Chapter XI - And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird
I was stained with a role in a day not my own,
But as you walked into my life, you showed what needed to be shown.
And I always knew what was right; I just didn't know that I might
Peel away and choose to see with such a different sight.
~ Vanessa Carlton, Twilight
"You’re treading on dangerous ground, old friend," Vegeta warned menacingly. "The King is highly sensitive about matters concerning his Favorite, and do not forget that she is my mother."
The Prince hoped Nappa interpreted the shakiness of his voice as anger and not nervousness. This conversation had just taken an abrupt, potentially very violent, turn. It was too personal. He didn’t want to know about the feelings anyone had for Len’ah, especially his old sensei’s. Even the King did not discuss Vegeta’s mother with his son. She was a private issue.
All Vegeta really wanted to do was to blow Nappa into the next dimension for his betrayal and return to Bulma. But now, he had no choice but to get involved in this twisted entanglement of hearts. Gods, save me!
His prayers were ignored, however, as Nappa continued the explanation of his traitorous actions. "I know very well what Len’ah is, to you and your father both. However, she is more than a mother and a mere pleasure slave."
Vegeta’s anger flared. "You presume too much, soldier! What makes you think you know Len’ah better than I?" he snarled.
"How could you know, my prince?" Nappa roared back. "In the ten years since you’ve returned to Vegetasei, you’ve visited her only a handful of times!"
"Don’t lecture me about her! You know nothing about us!"
The intensity of the Prince’s defensiveness let Nappa know he’d struck a nerve, and he instantly regretted it. His quarrel was with the Saiya-jin no Ou, not his son. "I apologize, Prince Vegeta," he said. "I had no right to criticize how you treat your mother."
"You also had no right to reveal my identity to Frieza!" Vegeta snapped, refusing to forgive.
"I only did it to protect you."
"By the gods!" the Prince bellowed. "I’m sick of that excuse! Fuck it! You did it because you got a hard-on every time Len’ah walked into the room, and you resented the King for possessing her! You probably also resent me for being their offspring!"
Nappa’s eyes grew round in horror, both at Vegeta’s crude words and at the truth of his accusations. A part of the bald warrior did hate that the Prince existed. He was just another reminder of why Len’ah would never truly be his.
However, he couldn’t admit this to Vegeta. He shook his head in denial. "No, my prince! I did it to save you! I never thought---"
"No, you didn’t think," Vegeta interrupted softly. "How in the nine bowels of hell did you ever think I’d be better off with Frieza?"
"If I had known what the lizard was like before I told him, I would not have done so."
"If doesn’t give me my childhood back," the Prince replied coldly. "Nor does it excuse your betrayal."
Nappa could clearly see that Vegeta was clearly trying very hard not to blast him away. He’d known that the Prince had suffered at the hands of Frieza, but he’d never truly understand how deeps the scars ran. Looking into his Prince’s eyes, he knew then that the only one to suffer from his betrayal had been Vegeta, and the pain was very likely unbearable. Len’ah, what have we done?
"I want to know what my father did," Vegeta then said, abruptly changing the subject and obviously unwilling to reveal more details about his childhood. "What did the King do to earn your animosity? Surely it wasn’t simple lust and jealousy."
Nappa swallowed audibly. Despite the Prince’s lack of attention to his mother, he still seemed to care about her. Even his years spent as Frieza’s play-toy had not dimmed that. Though he was usually considered quite slow, Nappa wasn’t completely stupid. The truth was that Len’ah had suffered in the King’s hands just as much as Vegeta had in Frieza’s.
However, Len’ah’s story was not his to tell. He answered simply, "The King has never treated your mother as she deserves. If he had made her happy, then I could have lived with that. However, he did not, and so here we are today."
"So we are," Vegeta agreed, not unsurprised by the evasiveness of Nappa’s response. "Does Len’ah know what you have done?"
Again, Nappa hesitated, unsure how to answer. He didn’t want to lie anymore to the Prince, but he didn’t want to put Len’ah in a bad position with her son.
At length, he replied. "She didn’t at first, not until after we left. By then, it was too late. Do not blame her for any of this."
"Do not presume to tell me what to think!" Vegeta snapped.
"I won’t let it go until I’m sure that you don’t hate her!" Nappa argued.
The Prince was taken aback, realizing fully that the Saiya-jin warrior did truly love his mother. He was more surprised by the fact that Nappa could love. If Nappa can love, why can’t I? Unbidden, an image of Bulma rose to the forefront of his consciousness. Something in his gut told him that the name for all the jumbles of emotions she aroused in him was love.
Stop it, he growled at himself. Nappa had always been weaker than him, and his love for Len’ah was yet again proof of that. Besides, what good had love done him? For it, Nappa was going to die.
Vegeta wanted to end this conversation, but his curiosity won out. "Was it worth it?" he asked.
"Was what worth what?" Nappa asked, brow furrowed in confusion.
"Was loving my mother, knowing you could never have her, worth betraying your King? Is it worth dying for?"
A little stunned at the earnest question, Nappa was once again unsure of how to answer his Prince. The quiet need that pervaded the question made him believe that Vegeta asked with himself in mind, and Nappa thought about the little blue-haired woman that the Prince had captured. He suspected that her status as the Key had absolutely nothing to do with why Vegeta would never let her go. I wish you more happiness than I, Nappa said silently to the Prince.
Aloud, he replied, "Yes. It is very much worth it. Women like Len’ah are rare. To have loved her and known her love in return has been the greatest experience---"
"My mother loves you?" Vegeta interrupted, clearly surprised.
"Yes, my Prince. I do believe so."
"How do you know?"
"Because she told me, my lord," Nappa said, looking him straight in the eyes.
Not for the first time in awhile did Vegeta find himself speechless. How in the nine hells can he love? Of all the Saiya-jins Vegeta considered weak enough to be susceptible to love, his father was at the top of that list, while Nappa was at the bottom. It just made sense that way.
But now the Prince felt his whole world begin to tilt. Saiya-jins were not supposed to love. It was a tenet upon which he’d built his entire philosophy of life. Nappa had been his teacher in all things Saiya-jin. He had helped Frieza instill in the Prince a hatred of love, and yet now Nappa was going to die for it.
And more than that, he’d apparently been loved in return.
Vegeta would have questioned Nappa more, but was halted by the sudden raucous of the doors slamming open.
The King stalked into the room, his red cape billowing behind him. "You treacherous, lying bastard!" he bellowed at Nappa.
The transformation that overcame the older warrior’s face was dumbfounding. In place of the wistful, lovelorn look he’d had while talking about Len’ah was a mask of hatred so cold and pure that Vegeta, who prided himself on being a master of such glares, was impressed.
Lips twisted into a feral grimace, Nappa snarled, "You’re one to talk! The things you’ve done to her no true Saiya-jin would do! You’re worse than a monster; you’re a coward! It’s no wonder she never loved you---"
Nappa’s tirade was cut short as he was engulfed in a huge blast of energy and dissolved. It had happened so fast, Vegeta hadn’t even felt his father powering up. The two men stood in silence for a few moments, just staring at the ashen remains of what had once been a great Saiya-jin warrior.
Finally, the King broke. "Well, that takes care of our traitor."
Vegeta grunted in vague, noncommittal agreement. "Maybe. Maybe not. Nappa wasn’t known for his brains. He may have been working with more people. But we’ll never know now because you’ve killed him," he said in accusation.
The King’s already-riled temper flared even more. "You think I should have let him live?"
"Or course not, you fool!" Vegeta snapped. "But you could have controlled you anger a little longer!"
The King sniffed indignantly, breaking eye contact with his son. "Yes, well, I didn’t care for what he had to say."
His weak defense was met with stony silence.
At length, the Prince asked, "What did you do to Len’ah that earned his animosity?"
The King stared at him hard. "Not that I have to explain myself to you, but I’ve never treated your mother with anything less than she deserves!"
Vegeta "humped" in disbelief. "How wonderfully cryptic! You never cease to amaze!"
"Watch it, boy!" the King warned. "I can send you into the next dimension just as easily as I did your old teacher!"
"You can try, but you will not succeed!" Vegeta replied. "If you do try, however, be prepared to join the devils in hell!"
The King locked eyes with his son, seeing their cold, impenetrable blackness. In that instant, he knew that Vegeta had not, would not, forgive him. "You still look down your nose at him. Even after you know the truth about how I…we…were betrayed."
Vegeta’s jaw locked in stubborn silence, mainly because he wasn’t sure how he was supposed to feel at this moment. Shit! I don’t want to feel! But he couldn’t escape the hurricane of emotion raging through him. There was just too much to sift through. It was best if he just remained aloof until he’d had time to process everything.
In answer to his father, he said, "Yes, we were betrayed. But your cowardice let Nappa go undetected for so long. You’ve no one to blame but yourself."
The King sighed, feeling hopeless. "When will I ever win with you?" he asked softly.
Vegeta turned his gaze from his father’s. Part of him pitied the bastard. After all, the woman he loved was in love with another man. If Bulma ever loved another, he didn’t know what he’d do, but it would be violent and bloody. However, the woman in this instance was his mother, and there was something in her past that inspired more feelings in her for Nappa than for the father of her child. Vegeta refused to give his father an inch until he’d learned the truth.
However, he did know this situation did not change how he felt about his father. Glaring back at him, he replied, "Old man, you’re weak, and you’re a coward. You will never win with me!"
Thus said, the Prince turned and departed, leaving the King with resentment, confusion, and a pile of smoldering ashes.
"Nappa, my Lady?" Bulma asked incredulously.
"Yes," Len’ah replied demurely, as if it were a perfectly normal thing that a beauty of her caliber should love a hulking, hairless beast such as Nappa. "He’s everything I could ever want."
The other woman’s jaw dropped. The situation was really too much. Nappa was smelly, loud, and way too violent for Bulma’s tastes. But, then again, who was she to judge Len’ah? She obviously had not had an easy life. Vegeta’s mother was remarkable and admirable to even be capable of love, and Bulma was fast learning that you had to find happiness where you could. To each his own, she sighed inwardly.
Aloud, she asked, "Does the King know?"
Len’ah’s face clouded with anger and misery. Her silver eyes flashed with a newly-burning intensity, and her delicate jaw locked in grim determination. "No," she replied matter-of-factly. "If the King knew, Nappa would be dead, and I’d probably be returned to the hell from whence he rescued me."
Bulma could tell the King was an especially touchy subject for the Royal Concubine. She by no means wanted to distress Len’ah any more than she already had. Changing the subject, she asked, "How did you and Nappa fall in love?"
Len’ah smiled pleasantly as she thought once more of her love. "After I escaped, the King put me under house arrest whenever he journeyed from Vegetasei. Only his most trusted guards were left in charge. Nappa was one of them," she replied, a bit tongue-in-cheek. "Of course, that was a huge mistake. Anyway, he and I began talking, and very soon, we were friends. Naturally, that lead to a deeper relationship, much like with you and the Prince."
Naturally? Bulma scoffed. There was nothing natural about loving Nappa. But Len’ah’s observation about her and Vegeta was more disturbing. "Lady, I mean no offense," she replied. "But Vegeta and I don’t have a relationship. I seriously doubt we ever will."
Len’ah grimaced at the bluntness of the other woman’s words. "My dear, you don’t understand. Vegeta needs you," she pleaded softly. "He’s been alone his entire life…"
"Probably because he’s a cold, insensitive, unfeeling prick," came the scathing response.
Though Len’ah wanted to argue that point with Bulma, she said instead, "Vegeta hasn’t told you about his childhood, has he?"
Bulma arched an elegant eyebrow in suspicious curiosity. "No, but what does that matter?"
"Because it explains why he is the way he is."
Though the blue-haired woman found Vegeta insufferable, she also found him to be utterly fascinating, probably in good part because he remained to her a mystery. The opportunity to have some of her questions about him answered proved too great to pass over. She stared at Len’ah, a look of baited anticipation on her lovely countenance.
Vegeta’s mother took Bulma’s silence as the willingness to listen. "When Vegeta was five, he was taken from Vegetasei to begin his training," Len’ah began to explain. "It is a common enough practice among the Saiya-jins, especially the Elites, to send offspring to training camps at the age of five or six. It is done to prepare them to be the fiercest and most ruthless warriors they can be. In Vegeta’s case, however, he was sent off-planet to Frieza."
Bulma’s face screwed into a terrible frown. "The evil lizard guy?" she asked, disdain dripping from her voice. "Really short alien with purple and white markings?"
"Yes, the one and the same," Len’ah replied. "I don’t know all the details, but suffice it to say that Frieza is the most powerful being in the universe. He is also known for his tyrannical cruelty and complete lack of mercy or compassion. Vegeta spent ten years under this monster’s instruction."
"He suffered innumerable cruelties and humiliations at Frieza’s hands from the age of five until he was fifteen. Such conditioning at such a critical stage in his mental and emotional development should have made Vegeta into a completely sociopath monster, just like Frieza."
Bulma’s initial reaction was to comment that the Prince was indeed such a creature, but she held her tongue. She couldn’t say that Vegeta was totally evil, but his background did explain why he was so cold. Her heart swelled with grief at the thought of how much he must had suffered, and it was obvious from his hatred for Frieza that he highly resented his childhood.
Of course, while his upbringing was horrible, that still didn’t excuse his cruelty. "Vegeta has my sympathy, my Lady," Bulma responded. "But I’ve known other people who have had tragic pasts and still managed to turn their lives around."
"I know, my dear," Len’ah answered. "I’m not trying to justify Vegeta’s actions. I merely want you to be able to understand him better."
It’s gonna take a whole lot more than that to explain Vegeta to me , Bulma thought. The Prince was still selfish, spoiled, and arrogant beyond all reason. However, out of deference to Len’ah’s position, she kept that opinion to herself.
Instead, she simply replied, "Knowledge of his background is helpful. How did you manage to survive the ten-year separation?"
Len’ah gave a small smile. "Knowing that he was in Nappa’s care helped greatly," she said.
She shuddered again at the thought of anyone loving Nappa, but she could also understand Len’ah position. Trapped in an abusive relationship, unable to escape, she probably had felt as if she’d had no one who understood her. Thus, she turned to the first person who’d reached out to help her.
Bulma looked at the bracelets encircling her wrists, symbols of her complete lack of freedom. Her eyes shot over to Len’ah, and she blinked, noticing for the first time similar gold bands adorning her arms. Realization dawned on her. For all Len’ah’s apparent prestige, privilege, and pampering, the former Princess was just as much a slave as Bulma.
"Your relationship with Nappa is understandable," Bulma observed at length. "I can only hope that with time I’ll make as good a friend---"
"You will do nothing of the sort," a new, harsh voice ground out.
Heart in her throat, Bulma’s gaze swung to the new figure in the room. Once again, his stealth had gotten the better of her. She sighed in frustration.
"Must you always sneak up on me?" she asked petulantly.
"It is not my fault your inane and frivolous gossip distracts you from your surroundings," Vegeta shot back blithely. "You should pay more attention."
Bulma’s eyes narrowed, and her face screwed itself into a lovely glare. "Listen, monkey prince, just because we’re at ‘war’ doesn’t mean you can just interrupt my private conversations and act as if you own me!"
"Wrong again, woman!" Vegeta bellowed, always unable to resist arguing with her. She was also a convenient target to vent his frustrations at. Bulma was strong enough to handle the barrage of insults he could hurl when he was in a bad temper. "I am Prince here, not you! My wish is law! You have no right to privacy. Any conversations you engage in are my business. And as a point of fact, I do indeed own you!"
Bulma’s initial irritation flared into rage. "In order to own something, you have to be able to control it! You will never control me!" she vowed.
By way of answering her challenge, Vegeta stalked across the room and clasped one of her arms in a punishing grip, hauling her roughly to her feet. Shocked by such an abrupt violation of her personal space, Bulma sputtered in anger.
However, Vegeta ignored her. With a terse nod to Len’ah, he said, "Excuse us, my Lady."
Then, he dragged Bulma from the room.
"This is getting tiresome, monkey prince!" she raged as they went down the narrow passageway that lead from Len’ah’s room. "We’re not in prehistoric times anymore! You can’t just manhandle me whenever you want to!"
It was only when they were in the seclusion of the anteroom of the Hall of Concubines that Vegeta slowed his paced and acknowledged his burden.
He loosened his grip on her arm a little, just enough to allow blood flow again, but not so much that she could get away. Looking down at her, he marveled once again at her beauty. Her hair was wild and tousled, and her pale skin was flushed. Aquamarine eyes spit fire at him.
Vegeta smirked. Even when there were ten million other, more important things on his mind, she could still distract him. No one had ever captured his attention the way she did. He didn’t know what he’d do if he ever lost her.
That thought brought him back from his musings. Though Nappa had claimed not to have revealed Bulma’s identity as the Key, the Prince wasn’t taking any risks. His main objective now was to get her out of the palace and back to his summer estate as soon as possible. Fighting with her would distract him from that goal.
"Listen, woman, I don’t have time for your hysterics!" Vegeta hissed. Before she could make some scathing reply, he rushed on, "There have been very dangerous developments here today. If you want to stay alive, shut your mouth and listen to me."
Bulma had already opened her mouth to unleash the full fury of her tongue upon him, but then she looked into his eyes. In those bottomless, obsidian orbs, she expected to see rage and arrogance and irritation, not sadness and confusion and exhaustion.
Atop all those things, however, she also saw raw need. Desperate and aching.
Something is definitely wrong, she realized with alarm. He wasn’t being overbearing and pushy because he wanted to get a rise out of her. Though she hadn’t known him long, she felt him somehow in her gut. He was so self-assured and confident, that she’d thought he never worried about anything.
Yet, the look in his eyes said just the opposite. He was anxious and stressed.
Immediately, Bulma’s anger drained away. Truth be told, she hadn’t really been that mad; some part deep within her reveled in their fights. They fueled a primal urge in her, and suddenly she was reminded of Len’ah’s earlier description of Saiya-jin love as more animalistic than in most other
Rather than dwell on that unbidden thought or on the thrill of excitement singing through her blood because of it, Bulma concentrated on what she could do to help Vegeta. The urge to comfort him should have repulsed her.
After all, he was the cause of all the turmoil in her life right now. She should celebrate his pain. She should rub salt into his wounds.
But she couldn’t ignore the overwhelming desire to take away his pain, nor could she ignore the need still shining mercilessly in his eyes. So, she did what her instincts told her to.
She kissed him.
Placing small, slightly trembling hands on either side of his face, she urged his lips to hers. She brushed them gently, tentatively, at first, unsure of herself. Butterfly kisses caressed his chin and lips until she felt him relax. He opened his mouth, but she prevented any words escaping by covering it with her own, flicking her tongue boldly against his. When she felt his begin to respond, she pressed herself into the length of his hard body, melting against him.
Vegeta, for his part, was at first confused. He was unaccustomed to a woman making the first move, especially one that had resisted all of his advances to date. However, the Prince wasn’t the least bit picky when it came to touching Bulma, so his initial hesitation quickly transformed into passionate domination as he took control of their embrace.
Clamping one iron-like arm around her waist, Vegeta hauled her lithe form tighter against his. He buried his other hand in her hair, entangling himself in the wild blue mass, using this new leverage to guide her head back and deepen the kiss. Her equally passionate submission nearly drove him over the edge. His mouth slanted over hers again and again, their tongues writhing against the other’s, their bodies melding into one.
In the few moments of that kiss, neither Vegeta nor Bulma was aware of anything except the other. They became lost in their embrace. The universe disappeared, leaving the lovers all to themselves with world enough and time to cherish their passion.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and so did the kiss. Both participants were reluctant to part, but the incessant noise of Radditz loudly clearing his throat had become annoying.
Though hazy with passion, Vegeta’s mind flared briefly with irritation. He didn’t like being interrupted when he was concentrating hard. However, then he remembered why Radditz was there in the first place.
Reality once again looming over him, he gently pushed Bulma away, smirking at the shadow of disappointment that crossed her beautiful face. Then, she seemed to remember herself, and her gaze once again became closed. Though unable to gauge Bulma’s full reaction to their kiss, Vegeta was buoyed by the fact that she had been the one to initiate contact. He squeezed her shoulders gently, mouthing ‘later’ to her with a lustful gleam in his eyes.
Then his attention turned to Radditz. "Have you heard?" he asked quietly.
The other soldier nodded solemnly. "It is a sad day for Saiya-jins everywhere to have one of our own betray us so grievously."
Vegeta’s eyes narrowed in momentary suspicion. "And you knew nothing of his actions?"
Radditz’ face remained impassive, revealing nothing of what he was feeling. "No, my lord, I did not know. I just found out from the King himself. If I had known, rest assured I would have come straight to you."
Vegeta merely nodded. Though he was reluctant to trust anyone now after Nappa’s betrayal, he also knew that he did have to put some faith in those around him. His main concern for the moment was Bulma. Though Nappa had claimed to have kept her identity as the Key a secret, Vegeta wasn’t taking any chances. She needed protection. Radditz had already formed a father-daughter bond with her, and Vegeta didn’t think he’d betray it.
If Radditz did, the Prince would send him to the next dimension excruciatingly slow and painful.
"Stay here. Watch her," he simply ordered the other warrior.
He turned his gaze to Bulma as he pointed to her and could clearly see the confusion written on her face. "What’s going on?" she asked softly.
Vegeta saw no need to lie. "Nappa is dead. I must tell Len’ah," he replied brusquely, trying to suppress the urge to wrap her in his arms and forget all these new problems.
Color drained from Bulma. By the grim expression on Vegeta’s face, she knew he’d heard Len’ah admit to loving Nappa. Tears welled in her eyes for the pain she knew the other woman was about to endure, but she merely gestured for Vegeta to leave. She was still in too much emotional disarray from the kiss to let him in again. The Prince understood this and did as he was bid.
As Vegeta stalked down to Len’ah’s rooms again, he felt cold all of a sudden as the full weight of his task settled on his shoulders. Bulma’s presence didn’t erase all the betrayal and deceit surrounding him, but she did serve as a reminder to him that there was more to life than the machinations of his father, Frieza, and the Saiya-jin court. She was an outlet of relief for him and gave him more reason to rise above his upbringing.
Instinctively, Vegeta knew Bulma would never betray him.
He couldn’t say the same thing of the woman he now had to face.
Len’ah had remained where she was. Vegeta approached her quietly, flinching inwardly when her gaze lit up as it fell upon him. He didn’t want to believe that she’d had anything to do with Nappa’s betrayal, and the dead soldier’s accusation that he hadn’t spent enough time with her haunted him.
Vegeta had never meant to deliberately ignore his mother, but deep inside, he knew he’d purposely avoided her, mainly because he did care about her. Being around her made him feel too vulnerable because she could read him like an open book.
"Mother," he murmured in greeting. "My apologies for not acknowledging you more politely before."
Len’ah smile brilliantly, almost too much for Vegeta’s tastes. "Do not worry, my son. All is forgiven, though I can’t say the same about Bulma. If you want to win that girl’s affections, you can’t just run roughshod over her feelings," she warned teasingly.
Usually, Vegeta would indulge his mother by allowing her to lightly chastise him, but not today. He had too many questions. "Is that what Father did?" he asked. "Is that why you fell in love with Nappa?"
Suddenly, Len’ah tensed, and all warmth drained from her face. She became like marble, beautiful still, but carved of coldness and icily impenetrable. "You know better than to eavesdrop," she said.
"I didn’t overhear you say it to Bulma first," he replied. "I knew it before I came here."
Len’ah gasped, inhaling sharply. "How?"
"Nappa told me. Everything."
Vegeta learned in that moment that his mother was quite unlike any other female he’d ever known. She didn’t breakdown into hysterics or start blubbering tearfully at him in a desperate attempt to escape the accusation in his voice.
Rather, she remained coldly calm. "Is that so?" she asked aloofly.
"Yes. Everything, Mother, including the betrayal."
"Really?" she murmured as she rose from her chair. Elegantly and gracefully, she walked to the opposite wall, keeping her back to Vegeta.
"Yes, my Lady," her son answered again, this time through gritted teeth. He was losing patience. "Dammit, Mother! Say something!" he shouted.
Len’ah turned back to him stiffly. She raised a regal eyebrow. "Watch you language, Vegeta," she intoned dispassionately. "And what is it you wish me to say exactly?"
"Did you know? Did you know that Nappa had told Frieza?"
Len’ah’s silver eyes met Vegeta’s black ones head on. "Only once it was too late. Nappa wrote me a letter confessing what he’d done after you were already enroute to Frieza’s," she replied.
Vegeta gasped for air, unaware until then that he’d stopped breathing while waiting for her answer. Relief coursed through him. His mother had not betrayed him. However, his relief was short-lived when he realized that Len’ah was still cutting him off emotionally.
And then the truth hit him.
She had known that Nappa had been a coward, a traitor, but she still protected him. She had allowed Vegeta to blame his father all these years for Nappa’s crime. Not once had she tried to convince her son that he was wrong to hate his father. She’d loved Vegeta not because he was part of her, but because he was the means through which she could hurt and wound the King.
The pain of that realization ripped through Vegeta, white-hot and searing, leaving him feeling more alone and confused than he’d ever felt before. Len’ah had always been the light in his darkness. With motherly affection, she’d chased away all his demons. He’d thought her maternal love to be pure and unconditional, but now found it tainted by deceit and revenge.
When he voiced these feelings to Len’ah, she regarded him with a cold air of detachment. "I do love you, Vegeta, but only as much as I hate your father. I cannot regret anything I have done because ultimately it has caused him pain."
"Why?" Vegeta rasped, emotion cutting into the usually resonant timbre of his voice. "I deserve to know why."
"Yes, I suppose you do," Len’ah agreed in a distant tone of voice. "Perhaps then you will not judge too harshly."
"I highly doubt it, but I will listen anyway."
Vegeta sat while his mother remained standing. Though the tale she spun was painful and tragic, her voice remained emotionless and ethereal, as if she had been there and experienced all the things she described, but hadn’t really been affected by any of it.
The sheer willpower she used to maintain her voice’s monotony forced Vegeta to realize that her coldness wasn’t real. She’d been affected by all that his father had done, deeply and profoundly.
When she was done, Len’ah simply remarked, "And there you have it. You now know why I hate the King so much." She turned towards the wall, away from her son again. "I am tired now, so I think it best that you leave."
Vegeta, not knowing what else to say, could only agree. He felt his mother’s pain, but couldn’t say that he’d forgiven her for using him as a tool of revenge. He was halfway to the door when she spoke again.
"Vegeta, what is to become of Nappa?"
He paused, then fully turned to look back at her. She still faced the wall.
"Nappa is dead," he replied, careful to keep his voice neutral. However, he didn’t move.
Several moments of silence followed.
Then Len’ah asked, "By whose hand?"
"Mine," her son lied unhesitatingly.
He began walking towards the door again.
"You lie about his executioner," Len’ah accused to his back.
"Yes, my Lady," Vegeta replied over his shoulder.
He did not stop, even as he heard her sobs begin. By the time he reached Bulma and Radditz, the cries of Len’ah’s grief surrounded them all. Ignoring the questions in Bulma’s eyes, Vegeta sent a ki blast towards the ceiling, blowing a hole into it. Scooping the blue-haired woman into his arms, he rose and flew out of the Hall of Concubines, Radditz following at some distance.
Even in the open air, Vegeta could still hear his mother’s grief-stricken screams echo in his mind. He clutched Bulma tighter and pulled her closer. Saying nothing, but understanding what he needed all the same, she wound her arms around his neck and buried her face in the crook of his shoulder, not caring why she sought to comfort him.
As they flew through Vegetasei’s darkening sky towards home, they remained wrapped in each other.
Next time: Vegeta tells Bulma what his father did to Len’ah all those years ago, and they grow closer…