Chapter 11 – A Mistake
Vegeta had arrived at the castle in record speed. He headed straight to Bulma’s room, ignoring several people who had sought to gain his attention as he walked emotionlessly past them. He had only one purpose for the rest of the night and for as long as needed after, healing. It sickened Vegeta to imagine the kind of damage that Juunanagou’s vengeful plot had caused Bulma. He had just been reflecting upon her sensitivities when it came to being dominated by the opposite sex. She had experienced cruelties of the like under her father’s captivity. He feared to think, as hard as she had fought for some sort of normalcy in her life, that it might have been completely nixed after this one selfish act. He would do whatever it takes to see that does not happen.
Arriving at her room, Vegeta slowly walked inside, careful so as not to startle her. Scanning the room, his eyes quickly fell upon her well-hidden form beneath her figure outlining covers. The only sound he heard was that of short breathing, as he crept closer to her quiet form. Briefly stopping to look upon the tattered garment she had worn to dinner, he took a moment to control his anger before taking a seat upon the bed next to her.
He could only see her long flowing blue hair draped across her pillow, since she was turned away from him, making no move to acknowledge his presence. "Onna," he finally whispered, as he slowly reached out to touch her soft hair. He halted his movement, however, as he saw her back stiffen within the contours of the sheet covering her. "Onna, it’s me," he clarified, wanting only to keep her as calm as possible.
"I knew it was, the moment you entered," she whispered after a long pause, her voice was barely audible. "I was beginning to think you weren’t going to come… Perhaps still mad about what I had said to you earlier?" she suggested between a few sniffles, as she felt the mattress compress behind her, she knew Vegeta had lain down next to her, but he was still very much careful to keep his distance.
"I am offended by such an assumption, onna." He held no anger in his voice, as his hand timidly reached to stroke her soft hair in a calming gesture. "You know I could never be so cruel to you."
Bulma’s lips curled into a slight smile, as his atypically soft voice tickled her ears. This was exactly what she needed right now, comfort from the man she cared for most in life, the only man who knew how to cure her pain. "I know," she whispered, before shifting under her covers to face him. As her eyes locked with his she saw the deep concern he held for her, she never thought she could have someone care for her as much as the man before her proves day after day. "But it doesn’t hurt to hear it," she whispered as she shifted closer to him.
Vegeta did the same as he immediately welcomed her into his arms, wrapping his tail around her protectively. He would do this for an eternity if she would only let him. "Have you seen a healer?" he asked quietly, after allowing her ample time to calm herself in his embrace before daring to broach the reason for his presence. He immediately felt her stiffen once again, before shaking her head in rejection.
"I did not suffer any serious injuries," she whispered numbly. "I do not need a man to tell me that."
Vegeta’s jaw tightened as he heard the icy note in her regards to the opposite sex. He had heard this tone frequently when she had first arrived in his care, he feared what this sign meant. "I understand," he lowered his head to place a soft kiss upon her forehead. "Then is there nothing you need?" he asked, after a few minutes of trying to conclude what could ease her misery to any extent.
"There is one thing," she answered quietly as her eyes once again lifted, but only to meet his chest. "You could remove your armor; I’d rather not acquire anymore bruises tonight."
Vegeta frowned at his own stupidity before temporarily untangling himself from Bulma to remove his gloves, cape, armor and boots, leaving only the soft fabric of his shirt and pants covering his muscular body. "Better?" he asked with a disarming smile, as he crawled back to lie next to her.
"Yes, thank you," she nodded slightly, as she lifted the end of her covers to invite him to join her more intimately. Vegeta did not hesitate as he crawled under the warmth, once again intertwining his body with hers. The pair simply clung to one another for dear life, Bulma, needing to feel protected, and Vegeta needing to protect. "I don’t know what I would do without you," she spoke thoughtfully, before burrowing her head deeper within his neck.
"I could not stop thinking of that same question as I rode back here." He brushed his lips against her head in a light kiss. "If only you knew how precious you are to me." He spoke his last thought so quietly; he knew the onna in his arms had failed to hear him. "I wasn’t there for you." He finally spoke what weighed heaviest upon his mind. "I failed you, and for that I shall never forgive myself." Almost as quickly as the words left his lips he began to feel droplets of liquid slowly begin to run down his neck. There was no change in her breathing or any whimpering to be heard; only her tears that began to flow freely.
"Please, do not fault yourself," she pleaded between gasps. "You have never failed me."
"You are too generous with your forgiveness, onna." He once again ran fingers from scalp to tip in a soothingly slow rhythm. "You were in the stables looking for me because of my ungracious exit from dinner. Had I not been so hotheaded, I would have spared you this." His guilt was evident in his insistence to bear all the blame for what had happened, Bulma however was about to have none of it.
Shifting herself so she was once again facing her warden, Bulma slid one hand around Vegeta’s neck as the other cupped his face, slowly stroking his cheek with her thumb. She rested her forehead atop his, as any sliver of space was illuminated between the two. "How many times have I been so hotheaded that I stormed off without any consideration for you?"
"Onna, you can’t compare--"
"Almost on a daily basis," Bulma answered her own question with a half smile. "I think that entitles you to have your own ‘hotheaded’ moments once in a while. Besides, we both know that there was no way you could have foreseen what was going to happen, so regretting past events that can’t be changed is useless. I’d rather focus on the now, and right now you couldn’t do right by me in any better way then by just laying here, holding me, making me feel safe, helping to forget…" Her final thought fell silent as her last few words came out muffled in her poor attempt to suppress her tears. "So, just be with me now," she whispered, as she felt his arms tighten around her.
"Always," he answered her plea devoutly. No creature has ever weakened him as the onna in his arms. How he wished he could tell her how much she meant, how deeply his feelings ran, but he couldn’t, not now, not ever. He would have to settle for her friendship. That was all he could offer her right now.
The two lay silently together for some time, never breaking the sound of their joint breathing, neither daring nor wanting to break their blissful unity. This was what they had both yearned for, yet never dared attempt.
The serenity of the few moments could not last however, as Bulma’s thoughts needed to be voiced. "Why have you not asked me what happened?" Though she already knew his answer, she wanted to hear him speak. The subject needed to be broached; for once, she didn’t want to keep everything inside any longer. She wanted him--no, she needed him to know.
"I know you well enough that if you have a thought to speak, you will speak it. I assumed in this case you did not wish to speak of what happened. Was I wrong?" He left the possibility opened; he knew if she wanted to remain silent she would have. Her suggestion of the topic proved her other intentions.
Twisting in his grip, Bulma turned her back to him. She remained securely within his hold, but for what she was about to speak of, she did not want to have to look into his eyes. "You know me so well, and yet you still know so little of my past. Have you never wondered why I am as I am?" She asked quietly, never turning to see the expression upon Vegeta’s face.
"How could I not?" Vegeta admitted softly. His ward had never dared to raise the subject of her past. It was taboo between them. Though he desperately desired to know the truth, to know all that she hid from him, he would never force her to speak of that which she wasn’t ready. "I have long wished you would seek to confide the terrors of your past within me, but you never seemed ready."
"You were wise not to ask, I would not have told you. I never wanted anyone to know the shame of my past, or at least what I believed to be my shame. I grew up with an utterly skewed viewpoint of life, and as a result I suffered a tortured youth… at least until I came here." Bulma allowed for a half smile as she thought back to the day she first set foot on the beautiful planet she now calls her home. Her smile faded shortly after, as she recalled her intentions that very same day. "I am certain you knew that I was lying to you the day we met. About why I was at the lake, where my cloths had gone, and how I had acquired the bruises on my back."
Vegeta had heard the nervousness in her voice as she spoke, he didn’t want her to relive such harsh memories after the evening she had. He didn’t want her to be overwhelmed. "Onna, you don’t have to--"
"I know I don’t," Bulma knew exactly why he wished to halt her, "but I need you to know, you have a right to hear what you have been protecting me from for so many years." Bulma waited for him to object, when he didn’t, she assumed she held his undivided attention and began her reflection. "You know how my culture is. It is male dominated in every way possible. From father to son the torch is passed, women only serve to see to that end. As such, it was my father’s desire for his first born to be of his gender. As such, it was not surprising he was disappointed when the midwife brought me to him. I suppose he may have recovered from the fact that he would have to try once more to impregnate my mother to produce a child of the ‘superior’ gender, but as he would remind me nearly everyday of my life, I made sure that was impossible. From my life came my mother’s death, which left my father a widower, and hard pressed for a wife. He married many times again, but few ever survived life with him. It was a miracle I did; I have Chi-Chi to thank for that. She protected me from all that she could; she was truly the only mother I have ever known." A brief smile graced Bulma’s lips with pride at the thought of her governess, but the look faded quickly as she continued to speak.
"I don’t think my life truly began to spin into utter misery until I was approximately the age of twelve. That was when my father decided it was time to ‘sell me to the highest bidder.’ I had just become of childbearing age, which meant I was finally of ‘value’ as a wife. Now, of course, I had no clue as to what my responsibly would be under such a union, but I didn’t have much choice other than to learn quickly. I didn’t know what the word ‘lust’ meant when I was twelve, but I knew what it looked like in a man’s eyes. I couldn’t count how many suitors came to assess my worth. How many grabbed my breasts to see how large and solid I was, or hiked up my dress to feel how strong my thighs were, or put his lips on my body to taste how sweet I was." Bulma halted her story as she noticed the veins popping out of Vegeta’s tightly clenched fists, encircling her waist. Gently placing her palms atop of his, she felt them immediately loosen, allowing him to intertwine his fingers with hers before continuing with her story.
"My father was very gracious when it came to letting the suitors ‘inspect’ me. Short of taking my virginity, of course, which he said only belonged to my new owner. But by some twist of fate, that never happened. Most of the suitors thought I was too young, too skinny, too weak, too underdeveloped, and a slew of other self-deprecating inadequacies. I didn’t mind though, I quickly caught on that marriage was something I did not want any part in. And for a good while my fears of imminent marriage had lessened, but it was not long enough. By the time I was thirteen, my father concluded that I was utterly and completely useless to him. He used to tell me that no man could ever be blind enough to suffer having such a hideous creature as myself in his bed. So he ordered me to fix myself. I began to join him on all of his business meetings, so I could observe other princesses and queens, to learn a more ‘proper’ way to act. Of course, even as much as I observed, I never achieved any success at being the little ‘seductress’ my father wanted me to be. So in his infinite wisdom, he concluded that beating me would have set my priorities in order. It did not help. I was still overlooked, after all, I was only a child; though I was slowly gaining more womanly attributes, I was still too young to be worth anything to an experienced man... at least for a time."
There were another few moments of pause, as Bulma seemed to need the time to gather her strength to speak. "It was only a few weeks before my fourteenth turning of age when my father had taken me to meet the Muyia people. He had introduced me to their king, Yuria, who had recently become a widower. He was in need of a wife, and frighteningly, he had almost been desperate enough to accept me. My father had been in negotiations for our joining when Yuria decided that he wouldn’t make his purchase without ‘sampling’ the ‘goods’ first. Fortunately, I knew my father would be opposed to this; at least I had been assured that he would be. To my shock however, it turned out my father’s hatred for me ran deeper than I realized as he agreed to let Yuria have me for the night, but only if he swore to marry me after. Yuria made the promise. Even I, at the age of thirteen, could tell he wouldn’t have kept it if he was dissatisfied."
Bulma felt Vegeta stiffen against her; she could tell he had already concluded what had happened next. "I didn’t know what mating was. I understood that it occurred between and man and a woman, and it was how children were created, but the actual act… I had been in for a rude awakening that night. Some servants had put me in this much too sheer white gown, and brought me to Yuria’s room. I just sat waiting, for something I couldn’t fathom, for what seemed like hours before he entered. He seemed pleased when he saw me, I could tell by the way he slithered his disgusting tongue across his lips. But, it wasn’t until he started removing his cloths that the warning signs in my head started screaming at me that something terrible was about to happen. I’ll never forget how helpless I felt when he crawled on top of me, kissing me, touching me, I had never felt so disgusting in all my life; I just wanted to get as far away from him as possible."
Bulma inhaled a few long deep breaths before running her hands under her eyes to wipe away her tears before once again grasping Vegeta’s hands. She could see his veins popping out once more; she wanted to ease his tension. "It was when I felt him begin to slide my gown off that I completely panicked and knew I could not go through with whatever it was he was going to do to me. I started fighting him, he was angered by my refusal and tried to pin my arms above my head to halt my struggles. He only managed to pin one of my arms however. With the other, I reached out to grab the knife that he apparently kept hidden under his pillow; it was pushed into sight somewhere during our struggle. I didn’t think twice before thrusting it into him. I really didn’t aim for anywhere specific; I just wanted him to stop. And he did, the moment the blade sliced right through his throat. As I pushed him away from me, I realized the extent of the damage I had done to him. I pulled what I could of my dress back up and ran out of the room. I ran right into my father’s chambers and told him what happened. We left immediately after. We would have both been killed if any of his soldiers had found us. We came straight here after that. My father said the ‘Saiya-jins have ways of dealing with this sort of thing.’ That was the business he had worked out with your father, dealing with the backlash of the murder."
Vegeta’s eyes widened in utter disbelief as he heard this confession; he hadn’t been privileged with the specifics of the dealings Alkon and his father had. He couldn’t believe that it had been to protect Bulma. Of course, in Alkon’s eyes it was surely to protect himself, but now he almost regretted insulting his father for involving himself with Alkon. He had originally thought the transaction was simply of financial aid, never had he imagined it was to protect his ward. Vegeta halted his thoughts, deciding to ponder this issue more later since Bulma was beginning to speak once again. She would have his exclusive attention.
Bulma sniffled a few times, relieved that the most difficult of her secrets to speak of were now finished. A brief smile graced her lips as she realized the rest of her monologue would be easier to reflect on. "And then we arrived here." She closed her eyes as if reliving the memory of when she first saw her now home. A laugh escaped her lips as she recalled her father’s ridiculous warning as they first toured the planet. "My father very sternly warned me before we landed that I was not, for a change, to use my ‘feminine wiles’ on either the king or the prince of the Saiya-jins, because they were an utterly ‘untrustworthy, dishonorable, wretched group’ and he wanted absolutely no long lasting ties to them."
Vegeta broke his long silence as he couldn’t help but mutter a retort to the fool’s ironic assessment of his people. "The bastard is one to talk."
Bulma heard his quiet comment and laughed. "I know, how ridiculous it sounds, but that was what he told me. Of course, at the time it had the reverse effect on me, I was thrilled to be away from scrutiny for a little while. I loved the freedom it gave me to have a real chance, just for once, to be a child for a short time. When he went into meetings with your father, I went into the woodlands. My home does not have the beautiful landscape that Vegeta-sei does. You don’t know what it was like for me to be able to feel freedom for a little while, to be lost in a place where I could forget my real life. That first night I think I fell in love with this place, I wanted to stay forever…." Her head fell in shame as she realized how true that statement was. "And that was exactly what I had intended to do the day we met."
Vegeta’s eyes narrowed slightly as he had heard this, the sudden realization of what she had meant slowly brought a deep gasp to his lips. "Onna, you weren’t--" He couldn’t finish his thought; it was too painful to rationalize.
"I was." Bulma confirmed his horror. "There weren’t any Saiya-jin boys who stole my cloths while I bathed. The truth was that when I jumped into that lake I did not intend to get out. I wanted the water to fill my lungs and take away my ability to breath. Death wasn’t a new concept for me, I had wanted to end my life for years, but I never found the right time. When I saw the lake, I knew I would never find a more beautiful burial ground. My father wouldn’t expect me for hours and I had thought there was no one in the immediate vicinity; everything just seemed perfect. And so I got into the water, and let myself sink until I felt my lungs begin to burn. I was right there, I could feel my death coming, but something stopped me. Perhaps my fear of death had been more prevalent than I had ever imagined, but I couldn’t go through with taking my own life. As much as I wanted to die, to be released, I suppose I was still too afraid. So I tried to swim to the top, but my cloths were too heavy, they weighed me down so I removed them, all save my undergarments, and pulled myself out of the water just before I could complete what I had set out to do. Would you believe as sat nearly freezing to death on the edge of that lake, I actually chastised myself for failing once again. I pulled my legs into my chest and just sat there sobbing for what felt like hours. The more I shivered, the more I began to hope that my pursuit of death would not be completely in vein; for if the water didn’t kill me, hypothermia would. But I didn’t have that chance because..."
Bulma’s voice dropped off as the memory of when she first met the man holding her ran through her mind. Turning in her warden’s grasp, she wrapped one arm around his waist to pull herself closer as the other began to innocently trace the contours of his face. "Because you showed up. You warmed my frozen limbs and held me in your lap so securely, that for the first time in my life I felt protected, safe, and almost cared for. I don’t think I ever told you what that meant to me. I never knew the gentle touch of a man before that day; I didn’t know your sex could be anything but cruel and dominating. But, you changed all of that. You gave me hope."
As the words left her lips, Bulma felt one of Vegeta’s hands slide up her neck to rest on her cheek, a near smile graced his lips as he pulled her forehead down to rest against his. "Not nearly as much as you gave me."
"I’d argue with that," she breathed heavily, it was hard to stay focused with his tender skin upon hers. "You know my father was furious when you brought me back. He actually thought you had forced yourself on me; at least that was his reasoning for why my cloths were missing. I tried to tell him differently, but he seemed assured of his scenario. That’s why he wouldn’t let me anywhere near you for the duration of our first stay. I thought it was utterly ironic, you were the first kind man I ever met, and my father hated you."
Vegeta could barely hold back his shock, as Bulma revealed her father’s assumptions. She was merely thirteen years of age at the time, and the bastard actually thought he would ravage the poor girl? The accusation infuriated him to no end. "The fool actually thought that I would violate you and then bring you back to him as though nothing had happened?"
"I have never understood my father’s logic; I surely shall not begin now," Bulma admitted rather frustrated, "it was for that reason I never heeded his warning when I came here. I kept hoping I would run into you. I felt lucky that our paths continued to cross."
"As did I," Vegeta admitted somberly, "I had felt a rare concern for you the moment we met. Then with the more you returned, the more I grew to enjoy your company."
Bulma smiled at this, coming from a man who hates everyone, it was a hefty compliment indeed. "I’ll never forget the day my father told me yours had passed. I remember feeling utterly devastated. I knew that meant you would now be king, and the one dealing with my father. I thought I would never get to see you again. But when the two of you came out of your meeting, to instead tell me that I could stay with you, it was like some dream. I could be my own person, and I didn’t even have to marry you." Bulma’s voice silenced for a moment as she watched a strange emotion flick across Vegeta’s face, almost as if her comment had brought some kind of pain to her warden. Wanting to erase the frown that had fallen upon her warden’s lips, she continued with a more positive note. "You gave me a existence I could have never fathomed having. I could live a thousand lives and never reimburse you for all that you have given to me."
"Onna," Vegeta was more than ready to object, but he never had the chance.
"Night after night, the way you helped me, chased my nightmares away, wiped my tears as you rocked me to sleep. I would have never made it through my childhood trauma if it weren’t for you. You saved me from utter misery, by bringing me to live in this utopia you call home. You made me feel whole again, and for that I owe you everything." Bulma’s head drifted back down to Vegeta’s shoulder as he allowed his hands to return to stroking her soft hair once more. She had finally released years of suppressed secrets, and had never felt better for it. "You know, that was all I could think about tonight," she admitted in a muffled whimper, finally revealing why all of this had needed to be spoken tonight of all nights. "When he had me on the ground, and started removing my cloths… even as scared as I was, I knew…" She stopped as she tried to control her tears; she needed him to know. Lifting her head once again she circled his face with her palms, locking her eyes with his. "A part of me knew that no matter what happened, that even if he had succeeded in taking me, I knew I would have your warm embrace to crawl into once it was over. I knew I could survive whatever was to happen, because—because I’d have you."
The sound of her adoration forced the Saiya-jin no ouji’s eyes closed as the emotions she riled within him forged a little deeper. "You always will," Vegeta vowed softly as her bottomless blue orbs entranced him. She was truly the most beautiful creature he had ever laid eyes on, and here he was, his body tightly intertwined with hers, her gentle fingers caressing his face, her lips merely inches from his. Her heartfelt plea and undying words of devotion created a spark too enflaming to be snuffed, igniting the scorching actions taken next.
It had started as soft kisses upon her cheeks to wipe her tears away, but his lips moved lower. And before either knew what was happening between them, their mouths were joining in a sweltering kiss. Gentle and timid affections became passionate and desperate, as what they both had longed for seemed no longer containable.
Bulma’s hands became lost Vegeta’s rugged mane, while Vegeta torched his ward’s skin with his burning caresses. The feeling of her naked flesh under his fingertips was more combustible than he could have ever imagined, while her taste was sweeter than any nectar his lips had ever sampled. Their blending could have continued on all night, both wanting to feel assurance that the being in their arms would never be severed from them. But that assertion was never to come, as Vegeta abruptly pulled away from his ward, suddenly repulsed and humiliated by his reprehensible behavior.
He was doing it again, only this time his forced affection was more dishonorable. Here his ward had just suffered a traumatic encounter, and he was trying to force his passions upon her. "I’m sorry," he blurted out roughly, as he pulled both his lips and eyes away from the onna in his arms. "I should never have… My forwardness was disgraceful, I should leave…" He sat up in her bed and turned from her. Never had he wanted to escape the mortification of his actions more than at that moment, but it seemed his ward was not about to let him.
"No, wait," Bulma lightly touched his shoulder before he could depart from her. What had gone so wrong? For a moment she had thought the man who held her heart might not be as repulsed by the idea as she had thought him to be. But perhaps it had just been the moment, his overwhelming respect for her simply becoming expressed physically? "Please do not go," she beseeched him desperately. She wasn’t sure how she could fix this. "You have not wronged me. I accepted your kiss." She was glad his back was to her at that moment, if it wasn’t, he would have seen her blush briefly at the thought of what they had just done.
"Only because you are vulnerable," he rationalized angrily; under any other circumstances, he knew she would have been grotesquely offended by his actions. "I should not have allowed my sympathy for you to be expressed physically."
Bulma’s eyes watered slightly as it finally seemed to all make sense to her. His pity had caused him to kiss her. Not his affections for her of a romantic nature, but simply his overwhelming compassion. And now he feels guilty for merely infringing upon her person, not because he just broke a sensitive onna’s heart. "I see," she whispered, before lying back down upon the bed and turning her back to him, "then perhaps you should leave."
Vegeta’s eyes twisted back to see her sunken form once again, it seemed his behavior had reverted her back to the poor condition she was in the moment he had entered. ‘Damn my pathetic feelings!’ He cursed himself as he rose from the bed and walked over to the side chair he had become so accustomed to over the years. This was how things are between them, how they will depressingly always be. "I will not leave you alone, onna," he confessed uneasily, as he sat opposite her, "but I will not chance another mistake."
‘A mistake,’ the word rung through Bulma’s mind; ‘so that is what our kiss was,’ she thought bitterly, as she closed her eyes to stop the water leaking from them. At least she could eliminate any lingering hope she held for the two of them. Pulling the blankets more tightly around herself, Bulma tried to block out the ecstasy that was robbed of her just minutes ago. She would never let him know the pain she must suffer as a price for his friendship. With a deep calming breath, she silently mouthed her response that would conclude the horrible night she had just suffered.
"Nor will ever I hope for another."