Chapter 15 – A Counter Claim
Bulma sighed happily as she collapsed luxuriously atop her bed, thoughts of her afternoon with Juunanagou still very fresh in her mind. "I can not believe I will soon be married, and a queen nonetheless!"
"Nor can I."
Bulma jolted from her horizontal position as, for the first time since she arrived in her chambers, she realized she was not alone. "Chi-Chi! You scared me." She tried to calm herself before asking, "what are you doing in my room?"
"Oh, I was merely wondering when you would find time in your busy schedule to inform your aging governess that you are planning to marry." Chi-Chi did not even bother trying to conceal her resentment for being kept in the dark for so long. "Well?"
"I am sorry, my lady," Bulma apologized with hefty sincerity. "But everything has been happening so fast, I have no excuse for neglecting your being informed, I beg your forgiveness."
Chi-Chi shook her head sadly as she lowered herself onto the bed next to her pupil. "Bulma I can forgive your neglect, but I can not condone your hasty decision to become bound to a man you barely know."
"Chi-Chi," Bulma moaned, she did not need to hear this argument from yet another person.
"No, Bulma, it is neither Vegeta nor Kakarrot you are talking to. I have raised you, child, since the moment you were born. I know you perhaps better than I know myself, so do not bother trying to hide anything from me. I know you are not in love with this man, so why have you accepted his proposal, especially knowing he is hated by those closest to you?"
Bulma’s expression fell, unsure how to respond to the direct question. Never had she been able to lie successfully to her governess. Knowing she would not be able to start now, she tried to offer the abbreviated truth. "I do not want to be alone anymore, Chi. I want what you have with Kakarrot, I want the happiness, the security, and the chance for a family of my own. Juunanagou offers me that, so how can I help but accept it?"
"Easily," Chi-Chi chuckled, "you simply go back to him and say ‘no,’ why is that so hard?"
"Because I do not want to say no!" Bulma declared with a noticeable raise in her voice. "Chi-Chi you could not understand how he makes me feel, he can make me forget everything, he can take my pain away, he can—"
"What pain are you talking about?" Chi-Chi interrupted quickly, curious as to the younger onna’s word choice.
Bulma turned her head away as she found some difficulty finding a believable solution to her misspoken words. "I meant the ‘pain’ of loneliness." She felt her explanation would be an acceptable answer, she was wrong.
"No, you did not," Chi-Chi disagreed evenly, as she reached out and grasped her friend’s chin. "No, something has happened, something that has seriously hurt you. I can see it. Oh Bulma, please, you must tell me. I am sure whatever has happened can be mended if you explain—"
"No it can not!" Bulma practically screamed as she rose from her bed. Calming herself after her outburst, she tried to continue more gently. "Chi, I know you mean well, but I have already made my choice. I wish to join with Juunanagou, and I will, without interference from my friends. So, if you do not wish to offer me your blessing, then I think you should just leave."
Rising from her seated position, Chi-Chi nodded briskly as she walked fearlessly before the princess. "All right then, if you do not wish to listen to reason, then I shall depart as you ask. But, before I do, I have but one question that I wish an honest answer for."
"And what is that?" Bulma asked rather clipped.
Taking a long breath before sharply locking eyes with the difficult onna, Chi-Chi inquired, "I only am curious as to whether or not Juunanagou knows that he is planning to join with an onna whose heart is held tightly by another man."
Bulma’s lips parted slightly in shock as she heard the accusing note in governess’s voice. "You know nothing of who holds my heart!" Bulma objected, once she managed to regain her bearings.
"I know that Juunanagou does not!" the governess was quick to point out, "and as such, you will be miserable for the rest of your days if you do not stop this shame of a union before it is too late!"
"It already is too late!" Bulma shot back thoughtlessly.
Chi-Chi’s eyes widened partially as a sudden realization caught her notice. "Why are your hair and cloths disheveled?"
"I think it is time you left," Bulma said icily as she turned to head into her washroom.
The older female felt tears begin to form in her eyes as she suddenly began to realize exactly how far gone her adopted daughter was drifting. Silently showing herself out, she quietly prayed that someone could save them all from this hell that was spinning out of control.
Vegeta had left the stables, after Juunanagou’s departure, feeling utterly numbed by the exchange he had just horrifyingly borne witness to. Since the moment he had taken the young onna under his protection, he had but one focal purpose to maintain her happiness, protecting her innocence. But now it seemed all of his defense was in vain, for she, his unknown saiai, had relinquished her virginity to the most undeserving man he had so foolishly allowed to cross her path.
‘I have failed her,’ he decided after only minor debate. She would never have been in the forest, aching over the truth, if he had simply told her the entire story from the start. She would never have been so vulnerable as to accept the bastard’s advances had she not been so mortified by his selfish kiss the night before. And perhaps what angered him more than anything else was the confirmation that she did not in fact hold any feelings for the man whom she had given herself to. Her disillusionment had broken her spirit to the point of this insanity, and now she would permanently carry the regret of this colossal mistake, all because he had been spending too much time wallowing in his own misery to realize how out of control his protectorate was spinning.
But, no more.
He would put an end to this now, before it was too late. Ascending the appropriate number of levels to reach his ward’s room, Vegeta stormed down the hall towards his destination. He was just short of turning to walk down the final corridor to reach Bulma’s chambers when the sound of a door slamming caught his attention. Peering around the corner, so as not to be seen, Vegeta realized the sound had been made by a crying Chi-Chi.
"How could you be so foolish girl?!" The older female screamed towards the slammed door, "How could you allow him to use you like this!?" Knowing an answer would not follow her plea, Chi-Chi sadly turned away from her pupil’s room and headed off in the opposite direction of the observing King.
Once the hall was cleared, Vegeta followed in the footsteps of the governess, though holding little optimism that he would have much more success than she. Not bothering to knock, Vegeta stormed inside of the room, calling his ward’s name, demanding she show herself. When he was neither met by an answer nor a visual of the onna, he scanned the room in hopes of discovering where she had been hiding; then he recalled her intentions after leaving the stables. ‘Bathe, yes, she said she wanted to bathe, how could I forget that,’ he thought with a dangerous growl, trying to block the reason she needed to be cleansed.
After noticing the closed washroom door, he felt confident of her location, but too apprehensive to dare interrupt her while she was bathing. The last addition he needed was to reinforce in her mind that he was forcing some degrading pursuit of her. Deciding to wait for her reemergence, instead of chancing yet another humiliation, Vegeta took a seat lazily upon her bed. Closing his eyes, he was in the process of silently begging the gods for a way to handle the chaotic situation he was now in, when his eyes drifted over towards the young onna’s nightstand. Slowly rising from his seat, he suddenly recalled his conversation with Chi-Chi earlier as his eyes fell upon a rather worn book.
Tentatively reaching out to grasp the text, Vegeta began to contemplate the morality of the temptation before him. The governess had been right in her foreboding of the contempt that would follow from his ward if she ever discovered that he had so egregiously invaded her privacy, but he had never been more convinced, now knowing how serious the situation has become, that playing fair was no longer an option. His ward was his entire life, but he would sacrifice it all to save her the hurt he was now causing. Deciding against his better judgment, Vegeta opened the diary, which held the intimate thoughts of his ward.
The first few pages he skimmed through quickly. They were mostly joyous accounts of her excitement shortly after settling into her now home. A small smiled graced his lips every time he saw his name mentioned. Judging by the first few pages, she enjoyed writing much about him. But after realizing that the information he sought would be in more recent pages, he randomly flipped towards the back of the book, opening to a later entry, hoping he would find his answer. The opening line to the entry he had arbitrarily selected seemed promising, so he decided to read on.
He came up again. Oh, I swear, sometimes I think Chi-Chi only mentions him only to gain a rise out of me. Of course, I must bear at least partial blame for allowing her to bait me. Though I know she simply wants to protect my interests, all of the questioning does become tedious. She desperately wants to know whom I have fallen so deeply for, but I would never dare tell her. Her knowing would only end in her pressing upon me that which I am already painfully aware of: that the one I care for so deeply could never return my feelings.
So, I shall retain my silence for most likely the rest of my days. I have been trying to make peace with that concept for some time. I mean, I knew from the moment I could admit what I felt for him that nothing would ever come of the two of us. There are simply too many compounding factors. We are of difference races, there is somewhat of a substantial gap between our ages, and of course, he only sees me as a friend.
I must control my laughter as the image of his being privy to my thoughts enters my mind. I have many times wondered how embarrassed he would be to hear me gushing over his perfectly chiseled features, his deep sexy voice, his strong confident stance, his intoxicating masculine scent, and his eyes… oh, I could get lost in his bottomless ebony orbs for days—not that I have ever dared though. I am always careful to keep my reactions to him minimal. I could not bear to see the look of mortification in those same handsome eyes if he knew my feelings, feelings that he will never share.
"But, how do you know if you do not tell him?" The words of my governess echo through my mind. She would never ask me that question if she knew who he was. But, she of course does not, so I have no right to fault her for her absurd questions.
One, though, sticks out in my mind. Today she asked me if my silence was in part based on a fear that Vegeta would not approve of a relationship with my ‘mystery man,’ as Chi-Chi likes to call him. It took all of my strength not to snicker as she asked the question, for yet again, if she knew the truth, she would already have known his reaction. So, in the end I, of course, declined answering the loaded question. After all, to admit either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would imply that Vegeta knew whom he was, and thereby narrow the field she was so desperately attempting to.
Not that I shall ever let her succeed. I could not begin to imagine what she would think—although, perhaps she would understand. After all, it almost seems impossible for my feelings not to escalate considering how he treats me. His attentiveness, compassion, concern, affection, the list could go on forever. At first, I must admit I was skeptical though. His duty since almost the moment I arrived has been to protect me, and perhaps I was mistaking his devotion to that duty as a real respect for me. But, as the years have passed, there is no doubt in my mind he truly cares for me. Maybe not as I would like, but I know his protection of me is not simply a responsibility. I think that gives me some comfort as I sit here pining away for his love…
Vegeta slammed the diary closed as he dropped the book back onto the nightstand as though it were on fire. ‘It can not be,’ he told himself as he began to back away slowly from her bed. ‘How could I have been so oblivious to this? How could I have not known that she—’
"Juunanagou, is that you?" A giggly female voice interrupted Vegeta’s thoughts as he turned his head to see the bathroom door begin to open. "I guess you just couldn’t wait until ton—" Bulma’s assumptions were quickly proven wrong as she stepped into her bedroom to see her rather flustered warden. "Vegeta!" She gasped, quickly pulling the drying cloth wrapped around her body more tightly. "What are you doing in here?"
It took Vegeta a few moments to adjust his vision to seeing his ward clad only in a towel that barely covered what it was supposed to, but once he did, an almost venomous tone ensued. "What am I doing here? I am here because you have no qualms greeting Juunanagou in that."
Bulma turned away as she headed for her closet, hoping to find a long robe to throw on. "We are going to be married; I do not see why it matters what I greet him in."
"It matters," Vegeta began roughly, as he stormed over to grab Bulma’s arm and spin her back around to face him, "because you are not going to marry this fool. I will not allow you to disgrace yourself with him anymore than you already have!"
"Disgrace myself?" Bulma ripped her arm away; "I do not think you are one to talk about my disgraces when you killed your own wife!"
Vegeta flinched as he listened to her speak to him in such an unfamiliar tone; it was loaded with abhorrence. "You are really hitting below the armor for someone who does not know all the details surrounding the event."
"And I suppose that is my fault," Bulma chided with a role of her eyes.
"Actually, it is." Vegeta challenged, "I offered to tell you everything the opening night of the senate conferences, but you refused, remember? You said you trusted me, you said you did not have to hear all the gory details to be convinced of my innocence."
"Innocence?" Bulma’s jaw almost dropped, "You killed Juunanagou’s sister, Vegeta! I can not believe that there is any scenario you can spin to make murder seem innocent."
"It was not murder, it was a damn accident! And if you would just listen to me, you would realize that the bastard you are letting fuck you was the true culprit behind Juuhachigou’s death."
The young princess felt her heart stop. "What did you just say?"
Vegeta knit his brow more a moment, unsure of which part of his statement had caused the paling of her skin, when he realized he had voiced a bitter comment he had not intended to. "Do not bother denying it, I heard you two in the stables. I know damn well that you relinquished your virginity to a man you care nothing for!" he confessed disgustedly, the reality of the words he had just uttered made him sick to the core. "Though I can not for the life of me understand why. You have prided yourself on being your own person, not ruled by the manipulations of men, and yet you allow Juunanagou to use you in the most intimate of ways. What happened to your vow of chastity until marriage? until you found true ‘love’!?"
"I do not have that luxury!" Bulma objected as she pushed past him, unable to stand the contempt she so blatantly saw in his eyes. "I am no longer so naïve as to dream of some perfect romance. I just want happiness, and Juunanagou gives me that. So, I am sorry if that displeases you, but I could really care less how you feel on the matter. My body is not yours to control; I have the right to choose whom I want to be with, and how I want to be with them, so spare me the lecture on ‘self-respect’ and ‘pride.’ I am twenty and two years, I am more than adult enough to make my own choices and face whatever consequences they have. So, I certainly do not need you monitoring my sex life!"
"You should not have a sex life for me to monitor!" Vegeta fired back, as Bulma once again moved to walk away from him. He grasped her arm more firmly than before, as he jerked her a little too roughly to face him, causing her to lose her balance and fall flush against his chest. "Damn it, how could you do it, onna!?" he demanded, seemingly oblivious the discomfort of the female in his arms. Wrapping his free hand around her cheek, he found himself voicing his most distressing thoughts. "How could you let him touch you? How could you let him—" Vegeta stopped himself as he forced her face closer to his so that their foreheads rested upon one another. "How could you give him what I have fought so hard—what you have fought too hard to protect?"
"Vegeta," Bulma moaned his name as she fought to hold back her tears. Between the burn of his death grip, and the sting of his words, she did not think she could bear his torture anymore. "Please, Vegeta, please just let me go."
"And let you destroy your life, never!" he declared in a possessive tone, "I made a promise to you eight years ago, do you remember what I told you the first night you stayed here, in this room? Do you!?"
"Yes," Bulma nodded barely, as she fought to answer through her now steady stream of tears. "Yes, I remember you swearing that I would never again know want, pain, or fear, because you would always protect me from them all."
"And have I ever failed to maintain my vow?" he asked lowly, her closeness was speeding his heart rate to the point of exhaustion.
Bulma slowly opened and closed her eyes, why did he have to be so close? How could she keep her lies straight if he distracts her so? "You… You know you have never failed me. You never could."
"Then do you believe that my intentions to destroy this engagement truly serve any other purpose than to fight to that same end?" He saw the glimmer of hope flash across her eyes, he knew she wanted to believe him, to disregard what she had learned earlier and trust him once more. "Let me fix this for you onna. Let me fulfill my promise."
"Vegeta, you have no idea how much I wish you could, but you know you can not. Too much has happened; too much has changed for me—for the both of us. We cannot go back to the way we were, Vegeta. I know you do not want to hear this but I am not a child anymore. I am a grown onna, with needs and desires and… and I want the chance to have them fulfilled. I want a mate, I want children, and grandchildren; I want a family, Vegeta. I do not want to be alone for the rest of my life, I cannot spend the rest of my years growing old wishing I had accepted the love Juunanagou offered when I still had the chance."
"But he does not love you!" Vegeta interrupted, as he reverberated that which he has been trying so hard to convince her of. "His feelings for you are nothing but an illusion!"
"And how can you be so sure, Vegeta?" Bulma challenged, "Is it because he hates you so much, or because you find it too absurd that a man could actually find me attractive!? That one could actually fall in love with me?"
Vegeta was taken aback by her charge. ‘Does she truly find me to be so naïve of her worth that she could actually believe that?’ "Damn it onna, I am by no means stating anything of the like! I know how beautiful you are, how alluring your charm is, and how fetching your gentle soul is upon men. Do you think I am ignorant to how deeply my people have always loved you? Do you believe that I am oblivious to the servants, stable hands, palace guards, politicians, and practically every other unattached male that has ever entered these halls and fawned over your splendor? Did you assume that my mind blocked out the countless number of conferences where I have had kings, princes, and other various sovereigns breathing down my neck, begging me, offering me riches, territories, and daughters, just so they may have a chance to claim your hand in marriage?! And do not even get me started on what your lavish entrance into the assemblage dinner last week has done to my schedule! I have been refusing propositions for your trade left and right! So trust me, onna, I am in no way oblivious to the influence you have on the opposite sex, I would have to be deaf, dumb and blind to miss it!"
As he finished, Bulma found herself at a loss for words. How does one answer those questions? "You never told me," she finally whispered. "I never thought… I do not understand. If you had so many chances, why would you not get rid of me?"
"Get rid of you? Onna, why the hell would I ever part with you? You know that I—" Vegeta abruptly stopped his thought before his haste forced him to say anything more than he dared to.
"You what, Vegeta?" Bulma asked, though she already fully anticipated his response of yet another declaration of security.
Closing his eyes, Vegeta finally relinquished his hold upon the young onna’s arm as he used his now free hand to join his other encircling her face. He relaxed slightly as he realized she would not fight his grasp. "Onna, you know that you are too important to me to ever release you to a man as unworthy as the fools who have approached me—"
"And then just who is worthy of me, Vegeta?" Bulma interrupted distastefully, if he was trying to rule her life once again, she would not stand for it. "Please, tell me, so when I see him I will already know whether or not he has your approval, because clearly I will not have a chance at becoming married, to fulfill my dreams, until your terms have been met! So I beg you, my warden, if neither Kakarrot, nor Juunanagou, nor the countless other monarchs who have approached you are deserving, then tell me what man you deem worthy of me!"
"Myself!" he shouted angrily, not realizing what he had said until it was too late. "I mean, someone with my caliber of determination when it comes to ensuring your contentment. I could not in good conscience part with you to anyone less."
Bulma closed her eyes, forcing back more tears as his circular answers were promising her everything, save what she wanted most. "That is exactly what you will never understand, Vegeta. I do not want you, I do not need another guardian, what I need, what I want is a lover, not a friend. So please, you just have to let me grow up, you have to let me go."
"Never!" Vegeta’s grip turned almost violent as he pulled her body forcefully against his, enforcing his point. He would not hear her say these things anymore! He could not listen to her rejection of him, after all he has done for her, knowing the alternative is the most vile of men he has ever known. As her arms lifted to fight off his hold, he incautiously swatted their attempt by binding them behind her back with his free hand. "I think it is time I clarify something for you, Bulma." He lowered his voice as he snuffed her struggles by pressing her arms more tightly into her now arched back, thereby thrusting her breasts more closely to his face. "I know you have needs, onna, but damn it, so do I! Such as, my need to protect what is mine, and in case you have forgotten, you are still mine. Your father handed you over to me as recompense for a debt that you created. Now, I could have married you, I could have put you to work as a servant, or I could have simply taken your life in retaliation against your father, but instead, I for the past eight years, have chosen to keep you as my ward. I had the liberty to choose to do that onna, because like it or not, your entire existence has been solely through me these eight years, and fortunately for you, I wanted you to find peace in that time. However, I now see all of the liberties I have so benevolently allotted have spoiled you to the point where you believe you can marry, let alone give yourself to another man without my permission! Well, it is time you learned that your life, your body, have always been, and will always be mine!" As soon as he finished his suggestion, he crushed his lips against hers, forcing his tongue inside her mouth after she released a shocked gasp.
The princess’s mind spun with questions as she felt her warden so possessively take hold of her. ‘Why is he doing this?’ Her mind failed to understand. He was never so callous with his words, or brutal physically. "Vegeta, stop! You are hurting me!" she pleadingly ordered once her lips were freed after he shifted his rough invasions to her fully exposed neck. His hands were suddenly everywhere over her body, touching her like she had always dreamed, but something was missing. The tenderness she fantasized about. He was so cold, almost as if he was retaliating against her. For what she was unsure, but what she did know was that she hated the look in his eyes. Lust was evident, yes, but something much deeper in them frightened her to the core. There was something so broken in him; whether she had sparked such a devastation or not, she failed to care. All she knew was that he was hurting, and it was stopping him from thinking clearly. "Vegeta, stop this!" she demanded once again.
As if he had finally heeded her plea, Vegeta pulled his lips away from the all too tempting location on her neck where Saiya-jins claim their mates. Trying to ignore the bliss that his freely roaming hands and daring tongue were riling inside him, he pulled away just long enough to take in the glorious sight of her swollen lips and hard of breath body. "I have made my choice," he announced while running his fingers through her still damp cerulean hair. "You may wed."
Bulma’s brow knit in confusion, how, after one passionate kiss, could he have such a drastic change of heart? "Vegeta, I… I do not understand. Are you giving me your blessing to join with Juunanagou?"
Vegeta laughed lightly as he shook his head. "Not in the least, onna," he began his shocking explanation. "You may become mated, but not with Juunanagou. You will join with me."