Sick Little Hobby
Yamcha looked up to the ceiling, holding his head as the unnatural light seeped in a single beam through a crack in the curtains. It was just wide enough to fall over his section of the floor, which (with the aid of an itchy and decidedly uncomfortable reed mattress) doubled as his bed. The brightness caused him to cover his eyes, wiping groggily down his face, trying to soothe his pounding head. "So much for that plan," he mumbled, licking his teeth and tasting the stale remnants of sake.
He looked blearily across the room. Gregory and Bubbles were curled up together, the tiny grasshopper perched happily on the apes steadily rising chest, and Chaotzu and Tien were next to them. Yamcha stifled a chuckle at the faint whispers of Tien's now infamous sleep talking. He could never make much out, but on the odd occasion his old friend would come out with something that was absolutely priceless. It was a sad occupation, but good enough to be used as a catalyst to take his mind off the far too long and toilsome routine of his afterlife.
King Kai however, was far more likely to hold his attention this morning. He glanced at the catfish-like creature snoring to the accompaniment of a snot bubble and looking very comfortable in the only real bed the small home had to offer. Yamcha's gaze held no little amount of astonished and grudging admiration. The old master certainly knew how to handle his drink that was for sure. Shit! It should have been physically impossible for anyone to drink that much without getting close to paralytic. Yamcha hadn't gone noticeably overboard with his own drinking, but it had quickly become apparent that he was never going to keep up with Kaio-sama.
"Damn!" He cursed quietly under his breath, cracking out stiff joints, and pulling out a fresh pair of training clothes. "How the hell am I going to see what's going on now?"
In the scheme of things Yamcha would probably have done well not to pass the pessimism off, but such things were never destined to run smoothly because once fate got in the way, well realistically there was no turning back. Yamcha's fate was not in the form of heightened knowledge or groundbreaking originality of thought, but in the complete coincidence of happening to be first of the fighting contingent awake. The second was in luck, as he managed to silence the pounding of the 'almighty hangover from hell' long enough to hear a deep sigh coming from outside.
Stuffing his sculptured body into the recently materialized gi and tying the belt hurriedly, he walked into the stark sunlight to investigate. "Shuma?" he questioned, rounding the corner and seeing the truck driver calmly smoking as he leant back against the curved wall. "I didn't realize you were still here."
The bright crimson demon scratched his head nervously behind the horn, "And just how'd you suggest I leave? I have a four ton truck imbedded in the planet surface, and no hope in hell of even getting back onto snakeway until King Yemma thinks I've been punished enough," he exclaimed, pinching the end of his cigarette.
"Uh… I guess I didn't think about that? But what do you mean, punished?"
"Eh… it's a long story, but the upshot of it is I made a small administrative gaff and old Yemma hasn't forgiven me for it yet. This is all part of otherworld community service. Do you think anyone would actually want to spend their free time doing the smakeway run?"
Yamcha laughed slightly, "A bit out of the way is it?" Shuma only glared at him, but Yamcha (who was looking intently at the cigarette in the demon's hand) missed it. "Wow demons have tobacco?" He exclaimed, "I had no idea! I haven't had a smoke since I died, do you mind?" he asked, motioning to the nearly burned out roll up.
Shuma jumped back as though he had been shot, "No way! You've got to be kidding me! There ain't no fucking way I'm getting in anymore shit than I am already." The demon nudged in closer, "Look here kid, this ain't no ordinary tobacco, this is demon leaf, it'd turn your mind upside down. It's strictly forbidden for any non-demon entities to smoke it."
"Really?" Deep down Yamcha knew it was a bad idea, but curiosity got the better of him. "Soooo… this would affect all non-demons the same, even, I dunno, say a Kai?"
Shuma shrugged, "Buggered if I know how it would affect a Kai, but I wouldn't recommend it to most species, demons are a lot different boy. You'll soon find that most organic rules don't apply to us."
Lost in thought Yamcha was weighing up his jealousy, wondering if it was worth the risk. He shook his head, even he wasn't that deranged yet. Shit! Was he really considering drugging a Kai, just because he wanted to make sure a homicidal alien wasn't moving in on his girl, but then again…? He slapped himself back into reality. He couldn't deny it was tempting, but everyone had their limit.
Shuma discarded the butt of his cigarette and looked hopefully up to the sky. "Hey! If I say I'm really, really sorry, can I come back now?" he asked.
A second later he had pushed off the wall and walked over to the crater, looking to the floor and mumbling quietly. He was clicking his tongue and walking around his stranded truck. After a moment, he paused and looked back up. Yamcha thought that maybe the demon dope affected Shuma more than he let on, and was corroborated a moment afterwards, as the demon nodded curtly, and mumbled a "thank you," to thin air.
Suddenly Yamcha found himself being scrutinized, "You look like a strong'un" Shuma shrugged, "Fancy doing us a favour?" he pointed to the Truck, "King Yemma said I'm allowed to go back, but that I need to get that piece of rubbish back up to snakeway before he can do anything. Do you think you could help me out?"
"Sure… that's no…" Yamcha stopped a moment, a wicked grin curling the corners of his mouth, "…problem," he continued, "On condition."
"You're a telepath right?"
Shuma nodded, his eyes sharpening.
"Can you do it through dimensions?" Yamcha continued.
"Of course I can. I told ya before kid, us demons are a lot different to most organics."
"But King Kai's not a demon and he can do it? What's the secret?"
Shuma looked nervously over his shoulder, "Look… it takes a lot of time to master inter-dimensional telepathy. Now why don't you cut the crap and tell me the real reason you want to know?"
"Wha… what do you mean?"
"I mean, who do you want to contact? A family member? A friend? Or how about a lover?"
Yamcha's mouth hung wide open, "How…?"
"I see enough dead people in this job, most of them have some loved one left behind that they want to keep an eye on, or want to deliver a message to. You don't know how many times I've been approached with the same questions."
"And how do you answer?"
"I tell 'em to bugger off of course."
"Of course," Yamcha sighed.
"But then again," Shuma continued, "I don't see many folk with their bodies still in tact, and who have the strength to help a delivery truck back onto snakeway." Another peek over his shoulder and Shuma pulled out a flat, palm size screen. "This is a standard issue demon screen. All you have to do is say the name of the mortal you wish to get in contact with… the planet, country and year they were born and it'll give you a direct magical link up. You won't be able to read thoughts, but you will be able to see everything they do. It's yours if you get me back onto snakeway and sneak me out a couple of bottles of sake for the trip home… whaddya say?"
Yamcha grinned, his eyes lighting up, "Shuma!" He sang happily, shaking the demon's hand, "You've got yourself a deal."
Vegeta watched with unwavering ferocity. The woman had been in the same position for the last half an hour, headphones turned up full volume as she read some piece of literary trash from her private library. A small sign adorned the intricately sculpted iron patio table next to her, written in red ink. He could make out the first two words, 'Do not…" but the last one was a mystery.
This kind of demented occupation was becoming all too common recently, and if he had realized what was happening sooner he might have made an effort to stop himself before it got out of hand, but now it had become like some sick little hobby, and quite frankly he couldn't think of any other way to spend the intermission between training and food.
Cerulean eyes shone under the heat of a sun-drenched afternoon, and pale skin shimmered, making his senses come alive. He shook his head. "Witch!" he cursed under his breath, standing up on the curved roof of the training room, still not looking away.
It was bizarre how suited he had become to watching her, whether it was now, as she lay so ignorantly by the outdoor pool in her short chiffon summer dress, or even late at night when he caught himself taking a quick glance across at her balcony from his own, half wondering, half hoping, she would be there. She had been right on one count. He did appreciate things of beauty, and recently he had found it increasingly difficult to deny or protest against her physical allurements.
At first he had looked at her with a detached mind, noting with a critical eye several defects in her form according to his standards of beauty. Her smaller than average chest, her too pale skin, the lack of discernable muscle definition, and the massive ki deficiency, (which always added extra enticement to any female,) were some of the strongest objections, but it seemed he would have to rethink his critique. Grudgingly he was becoming increasingly aware that these faults were, in actual fact, more than made up for by the strength of her mind, and the completely uncommon expression and light that could be seen flirting in those damn eyes when she spoke. Fire, had he called it? What an idiot! It was more akin to a wild vicious ki, and, he presumed, no less destructive.
It was sickening how easily he could feel himself becoming victim of her. He cringed as he mulled over her words from the previous day, "In whatever way would give me the most pleasure of course."
"Whore!" he snorted. He didn't doubt that she was very well adapted for pleasure and it made it all the harder for him to stay disinterested. Did she have any idea who she was playing with? Such a foolish girl and such a dangerous path to be led down, but did she listen to his warning. No of course she didn't, that would be too easy for her wouldn't it? She had to come back later in the evening on his already confounded attraction, to taunt him in her underwear. "Baka!"
Catching the smell of freshly cooked meat, drifting deliciously from the kitchen window, Vegeta snarled his contempt at himself. "What an idiot!" he scolded. His stomach growled once in response, and so stepping gently down from the curved structure, he levitated to the floor in search of lunch.
"Perfect timing!" Vegeta silently congratulated, as he entered the spacious breakfast room, to see Mrs. Brief happily slapping large layers of bacon on generously buttered granary bread.
"Well hello Vegeta!" she simpered, in her usual vacuous manner, placing the plates in front of him.
He didn't reply.
"Isn't it a lovely day today. I've been out in the garden all morning. The roses are so beautiful at this time of the year, but I'm glad your Namekian friends are here Vegeta. I don't know how I'd have managed without them."
She carried on in this manner for what seemed to Vegeta like an eternity, and despite all appearances he was rather relieved when Bulma walked in not long afterwards, taking the brunt of her mothers vacant ramblings.
"Bulma!" she gushed, before her daughter had walked two steps inside the room, "All packed yet?"
"Mum I'm not leaving until Friday!" she laughed.
"Yes, but you have to be prepared for these things. Now you have two cases in the vanity closet upstairs, but if you're going to the Med, you're just going to have to do some shopping for me. You'll need more. There's this gorgeous little shop in Majorca called "Chiva!" Its run by a lovely father and son from England called… now dear me his name escapes me, but his son is Kieran. Such a sweet young man! He's about your age Bulma, and has the most amazing eyes. You can't miss him. Anyway their ranges are to die for."
"Write me a list mum, I'll try my best to find what you want, but if I don't have the time I don't want you getting all disappointed, ok?"
"Of course!" She tittered, "I'll be there soon enough myself anyway, I just love their dresses."
Bulma rolled her eyes, and scraping a chair away from the table, sat down and started to nibble at the rapidly dwindling pile of sandwiches. Vegeta looked up just in time to see the exasperation on her face, and smirked. At least he wasn't the only one who had to put up with that shit. Misdirection, he had learnt, was the only way to escape the ditzy ningen when she was in full flow.
"How's the training going?" Bulma asked, sitting back in the chair with one leg pulled up and resting on the seat.
"Fine." he replied with an indifferent shrug.
"I bet you're going to miss it when you're on vacation with Bulma-chan." Interjected her mother.
Vegeta stopped mid-bite, his eyes widening. What the fuck was she talking about? He had told Bulma flat out no!
"Mum! I already told you Vegeta doesn't want to go. He can sleep in the space pod while the improvements are being done."
"What a load of nonsense, of course you want to go, don't you Vegeta?"
"No!" replied Bulma sternly, "No he doesn't."
Vegeta was about to reply that he had much more important things to do than waste his time on some backward transportation device for two weeks when he could be striving to achieve super Saiya-jin, but he suddenly noticed just how flustered Bulma had become.
A sardonic glint, shone in the black of his eyes. So last night was an act was it? Ha! Two could play at that game! "Well…" He mused out loud, "I have been training flat out since I got here, maybe this vacation thing might not be such a bad idea."
Bulma's jaw went slack.
"The vast amount of this planet still remains a mystery to me. I've circled it a couple of times but didn't notice anything interesting enough to stop."
Mrs. Briefs eyes lit up. "Oh this is wonderful! I knew you'd come around Vegeta. You two will have so much fun together!"
Vegeta smirked. "How could I refuse? After all your daughter was practically begging me to go with her last night."
The look Bulma sent him was priceless and more than compensated for the gushing of her mother. He really had to restrain himself from bursting out laughing. If only he had a camera, but he merely contented himself with saving the image to his near perfect memory. "What's the matter? Don't you think it would be fun Bulma?" He pouted through laughing eyes.
"Well… er… no… I…"
"Oh Bulma how can you object when Vegeta is so eager."
"Yes…" he coaxed, looking up from under heavy eyebrows, "How can you possibly object?"
Fiery eyes held him captive, the portend of death overflowing from them, even as it was annulled by his smirk.
"Fine!" She eventually snapped, under her mothers pleading face. "You can come."
This time Vegeta couldn't restrain the laugh, "Ha! You really are as idiotic as each other!" he scoffed, finishing his sandwich, "Like I need a fucking vacation! I'd rather have root canal than miss two weeks of training."
"Ugh! You're an asshole!" screamed Bulma, flinging her arms up in anger, "You see mum, you see what he's like! How could you possibly want your only daughter to be trapped alone for two weeks with a shit head like that?"
"Bulma!" Mrs. Brief chided, "Language!"
Bulma stuck her nose in the air, "Vegeta swore first!"
"Vegeta's a guest."
"Yes!" emphasized Vegeta, loving this more and more as time went on, "I'm a fucking guest! Be nice!"
"I'll only be nice to people who are nice back. You Vegeta… you can eat horse shit for all I care."
"Mrs. Brief," he appealed, "She swore at me again."
He laughed even harder if it was possible, as the hapless mother apostrophized her daughter yet again. Bulma looked like she was about to burst a blood vessel she was so angry.
"Thank you for a delicious meal!" He smirked evilly as he got up, and dabbed the corner of his mouth clean with a napkin.
"Such a well mannered young man!" He heard the mother giggle, as he walked calmly out of the room. Vegeta was definitely intrigued. So Mrs. Brief did have her uses after all… who would have guessed.
It was well into the night when he finally finished his training. With precision and speed he slinked into the large house in search of a shower, before raiding the fridge, preferably without waking the residents. He had missed the communal eating hour, but it didn't matter. There was always plenty of food, if he missed one meal then it was simply stored until he was ready to eat it, and the house robots made sure it was re-heated to a preprogrammed temperature.
Stepping out of the large bathroom he quickly dried himself and pulled on a pair of black silk pajama bottoms, before looking pointedly out of the large windows. The French doors we open part way causing the long red drapes to billow slightly. The glow of the moon covered the balcony in a blanket of silver.
Vegeta stifled a sigh. Nighttime was always the worst. During the day it was gone into the deepest recesses of his mind, lost in the flicking of a switch, which just like the redirection of electricity around a circuit breaker, was designed to deflect his thoughts away from the past.
On the forgotten and painful dreams and questions of what if, this was his little sanctum, and the untouched and hidden link to his past.
The smattering of stars glistened through a high night mist, as he thumbed his consummate way through the names of the constellations and their planetary numerations. Had his father still been alive then Vegeta had no doubt that he would be impressed with how well his mind and body worked. Vegeta knew that he was everything that his father had foretold he would be, but unfortunately there was still one piece of the jigsaw missing.
Flinging the useless drapes spectacularly to the side, he stepped out onto the moonlit balcony, completely ignorant of the picturesque beauty his formidable silhouette painted onto the scene. The selective lighting made pronounced areas of his body gleam, whilst at the same time cloaked others in the darkness they deserved.
"Super Saiya-jin," he whispered.
"Super Saiya-jin," he repeated, rolling it on his tongue and thinking through each syllable. "How do I attain it?"
"You train well and love life."
Vegeta froze for a second, but didn't turn to face the speaker. There was no need. "And how did you suddenly become the expert on this?"
"I didn't." The feminine voice danced over the calm of night in the Capsule Corp. compound, "But isn't that how Son-kun achieved it?"
"He was lucky, that's all. Necessity gave him an advantage and fate made a mockery of my royal blood. If anything Super Saiya-jin is a sick riddle. An obscure enigma, which a third rate baka somehow managed to trip over and fall face first into, while his prince is still forced to puzzle over its complexities."
There was a deep sigh, and Vegeta chanced a glance over to Bulma's balcony.
"Goku always was ridiculously fluky when it came to solving riddles." She smiled, as a freak gust of wind, disturbed the veil of night and rumpled the hold of her dressing gown belt. The knot fell undone and allowed for the suggestion of red lace underneath. Vegeta willed his eyes away.
"I think it's his naïveté." Bulma continued, "He doesn't think as intensely as the rest of us."
Vegeta grinned, "Which is a nice way of saying he's a abnormally lucky idiot."
Wisely, Bulma didn't reply and both looked wistfully out over the city. Vegeta caught the now familiar click of flints as his companion lit a cigarette. "You know its rude not to share." He smirked, trying to mimic her mother's voice.
"Ugh! Don't you dare start with all that shit again! I'm still pissed at you!"
He smirked, "I wouldn't have it any other way."
Instantly he cursed his own stupidity. There was too much of his admiration glaring through the lines of that statement, and he held his breath, hoping she wouldn't read into it. Trying to turn the tide of the conversation he added, "Now give me a damn smoke!"
"Well in case you haven't noticed Saiyan no baka," she spat, "I don't fly very well, and there's no way I can jump that gap. So if you want one that badly then you're just going to have to come over here and get it… aren't you!"
Vegeta thought about protesting, but for once he didn't want to start an argument. With a painfully reluctant growl he levitated over to Bulma's balcony, sitting in mid air and lowering himself gently onto the black railings. He hadn't, however, realized that the female's hand had been resting on it, and was rather surprised to feel one of her manicured thumbs rubbing against his thigh. He shifted his weight slightly to free it.
The small hand didn't move. Vegeta looked down at it thoughtfully for a moment, and with a shrug of the shoulders let it be. It wasn't like it was grossly unpleasant or anything. His attention instead turned to the cigarette that was pursed thoughtfully on her lips. Now he knew why she hadn't removed her hand, the woman was completely lost to her own mind. He rolled his eyes and simply took the cigarette from her lips, brushing them gently with his fingers. It was an accident of course, or at least that's how Vegeta accounted for it. The main purpose was achieved though. Vegeta got his smoke and the woman snapped out of her reverie to give him her undivided attention.
"Hey!" she accused!
"You have more," he groused, inhaling deeply, "Quit bitching."
She rolled her eyes and leaned up against the wall, her shoulder brushing his as they both kept their vigil on nothing. "You're running away aren't you?" he said eventually.
"What do you mean?"
"This vacation crap." He elaborated, "You don't want to relax, you want to escape."
"I just need some time to myself," she sighed, "Without anyone watching me, where I can think properly and figure out just what I want to do with my life."
"Aren't you supposed to be taking over your father's business?"
"That's not what I meant, I mean emotionally, not financially. You've kind of got me thinking recently."
"Oh?" he inquired, "In what way?"
"You know this whole Super Saiya-jin thing. Seeing you so passionate about achieving it, not because you need to, but because you want to. Perhaps…" She looked at him for the first time, "Perhaps I wish I had something like Super Saiya-jin to chase."
"Necessity and desire aren't so far apart woman, you shouldn't give them so much distinction."
"Yeah well… I just have to sort my head out that's all. I think I've changed since Namek. I'm not the same person I was then, things… I dunno, they're just different now."
He chuckled emptily, discarding his burned out cigarette. "Ain't that the truth?"
There was a long silence after those words. Vegeta was struck silent by how much her words had claimed a chord of sympathy within him. Normally he never sympathized, only scathed, and it unnerved him that she managed to hash his own confusion into a portion of her speech.
The temperature dropped a fraction, and Bulma wrapped her dressing gown round her tighter. "Well I've got a busy day tomorrow," she sighed, "I'd better get some sleep."
Vegeta inclined his head in a silent, "Whatever" and was kind of surprised when she made no move to leave. Instead she leaned over and rested her head full on his shoulder, "Thanks" she murmured.
"For what?" he snorted, feeling an extremely uncomfortable mixture of anger and desire.
She chuckled, "No reason, just thank you."
"Idiot!" he chided, but there was no real vindictiveness in it.
Swinging his legs over the side, he levitated the other side of the railings from her, glad to have broken the awkward contact. It was absolutely absurd how her presence managed to confuse his faculties in such an unforgivably treacherous way. He stared at her a moment longer and she smiled.
"You know Vegeta, you can actually be kind of cute, when you're not hurling insults at me." She winked once and before his stupefied brain could register a response, she had walked gracefully back inside her bedroom and shut the doors.