Namekians, Gold Fish, and Sake
Bulma looked up at the stark metal clock for the sixth time in as many minutes. The vibrant and compelling structure of her working day had somehow, since Namek, been transformed into a necessity. If only she could think of a way of remaining longer. She looked down at the neatly piled files in front of her, categorized in alphabetical order, pristinely covered and checked. At a loss as to what else needed to be done she proceed to straighten the pen in front of her, before languidly pushing it from side to side with her index finger.
What else could she find to delay her return to the house? The chimes signifying the factories closure had rung out over half an hour ago. The cleaning ladies were rushing around outside the office, accompanied by the whirring of a vacuum cleaner, and it would only be a matter of time before they disturbed her sanctuary. She sighed, laying her head on the desk, stalling the inevitable. It was getting beyond a joke. After all, what was at home that was so bad she'd willingly camp out in her office rather than face? Instantly her thoughts answered for her. "The goldfish bowl effect."
This was what her therapist had warned her about when she first came into society and began her training to take over as CEO of Capsule Corporation. Of course it had never occurred to Bulma that she could be affected by it in the comfort of her own home.
Living in a house filled to overflowing with guests was getting to her. What a fool! Had she really thought it would be exciting, a treat for her senses and a temporary substitute for the friends she had lost? It was all so wrong. The Namekians and Vegeta were more eccentric than exciting. More often than not she would roll her eyes in company with either. Most people who knew the surly prince would have thought he possessed the lion share of blame, but Bulma was rather surprised to find that it was the Namekians that were getting to her the most.
She felt unashamedly guilty about it. They were polite, gentle and good creatures, the lot of them, but they were just… everywhere! She couldn't go anywhere in the house without tripping over at least one of them. Vegeta might be the incarnation of HFIL itself; dark, threatening and cold, but at least most of the time he kept himself to himself. It felt as though she was constantly on show for her refugee guests. She had to play hostess twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It's true that she always did take an innate joy in being the center of attention, but as in most things, it had its moderation.
As the days piled past Bulma had started to feel the million-zeni smile falter, and now it was splintering, almost on the cusp of shattering completely. Her own little private spell of space, upstairs next to her room was the only place the Namekians knew not to tread, but that rule didn't apply to Vegeta. Admittedly he didn't disturb her often, but still it was impossible to relax and be herself, knowing he might sneak in at any moment to push her into an even fouler mood.
Of course all this was confounded on by the telepathic bullshit she had to suffer through, but she was thankful that, for the moment at least, all was quiet and undisturbed. In fact the last time it had happened was over three weeks ago when Vegeta had told her so intensely to 'adapt.' Yeah right! What kind of solution was that? "Adapt… moron!" she groused out loud. "What the hell am I supposed to do to adapt? I'm not telepathic, I don't have the same powers as him. I'm only human not some Saiya-jin super being."
The beginning of a dramatic sunset threw bright rays of light spiraling through her office windows, brushing her skin with a golden glow. "I need a vacation!" she mewed against the leather topped desk.
The instant the words left her lips, her mind grabbed a tight hold over the idea. It was certainly a good one, and not at all difficult to implement. She stood up from the desk, a whole new whirl of energy working on her strained limbs. "Oh yeah!" she exclaimed, "Just what the doctor ordered!"
The office and temporary sanctuary it offered was forgotten. With a new sense of purpose she strode confidently out, making a direct line towards the house, which not five minutes ago, she had been finding excuses not to go anywhere near.
As expected a small delegation of her green guests had congregated around the front door, anticipating her return. "Every goddamn day!" She grumbled under her breath.
"Welcome home Miss Briefs!" They enthused together, bowing respectfully.
"Thanks." She barely mumbled. "Um… is dad in?"
The small group erupted with whispers, as though it was the most important discussion ever to take place. Five minutes later, the eldest, and nominated spokesman edged cautiously forward. "We apologize Miss Bulma, but you're mother wanted us to help her in the gardens… and we couldn't… we… weren't…" he looked guiltily to the floor, "We weren't here when he was scheduled to return, please forgive us."
Stifling the desire to roll her eyes and growl in a manner befitting her royal guest, she simply stated that, "It wasn't something that needed apologizing for." Only just about able to quench the desire to kill.
She walked quietly into the house, the entourage of Namekians falling into line behind her. She watched them warily out of the corner of her eye, but was relieved to see them taking a swift turn into the kitchen, obviously in search for some small task from her mother. As soon as they were out of sight she sighed in relief, before almost falling over the small figure that clamped onto her leg. She let out a squeal of surprise. "Dende?" She questioned, and there was no harshness in her voice. He was the only one of his species that was instantly forgiven for being in the way. "What's up kiddo?"
In truth she needn't have asked. A shape was pooled in the twisting of shadows at the end of the hall. This time she did roll her eyes. "Nothing better to do than scare small children today eh Vegeta?" she asked with dry sarcasm, while stroking Dende's antenna flat for comfort.
"Can I help it if the brat has more good sense in him than a fully-grown chikyu-jin female? He has good reason to be afraid." he replied in a long drawl. "Besides," he shrugged, "all I did was say boo."
Bulma tried to look angry, but the edges of her lips forced themselves upwards. "So you think I'm not afraid of you?"
"I didn't say that now did I?" He grinned mischievously. "Besides you told me not so long ago that you were. I was standing naked in front of you at the time, I'm sure you remember." The shadows caught on his face, in contrast to the bright white of his teeth that seemed to pierce the gloom with biting derision. "All I was suggesting was," he continued, "that you have a higher tolerance than most, and for someone who obviously does actually possess a brain, that is very foolish."
Bulma's mouth completely betrayed her, temporarily forgetting the reason for setting foot inside the dreaded goldfish bowl, by looping into a smirk. What had bitten Vegeta's ass to make him so… playful? "You know… there was almost a compliment in there. You're getting sloppy."
Suddenly she was struck with the feeling that three was most definitely a crowd. It was beyond her reasoning, but there was something extremely exciting about being alone with the unpredictable Saiya-jin. Dende was still nuzzling softly against her legs as she looked down. "Why don't you go into the kitchen? I'm sure mum will be happy to see you, and tell her I said you could have a couple of bottles from my secret Evian stash."
The small Namekians face lit up, his eyes twinkling, before they took on a more serious character. "Will you be ok Bulma-san?"
"Don't worry sweetie," she winked, "I know exactly how to handle Vegeta Sama."
Happily Dende skipped off, and Bulma managed to stand upright just in time to see the look of astonishment that crossed Vegeta's features. It wasn't very often that she paid him the respect of his suffix and it seemed as though he was puzzling over how to play up to it, whether to let the comment soothe and caress his ego, or violently distrust the remark. It looked as though he was settling for the latter. His scowl pinched in the middle, his eyes biting into suspicion.
Somehow Bulma managed to stifle the sense of victory she had achieved over him, and making sure to keep eye contact, she walked casually past, her head held high. Secretly she smiled when he could no longer see her face, and it grew in size as a strong hand grabbed her at the elbow, stopping her as she had unconsciously hoped it would.
"And how would you handle me?" he enquired in a low whisper, pulling her within inches of his face.
A shiver ran up her spine. Was Vegeta, in his own warped way, flirting with her? It was so disturbingly wrong, and yet at the same time, deliciously exciting. Falling in with the innuendo she replied, "In whatever way would give me the most pleasure of course."
Bulma was disappointed to feel his hand leave her arm as though it had been burnt, allowing her to carry on her way. Scolding the dissatisfaction into not surfacing as anything too weird she did continue. It wasn't until she reached the end of the hall that she heard Vegeta's deathly chiseled voice.
"Then I was right. You really are a fool."
It was spoken so carefully and with a meaning that made her feel like she was missing something important. Her hand had been on the keypad to unlock the door to her father's lab, but she dropped it, a sudden sadness pressing heavily on her heart, as she turned to look back in the Saiya-jins direction.
Her eyes met with nothing. He was gone, silent and mysterious in his exit, leaving nothing but confusion and muddled emotions in his wake.
Large piles of cluttered and now empty bowls were piled haphazardly over the large wooden table, almost unnatural sunlight dancing off their elaborate glazing. It came spilling through the small window of the humble homestead twenty four hours a day, and even though according to his body clock it was supposed to be getting dark, Yamcha knew that King Kai would only close the thick, blackout curtains when he decided the warriors under his tutorage had performed to their absolute maximum ability.
Some days (admittedly the ones that centered mostly around either constructive meditation, or new energy manipulation techniques,) Yamcha loved training on the small hunk of rock, better known as King Kai's planet, but most of the time… well most of the time he loathed it with a passion. Boot camp would be considered a breeze compared to the torture he was suffering. Not only were they pushed to the edge of physical endurance every day by the weirdness the 'Lord of the World' laughingly called training, but also there was no entertainment, no partying, and nothing for company other than Tien, Chaotzu and the eccentrically weird deity, fanning himself under the intense light.
The only reason he'd stuck it out this long was to save face in front of Tien and Chaotzu, and to keep his own body, which having become incredibly attached to it for the last twenty-seven years, he didn't fancy losing, even for the few short months he'd have to wait before being wished back. His mind kept telling him over and over that he only hand two months left and then freedom. He could do what the hell he liked. He could go out on the town, play baseball and, he added with a mental smile, once again indulge in pleasures of the flesh.
He looked up out of the small window to see Chaotzu being a mildly unwilling target for Tien, in some bizarre twist of a knife-throwing act where the knives had been replaced with bright shards of white-hot ki. Knowing that his only chance of sleep that day was to work through the intricately crafted form King Kai had made him study the previous day, Yamcha shrugged indifferently, and thumbed his way through the aged and crumpled parchment papers, just to refresh his memory. There was another problem, since when did training consist of so much reading? Kami only knew how Goku had coped with it.
Grudgingly it was that he spread his feet wide, baying to the intense gravity, and started the grueling workout. He couldn't deny the effects since he had arrived. The training made him feel like a god. His strikes had become so powerful and precise, his ki attacks so focused that he knew few entities could come close to his level. Even a mind as vain as his own knew that he was far behind Goku now he had ascended to the level of Super Saiya-jin, but Goku wasn't the only Saiya-jin still alive, and the other still hadn't gone super yet.
Yamcha had no overbearing wishes for grandeur or revenge, but it was certainly becoming more and more appealing for him to dwell on how to take out the Saiya-jin prince. Over the months that had past in otherworld this desire to best the prince had grown into something, which prior to dying, he wouldn't have even noted as a possible character trait, but dying did strange things to your mind. He guessed it made his thoughts darker, his suspicion greater. It had irked him to no end when King Kai had finally decided to tell him that the murderous prince had moved in with Bulma. He'd almost choked on an egg roll. "Was she insane!" He'd asked, to which everyone else just shrugged, signifying that none of them saw the logic in it.
After the initial communication had been relayed to him Yamcha had started to press King Kai for more information. Information that was very hard to obtain. He said that it went against his honour and training to pry on human activity unless it was absolutely vital to the balance of the universe. Yamcha had countered by saying that, "Anything to do with Vegeta could upset the balance of the universe and so long as Goku was dead then nobody would be able to stop him."
This debate had raged for just over two weeks before King Kai had finally conceded that maybe it would be just as well to check up on the Saiya-jin every once in a while. It was a tough battle, but Yamcha had carried his point and was victorious. It wasn't as simple as King Kai would have hoped though. Vegeta was a well-adapted telepath, there was no way the 'Lord of the World' could trick his way into Vegeta's mind. The temperamental prince might just decide to go on a full-scale rampage just to spite them. It was decided therefore, much to Yamcha's delight, that Bulma would be the target. Both her parents' minds were of the wrong tune to be used as an accurate spy.
Yamcha had felt great anticipation for the first contact. King Kai had grudgingly let him observe, by having his hand placed securely on his back. For over an hour they watched in silence as King Kai muddled through her thoughts. It wasn't until he had been brought bang up to date that she managed to sense them. Of course it had to happen that out of all the stupid times he'd picked to spy on his girlfriend she'd chosen that moment to take a shower. He'd turned a breathless beat red as he watched her lather the soap temptingly over her body. Only the giggled comment of "What a cutie!" from King Kai made him realize that he'd just talked his girlfriend into being perved on by a Kai.
True to his word King Kai had quickly swept his mind into Bulma's several times a week since that time, just to make sure everything was ok, and each time Yamcha had watched. He had watched and seen… seen too much. Rather than a distant and prickly relationship with Vegeta, it appeared that they were on a kind of intimate footing. At first he couldn't believe she'd actually given him a room in the main building rather than the guesthouse of the workers complex. Even more astonishing was that the murderous Saiya-jin seemed to have unlimited access to her personal rooms. No guest other than himself and Krillin had ever had access to that portion of the house, and all at once it set a powerful and irrational jealousy thundering through his chest. What was she playing at?
Unfortunately for this new and dark feeling, borne out of semi-truths, King Kai had noticed something that he had failed to, and that was the effect telepathic energy had on Bulma's fragile body. One of the agreements to the efficiency of a spy was that it was kept silent, most of the time her mind blanked them out, but at different times of the day or during conflicting emotions then creatures of a certain mind were able to pick up that they were being spied on.
Bulma was more susceptive to this than most, and when she had finally shared what telepathic energy she was suffering with Vegeta, King Kai, out of a fear for the planets safety had been forced into a quick withdrawal, telling Yamcha that it would be necessary to use one of the Namekians or staff at capsule corporation in future. It was therefore, grudgingly agreed that no more outside contact would be made with Bulma, an oath that Yamcha was more than willing to break when the chance arose.
Yamcha frowned as he came to the end of the ridiculously ape-like form. Absently he wondered if it had actually been bubbles that have created it in the first place, as King Kai waddled over to him. "Well done!" He enthused, "That's a very difficult form, I'm impressed." He smiled, "Tien and Chaotzu have made a lot of progress as well, so tonight I'm going to let us have that treat I promised."
Yamcha's frown morphed into a wicked smirk. "You mean, the… the sake?" he asked, a hopeful gleam in his eye.
"Oh yes," King Kai replied, "Definitely the Sake. I ordered a delivery from King Yemma last month. It should be here any minute."
As if on queue the loud squeal of van breaks could be heard from above, and Yamcha only had a split second to move out the way as the six-wheeled delivery truck came crashing to the ground. The ogre inside seemed to be in a highly traumatized state of shock, his teeth clenched and hands clamped in a vice-like grip around the steering wheel.
"He took over the controls again didn't he Shuma?" chuckled King Kai, turning pink, "That boy's a riot! He's still got his old masters comedy touch! Now let me take a look!" King Kai moved around the back of the delivery van, cautiously opening the doors, only for the entire contents to spill out on top of him.
Yamcha rolled his eyes, prying Shuma's fingers open and coaxing him out of the drivers seat. How many people was King Kai expecting? There was enough drink there to knock out a Saiya-jin in Ouzaru. "This is all for us?" He asked the petrified ogre.
There were several loud crashes as King Kai popped out the top of the mass of sake bottles. "Yes," he replied with a huge grin, "This is the next step of your training!"
"Of course… haven't you ever watched old martial arts films? What about the drunken master? It's a classic! Of course I would have sued them for copyright infringement if I hadn't been distracted by that particularly nasty outbreak of flesh eating insects in the Camoren system."
Yamcha's smile was practically sardonic now. This was perfect. "Finally!" He
laughed out loud, "There's going to be some real fun around here!" and in his thoughts he added, "This is perfect! No-ones ever beaten me in a drinking contest." His eyes slanted, "It'll be like taking candy from a baby!"
"A vacation!" cried Mrs. Brief, standing pristinely up in the middle of her Namekian helpers, cherry blossom skimming over her perfectly sculptured hair. "What a wonderful idea! When are we going?"
Bulma cringed, she knew this was going to hurt her mum, but she didn't have much choice, this was her therapy. If she included her mum in the vacation then it would be second nature for her mother to invite the whole household, and probably half the staff as well. She looked to the floor, "We're not. I'm going alone."
"On your own! Oh Bulma-chan, surely not."
"I'm sorry mum… I just need some time to myself. Dad said to tell you, we'll be going up to the old lodge again at Christmas as a family, but right now that I need to relax."
Mrs. Brief looked a little put out, but she could never stay unhappy for long. "Well it would give me an excuse to redecorate your rooms. I thought seeing as Vegeta is staying for a while that I might make the living area larger, maybe even add a small gym, what do you think?"
Bulma smiled, feeling a lot better, "It sounds great mum! Have you asked Vegeta what he thinks yet?"
"Of course, he said he had 'no opinion on the matter'"
"Well, I guess that's as close to an approval as your likely to get from him, but where'll Vegeta stay while the alterations are being done?"
"With you of course silly!" She tittered, about to walk off.
"Whoa hold up!" Bulma called after her, "Didn't you just hear what I said? I want to be alone."
"Of course you do dear," replied her mum, with the raising of a hand, "and I'm sure Vegeta does as well. It'll be perfect for you both!"
Her mouth hanging wide open, Bulma couldn't think of a retort as she watched her mum, stepping into the lift and leaving her sputtering to herself and the inevitable Namekian audience in the botanical level.
"Well I don't see Vegeta agreeing to it." She eventually reasoned, and made a point of being extra clingy in the invitation, just so as to make sure there was absolutely no chance of him accepting it.
Three hours later she found herself bathed in the chill of night in nothing more than her pajamas, looking up to the awesome structure of Vegeta's training room. She had waited up with extra purpose so as to put an end to any niggling doubts about her journey to the Mediterranean in a week's time, but he hadn't graced her with his presence. She'd never invaded the Saiya-jins training room mid-session before and was somewhat wary as to what was to be expected from him, but it was an absolute necessity to speak to him before her mother did.
Cursing herself for not picking up a coat, she pulled the flimsy straps of her PJ top back up over her shoulder from where it had fallen down her arm, and tentatively knocked on the reinforced metal hull. No answer. She tried again, and this time she could here a violent burst of expletives, followed by a thumping sound. She quirked an eyebrow in wonder, but remained still.
Eventually the large door fell flat to the floor, revealing a very angry, sweaty and disheveled Saiya-jin. "What!" he sneered into the darkness.
Bulma took a wary step back, "Um… Vegeta I need to speak to you about something."
"It can fucking wait! I'm busy."
"Come on you've already wasted the time to answer the door, seeing as you're here you might as well hear me out." She pouted for extra effect.
"Whore!" He snarled, but at least he made no move to leave. Bulma almost thought he meant it to sound like a name of endearment the way he curled it around his mouth.
"Wanker!" she shouted back, just to test the waters.
His temper was forgotten, and his lips curled into a smirk. "Yes I am. Now what the fuck do you want?"
She slinked up the ramp, letting her hips slowly sway against the gentle breeze, "To give you an invitation."
He said nothing, as she stood squarely in front of him, her chest pushed forward, only looking her up distrustfully once to raise an eyebrow in question.
"I'm going on holiday for a cruise around the Mediterranean at the end of the week," She shyly moved closer, taking one of his strong arms and hugging it against her chest, "and I'd like you to come with me." Bulma had to suppress the urge to laugh out loud at Vegeta's astonished expression. Twice in one day! she thought with elation, you're getting good Bulma Briefs. "Come on Vegeta, you know you want to, what do you say?"
Vegeta stayed stock still for a good couple of minutes, his eyes darkening and his jaw clenching. Then, just as though the script had been written for her, Vegeta broke her grip and snarled his disgust, "Not even on a cold day in HFIL! Now fuck off and leave me the hell alone!"
With mock sadness Bulma frowned, pretending to be upset, turning away and crossing her arms over her chest. "I should have known," she whispered, " Fine… but the offers an open one. If you fancy a timeout then let me know. The invitations still there."
If the truth were told then it wasn't as hard for Bulma to act as sad as she thought it would be. There was a little something at the back of her chest that felt injured in having been so easily resisted by him. She put it silently to the side though, as a cold breeze sent her hair billowing, "Night, night Vegeta," she sighed, walking back down the ramp and towards the house.
The "Night, night whore." that was roughly but secretly growled after her when there was absolutely no chance of it being heard was, therefore, completely ignored.