Disclaimer:Vegeta's arse isn't mine, but I still want to bite it! ^-^ Oh and I don't own DBZ.
Special thanks go to Fibs for translating my poor English into eloquent and beautiful French. ***English translations are at the bottom of the chapter.
Bulma adjusted a fold in her towel, protecting her modesty one last time before chancing to open the bathroom door. She hadn't heard a sound from Vegeta all night, but she doubted he had slept much, if at all. The covers he had taken were still in the same position they were discarded the previous night and he was now standing on the balcony looking across the ocean as though carved in marble. His chiselled and regal features were sneered up into arrogant authority, and his arms were wrapped firmly over each other, covering his shirtless chest with customary aloofness.
Bulma doubted he was admiring the view. It was a posture she was beginning to understand denoted concentration and introspection, and she almost instinctively knew he wouldn't suffer to be disturbed from it. They hadn't spoken since she had given her body up to sleep the previous night, and if she were truthful, Bulma was a little nervous about what kind of reception she was likely to receive from him. Then again, there was something inside her that was equally looking forward to it as well. Perhaps… perhaps it was the feeling of teenage rebellion he had almost rekindled the night before that currently sent chills shooting so recklessly up her spine, as the early morning light illuminated him so dramatically onto the foreground.
On waking up, she had been blissfully unaware of it all. All she had experienced was the comfort of the large double bed, with its scent of freshly washed linen, and she had clung tightly to the feeling under the remnants of a semi-forgotten dream. Cognisance, however, couldn't remain repressed for long, and she had sat bolt upright in alarm when everything started to fall into place. Her fingers had unaccountably started to shake and her breathing naturally accelerated under the realization that Vegeta had kissed her… and she had… oh dear Kami! She had kissed him back!
It had taken delving into the pillows and several stifled "Hell no's!" for her to gain any significant leap of composure. It was like waking up from a night on the piss to remember that you'd made a complete arse of yourself in front of all your friends, fallen over on the way down the pub steps, and left your skirt tucked into your knickers on the way out of the bathroom. Only, Bulma had the shame of being one hundred percent sober at the time.
Then again, it was only a kiss. He'd asked if she wanted to continue, and she'd said no. "Good girl!" But that little bit of saving grace wasn't quite enough to remove the thought that maybe, if he hadn't asked, she wouldn't have had the presence of mind, or the willpower to make him stop. Well… whatever that moment of lunacy had signified, there was no use dwelling on it. They had both retracted from the situation, and in a manner that did neither any discredit. It was best left alone, forgotten in a little pocket of awareness that was only allowed to be entered at her own peril.
As she had swung her legs out of bed earlier that morning, she had likewise managed to bring her own astonishment under control, allowing her to slink into the shower to get ready for a day that promised to be at worst - different.
Now, as she dressed, she decided to content herself with silently watching him instead, wondering just what thought held him so captive. She wondered if he was disappointed they didn't continue, or silently rejoicing at his lucky escape. Neither really sat well with her, but as she slipped the light checked fabric of a designer summer dress over her shoulders, she at last satisfied herself with the more than likely scenario - that he wasn't thinking on it at all.
In all probability he was wondering how long it would take to learn compassion, counting down the days and calculating the logistics of how best to destroy Goku and the planet Earth when his ascension to Super Saiyajin was complete. It was lunacy to think that Vegeta actually might think on her behaviour more than it was forced on him to do so, and if she were completely honest, a little too close to creepy as well. Unfortunately there was a little voice of vain victory in the back of her head, which triumphed that he, at least, must find her a little attractive.
Silently folding her towel, she walked into the main living area, all the time keeping her eyes trained on Vegeta, perhaps hoping he would speak to her. He didn't. Giving up she plucked the key card off the table, shuffled her feet into an open toed pair of cream sandals and headed for the cabin door. Feeling a little disappointed that he wasn't going to acknowledge her departure she sighed and disappeared through the door.
Her disappointment wasn't to last long though. Other things were more than suited to taking her mind off the issue. The smell of breakfast, drifting up through the elevator doors as she neared the dining area, was definitely one of them. It was only for a fraction of a second that she felt guilty for not interrupting Vegeta's reverie and inviting him to join her. However, getting something to eat at all, she reasoned, was a much better option than being incinerated on the spot for disturbing him, and she let the guilt pass.
She sat down at the same table she had the previous evening, knowing that a waiter would be over shortly to take her order. It wasn't the customary way to be served in this dining area, being more structured as a buffet, but money spoke volumes to the staff, and she knew she wouldn't be waiting long.
As if on cue her designated waiter, Pierre, joined her with his customary cocked and mischievous grin. "Good morning Miss Briefs!" he said, clearing his throat, "May I take your order on this wonderful and inspiring morning, and glory in one of your dazzling oriental smiles to compliment it."
Bulma couldn't help herself and let the corners of her mouth turn up in response. "Et Voila!" he exclaimed, "Much better," he continued in a perfect flow of French accented Japanese. "It sets mademoiselle's complexion on fire!"
She smiled and settled his compliment with a blush that coloured her cheeks a faint pink. "Je prendrai un pain au chocolat et un café, merci Pierre."
He looked at her curiously for a moment, and smiled with a full row of perfectly white teeth. "Comme vous voudrez."
He bowed and turned to leave. "Pierre?" she said, stopping his progress.
"Are we at sea all today?"
"Non! There are several tours taking place, so we will stay in Marseille until midday. Then we set sail for Monaco."
Bulma's eyes lit up. "Monaco? Fantastic! Designer tag shopping, here I come!"
"Sans oublier les hommes riches et séduisants." Pierre winked, slipping back into his own tongue.
Bulma laughed, "Je garderai ça à l'esprit, aussi. Merci."
"Je vous en prie," he drawled, and left her alone.
Breakfast was served with the usual bustle, and her table was surrendered at the end with the usual excessive tip. A larger part of this she divided up and wrapping the notes carefully in a napkin, wrote "Pour Pierre" on the front.
On leaving she glanced back at the buffet table, her thoughts again turning to the prince in her cabin. She sighed, and assembled a large portion of sausages, bacon and eggs to take back with her.
Much to her surprise Vegeta had moved by the time she returned. The balcony was left abandoned, and there was a neat pile of clothes on the arm of the couch. The soothing background melody of running water, confirmed he was taking a shower.
Laying her consignment on the coffee table, Bulma kicked her sandals from her feet and searched the bottom of her handbag. Finding her cigarettes and lighter, she lit one and leant back on the plush, cushioned material to let her mind concentrate on the task at hand. How exactly was she going to go about teaching a homicidal alien compassion? She liked the offhand comparison she had made to honour the previous day. It was definitely a starting point, but it badly needed refining, especially if it was going to work with someone as self-centred as Vegeta.
She continued to think and plan undisturbed for the next ten minutes, and it wasn't until the bathroom door squeaked open that her attention was eventually restored. It wasn't purely coincidence, therefore, that she looked up just in time to see Vegeta, walking out. One towel was wrapped securely around his waist, and there was another drying his hair, as he walked across the living area, leaving tiny puddles of standing water on the laminate flooring.
"Good morning." She greeted with a nervous smile, before he had taken two steps. "Sleep well?"
He looked across at her with one eye from under the towel as it hung loosely over his face. His frown was as deep-set as usual as his eyes held onto hers for a fraction longer than was necessary. At length he looked away, no sound but a grunted dismissal, answering her inquiry.
Bulma hadn't expected anything more. Far from discouraged or hurt at his coarse rebuttal, she continued. "I thought you might like some breakfast." She pointed at the doggy bag on the table. "I wasn't sure what you would like, so I took an educated guess."
Vegeta looked cautiously at the offering and his stomach growled once in response. Bulma giggled, but a sobering look, dripped from twin Saiyajin eyes, cut the mirth short.
"Well - someone woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning." She sighed, stretching out her arms to try and alleviate her awkwardness through action.
"Perhaps if I had gotten some sleep that statement would hold true." Vegeta growled as he continued to dry himself.
"Was the sofa too uncomfortable for his royal pain in the arse?"
"No," he replied flatly. "I simply didn't require sleep."
"Oh - Were you on the balcony all night?" she asked, slightly worried.
"No. I left the ship."
"Yes!" he snapped rolling his eyes. "Just because I'm here doesn't mean I have to sacrifice my training. That would defeat the object, wouldn't it?"
"Oh. Yeah. I guess it would."
The room fell into silence again, and Bulma was finding it hard to think of something to say that might break it. Giving up, she merely contented herself with skimming through a leaflet, advertising a local soccer match 'Olympique de Marseille versus Paris Saint-Germain.'
Eventually Vegeta seemed to be satisfied and pulled the towel from his head, followed (much to Bulma's astonishment) by the one around his waist.
"Shit Vegeta!" she swore, turning to face the opposite direction, her cheeks burning a bright crimson. "Do you have to do that?"
Her cheeks felt like they were on fire, "Y… you know… the towel dropping thing!"
"Baka!" he chuckled. "Of course I do, how else will I get dressed."
"Well I don't know. Let's see… how about taking your clothes into the bathroom, moron!"
"Idiotic human! You are restricted by too many foolish inhibitions."
"Ha! Foolish you call it. What if everyone on this ship decided to get naked? Have you seen some of the old and overweight people on this cruise? Yuck!" Bulma shuddered.
"Perhaps," he continued, ignoring her speech. "Perhaps that is your problem, Woman."
"Wha…? Ewwwwwww! Are you suggesting I need to get off on old naked people?"
"Don't be absurd, Onna. I'm talking about the excitement you crave so badly. Your species has too many conformities and conventions to allow for excitement. Tell me," he demanded. "When was the last time you ever felt true, heart-stopping excitement?"
Bulma was left floundering for a moment, as the words "last night" danced disturbingly over her thoughts. She almost died in shame. Pushing it quickly out of the way, she decided on "Namek" as the preferable answer.
"Exactly. Precisely. You weren't on Earth."
"Vegeta, I fail to see…"
"You had nothing to live up to, no sense of normalcy, and the ease of being supplanted from the restraints of your everyday life. It is a natural assumption that you would be prepared to take more risks when you are not bound by your races customs."
"I guess there could be some truth in that!" she answered. "But then I was definitely on Earth during my adventures with Goku when I was younger! Perhaps… yeah hey perhaps its simply because I no longer have the friends around me I did then."
"Friends." Vegeta picked up on the word with poignancy. "I find I still don't grasp the concept."
Bulma smiled, glad he found himself comfortable enough around her to leave bravado behind and say exactly what was on his mind. "You don't have to understand it. Friendship has a way of creeping up on you and forming even when you least expect it."
"Well… until I understand it or," he sneered. "The phenomenon should somehow miraculously force its way onto me, I won't allow that it has any bearing on your environment."
"Then why was everything so much more exciting back then?" she sighed.
"It was naivety, pure and simple!" he stated. "You were only sixteen, and too young and stupid to care what you did."
"So you're saying I've grown up. That by becoming more mature I've sacrificed that part of my life, is that right?"
"It's a possibility. You and I are not so dissimilar in that respect. We were both forced to grow up more quickly than we should have, albeit for very, very different reasons. How old were you when your father handed you control of Capsule Corp.?"
Bulma thought for a moment. "Not until I was twenty, but then I had completed two years of on site training before then, during which I practically ran the company myself, even though I wasn't officially the CEO."
"So," he said, sitting down stiffly next to her, and readying his breakfast. "It is logical to presume that as the head of one of the most successful businesses on this miserable planet, you have more restrictions on you than when you were younger?"
"Then the solution to your problem is simple. You need to lose the restrictions."
"And," she asked, half fearful of the answer. "How would you suggest I do that?"
His mouth contorted into a smirk full of evil promise. "Where is the excitement in telling you that, Whore? You will find out soon enough."
Bulma caught a brief glimpse of something running underneath his speech. She let the corners of her mouth turn up at the discovery, cocking an eyebrow in acknowledgement. "You've already planned what you're going to do haven't you?"
He looked away, calmly eating his breakfast as her attention grew.
"Oh no!" she exclaimed, laying a hand on his shoulder as he turned his back. "Tell me!"
His eyes narrowed and head turned a fraction to home in on the appendage, his breakfast momentarily forgotten. "Remove it!" he snapped.
Bulma was taken aback. There was real coldness and demeaning authority in his voice. Why it should affect her so much was hard to tell. Vegeta always barked at people that way, it was the way he inspired hate and fear. Perhaps that was the problem.
"Now!" he affirmed, his voice calm, but icy cold. "The advert you discarded." he said, once she had done as he asked. He motioned to the coffee table. "What does it say?"
Bulma moved away, her feelings a little hurt by the sudden turn of his treatment towards her. She picked the leaflet up and reread the front page. "It's just an advert for a local soccer match. It looks like a friendly. It kicks off at midday."
"Precisely." he agreed. "We're going."
"Do you know anything about soccer?"
Bulma started to feel a little nervous. "A bit, dad used to take me to watch FC Tokyo when I was a girl. Why?"
"I know nothing about it." He smirked, "I'm not what you might call a team player, but if there's one thing I know, it's that competitive sport doesn't change much between solar systems. It is a perfect venue for your first lesson, Witch. I suggest that you get ready."
"But we can't go!" she exclaimed. "The ship leaves port at midday."
Vegeta carefully laid the empty bag on the table, his brow furrowed in thought. "Do you know where the next landfall is?"
"Then we will catch the ship back up tonight."
Bulma looked at him a little unsurely. "Oh? And just how were you planning on doing that?"
"We'll fly of course," he stated blankly. "Now get your arse off the sofa, and lets get away from this fabricated tourist hellhole!"
An hour later, and amid a bustling crowd that looked like it was going to easily top thirty thousand, Bulma looked up at the awesome stadium of Olympique de Marseille. She whistled in appreciation as the structure towered above her. "Wow! These European teams don't do things by halves do they?"
She looked over at Vegeta, who was also looking up at the stadium. It seemed to be more as a way to distract himself from the amount of people around him, rather than in appreciation of its sheer size and scale. For some strange reason, he just didn't suit crowds.
Under her scrutiny his mouth turned brusquely into a scowl. "It is not as impressive as I had expected," he said at length. "The Forium stadiums on Vegeta-sei were at least five times the size of this."
Bulma chuckled quietly, shaking her head. "Of course they would be." She looked around for a moment, the awe slowly dissipating, "Do you have the tickets?"
He frowned and patted his shirt pocket, looking extremely out of place in the black suit trousers he had arrived in, amongst the throng of tracksuit and T-shirt wearing spectators.
"What gate do we have to use to get in?"
"Thirty-five," he answered, and they both walked around the large structure in search of it, as the sun beat heavily down on them.
Finding the right turnstile, they entered into an area that was reserved for the travelling supporters. Bulma had been a little bit confused and extremely weary of Vegeta's reasoning, as he had demanded that the seats should be in that section of the ground. Traditionally the requirements for the away supporters were not as well met as they were for the home, and the quality of fan was drunker and smellier. Then again, after the ordeal of having to wait in line for the damn tickets in the first place, Bulma was just glad to escape the building with no fatalities.
Now inside the ground they both wandered over to the bar, and Bulma ordered in some soft drinks, and a bag of chips each. They ate and drank in mutual silence, but Bulma had the unnerving suspicion that Vegeta was laughing evilly on the inside and plotting his next move. She almost instinctively knew that, whatever he had planned, she most definitely wasn't going to like. His features held that smug look she knew didn't bode well when applied to his thoughts.
She couldn't take it any longer. He was dangling the bait right above her head, and all her patience had run out. "Ok!" she burst out, making Vegeta chuckle. "For kami's sake! Tell me!"
He twisted his head noncommittally to the side. "I don't think so. Watching you squirm is much more entertaining."
"Look here shit head! You said you'd make this exciting, but guess what? Watching you nearly incinerate a queue of innocent spectators, followed by putting up with you in full arsehole mode just doesn't cut it, all I am is extremely pissed off!"
He merely shrugged his shoulders in response, and pushed away from the bar. "You want to know what I have planned?"
"Then follow me."
Bulma stayed defiantly still for a moment, but when he disappeared into the crowd and she was left all on her own, her priorities changed. Looking nervously at the men leering at her drunkenly across the bar, she yelped slightly, and ran after him. "Hey!" she called, pushing her way through the crowd. "Wait up!"
Vegeta didn't slow, and she only just managed to keep up, having the indignity of tripping over feet and knocking over drinks, just to maintain a visual on his retreating back. Eventually he reached his destination, and looked back once to make sure she was following.
He had stopped at the beginning of a set of steps that admitted entry into the main stand, and which were currently closed off with a barrier, until it was nearer kick off. "Watch closely," he whispered under a cloaked smirk, as she finally caught up. "Your first lesson is all about taking risks."
Bulma watched with wide eyes as in front of a crowd of thousands he levitated slowly onto the barrier.
There was a slight stirring and a couple of gasps from those in close proximity who actually witnessed the phenomena of a short, angry looking man in dress suit trousers, effortlessly floating in mid air with no obvious wires, but the rest of the room were blissfully unaware of the event, and carried on their conversations undisturbed.
Vegeta seemed to take their unconcern as an act of defiance, and the glow of white energy that spilt into his hand was the only warning Bulma got to duck, before there was an explosion above her, and the large television, hung by thick steel cables from the ceiling and broadcasting the pre-match interviews, exploded into a ball of flame.
When the shrieks of panic faded and he was sure that everyone was paying attention, Vegeta peered around the room as though a hawk hunting its prey. The look he gave was pure… well… Vegeta. It was evil and with an intensity that made people think he might snap any minute. Bulma had seen it too often to be affected, but she silently congratulated him on the way he managed to utilise it so effectively.
"Ladies and gentlemen!" he addressed the crowd in perfect French, making Bulma's eyes bulge in astonishment. "Now I have your attention… I would like to introduce you to someone."
He leant down and effortlessly picked Bulma up, making her cheeks flush, and placing her so precariously on the thin barrier that she had to hold him tightly to stop herself from falling.
"This woman is one of the richest females on the planet," he stated. "And she is willing to make a small wager with you on the outcome of today's game."
Bulma's eyes snapped wide open, as Vegeta let his speech hang arrogantly in the air.
"What the hell are you trying to pull, Vegeta?" she spat between, gritted teeth.
He ignored her and carried on. "Should Paris Saint-Germain win the match today, then you will all be going home five hundred francs richer and," he said with heightened mirth. "As forfeit, this creature." He pointed to Bulma, and her heart started to beat double. "Will be forced to streak naked across the pitch at the end of the game."
"WHAT!" she screamed, almost falling as her face turned beetroot red and she shook with anger.
"Silence!" he scolded, and Bulma wasn't sure if it was to her or the crowd he was shouting. The whole room had suddenly burst into life under his wager. No one, however, was going to argue with him, compliance was achieved and silence reigned once again.
"If, however," he continued. "Marseille win, then you all get nothing, plus, as forfeit, you also have to streak naked across the pitch at the end of the game."
He was quiet for a moment, as he let the terms sink in. A few spectators at the back wisely shook their heads and edged nervously towards the exits. They didn't get far. Vegeta pointed a finger and let a stream of energy loose that (this time) meant the destruction of a fire extinguisher, coating those spectators trying to escape in a blanket of foam.
"It seems," he smirked, full arrogance on show for all. "That some of you think you have an option about this." He looked sternly around the room. "You don't!"
For a few minutes Vegeta let the room fall silent. He chanced a glance at Bulma, but she was too shocked to say anything back. At length he spoke again. "That is all. You may go back to doing whatever it was you were before, and," he added with a wry smirk. "May the best team win!"