung to the woman. The thought of denying Vegeta of his little toy, obviously one he favored highly, made Zarbon’s determination to make the little female his soar. Just wait, little monkey-prince…
Vegeta saw the lust in Zarbon’s eyes, making him swell with jealousy and anger. He knew exactly what was going on in the lieutenant’s head. Just try, you weak fucker, just try taking her from me. His thoughts were interrupted as Bulma’s eyes shot open, her body gasping for more air as she wakened violently to reality.
Bulma’s wide blue eyes widened with shock as she was jolted from the dark netherworld of unconsciousness. She blinked a few times, trying to gain her bearing in her new surroundings. Her eyes focused on the first thing they saw: Vegeta. His face was inches from hers, burning with worry. She could see little flecks of gold in those black depths, close to the iris. She didn't know why, but she thought it very interesting. Then Bulma noticed he was holding her, but she wasn’t sure why.
"What happened?" she said breathily.
The flecks of gold in his eyes disappeared as they glazed over with once again into a mask of indecipherability. He did, however, tighten his grip on her small form. This protective gesture contrasted with the indifferent, almost bored tone of his voice as he answered. "Your body isn’t accustomed to Vegetasei’s gravity. You began suffocating and passed out. But you’re fine now."
Bulma swallowed nervously, still slightly dizzy. "Okay."
It was then that she noticed the several pairs of eyes fastened on her, none of them too friendly. She immediately focused her attention on the man closest to her and Vegeta. Oh my gods! She gasped to herself. Why he looks almost exactly like Vegeta! Her eyes switched between the two men several times, taking in the subtle differences in their appearance. The other man looked a bit older, more batte worn, and sported brown hair and a goatee. However, beyond that, he was a spitting image of the Prince. He also glares just like Vegeta…
"Quick gawking, girl," the Vegeta lookalike said gruffly. "Have you never seen a King before?"
"No," she answered.
The King quirked an eyebrow and smirked. It made the resemblence between him and his son all the more apparent. "Well, what is your first impression?"
As the only child and daughter of one of the richest and most influential men on Chikyuu, Bulma had been more than a little spoiled as a child and had hardly ever been reprimanded for her blunt, often razor-sharp, tongue. She was used to speaking her mind and saw no reason to curb her habit. The way the King arrogantly puffed up in arrogance also rankled Bulma’s nerves.
"Well, like I said, I’ve never met a king before," she began, "but I always thought that they’d be a bit taller."
Vegeta started at Bulma’s remark, struggling to hold in his laughter. No one ever talked the King in such a forward manner, only the Prince. He sobered as he saw his father’s pompous smirk melted into an angry glare. The King looked as if he wanted to blast Bulma away right then and there, regardless of the fact that she rested in his heir’s arms. Only when I’m lying cold and stiff on the floor, Vegeta thought, lowering himself into a defensive position, ready to take on his father despite his burdened arms.
Before the Prince and the King go at each other again, Frieza interrupted."Beauty and spirits…My Prince, you certainly have a prize in your arms. She only needs a little training to reign in her wild tongue."
Both Saiya-jins and Bulma turned their attention back to the alien. Bulma immediately sensed an overwhelming evil radiating from the purple and white lizard-like creature. He was shorter even than the King and Vegeta, and even though she couldn’t read ki very well, she knew this person wasn’t someone to mess with. However, she refused to be cowed. Only a quick, tight squeeze from Vegeta halted the indignant response poised on her tongue. Instinctively, her bound hands crept up Vegeta’s shirt, grasping onto the snug material as tight as she could.
"It will be a mighty challenge to break her to you will, Prince Vegeta," Frieza continued. "But very much worth it I’m sure."
Vegeta stiffened. No one spoke of breaking the woman, except him, and he wasn’t going to break her. Bulma felt him tremble slightly with barely-suppressed rage. She snuggled into his embrace without thinking, her hold on him tightening as well. It wasn’t clear to her why she wanted to reassure Vegeta (he was an asshole, afterall), but her natural inclinations beat out logic. Her actions seemed to have a calming effect on the Prince. He reminded himself that now was not the time to provoke Frieza. So, instead, he settled on an arrogant smirk, but his eyes remained frozen with hatred.
"Perhaps so, Lord Frieza," he said tightly.
"She will be a challenge," entered a new voice. "But I wonder if the little monkey-prince is up to it."
Bulma’s gaze snapped to the source of the insult, landing on a green-haired humanoid alien standing just behind the one called Frieza. She didn’t know how she could have missed him. He towered over the lizard-lord and the Saiya-jins, and simply put, he was gorgeous. Muscular, symmetrical features, long, silky hair. Had Bulma not been a captive slave on a strange planet, she might have been attracted to him. However, her speculation died when she met his amber-colored eyes. They raked over her form in a menacing, lustful way that made her cringe. What is with these fucking aliens? Can’t they get any from their own females?
"At least I have not been conquered!" snarled Vegeta, sending a pointed glare between Zarbon and his lord.
The lieutenant threw back his head and laughed. "I can clearly see that, weakling. You cling to the female because YOU have conquered her," he mocked.
His triumphant grin widened as Vegeta began snarling, but then he turned reflective, his attention focused on Bulma. "Though, with beauty such as hers, perhaps being one of her conquests would not be so bad."
"Too bad you'll never know," the Prince growled. "I'll blast you into the next dimension before I let that happen!"
"As if you could," Zarbon sneered.
"Enough, children!" Frieza rasped. "As amusing as this little battle is, the beautiful woman is obviously overwhelmed by the admiration of her suitors. Besides, there is much to be discussed, and time is wasting."
"I agree, Lord Frieza," the King said, though he secretly wished he could let Vegeta kick the green-haired alien's ass. "Son, send the woman away for now. You've allowed her to delay us too long." With that, he turned to enter to throne room. Frieza nodded to Bulma, making her nervous by being the focus of his beady, watchful eyes, before he too followed the king, gesturing for Zarbon to do the same.
It was only after they had left that Vegeta relaxed his shoulders, letting Bulma slid her feet to the ground. He kept a firm hold on her waist, however, to ensure she didn't fall. She was clearly shaken by her encounter with the three men, and Vegeta knew that she needed rest. "Woman," he said gently. "Are you alright?"
Bulma's bowed head raised sharply, surprise at Vegeta's concern clearly etched on her face. The man was a mystery. One moment he was ready to tear off the heads of three of the most powerful beings she'd ever encountered, and then the next, he was expressing kindness about her feelings. The thought of Frieza and Zarbon sent a slight shudder through her body.
"What?" the Prince asked. "What is wrong?"
She still did not trust Vegeta, but he obviously had equal, if not greater, distaste for the two aliens than she did. "Nothing...really," she spoke quietly. "It's just...those two are not exactly what I'd call a welcoming committee."
Vegeta half-grinned ironically. "No, they are not what I'd imagined would greet your arrival here. However, they are of no consequence to you. You will never encounter them again. Nor any man I have not authorized you to be with."
Bulma bristled at his arrogance and possessiveness. Once again, he'd gone and ruined what otherwise might have been an actual conversation between them. "Oh, that's right," she said sarcastically. "I'm just a 'little toy' for you to fuck! Never mind that I'm a person with thoughts and feelings just like you."
"Goddammit! My fucking name is Bulma!" she screeched. "B-U-L-M-A! Bul-ma! Can you not say it?!?"
"And you should address me as Prince, woman! I am your master now, and by gods, you'll give me the respect I deserve!"
"Respect has to be earned, monkey prince! And nothing you've done so far is respectable!"
"Woman, I could blast you into the next dimension for you disobedience!"
"Oh, really? You couldn't the other night! In fact, if I remember correctly, it was ME who almost blasted YOU into the next dimension!" Bulma shot back She wasn't exactly sure if it had happened that way, as her memory was still fuzzy. However, her insult seemed to hit home, she noticed with extreme satisfaction, as the Prince's icy mask of arrogance melted into a snarl of frustration and anger.
"I'm sick of this, woman!" he spit out. "You WILL learn proper respect for me, and so help me, I'll..."
"You'll what?" she sneered. "What will you do? You can't hurt me. Then you wouldn't be able to do your Super Saiya-jin crap. I may not be able to read ki, but I sure as hell know raw power when I feel it. That freaky lizard guy has more than you! He could pound you into the ground with his pinky finger! You NEED me!"
Her words broke Vegeta's patience. He stepped the two feet that separated them, anger burning in his black eyes. Grabbing her shoulders, he clutched her to him in a powerful embrace. "Shut your mouth, woman! I mean it! Just keep your fucking mouth shut!"
"And why should I?" she shot back, too tired and exhausted to care that she'd pushed him beyond his limits.
"Because you'll die if you don't!"
"And what the fuck do you care if I do! For all the consideration you've shown me I may as well be dead!" she screamed.
A memory of her tear-filled eyes flashed unbidden in his mind. At thought moment, all the guilt and anger he'd felt towards himself about his near-rape of her flooded back. He let go of his frustration with her, slumping a little in defeat. His arms moved from her shoulders to her waist, crushing her to him in a desperate embrace. He didn't even care that Radditz and Nappa were witnesses to his display of weakness. Vegeta just needed to hold her against him, just needed to reassure himself that she really wasn't going anywhere. He had to know that he hadn't totally lost any chance with her.
Bulma stood in Vegeta's arms, once again at a loss for how to react. With one breath, he threatened to kill her. Then, she was in his arms. She was still in a state of confusion when his mouth claimed hers, and Bulma reacted out of pure instinct.
She kissed him back.
Logic told her she should fight, that she should struggle, but at that one moment in time, logic could fuck itself for all Bulma cared. Her mouth devoured his as ravenously as he tasted her. Their tongues mingled in an endless duel for control, for domination, and, ultimately, for acceptance. She melted into him, and for one moment, didn't let guilt or despair drive a wedge into their passion.
But just as suddenly as the flame burst between them, it extinguished itself. The Prince's pride reminded him that he was in front of his soldiers, and while he did not care what they thought, it was his duty to try to maintain some sense of focus. Vegeta pulled back from her roughly, his breathing harsh and uneven. He stepped away, wanting to put as much physical distance between them as possible.
"Radditz..." he panted.
The slightly stunned warrior moved into his lord's line of vision. "Yes, Sire?"
"Take the woman to Len'ah. Tell her to watch over her until I get there. It shouldn't be too long. Don't leave. Protect her."
"As you wish."
Bulma was breathing as hard as Vegeta, though she seemed to take a little longer to recover. She offered no protest as Radditz gently grasped her arm and pulled her towards another set of doors adjacent to the throne-room entrance.
Vegeta didn't take his eyes off of her until she disappeared.
Once she was gone, he turned to Nappa. "Inform my staff that we will be moving to my summer home in the mountains. I want the place habitable within the next three hours."
Nappa bowed and left.
The Prince then turned his attention to the three men awaiting him in the throne room, trying with every fiber of his being to forget the blue-haired woman, if only for a few hours.
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