Chapter 14 – Mystery Love
She road for more than an hour before finally ordering her mount to halt, emotions had been running too high for the princess to ignore any longer. Sliding off of Hikari, Bulma immediately sunk to the ground onto a soft patch of grass deep within the woodlands. Lifting her delicate fingers to dry what was left of her tears, she vowed to no longer permit weak sentiment to take hold of her. Self-pity was never an indulgence the princess allotted herself, there was no reason she should start now, regardless of the fact that her dreams of a romantic nature with her warden had affectively been beaten to death over the last twenty-four hours.
If his rejection after their kiss was not enough to drive home his disinterest, his ‘wife’ had surely done the trick. ‘By the gods, how could he have never mentioned he was once married!?’ Her mind demanded an answer. As absurd as it seemed to be bogged down by that, of all the facts she had learned today, it was the most difficult for her to move past. While she should desire an explanation as to how in ten hells Vegeta could have killed a woman, let alone his own wife, all she could think of was Vegeta, blissfully in the arms of another onna, but not just any onna, his wife, his chosen queen, his lover.
Slamming her hand onto the soft grass, Bulma cried out violently into the shadows, how unfair life was. How after a youth of misery, when she had finally allowed herself to believe that she held a chance at an eternity of happiness with a man who embodied all that she could ever dream of in a lover, she would be forced to come to learn that he was bound to another. Perhaps no longer legally or physically, but emotionally it was obvious. Kakarrot had been uncertain how deep Vegeta’s feelings had run for the onna, but Bulma already knew. This female had to have held her warden’s heart so tightly that she haunts him even to this day. Such circumstances could be the only logical cause for his aversion to marriage, or any other union between a man and a woman.
"But, what does this all matter now?" Bulma asked herself emotionlessly. "It only means that what I am doing is right. I can not stay here any longer."
"I am glad you feel that way."
Bulma’s head spun around with a mildly frightened gasp as she locked eyes with the owner of the deep voice that had just interrupted her private thoughts. "Juunanagou, you frightened me." She placed her hand over her chest to calm herself. "How did you find me?"
While dismounting Heijin and freeing the stallion to join Hikari for a drink from a nearby stream, he began to explain. "It took some effort. After searching the castle grounds for sometime, I learned that your mount was not on the premises, so I surmised you had left for a ride to clear your thoughts," he paused to take a short breath as he lowered himself onto the ground next to the princess. "Fortunately, I am an excellent tracker. It took me a little time, but I managed to catch up to you. Of course, the bone chilling scream you released moments ago both alerted me to your exact location, along with alarming me to no end. Are you all right?"
Bulma laughed sadly as she looked right through the king. "All right? How ‘all right’ would you be if you just had your entire world turned upside down?"
"I am sorry you had to learn the details of my distressing past with your warden as you just did, but I could not believe he had yet to tell you. I felt you deserved to know." Juunanagou was quick to tug on the ‘trust’ strings. He knew that was the element most damaged between his rival and fiancé. He had to make sure such a rift endured.
"Yes, well, you would be the only one that felt such a need. Both Vegeta and Kakarrot think I am out of line in my anger. But, neither of them have any idea…" Bulma stopped before she said any more, her pain was still too fresh. Wanting to change the subject, she inquired, "What did you and Vegeta speak of after I left?" she asked, still very monotone.
"He offered me a bribe to relinquish my claim to marry you. I, of course, declined." He paused his avow to gently encircle the devastated onna’s face as he gently began to stroke her lingering tears away. "You, Bulma, are all that I want. I do not care what bad blood exists between your warden and I, I only see the beautiful vivacious woman before me that I desire more than any other." He paused again, this time to pull the onna more deeply into his embrace. The pain of today’s events had so clearly taken a hefty toll on the princess, it was so clearly written across her face. Strangely having no other desire at that moment than to cure her ailing, he asked, "You are in much pain my darling, please, you must tell me how I can stop your suffering."
Bulma sniffled through fresh tears as she realized the irony of the situation. Here was a man offering her the kind of love she had only dreamed of, but she could not savor it, for her feelings for her warden were still too intense. ‘No!’ She stopped herself before she could allow her instincts to push the tender man away. She could not go on like this. She could not wallow in her misery while an amiable man offered her so gentle a promise for healing. ‘I am sorry, Vegeta, though you may not want me, I will not allow you to ruin my want for another man. I will not sulk over you while you have another on onna your mind!’ Among the feelings of hurt, sorrow, fury, and loss, one emotion seemed to outweigh all others as the young princess found herself engulfed by the handsome man before her; need. Need to be freed from the pain that was agonizingly breaking her heart, the pain of rejection, deception, humiliation, but mostly, the pain of certainty, now knowing that her greatest hope was now her most crushing defeat.
"You wish to stop my suffering?" The quiet whisper of the onna was so faint that Juunanagou had almost missed the question.
Reaffirming his intent, he agreed. "Yes, just tell me what I must do," he offered evenly. To his surprise, he realized he would in fact do whatever she would ask of him without hesitation, even if for no other purpose than to shatter her anguish.
Slowly raising her eyes to focus on his, Bulma gently reflected his hold upon her as she cupped his face in her hands. Moving closer to him, she ever so briskly ran her lips over his before brushing her tongue against his earlobe to whisper her answer. "There is but one way you can heal my pain… Make love to me."
"Hikari is not in the stables, sir, so I believe it is safe to assume Bulma went for a ride," Kakarrot informed his king, after returning empty handed from his search for the onna. He merely stood waiting for another verbal tongue-lashing after loosing track of the princess yet again. Surprisingly, however, it never came.
"It is probably for the best, she most likely wants to be alone after all that has happened," Vegeta said quietly as he slouched noticeably in his throne.
Kakarrot frowned, silently debating whether he should voice his next question. "Vegeta," the soldier addressed his king informally as he walked up to the throne in a disarming manner. He clearly wanted to speak as a friend. "I know I am not the brightest of men, but even the most inept of beings could see that there is more going on than meets the eye. Now clearly something happened last night that has caused Bulma to not only fall back on her word to stay away from Juunanagou, but also to become engaged to the bastard. And judging by the way you acted this morning, and during your argument with Bulma and her ‘fiancé,’ you know what that something is. So please, tell what is going on. Let me help."
"You can not!" Vegeta nearly screamed as he slammed his hand down on the arm of his throne. "The onna is my responsibility, I will right this disaster."
"Oh gods, then it is true." A frightened voice interrupted the two men as they turned to look upon the onna that had evaded their notice.
"Chi-Chi," Kakarrot stepped down to meet his mate. "I was going to—"
"There is talk all throughout the castle that King Juunanagou has successfully claimed Bulma as his chosen queen. I refused to believe it was possible, but it is true, is it not?" The frazzled governess shook nervously, begging for a denial of the truth. When she received none, her temper was all too volatile to be contained. "How could you two let this happen!?! How could you let that monster become engaged to Bulma!?"
"Chi-Chi," Kakarrot tried to calm the onna as he approached her, but he did not succeed as she stormed right past him and walked boldly right before Vegeta with an angry glare.
"What the hell happened to your unwavering protection of my pupil, Vegeta!? You swore that Juunanagou would not come within an inch of Bulma, but now I find out they are engaged!? What the hell have you been doing that would allow this absurd union to even be considered!?"
"Chi-Chi!" Kakarrot called his mate more firmly, "Please, Vegeta does not need this right now."
"Vegeta does not need this right now?" Chi-Chi glared at her naïve mate. "I do not give a damn what Vegeta does and does not need right now. Bulma is the one who is affianced to a man who wants nothing more than to spoil her purity. So pardon me if I hold little sympathy for your king right now."
"Kakarrot, get her out of my sight." Vegeta growled menacingly, unable to handle anymore of the governess’s cold words. Chi-Chi however had another plan in mind.
"I am not going anywhere!" she objected, while shaking her mate’s forcing hands away, "at least not until you tell me how the hell this mess could have happened, and what you plan to do to fix it!"
"I do not know!" Vegeta roared yet again, his patience was long spent. "Juunanagou has been manipulating situations, circumstances, and truths since the moment he arrived, and unfortunately it seems he has succeeded in falsely leading the onna to believe she is in love…" he choked out the words, "with him. That is why she so foolishly has accepted him. But, as for how I am going to fix it, killing Juunanagou seems to be my most appealing option thus far!"
Chi-Chi’s eyes narrowed in distrust before she shook her head in mild laughter. "If you are going to lie to me about what has been going on Vegeta, I suggest you come up with a better story than that."
Both Kakarrot and Vegeta raised an eyebrow, uncertain as to why the onna did not believe that which she was being told. "Chi-Chi, Vegeta is not lying to you, that is what has truly happened. I saw the entire exchange just a few hours ago."
Startled by her mate’s words, Chi-Chi thought for few minutes before carefully responding. "All right, I believe that Juunanagou has been attempting to manipulate Bulma since he arrived, but if she told you that she is in love with this man then she was lying to all three of you."
"Of course she is not truly ‘in love’ with the son of a bitch, he has simply managed to make her believe so," Vegeta muttered with indignation.
"No, Vegeta," Chi-Chi tried to clarify. "I am saying that it is impossible for Bulma to be manipulated into thinking she is in love with Juunanagou, when in fact her heart already belongs to another."
Both Saiya-jins looked upon the smaller onna as though she had lost her mind. "Chi-Chi what are you talking about?" Kakarrot was the first to venture a question.
"I am talking about Bulma’s ‘mystery love.’ You both can not be completely in the dark about this," Chi-Chi insisted, but when she received only blank and skeptical stares, she continued to enlighten the men. "For the past year, and possibly before, Bulma has spent a better part of her days pining for some man whom has attracted her fancy. I only know because one day I managed to peek over her shoulder as she was writing in her diary, and I caught a few rather romantic lines about a special someone. When I asked her about it, she was very hesitant to tell me, but when pushed she admitted her feelings very enthusiastically. Though she asked for my silence, which I have maintained until this very minute, she seemed to enjoy having someone to share her feelings with, and so I was more than happy to listen."
"Wow, you must be kidding." Kakarrot scratched the back of his head as he laughed in his goofy manner. "I had no idea Bulma had crush on someone."
Chi-Chi shook her head at her mate while sighing. "I am not talking about a ‘crush’ Kakarrot. Bulma’s feelings for this man are very serious. She has spoken to me of him in a manner reflective to how I speak of you. There is not a doubt in my mind that what she feels for him is a purest of loves."
"Really?" the younger guard was still very surprised. It was hard for him to believe that an onna he had spent so much time with could have so successfully kept such a secret from him. "Do you have any idea who this man is?"
"Sadly, no," The raven-haired onna shook her head rather defeated. "Though I have tried many a time to invoke a confession from her, she has never voiced his name. She claims that the man’s feelings for her are by no means as strong as her own, so she believes it foolish to tell me who he is when a romance is, as she put it, unattainable. Sorrowfully, all that I can say for certain is that he is Saiya-jin, that much I was able to conclude confidently, but not much more. Though she speaks very highly of the man, it seems he only views her as a friend in return; at least that is what she tells me. It is sad really, her face always lights up whenever she speaks of him… Whoever he is, he has doubtlessly ensnared my novice."
Vegeta sat silently as he learned of yet another depressing development. Though he should be happy to learn that his onna was not so smitten with his rival as he had first believed, knowing that she instead held genuine feelings of affection for another was perhaps even more devastating to bear. ‘How could I have been so oblivious too all of this? I had thought no one knew the onna as well as I do, how could I have been so wrong?’
"Are you certain her feelings for this man are still present? Perhaps she has forgotten him already," Kakarrot interrupted Vegeta’s thoughts as he continued his conversation with his wife.
"No, I am certain they are still real," Chi-Chi affirmed. "In fact, the night of the assembly, before we were about to get ready, I made a rather innocent comment about a particularly dreamy look that came across her face after she mentioned some of the more positive qualities of Saiya-jin men. She then made a sarcastic comment about how I was just ‘imagining’ things; it was a rather typical exchange for us, leaving me with no hint that her feelings had in anyway diminished. In fact, had I not known any better, I would have thought she expected to see him that night, she was very intent on looking especially stunning that—" Chi-Chi halted her ramblings as she heard Vegeta’s growling raise to a higher octave.
"You are certain of this?" Vegeta asked after a long pause.
"Yes," Chi-Chi nodded slowly.
"And you have no idea who this man is?" Vegeta continued with his strange questioning.
"Um, yes, that is what I just said," The governess confirmed; she was not certain where he was directing his interrogation.
"Very well then," Vegeta nodded after some debate. This new development, though further demoralizing, did serve him with a counterattack to Juunanagou’s exploitations. "Lady, you will bring me the onna’s diary, I want to know who this man is, so that I may successfully utilize his influence over her to end this farce of an engagement."
"You must be joking," Chi-Chi could not help but feel her jaw drop as she listened to the King’s intentions. "Please tell me that I did not just hear you avow to invade your own ward’s privacy and then manipulate her feelings for a man she has fallen for, just so you can hurt Juunanagou."
"This is not about ‘hurting’ that bastard, his failure is only a bonus. I am merely doing what must be done to ensure the onna’s safety," Vegeta so brutally clarified.
"At the cost of her own humiliation? What will you do, Vegeta? Find out whom she has feelings for and force him to lie to her, by claiming to be in love with her when he is in fact not? It will break Bulma’s heart to learn the truth, especially after she discovers that you orchestrated the entire affair! You can not seriously be contemplating doing this!"
"I will do anything it takes to sever Juunanagou permanently from her, anything!" Vegeta promised; a broken heart will mend, but the kind of damage that Juunanagou wishes to deliver upon her may never.
"But—" The elder female tried to object, but she did not have the chance.
"There are no ‘buts!’ Fire must be fought with fire; If Juunanagou intends to continue playing dirty, than so will I."
"You would stoop to his level? Then you will be no better than him, Vegeta!" Chi-Chi spat accusingly. "Not to mention you will fail, for even if you can stop this marriage, Bulma will hate you for the rest of her days for this. She has never trusted anyone as she has you; this will devastate her, perhaps even more than anything Juunanagou could put her through. So, you think long and hard before you take any such actions, my dear king." Turning briskly on her heel, Chi-Chi began her departure from the throne room. "And do not expect me to help you. If you want her diary, then you break into her room and steal it. I will not take part in affronting my surrogate daughter." Once she finished her thought, the throne room doors slammed behind her, leaving her disheartened mate and glowering king to their plans.
"She is right," Kakarrot agreed quietly, "you would do a greater injustice to Bulma than Juunanagou ever could if you follow through with this."
"So tell me, what is the alternative?" Vegeta rose from his seat and began pacing back and forth as he contemplated his options. "She is too angry to listen to reason right now. She is hurt, so she is not thinking clearly. If you have an alternative, I would be glad to hear it, but if not—"
"You could just tell her the whole truth," Kakarrot suggested finally. "Give her the chance, she will listen to you. You can make her understand."
Vegeta took a long breath as he closed his eyes and envisioned her broken expression as she heard Juunanagou’s admissions. He had wanted nothing more than too bury her in his grasp and whisper words of comfort into her ear, to tell her everything, to help her see why he has been fighting so hard to keep her away from Juunanagou. But, he did not have the chance. The truth had nearly paralyzed him; it had been so long since he had faced his past life, it was too much for him handle all at once. But now, did he have a chance to change all of that? "Would she listen?" He asked more to himself than to the man who answered.
"Of course she would, Vegeta." Kakarrot patted the man on the shoulder. "Come on, take Akuma, and go find her. She is probably in the forest now, hoping you will come and speak with her. You have a chance to set this all right Vegeta, before things have to get any worse. So go."
Finding the logic in his fellow Saiya-jin’s words, Vegeta hurried out of the throne room without further ado. After briskly finding his way towards the stables, once he was inside, he immediately headed over to his jet-black stallion. He had begun preparing the steed for a rendezvous with his ward when the sound of hoofs slowly heading towards him interrupted his plans. ‘Has the onna returned?’ he asked himself curiously, as he looked outside to see if he could catch a glimpse of who was returning. He had thought his eyes were misleading him when he saw two horses coming towards him, though only one was being ridden, but by two people. Angrily recognizing the horses and their owners, Vegeta moved to hide in the shadows so that he could scrutinize the pair as they arrived.
The sole horse, Hikari, was the first to enter, shortly followed by Heijin, with Bulma and Juunanagou on him. "That’s a good girl." Bulma smiled as she watched her horse walk right to her post.
"Your mare is so well trained; she will fit in well once we return to Adajinzoun," Juunanagou added casually as he slid off of Heijin. Extending his arms up to his fiancé, he helped Bulma down after him. "Are you all right?" he asked, after she released a mild moan of discomfort.
"Yes," she let out a small laugh. "I guess I am just still a little sore."
"Well, that is to be expected." Juunanagou could barely suppress a smirk. "But, if you think you are sore now, wait until after I am finished with you tonight." He purred as he lowered his lips to claim that of his future queen.
Bulma accepted welcomingly, before barely pulling away. "I can’t wait," she cooed, "Shall I meet you in your room, or will you come to mine?"
"Hm," Juunanagou thought a few moments, "I think I shall come to your room. It is much more lavish than mine, not to mention the bed is much softer."
Bulma blushed deeply before responding. "All right, not that is matters much, as long as I have you," she vowed softly as she lowered her lips to brush against his neck. "You were absolutely amazing, do you know that?"
"You expected less?" Juunanagou pouted in mock offense, "Though I must admit that I cannot hold a candle to you, my love. I have never been with an onna whom has made me feel as alive as you have."
"Well, I am glad you feel that way." Bulma smiled brightly, "but if you don’t mind, I think I should go bathe."
"Is that an invitation?" Juunanagou moaned excitedly, as he tightened his hold on the young onna. Taking a deep breath he sighed in elation, "On second thought, I think you should skip the cleansing entirely. I love the smell of my scent all over you."
"Hm, well, I can think of a few people who would not share your opinion." Bulma sighed with a hint of regret.
"Do not think of them," Juunanagou ordered as he lifted her chin so that their blue eyes met. "In a matter of days you will leave with me, and they will all have no choice but to believe the legitimacy of my feelings for you."
"I suppose we will see." Bulma shrugged with less faith than her fiancé. "Now, if you don’t mind, I think I will go take that bath."
"If you must," Juunanagou regretfully released his grip upon the young princess as he watched her depart. After quickly securing both his and Bulma’s rides, he hurried out of the stables to prepare for his pleasurable evening with his wife-to-be, utterly ignorant to the pair of inflamed ebony eyes that followed his every move.