Chapter 17 – Reunion
"Hey, beautiful, it has been too long." The deep voice of her new guard smoothly whispered as he smirked down at her.
The angry glare of the princess immediately softened as she looked upon her new protector. "Radditz." She whispered in disbelief at first, but once she realized the man standing before her was in fact whom she believed him to be, she cried, "Radditz!" She jumped up to wrap her arms around his neck for a long hug. "Gods, do you have any idea how much I have missed you!?"
"I doubt as much as I have missed you, saiai." Radditz purred as he pulled back from her. "So, can I come in?"
"Of course!" Bulma stepped aside so he could enter. "I can not believe you are here, I mean, the last time I saw you it could not have been less than two years ago."
"Just about," Radditz conceded as he looked around the young onna’s room for a few moments before turning around to take an inquisitive look at her. "All right, so come here; let me get a good look at you." He gestured her over towards him as he took the liberty of a seat upon her bed.
Bulma followed obediently as she allowed him a slow sweep of her body. Upon command, she even took a few turns for him to make a final decision as to her growth. "Well?" she asked desperately, his observation of her was a common ritual before his departure.
"Well," he hid a chuckle, "on the minus side, your have not advanced at all in height, your skin has become even more pale, and your eyes look as though they have darkened a shade. But, having said all of that, on the plus side, your hair is longer, your waistline is a bit smaller, and if I did not know any better, I would say your bust line has enlarged."
"Radditz, be serious." Bulma blushed as she batted his probing hand away. "You must tell me what you are doing here. I thought I was never going to see you again!"
"Ah, saiai, you always have been one for the melodramatic. How could I possibly live life without giving you at least a few more chances to break my heart?" His tone mellowed some as he saw the hurt flash across her eyes. Lifting his hand to wrap around her waist, he pulled her sunken form into the secure hold of his lap. "I am sorry princess; I did not mean to offend."
"You offend?" She chuckled sadly, "I am the one who offended you all those years ago; I am surprised you returned."
"You did not offend me, saiai," he offered as softly as his harsh voice would allow.
"But, you left because of me, because I hurt you," she reminded quietly, "I never wanted to hurt you."
"I know that Bulma, but is it not why I left," he tried to clarify, "I was the one that chose to share my feelings with you, but that did not mean you held any obligation to return them."
"But still, I could have handled the situation better," she suggested, "I could have been more understanding of your feelings."
"More understanding?" Radditz mocked, "If I recall correctly, saiai, you understood what I was experiencing perhaps better than I did."
"No more ‘buts,’ you could have simply offered a rejection with little afterthought, but instead you relinquished to me a hidden secret in hopes of my understanding. You poured your heart out to me, but I denied you any sympathy because I was too jealousy to reflect your empathy. That is why I left then, but why I have come back now. I wish to make amends for my poor choices in the past years, and I wish to do it by helping you out of this mess I am told you are in."
"My mess? This is not my mess, if it is anyone’s mess, it is Vegeta’s!" Bulma shot back distastefully, "did he tell you what was going on?"
The burly man’s back stiffened as his king was mentioned. "No," he replied with an icier note in his voice, "I was sent word approximately a week ago by my brother that Juunanagou was on the planet, and that his target for retribution was you. I departed immediately, and was here in no more than six days."
"Six days?" Bulma interrupted agitatedly, "that means you have already been here for two days, and yet you did not come sooner!?"
"I am sorry, saiai, but I took shelter in my old underground quarters so I could work incognito." He tried to explain reasonably, "both Kakarrot and I felt it was wisest under the circumstances."
"Wait a minute, exactly what have you been working on?" Bulma raised a brow, "does Vegeta even know you are here?"
"No, Vegeta does not know yet. As I said, Kakarrot and I thought it would be best if I stayed unnoticed. It would make my inquiry into Juunanagou easier."
"Oh by the gods, not you too!" Bulma rose from his lap. "What issue do you have with the man!?"
"None, directly," Radditz rose to his feet after her, irritated she was no longer in his lap. "I was a guard for Vegeta’s father back when the entire Adajinzoun-sei debacle took place. I only know as much as what was released to the Saiya-jin people after the incident occurred."
"And??" Bulma wanted details; she had been given so few.
"And," Radditz began pensively, "all I know is that shortly after Vegeta’s marriage to princess Juuhachigou took place, a scandal erupted. He accused her, in open conference, of having been unfaithful to him. She denied the charges, but he, and another witness, had apparently found her in bed with a palace guard. Adultery is of course immediate grounds for the stripping of one’s title, and such was done to her. King Vegeta, or prince Vegeta as he was back then, was too well respected to allow the disgrace to be ignored. When Juuhachigou had wronged him, it had been as if our entire people were slandered. Being as such, when her death came to pass, few truly cared what the circumstances were surrounding it. It was seen as retribution, though Kakarrot led me to believe there was much more to it. He was Juuhachigou’s personal guard back in those days, so I assumed he must have been privy to what had truly been going on. Though he never dared tell me the whole story, he adamantly insists that Juunanagou was to blame for the entire event. And since he is my flesh and blood, and Juunanagou is nothing but a stranger to me, I would not be a Saiya-jin if I did not take the appropriate side in this matter. Especially since Juunanagou seems to be an immediate threat to you."
Bulma had not noticed Radditz’s intimate gesture as he cupped her cheek and vowed his protection as his brother had. She could barely spare the thought as she learned yet another small piece to the puzzle. ‘So, she broke his heart. No wonder he feels so hopeless with females. He expects them to cheat on him.’ She growled in frustration, her sympathy growing for her warden. "What the hell was that wench thinking!? How could she humiliate Vegeta like that? I mean, what rationale could misguide her so that she would take a guard to bed when she had a husband, a mate like Vegeta!?"
"Oh, I do not know." Radditz shrugged suggestively, "what could make an otherwise logical thinking young princess allow a scoundrel like Juunanagou to perform his evils on her body, when she could have come to me!"
Bulma’s focus shifted as she looked upon her disheartened companion. "Radditz where did you—"
"I saw you two," he said numbly, "that is the task I have been undertaking since my arrival. I have been following Juunanagou, and unfortunately, his path led to you yesterday."
Bulma felt a chill speed down her spine, "You watched us!?" She screamed in shame, "How could you do that!?"
"Only about as much as I could stomach," Radditz spat distastefully. "I returned to my chambers, trying to erase the image of that bastard removing your garments, from my mind." The larger man paused for a long breath; he knew his soul could not handle the subject being dwelled upon, so he switched direction. "Kakarrot came to find me not terribly long after my return. He told me Vegeta wanted you to be given a new guard, and so he requested that I take up the position he took from my brother, which by the way, I hope you can explain that one to me."
"I would not know where to begin." Bulma sighed as she took a seat back upon her bed. "Vegeta thinks I am in love with your brother."
Radditz raised a skeptical brow as he tried to make sense of what he had just heard. He could not. "Come again?"
"Vegeta read my diary!" Bulma cried blusterously, as she once again took to her feet to pace back and forth in front of her new guard. "He opened it up and read one of my entries about him, but I did not write his name specifically so he misinterpreted the passage and assumed that the one I was writing so affectionately about was your brother instead of him and since I could not dissuade him, for if I did then he would learn the true reason I kept my mouth shut and allowed him to believe the lie, unfortunately he thinks that I am being ‘tortured’ by my feelings for Kakarrot because I keep seeing him with Chi-Chi, so he thought it better if he changed my guard so some of the awkwardness would be eliminated, however, only the opposite has occurred and everything has become worse for me, except for the fact that you are here, that is a bonus, but now I can not see my dearest friends when I need them now more than ever!" As soon as Bulma finished her fast spoken, massively run-on thought, she exhaustedly plopped back down next to a snickering Radditz. "What the hell is so damn funny?"
"You," he responded rather amusedly, "truly have yourself in quite the mess."
"You do not know the half of it," Bulma sighed.
"Then why not explain it all to me?" Radditz suggested.
"I think I can do better," Bulma half smiled as she rose to her feet and walked over to her drawer. Pulling out her diary, she returned to her bed and opened to her first entry since the night of the conference. "Here, I think this will give you a pretty clear idea of what has been going on."
Radditz took the book hesitantly as he frowned, "this is not going to be a lot of garbage about how ‘wonderful’ Vegeta is, is it?"
"No, not really," she sighed, "those days are slowly dying."
After seeing the dejected look cross the princess’s face as she dropped her head, Radditz began reading the last few entries, hoping to come to some better understanding of all that has been going on.
‘Oh, my darling princess we are going to be having so much fun tonight,’ Juunanagou smirked as he locked the door to his chambers, not intending to return to his room again that evening. Turning around to head towards Bulma’s room, Juunanagou stopped abruptly as he was met by the surprising figure of the Saiya-jin king, who rested casually against the corridor with an arrogant smirk upon his face. "Vegeta," he tried to cover the start in his voice, "to what do I owe this interlude?"
"Oh, I merely came to impart some exciting news upon you." Vegeta pushed himself from against the wall to stalk over to his prey. "Your engagement has been broken. The onna will not be having any further contact with you, let alone marry you at any point in the near or distant future. Understood?"
Juunanagou sighed as he shook his head mockingly. "Honestly Vegeta, I already heard this song and dance from you earlier. Now we both know there is nothing you can do to stop my marrying her. Bulma has consented, and since she is of legal age, you have no recourse in this matter. So, until I hear from her lips that she does not wish to be mine, you will not stop me from seeing her," the king explained once more as he turned to walk right past Vegeta. He stopped dead in his tracks as his rival made a shocking vocalization.
"She is using you, you do realize."
Turning back around to face the reproachful Saiya-jin, Juunanagou took the bait. "All right, Vegeta, I’ll bite. And just how is the soft hearted little onna using me?"
"She is using you as a rebound for her broken heart. Or did she not tell you that her ‘true love’ was just recently mated?"
Juunanagou flinched as his fellow king’s words hit a nerve he could not admit existed, "What the hell are you talking about?"
"Oh, so you do not know," Vegeta cooed snidely. "Yes, I just spoke to the onna about it less than an hour ago. You see, I knew her ‘feelings’ for you could not be even remotely close to that of love, so I insisted she relinquish her true reasoning for needing to marry, and she compliantly confessed," Vegeta manipulated the truth to hide the true means he had to use to garner the information he had wanted. "She told me that her heart has been breaking, and for some bizarre reason, she thought an indiscretion with you may help to relieve that tension. And, now that she has taken what she needs from you, she has decided to cut you loose. Fortunately for me, I have been given the privilege of informing you."
"Those are all lies!" Juunanagou screamed; he was the master manipulator, not the kind creature he had planned to make gentle love to tonight. What Vegeta was saying could not be true! "If you think this cockamamie story will dissuade me from continuing to see her—"
"Face it Juu, the onna has beaten you at your own game, so walk away before you lose what minor shred of dignity you have left," Vegeta suggested with gusto, the departure of his rival was long overdue.
"I will do no such thing!" Juunanagou took a long breath, attempting to calm himself. ‘This is not happening, this monkey is trying to manipulate me, but I will not allow him to!’ Considering his phrasing, the agitated king continued, "Bulma and I are engaged, and I will not believe anything differently until I have heard from her lips that she does not wish to continue our union."
"Wake up, man!" Vegeta roared, "She used you as a shoulder to cry on, and a body to release her stresses upon. Nothing more! Her feelings for you are no deeper than—"
"My body to release her stresses upon?" Juunanagou repeated the strange choice of words the Saiya-jin had used. After taking a mere moment to decipher the true meaning behind those words, a long smirk crept across his lips before replying. "Bulma told you we slept together?"
"Of course," Vegeta cleared his throat, restraining the bile that was more than ready to be summoned from his stomach. "Just as she told me everything that I am now happily laying upon you."
"Is that so?" Juunanagou challenged, his confidence clearly building. "Well, then I know you are lying to me."
"And how the hell is that?" Vegeta spat rather annoyed.
Juunanagou only chuckled in recourse and he returned to traveling towards his original destination, Bulma’s room. "Make sure next you try to deceive someone, Vegeta, you have all of your facts straight before weaving your web," he noted cryptically before disappearing down the hall, leaving a very dazed and confused Saiya-jin king in his wake.
"I have just been so devastated, Radditz," Bulma whispered her only justification for her actions after Radditz slowly closed her diary.
With a brief smile he nodded, "I understand, saiai. That was why I held no fear in departing. You are a grown onna. I knew you could handle yourself. You do not need a hand to guide you," he added with a mildly disappointed note.
"I wish Vegeta believed the same of me." She sighed while wiping a tear, "But even more so, I wish he would fill the void he has been so ignorantly digging within me."
"Oh?" Radditz questioned, "according to your scribing, Vegeta asked you to be his wife; that sounds pretty filling to me."
"Oh, but it is not the same!" Bulma objected, "he only wants to marry me so I will not marry Juunanagou. He does not love me; at least, not as he should."
"Are you certain of that?" the burly man asked sadly. "Because, I must be honest, from the way you describe his actions, I would say that his behavior is more of a man who is losing a lover, not a child."
"Radditz please," Bulma attempted to stop him, but he continued anyway.
"No, Bulma, think about this logically for a moment. You said he has kissed you, on more than one occasion. He has embraced you as a lover in your bed, ne? He has proposed marriage to you, which if you are unclear, implies that a physical attraction must be present because under Saiya-jin customs you must mate to become—mates! So clearly he is not immune or repulsed by the thought. I mean how could he be Bulma, you are a beautiful onna, without a trace of your adolescence left in you. Come on, saiai, if it is possible that you have fallen for him, then there must be at the very least a possibility that he is indeed subject to that same emotion!"
"If, is a big question. And I certainly do not have the strength to endure the repudiation of such an inquisition, so please do not even suggest it!"
"I am not suggesting it of you; I am offering you the service. I will speak with Vegeta, and I will find out the truth without raising any suspicions about your feelings."
"No," Bulma shook her head in rejection, "I already now the truth, so there is no point in risking the chance that you would let something slip."
"Allowing something to slip? Bulma, I have kept your secret for more than two years, I think I can be trusted with it now," Radditz reminded evenly before reaching out his large arms to pull her closer to him. "Besides, it would be to my advantage to ensure the safety of your feelings, because should you be right about your assumptions, the field would still be open for my contention."
"Radditz," Bulma half smiled as he planted a quick kiss upon her forehead.
"Then it is settled." The larger man rose to his feet, helping the princess on his way up. "I will go see Vegeta, but since I can not leave you here alone with this Juunanagou fellow lurking around, you shall have to be escorted to a safer location."
"Radditz, I am fine, really. You do not need to baby-sit me!" Bulma suggested, but was denied the choice as she suddenly felt herself being pulled out of the room.
"Come now, saiai. It would not kill you to have some Saiya-jin contact other than that of your immediate friends," he explained, while locking a secure arm around her. "Plus, I am certain my people want to hear that their princess is not in fact engaged to be married to the scum of the universe."
"That is quite the ironic claim, considering it is coming from monkeys." A smooth voice turned Bulma and Radditz towards its owner. Both were startled as their eyes fellow upon the stoic image of young princess’s fiancé.
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Translation:Saiai – Beloved