Chapter 4 – The Competition’s Commencement
The two men arrived in Vegeta’s throne room to a forced silence. Vegeta began pacing back and forth in a manner that projected the appearance of suppressing rage. Juunanagou only took joy in the man’s irritation as he chose to break the silence. "Well I must say your warm welcoming was-" Juunanagou’s sarcasm was quickly cut off as his rival shoved him against the wall. "Relax, Vegeta." Juunanagou chuckled as he pushed himself away from his angered counterparts grasp. "I don’t know what has made you so hot and bothered. I mean all I was doing was conversing with your enchanting ward. Really a lovely young creature, even living here among such savages."
"Don’t even speak of her." Vegeta growled, barely controlling his fury at the man’s appearance. Pulling a dagger from under his sleeve, Vegeta pressed the blade against Juunanagou’s throat; he was not going to allow the man to manipulate him as he had before. This evening was going to end on his terms. "Coming to my planet, insulting my people and approaching my ward are grounds enough for me to slice this blade right through your neck. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t!"
Juunanagou smirked as his eyes glanced back and forth from Vegeta to the dagger. "Now we both know you won’t use that. It would be quite the scandal for the King of Vegeta-sei to murder a prestigious senate member in the middle of the annual assembly that’s taking place in his own home, don’t you think?"
Vegeta reflected the man’s smirk. "Honestly Juunanagou you know me to be wiser than that. I can easily make it look like an accident."
Juunanagou’s expression faltered as he felt the dagger press tighter against his neck. "Watch it Vegeta. The last time we faced off like this you ended up with nothing to show for your troubles but a nasty scar dealt by the tip of my sword. So unless you want a repeat, I’d release me now."
Vegeta’s eyes narrowed as he slid his dagger up the man’s neck until he reached his chin. "We aren’t playing by your rules anymore. This is my home and I will not allow you bring disruption once again."
"You overestimate my interest." Juunanagou chuckled. "Do you honestly think after ten years I would still be so vengeful as to ‘disrupt’ your new life? Honestly, your self-absorption never ceases to amaze me. I came here as a member of the Senate. Nothing else."
"Then what the hell were you doing with the onna?" Vegeta growled. He knew the man well enough to doubt his motives.
Juunanagou smirked as they managed to get back to a much more interesting topic than the past. "Yes, I must say meeting your ward was an added bonus. We happened to bump into each other on our way to join the assembly. The poor thing didn’t have an escort. I didn’t know who would be foolish enough to neglect a being with innocence and beauty as hers, but I was more than ready to mend the fool’s mistake. I mean honestly Vegeta; here I thought I was merely gaining the affection of an attractive young princess. Never could I imagine she was of any importance to you. Let alone that you were the fool that allowed her to be left unattended. You should be grateful I lent my arm to the lady. A creature with attributes such as she should never be left alone. There are dangerous men in this universe, Vegeta. A delicate young thing like her could be taken alive amongst such savages as your people."
Vegeta fists tightened. "Watch your threats Juunanagou. If I catch you so much as breathing on her, my sword will be driven through your chest faster than you can inhale." Vegeta tried to calm himself; he would not allow Juunanagou to get the better of him this time. "If you wish to leave this planet with all of your limbs intact, you will stay the hell away from her. Understood?" Vegeta asked with narrowed eyes.
"Of course, Vegeta." Juunanagou quickly conceded. "I can not believe you would think I would be so cold as to dare mar the purity of such a handsome creature. I mean after all… I’m not like you."
Vegeta teeth ground together as the accusation was almost enough for him to damn the entire universe just to see the blood of the beast before him smeared all over his sword. Somehow he restrained himself. Vegeta, with godly power, relinquished his hold as he took a step back from the bastard before him. "I will not play this game once again. You may have taken advantage of my naïveté ten years ago, but I will be damned if I allow history to repeat itself. The onna is off limits."
Juunanagou took a moment to straighten out his suit and armor as he cleared his throat. He enjoyed his rival’s comparison to the past; he was playing right into his hands. "Of course, Vegeta." Juunanagou nodded as he slowly moved his hand toward his hip. He began slowly circling his opponent in an almost intimidating manner. "History won’t repeat itself, because ten years ago the situation was the complete opposite. I was the one with an onna to protect, and you were the animal daring to defy my defense. Yes Vegeta, I can guarantee history will not repeat itself. I will not be the disgrace you were, nor will I suffer the difficulties you did… After all, I’m not the one who has a hard time finding an onna to bed me. In fact…" Juunanagou paused as he was standing directly behind Vegeta. He lowed his voice to that of a menacing whisper. "As smitten as the onna seemed after our one encounter, I would wager that this ward of yours will be in my bed before I even leave the planet."
Upon release of those words, Vegeta became so blinded with rage that he failed to bother with any verbal response as he clenched his sword. Juunanagou, expecting this exact reaction, was well prepared for the blow as he drew his sword just in time to meet Vegeta’s thrust. It seemed the past was about to become present.
"Haven’t they been in there a little too long?" Bulma asked as she paced back and forth worrying about whatever was going on behind the closed doors. "I swear I heard the clash of swords." Bulma commented.
"Oh… Ah… I am sure everything will be fine." Kakarrot tried weakly to brush off her worry. "I mean Vegeta might have lost the last battle they fought, but he will surely win this one… I mean if they do fight… Not that I think they would… But it they do…" Kakarrot cleared his throat as the words seemed less than helpful.
"Why would they be fighting Kakarrot!? You still haven’t told me why Vegeta hates this King Juunanagou so much. I mean he seemed perfectly amiable to me." Bulma admitted rather spiritedly.
"He’s not." Kakarrot was quick to admit. "Juunanagou might be charming when he wants to, but don’t be fooled; he is nothing but a snake."
"Oh really?" Bulma asked skeptically. "And what exactly is so snake-like about him?"
Kakarrot shook his head as he looked back at the door that hid the two rivals. "It is not my place to speak of, but I warn you to watch yourself."
Bulma just shrugged, believing Kakarrot was acting a bit on the dramatic side about all of this. "Well if you think they are so dangerous together then perhaps we should break them up." She spoke with an almost mischievous smirk as she walked straight over to the large double doors.
"Bulma don’t!" Kakarrot tried to stop the feisty onna before she had the chance to interrupt Vegeta and Juunanagou. He was much too late as Bulma stormed into the room to see Juunanagou on his knees with Vegeta pointing a sword at the man’s chest, looking about ready to push the blade right into the defenseless man.
"Vegeta, NO!" Bulma screamed as she jumped in front of Juunanagou, forcing Vegeta to pull back his weapon. "What the hell is wrong with you!?" Bulma asked as she turned to make certain Juunanagou was unharmed. "Are you alright?"
"Of course." Juunanagou placed a gentle look of relief upon his face. "Now that you’re here."
Kakarrot was quick to grab Vegeta before he could make a move to attack Juunanagou. "Don’t Vegeta, this won’t help the situation." Kakarrot reminded his friend quietly in hopes he would control his temper.
"Come my dear." Juunanagou cleared his throat as he rose from the ground along side of Bulma. "Your warden and I finished our business anyway." He shot a smirk at Vegeta before extending his arm to Bulma. "I believe you owe me a dance."
Bulma looked up to see the furious expression upon Vegeta’s face, and thought perhaps separating the men now was best for the situation. "Alright." She accepted sweetly as the pair quickly exited the room. Vegeta wasn’t two steps into heading after them before Kakarrot halted him.
"Don’t do this Vegeta." Kakarrot knew he had to reason with the man before things grew too far out of hand. "Look I understand why you’re worried about Juunanagou’s presence, but you need to think clearly in this. He can’t cause any problems for you during his stay unless you allow him to."
"Are you suggesting I stand by and allow him to roam my planet doing whatever he damn well pleases? Have you lost your mind Kakarrot? Juunanagou destroys everything he touches, and I’ll be damned if I let him touch Bulma next!" Vegeta growled as moved once again to storm out of the room.
"You are doing exactly what he wants you to do!" Kakarrot tried to rationalize with his king. "He expects you to go into the assembly and make another scene. He wants you to look like a beast in front of the senate members! Don’t let him do it."
"And what are you suggesting? Should I allow him to play his mind games with the onna? I won’t allow it!" Vegeta insisted.
"Do you honestly think Bulma is so foolish?!" Kakarrot tried to reason. "She grew up with this kind of scum coming on to her; making false promises with insincerity. Do you honestly believe she will fall for Juunanagou’s lies?"
Vegeta blinked a few times as he contemplated the possibility. "Perhaps not, but we both know how convincing the bastard can be when he wishes. He has no qualms exploiting and abusing an onna to get what he wants. I will not allow history to repeat itself! Not with this onna!"
Kakarrot dropped his head slightly in understanding. Bulma had been like a little sister to him since he was assigned to her. The last thing he wanted was for her to suffer because of a beast like Juunanagou. "I agree with you Vegeta. But I don’t think going to Juunanagou is the best choice. Go and talk to Bulma. Tell her the truth. I am sure if she knew—"
"No." Vegeta cut him off coldly. "I will not tell her the truth. Nor will you! It is my past, and only mine. She does not need to know the truth!"
"But Vegeta, it isn’t just your past! It’s mine as well, and if you won’t tell Bulma then I—"
"Enough Kakarrot." Vegeta stopped him. "Go back to your wench and the assembly. I shall see to it that the onna severs contact with the Adajinzoun king before it’s too late."
"May I have this dance, my lady?" Juunanagou asked suavely as he extended his hand to Bulma the moment the two arrived back at the assembly.
"Very well." Bulma extended her hand in acceptance. The pair glided onto the floor with a rather flashy presence; Juunanagou latching rather tightly onto Bulma, making certain the assembly members were privileged to the appearance of a rather intimate coupling.
"You are a lovely dancer my dear." Juunanagou asked softly; he was wise enough to be careful with how he was going to handle this.
"Thank you." Bulma nodded quickly. "But enough compliments. Perhaps you could explain to me why you have Vegeta in such an uproar." The soft and gentle princess cut right to the point.
Juunanagou was slightly startled by her boldness, but quickly rebounded as he placed a saddened look upon his face before speaking. "I wish I could say that the hostility between Vegeta and I is merely superficial, but I am afraid I can not. You see, when I mentioned our business relationship before, I failed to note what the transaction we were working out was. Or I suppose more accurately who the transaction was about."
Bulma’s eyebrows perked up in curiosity. "Then please explain." Bulma spoke in an almost demanding tone. "I have lived with Vegeta these last eight years, and never once did I see him with fury in his eyes as today. I am no fool, nor is Vegeta. If he finds reason to hate you, let alone dare attack you when he was particularly careful to behave himself during this assembly, I tend to wonder if his reactions are not in fact as out of line as they appear."
"You are loyal to him." Juunanagou was quick to assess. "He must mean a great deal to you."
"He does." Bulma admitted without embarrassment. "In fact if it wasn’t for my little spat earlier with Vegeta I would most likely be spitting in your face right this minute, not even needing to know his reasons for disliking you. However, since we met under such cordial circumstance I am willing to listen to your truth."
"How kind of you." Juunanagou held a smirk. The onna was fiery indeed; perhaps this was going to be more fun than he imagined. "Vegeta is quite lucky to have someone in his life so devoted to him."
"If anyone has been privileged to any luck, it is I not Vegeta. My devotion to him is paled compared to that which he bestows upon me. So when he warns me of a danger, I listen without question." She pointedly locked eyes with her partner, her manner uncompromising.
"Yet you still dance with me?" He questioned quickly. He couldn’t help but note the incongruity in her words.
"I already explained that as compensation for the kindness of your escort I shall grant you the chance to explain yourself. If I do not like what I hear, I can assure you that this will be our last dialogue."
"You are quite the diplomat." Juunanagou lips curled slightly; the onna was clearly more than just a pretty face. He placed a longing look upon his face as he fixed his eyes on her unending blue orbs. It seemed a change in tactics was in order. He lifted a hand lightly to brush a stray curl from out of her face. "I hate when unpleasantness from the past is forced into light. But I understand your need for the truth, though I am certain you will not like what I have to say. I would feel guilt in crushing the image of a man whom you seem to hold in such high esteem. Certainly your king has changed in ten years."
"Are you suggesting that Vegeta’s offense to you was out of some need to protect some hidden shame from his past?" Bulma asked in disbelief. If this man was going to try and slander Vegeta, she wasn’t going to stay and listen.
"I am merely saying that the messiness from our past is simply that." Juunanagou cleared his throat, careful in his selection of the words for his explanation. "Vegeta and I were both boys in our early twenties the last time we associated with each other. We each did foolish things, things that should not be rehashed."
"And will not be." Vegeta interrupted as he stole the pair’s attention. "I’m cutting in." He said very clearly without room for objection. He maintained a calm and collected demeanor; he was not going to draw more attention to himself by making another scene for the Adajinzoun king’s benefit.
Juunanagou held his smirk, as he locked eyes with his rival. ‘All too easy.’ He thought smugly as he noted the restraint the man was already pouring on. Vegeta’s eyes seemed particularly angered by the low positioning of Juunanagou’s hands on the onna. "Honestly Vegeta, where are your manners. You must ask the lady if you wish to cut in."
"It’s alright Juunanagou." Bulma decided to defuse the situation before Vegeta could even retort. "Vegeta owes me a dance anyway."
Juunanagou’s nodded humbly as he took a step back, for now he needed to work on keeping himself from alienating the onna. "Then we shall finish ours later." He kissed her hand slowly and gently before allowed the angered Saiya-jin to take his place.
Once Juunanagou was out of earshot, Vegeta placed a very cold expression on his face. "What are you thinking dancing with that beast? I thought I made it clear that he is a danger to you."
"Did you?" Bulma asked coyly. "Let me think. When was it exactly that you made it so clear to me? Hm… Was it when you left me unescorted? Or maybe when you were making a scene in front of the Senate? No, it had to have been when you were pointing the blade of your sword at a defenseless man."
"I don’t have time for your games onna. I have sworn my protection to you since the moment I brought you here to live with me. I never promised that I wouldn’t hurt your feelings. Do not let your pettiness cloud your sensibility!"
Bulma’s cheeks became hot as she suddenly felt like a child once again. ‘What is wrong with him? He is never this cruel. Is he truly that petrified of Juunanagou?’ She wondered as she searched his eyes for the answers she knew his lips would never admit to her. "Why do you hate him so?" Bulma softened her tone, hoping she could calm him enough to receive a straight answer.
Vegeta tensed as his mind and heart began a painful struggle. All rationality that he still possessed ordered him to tell her the truth, while his heart… his heart feared loosing her. Those bottomless blue eyes can so easily look upon him with such trust and admiration now, but could she still after knowing the unabridged truth? No. He could not risk it. She would surely look at him differently. As much as Vegeta wanted to reveal the repugnant actions of Juunanagou in the affair, he could not do so without admitting to his own dishonorable behavior. Though his sins were forgivable in comparison to the atrocities of the Adajinzoun king, he could not chance loosing her trust. The little minx before him was the only onna he tolerated with any amount of respect for the last ten years.
Of course his original intentions were not in befriending an onna, but a softhearted little girl that one day blossomed into the beautiful onna he was currently gazing upon. He sighed as he pulled his eyes from hers; no, he would not tell her. He could not risk losing her to the truth; whether he would admit it or not, he knew that he needed her too much. "He is a coward." Vegeta spoke the truth without exact detail. "He will use you in an attempt to hurt me. I know you are wise enough to spot a liar miles away; why are you so blinded by this fool?"
"I’m not blinded." Bulma shot back with more anger in her voice. "Vegeta, you know I trust you utterly and completely, but as you said I am wise enough to spot a liar. I am not easily played for a fool--you should now that! I cannot continue living life as though making my own decisions is impossible. I do not understand how you could believe that I would be so careless as to allow this man to use me against you. I have told and implied nothing to this man. All I have asked him for is the truth, yet he seems as reluctant to admit it as you are, which quite frankly worries me Vegeta." Bulma slowly moved her hand from his shoulder to the side of his face, forcing him to gaze into her eyes once again. "All I want is the truth, and you know I will do anything you ask in return."
Vegeta saw his one and only chance to right a situation, which he knew could spin out of control. He saw the longing in Bulma’s eyes to hear what was truly going on, and how could he blame her? She was clearly being made a target for his past errors; she had every right to know what Juunanagou would do, or try to do to her and why. Gods how he wanted to leave this assembly and take her someplace secluded and admit the entire truth to her. His mind tempted him with the thought of her comfort as she listened to his past. But his heart foreshadowed a different reaction, one of disgust and disillusionment. He knew he simply had no choice. He had to hope he could control this before he would have to resort to the ugly reality. "You are free to make your own decisions. But not when they result in detriment to your health. I swore to protect you, but I can’t do that if you won’t let me." Vegeta tried to sound reasonable, though he knew in reality he was far from it.
"This isn’t protecting me Vegeta." Bulma huffed in offense. She wanted nothing more than to be enlightened as to what was happening. "This is ruining my life. You did the same thing with Kakarrot earlier. Why won’t you trust me with the truth? We swore to be honest to each other from day one; how can you deny that promise now when it counts?" She demanded in a hurt tone; she wanted to make it crystal clear to him that she was not going to settle for his silence in the matter.
"Onna." Vegeta whispered with a long sigh. He locked eyes with his partner, willing her to understand his intentions without actually voicing them. "I need you to trust me. Just because I wish not to rehash the past, does not mean I am directing my silence only towards you. I know you possess memories you would never admit to me or anyone else. I have respected your wishes and trusted you to express only that which you felt necessary. I believe you owe me only the same."
"How dare you!" Bulma’s eyes narrowed in anger, unable to believe he was trying to evoke sympathy out of a comparison to her past. "The two situations are completely different. My past is mine alone. The memories you speak of are my cross to bear; they do not affect you in any way, unlike that which is happening with Juunanagou. This situation affects me as well. I believe I have a right to know why I should warn off the affections of an amiable man with more than just a simple ‘I say so’."
"Damn it, onna!" Vegeta quickly lowered his voice as he knew the pair was once again gaining attention. "Juunanagou is dangerous. Just stay the hell away from him!" Vegeta’s tone was harsh and definite, leaving no room for question or defiance. He knew of no other way to get through to her the seriousness of the situation.
Bulma just shook her head in disgust before she broke free of Vegeta’s embrace and stormed out of the room. She was not going to be spoken down to a minute longer.
Vegeta watched as she pulled away. His immediate reflex was to go after her, but lost the chance as someone immediately took Bulma’s place in the dance; it was Kakarrot’s mate to be. "What the hell are you--?"
"Stop it, Vegeta. Kakarrot might hold his tongue with you, but I surely will not. You are handling this situation terribly and you need to calm down before this gets any worse." Chi-Chi forced the king to keep eye contact with her. Although she was only given vague details about what was going on by Kakarrot, her intentions were not to intervene. However, after witnessing the exchange between king and princess she decided differently.
"I don’t need your opinion in the matter wench; you don’t even know what the hell is going on." Vegeta growled as he watched Bulma finally disappear from his sight. He hated the idea of the onna wandering around with Juunanagou loose, doing god knows what.
"You are right that I am not advised to all the details of the situation, but I still can see what is going on at the present with my own two eyes!" Chi-Chi explained. "If you could hear how you were speaking to Bulma just a minute ago you would realize how thoughtless you are being."
"What are you talking about?"
"You were scolding her like a child, telling her what she should and shouldn’t do without any other explanation than ‘I am wiser and this is how things are to be.’ She is no longer a child, Milord. Bulma, if you have yet to notice, has grown into a clever young onna who will not stand for such condescension. Perhaps if you were around more often you would know that!" Chi-Chi reproached, knowing her words hit close to home for him.
Vegeta eyes slowly closed and opened his eyes as he found the governesses words only half true. Yes, he had very clearly noticed that the once adolescent was now an onna, a passionate and beautiful one at that. However her age and wisdom failed to change the situation at hand. "She doesn’t now what she is getting into. It is my duty—"
"It is your duty to be a friend to her and explain why she is in danger; not go around ordering her out of it! Honestly your Highness, Bulma has preached to me for years about how you are one of the few people who has always treated her as an equal. But by the way you are acting, her observations are appearing to be false!" Chi-Chi finished on cue with the music ending. She stepped away from Vegeta with a fake smile on her face as she applauded the musicians. "Now you may go after her." Chi-Chi said in a flawlessly condescending tone, reflective of his.
Without anymore wait Vegeta left, as Chi-Chi hoping something she had said breached the man’s thick scull.
"Juunanagou." Kakarrot nearly growled as he stopped the man in the hall.
The Adajinzoun king smirked as he turned to acknowledge the guard. "Well, well, well. If it isn’t Vegeta’s foolish Saiya-jin lackey. How are you?" He asked with flawless sarcasm.
"You have a lot of nerve coming here after what you did to Vegeta." Kakarrot said defensively. "If you had a brain in that little head of yours you’d get off of this planet as fast as possible."
"Honestly, Kakarrot." Juunanagou smirked. "You sound exactly like your king… Though I must say I’m surprised. He was almost as pissed at you as he was with me the last time I was here."
"That was before he found out you set me up." Kakarrot cringed at the memory. "But I promise you won’t get the chance to use me like you did before! Neither Vegeta nor I are foolish enough to underestimate you once again. You won’t get the chance to cause anymore problems."
"Is that so?" Juunanagou asked curiously. "Then why the push to get me off the planet? If you and Vegeta are so much wiser and more determined to see to my ‘problem less’ appearance on the planet, then why all the worry? I mean honestly, what possible interest could I have in you barbarians."
"Don’t even bother with the bullshit, Juu. You thought Vegeta was going to roll over and accept what you did to him, and when he struck back by hitting you where it hurt the most, in power and wealth, you vowed to take your revenge. He nixed all of your hard work to become king by crushing your empire these last ten years and you are as bitter as hell about it. Don’t think for one minute that I can’t see that." Kakarrot spoke in an incensed tone. "And if you think I’m too blind to see that you’re going after Bulma to take that revenge then--"
"After?" Juunanagou cut in, suppressing some fury of his own. "I am only after what is mine. Vegeta shouldn’t have gotten in my way all those years ago! He paid the price then, and yet he is still dense enough to try and interfere once again. If he thinks I will ignore his trespasses, than he is seriously mistaken!"
"Than you admit it! You are out for blood!" Kakarrot demanded in a firm tone.
"Blood?" Juunanagou chuckled, his demeanor switching from rage to arrogance. "Violence is only a means of retribution such an obtuse people as your own resort to. I, however, am a man of strategy, preparation, and intellect. I think much bigger than you, little monkey. It’s not just about hurting another, it’s about taking pleasure from my victims defeat."
"Do not walk down that path again, Juunanagou." Kakarrot said warningly. "As similar as you might think the circumstances, I can guarantee you Bulma will not become a new player in your little game. She is too smart for your tricks."
"Funny." Juunanagou forced a laugh. "I believe I had a similar warning last time… And look at how well things turned out then…" Juunanagou paused to calm himself before turning his back to the angered guard. "Have a pleasurable evening Kakarrot, it certainly will be for me." The man chuckled evilly before drifting off down the hall, fully ready to commence with yet another competition; only his reward for this one seemed even more intriguing than the last.
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