Chapter 3 – Old Rivals Meet Again
"Kakarrot." Vegeta called as his walked into his throne room to see the nervous guard pacing back and forth. Obviously the man was anxious about the backlash he was to face after their last encounter.
"What can I do for you, my king?" Kakarrot responded as he knelt quickly before rising in front of the short man. He had been hoping to avoid the king until after he had joined with Chi-Chi. At least then his agreement or refusal would have been a moot point.
"Don’t you have something you wish to ask of me?" Vegeta inquired with a smirk on his face. After the scare the man’s ‘practice proposal’ had given him earlier, he certainly wasn’t going to grant his permission to marry the harpy without having a little fun first. "Well?"
Kakarrot cleared his throat. He thought being direct about this was best. "With all due respect, sir. Bulma already told me that you granted Chi-Chi and I permission to join. I was hoping you would spare me from the belittling games."
Vegeta growled; it seemed his ward wasn’t going to allow him have any fun tonight. "That onna talks too much."
"I suppose she does." Kakarrot smirked; Bulma was always an easy way to get the King off topic. "But if it wasn’t for her I doubt I would have had the courage to confess my true feeling to Chi-Chi. It can be quite therapeutic you know. Admitting what you feel for someone." The man added suggestively.
Vegeta’s eyes narrowed, the guard was never successful at being discreet. "Honestly Kakarrot, a man who chases his own tail is hardly one to give advice on the feelings he perceives another person to possess."
Kakarrot huffed at the insult. "I stopped chasing my tail as a boy." He admitted with shameful pride. "Anyway, my point merely was that you seemed a little too disturbed when you thought Bulma was about to accept my proposal. But I suppose that was only because I am so far below her station." Kakarrot spoke with a slight hint of skepticism.
"That would be correct." Vegeta clarified with restrained anger. "It would be an insult to her heritage, along with my title if I allowed the onna to join with a third class guard."
"I see." Kakarrot nodded, false gravity evident on his face. "I suppose only a prosperous king would be acceptable then?"
Vegeta’s teeth ground together as he was far from liking the accusation. "Kakarrot, I would stop your foolish suggestions if you wish to mate with that harpy that has you so smitten."
"Alright." Kakarrot conceded hastily; he knew the King possessed a quick temper. "We should be leaving anyway. I believe your associates will be arriving soon. Perhaps it is time you make an appearance."
Vegeta nodded in agreement as he and the guard departed from the throne room. At this point, anything to get away from this fool seemed appealing; even suffering through mindless banter with the obnoxious royalty of various weakling nations. Vegeta traditionally made only one appearance a year with all the planetary chiefs, with this year unfortunately being Vegeta-sei’s turn to host the assembly. "Be on your best behavior Kakarrot, I don’t need any scandals."
"Yes, sir." Kakarrot agreed. "Oh… And with your permission, I would like to escort Chi-Chi. If that is alright with you, sir."
Vegeta stopped dead in tracks as he eyed the man with distaste. He had forgotten his promise to the onna. He closed his eyes slowly before opening them. He could not bring her now; he wasn’t quite ready to face her after their last exchange. The memories she had forced out of him were still too raw to ignore. "Bring your wench later if you wish, but Bulma is your first priority," Vegeta clarified. Going alone would be better; he didn’t need distractions during the entire course of the evening. "Escort her before the onna’s governess."
Kakarrot looked at Vegeta confused for a few moments. "But I don’t understand, sir. Bulma told me you had agreed to be her escort tonight. Was she misinformed?"
Vegeta tensed a little as the question was posed, but he quickly hid his emotions in his typical manner. "Things have changed." Vegeta said a little too icily for Kakarrot’s taste. "You shall bring the onna in my stead. I have much more important matters to attend to."
Kakarrot frowned as the king proceeded to walk off without another word. ‘He’s doing it again.’ Kakarrot shook his head, very much disappointed in his king. ‘He can’t say ‘no’ to Bulma so he forces someone else, usually me, to say ‘no’ for him.’ Kakarrot released a long sigh before heading towards Bulma’s chambers. ‘Well, it’s off to the lion’s den. And there will be two very angry lionesses after this one.’
"Kakarrot." Chi-Chi greeted with a deep smile as she stepped aside to allow the man to enter.
"Wow." The guard gulped, he looked his mate to be up and down. Chi-Chi was in an elegant floor length dress that, though conservatively cut, accented her strong figure perfectly. Kakarrot smiled as he noted that her dress was a soft green. Hunter green was the color of the guards; he understood that her color choice was to compliment her future mate’s attire. He unconsciously took in a deep breath as he couldn’t help but imagine what that dress would look like after it was on the floor of his chambers that night. "You look delicious."
Chi-Chi blushed; she knew ‘delicious’ was a particularly flattering praise coming from a man who loved food as much as Kakarrot does. "Aren’t you a little early?" She asked wanting to change the subject from that which was making her flush.
"Actually I’m late." He chuckled. "But I suppose half an hour late is actually pretty early for Bulma."
"Kakarrot?" The blue haired female called from out of the bathroom. "Is Vegeta here with you?"
The guard frowned as he looked towards the bathroom door where his very dear friend awaited his disappointing response. "I am sorry Bulma, but Vegeta had other matters to attend to. He asked me to escort you instead."
The room suddenly turned red hot with anger as both women were infuriated by the news. Bulma was the first to respond as she stormed out of the bathroom. "He told you to escort me?" She hissed in utter offense, taking no time to allow the guard to compliment her appearance. She would not be strayed from the subject at hand. "He thinks business is more important than me! And what about Chi-Chi?" Bulma asked furiously.
"Yes, what about Chi-Chi?" The female in question repeated. She certainly did not dress in such an attractive manner to spend the evening away from Kakarrot.
"He said I could… um… come back for you later." Kakarrot cleared his throat knowing neither of the two women would take the news well.
Bulma shook her head in disgust. "I should have known he’d do something like this. I just can’t believe he would be so selfish as to try and separate a mated couple to be." Bulma growled in anger as she decided Vegeta was not going to have his way with this one. She walked over to her closet and pulled out a black fur wrap, and then walked over to Chi-Chi and handed it to her governess. "Here, this will go perfectly with your gown." She noted happily before she turned to her personal guard. "You shall escort Chi-Chi, Kakarrot. I will go alone."
Kakarrot showed his disagreement quickly, he did not like the idea of seeing Vegeta’s reaction when his ward walked into the assembly unattended. "But Bulma, Vegeta is not going to like that I le--"
"No buts." Bulma stopped him quickly as she directed both friends to the door. "Kakarrot you shall take Chi-Chi, and spend your entire evening focused on her, as you should be. I will deal with whatever backlash you get from Vegeta. Understood?"
"Are you sure about this Bulma?" Chi-Chi asked, more than a little worried by the volatile state her pupil was in. "You already noted that you are more than likely going to hate the men present at the assembly--are you sure you can handle this alone?"
"Of course." Bulma continued to push the woman out of the room. "I am not made of glass Chi, I do not need a man to protect me from a group of arrogant, self-serving bastards. I am not a child anymore, I can handle myself perfectly well, without Vegeta’s help." Bulma sounded as convincing as possible as she finally managed to get both of her friends out of the door. "Please, just go have fun together."
"Alright." Chi-Chi agreed reluctantly. She had learned long ago that when her student was determined, there was no use fighting her. "We will be waiting for you the moment you enter." She quickly kissed her friend on the cheek before turning to her soon to be mate. "Shall we?"
Kakarrot nodded hesitantly as he joined arms with Chi-Chi. "Try not to let this bother you Bulma. You know how Vegeta is when it comes to business."
"I know." Bulma admitted, hiding her bitterness perfectly. "Come on, you two are already late." The pair then said their goodbyes before leaving the dispirited princess to herself.
Bulma quietly closed the door to her chambers and then gently dropped her head against the door. ‘I can’t believe he did this,’ she sighed as she slowly pulled her head back. ‘He couldn’t possibly be so oblivious to my feelings that he failed to realize how much I would need him tonight of all nights.’ Bulma shook her sadness away as she walked in front of her mirror. She tried to push the hurtful thoughts from her mind, as she looked herself up and down. Turning every once and a while to achieve a complete view.
‘I’m not a child anymore.’ She repeated to herself as she observed her womanly curves. They were accented flawlessly in her midnight blue gown. The silk garb stopped just around her shoulders, leaving her creamy white neck exposed, as was customary for unmated women on Vegeta-sei. The cut was just low enough to accentuate her impressive cleavage, yet high enough to preserve her modestly. The shape was slender to highlight her long legs and perfectly flat stomach.
Her hair was prepared just as elegantly. Her long, lightly curled tresses were pulled up loosely out of her face and accented with soft white gems to compliment her deep azure hair. The entire ensemble was completed with two of her most cherished jewels. The first was her twentieth birthday gift, the sapphire necklace Vegeta had given to her. The necklaces compliment the second item, her white diamond earrings that encircled a shining sapphire stone set into each.
Bulma smiled as she recalled the first time she had laid eyes on them. The earrings were also a gift from Vegeta, a coming of age present. On Vegeta-sei, a child becomes an adult upon their eighteenth birthday. That day for her was a hallmark. The earrings were the first gift she had ever been able to call her own that were of any true value. Not merely the financial, but the sentimental. The day he handed them to her was the first day he called her ‘onna,’ and the last day she felt like a simple girl.
Bulma’s smile suddenly drifted from her face as she had hoped to have the privilege of ‘showing off’ her jewels for him. But it seems as thought he is more interested in the mindless banter of annoying kings than her memories. She had been dressed entirely in blue, Vegeta-sei’s color, to match him in anticipation of his company. Now, she felt suddenly out of place.
Bulma shook her head as she cleared her thoughts. ‘I will not allow this to bring me down.’ She told herself with pride. ‘I intended to steal the attention of the assembly, and I shall do just that.’ She smirked as she headed out of her room in a rush. She was not going to let Vegeta’s choices affect her evening.
Bulma, however, didn’t make it more than five steps toward the assembly hall when she smacked right into someone. She felt her body begin to fall back, but never hit the ground as she felt an arm reach around her waist to keep her on her feet. Bulma shook her head to clear her dazed mind before she looked up to see who had caught her. She blinked in surprise as she looked into the deep blue eyes of the handsome man who held her.
"I’m so sorry." She whispered as she observed her savior. His hair was a rich black that extended down just past his shoulders; half of his mane was pulled up as the other half swayed freely behind him. He was decked out in full formal royal attire that seemed to accent his muscular shape. The crimson and black ensemble was striking indeed, adding an almost dangerous element to his appearance. And to the young princess, that quality was more alluring than she would ever admit.
"I am the one who should apologize." He said smoothly as he maintained his hold on the stunning creature. "I don’t see how I could have missed a deity with beauty such as yourself."
Bulma blushed slightly as she found it almost impossible to take her eyes off of the entrancing man before her. "Thank you for your service." She said a little weakly as she moved slightly, silently hinting for him to release her.
"Of course." He nodded as he slowly heeded her plea and released her from his grasp. "I didn’t mean to stare, but if I might say that gown looks absolutely exquisite on you Lady…"
"Bulma." She finished his thought as she offered her hand for him to accept. "Princess, that is. I am--"
"Vegeta’s ward." The man finished her sentence as he accepted her hand with a gentle kiss. For a moment, Bulma could have sworn she saw an almost evil glint flash across his eyes as he heard her name, but the moment was so fleeting she paid it no attention. "I had heard you were an attractive creature, but your beauty has been grossly understated, Princess."
"Thank you." Bulma accepted his compliment welcomingly. "Then I suppose I may assume you are an assembly member."
"I am." The man nodded, still holding her soft hand in his own, gently caressing the inside of her palm with his thumb. "I am King Juunanagou of Adajinzoun-sei."
Bulma blinked as the name sounded strangely familiar, but when she couldn’t recall the connection she shook off the thought. "Well, King Juunanagou, I believe we are both late then. I suppose we should waste no more time and join the rest of the committee." She said with perfect diplomacy.
"Of course." The man nodded his head, bringing her hand to his lips slowly, allowing himself one more gentle kiss. "If you will give me the privilege of escorting you."
Bulma smiled a little more flirtatiously as she accepted the man’s strong arm. "I see no reason why I should refuse." She suppressed an almost wicked smirk as she could anticipate the look on her guardian’s face as she entered the assembly. Her appearance was damn near flawless, and attached to the arm of a handsome king she hoped Vegeta would eat his heart out for his cold neglect.
"And that’s when I told her if she wanted to marry for love she should have been born of the third class!" One of the assembly chairs invoked roaring laughter as he expressed his twisted views on life to his fellow egotists.
Vegeta cringed; the thought of driving his own sword through his chest was sounding more exciting by the minute. It was some cruel act of fate that the planetary leaders for the most part were as narrow minded as Bulma’s father was. He unconsciously clenched his fists; he was tempted to call in his army and have them slaughter the entire lot. ‘What a scandal that would be.’ He smirked at the prospect.
"So how is the wife hunt going Feyro?" The same obnoxious member asked a fellow king.
Vegeta tuned out the conversation as he heard the group begin to chat like young girls over the expected qualities of a future queen. A topic he was far from interested in. He had decided against ever taking a queen let alone a formal mate. He had learned long ago learned the hard way that attachments of the romantic kind were detrimental. He had sworn never to form another such attachment. Never.
"Of course she must be physically pleasurable." Feyro explained. He had just lost wife and child in birth and yet here he was, no more than a month later, already searching for a replacement. "After all, how prosperous is a queen who can not entice her king into bestowing upon her the honor of bearing the next prince?"
‘Next prince.’ Vegeta sighed, as that was the only flaw in his grand plan to swear off the opposite sex. ‘What is a king without an heir?’ He asked himself the question that had long plagued his thoughts. His popularity was exponential compared to that of his fathers, leaving the issues of a future king far from most Saiya-jin minds. Yet, it would not always be that way. He was nearing his mid-thirties without a mate, let alone an heir. He had long known that the question would soon be posed to him, and then what would he answer?
"Well perhaps you could find yourself a lovely young princess tonight, Feyro. I hear there are quite a few prize choices present… Speaking of which…" The older assembly member’s thought dropped off as he along with his group of associates turned their attention to what had caught the old man’s eye.
"Who is that owner of that!" Feyro asked as he felt his eyes widen in interest.
Vegeta snapped out of his daze as he heard those surrounding him begin to speak of some onna as though she were a cow, ripe for the pasture. Vegeta was about to retort in offense when his eyes met the focus of their attention. "Onna." His unconsciously whispered in utter shock as he looked through the crowd to see the distant image of her soft blue hair and deep matching dress. He felt lost in an attempt to register the creature before him. She seemed so familiar yet a complete stranger all the same. She held an enchantingly elegant presence that he had never recognized before. She was absolutely breath taking.
"Who is she? Is she unattached?" Feyro asked curiously. "She certainly fulfills the physical aspect of my requirements." The man chuckled along with the surrounding group.
"Though I am sure in your wildest dreams you would never fulfill hers," Vegeta mocked to the astonishment of his fellow kings. He took no more notice of the men as he headed right towards the entrance to claim his ward when his field of vision suddenly included a figure that could be described as nothing but an image more horrifying than that of a nightmare. ‘Juunanagou.’
"You do know that you are a terrible dancer." Chi-Chi chuckled, as she and her pattern caught their breath from the dance floor.
"At least I’m trying." Kakarrot returned her laughter as the pair moved over to Kakarrot’s favorite area of the entire room, the buffet table.
"Oh, there’s Bulma." Chi-Chi stopped her soon to be mate as she pointed to her pupil. "We must greet her first."
Kakarrot turned to nod in agreement, when his entire expression paled as he saw his friend in a scandalously dangerous situation he had never considered possible. "Oh no," he whispered as the next sight he caught was of Vegeta moving towards the pair with a notably angered look upon his face.
"Who is that man Bulma is with?" Chi-Chi asked as she noticed Bulma embracing a handsome stranger. "He must be quite the charmer to have caught Bulma’s attention." Chi-Chi looked for a reaction from her future mate when she turned to see that he had already left her side and was heading over to the pair in a rush. "What did I miss?"
"Juunanagou." Vegeta hissed as he interrupted the much too cozy conversation the couple was holding.
"Vegeta." Bulma smiled innocently as she clasped her escort’s arm tighter. "I was speaking with Juunanagou here. You rudely interrupted."
Vegeta didn’t respond as he stepped right in between Bulma and Juunanagou, strategically placing a hand on Bulma’s hip, forcing her to break from Juunanagou and move securely behind him. "What the hell do you think you are doing here?"
"Well, hello Vegeta." Juunanagou smirked; he had been anticipating this ‘warm’ reception from the moment he had heard the location of this year’s assembly. "I just had the privilege of conversing with your lovely young ward here. It seems someone left her so rudely unescorted."
Vegeta’s nostrils flared; he wasn’t sure what was more infuriating. The fact that this man was foolish enough to return to his planet or that he was impudent enough to dare approach the onna.
"Well the conversation is over." Kakarrot added as he joined the trio. He walked around to the other side of Vegeta, pulling Bulma a few steps back from the angered kings.
"Kakarrot," Bulma hissed as she discreetly tried to struggle away from him. "Will you release me!? You and Vegeta are making a scene." By then a large percentage of the assembly had started watching the exchange.
"Did he touch you?" Vegeta asked as he turned an eye to the onna behind him.
"What!?" Bulma growled in shock and embarrassment. "Of course not! We were just talking!" She lowered her voice slightly; she didn’t want to draw any more attention to the scene. "What is wrong with you?"
"Let him handle this Bulma," Kakarrot whispered as he continued to keep a secure hand on Bulma’s shoulder. "You don’t know who he is."
"Actually the princess already does," Juunanagou interrupted, the entire time maintaining eye contact with the Saiya-jin king. "I already explained to her that I am the Adajinzoun King and that I once had some dealings with Vegeta."
Another growl erupted from Vegeta’s throat; he was using all of his strength to refrain from attacking the man. "I told you ten years ago you were to never set foot on Saiya-jin soil again. You now dare come near this onna when you know damn well she is under my protection!? Are you truly that foolish!?"
"Vegeta!" Bulma roared as she broke from Kakarrot’s grasp and walked in between the two enemies. "All he did was talk to me; he didn’t even know who I was until after the fact. Now if you two have some petty rivalry you want to delve into do it somewhere else." She finished her tirade, addressing it to both men. If neither of them were going to worry about propriety then she certainly would remind them.
"Very well." Vegeta smirked; moving the argument into private was safer for the onna, along with being better for witness purposes--specifically, the lack of witnesses. "Follow me."
Juunanagou nodded in agreement as he watched Vegeta walk past him. He halted momentarily before he smoothly took Bulma’s hand and kissed it just as gracefully as he had done earlier. "Save me a dance for when I get back." He said loud enough to make certain Vegeta had heard him before he turned and exited behind the furious warrior.
Bulma didn’t have the chance to respond before Kakarrot took a hold of her arm and as tactfully as possible guided her away from the crowd, who by this point were more than confused by the series of events. "What the hell was that about?" Bulma demanded an answer. "One minute I am having a cordial conversation with a charming King and the next Vegeta is acting as thought I am associating myself with a mortal enemy."
"Then his reaction was appropriate." Kakarrot said quietly as he released Bulma after bringing her out of the hall. "Listen Bulma, I understand that you have never been warned of Juunanagou’s treachery, but--"
"Treachery?" Bulma repeated. "Kakarrot what are you talking about? He seems like a perfectly amiable man. He was even so kind as to escort me to the assembly when Vegeta wouldn’t! That hardly seems like the actions of a ‘treacherous’ man."
Kakarrot took a long breath as he glanced over in the direction Vegeta and Juunanagou had gone. "It’s better for Vegeta to explain, but trust me when I tell you Bulma that when you see Juunanagou, the wisest decision you can make in regards to him is to run in the opposite direction. He is dangerous in the cruelest most conniving sense of the word. Do not ever forget that."
Bulma huffed as she found all of this less than understandable. She looked over towards the large double doors that closed off the throne room, along with Vegeta and Juunanagou’s conversations. She couldn’t help but feel a sick moment of wonderment. If Kakarrot was right, she hated to imagine what was going on behind those closed doors.
* * * * *