Chapter 17- The Wish and The Promise

Vegeta slowly became aware of the feeling that he was miles down beneath a vast ocean. His entire body felt as if it were made of lead and refused to respond to his commands. Worse than this was the pain that radiated from his neck and clouded his perceptions with itís relentless throbbing. Trying desperately to fight the feeling of disorientation swiftly overtaking him he tried to discern where he was by stretching out his senses but it was to no avail. He couldnít concentrate. He only knew that he had the instinctual feeling that he was somewhere unfamiliar.

His eyes shot open in alarm only to meet a fuzzy sea of white. He fought to focus them and then closed his eyes in defeat once again trying hard to use his other senses to find out where he was. His keen sense of hearing picked up mechanical hums, whirs and beeps very close to him and something else, something alive, something breathing.

He opened his eyes again and found that his eyesight was beginning to recover. Instead of an indiscernible sea of white it was a white fuzzy ceiling above him. Moving only his eyes he could see he was in a room much like the medical rooms at Capsule Corporation. Machines flanked him but it was something else that caught his attention out of the corner of his eye.

He turned his head, ignoring the sharp pain that shot down his spine as he did so, toward the figure beside him. There she sat, slumped over to one side, in a chair with her sea-green hair spilling down over her arms, which she was now using for a pillow. A single strand of her hair danced in the wake of her measured breathing as she slumbered. Taking a moment to focus his eyes on the woman beside him he felt all of the uneasiness that pervaded his mind vanish, as it always did when he watched her sleep. She truly looked angelic. No one gazing upon her now would believe that she could be such a bitch when she was awake.

Vegeta smiled in spite of himself only to find his face muscles restricted by something. Trying hard to focus he shifted his eyes down and saw that there was a shape of some kind where his mouth should be. With greater effort than should have been necessary he slid his arm out from under the blankets that seemed to be covering him and brought it up to his face.

"Itís a damn breathing mask," he thought feeling the hose connected to it. "No wonder I canít completely come out of this. Saiyajin do not require such massive amounts of oxygen pumped into their bodies." With that he grasped the breathing mask and tore it off.

"I must be in a medical facility for treatment of the injuries that I appear to have" he realized. He shifted in the bed and felt the throbbing protest in his neck and reached up to touch it. He fingers told him it there was a piece of cloth, probably a bandage, affixed to his neck. "Kuso," he thought upon feeling the discomfort in his muscles as he attempted to flex his arm. "I feel like I was in a battle of some kind but Iíd remember if I was in a battle. Wouldnít I?"

Allowing his arm to flop down to the bed he closed his eyes once more trying to collect his thoughts. "What is the last thing I remember" he puzzled to himself. "I was in Bulmaís lab and I heard something. I couldnít see anything, or sense anything, so I relaxed my guard and then I felt something on my neckÖthere was pain andÖthen I remember nothing."

He opened his eyes and once again took in the sleeping Bulma. "I should get out of here before she realizes that I am awake and calls those bakas to come poke and prod at me."

Vegeta slowly sat up and was overcome with the wave of dizziness that hit him. His body felt as if it would give out any moment but he chose to ignore the pain running down the length of his spine and held himself erect. When the dizziness finally abated he turned his attention to the numerous items that appeared to either be stuck in him or to him. First, he grabbed hold of the tubes in his arm and yanked them out. Next he turned his attention to the round things on his chest easily removing them. Not a second after he removed the strange sticky patches one of the machines beside his bed let out a piercing screech causing him to cringe. Not able to stand the noisy assault on his eardrums a moment longer he reached out with one of his clumsy arms and smashed the offending device into silence. "Human medicine is so primitive" he grumbled rubbing his ears.

"Vegeta!" Bulma cried in sleepy joy rushing to him and hugging his bicep. "Your awake!" Ordinarily she would have been furious that she had just woken up to the saiyajin smashing an expensive piece of medical equipment however, for the moment, she was just glad that he was okay.

Vegeta looked down his nose at the woman clinging to him in annoyance. He was glad to know that she had evidently worried about him because that meant she had forgotten about the messy scene with her father the last time she had seen him but he had to maintain some kind of dignity. "Woman where are my clothes?" he demanded. "I wish to leave this place right now."

"The only clothes you have here are the boxers that youíre wearing now and youíre too sick to leave just yet" she commented looking up into his face with a happy sigh. If he had woken up any other way than feigning good health, trying to leave, and barking princely decrees in his usual truculent manner she would have been worried.

"Then I will have to leave as I am," he stubbornly stated crossing his arms over his chest.

"No youíre not," Bulma stated lifting her head up, releasing her grip on his arm, and regarding him seriously. "You are laying back down right now or Iím going to make you lie down"

Vegeta snorted in disdain and met his mateís determined gaze. He knew that it was taking all of his strength to just sit up and that in his current condition she could, and would do, as she threatened. This being the case he decided on the least embarrassing option and lay back down under his own power. "I only did this so that I didnít have to listen to your incessant nagging woman," he stated as she pulled the covers back up over him.

Just then a brigade of doctors and nurses rushed in the room.

"Heís okay" Bulma assured them "but your machine isnít."

The medical staff let out a collective gasp as they noticed the smashed object.

"Donít worry Iíll pay for it" she said to them silently thanking Kami that she was rich and able to do so.

"How did this happen?" the doctor questioned in confusion making his way over to them. "And how did all those IVs come out?"

"I removed them baka" Vegeta answered defiantly with an arrogant smirk "and I smashed your pathetic device which is what I will do to you if you try to touch me."

Bulma glared at her saiyajin mate. "You will let these doctors examine you and you will behave yourself Vegeta," she scolded.

"I am behaving myself" came the princeís answer "otherwise heíd be dead by now."

Bulma looked up at the doctor who now had the unmistakable look of fear on his face and then back down at Vegeta who was clearly delighted that his threats had worked. She next felt a hand on her shoulder and saw the clearly displeased sneer that crossed Vegetaís face.

"UhÖMiss Briefs" the doctor began in a frightened whisper close to her ear trying to ignore the growl emanating from deep within the strange patientís throat "but could we have a word in private?"

"Take your hands off her!" Vegeta bellowed as he shot-up straight and grabbed the unfortunate doctor by his shirt. "She is MY MATE and no one touches MY MATE!" Once the strength that his burst of anger gave him wore off Vegeta felt the wave of dizziness overcome him, released the man and fell back onto the bed. The freed doctor scurried out after the other personnel that had already evacuated the room.

"Baka!" Bulma reproved, "You donít have to be so possessive you know! Look at what you did to yourself!" She felt his temple and wiped the droplets of sweat from it tenderly in an effort to calm him while he looked at her in disoriented confusion.

"He didnít have to touch you," he answered irritably trying to stop the room from spinning.

"He only touched my shoulder for Kamiís sake!" Bulma exclaimed. "He just wanted to talk to me about your health."

"It was not his right" Vegeta proclaimed stubbornly trying to focus on Bulmaís face. "On Vegetasei he would have been executed on the spot for daring to touch the princeís mate."

"Well, we arenít on Vegetasei," Bulma countered loudly making Vegeta flinch.

"That is why I did not kill him," Vegeta answered relieved that the swimming features before his eyes were beginning to coalesce into a discernable face. He watched as the blur that was Bulma turned her head away and breathed in deeply as was her custom when she was trying to get a hold on her temper. Try as he might he could just not understand the casual way in which humans took touching. There were still so many things that puzzled him about earthlings and especially the female of the species. His mate was no exception, in fact, he found her more puzzling than most of the members of her sex.

"Where am I anyway and why am I here?" he asked hoping to take the subject in a less confrontational direction. The way his head was pounding he didnít think he could take the decibel levels of a full-blown argument at the moment.

"You are in a hospital and youíre here because you got pretty messed up in a fight" she answered. "Iíd explain more to you now but I need to get those doctors back in here to look at you."

Vegeta grabbed her arm as she began to rise. "No" he told her calmly. "I want you to find that moron Kakorot and have him bring me one of those magic beans."

"He canít," she told him frowning "he used the last two so now weíre out of them until the next crop grows. You are just going to have to heal the old-fashioned way, with time. Now let go of my arm."

"You mean that Kakorot used the last two beans himself!" Vegeta exclaimed angrily tightening his grip. "What hell did he use them for?"

"He gave them to Piccolo and Yamcha who were a lot worse off than you" Bulma informed him nastily.

"Were they in the same fight I was?" he asked with growing confusion.

"Yes" she answered irritation. "You were in a fight with Piccolo, Yamcha and Goku."

"Kakorot was involved as well?" Vegeta asked in surprise. "What kind of condition is he in?" he queried hoping to discover that he was in worse shape.

"Heís not as bad off as you" Bulma replied to Vegetaís disappointment "but he has to heal naturally as well. Are you happy now? Can I go get the doctor?"

"Not until you explain how I could be in a fight and remember nothing," he informed her.

"I want the doctor to look at you first Vegeta" Bulma insisted.

Vegeta studied his mateís stubborn expression and realized that he would be in for a long argument if he persisted. His head was still pounding and he was already feeling weak and he decided that he didnít want to aggravate the precarious state of his health any further.

"Fine woman" he said closing his eyes and releasing his grip on her. "I will tolerate the doctors inadequate ministrations and then you will explain everything to me on the way back to Capsule Corporation."

"Iíll be back soon," Bulma said kissing his forehead "and you better be here when I get back."

Vegetaís only reply was a smirk. His mate knew him well.

For the life of him Kami couldnít see how Mirai Trunks had managed to fit another person in the crowded cockpit of his craft, but he obviously had managed it because he was now struggling to exit the craft with that person in his arms. At last the young man appeared to be making his way toward him, from the far side of the lookout, with his mysterious burden clutched tightly to his chest.

Kami raised his eyes to look at the young man and was distraught to find that his face was one that spoke of immense pain. His proud shoulders were not held high nor were strides oneís of confidence. His eyes were even more haunted than before and were red and puffy. His demeanor was so different from that of the last time he saw the youth that he could scarcely believe it was the same person.

When Trunks abruptly stopped in front of him Kami then turned his attention to the from which he cradled in his arms. He heard the gasp of his faithful friend beside him echo his own astonishment upon the recognition of the limp woman in the teenagerís arms.

"How?" Mr. Po Po exclaimed in shock.

"She is from his time Po Po" Kami stated. Her lifeless features spoke of a greater age than that of the Bulma he knew but he knew that it was Bulma just the same and she wasnít alive. Once again he raised his eyes to the young man and this time detected the tearstains on his face and realized how recent his loss had been. He began to speak but he could see the pleading in the young manís eyes for silence.

"Kami" Trunks ventured with a voice that spoke of pain he didnít wish to show "I hope you donít mind if I leave her here. I have to go find the last dragon ball."

Kami stood in shock and regarded the teenager with puzzlement as the situation became clear to him. For some reason Trunks had brought his dead mother with him to the past and he wished to leave her body with him while he located the last dragon ball.

"Of course" the old namek replied. "You can put her inside if you like."

Without a word the demisaiyajin walked the rest of the way to temple sanctuary and entered it. Kami and Mr. Po Po kept a respectful distance as they observed him carefully placing his mother on the bed in the corner of one of the small inner chambers.

Trunks carefully covered her over with a sheet so that only her face was in view. He didnít want to look at the gaping hole in her chest or her blood stained clothing any longer. This way at least she looked as if she was just taking a nap from which she would wake any moment and not lost in the eternal slumber of death. Sadly he brushed the stray strands of aqua that sat in the middle of her face and tired not to replay the moment over again in his mind. The same moment he had witnessed so many nights in his dreams, only this time in terrible vivid reality. He fought back the fruitless tears of his grief and tore his eyes away from his mother.

"Trunks IÖ" Mr. Po Po began before he was stopped the young man raising his hand up in a stopping gesture.

"I donít want your pity" Trunks said regarding him with a scowl.

Mr. Po Po nodded his understanding.

"Are you sure that you want to find the last dragon ball at this time?" Kami said. "Perhaps you should rest for a little while."

"No" the young time traveler answered determinedly. "Iím ready to make my wish." Without another word he unpocketed the dragon radar and turned it on consulting its screen for his destination before taking off into the sky.

"Should we allow him to make his wish Kami?" Mr. Po Po asked. "Iím afraid of what he might wish for in his current state."

"Unfortunately there is nothing I can do to stop him," Kami stated. "As god of the earth and creator of the dragon balls all I can do is advise him and hope that he listens. Iím not allowed to directly intervene."

"There must be something Kami" Mr. Po Po protested in concern "we cannot allow him to erase an entire universe."

"When Kaio-sama told him about the possibility of erasing his future I felt much the same way you do" Kami said turning to his friend "but when I asked him about it he was unconcerned. He said that the young man had to find his way but he was confident that he would choose the right path when the time came."

"I hope that he does Kami" Mr. Po Po stated.

"As do I my friend," the old namek replied. "I hope that he proves to be worthy of Kaioís confidence."

"Here you go sweetheart," Mrs. Briefs said to her daughter as she handed her a plate heaping full of food.

"Thanks mom" Bulma said with a distinct lack of enthusiasm as she took the plate and put it on the tray. She leaned against the counter-top and tried to gather herself mentally for entering the lionís den. Fortunately her nap had helped so that she didnít feel quite as tired or weak at the moment.

Mrs. Briefs regarded her daughter through half-closed eyes in concern. "Whatís the matter dear?" she asked placing a motherly hand on Bulmaís forehead. "I thought that youíd be happy to have him around for a while."

Shaking off her motherís hand Bulma looked up into her face and saw her concern. "I would be if he was in a better mood" the blue-green haired beauty replied bowing her head. "Heís miserable that he canít go anywhere or do anything but rest so heís taking it out on me. Itís only been a few hours since they kicked him out of the hospital but it feels like years. Maybe if I was in a better mood I could take it but I feel so ill and tired because of the baby."

"Just have a little patience Bulma" Mrs. Briefs replied placing her hand over the young womanís hand maternally. "Heíll settle in."

"No he wonít" Bulma countered unhappily. "Heís way to stubborn to accept the fact that the mighty saiyajin prince is badly injured. If he wasnít too dizzy and weak to move heíd be gone mom. I just donít understand why he has to be so self-destructive and driven that he wonít even take care of his health."

"Donít be too hard on Vegeta" her mother wisely replied. "I seem to remember arguing with a certain young woman a little while ago and forcing her to rest like the doctors told her. Your father had to practically restrain you from going outside and disabling the gravity room yourself."

"Okay mom I get the point" Bulma said deepening the creases in her forehead. She hated it when her mother was right which was practically all the time. Despite the ditsy way Mrs. Briefs acted half of the time she really was intuitive and almost nothing escaped her notice. "Iíll take this to his royal pain-in-the ass now."

Mrs. Briefs patted her daughterís hand before sending her on her way.

Bulma climbed the stairs with her load of food cursing saiyajin princes and their children for making her life miserable. As she approached her room she felt another tinge of annoyance.

"He would have to decide he was staying in my room with me so that I canít escape his whining even to sleep" she thought to herself as she tried to figure out how to open the door without having to put the tray down. Just when she had given up on the idea, and began to dip down to place the tray on the ground the door opened and Bulma was surprised see her father standing in front of her.

"Oh there you are Bulma" Dr. Briefs commented with a twitch of his mustache. "Bringing the boyís dinner I see. Iím going to be going down and get some dinner myself," he added walking so close by her that his omnipresent feline companionís tail tickled her nose initiating a sneeze. "Bless you!" the scientist said closing the door behind her. The closing door nudged her the rest of the way into the room as she tried to understand how her father could leave Vegeta in such a good mood. It especially surprised her considering how unpleasant their last encounter had been.

Vegeta furrowed his brow in impatience as Bulma stood at the door unmoving. "Where have you been woman?" he demanded folding his arms over his chest. "I have been stuck here for hours left to the mercies of boredom and your annoying parents."

"I was taking a break from you vegetable head" she snapped unceremoniously dropping the tray in his lap "and getting your dinner. My mother said to tell you that there was more where that came from."

Bulma stood for a moment and watched with consternation as he ravenously dove into the food without so much as a thank you. Of course she didnít expect him to actually to articulate any kind of gratitude. Most of the time a simple grunt of recognition was all Vegeta deigned to give and she had learned to accept this. However, today he didnít even grant her that. Her anger and frustration coupled with the nausea triggered from even thinking of food began to overwhelm her. Quickly she grabbed the chair from her desk, pulled it over to the window and sat down with her back to him.

Vegeta curiously eyed his mate as he continued to eat. It was obvious that she was in a bad mood, which wasnít surprising since she had been in one for the entire day. The reason for her mood baffled him though.

"It seems to have started when I finally managed to get myself kicked out of the hospital by smashing a few more of their ridiculous devices" he reflected taking another bite of his food. "Her mood seemed to go down hill from there and thereís no reason for it. Of course we did have that argument at the hospital but we settled that. Her idiot father canít be right about her still being angry over that." Vegeta peered up at Bulma curiously in between mouthfuls still trying to figure out why she seemed to have a shorter fuse and be more emotional than normal.

Bulma stared out of the window watching as the birds wheeled around looking for shelter against the backdrop of an ever-darkening sky. A storm appeared to be coming in very quickly on the horizon. Itís black clouds rolled in lapping at the heels at the creatures desperately trying to escape them. "There is something odd about this storm," she thought. "In fact it almost reminds me of what happens when the dragon is called. That canít be it can it?" This new revelation disturbed her because she remembered that Goku had said the dragon balls would be collected in case they were needed when he borrowed her radar. Her mind began to play a thousand reasons why Shenlon would have to be summoned and drifted further away from reality.

Vegeta, having finally polished off the last of the food, set the tray aside. He wasnít at all pleased that the woman appeared to be ignoring him, which was unacceptable. Vegeta intensely stared at the back at her head drumming his fingers on the nightstand to get her attention knowing how much those two things annoyed her. Unfortunately it didnít seem to be fazing her at the moment. She was a million miles away and the frown on her lips spoke volumes as to her state of her mind. Vegeta studied her troubled features and for the first time since he woke up that day noticed how peeked she looked. Her lovely face had no color to it and dark shadows of sleeplessness hung under her eyes. He then noticed the black and blue marks that encircled her long delicate neck and his mind drifted back to the ordeal that had transpired over the past few weeks, which she and Kakorot had recounted. ; The ordeal that he had unwittingly put her through.

"Damn that stupid machine" he cursed to himself. "Not only did it use me like some puppet but it made me hurt her as well." Vegeta felt a strange uneasiness in the pit of his stomach at the idea that he was somehow responsible for what had happened. "I was careless," he thought unconsciously twisting the bedcovers in his grip. "I shouldnít have let my guard down. I knew that something was there. I was weak and because of that I almost killed her." Vegeta huffed in frustration. He didnít like where this line of thinking was taking him so he quickly dismissed it and instead decided to concentrate on the anger he felt welling up inside of him. He didnít want to think about the confusing array of the emotions that seemed to be running through him unbidden and against his will.

Irritated by his thoughts Vegeta wished to escape them by drawing the other occupant of the room into a discussion. Not wanting to seem as desperate as he felt he reached over and picked up the tray a little ways and dropped it causing a clatter as the plates and utensils rattled. When this didnít appear to work he decided to take a more direct approach. "Woman!" he called to her loudly. "I am finished you can remove the tray now."

Bulma hiked an eyebrow and didnít turn around when she replied. "Iíll get it when Iím good and ready to get it" she answered back perturbed more than ever at his attitude. "Besides Iím not your servant" she added pettily "and I donít have to take your orders."

"No" he agreed "you are not my servant you are my wife and Iím ordering you as my wife to remove the tray."

Bulma huffed at his statement. As usual he had picked just the wrong words to use at just the right moment. The wounds from the scene at the hospital were still fresh in her mind.

The scene that he had caused when he discovered that she had not signed him in as her husband. He had been livid and hurt by what he felt was a denial that they were mates. The truth was, that although that they were mates in saiyajin terms, she just didnít feel like they were husband and wife without a marriage ceremony. Childhood dreams of being married in a white dress in a huge elegant wedding were still dear to her and that was something she knew Vegeta selfishly would never understand. He had made her feel guilty for feeling as she did. Bulma bit down on her lower lip trying to stop the tears of frustration from escaping from her eyes and the tide of hurtful words from exiting her lips.

Vegeta was speechless as Bulma abruptly stood-up, marched determinedly to the bed and picked up the tray without saying a word. "Whatís the matter with you woman?" he questioned noting how careful she was to avoid his eyes. "You never do anything I tell you to do without a fight."

"Just forget about it, okay?" Bulma replied tersely as she began to turn and exit. She stopped short when she felt his hand on her arm. Firmly setting her jaw she glared daggers into the pair of dark eyes that regarded her curiously.

Vegeta was momentarily taken aback by the confused array of emotions that he saw swimming in the depths of her blue eyes along with unshed tears. "My, my is that anyway to act when I merely inquired about your health?" Vegeta asked as one corner of his mouth turned up in his typical smirk trying to lighten the mood.

"Oh come off of it Vegeta" Bulma snapped trying to wrench her arm from his grasp. "You could care less about how Iím feeling. Your only concern right now is yourself, as it always is."

"Exactly" he replied pulling her into a sitting position on the bed trying to ignore how his heart twisted at her last barb "and right now I want your presence in this room with me even if it means putting up with your unfriendly attitude."

"Look Vegeta" she answered, as a single tear leaked out from the corner of her eye "Iím not in the mood to talk to you, argue with you or be near you at the moment. Please, let me go."

"I take it that I have said or done something that has upset you," he said in frustration as another of her tears sent a fresh pain through his chest. "Whatever, it is forget about it as I have forgotten what you have done to upset me."

"I will try my best to imitate your illustrious example O mighty prince," Bulma said sweetly her voice dripping with sarcasm. "Iím sorry that Iím just a weak, stupid, human woman and incapable of understanding your superior saiyajin ways."

"I will not be mocked by a low class wench" Vegeta replied venomously.

"You donít care in the least bit about how I feel do you?" Bulma angrily demanded. "Thatís all that itís ever about is you. You expect me to make all these concessions because you are prince of the saiyajins. You want me to live the way you want me to live and think the way you want me to think. You are happy as long as you can get what you want from me, and sometimes I wonder what exactly it is that you want."

"What I want is for you to stop behaving like a spoiled brat" he stated with a half grin on his face "and start acting like the princess that you are." Vegeta was pleased that Bulma blinked and he saw the angry frustration leave her as she unsuccessfully tried to decide how to reply. "Remember woman," he said softly tracing the line of her jaw "you are my mate and what that makes you."

For a moment she lost herself in his words and shivered at his touch. Then all at once it was replaced by anger once more, anger at herself for allowing him to manipulate her emotions so easily and anger at him for being able to twist her heart so adeptly.

"I am not your possession" she retorted pushing his hand away.

"You do belong to me" Vegeta smoothly asserted seductively tracing the scar at the base of her neck "and you will until the day you die. You are my mate, my princess, my wife."

"I may be your mate but I am not your wife" Bulma snapped.

"So the old man was right," Vegeta, exclaimed crankily "You are still angry that I wonít marry you under human law."

"Is that what you were talking to him about?" Bulma asked in surprise.

"He was talking and I was forced to listen" Vegeta replied.

"Then why did he leave in such a good mood?" Bulma asked.

Vegeta cringed slightly at her query. He really didnít want to tell her that he no longer begrudged her feelings because of what her father had said. Dr. Briefs had explained to Vegeta why thought he should marry Bulma in a human ceremony and even he had to admit that it made some sense. He said that Bulma was uncomfortable living under his saiyajin custom alone because in the eyes of human society at large they would never accept his union with Bulma. He explained how it could even damage the family honor and her honor when it became known that she was pregnant and that the father refused to marry her. He could understand the concept of family honor and he didnít like the idea of hurting Bulmaís reputation or that his royal heir might be looked down on. He also had to admit that the fact that the hospital staff didnít accept the fact that Bulma was his mate and not his Ďgirlfriendí angered him and the idea that most humans would feel the same way unnerved him. This new incite into human society and the fact that he wanted to be left alone induced him to tell the old man that he would think about it.

As Vegeta looked at Bulma he couldnít help recalling how she had under gone the scorn and rejection of those she cared about since she had become his mate. The whole time she loyally defended him and stuck by him even in his absence. From what Kakorot had said he also knew that if it hadnít been for her intervention the others wouldnít of thought anything of killing him to prevent the probe from leaving. He wanted her to be proud to call him her mate and not ashamed as she had been made to feel by others.

"Do you truly feel that you are my mate without the human ceremony?" he asked her. "Would you feel comfortable telling a someone that I am your husband?"

Bulma started at his blunt question and paused trying to think of a way to express herself without hurting him. "I know that we are mates and..." she stumbled before he cut her off.

"I am tired of everyone questioning the fact that you belong to me, especially you," Vegeta interjected crossing his arms over his chest "Therefore I demand that you become my mate under human law as well as saiyajin law. Despite the fact that I care less about your stupid human traditions it seems to be the only way that you humans can get it through your heads that what we have is lifelong and not temporary."

Bulma gapped and stared at Vegeta in silence for a time as she grasped the meaning of what he had just said. As the shock wore off she threw her arms around his neck and began to cry. At first he stayed stiff and still as she wept onto his bare chest. Then she felt his arms tentatively rest on her shoulders and she heard him speak soft and low into her ear. "I assume these tears are because you are as unhappy with this arrangement as I am" she heard him whisper. "Unfortunately there seems to be no way of getting around it."

Bulma laughed and pulled away from him regarding the partly annoyed expression on his face. His eyes danced teasing her, daring her to answer him in a witty retort. "There is nothing in this world that I would hate more than belonging to you under human law as well as saiyajin law. I canít imagine anything worse than being stuck with you for the rest of my life."

Vegeta smirked at her as wrapped his arms around her waist. "Good" he said pulling her down to recline on the pillows with him "then we are equally miserable with the situation." He gazed into her eyes and felt the warm content feeling wash over his soul upon seeing the joy and love that radiated from them. It was odd to him to realize that making her happy seemed to make him happy as well. At the same time, however, hurting her also gave him pain and the bruises on her neck wouldnít allow him to escape the knowledge that he had hurt her. Vegeta had never felt regret for anything that he had done for all of his life and yet she seemed to open the door to that unpleasant emotion as well as the more enjoyable ones.

"I hurt you," he stated sadly carefully and gently touching the dark purple marks on her neck.

"No you didnít," she answered putting her fingers to his lips "that machine did."

"Perhaps if I had been more observant thenÖ" he began say only to have her fingers silence him again.

"Letís not try to blame anyone for what happened" Bulma told him. "I could blame myself for fooling with the things or Goku for finding them but it wouldnít make a bit of difference. The real person or persons to blame are whoever sent the probes in the first place."

"If and when I meet them," the saiyajin prince replied smoothing a piece of her hair from her face "I will personally give them a one-way ticket to hell."

Bulma gave him a knowing smile and cuddled up to him. She knew that Vegeta had changed a great deal over the last year and a half but she also realized he probably never completely loose his cruel bloodlust. The funny thing was that she was glad that there would always be a little bit of blackness in his soul because he just wouldnít be Vegeta without it. Bulma closed her eyes as she felt him pull her close. Someday, sometime she was confident that he would marry her and until that time she would just be content to be his mate the saiyajin way. She knew that this wouldnít be the end of the matter but at least she had his promise, of sorts. Maybe it wasnít exactly a promise in the normal sense of the word but it was one befitting the arrogant, stubborn saiyajin prince that she loved with all her heart.

The hair on the back of Mirai Trunkís neck stood on end as he gazed up wide-eyed at the enormous dragon that dwarfed the Look Out over which he hung. His mother had told him how impressive the eternal dragon was but only now when confronted by the mythic beast face-to-face did he truly understand the whispered awe with which she had described it.

"Who has summoned me?" the creature demanded in a booming voice shifting his snakelike coils.

"I have" Trunks replied with the learned boldness of a warrior.

"I will grant you one wish," Shenlon informed him squinting his glowing ruby eyes at the young man "choose wisely."

Trunks felt the expectant eyes of Kami and Po Po on him as well as those of Shenlon. He shifted uncomfortably on his feet as he looked down on the ground before him. With one more look at his motherís face he knew the path that he had decided was the correct one.

"Return the life of my mother, from my time, to her in perfect health" the young man demanded. Trunks held his breath. He wasnít entirely sure if the dragon could grant his wish. They were from a different timeline, another universe, and there was always the chance that the dragon had no power to affect one from his timeline. He had brought his mother there hoping that if she was physically present in this world that Shenlon could grant his wish.

Kami, Mr. Po Po and Trunks all looked on as the dragonís eyes glowed bright red for an instance. "Your wish had been granted," he boomed and the sky was filled with electricity once again as he dematerialized in a flash of bright light. The dragon balls levitated up above the floor of the Lookout and their amber luster. Like shooting stars they streaked across the sky to disappear on the horizon lost in the bright rays of the dying son.

Trunks lowered his hands from in front of his eyes and blinked at the sky, which had been black just a moment before, and found it to be void of Shenlonís presence. He attention was arrested by the sound of coughing at his feet and breathlessly he knelt down beside the woman who had begun stirring at his feet feeling the wet trail of a single tear slide down his cheek.

Bulmaís eyelids fluttered for an instant before they opened. Her momentary confusion melted away when she found herself looking into a pair of tear moistened eyes as blue as her own. "Trunks" she questioned, "What am I doing here? I thought I was dead andÖ"

"You were," he said "but I brought you back."

"But how?" she asked.

"I wished you back," he answered smiling happily "with the dragonís help."

"But there are no dragon balls," Bulma stated in surprise. "They disappeared a long time agoÖ. Oh Kami TrunksÖyou didnítÖ" she stuttered as she realized what had happened.

"Thatís right mom," Trunks answered with a grin "youíre in the past."

Bulma shot straight up to her feet with a start and jumped slightly when she caught sight of Kami. "Kuso!" she exclaimed, "I really am in the past!"

Trunks flinched as he saw Kamiís almost imperceptible reaction to her choice of language. "Leave it to my mother to embarrass me in front of the god of the earth" he thought to himself.

"Oh my Kami" Bulma continued to spout with excitement "that means that the earth is still untouched." She ran to the edge of the Look Out and gasped as she could everything everywhere all at once. Tears filled her eyes as she saw the earth look as she remembered it had looked during those happy years. "This means that everyone is still alive doesnít it?" She turned and looked at her son and he inclined his head in reply. "I wish I could see them all again but I know that isnít possible."

Kami watched as Trunks walked up to his mother and stretched his arms out towards her. Bulma met her son in a warm embrace in which they clung to each other as if that to break it would mean the other would disappear at any moment. The old namek smiled to himself. It warmed his heart to see the look of peace settle over the young manís face.

"Trunks why did you wish me back?" Bulma asked him stepping back "I thought you wanted to wish the future away."

"I did at first" the young man admitted "but I decided to give it hope instead and I canít think of a better person to give it hope than you."

"Arenít you over rating my ability a little bit?" Bulma asked him incredulously cocking an eyebrow.

"Not at all" Trunks replied. "I think that metal shelter idea of yours just might work. You could use it to reinforce all of the old tunnels under CC and with a cloaked entrance with a ki suppressor I think it would be virtually undetectable."

"You read my notes didnít you?" Bulma asked him reproachfully. "How many times do I have to tell you not to snoop through my private things?"

"WellÖuhÖI didnít exactly snoop" Trunks began uncomfortably. "You sort of left them out in the open."

"I hate to interrupt your reunion but I thought you should know that some of the others are coming to investigate the reason for the dragonís being called" Kami interrupted much to Trunkís relief.

"Heís right" Trunks corroborated "I can feel them coming. You should leave now before they see you mother. Theyíd have a lot of awkward questions if they do."

"You make it sound as if you arenít coming" Bulma said with concern.

"Thereís something that I have to do first" her son answered. "Besides itís a little bit too crowded in there for two people. Just take it and return it to me on autopilot."

"I donít like it Trunks" she replied. "We havenít fully tested the autopilot yet andÖ"

"Thereís no time to argue mom. Just go," Trunks said firmly setting his brow.

Bulma sighed and screwed her face into an annoyed glare before running to the machine. Upon reaching it she nimbly climbed into the cockpit, secured the clear domed hatch and after a few strokes to something on the control panel the machine started up. As it rose into the sky the last thing the three remaining occupants of the Look Out saw was her waving to them as she wistfully gazed at the world about her before disappearing in a flash of light.

"Well" said Trunks to Kami and his companion "I guess I should get going too." He turned on his heels and smirked when he saw the surprise on their faces. "I have somewhere Iíd like to go before it gets dark. You donít mind explaining things to them do you?"

"UhÖof course not" the old namek stammered leaning onto his cane.

"Thanks" he said rising into the golden-red sky.

"I wonder where he was in such a hurry to get to" Mr. Po Po wondered between blinks as they watched his Ki flare about him before he rocketed away.

"I donít know" Kami answered "what I do know, however, is that we had better prepare for our guests and decide precisely what we are going to tell them."

* * * * *


Table of Contents
Chapter 16
Epilogue