Author: Fallen Angel
Disclaimer: (Insert disclaimer here)
6 months later….
"More tea, Chichi-san?" Mrs. Briefs put on her biggest smile and Chichi was sorely tempted. But a woman could only consume so much tea in one sitting.
"No thank you," she waved a hand politely. "And please, just call me Chichi."
"Ok, Chichi. I must say, it’s wonderful that you come out so far to visit. I know Trunks enjoys having Gohan and Goten come around; my husband and I have tried our best but there are some things we can’t do for him," Mrs. Briefs’ voice dropped a note at the end.
"Like train? I used to be afraid of that too; that without being a part of their fighting, I wasn’t much a part of their life. But it’s not true."
Mrs. Briefs smiled even more. "Thank you Chichi. It’s reassuring to hear that. You can’t imagine how difficult it’s been…."
Her voice trailed off but Chichi could see it in her eyes. The last six months had been hard for all of them, but for Bulma’s parents it must have been especially difficult. She couldn’t imagine what it would be like; to lose a daughter and just as suddenly be burdened with the responsibility of raising a Saiyajin boy.
Vegita had been no help. In the days after Dende’s news he had travelled to the young God’s lookout and, fuelled by anger and hate, had managed to do a small amount of damage until Goku and Piccolo had been forced to knock him out. He recovered over the next few days, sleeping restlessly and cursing in his dreams. When he awoke, with little more than a word, he flew to the most remote desert on the planet, exiling himself. Goku suggested that Vegita would be training, mostly for the benefit of Trunks. But people like Piccolo knew, from their own experiences, that he was spending the time alone to exorcise his demons or to awaken new ones.
Now, six months later, they were still nervously waiting his return while the world hung in the balance. Goku would never admit it to Chichi but he was worried that if Vegita returned, stronger from his training and driven by his torment, Goku would not be able to defeat him. He wasn’t even sure if he had the right too; wasn’t Vegita a victim in all of this, after all? Hadn’t he and Trunks lost more than anyone else - what position were they in to judge him?
No one spoke these fears aloud in front of Trunks. In the past six months the boy seemed to have aged years. Once he had gotten over the shock of losing both his parents, one to death another to a living death, he had thrown himself into a steady training regime, worrying the Briefs and Son families into thinking that he was becoming too much like his father.
But when Gohan and Goten visited he showed no signs that he was anyone else than the young boy they had known before Bulma’s death. And when Goku visited, he was always impressed by how much more dedicated and stronger Trunks was getting. He even offered to help the boy with his training.
Trunks politely declined. He was in the belief, he said, that when his father returned he would train with him and Vegita would probably not be impressed if his son had been taught by anyone else. Goku didn’t have the heart to tell him that ‘when’ was more of an ‘if’. The search for strength which would impress his father on his return seemed to be all that Trunks was able to hold on to; the only thing he knew wouldn’t leave him.
"I still don’t understand," Mrs. Briefs continued, watching the boys spar in the garden, "how Vegita could leave at such a vital time for Trunks. Doesn’t he understand at all?"
Chichi bit her lip to contain her anger. "My thoughts exactly. Goku tried to explain it to me though; that Vegita had issues to take care of and that he felt he couldn’t be a good father until he resolved them."
Mrs. Briefs seemed to think for a while before replying. "I guess I can understand that. Better to leave Trunks for a little while than show him a side of himself that could ruin things between them forever."
Chichi, lost for anything more to say, gazed out into the garden where the boys were sparring. I wonder what Bulma would think of all this, she thought.
"This is a load of shit!"
Piccolo quickly ducked; he had been foolish enough to think he would be safe if Bulma started throwing things the first time she had thrown a temper tantrum. A large bruise to his forehead and six months later, he had not made the same mistake again.
He watched the human woman stalk around her quarters furiously, trying to weigh up the odds of whether or not she was truly going to throw something. The odds were shrinking, but he was wary nonetheless. After making regular visits to the woman, the only thing he could be sure of was that the woman was not one to be underestimated.
"Bulma, as I’ve said a million times before," he said slowly, "this is totally out of my hands."
She stormed over to a section of the wall hidden behind a lab bench (at least, Piccolo assumed there was a lab bench hidden beneath all that junk) and waved a hand dramatically.
"Do you see a hole here, Piccolo?" she asked rhetorically. "I sealed the gate from this end a long time ago; hell, I’ve even added a back-up, failsafe device to activate if anything tries to go through it. Of course, no one knows it’s here except me anyway!"
The Namek God of Death had to agree with her there. He’d been there while she set everything up and, as much as she could explain it, there was no way anyone was going through the heaven’s gate. It wasn’t even visible anymore and Bulma had assured him that even if it could be seen, it was impenetrable. "I know that. But the Gods are old-fashioned. They don’t trust anything they can’t understand and technology is one of those things."
Bulma said nothing, but fumed as she made landed a decent kick to the leg of her small bed. "What does Dende have to say about all this?" she asked finally.
"I’m not surprised. I’m worried and he’s my husband."
A frown crossed Piccolo’s face for a split-second and Bulma knew she’d gotten to the heart of his little visit. She knew he didn’t show up just to hear her complain. There was always something else to it. And nine times out of ten it was this; what were they going to do about Vegita?
Everyone knew it was going to be risqué from the beginning. Piccolo knew it about a second before Vegita landed a punch in his jaw; the man was mad. And not just in a testosterone-fuelled way that would eventually wear off or could be beaten out of him. This was an anger that ran deeper than that - it fuelled his being and threatened to drive him insane if he didn’t hit something. Piccolo knew this because once he had had that anger - it had driven him to do some pretty mean things and he hadn’t even had a valid reason. Not like the reason Vegita had.
Leaving that day to put himself into exile earned Vegita more respect from Piccolo than anything else ever could. It was selfless because - and Piccolo knew this lesson very well indeed - in the middle of nowhere the only person you had to take things out on was yourself. You either survived the process to become a better person or self-destructed. Unfortunately, in Vegita’s case there was another option; you finally couldn’t take it anymore and took out your anger and frustration on the entire planet. That was how much it would take, Bulma had told him, before Vegita felt anywhere close to alright again.
Dende knew this too and as protector of Earth had thought it would be a good idea to keep a discreet eye on things from a different perspective; Bulma’s. At first, Piccolo was against the idea of forming any sort of friendship with the woman for the obvious reason that as far as personalities went they were polar opposites. But after a while and some not so subtle encouragement from Dende and Gohan, Piccolo managed to form a friendship with Bulma and learned to admire her unique qualities. Such as the ability to sense Vegita from beyond the grave. He learnt through her mood swings and temper tantrums to read how Vegita was feeling at that moment. If she was upset, Vegita was probably angst-ridden. If she was mad….well, you get the idea.
"So how is he right now?" Piccolo asked, suspecting the answer but wanting to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.
Bulma sighed heavily. "I don’t know."
That was unexpected. "What do you mean ‘you don’t know’?"
"Exactly that. I don’t know. It’s like he’s shutting me out, Piccolo."
Bulma was shocked. "Hmmm - that’s all you can say? Hello! I think we’re beyond hmmm. I don’t need to explain why this is a bad thing, do I? If I can’t sense Vegita then he’s shutting me out. If he’s shutting me out then he’s probably up to something bad. If…"
"Okay, already, I get the picture," said Piccolo, resisting the impulse to throw his hands in the air as he often saw Bulma do. Damn, he was picking up her bad habits. "I’ll contact Dende."
No need, a voice suddenly said into both their minds. Piccolo I need you both to come to the Mobius plateau straight away.
"What is it Dende?" Piccolo asked. "We might have problems of our own down here."
I’ll explain when you get here. And the two problems are linked. I guess you could say we have a visitor….
Bulma shook her head, disorientated. She could have sworn that five seconds ago she had been standing in her quarters in hell listening to Dende. Then Piccolo had roughly grabbed her by the arm and suddenly she was…well, she didn’t know where she was. She wasn’t standing on anything solid, she could tell, but at the same time she wasn’t falling.
"Where are we?" she asked, looking towards the Namek. Spots swam in front of her eyes but she could make out a figure of green at least. "How did we get here."
"One question at a time," his voice seemed to come back at her from both a long way away and right beside her. "Firstly, this is the Mobius plateau. It exists on a separate plane from heaven and hell - it’s a bit of a mid-world but it doesn’t technically exist in between anything. In fact it doesn’t exist at all…"
"Enough, enough," Bulma said. "You’re even making my head hurt, and that doesn’t happen often. Ok, I know I’m asking for it, but how did we get here?"
"Well, the Mobius plateau exists nowhere so it exists in all place at all times so you just have to step into nowhere and…"
Bulma sighed and Piccolo stopped. "I give up," she confessed, rubbing her eyes. "Normally, I love a mental challenge but once you start playing with the laws of physics I’m all at s…." she broke off and Piccolo realised that Bulma was now able to look around.
He tried to see the plateau as a human would and he could almost imagine how daunting it would be to be faced with cloud-tops that rolled on forever until the air around seemed to shift and they looked more like mountain tops, then fields of white cotton. The view always changed because it was all simply illusion. Looking down at what seemed now to be a sea beneath her feet, Bulma hastily reached out to grab Piccolo’s arm.
"How come I’m not falling?" Bulma asked hastily.
"There isn’t actually anywhere to fall to. Here is only here because you are, so…"
"Oh, let’s not start that again. My head hurts enough as it is."
"Piccolo-sama! Bulma-san! Over here!" a voice called out from behind them. Bulma spun around and spotted Dende, standing in an open temple; in fact, it was little more than a floor and roof suspended by four intricately-carved columns. The impressive thing about it though, as far as Bulma could see, was that it was huge - much larger than Dende’s lookout. But then when she looked at it again, in comparison to Dende, it wasn’t so big at all. The whole place was like that; an illusion until you looked carefully and found another illusion.
As she and Piccolo made their way over, Bulma squinted into the temple, trying to make out the shapes she saw there. The first figures she spotted were the most unusual she’d seen in her life; three men (or at least, she guessed they were male), coloured green like the Nameks but with scaled skin that reflected light into all directions, making them seem to glow. Or maybe they were, and Bulma couldn’t tell. She would have said they were reptilian if not for the eyes - so unlike any she’d seen before. If the emotion transmitted by the eyes was rated on a one to ten scale - one being a newt and ten being a human - these three creatures scored a 200 each. She would never be able to explain why, but somehow that made Bulma feel incredibly inadequate and almost naked in their gaze.
And then, as they stepped into the temple and silently took their places behind Dende, Bulma saw him. She couldn’t imagine how she hadn’t been able to before…at least to sense him. It was probably the Mobius plateau; it was playing tricks with all her senses. Which meant she could be dreaming. But there was no doubt in her heart. There he was, in all his glory; hair wild and swept up, nose in the air defiantly. His name left her lungs in a breathy whisper.
Bulma’s eyes were locked on her husband a long time, silently wishing he would turn to face her. But he seemed to be scowling at someone and it was then that she noticed the little catfish-looking creature standing next to Vegita, his antennae twitching in annoyance. She realised that she should be probably be paying attention to what the catfish-creature was saying. He seemed familiar somehow…
"…just walks around as if he owns the place," he was telling the three green creatures. "Comes shooting up snake way, bangs on my door and demands - doesn’t ask - DEMANDS to know the way to Hell! I figure I’ll show you Hell you little….I’m a king, for crying out loud! I deserve some respect!"
"I am a prince, little man," Vegita responded curtly. "Be careful who you dictate deserves respect." He still hadn’t caught sight of her, Bulma realised, or he couldn’t see her at all. In any case, she silently called out his name in her mind.
Vegita. I’m over here.
But there was no response. For a split second Bulma was terrified by the thought that something had recently happened to the bond they shared. Then another voice entered her mind.
I’m afraid there can be no telepathic communication between the two of you just yet, the voice said. As part of the hearing, it would be an unfair advantage.
Bulma looked around, searching for the source of the voice, when her eyes met those of one of the green creatures. He smiled at her, if the sideways pulling of lips could be called a smile, before continuing to listen to Vegita.
Oh, no you don’t. Bulma thought to herself. I won’t be stopped that easily. Not when he’s this close.
And suddenly, she coughed. Loudly. All the people…creatures, anyway…present turned to stare.
In a brief second, Bulma saw love and relief and yearning pass over Vegita’s face. But just as quickly as it had happened, the wall came down again and Vegita was his old scowling self.
"I see that you may have done me a favour little man," continued Vegita, "by bringing me here. It seems that I may be taken seriously after all, if they’ve brought her here at least."
One of the green creatures, the tall one in the centre, spoke, "Considering the nature of your…accusation…Prince Vegita, we had thought it only fair to have all parties involved present. Though I can’t imagine how you have managed to be here in the first place; in the afterlife at least. You realise that you aren’t, technically, dead."
Vegita gave one of his trademark smirks, much to the disdain of the catfish beside him. "It wasn’t as difficult as it’s made out to be."
"No one’s ever tried to reach the afterlife before," the creature in the centre said, almost to himself. "But you aren’t actually dead. This is just a self-induced coma which has resulted in your spirit being here while your body is still alive. It’s amazing really."
Bulma couldn’t help sighing. Trust Vegita to be obstinate enough to break into hell. She leaned over to Dende. "Dende, what’s going on here?" she whispered.
The young god kept his eyes straight ahead as he answered. "This is a hearing. That is the Kami Shinrai on the left, Kami Shi in the middle and Kami Chikara on the right."
"They’re Gods?" asked Bulma, though it wasn’t that hard to believe. "Why are they here?"
"To preside over this hearing. Vegita has bought a very serious charge against them and they will be both Judge and Jury. I’ll do my best to represent you, though."
"They are the accused and the Judge and Jury? That’s a bit unfair, don’t you think?"
"Shhh," he hissed. "We’d better listen to what’s going on."
The little catfish creature had just finished speaking - well, it sounded more like complaining - when Kami Shi nodded and said, "Thank you very much for your help, King Kai. You may leave now."
King Kai, thought Bulma, I knew I knew that voice from somewhere.
The little catfish man nodded and, after shooting a quick death stare at Vegita, disappeared.
"Now Vegita," Kami Chikara said, "for the purpose of those who may not know, can you please state just exactly what charge you’ve brought against this council and the order of heaven and hell itself?"
Vegita brought himself to his full height and with a hint of his family’s former glory, said, "I charge the Gods of heaven and hell with the charge of theft. Specifically, the other part of my soul." For the first time he met Bulma’s eyes full on. "It is contained within the woman over there, the one known as Bulma."
Silence reigned in Bulma’s mind for a full second. It was as if all the messages travelling to her brain tumbled over one another until nothing siphoned through. Finally, the realisations hit her. Vegita’s here.
For me. He’s trying to get me out of here.
But what a way to try.
His soul…I’m the other half of his soul.
He never said…I never knew…but still, maybe I did…
The bond, it must do with the bond!
"So Vegita," Kami Shi said, leaning forward in his throne, "what exactly would you propose we do about this? If your claims are proven correct that is?"
"I would have thought the answer were obvious. Return her to me. Alive and as she was before. That’s all."
"It isn’t that easy," Kami Shinrai added. "You defy the rulings and laws of these realms themselves. We compromise our authority even by holding this hearing, and wouldn’t be if not for the arguments posed by Dende. We would only compromise them further by finding you correct."
"But you are bound by your honour," Vegita said smugly. "It would be unjust not to hold this hearing."
"Agreed," said Kami Shi. "So let us not delay this any longer. You believe the woman Bulma to be the other half of your soul."
Bulma held her breath. "Yes."
"And you believe this to be the cause of what’s known as the Saiyajin bond?"
"But did your parents or anyone close to you ever hold such a bond?"
"None of your companions on Vegitasei?"
"Why is that?"
Vegita blinked, hesitated. "I…the Elite Saiyajins did not form bonds with their mates. It was…improper."
"Yet you are an Elite and you claimed to have formed a bond?"
"Yes. But I never said it was impossible, just improper. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened." Vegita’s voice was getting louder and louder as his grip on his temper wavered. Bulma wasn’t surprised; she thought he may have lost his temper a long time ago. Kami Shi’s questioning was unrelenting and the worst part was she could do little more than stand there, her heart in her mouth, until she was given a chance to speak.
Shinrai also seemed to sense the loss of Vegita’s patience and quickly said, "I can understand how that came to be; society’s rules are strange things, yes? Shall we move on, then?"
"No argument from me," Vegita said gruffly.
"Good. Perhaps we should move on to the nature of the bond itself," said Shinrai.
"We know that what you Saiyajins call the ‘bond’ and treat almost as if it were an unusual medical condition, is actually the mental connection formed between two souls based on their mutual love and understanding. It is, we know, not only restricted to a certain race or to certain genders or even to single couples. It is able to cross species and sexes; in the case of Piccolo and Gohan, for example. Their strong friendship or companionship formed a variation on this ‘bond’. And when formed with species such as the Nameks or Saiyajins, this bond can result in increased telepathic capabilities."
Piccolo gave a small nod as an affirmative and Bulma raised an eyebrow. She had thought that she, and possibly Chichi, were the only ones who had a bond with anyone. It seemed every time she turned around today, she was learning something new and monumental about life.
"But nothing like what you’ve described," added Kami Shi, "A shared consciousness is totally unheard of. Not only that, but this bond is supposed to be the cause of a great love. The feelings you showed to Bulma were far from what we know as love."
Vegita visibly stiffened and his frown creased deeper than ever before. "I don’t see how my feelings have anything to do with this."
"They have everything to do with this Vegita. The only way you could ever earn the soul of Bulma back is if this bond between the two of you truly exists and we took a part of you as well, in our actions."
Dende looked to the Gods to Vegita and back again. "My lords, perhaps…"
But Vegita cut him off with a wave of his hand. "If this is how it must be, then so be it. I will not back off from a challenge," he told Dende. To the Gods he said, "I will admit it. Looking back, I could have acted with less hostility towards her. But I am a Saiyajin…"
"Goku is also a Saiyajin," interjected Kami Chikara.
"As I was going to say," Vegita said quickly, shooting the God with a glare that could have frozen hell, "I am a Saiyajin, and have been raised as one. Raised to be the greatest of Saiyajins. Which meant that there were even more expectations of me. When I found myself on Earth, and things were different, I changed too. But you couldn’t have expected me to understand human emotions straightaway. In some ways, I still don’t. Still, that night, I did. I understood one other person completely. I have no more explanation than that."
There was silence for a long time while the Gods seemed to consider his answer.
"Vegita," Kami Shi said after a long time, "we accept your answer not because it justifies your actions but because even after many millennia, we too do not understand human emotion completely. A human heart is the most mysterious thing in the universe; those in possession of one rarely comprehend their own. To understand even just one person completely is more than we have yet accomplished and realise how difficult the task is."
Bulma felt her mouth begin to pull into a smile. She hadn’t wanted to get her hopes up; there was so much standing between her and the rest of her life with Vegita. Still, the Gods had never seemed so consenting before.
Damn, there was always a but.
"You can be a very persuasive man, Vegita," acknowledged Kami Shi. "You should have tried your hand at politics."
"I don’t have the patience for it."
"Understatement of the year," muttered Piccolo, earning him a nasty glare from Dende.
"Still," continued Shi, "some problems remain."
"If it is about the gate," said Dende, "Piccolo tells me that the hole is repaired and we have people who could continue to guard it if needs be."
Kami Shi nodded his reptilian-like head towards the young god. "Thank you Dende, but that is not it. It is a little unfair what has happened to Bulma and I’m not so powerful that I can’t admit when things could have been handled better. But we can’t let her go just because of what would look like Vegita’s argument only. If we did that, everyone would be up here, pleading for their loved ones to be returned."
"There are Dragonballs for those who wish such things," added Chikara.
"I would have tried that," Vegita muttered, "if you hadn’t suddenly changed the rules."
"The situation will be fixed," said Kami Shinrai, "if there truly is a shared consciousness between he and the woman and that without it, Vegita is less of a person. Then, the woman’s soul is also his and we were wrong to confine it without his consent."
"My lords," asked Dende, his hands raised in plea, "what more can he do? Do you wish to hear from Bulma, that she may support his story?"
Chikara waved a hand, "That won’t be necessary. That would only be more words."
"I have nothing more to give," Vegita said, desperation and anger riding on his voice. "You allow this hearing but know full well that my case could never succeed!"
Bulma could feel Vegita’s anger rising and fearful for the earth when he returned (it helped her not to think about losing her chance to be with Vegita) she turned to Dende. "Isn’t there anything we could do?"
Dende seemed not to hear her at first but when she looked again, it seemed he was only thinking too hard to hear her. Understandably; he was watching as the safety and peace of the earth slipped through his hands like sand…..
The thought struck her so quickly and it was so obvious that she felt silly for not thinking of it earlier. She stepped forward, much to the amazement of all there.
"My lords," she said, "I believe I may have your proof."
* * * * *
A/N. Aaaah, I’m so sorry. I know I said this was going to be the last part, but it just got so long. It’s ok; I wrote the whole ending in one hit and hopefully the next part should be up as well. So what are you doing here; go check it out.