It felt so good. White ki licked beautifully around his body, stroking it, caressing every contour and flowing like a deadly second skin as it twisted into the night with ethereal tendrils of fire. That feeling… that was all that he had to concentrate on. That feeling… that was all he had ever craved and as his lungs burnt with the pressure of a scream that ripped from the very bottom of his throat, he tipped his head back, flexing the muscles to capacity as he let it all erupt out in a fit of power and release.
All Vegeta could see was blinding light. Blood slowly seeped into his eyes, gradually discolouring the world around him, and making them sting like they were being pierced with a thousand red-hot needles. He clenched his teeth trying to stay focused. If only he could concentrate through the pain for a fraction longer.
He felt on the cusp of a new power. It was there in his mind as a long split fissure of earth culminating in a bottomless canyon that stretched out beyond the edge of his imagination itself. He could feel his power instinctively pushing onwards forcing him up to that point, but the pain… damn! He couldn't even think through it. It made every step further that so much more exhausting, and he could feel his legs getting weaker under the strain.
"Keep standing!" he screamed over the expulsion of power. "The prince of all Saiya-jins does not give up!" He stumbled slightly, but regained his footing, squaring his leg angrily and steadying himself. "I have to go on. I will reach it… I will claim my birthright! I will become super… super…"
Then like a match that had been held too long, he could feel the power and heat ebbing away, slowly at first and no matter how hard he tried to push it further, it just wouldn't burn any brighter. The lack of energy made his strained torso hunch. Stubborn to the last he tried to rearrange his footing a second time - only this time the knee wouldn't sustain the immense pressure being thrust upon it. It began to wobble, the ligaments straining from side to side, before quivering and eventually flexing enough to make him fall.
That was it. The last stand was over. As he fell face first towards the floor there was no control, no exertion. The ki, the comfort it offered and the power it exuded, evacuated him like it had been sucked into the vacuum of space, and as he eventually smacked down into the dirt, he impacted at dead weight, not even having the energy to erect a ki shield to protect him from the fall.
He lay there for many minutes. The amount of sheer exhaustion he had inflicted on himself making even breathing difficult, let alone anything else - but his mind - fuck! His thoughts just wouldn't shut up. He could hear laughing in the same rough growl as his own, taunting him as he tried to get out of the mud. It spat insults into his head, twisting around with another voice, no less familiar. It made his skin crawl. Shit! The Ice-jin may be dead, but to Vegeta it felt as though the freaks hold over his life was just as intense as always. It was now, when he hit his lowest and most frustrated moments that he could hear his cruel lisp, buzzing around his head just as though he were still a boy and susceptible to the torment of words.
Movement coerced his body now in a wakening of pins and needles. Angrily he stretched a hand out, digging his gloved fingers into the soft ground. It had been the same for weeks! Why the fuck wasn't he getting any stronger? It was maddening. Every time he flew out to this damned ugly woodland it was the same horrible story. He was on the edge of the legendary. He had felt it for so long now, it was so infuriating. He could practically experience the gulf of power it promised for a fraction of a second, but the instant he tried to reign it in and gather some control, it would evaporate as quickly as it would come. Leaving him in his current phase of crazed disbelief… wanting to kill everything and anything that got in his way.
Feeling cascaded with a flow of energized blood, back to his legs and he managed to push off the ground and fall into a seated position. Maybe he had to rethink his approach. Normal training wasn't working. He was convinced of that much. It had to have taken something extraordinary for Kakarrot to transform in the manner he did. Was it as he had affirmed to the weirdly alluring ningen? Was it luck… or was it something the fool had done differently in his training?
Caught in a dreamlike moment he stretched a hand to the ground once again, this time pointing the index finger and calving the dirt easily aside. The intricate marking was like nothing seen on Earth before, but it didn't matter to Vegeta. He understood it. The way the lines looped and clung to each other made him shiver in the moment of a past long forgotten and never to be resurrected.
And just to make sure the importance associated with it was properly placed, he circled and underlined it several times. He stared at it long and hard, until his vision blurred with the strain. He shook his head bringing it back to normal focus. The longer he looked the more assured he felt. Bulma's words seeped into his mind, and as he watched they repeated themselves over and over in a stubborn riddle of truth.
"Train hard and love life."
He had dismissed her as an ignorant fool at the time, (albeit an attractive ignorant fool) but now… well now he wasn't sure. If, as it was made all the clearer to him now, that normal training (although making him slowly stronger) would never gift him the sheer brutality and dominant power of super Saiya-jin, then he had to look to likely alternatives. If it was one thing that Vegeta had seen in Kakarrot's eyes it was a compassion for his friends and family and an innate pleasure with the world. Could his transformation been a result of his placidity?
He ran his hands over his face. What an idiot! Why was he even considering it? It would make no sense at all. You couldn't just be given a power like that out of thin air. There was no way! There had to have been a trigger, a state reached on the battlefield that Vegeta had not experienced before… but compassion… compassion? Was it the key?
Shit! What did he have to do?
Slowly, carefully, he got back to his feet. He stood for a second, swaying indecisively backwards and forwards as he tried to regain his balance. Leaning his head back, he inhaled the crisp night air, letting the small raindrops of an imminent storm, splash gently over his skin.
"What is the secret?"
The breath misted, but of course there was no response. His breathing increased as he snarled against the cold, "TELL ME!" he screamed, power escaping him in intense burst of lightening like ki. His chest was rising and falling at a dramatic pace, the energy he was exuding draining him quickly in his weakened state, "TELL ME!" he repeated, spinning around like a madman, white hot balls of energy leaving his hands and decimating the tree and rock-dappled woodland around him.
Her words and image flowed in concentricity before his eyes mocking him as his head swam and his balance was lost. "You will tell me more!" he snarled as he sunk to his knees, "Time is running out. You know more than you think woman, you would not be invading my senses in this god forbidden way, if you didn't. I will find you and you will tell me more… Bulma! You WILL tell me!"
Bulma leant back, glad for the shade as she relaxed on the bar, watching the hot rays of Mediterranean sun scorch her fellow holidaymakers. She took a long sip on her elaborately decorated glass of Pina Colada, having disposed of the pointlessly miniature umbrella, and green olive accompaniment.
The cruise ship was more than she could have hoped for. The crew were attentive and well mannered. She'd had no problem as far as the travel out to Palma was concerned and now she had been happily settled on ship for a week on a vacation that had promised plenty of time alone to sort out her head and take her back home with spirits renewed and purpose refreshed.
She breathed in the fresh salty air, and enjoyed the moment for what it was… hers… and hers alone. Fumbling in the drawstring of her simple net handbag she pulled out a pair of Gucci sunglasses and slipped them onto her nose.
She had been alone… truly alone. She'd been on countless excursions, visited so many clubs and restaurants on the way, not having to worry about being noticed for her wealth, her behaviour, or what she said, and yet for some reason… for some strange inexplicable reason there was a portion of her soul that was sorry she'd had to do it alone, and that there was no one there to experience the real her… the young woman that wanted an edge of excitement and thrill in a life that had suddenly become too boring and predictable to hold her fiery spirit.
Perhaps she might not have felt it a few weeks ago, but there was something that made her sad when she thought of Vegeta. In truth she had felt a little injured when he rejected her invitation to join her so implacably. Maybe it was because she had actually been genuinely willing to shun her therapy so as to let him come along; but Vegeta was… well… Vegeta. He was adamant to the last. She just had to curb her disappointment and try to understand that there wasn't anything for it… he plain didn't want to come, and as she watched the milling of elderly, overweight, diamond tinted tourists, laughing, eating and drinking themselves to an early heart attack; she could pretty much understand why. She chuckled to herself and mumbled, "Too much cannon fodder."
Of course her brain had made the connection long since as to what that implied and she had told him as much before she left. She was actually starting to like Vegeta. It had started in an everyday acceptance, an association that anyone might posses with a longstanding houseguest, but which had at some inexplicable point morphed him into a friend, and even though he had screamed and threatened her not to feel the attachment to him, she just couldn't see it any other way.
The purpose of the vacation was fulfilled and she knew precisely what had to be done. Time, reflection of events and not having the distraction of everyday life or the Namekians buzzing around her, gave her mind the direction it needed. It was so obvious now, and it was only because she had been blinded by the rage of the moment, as he'd stormed so violently after her, sinking his fist into the plaster to prove his point, that she hadn't realized it at the time.
Maybe it was the fact that her best friends were dead and that no one could fill the gap, or maybe it still would have been the same even if they were there. Only time would tell, but now she knew without a shadow of a doubt that Vegeta was the excitement she pined after, he was the key to alighting the old Bulma, screaming under the restraint of chains and clawing to be set free. Namek had awakened the feeling, and now it was ready to be born again in something that was scary but exhilarating at the same time.
To her mind it was now as simple as the difference between black and white. Of course her therapy was still beyond the fingertips of her control. Vegeta. It was only in the power of his hands to exact that part of her irrespective as to whether it was for the best or not.
She took another sip of her drink. There was only a few weeks left until the Namekian dragon, Porunga, could be summoned and then she would know for sure what she had to do, and whether she would be strong enough to do it, or if he was willing to do the same. One of her fingers edged nervously around the rim of her glass. That was what made her more nervous than anything else. What did she have that Vegeta would want? It was all her, her, her and if she knew Vegeta like she was beginning to think she did, then he would simply laugh and abuse the situation to his advantage. Friendship meant nothing to him… so what else was there?
She looked to the floor, knowing the answer would come eventually, but at the moment it still eluded her. Dammit! What the hell would he want?
Vegeta closed his eyes and concentrated with renewed vigour. After the angry storm of the night, the air seemed a lot fresher as the rim of dawn broke in a halo of gold over the horizon. Unfortunately he still wasn't any closer to finding her. Reading life energy was still relatively new to him. It had only been on Namek that he had applied the art but at that time he hadn't needed to be too picky with regards to refining it. All the creatures he was trying to track had strong discernable ki. One slip up and they stuck out like a rod of electricity in the void of his mind, but this was different. Oh so infuriatingly different!
The Briefs woman was disgustingly hard to locate. Her ki was pitiful, a marked reminder as to why he should never feel any more attachment to her than he had already unwittingly created. It was like searching for a needle in a haystack. A couple of points higher and it might not have been so difficult, but she was only human, and no different to the rest of her repulsive kind. After dropping his mind to the lowest ki readings available, (a feat in itself) Vegeta was bombarded with millions upon millions of weak female ki signatures, streaking out from all corners of the globe.
He snarled and flew up into the cloudless sky. He needed more direction, something to give him a general location as to where she might be hiding from her life. He thought more carefully. What had she called the area? The Mediterranean? Someone somewhere must know where it was. His shoulders sagged as he remembered she had referred to it as consisting of several different countries. It wouldn't help enough to locate her exact position. He needed to be on the contraption she had chosen to travel by. It would be the only way to give range to the spikes of ki that defined her fire from the insipidness of everyone else… but how would he find it…?
His eyes suddenly flashed open, a smirk spreading across his features in a celebratory salute to his brains superior intellect.
Half an hour later and only having stopped to have a quick shower in his luxurious bathroom, Vegeta strode with purpose into the main kitchen of the Brief's home. He mentally sighed in relief when he found it to be devoid of any misapplied blonde cheerfulness. After doing a quick sweep so as to ascertain that he was correct in sensing it empty, he walked over to the counter and looked for the leaflet she'd left with Dende as the blonde tornado had spun her outside.
He chuckled slightly at the new name his psyche had dubbed the mother on impulse. It suited her. She definitely whirled in like a tornado, hit you like one at full force and with as much predictability, and left your mind wondering just what in the hell had actually happened. It was a skill he was learning to appreciate and respect with as much power as he had scorned and belittled to begin with. He wasn't sure if the crazy woman knew how intelligent it really was to be that way around him, but he could no longer fault her for it, even if it was only to be a mental retraction.
The counter was empty. The chuckle fell silent on his lips and he frowned. Ok, it had been a long shot and he was prepared for the eventuality of it having been moved. His next stop therefore was the refrigerator. He looked at its rounded surface studying the magnets and seeing if any of the notes alluded to the name of the ship Bulma was on. They didn't. Vegeta was a little put out, but with a quick quirk of the eyebrow, he smirked slightly. "Well… whilst I'm here," he justified. With a deft tug he opened the door, and with a childlike greed, helped himself to a selection of the contents.
Biting into a large bar of chocolate, he moved away from the fridge and to the notice board, secured neatly at the end of the set of kitchen units. His face spread into a momentary grin. "Bingo!" he exclaimed, plucking the brochure roughly away. It appeared 'The Laconia' would be docked at Marseille, France that evening.
"Perfect!" he said, slapping the leaflet closed. "Now to the library to find out just where in the fuck that is."
Yamcha had long since lost track of the number of days he'd been walking. At some point it had all merged into one giant lump of nothingness, one long numb adventure, but he wasn't complaining. It was better than staying on that horrible little planet.
His stomach growled and he clenched his side. The large and plentiful meals that graced Kaio-sama's table were the only thing he could safely say he missed. Still, the amazing piece of fruit that had miraculously dropped out of the sky a couple of mornings back seemed to have done the trick.
He chuckled slightly and his tired body ached under the strain. King Yemma had made no secret of the fact he was watching him closely, and to be honest Yamcha wasn't too fused that he was. If the old guy had wanted to punish him from straying from Kaio-sama's protection then he would have done it by now, but he took a guess that the revered giant had probably seen just as much as he had, possibly more, and knew that solitude was the best thing for him at that moment. Why else, after pretty much shoving the help of a Kai back down his throat, would he still have retained his body?
The only thing that really bugged the shit out of him was that he was still no closer to sorting out his head than he had been when he'd first set foot back on snakeway. Why was it so hard to get over this jealousy shit? He knew Bulma, trusted her. He shouldn't be feeling this way and yet…?
All strength seemed to dissolve from his legs and he stumbled slightly before deciding that it was probably safer to sit down rather than fall. It wasn't in her nature to cheat. No Bulma was faultless. It was Vegeta he couldn't trust. The guy was a mass-murdering bastard. Kami only knew what he was used to taking from woman and all Yamcha's mind could see now when he thought of the Saiyan prince, was some kind of alien incubus, preying on his innocent Bulma and seducing her while she slept.
Of course since he was free of King Kai's planet he had made free use of Shuma's present, and he pulled the small screen out of his gi, needing the current reassurance that she was still on her holiday and safe from Vegeta's evil. Settling it carefully onto his lap, he softly whispered 'redial' and waited for the inter-dimensional call to fall into place.
The moment he had left the compound Vegeta had known his choice of attire was a mistake. It would have been ten times more comfortable to go with his usual training garments, but NO… he had to have a sudden flash of foresight and choose the rarely touched human clothes at the back of his wardrobe. He still grudgingly admitted that the soft crushed black trousers and white buttoned shirt would give him the free licence to move around the vessel without being noticed, but he wasn't entirely sure if that made up for the unpleasant drafts that forced their way unforgivably up his leg, or flapped the loose material in such a frustrating pattern over his skin as he flew.
At least he'd made good time. The sun was low in the sky and he could feel a noticeable change in the temperature of the air around him. Map reading was a skill as necessary to him in his former life as wielding ki had been, and having scrutinised the rudimentary chikyu-jin atlas at the Capsule Corp. library, Vegeta had wasted little time in making his move.
The clouds were thinning out now and it gave him an uninterrupted view of the water passing at incredible speed below. He congratulated himself on seeing the great expanse, sparkling orange against the setting sun. He was spot on target as usual, and changing the direction of his ki he spun in the air, moving his body into an upright position as he started to make an elegant descent.
As he slowly got lower more activity could be seen on the waters surface. The odd sailing yacht could clearly be seen and the rim of land hung as an arc of lights on the horizon. More importantly than all this of course was the large cruise ship that was docked in front of the town, blocking the view in a non-aesthetic mass of metal and light.
Flying perpendicular to the water and at an obscuring height from any prying eyes, Vegeta moved directly above it. Curling his lip he looked down at the main deck. "Disgusting!" He snarled, watching the disturbingly numerous amount of human activity going on there. He just had to keep reminding himself that it was all for a good cause - a step closer to the ascension of super Saiya-jin, and the woman that might be the key to making it happen. Of course he didn't know for certain that this was the case, but it certainly held a healthy amount of excitement either way.
He had watched, observed her for so long. It was about damn time that they had this confrontation- as confrontation it would be. There was no way he was going to make this easy for her. During the flight he had formulated a plan and he was going to exert it in as deathly a way as any other he had in the past. Bulma Briefs would have to answer to him one way or the other, there was no choice in this situation, and he would make damn sure of that!
Now being in a good proximity to her he closed his eyes and began to concentrate. It only took a couple of seconds and he chuckled into the warm evening air as his eyes opened and he let his ki deplete slightly, controlling his fall. "Way too easy!"
He landed gracefully on a roof towards the front of the ship, only for a moving light to flash briefly into his eyes. Not wanting to create suspicion he quickly flipped backwards and landed between two buildings in a crouched position so as to avoid detection.
There he waited for a moment, before standing up, brushing himself down and carefully walking out and onto the main deck. The sheer amount of humans made him feel appropriately violated and holding his ki in an invisible shield around him he made damn sure he wouldn't have his personal space invaded by them.
Having caught hold of Bulma's ki in his mind, Vegeta could pretty much block anything else and concentrate on it fully. As far as he could tell she was a couple of decks below, and so locating the door to gain access inside the ship he headed in that direction.
After a disturbing elevator ride, sandwiched between two abnormally large women, one of which would stare at him like he was a free meal, licking her lips, and trying to crush nearer to him, Vegeta managed to barge his way out of the door and once again pick up on Bulma's ki. She wasn't far away now. The corridor split in two directions but Vegeta knew precisely where he was going. He turned left and the hall widened until two large glass doors, worked elegantly inside frames of highly polished metal, imposed into view.
There was a great amount of movement behind them. The large room was highly decorated with rich and expensive furnishings. A variety of different sized tables stretched in organized rows down its whole length, and each one was attended by what looked like a servant.
He looked to the direction Bulma's ki was emanating from. There was a large row of tables all pushed together, and with more food placed on them than even a battalion of Saiya-jin's could have pigged their way through. He frowned in distaste as his stomach growled, reminding him that the only thing he had eaten that day was the snack from the Capsule Corp. fridge more than six hours ago.
"Don't you dare," he whispered to the insubordinate internal organ. "I have much more important things to concentrate on than satiating y…."
He stopped mid order and blinked once. The shine of aquamarine hair halted his speech and held his vision captive. She was in plain view, one long leg enticingly on display through the slit of a deep red evening dress. He took in the view, liking how the outfit dipped so low in the front.
He scolded himself, shaking his head to clear his mind. He wasn't there to play voyeur. No. Tonight he wasn't going to watch from a distance… tonight was all about confrontation and reaffirming his plan. With his normal arrogance he pinned his shoulders back, crossed his arms over his chest, and held his nose haughtily in the air, strolling confidently into the room.
He lost no time, spinning a waiter around as he made a direct line to the ningen that had caused him so much trouble. She was picking at a plate of canapés as he approached, and so lost in the act that she didn't see him. He mentally chuckled. How on earth did any species survive with such pathetic sensory skills! He held his hand experimentally an inch away from her exposed back and sent a little expulsion of energy skittering across the tanned skin.
He watched in fascination as the skin goose-bumped and made Bulma stand bolt upright. Her whole body gave into a delicious little shiver. Capitalizing on her confused instincts, he decided to speak.
"Which would you recommend, Whore? I've been flying all afternoon after your worthless human ass and now, thanks to you, I'm fucking hungry!"
It had the desired effect. Bulma spun around so quickly that she almost fell over.
Ever the Saiya-jin, Vegeta of course didn't move to help, only looked down his nose in amusement as she grabbed hold of a table to steady herself. "V… Vegeta," she gasped, holding a hand to her chest. "What the fuck are you doing here?"
He smirked once, following a lock of hair that caressed her neck and spilled down to her rapidly rising chest. This was going to be fun!