Chapter 13 – Juuhachigou
"King Vegeta," Kakarrot dropped to his knee as he interrupted a small conference of Vegeta-sei’s closest allies.
Turning around briskly, Vegeta rose from his seat with questioning eyes. "Have you done what I asked?" He released a short sigh as he heard the guard whisper an affirmation. "Excellent," Vegeta approved, "We will finish this later," he announced, while turning back to the senate members who were completely oblivious to the content of the exchange. Once the room was cleared out, save Kakarrot, Vegeta ordered, "bring the onna in."
Kakarrot cleared his throat before warning, "I will do as you ask sir, but I must be allowed to caution you that she is not alone. Juunanagou is with her, and the matter of which they desire to alert you of, I am certain, is more pressing than whatever dialogue you originally wished to speak with her upon."
Vegeta’s eyes narrowed as he listened to Kakarrot’s counsel, shocked, he wanted further explanation, but he would soon receive a more vivid answer as Kakarrot turned from him to opened the massive throne room doors and called for Bulma and Juunanagou to enter. Following the guidance of Kakarrot, they both stepped inside, arm in arm, with a much too at ease look upon each of their faces. Once Kakarrot was inside, he closed the doors behind him and awaited further instruction.
"What the hell is going on?" Vegeta growled, bluntly cutting right to the inappropriate appearance of the two. He focused on Bulma as he observed the pair, she refused to meet his eyes, a sign that lead him to believe this ‘matter’ that was about to be spoken upon was more serious than even Kakarrot had foreshadowed.
"Do calm down Vegeta, there is no need for vulgarities. Bulma and I have some exciting news to share with you." Juunanagou plastered a wide smile across his mischievous lips as he pulled Bulma closer to him. Looking down at her, he asked, "would you like to tell him the joyous news darling, or should I?"
Bulma strained a small laugh as she too joined her fiancé in a forced smile. "I suppose I should allow you the privilege." She happily passed on the responsibility, she was certain she could not have voiced the announcement while under Vegeta’s scrutiny.
"Very well then," Juunanagou was quick to comply. He had waited far too long for his moment. "I am very pleased to inform you, Vegeta, that I have proposed a union of matrimony to your ward, and to my honor, she has accepted." He allowed a brief moment of pause to allow his rival a moment to take the bitter news in before compounding the truth with a reinforced reality, "she will be departing with me after the conclusion of the conference."
The resonance of Juunanagou’s words seemed to echo through the Saiya-jin king’s mind as he tried to make sense of that which he had just been informed. He could not however, for the possibility seemed too absurd. "I find no humor in this joke," Vegeta said with a threatening note directed towards Juunanagou. Turning away from his enemy, he walked over to Bulma, and grabbing her arm with minimal force, he pulled her away from her ‘fiancé’ to receive a genuine answer.
Juunanagou’s first instinct was to object, as Vegeta so rudely severed the onna from him, but a part of him wanted the two to delve into an argument over the issue. He hoped the exchange would help him decipher what had truly happened between the pair to cause the rift that was now separating them even further. He needed to know the truth, if his plot was to be carried out successfully. At least he used that excuse for his interest. Silencing any protests, he watched as they began to quarrel.
"What is the meaning of this ridiculous announcement?" Vegeta asked his ward in a lowered voice, lifting his hand to touch her chin, he forced her eyes to meet his for the first time since last night. "Why are you acting so irrational?"
"Irrational?" Bulma repeated as she snapped both her arm and chin away from him, "I am not being ‘irrational’ Vegeta, nor am I playing some dramatic joke upon you. Juunanagou and I wish to wed, and as such, we have agreed too."
"What the hell do you mean, you wish to wed? Just a week ago you were looking forward to a long life of solitude, and now, suddenly you wish to join with a man, whom not only you know little of, but you also are painstakingly aware of my dislike for him; why would you ever consider this!?" Even as Vegeta asked the question, he already knew the answer, but he had to hear her excuse if he was going to dissuade her.
"I have been considering it for some time!" Bulma shot back quickly, the only blockade that could repress her tears now was anger, and as much as she hated arguing with her warden, that was her only choice now; that, and a meticulous assertion of lies. "Ever since you separated us, I have been unable to think of anything else but him. I have tried to suppress my feelings these last few days, out of respect for you, but I can no longer." She stopped to move back to her fiancé, in a physical gesture, to reinforce her words. She comfortably entered his welcoming embrace as she finished her deceit, "I cannot explain how or why it has happened, but I have fallen in love with Juunanagou, as he has with me. We finally admitted our feelings to one another this morning, and we agreed that we can no longer hide our desire." Gathering a deep breath, Bulma turned to look back at a both shocked and seemingly hurt Vegeta as she confirmed Juunanagou’s announcement, "So, we will wed."
"The hell you will!" Vegeta growled with narrowed eyes, "this farce of a marriage will never take place! You, onna, are still my ward, and as such you can not marry without my permission, and believe me when I tell you, I will never grant my permission to this union!" Civility was no longer an option for the king; he would not mince words on the ludicrousness of this unification
"Now who is falling back on his word!?!" Bulma was quick to remind. "Did we not just have this conversation a week ago, after your overreaction to Kakarrot’s practice proposal? But, I suppose you were not serious in your vow not to sensor my relations, because here you are now doing it with Juunanagou! Honestly, Vegeta, I am beginning to think you would find any excuse to keep me from being happy!"
"Happy!?" Vegeta laughed, at her absurd words. "This bastard will make you nothing but ‘unhappy!’ He does not give a damn about you, onna. Can you not see he is using you? He wants revenge upon me, nothing else!"
"Not this again," Bulma nearly screamed, while shaking her head in utter fury. "Revenge for what, Vegeta!? What could you have done to him that is so horrible that he would be willing to use me as you are describing?!"
"The same as he just described to you, my dear," Juunanagou interrupted smoothly, what better way to kick the man while he was down than by revisiting the past.
"That’s enough from you!" Vegeta roared, stopping the king before he could say anything further.
"No, I want to hear the truth, I want to hear what this bad blood is between the two of you, and I want to hear it now!" Bulma demanded, she felt she had a right to be told the shared past that laid between her warden and husband-to-be.
"So, he still has not told you what he did to my sister?" Juunanagou withheld a smirk; this was simply getting better and better.
"Your sister?" Bulma whispered, while slowly turning back towards Vegeta, "whom is he talking about? Who is she?"
"Was," Juunanagou corrected, "my sister is long dead, thanks to your warden. But, I suppose that is the price she paid for being foolish enough to fall in love with an animal like your dear king here."
"I said, that is enough!" Vegeta roared; his temper only seconds away from erupting.
Juunanagou, well aware of the king’s disposition, pushed harder. "I beg to differ, for your ward deserves to know what you did. She deserves to know how you destroyed my sister, an onna you vowed to love, honor, and cherish in the sanctity of marriage, an onna you made your wife, the onna who would have been your queen! Bulma deserves to know how you disgraced Juuhachigou." As soon as her name was vocalized, Juunanagou felt himself being attacked for yet a second time that day, only in a manner even more violent than with Kakarrot earlier.
"Do not even say her name! You have no right speak of her after what you did!" Vegeta screamed in a near blind fury, "her death is on your head, not mine!"
"Vegeta!" Kakarrot, for the first time after his long silence, sped over to separate the two men. "Not like this sir," he tried to advise as he pulled the smaller man to his feet in a death grip to attempt to calm him down. "Juunanagou is not worth it."
"Well, doesn’t this feel familiar," Juunanagou laughed coldly as he rose to his feet, touching his lip lightly so that Bulma could see her violent warden’s attack had drawn blood. "Though I should feel lucky your sword wasn’t drawn Vegeta, or else my fiancé may have a hole in her chest, just as my sister did."
Kakarrot had to tighten his hold on his king as the shorter man was more than ready to attack his opponent a second time, but he refused to give him the chance, "you are playing right into his hands," Kakarrot whispered into the infuriated man’s ear. "You must compose yourself, my king."
Bulma watched the brawl between the two kings utterly immobile as Juunanagou’s confession brought a mind numbing pain to her. ‘A woman you vowed to love, honor, and cherish in the sanctity of marriage, an onna you made your wife, the onna who would have been your queen! …Juuhachigou… Vegeta was once married?’ The thought made her want to run into her room and sob for hours. ‘It ca not be. Vegeta could not have been married; he could have never withheld such a grand truth from me… He could not have married this woman! He could not have loved this woman!’ Bulma told herself, the latter part of her rant she needed to be true the most. ‘No, none of this can be right. Vegeta could not have wed Juunanagou’s sister, and there is no doubt in my mind he, my Vegeta, could never have killed her!’ Assured by her conclusions, she turned to her warden, after schooling her expression to hide the raging chaos exploding inside her. "Tell me he’s lying," she implored. "Tell me you were never married. Tell me you did not harm, let alone kill his sister."
Silence fell upon all three men in the room as Vegeta turned his gaze from his enemy to his ward. For the first time in all the years he has known her, he saw her look upon him in a manner he had never wished to see; fear. She feared the truth, the truth that she had wasted years of loyalty on a man unworthy of her trust. Pulling his eyes away from that of Bulma’s, Vegeta pushed Kakarrot off him and took a few steps away from the group, while attempting to find the words to make her understand what had truly happened. He turned his back away from them in shame as he realized he could find none.
"He can not tell you that which you wish to hear, my darling," Juunanagou added softly, as he walked up and placed a consoling arm around the princess. "But, if you are not willing to take my word for it, ask your guard. Kakarrot was present for that which I speak, ask him for the truth."
Pleadingly Bulma shifted her stare from Juunanagou to her long time friend, her eyes silently begging for the truth. "Kakarrot?"
The soldier took a long breath as he noted the brief, but blatant, narrowing expression that crossed his king’s face, before turning back to look upon the young onna he had spent a large part of his life protecting. Knowing he could never lie to the fair princess, he begrudgingly began to divulge exactly what he knew the bastard king wanted him to. "Juunanagou… He…" Kakarrot ground his teeth together as he painfully admitted, "he speaks the truth, Bulma, but—"
"But, nothing," Juunanagou was quick to halt the man’s further explanation. Turning Bulma around in his arms, he began to further weave his web. "My dear, I know this must be terrible for you to hear, especially upon the day of our engagement, but what I need you to know, before all else, is that even though your warden has wronged me so, I do not hold his trespasses against you. Though the temptation is obvious to want to hurt you in retaliation for his murder of my sister, I can assure you that is not the case. My love for you is unwavering and I—"
"Kakarrot," Vegeta’s deeply voiced demand interrupted Juunanagou’s nauseating articulation of lies, "escort the onna outside, I wish to speak with Juunanagou alone."
"What?" Bulma jerked out of Juunanagou’s hold as she heard her warden’s demand. "Vegeta, how can you order me to leave now, when you just dropped this appalling fact upon me? Please, you have to explain this all to me, you have to let me know—"
"You have no right to know anything!" Vegeta’s voice had never risen to a tone as violent as it did at that moment, "at least not when your mind is so poisoned with lies against me that you would believe such a simple truth as that which this fool offers. Clearly I was right to maintain my silence in the first place, you are still too naïve and selfish to act with any greater sense than that of the little girl that you are." As soon as the words left his mouth, a hand came barreling down his face in what could only be described as one of the most surreal moments of his life; he looked up to see tears falling from his ward’s eyes as for the first time in her life, she dared strike him.
"I think that is enough," Juunanagou stepped between the two as he pulled Bulma into his embrace, and away from Vegeta. "Please, my dear, between last night and this morning I think you need some time to calm down. Why do you not allow me a minute alone with your warden? He has already upset you enough; please, allow me to handle things from here on."
Bulma wanted to object, still thoroughly insulted by Vegeta’s cruel words when all she wanted was to hear any truth or falsehood that could change the horrid reality she had just been made aware of. But, in the mood Vegeta had now fallen victim to, she knew no kind words would be said. Sending him one last icy glance, she submissively agreed to Juunanagou’s suggestion. "I shall be right outside."
"Excellent," Juunanagou noted with pleasure as he lowered his lips to claim that of his mate-to-be’s in an impassioned kiss that was meant to spark the tempers of the Saiya-jins around him. He clearly succeeded in his purpose as he heard infuriated groans from both men. ‘All too easy,’ he thought, before pulling away from the now flushed princess. "I won’t be long," he announced, before Kakarrot rather gruffly grabbed Bulma’s arm and directed her out of the throne room; leaving the two very capable kings to what would surely be a volatile exchange.
"Have you lost your mind?" Kakarrot nearly screamed as he practically slammed the throne room doors behind him. "How the hell could you raise a hand against Vegeta after all he has done for you!?"
"Oh, leave me the hell alone, Kakarrot!" Bulma angrily pushed her friend away from her. Looking upon him with utter contempt she growled, "You knew! You knew everything and you never told me!? Here I have been avoiding Juunanagou like the plague, because the two of you have warned me of his treachery, when in truth, he was the one who has been wronged!"
"That is not true!" Kakarrot argued, "Bulma, you only know a small part of the story; you have no idea what actions Juunanagou took against Vegeta—"
"Vegeta killed his sister! I don’t care what actions he took against him in retaliation, he had every right to! By the gods, Kakarrot, how could you keep this from me!? How could either of you keep this from me!? For eight years I have lived under this roof, and not once have I ever heard even the slightest mention of Vegeta being married! Tell me my dear friend, why was I so unworthy of being told the truth!?"
"Because it is not an easy subject for Vegeta to speak on!" Kakarrot tried to calm himself, he had to make her understand. "Bulma, you have long known his aversion to such a union, now you know why."
"No, Kakarrot, I still do not! I thought I knew Vegeta, but if he is capable of murdering his own wife—" she turned away from him, the words too painful for her to speak. Never had she allowed herself to imagine Vegeta with another woman, let alone murdering one! How could any of this be true? How could Vegeta ever take such actions, and with a woman he loved. ‘Love; is this woman my rival? Is she the invisible barrier that has long existed between Vegeta’s and my heart?’ Even though Bulma knew much more than a past infatuation was standing between the two, she had to know. "Did he love her?" she asked softly, once and for all she wanted to know if this deceased woman deserved blame for her romantic misery.
"Bulma, I do not think—" Kakarrot started, but was quickly cut off.
"I want to know, damn it!" Bulma offered a quick lie to cover her true motives for needing his answer. "Vegeta has vowed his love and protection to me as his ward for the last eight years, but if he could offer the same to his wife and fail her so greatly, I can not help but wonder…"
Kakarrot needed to hear no more, this was Vegeta’s greatest fear; it seemed he was right in surmising such a reaction from the princess. She could place herself in the same position, just as Juunanagou had articulated moments ago during their skirmish. He wanted more than anything to settle all of her worries, but it seemed she had heard too much truth all at once. "Bulma, I can not speak on Vegeta’s feelings, for I am not certain how deeply his love for Juuhachigou ran, but—"
"Then he was in love with her?" Bulma closed her eyes as she shook in humiliation. What a fool she had been, wasting so many of her years pining for a man whose heart belonged to another.
"Bulma," Kakarrot moved to console the clearly hurt woman.
"No!" the angered princess pushed his hands away. "I can’t listen to anymore of this!" She rushed past him as she stormed towards the stables. Releasing Hikari from her bindings, she saddled the horse and quickly set off into the woods, her tears the only trace of her path as she road fast and hard towards an uncertain destination. The only purpose, to flea from the harsh reality she was finally conscious too.
"Name your price," Vegeta spoke evenly as he took a heavy seat upon his throne.
"My price?" Juunanagou smirked at the offer, "my price for what, Vegeta?"
"Come now Juu, the onna is no longer here, you need not maintain this ridiculous façade. We both know you do not give a damn about her; this entire scheme of yours is for revenge. So, why not skip all of the games and just tell me what you intend to gain by joining with the onna, and I will simply give it to you. It will save both of us much effort."
Juunanagou laughed heartily at the man’s suggestion. "Well, Vegeta, I must say, your arrogance has never ceased to amaze me. Honestly, for you to actually believe that when I see those bottomless azure eyes, flowing sapphire hair, glowing smile, creamy white skin, and bountiful cleavage of your ward that I am truly thinking of my revenge upon you, is simply preposterous! Your ward is the greatest prize that I could ever take from you, so save your negotiations for a less determined man."
"You know nothing of determination!" Vegeta hissed with resolve as he rose from his seat in anger. "Your will for revenge may be strong, but I can assure you, my fortitude in protecting my ward is much greater. I will take any means necessary to ensure her safety!"
"Really?" Juunanagou challenged, "even if it costs you your own relationship with the onna?"
Vegeta laughed menacingly, "You do not seem to understand my position on the onna’s well being, so please allow me to make myself clear." Taking a threatening step towards his opponent, the Saiya-jin no Ou began to pour on the intimidation. "I would gladly suffer the rest of my days experiencing nothing but the onna’s contempt, if it ensured her protection from you. I will lie, manipulate, hurt or kill anyone that gets in the way of her safety, regardless of any personal expense my actions will cost. Hear me very clearly Juu, Bulma is mine to shelter from your corruption, I will not falter in my duty!" As Vegeta finished his vow, he had believed his words had struck fear into his enemy as a look of shock covered his fellow king’s face. But to his utter chagrin, Vegeta soon realized the not so naive monarch had picked up on a truth he had never believed would be voiced.
"By the gods," Juunanagou whispered in bewilderment, "you are in love with her."
Though Vegeta was typically without fault in hiding his reactions, the mortification that Juunanagou’s declaration sparked was too much to be hidden. "That is ridiculous." His objection was weak and unsteady. Not that it mattered much, since Juunanagou barely heard him through his fit of laughter.
"Oh, now it all makes sense!" The younger man chuckled vigorously. "The awkward glances, the look of defeat every time I embraced her, and let’s not forget your overly possessive attitude towards her! Ha, I never could understand why you would be so ‘magnanimous’ as to save a poor little damaged princess from a harsh life with her father for nothing in return, but now it all makes sense! You thought she would grow up feeling so indebted to you that she would practically beg you to take her to bed in recompense for all you have done for her, ne? A perfect plan, I will give you credit, but let me guess, it went sour when you realized while you wanted a bedmate she wanted a father figure, hm? Oh, this is too funny, because now you are too smitten with her to cut her loose, that’s it isn’t it!?" Juunanagou’s laughter increased in volume as he realized his triumph. He wasn’t simply taking the dear king’s ward away; he was stealing the man’s love.
"You are a fool if you believe that ridiculous scenario." Vegeta growled, though his physical reaction was more in check, his soul ached as he could not help but some the truth in the man’s words.
"I don’t think so," Juunanagou objected as soon as his laughter quieted to mere chuckles, "in fact I would even venture to guess that last night you crossed the line with her."
"What are you talking about?" Vegeta’s eyes narrowed. What did his adversary know that he did not?
"This morning your ward and I had an interesting exchange. When I asked her what happened after I so graciously directed you to her side, she had this shamed look upon her face. Now at the time it made little sense, but if I were a betting man, now knowing what I do, I would wager that your ‘feelings’ for the onna got the better of you last night and you advanced on her." Juunanagou paused a moment, almost daring Vegeta to object. When he did not, he continued with his taunting. "Awe, Vegeta, what were you thinking? Here the poor onna is almost raped and you, her surrogate father, allow your lust to take over. No wonder she desires to marry me, she was clearly repulsed by your lack of control, let alone respect for her sensitivity to her body after the attack; how humiliating for her."
"It was an attack you orchestrated!" Vegeta was quick to remind, but his attempt to shift the blame was futile.
"You have no proof of that," Juunanagou added casually, "besides even if I had set the entire incident up, it could not have been as disturbing for the onna as whatever trauma you put her through. I mean honestly, you should have seen her this morning, she looked utterly disgraced."
"That’s enough!" Vegeta swung around to glare at his rival, "you are most certainly in no position to read the onna’s emotions. You know nothing of which you speak."
Juunanagou only shrugged in indifference as he stepped away from the infuriated king. "What ever lie helps you through the day." He chuckled mockingly as he strolled over to the exit. "Now, if you don’t mind, as amusing as your empty threats are to hear, I need to go find my onna. We have a wedding to plan, and more importantly," Juunanagou stopped just before the exit to turn back a smirk at his incensed fellow king, "a wedding night."
Slamming the door behind, Juunanagou stopped just outside the throne room as he heard a thunderous roar released by the Saiya-jin king, he clearly could no longer control his rage. ‘Well, this is quite the interesting turn of events,’ Juunanagou thought, before setting off to find his fiancé. After all of the ‘truths’ she had just learned, he imagined she would so desperately need his shoulder to cry on. ‘Oh, and you will have it my dear, and so much more.’ The king chuckled as he quickened his pace. Everything was coming together even more beautifully than he had originally planned. Bulma will become his queen, and Vegeta will have a front row seat to watch his love find bliss in the arms of another. ‘Yes, Vegeta, you will suffer ten fold for all that you have robbed of me and my people, while I reap the benefits of joining with your lovely princess.’
Closing his eyes to briefly imagine what it would finally feel like to have his Bulma in bed was almost too much for him to maintain his focus. Opening his eyes he once again sped up his search, while silently promising himself, ‘soon my princess, soon.’
Translation:Juuhachigou – Eighteen